NC SENATE COMMITTEE VOTES TO REJECT COOPER NOMINEE TO RUN DEQ: A state Senate committee voted Wednesday to reject the nomination of Dionne Delli-Gatti, Gov. Roy Cooper’s nominee to head the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. The vote represents the first time the Senate has moved not to confirm a cabinet-level secretary since the process was created following Cooper’s victory in 2016. Sen. Paul Newton, a Cabarrus County Republican who made the motion to deny Delli-Gatti’s appointment, said his decision was tied to Delli-Gatti’s “failure to articulate” the Cooper administration’s stance on natural gas or the MVP Southgate pipeline during an April confirmation hearing. Senate Republicans did not give Delli-Gatti a chance to speak during Wednesday’s meeting. Sen. Phil Berger, the Senate leader, said he expects the full Senate to vote on Delli-Gatti’s nomination Thursday.
DOWN SYNDROME ANTI-ABORTION BILL FAST-TRACKED BY REPUBLICANS: NC Senate GOP leaders are fast-tracking a bill that would require a doctor providing an abortion to attest under law that the patient is not seeking the abortion because of the fetus's race, sex, or Down syndrome diagnosis. Abortion on the grounds of gender preference is already illegal under state law. But doctors are not currently required to formally attest to the reason a patient chooses to have one. House Bill 453 would change that. The measure is strongly supported by right-to-life advocates and many people with Down syndrome, but it's opposed by medical groups, the ACLU and the state's most prominent disability rights advocacy group. The doctor would be required to submit to state health officials "a statement by the physician confirming that the woman did not tell the physician and the physician has reason to believe that the woman did not seek the abortion because of the unborn child's actual or presumed race or sex or the presence or presumed presence of Down syndrome."
NC HOUSE GOP WANTS TO STRIP FEDERAL BENEFITS TO UNEMPLOYED: Key Republicans in North Carolina’s state House are pushing to end extra federal unemployment benefits for workers in the state. The program offers an additional $300 a week to North Carolinians who can’t find work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A proposal to remove the state from the pandemic unemployment compensation agreement emerged in a House committee meeting Wednesday evening. “We’re hearing from our employers as the economy gets back and churning that they are looking for folks to get back to work,” said Rep. Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincolnton, “and this will help speed that up.” State legislative Republicans are echoing North Carolina’s U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, who called on the Democratic governor to end the program last week, saying that the program is causing a workforce shortage in the state. More than two dozen Republican-led states have ended or are considering ending their participation in the program ahead of its planned expiration in September. This has ALEC's fingerprints all over it. Veto, with a vengeance.
TRUMP KILLS HIS OWN BLOG AFTER DISMAL READERSHIP: Former president Donald Trump’s blog, celebrated by advisers as a “beacon of freedom” that would keep him relevant in an online world he once dominated, is dead. It was 29 days old. Upset by reports from The Washington Post and other outlets highlighting its measly readership and concerns that it could detract from a social media platform he wants to launch later this year, Trump ordered his team Tuesday to put the blog out of its misery, advisers said. On its last day, the site received just 1,500 shares or comments on Facebook and Twitter — a staggering drop for someone whose every tweet once garnered hundreds of thousands of reactions. Launched last month with a grand unveiling replete with an action-movie-style trailer that proclaimed, “In a time of silence and lies, a beacon of freedom arises,” the blog never secured more than a sliver of the spotlight Trump held before he was banned from every major social media site in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. A Post analysis of online data late last month found that the site was attracting fewer visitors than the pet-adoption service Petfinder and the recipe site Delish. The blog’s prospects hadn’t improved since, even though Trump had taken to writing on it more, a new analysis of online data shows. Every blog post has been scrubbed from the Internet. The old link now redirects to a webpage urging people to give their contact information to a Trump campaign mailing list. Just one more grift, from the master.
SECRET UN MARITIME COMMITTEE CATERS TO FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY: During a contentious meeting over proposed climate regulations last fall, a Saudi diplomat to the obscure but powerful International Maritime Organization switched on his microphone to make an angry complaint: One of his colleagues was revealing the proceedings on Twitter as they happened. It was a breach of the secrecy at the heart of the I.M.O., a clubby United Nations agency on the banks of the Thames that regulates international shipping and is charged with reducing emissions in an industry that burns an oil so thick it might otherwise be turned into asphalt. Shipping produces as much carbon dioxide as all of America’s coal plants combined. Internal documents, recordings and dozens of interviews reveal what has gone on for years behind closed doors: The organization has repeatedly delayed and watered down climate regulations, even as emissions from commercial shipping continue to rise, a trend that threatens to undermine the goals of the 2016 Paris climate accord. One reason for the lack of progress is that the I.M.O. is a regulatory body that is run in concert with the industry it regulates. Shipbuilders, oil companies, miners, chemical manufacturers and others with huge financial stakes in commercial shipping are among the delegates appointed by many member nations. They sometimes even speak on behalf of governments, knowing that public records are sparse, and that even when the organization allows journalists into its meetings, it typically prohibits them from quoting people by name. An agency lawyer underscored that point last fall in addressing the Saudi complaint. “This is a private meeting,” warned the lawyer, Frederick J. Kenney.