Thursday News: Kingmaker?


MADISON CAWTHORN IS ADVISING TRUMP ON NC REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES: In less than two years, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn went from a little-known 24-year-old candidate to a Republican congressman with access to former President Donald Trump. Now at 26, Cawthorn has positioned himself as a bit of a kingmaker. He made that clear earlier this month, when he and Trump met with two potential candidates for Congress seeking endorsements and he brought a list of the Republicans who have Cawthorn’s seal of approval to represent most of North Carolina’s 14 districts. “Congressman Cawthorn appreciates any opportunity he has to speak with the President about the future of our party,” said Luke Ball, Cawthorn’s spokesman, in a written statement. “President Donald J. Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, and the future is America First.” You know, if it wasn't for gerrymandering, I would find this amusing, and not horrifying.

NC CHARTER SCHOOL FALSIFIED RECORDS OF SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS: North Carolina could close one of Raleigh’s oldest charter schools amid allegations that school officials falsified records of some special-education students. Torchlight Academy is accused of “grossly negligent administrative oversight” of its exceptional children’s program, including “alteration and falsification” of records of some special-needs students. The State Board of Education will vote Thursday on whether to put Torchlight on probation, triggering a 30-day window to fix the various problems or risk revocation of its charter. The recommendation for disciplinary action was made last week by the N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Board, a group of charter school leaders that advise the state board. Torchlight’s leaders asked the advisory board for grace given its history of helping to educate low-income and minority students since 1999. “Why should this board be recommending revocation to a school like ours? We’re the only school in a Black neighborhood serving Black and brown children and successfully doing it.” As I mentioned yesterday, procedures matter, especially when dealing with special needs students.

BURGAW DEPUTIES FORCED TO SHOOT (AND KILL) DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SUSPECT: A North Carolina man was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies trying to serve a domestic violence protective order, a sheriff's office said. Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler said the deputies were attempting to serve the order in the Canetuck community around 10 a.m. on Tuesday when they encountered an armed person, news outlets reported. The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation identified the man on Wednesday as Kevin Glenn Swinson, 45. Cutler said a shooting ensued, but provided no additional details, only saying that the deputies, Grant Simme and John Dragocastano, were not hurt. District Attorney Ben David said both deputies will be placed on leave as an investigation into the shooting gets underway. The NCSBI is looking into the shooting. Tell me again how we don't need gun permits issued by NC's local sheriiffs? I'll be waiting...

JOE MANCHIN IS REALLY STARTING TO PISS ME OFF: A push by Senate Democrats to pass a roughly $2 trillion tax-and-spending measure before Christmas appeared in dire political peril on Wednesday, as talks soured between President Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) over the size and scope of the economic package. Despite days of negotiations, the gaps between the two sides seemed newly immense. Biden sought to safeguard his economic agenda from significant cuts, while Manchin continued to insist on steep spending reductions. The private wrangling offered a marked contrast with the public proclamations of progress coming from both powerful Democrats in recent weeks. The impasse left party lawmakers on Capitol Hill impatient and frustrated, after they spent months trying to slim down their original spending ambitions to win Manchin’s still-elusive support. Some Democrats grew especially concerned about the fate of one of their most widely touted proposals — an extension of a soon-expiring federal program that provides roughly 35 million families with monthly child tax aid. Without a resolution, those Americans could have received their final payment Wednesday. A longtime holdout on the package, Manchin for months has maintained concerns that Democrats are spending too much, and too quickly, potentially compounding the risks of inflation at a time when prices are rising at a rapid clip. He successfully negotiated down the party’s original package from its initial $3.5 trillion price tag earlier this year, frustrating liberal lawmakers. But the senator never endorsed the roughly $2 trillion legislation that emerged from the House, a proposal that aims to expand Medicare, authorize universal prekindergarten, invest new sums to combat climate change and expand federal safety net programs. Instead, Manchin over the past two weeks has intensified his criticisms about inflation and repeated his desire that Democrats hit pause on the process. So all that negotiating and compromising just to please Manchin was a waste of time. Grrr...

ANTARCTIC ICE SHELF IS COMING APART FASTER THAN WE FEARED IT WOULD: The ice shelf was cracking up. Surveys showed warm ocean water eroding its underbelly. Satellite imagery revealed long, parallel fissures in the frozen expanse, like scratches from some clawed monster. One fracture grew so big, so fast, scientists took to calling it “the dagger.” “It was hugely surprising to see things changing that fast,” said Erin Pettit. The Oregon State University glaciologist had chosen this spot for her Antarctic field research precisely because of its stability. While other parts of the infamous Thwaites Glacier crumbled, this wedge of floating ice acted as a brace, slowing the melt. It was supposed to be boring, durable, safe. Now climate change has turned the ice shelf into a threat — to Pettit’s field work, and to the world. Planet-warming pollution from burning fossil fuels and other human activities has already raised global temperatures more than 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit). But the effects are particularly profound at the poles, where rising temperatures have seriously undermined regions once locked in ice. The rapid transformation of the Arctic and Antarctic creates ripple effects all over the planet. Sea levels will rise, weather patterns will shift and ecosystems will be altered. Unless humanity acts swiftly to curb emissions, scientists say, the same forces that have destabilized the poles will wreak havoc on the rest of the globe. “The Arctic is a way to look into the future,” said Matthew Druckenmiller, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and another co-editor of the Arctic Report Card. “Small changes in temperature can have huge effects in a region that is dominated by ice.”