Wednesday News: In a word, crazy


ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS BELIEVE COVID VACCINES HAVE MICROCHIPS: Around 20% of Americans believe the government uses COVID vaccines to microchip people, according to a recent poll. An Economist/YouGov survey conducted July 10-13 based on a sample size of 1,500 adults found that 15% of respondents said it was “probably true” that vaccines contain microchips while 5% said it was “definitely true.” The poll found that believers of the conspiracy theory tend to be white men without a college degree. Twenty percent of white men without a college degree said the theory was “probably true” compared to 17% of white women without a college degree, and 16% of all Black and Hispanic respondents. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said in a Friday briefing that more than 97% of people who are getting hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated, CNN reported.

GARRETT PERDUE IS DRIVING THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA TRAIN: A group called NC Families for Medical Cannabis has helped organize the personal stories lawmakers have been hearing. Although the group's website doesn't say who's behind the effort, seven medical cannabis companies recently acknowledged they formed the group. One of those companies is Morrisville-based Root Bioscience, which produces and sells hemp-based products for pain relief. Garrett Perdue, the son of former Gov. Bev Perdue, is Root Bioscience's founder and chief executive officer. He said Monday that he's advocated for medical marijuana in North Carolina since before he started the company, and that continues with NC Families for Medical Cannabis. "We're giving a voice to patients, caregivers and veterans in North Carolina who are suffering needlessly," Garrett Perdue said in a statement to WRAL News. "Our hope is by elevating their stories and making sure lawmakers have the opportunity to hear directly from someone who will benefit from this bill's passage, qualifying North Carolinians will soon have legal access to medical cannabis." The former governor, he said, isn't involved in the legalization effort but is in favor of it.

I DON'T WANT TO SEE ANOTHER REPUBLICAN CHEERLEADING FOR AUTISTIC KIDS: An amendment to House Bill 91 will be proposed that would remove the authority to administer high school athletics in North Carolina from the N.C. High School Athletic Association and place it under the Department of Administration where a 17-member commission would be housed. The amendment completely guts the previous version of HB 91, which focused on children with autism. The new legislation comes after a months long investigation by the state legislature into the NCHSAA, its authority over public schools, and its finances. Lawmakers have raised concerns about the amount of wealth the NCHSAA has accumulated, with a total net worth of over $40 million. However, the NCHSAA says that it has been fiscally responsible, provides a number of services for its schools, and has given back millions of dollars to its members. In addition to enforcing rules, the commission would set conferences and divisions, schedules, and requirements for coaching, officiating, and sportsmanship. The commission would be prohibited from fining schools for rules violations, and instead would be charged with creating a demerit system.

AMAZON BILLIONAIRE RIDES PHALLIC SYMBOL INTO SPACE: Jeff Bezos rocketed past the edge of space Tuesday, launching from the improbable spaceport he has built in the West Texas desert here and fulfilling the lifelong dream of a die-hard Trekkie who was transfixed by the Apollo 11 moon landing and has pledged to use his fortune to open space for the masses. Lifting off at 9:12 a.m. Eastern time, the New Shepard rocket that Bezos’s Blue Origin space venture has been developing for years carried one of the most unusual astronaut crews ever to depart Earth. In addition to Bezos, on board the capsule were Bezos’s brother, Mark; Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviation pioneer, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old student from the Netherlands who lucked into the flight when the winner of an auction for the fourth seat had to postpone. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.) As space travel goes, Blue Origin’s flight was a modest, up-and-down, suborbital jaunt, just over 66.5 miles high, a mere toe dip in the vastness of the cosmos that lasted just over 10 minutes from launch to landing. But for Blue Origin, which Bezos founded in 2000, it marked a significant milestone — the company’s first human spaceflight — and a statement that it was staking a claim in a modern space race that has been dominated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

OREGON WILDFIRE IS CREATING ITS OWN WEATHER PROBLEMS: A towering cloud of hot air, smoke and moisture that reached airliner heights and spawned lightning. Wind-driven fronts of flame that have stampeded across the landscape, often leapfrogging firebreaks. Even, possibly, a rare fire tornado. The Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon, spurred by months of drought and last month’s blistering heat wave, is the largest wildfire so far this year in the United States, having already burned more than 340,000 acres, or 530 square miles, of forest and grasslands. And at a time when climate change is causing wildfires to be larger and more intense, it’s also one of the most extreme, so big and hot that it’s affecting winds and otherwise disrupting the atmosphere. “The fire is so large and generating so much energy and extreme heat that it’s changing the weather,” said Marcus Kauffman, a spokesman for the state forestry department. “Normally the weather predicts what the fire will do. In this case, the fire is predicting what the weather will do.” “It’s kind of an extreme, dangerous situation,” said Chuck Redman, a forecaster with the National Weather Service who has been at the fire command headquarters providing forecasts. Fires so extreme that they generate their own weather confound firefighting efforts. The intensity and extreme heat can force wind to go around them, create clouds and sometimes even generate so-called fire tornadoes — swirling vortexes of heat, smoke and high wind.



UNC-CH's accreditation at risk?

The Indy is reporting this morning that UNC-CH's accreditation may be at risk due to the recent issues with the tenure of Nikole Hannah-Jones and allegations of racism on the campus.

When the denial of tenure to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones gained national attention, staff at the university’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, started “monitoring the situation,” says Nuria Cuevas, the vice president of the SACSCOC. ...

Reports of racial bias and a lack of diversity among faculty and staff have put universities at risk of losing accreditation in the past. Last week, the Tulane University School of Medicine was put on probation after a Black faculty member filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination. Similarly, UNC-Chapel Hill could come under the microscope because of its lack of diversity or allegations of racism from students and staff.