Friday News: Climate heroes

GRETA THUNBERG IN CHARLOTTE TODAY TO SUPPORT 14 YEAR-OLD ACTIVIST MARY STEVENS: A visit to Charlotte on Friday by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg will focus new attention on climate change. But for months, a local student has also clamored for action in lonely vigils outside the city’s halls of power. Each Friday since February, Myers Park High School ninth-grader Mary Ellis Stevens, 14, sometimes joined by a few friends, has held “climate strikes” outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. Mary Ellis’ strikes are part of a global phenomenon. An estimated 4 million young people worldwide, including hundreds in Charlotte, poured into the streets for climate protests on Sept. 20. Friday’s event will be from noon to 2 p.m. outside the government center. Thunberg and Mary Ellis were aware of each other through social media, Mary Ellis said, but not until Wednesday had they directly communicated: I’m coming to join you in Charlotte this Friday, Thunberg wrote in a message.

DAN FOREST GOES FULL-ON FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS WITH ACROSS-THE-BOARD VOUCHER PLAN: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest wants to let every North Carolina family, regardless of their income, be able to receive a state-funded voucher to attend a private school. Forest made school choice the central piece of his education plan that he released Thursday morning in his campaign to win the Republican nomination for governor in 2020. Forest said he’d continue to give priority for low-income families to receive the vouchers through a weighted selection lottery but would expand the eligibility criteria “to allow every family in North Carolina the chance to choose a school that works for them.” “Dan Forest’s new plan is essentially a roundup of his empty rhetoric on education; it fails to address meaningful reforms to support students and pay teachers what they deserve,” Liz Doherty, a spokeswoman for Cooper’s campaign, said in a statement Thursday. “Instead, it proposes underfunding and robbing our schools to pay for private school vouchers. It’s not surprising given this is the same man who, when pressed about teacher pay, shrugged his shoulders and insisted no one is ‘forcing’ teachers to take these jobs.”

PITTSBORO CONFEDERATE STATUE REMOVAL POSTPONED BY THE COURTS: A judge was expected to rule Friday on the immediate future of the Confederate statue that stands outside the Chatham County Courthouse. But late Thursday afternoon, WRAL News learned the court hearing was delayed until next week. Court officials told WRAL that an exact date for the new hearing had not yet been determined. In the hearing, a judge will decide if Chatham County government officials can proceed with the removal of the Confederate statue, or if they must wait until a lawsuit filed by the local United Daughters of the Confederacy and three Chatham County residents has been fully resolved. County Commissioners contend the Confederate statue is the property of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In August, commissioners voted to revoke the license that allowed the statue to stand outside the Courthouse.

TRUMP TELL-ALL PENNED BY "ANONYMOUS" TO BE PUBLISHED SOON: A forthcoming book by an anonymous author identified only as "a senior official in the Trump administration" describes President Donald Trump as volatile, incompetent and unfit to be commander in chief, according to excerpts published Thursday by The Washington Post. The book describes racist and misogynist behind-the-scenes statements by Trump and says he "stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information." The Post acquired a copy of the book, "A Warning," and first reported on its contents Thursday. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham released a statement late Thursday saying, "The coward who wrote this book didn't put their name on it because it is nothing but lies." In the book, due out Nov. 19, the writer claims senior administration officials considered resigning as a group last year in a "midnight self-massacre," but ultimately decided such an act would do more harm than good.

TRUMP EPA OFFICIAL IS ACTIVELY OBSTRUCTING A PROBE INTO HIS ACTIVITIES: The audit of Mr. Jackson followed a New York Times report on emails that revealed efforts to pressure a scientist, Deborah Swackhamer, into altering her planned testimony before the House Science Committee in order to play down the dismissal of expert advisers from the agency. At the time, Dr. Swackhamer said she had “felt bullied.” The topic of the second matter is not known. However, E.P.A. officials said that they believed it is linked to Mr. Jackson’s involvement in the 2018 firing of Madeline Morris, who worked as a scheduler for Scott Pruitt, the former head of the E.P.A. A New York Times article revealed that Mr. Jackson, along with another senior staff member, put pressure on Ms. Morris to retroactively delete some potentially problematic meetings from Mr. Pruitt’s calendar, which would have been a federal crime, and then fired her when she refused to do so. Mr. Jackson has been a powerful player at the E.P.A. since the start of the Trump administration. He first served as powerful lieutenant to Mr. Pruitt, working to roll back environmental regulations even as Mr. Pruitt became ensnared in ethics scandals that eventually led to his resignation. He has also worked as a senior aide to Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, who has denied the established science of human-caused climate change.