1.2 MILLION NORTH CAROLINIANS HAVE BEEN FULLY VACCINATED FOR CORONAVIRUS: At least 882,715 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 11,691 have died since last March, according to state health officials. At least 1,028 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Saturday, down from 1,037 reported the day before. As of Thursday, the latest date for which data are available, 5.4% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials have said 5% or lower is the target rate to control the spread of the virus. More than 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in North Carolina, and 1.2 million people in the state have been fully vaccinated as of Saturday.
WADESBORO COP UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR FLASHING WHITE SUPREMACY SIGN IN PHOTO: In the photo, Sgt. Thomas Luckey throws up the white power symbol while taking a senior night picture with his son on the soccer field at Richmond Senior High. Anson County commissioner Vancine Sturdivant said there is a long history of racist allegations against Luckey, who was recently caught on video using racial slurs against young Black men and is on administrative leave. "It's been going on too long," Sturdivant said. "He should have been terminated then." Two dozen people told reporters about their encounters with Luckey, experiences they say range from beatings to racial profiling to unwarranted traffic stops and searches and unlawful arrests where the charges were later dropped. For some neighbors, just talking about those experiences is painful. "Something needs to be done about him," one said. "He shouldn't be on the force working because his job is to protect and serve and that's not what he's doing." Others in the Wadesboro community said the display of white supremacy makes them fearful for their safety and the safety of their Black children.
REPUBLICAN WOMEN LAWMAKERS FILE BILL PROTECTING CAMPUS RAPISTS: North Carolina’s Senate Bill 117 is sponsored by Republican lawmakers Rep. Joyce Krawiec, Rep. Deanna Ballard and Rep. Vickie Sawyer. If passed, the new policy would go into effect next fall. The new bill would set a higher burden of proof for universities to find students responsible for sexual assault. It would ensure that all students have the right to legal counsel throughout an investigation and disciplinary process, and it would allow the cross-examination of witnesses. “The cards are always stacked against the victim,” said Catherine Johnson, director of the Guilford County Family Justice Center. Johnson works with campus Title IX coordinators and faculty who sit on student conduct boards. “Anytime we try to dilute that process, that creates more systemic barriers that survivors have to navigate,” Johnson said. “Certainly we want a fair and just process, but oftentimes survivors are carrying the heaviest burden.” And she said there’s no other crime where the emphasis is on victims to prove it, like there is with sexual and domestic violence.
SEVERAL COUNTRIES STOP USING ASTRAZENECA VACCINE OVER BLOOD CLOT ISSUES: Drugmaker AstraZeneca said late Sunday that there is no scientific evidence of any link between its coronavirus vaccine and recent deaths in Europe from blood clots, even as more countries have temporarily halted the use of the shot. In a statement, AstraZeneca said that of the 17 million people so far inoculated with its vaccine, jointly produced with Oxford University, there have only been 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis and 22 pulmonary embolisms. “This is much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed COVID-19 vaccines,” the company said. On Sunday, the Dutch government announced it was suspending use of the vaccine for the next two weeks while its safety was investigated. Ireland and Italy’s northern Piedmont region have halted its use as well. Last week, Norway, Denmark and a number of other countries stopped inoculations with the vaccine amid reports of deaths related to blood clotting. The vaccine has not been approved for use in the United States, although doses have been bought. Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said Monday that it has agreements with companies in Italy, Spain, France and Germany to produce its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine for the European Union, signaling Moscow’s confidence that the immunization will soon receive regulatory approval from the European Medicines Agency.
VOTING RIGHTS BILL HEADED FOR A CLASH WITH THE FILIBUSTER IN THE U.S. SENATE: The federal voting bill, which passed in the House this month with only Democratic support, includes a landmark national expansion of voting rights, an end to partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts and new transparency requirements on the flood of dark money financing elections that would override the rash of new state laws. But after approval of the Democratic bill in the House, the campaign to pass the For the People Act, designated Senate Bill 1, increasingly appears to be on a collision course with the filibuster. The rule requires 60 votes for passage of most legislation in a bitterly divided Senate, meaning that Republicans can kill the voting bill and scores of other liberal priorities despite unified Democratic control of Washington. To succeed, Democrats will have to convince a handful of moderate holdouts to change the rules, at least for this legislation, with the likelihood that a single defection in their own party would doom their efforts. It is a daunting path with no margin for error, but activists believe the costs for failure, given the Republican limits on voting, would be so high that some accommodation on the filibuster could become inevitable. “It is too important an issue and we are facing too big a crisis to let an arcane procedural motion hold back the passage of this bill,” Ms. Muller said. She argued that the rollback of voting rights was an existential threat to the democracy on which all other liberal causes, from gun control to health care reform, depend. The urgency for federal action has mounted not just among Washington lobbyists and Democratic lawmakers, but grass roots groups that normally fight battles in state legislatures and city councils. Many spent the winter opposing the Republican voting agenda that included curbs on mail-in and early voting and stiffer voter ID requirements.