TRUMP WILL DELIVER SPEECH TONIGHT AT NC GOP CONVENTION: President Donald Trump is returning to North Carolina for one of his highest-profile appearances since leaving the White House. And he’s hyping his Saturday night speech at the NCGOP state convention in Greenville in a very Trump way. “A great honor to be speaking at the North Carolina GOP convention tomorrow night. I understand the place will be packed, all records broken!” Trump said in a statement Friday. Trump, who carried the state during both of his presidential bids, will speak at 7 p.m. at the Greenville Convention Center after a 5:30 p.m. dinner. It is a ticketed event for about 1,250 people and is sold out. “North Carolina produced a big victory for us, without a fraudulent outcome — missing ballots, illegal voting, dead people voting, and all of the other Democrat tricks,” Trump said in statement Friday.
ROWAN MIDDLE-SCHOOLERS MAKE VIDEO MOCKING GEORGE FLOYD KILLING: A video posted to social media appears to show two North Carolina middle school students mockingly re-enacting the murder of George Floyd. In the video, just a few seconds long, one student kneels on the other's neck and gives a thumbs-up as the other student says "I can't breathe." The student recording the video can be heard laughing. Floyd's cousin, the Reverend Brian Davis, said he had to turn away. "That is the most recent display of ignorance, inhumanity and disrespect," Davis said. "The fact that anyone could find it something to laugh about – absolutely an insult." The students in the video are from Erwin Middle School in Rowan County, between Greensboro and Charlotte. Administrators did not respond to questions from WRAL News about potential disciplinary action, or whether any staff members were in the room at the time the students were making the video.
NC WILL RETURN TO USING AMPLIFY TO ASSESS READING CAPABILITIES, ISTATION IS OUT: Two years and a lawsuit later, North Carolina’s elementary schools will return to the program they had used for many years to test the reading skills of their youngest students. The State Board of Education approved Thursday a three-year, $14.5 million contract with Amplify Education to use its mClass program to assess K-3 students for the state’s Read To Achieve program. The state board’s decision in 2019 to replace mClass with the Istation program led to litigation that left schools in the middle. Amid the controversy, schools had been allowed this school year to pick from five different programs, including mClass and Istation. But starting next school year, the state will only pay for districts to use mClass. Under Read To Achieve, North Carolina elementary schools are required to test K-3 students throughout the year. In 2019, the state board approved a 3-year, $8.3 million contract with Istation at the recommendation of then State Superintendent Mark Johnson. K-3 teachers used to have their students read out loud to them using mClass to assess their skills. Under Istation, students have been tested on a computer program, with the results being provided to teachers.
SOME PROGRESS BEING MADE ON INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE BETWEEN BIDEN AND GOP: The White House on Friday rejected a new counteroffer from Senate Republicans on funding for infrastructure reform, saying the party’s latest proposal — which included an additional $50 billion in spending — marked a welcome move, but one that still falls far short of what President Biden is seeking. In total, Republicans now appear to have offered to spend nearly $980 billion on infrastructure. More than $300 billion of that amount appears to represent new federal investments, with the rest of the proposal reflecting existing or expected spending as part of regular congressional efforts to fund improvements in water and transportation. Biden has signaled during negotiations he is open to slimming down his package, known as the American Jobs Plan, to about $1 trillion from its initial $2.3 trillion price tag. But the president has also maintained that infrastructure spending should include entirely new investments — meaning that the gap between Democrats and Republicans is more vast than it appears. Both sides said they planned to resume talks on Monday, with Congress set to return after its latest recess. And Psaki signaled the White House could soon broaden its conversations further to other burgeoning efforts in the Senate to craft a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Psaki earlier Friday declined to set a deadline or specify that the talks are at their end. “There’s runway left,” she said at her news briefing, even though she said there are some “realities of timelines.” That includes ongoing work in the House and Senate to reauthorize a series of key federal transportation programs, an effort long seen as a potential vehicle for a broader infrastructure deal. Earlier in the day, Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), the leader of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, released his $547 billion plan to fund the nation’s roads and railways. The panel is set to begin considering the measure next week.
TRUMP'S FACEBOOK BAN EXTENDED TO JANUARY 2023: The social network said Mr. Trump would be eligible for reinstatement in January 2023, before the next presidential election. It will then look to experts to decide “whether the risk to public safety has receded,” Facebook said. The company barred Mr. Trump from the service after he made comments on social media that rallied his supporters, who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but it had not given a firm timeline about when or if the suspension would end. “Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,” Nick Clegg, the vice president of global affairs at Facebook, wrote in a company blog post. If reinstated, Mr. Trump would be subject to a set of “rapidly escalating sanctions” if he committed further violations, up to and including the permanent suspension of his account, Facebook said. Facebook also said it was ending a policy of keeping posts by politicians up by default even if their speech broke its rules. For years, Facebook and other social media companies had said they would not interfere with political speech because it was in the public interest. During Mr. Trump’s presidency, the companies did not rein in his inflammatory language as he attacked enemies and spread misinformation. They changed their stance after Mr. Trump’s use of social media on the day of the Capitol attack. Facebook’s rethinking of how to treat political speech has implications not only for American politics but also for world leaders such as President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, who have been active on the platform.