NC'S COVID 19 CASE COUNT PASSES ONE MILLION MARK: At least 1,001,154 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 13,078 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 738 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, down from 849 the day before. At least 694 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, up from 681 the day before. As of Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 3.8% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Roughly 53% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 48.8% are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.
WAKE COUNTY WILL CONTINUE HAVING SCHOOL COPS, BUT UNDER NEW GUIDELINES: The latest agreement clarifies when law enforcement can intervene in cases of student misconduct and outlines increased communication with law enforcement and the community. It stops short of banning officer use of force against students, for which many opponents of the program have been asking. It’s the latest iteration of the agreement after the Wake County Board of Education agreed to review the school resource officer program after community complaints concerning use of force and racial bias in court referrals by those resource officers. Still, many community members have wanted to dismantle the program entirely. Level 1 misconduct — such as inappropriate language, noncompliance, using cell phones when prohibited — shouldn’t require intervention. Level 2 misconduct — such as disruptive behavior, property damage, indecent exposure or threats — may intermittently require intervention, the draft states. But the majority of law enforcement intervention would fall under the next three levels, which include drug possession, firearm possession or anything that would lead to permanent expulsion.
FIREWORKS MISSING THIS MEMORIAL DAY DUE TO DROUGHT BURNING BANS: A burning ban covering 26 counties in North Carolina means fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are prohibited in those areas for the Memorial Day weekend, a state agency said. The N.C. Department of Agriculture said in a news release on Friday that with nearly half the state in moderate drought status and little rain in the forecast, the N.C. Forest Service officials urges residents to avoid unnecessary risk with fire. “There is a little bit of rain in the forecast, and we’ll keep an eye on that, looking for significant improvement in those drought conditions,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in the news release. "Until then, fireworks are not a risk we can take in those 26 counties currently under the burn ban, and we strongly urge anyone outside those counties to think twice about using fireworks this weekend.” Since the burn ban took effect, the forest service has responded to more than 70 wildfires, although not all of them have occurred in the ban area.
TEXAS DEMS WALK OUT TO STOP VOTER SUPPRESSION BILL: The surprise move came after impassioned late-night debate and procedural objections about the GOP-backed legislation, which would have made it harder to vote by mail, empowered partisan poll watchers and made it easier to overturn election results. Republicans faced a midnight deadline to approve the measure. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) tweeted that he would add the bill to a special session he plans to call later this year to address legislative redistricting. “Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session,” he wrote. But it was an unmistakable defeat for the governor and fellow Republicans, who had crafted one of the most far-reaching voting bills in the country — pushing restrictions championed by former president Donald Trump, who has falsely claimed that his defeat in the 2020 election was tainted by fraud. The exodus from the floor came after Chris Turner, the House Democratic chairman, sent instructions to colleagues at 10:35 p.m. Central time instructing them to exit the House, according to an image shared with The Washington Post. “Members, take your key and leave the chamber discreetly,” Turner wrote, referring to the key that locks the voting mechanism on their desks. “Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building.” After the walkout, House Democrats assembled at a predominantly Black church in Austin, Mt. Zion Fellowship Hall, to speak to reporters. Staff members said leaders chose the location to highlight the party’s successful fight against a bill they said would have targeted voters of color in particular.
UNLIKELY COALITION MAY FORCE NETANYAHU OUT OF OFFICE: The longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, Benjamin Netanyahu, faced the most potent threat yet to his grip on power Sunday after an ultranationalist power-broker, Naftali Bennett, said his party would work with opposition leaders to build an alternative government to force Mr. Netanyahu from office. If the maneuvering leads to a formal coalition agreement, it would be an uneasy alliance between eight relatively small parties with a diffuse range of ideologies. The prime minister’s post would rotate between two unlikely partners: Mr. Bennett, a former settler leader who rejects the concept of a sovereign Palestinian state and champions the religious right — and Yair Lapid, a former television host who is considered a voice of secular centrists. “I will work with all my power to form a national unity government together with my friend Yair Lapid,” Mr. Bennett said in a speech Sunday night. He added, “If we succeed, we will be doing something huge for the state of Israel.” Mr. Bennett’s announcement came shortly after an armed conflict with Palestinians in Gaza that many thought had improved Mr. Netanyahu’s chances of hanging on to his post. Because of the profound ideological differences within the emerging coalition, which would include both leftist and far-right members, its leaders have indicated their government would initially avoid pursuing initiatives that could exacerbate their political incompatibility, such as those related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and focus instead on infrastructure and economic policy.