Friday News: Long overdue


GOVERNOR COOPER ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER FOR PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: Starting Sept. 1, new mothers will get eight weeks paid leave after giving birth with full pay. Fathers and other partners will get four weeks, as will parents who adopt or take in a new foster child. The benefit kicks in after an employee has been with the state for one year. Before this, state policy required employees to take sick leave or vacation to spend time with a new child, and they could also take up to three months of unpaid leave. "During this important bonding time, our employees will no longer have to choose between their career and their child," Cooper said at a ceremony to sign the executive order. Some 56,000 state employees at state agencies under the governor will be eligible.

DURHAM LEADS ON TESTING OF RAPE KITS, BUT BACKLOG REMAINS: There has been a statewide push to get rid of the backlog of untested rape evidence kits. Attorney General Josh Stein said at a news conference Thursday that Durham is leading the charge to get evidence off of police shelves and into crime labs. “Durham is now the No. 2 city in the state of North Carolina in terms of moving kits off of the shelves, where they do us no good, and into the evidence analysis process, where we can eventually solve crimes,” Stein said. But even in Durham, which has sent in more untested rape kits than nearly everywhere else in the state, the city still has yet to clear even half of its backlog. Stein said the city previously had 1,700 untested kits, and since last October police have sent in 357 for testing. That means about 80 percent of the city’s untested rape kits will remain untested, for at least the near future.

BLACK MAN RELEASED AFTER BEING WRONGFULLY IMPRISONED FOR 40 YEARS: In an interview earlier this week, Finch told WNCN that he forgives the person who identified him as the killer "because he didn't know what he was doing." That person had said the killer was wearing a three-quarter length jacket. Finch said a detective had him wear a coat in the police lineup — and Finch was the only one wearing a coat in that lineup. "When I was picked up, they didn't question me or nothing. The put me there in a lineup. Straight in a lineup. And they put me in a lineup with a black leather coat on," Finch said. Coleman told WNCN that a highlight of the evidentiary hearing came "when we were able to expose that he had lied about the lineup and he had dressed Ray in a coat, and he was the only one wearing a coat in the lineup." The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in January that it was unlikely that jurors would have convicted Finch if they had known about flaws in a police lineup and questions about key witness testimony.

TRUMP LOOKING TO CIRCUMVENT CONGRESS ON ARMS SALE TO SAUDI ARABIA: Lawmakers and human rights advocates are anticipating that the administration may exploit a legal window that permits the president to circumvent congressional roadblocks, or “holds,” on proposed arms sales. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has placed such a hold on a planned sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, over concerns that the weapons may be used against civilian targets in war-torn Yemen. Such holds are common, and Republicans and Democrats have placed them on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf countries in recent years. Presidents have seldom exploited their emergency powers to work around them — and the prospect that Trump may try to blow through several objections to such arms sales has alarmed lawmakers, who are anxious to protect their authority to have a say on the executive branch’s ability to export lethal weaponry to foreign actors.

THEREXIT: MAY WILL RESIGN AS UK'S PRIME MINISTER JUNE 7: Theresa May announced Friday that she will step down as U.K. Conservative Party leader on June 7, admitting defeat in her attempt to take Britain out of the European Union and sparking a contest to become the country’s next prime minister. She will stay as caretaker prime minister until the new leader is chosen, a process likely to take several weeks. The new Conservative leader would then become prime minister without the need for a general election. Her voice breaking, May said in a televised statement outside 10 Downing St. that she would soon be leaving a job that it has been “the honor of my life to hold.” May became prime minister the month after Britons voted in June 2016 to leave the European Union, and her premiership has been consumed by the attempt to deliver on that verdict. Now she has bowed to relentless pressure from her party to quit over her failure to take Britain out of the EU on the scheduled date of March 29. Britain is currently due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, but Parliament has yet to approve divorce terms.