Saturday News: Par for the course


REPUBLICANS FILE BILL TO BLOCK FUTURE TEACHER RALLIES: The state House Education budget released on Friday would change state law to say that schools can’t give permission for teachers to use personal leave on a school day unless they can confirm that a substitute teacher is available. School districts have cited the lack of substitutes to cancel classes, both for last year’s mass teacher rally and the one scheduled for May 1 in Raleigh. “A local board of education shall not alter a school calendar once adopted unless necessary to address a severe weather condition, energy shortage, utility failure, public health crisis, school safety crisis, emergency related to a school building or school transportation, or act of God,” according to the budget documents.

RELATIVES OF VICTIMS OPPOSE "DEATH BY DISTRIBUTION" BILL DEALING WITH FATAL OVERDOSES: "If we're going after drug dealers, I have absolutely no problem with that," Batch responded. "[But] it will likely not be drug dealers. It will inadvertently be citizens who happen to be using drugs together." The mothers of two overdose victims agreed. "This legislation is just a knee-jerk reaction because people want revenge," Lettie Micheletto said. "I totally get that because I did too." Tessie Castillo of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition said that hasn't been the case elsewhere, however. West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania lead the nation in overdose deaths, and all have death by distribution laws on the books, she said. The majority of those prosecuted under those laws are friends and relatives of the victims, she said. The bill passed House Judiciary on a 14-12 vote and could be on the House floor by next week. The Senate has a similar bill pending.

OKLAHOMA POLICE SHOOT 3 CHILDREN RIDING IN VEHICLE WITH ROBBERY SUSPECT: Brook Arbeitman, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said gunfire broke out when detectives with the Hugo Police Department in southeastern Oklahoma were trying to approach the suspect, 21-year-old William Devaughn Smith. She said Smith is suspected in an April 11 armed robbery at a Pizza Hut in Hugo, which is near the Texas state line. The three injured children and a fourth child were all in the truck with Smith, Arbeitman said. The bureau initially said two children were shot but later learned a third child was also struck. Officials did not immediately release the names, ages or conditions of the children. Smith was treated and released at a hospital in Paris, Texas, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Hugo. Paris Police Chief Bob Hundle said he did not know the details of what happened in Hugo but that his officers took Smith into custody so that he could be booked at the Lamar County, Texas, jail on a warrant for aggravated robbery.

TRUMP SUCKS UP TO THE NRA BY VOWING TO NEVER RATIFY ARMS CONTROL TREATY: In a speech to National Rifle Association members on Friday that was part political rally and part pep talk, President Trump called himself a champion of gun rights. Then he proved it, whipping out a pen onstage to sign a letter that would effectively cease America’s involvement in an arms treaty designed to regulate the international sale of conventional weapons. Mr. Trump said that his administration “will never” ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, which seeks to discourage the sale of conventional weapons to countries that do not protect human rights. Critics see it as a concession to the gun lobby, and another effort by the Trump administration to distance itself from multilateral diplomatic initiatives — from the nuclear deal with Iran to the Paris climate agreement — that advocates say are meant to make the world a safer place. “The president’s action today is yet another mistaken step that threatens to make the world less safe, rather than more secure,” Thomas Countryman, a former assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation and lead American negotiator on the Arms Trade Treaty, said in a statement.

JOURNALIST MURDERED BY "NEW" IRA UNDERSCORES TROUBLES IN NORTHERN IRELAND: The main political parties in Northern Ireland have agreed to restart negotiations to revive the province’s dormant regional parliament, a week after the murder of a journalist by nationalist militants exacerbated concerns that the political vacuum had contributed to a breakdown in the Northern Irish peace process. Northern Ireland has been mostly ruled by a coalition of the region’s largest nationalist party and its largest unionist counterpart, which are currently Sinn Fein and the D.U.P. But that power-sharing agreement collapsed in January 2017, following allegations of unionist corruption and subsequent disagreements over same-sex marriage and the legal status of the Irish language. A dissident group known in the news media as the New Irish Republican Army has claimed responsibility for her death, in an apology that said their intention was to target the police. A video that circulated on social media appears to show the moment when a masked gunman fired the bullet that killed Ms. McKee. But the gunman has yet to be identified, and three people arrested in connection to Ms. McKee’s death have been released.