LEANDRO JUDGE ORDERS TRANSFER OF 1.7 BILLION TO SCHOOLS: State Superior Court Judge David Lee ruled Wednesday that North Carolina has failed to provide students with their Constitutional guarantee to a sound basic education. To remedy the violation, Lee ordered the state budget director, state treasurer and state controller to “take the necessary actions to transfer the total amount” to fund the next two years of a plan developed by an education consultant. Lee, speaking at a court hearing in Raleigh, said that the state Constitution empowers the courts to act when the other branches of government don’t follow their constitutional obligations. He said “the court’s deference is at an end” after waiting 17 years since the last time the N.C. Supreme Court said the state wasn’t meeting its educational obligations. “The repeated failure by the state is a constitutional violation that has to be remedied,” Lee said. Didn't I just say that? I could have sworn...
MANY NC SCHOOLS WILL HAVE 4-DAY WEEKEND FOR VETERANS DAY: Many public school students in the Triangle and across North Carolina will get a four-day weekend over the Veterans Day holiday to give school employees a breather. North Carolina public schools are required by state law to be closed on Veterans Day, which will be Thursday this week. But multiple school districts, including Wake, Durham and Johnston counties, have recently modified their calendars to also cancel classes this Friday, Nov. 12, to turn it into a teacher workday. Some school districts are calling Friday a wellness day or a mental health day. A common factor raised among districts is that not having classes Friday will lessen pressure on employees working during a time of severe staff shortages. “We acknowledge the tremendous efforts of our students and staff over the past few months and know that while school may be back in session, many things have changed for our school communities due to the pandemic,” Bettina Umstead, chair of the Durham school board, said in a press release. “The mental health and well-being of our students and staff is a priority, and this day represents our district’s commitment to supporting wellness for all.” I, on the other hand, will likely be working this Saturday. Reminds me of my time in the military...
WILDFIRE IN STOKES COUNTY SPREADING QUICKLY: Dakota Paris, a forester for the N.C. Forest Service, said the fire at the southern tip of Sauratown Mountain started sometime early Tuesday morning, The Winston-Salem Journal reported. It’s not clear what started the wildfire. Crews used a bulldozer Tuesday to create a fire break and protect homes on Sugar Bush Lane in southwestern Stokes County. By early afternoon, the fire had covered about 3 acres after starting on the mountain’s ridgeline, said Jonathan Young, a Stokes County ranger with the N.C. Forest Service. The fire is burning in an area without access roads for vehicles. Jimmy Holt, the Guilford Ranger with the N.C. Forest Service, said controlling the fire will be difficult because of warm, dry weather with low humidity. Firefighters are using rocks and leaf blowers to create a fire line and keep flames from spreading, Holt said. A scout plane in the area is directing operations and a helicopter is dropping water, Holt said. And very likely getting that water from my happy place, Belew's Lake. :(
FUMIO KISHIDA WILL CONTINUE AS JAPAN'S PRIME MINISTER: Fumio Kishida, reelected as Japan’s prime minister on Wednesday after his governing party scored a major victory in key parliamentary elections, said the coronavirus remains the country's most urgent issue and pledged to take steps to mend the pandemic-battered economy. Kishida, who briefly met with U.S. President Joe Biden at the U.N. climate summit last week, said he hopes to visit Washington by the end of the year to deepen the bilateral alliance amid growing concerns about China's rise in the Indo-Pacific. Following his reelection by parliament on Wednesday, Kishida formed his second Cabinet by keeping all but one of the ministers he appointed when he took office on Oct. 4. He said the pandemic, the economy and national security are his top priorities. “Coronavirus remains the most urgent issue,” Kishida said at a late-night news conference, promising to outline new measures later this week to prepare for any surge in cases. Elected just over a month ago by parliament, Kishida called a quick national election in which his Liberal Democratic Party secured 261 seats in the 465-member lower house, enough to maintain a free hand in pushing through legislation.
CHINESE-U.S. RELATIONS THAW SOME OVER CLIMATE CHANGE: Jolting United Nations climate talks in their waning days, the United States and China issued a surprise announcement on Wednesday pledging the two countries would work together to slow warming during this decade and ensure that the Glasgow climate conference ends in success. The declaration was short on concrete deadlines and commitments, and parts of it simply restated efforts that were already underway. But its timing and tone seemed intended to grease the Glasgow negotiations as they entered their crucial final stretch. Wednesday night was the first evening of negotiations that promised to drag into the late hours. And the pledge to work together on climate from the world’s two biggest emitters — bitter rivals in so many other arenas — was a sign they wanted to carry the fractious talks to the finish line. U.S. special climate envoy John F. Kerry called the declaration “a step we can build on in order to help close the gap” on emissions. Speaking just ahead of Kerry, China’s special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said the two countries would reiterate the importance of the Paris temperature goal of limiting warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, with a goal of not exceeding 1.5 degrees. With just a few days remaining to reach a COP26 agreement, he said the countries were focused on developing transparency regulations for reporting and tracking emissions and developing rules for a carbon market. “Both sides recognize there is a gap between the current efforts and the Paris agreement goals,” Xie said told reporters. This may have much more to do with Xi Jinping's upcoming vote of confidence (or lack of) from Communist Party elites, than it does an actual change of stance. If the vote goes his way, he will become a "hero" of the Chinese people, third only to Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai (they threw Mao under the bus, apparently). Which will mean, basically, that Xi can do whatever he wants without worrying about internal ramifications. Don't ask me if this is good or bad, because I don't know.