Wednesday News: Back to school


NC SENATE PASSES BILL FORCING CLASSROOMS TO REOPEN: The state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a measure that would force school districts across North Carolina to reopen their doors to students who want the option of in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic. With the 29-15 vote – two Democrats joined Senate Republicans in supporting the measure – Senate Bill 37 now heads to the House. It's scheduled to go through two committees on Wednesday before a Thursday floor vote, meaning it could be on Gov. Roy Cooper's desk by the end of the week. Cooper has expressed reservations about the bill, saying decisions about reopening should be left up to local school boards. Still, he urged districts last week to get more students in classrooms.

SHORTAGE OF VACCINE DOSES HALTS DURHAM MEGASITE OPENING: The county, in partnership with Duke University and the state’s Office of Emergency Management, announced plans for the megasite last month with the goal of vaccinating 17,000 people a week. On Jan. 25, Jenkins said the state had been working with Fidelity Investments to open the clinic. A location hadn’t been announced yet, but there were plans to open it in early February. But those plans are on hold now, Jenkins told the county commissioners, until the state gets more first and second vaccine doses. “It’s not necessarily the best news that we want to hear, but I’m confident that when supplies become a little bit more robust, that that is going to go back on,” he said. “But planning for that has been paused at this time.” Like other states, North Carolina has struggled with supply as well as equity in its vaccine rollout, with white people overrepresented among those who have received a shot, The N&O reported.

FBI IS NOW INVESTIGATING HOMEMADE EXPLOSIVE DEVICES BEING FOUND IN GIBSONVILLE: The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting the Gibsonville Police Department in the investigation of homemade explosive devices found in a Gibsonville residential area. At least five homemade explosive devices have been found on Wood Street since Jan. 22, and residents reported hearing explosions over the past few months, police said. The FBI is now offering a reward of $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those involved. The previous reward from Gibsonville police and the Alamance County Sheriff's Office was $2,000. “The FBI is extremely concerned someone is reckless enough to build these devices and careless enough to leave them lying around a neighborhood for anyone to find. We are grateful no one has been hurt and committed to finding out who is responsible. We hope the community will help us resolve this dangerous situation,” said Robert R. Wells, special agent in charge of FBI Charlotte.

6 SENATE REPUBLICANS JOIN DEMOCRATS IN VOTE TO CONTINUE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: The Senate voted along mostly partisan lines Tuesday to pursue Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, after hours of arguments and the airing of a gripping documentary of the deadly Capitol riot that followed Trump’s inflammatory rally on Jan. 6. Aided by the graphic 13-minute video that spliced violent images of the Capitol siege with Trump’s rhetoric, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) and other impeachment managers delivered an impassioned account of the physical and emotional trauma to lawmakers, police, staffers and local residents. They said there was no “January exception” in the Constitution — meaning that a president couldn’t escape accountability through impeachment just because he had left office before the trial. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing,” Raskin said of Trump’s behavior. In a distinct appeal to a Republican Party that has long prided itself on its support of law enforcement, Raskin detailed the injuries suffered by 140 Capitol Police officers that day, such as brain damage, gouged eyes, heart attacks and mental trauma. At least two have died by suicide. The argument failed to sway 44 of the chamber’s 50 Republicans, with most favoring dismissing the case against Trump outright — a tally demonstrating the unlikelihood that 17 GOP senators will choose to join Democrats to convict the former president. That vote was similar to one taken by the Senate last month, in which only five Republicans — Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) — voted that an impeachment trial of a former president was constitutional. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) joined them Tuesday in breaking with their party to allow the trial to proceed.

KLANSMAN WHO DROVE TRUCK INTO BLM PROTESTERS GETS 3 YEARS 8 MONTHS IN PRISON: A member of the Ku Klux Klan who drove his pickup truck through a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters near Richmond, Va., last year while his girlfriend’s teenage son was in the vehicle was sentenced on Tuesday to three years and eight months in prison, officials said. The man, Harry H. Rogers of Hanover County, Va., drove his truck through the crowd of protesters in Henrico County on June 7 and was arrested later that day while he and others were monitoring another group of protesters about two miles away in Richmond, according Lieutenant J. De Groft, a spokesman for the Henrico County Police Department. No one was seriously injured in the episode. Mr. Rogers drove over one man’s toe and twice struck one woman who had stepped in front of the truck, according to The Associated Press. Before Mr. Rogers’s arrest, he had bragged about his actions on social media. “This Chevrolet 2500 went up on the curb and through the protest,” he said in a Facebook live video played in court last week, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. “It’s kind of funny if you ask me.” George Townsend, a lawyer for Mr. Rogers, told the court that his client had been “born into” the K.K.K., The A.P. reported. Mr. Townsend did not immediately respond to telephone and email messages late Tuesday night. Shannon L. Taylor, the Henrico County commonwealth’s attorney, had said that Mr. Rogers admitted he was a “leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a propagandist for Confederate ideology.” At his sentencing, Mr. Rogers told the court that he “didn’t make the right decisions that day,” The A.P. reported. No shit, Sherlock.