Wednesday News: License to kill


IMMUNITY FOR NC NURSING HOMES WAS A BIG MISTAKE: In a lawsuit filed last month, Noguera and Talent allege that the staff at Brighton Gardens of Charlotte failed to give Quirindongo medication to help her breathe, ease her pain and quell her anxiety as she died of congestive heart failure — when the heart doesn’t pump blood properly. In her final hours, Quirindongo’s children received little help from staff as they watched their mother claw at her neck and cry for help as her lungs filled with fluid, effectively drowning her, they allege. Still, Noguera and Talent’s lawsuit is expected to be swiftly dismissed by a judge, because of a temporary law passed by North Carolina’s state legislature last year. That measure gives health care providers and facilities sweeping immunity from civil liability during the pandemic.

REPUBLICAN TAX CUT BILL WOULD PHASE OUT CORPORATE TAX BY 2028: Republican lawmakers rolled out a bill Tuesday that they say will cut individual income taxes in North Carolina by more than $1 billion a year. The proposal also would phase out state corporate income taxes by 2028 and provide grants to businesses affected by pandemic-related shutdowns over the past year. But it wouldn't allow people who lost jobs during the pandemic to deduct their unemployment benefits. The bill also would reduce the corporate tax rate by 0.5 percent a year from 2024 to 2028. After that, businesses would pay no state income tax. The business tax cuts amount to less than $500 million a year – less than half the impact of the proposed tax cuts for individuals and families – he said, adding that the state isn't sacrificing education funding or other priorities with the planned cuts. But Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue said the tax cut plan adds up to a permanent state budget cut of more than 7 percent. "That has long-range implications," said Blue, D-Wake. "We have great needs that weren't met. A lot of the stuff that we've been able to do over the last year we've done because of the aggressive funding by the federal government."

ALAMANCE-BURLINGTON SCHOOL BOARD MEETING ADJOURNED EARLY OVER BLM IN YEARBOOK TENSIONS: “He’s not going to speak to me in that manner,” Simpson said. “If you want me to calm down then everybody else needs to. Otherwise adjourn the meeting. But if you come after me Mr. Rose, I’m coming back after you.” Audience members who were critical of the yearbook article yelled comments at Simpson, who by then had risen out of her seat. Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, who was at the board meeting for another matter, got out of his seat to intervene. “What actions are we making for our kids?” Johnson, whose handling of the Black Lives Matter protests has been questioned by some, said to Simpson and the audience. “If we can’t get along, how do we expect our kids?” “You should never have come in here with this bullcrap bit if you want to get along,” Simpson responded. “Getting along is acknowledging who I am as a person.” Johnson responded he had always acknowledged Simpson as a person. At this point, the board voted to adjourn the meeting early without getting to the rest of the agenda.

GRAND JURY IS CONVENED IN TRUMP PROBE BY MANHATTAN DA CYRUS VANCE JR.: The panel was convened recently and will sit three days a week for six months. It is likely to hear several matters — not just the Trump case ­— during its term, which is longer than a traditional New York state grand-jury assignment, these people said. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. Generally, special grand juries such as this are convened to participate in long-term matters rather than to hear evidence of crimes charged routinely. The move indicates that District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s investigation of the former president and his business has reached an advanced stage after more than two years. It suggests, too, that Vance thinks he has found evidence of a crime — if not by Trump, by someone potentially close to him or by his company. Vance’s investigation is expansive, according to people familiar with the probe and public disclosures made during related litigation. His investigators are scrutinizing Trump’s business practices before he was president, including whether the value of specific properties in the Trump Organization’s real estate portfolio were manipulated in a way that defrauded banks and insurance companies, and if any tax benefits were obtained illegally through unscrupulous asset valuation. The district attorney also is examining the compensation provided to top Trump Organization executives, people familiar with the matter have said. In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Trump called the seating of the grand jury “a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history.” Roiphe said the recent step of seating a long-term panel shows that Vance’s investigation has progressed to the point that prosecutors will visit the grand jury, present evidence and witnesses, and potentially ask that charges be considered. Prosecutors were unlikely to take that step without believing they had evidence to show there was probable cause to believe someone had committed a crime, she said.

BIDEN AND BLINKEN REACH OUT TO PALESTINIANS, PROMISE HELP IN REBUILDING: America’s top diplomat came to the seat of the Palestinian government on Tuesday with promises of additional aid, a reopened consulate in Jerusalem and a broad sympathetic pledge to rebuild ties that had been severed by the previous administration in favor of Israel. With the raw emotion of deaths and wreckage from an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas militants still fresh in the minds of both Israelis and Palestinians, the actions by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken represented, in tone at least, an attempted revival of America’s former role as a more neutral mediator in the Middle East’s most protracted conflict. It amounted to a sharp turnabout from the policies of former President Donald J. Trump, who had made no secret of siding with Israel by closing a political channel with the Palestinian Authority and cutting off humanitarian assistance to millions of Palestinians. But it also carries big risks. The Biden administration says it will help finance an enormous reconstruction effort in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, a militant group considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and many other countries. “The aspirations of the Palestinian people are like those of people everywhere,” Mr. Blinken said after meeting the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, at his presidential office in the occupied West Bank. The United States is committed, he said, “to working with the Palestinian people to realize these aspirations.” He then announced that the State Department would reopen a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to handle Palestinian affairs that had been shut by the Trump administration in 2019, and send an additional $112 million in aid and development funding to the West Bank and Gaza. He said that brings to more than $360 million the amount of aid that President Biden has provided since last month, annulling Trump administration cuts.