Wednesday News: Status quo


UNC BOG ASKS FOR JUDGE'S HELP IN GETTING STATUE AND MONEY BACK: The UNC System and its Board of Governors asked an Orange County judge Monday to help them get the Silent Sam Confederate statue back and then advise them what to do with it. The UNC system also wants the judge to order that the $2.5 million trust fund be dissolved and the money returned to UNC, plus an accounting of money spent through the trust, including the trustee’s fees. The UNC System and Board of Governors also asked that the court order them to make appropriate arrangements that recognize certain “safety and security risks” in getting the monument back and making a final decision on what to do with it in compliance with North Carolina law.

3 OLD WHITE DUDES TIED FOR LEAD IN NC DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Two weeks out from North Carolina's March 3 primary, three Democrats are in essentially a dead heat for the state's presidential nomination, according to a new WRAL News poll. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders each garnered 22 percent support, while former Vice President Joe Biden was at 20 percent in the exclusive poll, conducted last Thursday through Sunday by SurveyUSA. Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg led the second tier of Democratic candidates in the poll, with 11 percent support, followed by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren at 8 percent and Amy Klobuchar at 5 percent. Eleven percent of respondents remain undecided. North Carolina is among 14 states holding primaries on "Super Tuesday," but it carries the third-largest haul of delegates in the presidential race among those states, behind only California and Texas.

MARK RUFFALO (HULK) IS SPEAKING IN NC TODAY ABOUT FOREVER CHEMICALS: Actorand activist Mark Ruffalo is visiting North Carolina to push for policies to eliminate the pollution of chemicals from industrial products, like those discharged into the Cape Fear River for years. Ruffalo was scheduled to speak Wednesday at a Legislative Building news conference in Raleigh to highlight the challenges of communities affected by what are known as PFAS, or "forever chemicals." These compounds include GenX, which is used in producing non-stick surfaces. Little research exists about the health effects of chemicals like GenX, which has been used at the Chemours Co. plant near Fayetteville. The event is being sponsored by the North Carolina Conservation Network, Clean Cape Fear and the Center for Environmental Health. State legislators, the Cape Fear Riverkeeper and a Fayetteville resident also were slated to speak.

TRUMP PARDONS SEVERAL WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINALS, INCLUDING MICHAEL MILKEN: Trump pardoned or commuted the sentences of seven convicted white-collar criminals at the center of federal anti-corruption and tax fraud cases spanning decades, alongside four women whose cases were not as well known. Tuesday’s clemency announcements came as Trump has been flexing his power in recent days after being acquitted by the Senate on two impeachment charges. The president has removed from their jobs witnesses who testified against him and publicly weighed in on criminal cases concerning his associates while also dismissing the idea that his actions have crossed ethical or legal lines. The pardons and commutations focus on the type of corruption and lying charges his associates were convicted of as part of the Russia investigation, once again raising the question of whether he will pardon former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and longtime adviser and friend Roger Stone. Trump said he hadn’t thought about pardoning those three but made clear he wasn’t happy with the cases brought against them.

JEFF BEZOS DEVOTES $10 BILLION TO FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE: Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and the world’s richest man, said on Monday that he was committing $10 billion to address the climate crisis in a new initiative he called the Bezos Earth Fund. The effort will fund scientists, activists and nongovernmental organizations, he said in a post on Instagram. Mr. Bezos, who has been pushed by Amazon employees on climate issues, said he expected to start issuing grants this summer. “Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” he wrote. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.” In September, Mr. Bezos unveiled the Climate Pledge, in which he said Amazon would meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years ahead of schedule and would be carbon-neutral by 2040. As part of the pledge, he said Amazon was ordering 100,000 electric delivery trucks from Rivian, a Michigan-based company that Amazon has invested in. Mr. Bezos made that pledge after Amazon’s employees agitated on climate change. For a year, workers pressed Amazon to be more aggressive in its climate goals, staging walkouts and talking publicly about how the company could do better.