Thursday News: The other 1619 project


UNC ALUMNI TAKE OUT 2-PAGE AD FOR HANNAH-JONES TENURE: The ad, paid for by Proud UNC Alumni, lists the names and graduation years for all 1,619 people. It calls for Hannah-Jones to receive tenure from UNC as she becomes the Knight Chair for Race and Investigative Journalism at UNC-CH starting in July. Hannah-Jones’ contract is for five years but does not include tenure, even though previous Knight Chairs in the journalism school were tenured. The issue has created a firestorm for UNC in the past week, with some saying they think conservative politicians were behind the effort not to grant tenure. “Dismissing a list of merits that includes winning a Pulitzer Prize, Peabody Award, and MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant is an attempt to penalize Nikole Hannah-Jones for her groundbreaking and unvarnished reporting of American history. We demand that the Board of Trustees immediately revisit this matter, grant tenure as recommended by the appropriate faculty, Dean, and Provost, and restore the integrity of our University.”

ADVOCATES PROTEST THE WOOD PELLET INDUSTRY AT DOA BUILDING IN RALEIGH: Donna Chavis, from Robeson County, said she’s constantly amazed by the loss of forests. Her Lumbee community was hit hard by two major hurricanes in the last five years, and she said logging made the storm damage worse. "Elders and farmers and homeowners testify to the impact added to the storms because of the loss of trees that have always served to mitigate the force of the storms and the flooding," Chavis said. Rev. Richie Harding, founder of Gaston Youth, said the health impact that comes with those jobs is too high a price to pay. "Most of these facilities, they come into areas like mine: Black neighborhoods where people, they just aren't going to fight. They're tired of fighting over and over and over," Harding said. The activists want Department of Environmental Quality regulators to take a tougher approach to the industry, and they want the state to stop subsidizing it – the industry has received at least $7 million in incentives to open and expand plants in North Carolina.

BURR & TILLIS WANT NC TO STOP ACCEPTING FEDERAL UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, in a statement aimed at Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, said the federal unemployment insurance on top of state benefits is hurting business owners across the state who are “struggling to hire enough workers to reopen this summer.” “The employment shortage caused by exorbitant federal unemployment benefits is a real and serious threat to North Carolina’s recovery,” Tillis and Burr wrote. “... The governor should immediately end expanded federal unemployment insurance.” In an email, a Cooper spokesman expressed skepticism and said he’s already working with business and government leaders to get people back to work, without cutting people’s unemployment benefits. “North Carolina has among the stingiest and shortest unemployment benefits in the country and many families are dealing with issues such as lack of affordable child care and finding jobs with livable wages,” Cooper spokesman Ford Porter wrote. But not everyone agrees with the premise that people aren’t working due to unemployment benefits. North Carolina currently has more people looking for work than before the pandemic, wrote Alexandra Sirota, budget and tax director of the left-leaning N.C. Justice Center think tank. So if businesses can’t find workers, she said, it’s not due to a shortage of labor but rather a shortage of jobs offering decent wages.

FIRED DURHAM DEPUTY GETS HELP FROM NEW YORK LAW FIRM IN ANTI-VACCINATION LAWSUIT: The Informed Consent Action Network, a Texas-based nonprofit group founded by former daytime television producer Del Bigtree that campaigns against requiring vaccines, in part by citing unsubstantiated or debunked claims about their dangers, has advertised Siri & Glimstad’s services and sought plaintiffs for challenges to mandates. A formal collaboration is underway in North Carolina, where Siri & Glimstad attorneys are co-counsel in a case brought last month in federal court against the Durham County Sheriff’s Department. The local attorney participating in the case, Jeff Dobson, declined to comment. The plaintiff in the case, Christopher Neve, directed questions to Siri & Glimstad. After Neve refused to disclose his vaccination status in March, the sheriff confiscated his badge, gun and bulletproof vest and placed him on administrative leave, according to the complaint. He was fired later that month, the complaint alleges. Durham County Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead declined to be interviewed but said in a statement, “Requiring the vaccine not only protects employees from covid-19, but also provides for the protection of anyone who lives in, works in, or visits Durham County.” The arguments set forth in the North Carolina complaint mirror those outlined in letters from Siri, both sent on April 22, to the presidents of Rutgers and Princeton University. ICAN’s legal team remains active on other vaccine-related fronts. Earlier this month, Siri & Glimstad filed a complaint on ICAN’s behalf asking a federal court to order Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to remove the finding that “vaccines do not cause autism” from all communication with the public. If this firing/lawsuit has been mentioned by NC news outlets, I have missed it. Pay attention.

TALIBAN GOBBLES UP TERRITORY AS U.S. FORCES WITHDRAW FROM AFGHANISTAN: By mid-month, security forces had surrendered all seven outposts after extended negotiations, according to village elders. At least 120 soldiers and police were given safe passage to the government-held provincial center in return for handing over weapons and equipment. “We told them, ‘Look, your situation is bad — reinforcements aren’t coming,’” said Nabi Sarwar Khadim, 53, one of several elders who negotiated the surrenders. Since May 1, at least 26 outposts and bases in just four provinces — Laghman, Baghlan, Wardak and Ghazni — have surrendered after such negotiations, according to village elders and government officials. With morale diving as American troops leave, and the Taliban seizing on each surrender as a propaganda victory, each collapse feeds the next in the Afghan countryside. Among the negotiated surrenders were four district centers, which house local governors, police and intelligence chiefs — effectively handing the government facilities to Taliban control and scattering the officials there, at least temporarily. The Taliban have negotiated Afghan troop surrenders in the past, but never at the scale and pace of the base collapses this month in the four provinces extending east, north and west of Kabul. The tactic has removed hundreds of government forces from the battlefield, secured strategic territory and reaped weapons, ammunition and vehicles for the Taliban — often without firing a shot. The surrenders are the work of Taliban Invitation and Guidance Committees, which intervene after insurgents cut off roads and supplies to surrounded outposts. Committee leaders or Taliban military leaders phone base commanders — and sometimes their families — and offer to spare troops’ lives if they surrender their outposts, weapons and ammunition.