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Friday, January 12, 2018

Donald Trump Is a Stone-Cold Racist, Full Stop

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 8:52 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Thursday could have been—should have been—a banner day for the Trump administration. Senators were nearing a bipartisan deal to protect Dreamers. Fiat Chrysler, crediting the recently passed corporate tax cut, announced that it was moving jobs back to Michigan from Mexico. Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, announced that it was increasing its minimum wage to $11 an hour (still poverty-level, but...

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Reverend Barber Slams Thomas Farr in Time Magazine; NCGOP Calls It "Race-baiting"

Posted By on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 6:40 PM

The Rev. William Barber II again took up his campaign against Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr's nomination to a federal court seat Thursday, this time using the pages of Time magazine to criticize as "moral poison" President Donald Trump's choice of Farr. Former state NAACP chair Barber, a Goldsboro pastor, is increasingly operating on a national platform. In late December he appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times, also to oppose Farr's appointment to a federal  Judgeship in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Barer cited Farr's past association with Sen. Jesse Helms and his advocacy for voting-rights legislation that...

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What Fresh Hell Is This Fayetteville Child Slave Labor Fish Market Story?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 8:59 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. The N&O had an insane story yesterday out of Fayetteville, where police had arrested four (and were seeking six others) on charges that they used child slave labor to run a series of fish markets. “Lt. Sean E. Swain, public information officer for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, said that the department got a report in February 2017 that ‘an alternative religious group’...

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yet Another Court Found N.C.’s Gerrymanders Unconstitutional. We Should Really Do Something About That.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 9:15 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Big, big #ncpol news out of Raleigh yesterday. A federal court has struck the congressional districts the General Assembly drew in 2016—to replace congressional districts that had previously been ruled unconstitutional racial gerrymanders—were themselves unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. A three-judge panel gave the NCGA until January 29 to solve the problem. This decision, of course, comes at a federal court in the Triad...

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Farr's Nomination to Face Judiciary Committee Including Senators Booker, Harris; Consent Decree Against GOP Ballot Security Efforts Lifted

Posted By on Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 5:29 PM

Two events this week—one immediate and one spanning decades—present links to the nomination of Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr to a federal judiciary seat in Eastern North Carolina. In the newest development, Senator Cory Booker, D–New Jersey, and Senator Kamala Harris, D-California, were named members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, becoming the first African-American members of the powerful panel since the 1990s. The committee retains a GOP majority but adds two voices likely to be raised against Farr's nomination when it again comes before the group. “The Congressional Black Caucus could not be more proud of both of our Senate members...

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Triangle Immigration Advocates Condemn Trump Administration's Decision to End TPS for Salvadoran Immigrants

Posted By on Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 3:42 PM

The Triangle-based advocacy group El Pueblo condemned the Trump administration's decision yesterday to end temporary protected status, or TPS, for Salvadorans living in the United States. The humanitarian program, which shields people fleeing armed conflict and natural disasters from deportation and allows them to obtain work permits, has provided legal protection for nearly two hundred thousand Salvadorans since a devastating pair of earthquakes struck the country in 2001. Now, the decision—effective September 2019—will force Salvadorans here under TPS to return to El Salvador, a country wracked by gang violence and home to one of the most violent cities in the...

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Donald Trump Wants to Kick 200,000 Salvadoran Immigrants Out of the Country for No Good Reason

Posted By on Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 8:34 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Yesterday, the Trump administration announced that, come September 2019, it would no longer grant Salvadorans what’s called temporary protected status, a status that allows individuals who fled natural disasters or armed conflicts to stay in the U.S. legally and obtain a work permit. The White House has previously ended TPS for Haitians and will do so soon for Hondurans. This latest decision...

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Don't Let the Cold Front Fool You: North Carolina Just Had its Warmest Year on Record

Posted By on Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 3:51 PM

Yes, it's been dreadfully cold the past few days. But, seriously, don't let the cold snap fool you. North Carolina actually just had its warmest year on record, according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with an average temperature from January–December 2017 of 61.1 degrees, making it 2.6 degrees higher than the state’s twentieth-century average. North Carolina wasn't the only state to see record highs. Across the U.S., this was the third-warmest year since record-keeping began in 1895, and the twenty-first consecutive year that was warmer than average in the U.S. For the third year in...

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Despite Deportation Order, Wildin Acosta Keeps His Faith

Posted By on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 2:23 PM

Despite a looming deportation order, Wildin Acosta is trying to stay optimistic. He's been fighting his case for two years, since being picked up by immigration agents outside his Durham home while on his way to class at Riverside High School. He plans to appeal the newly issued order. During a press conference Friday, Acosta said he has done his best to laugh despite the many "bad things" that have happened to him in the past two years. It was harder to stay positive during about seven months in an immigration detention center, including time spent in solitary confinement, before being released...

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Donald Trump Renominates Controversial Judicial Pick Thomas Farr to the Federal Bench

Posted By and on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 1:45 PM

President Trump moved controversial Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr a step closer to a federal judgeship in eastern North Carolina Friday by resubmitting Farr's nomination to the Senate. The decision was announced Friday afternoon in a White House press release. Trump re-upped twenty-one judicial picks, including Farr, after they failed to make it through the U.S. Senate when nominated in 2017. Farr's nomination, in particular, has been highly controversial. His longtime association with former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, as well as his defense of the North Carolina legislature's voter ID law and racial gerrymanders, have drawn fire from civil...

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Jeff Sessions Had a Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and He’s Coming for Your Weed

Posted By on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 9:53 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Jeff Sessions’s day started a seemingly inevitable attack on legal marijuana. (Remember, this is the guy who thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” [The Independent]) It ended with a revelation that the White House’s top lawyer, at the president’s behest, had pressured Sessions into not recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions did, in...

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Despite the Trump Administration’s Sabotage, ACA Enrollments in North Carolina Remain High

Posted By on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 11:27 AM

Nearly 524,000 North Carolinians signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for 2018, Governor Cooper's press office reported yesterday, giving the state the third-highest enrollment numbers in the country. That's despite ongoing Republican efforts to undermine Obama's signature health care law. The Trump administration, which has repeatedly tried to repeal the ACA, cut short the length of the enrollment period from three months to six weeks, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services slashed the program's advertising budget by upward of 90 percent. Until a few months ago, DHHS was led by Tom Price, a...

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NCGA Republicans Want to Replace Judicial Elections With an Appointment System. Here Are Four Ways They Could Do That.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 9:26 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Yesterday, we got our first look at what the General Assembly’s proposed reforms for the judiciary, changing an elected system to one in which judges are appointed. As The News & Observer reports: “There has been talk for months about a plan that could emerge from state lawmakers proposing to abandon the election of judges in North Carolina for an appointment process...

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New State Law Means Raleigh City Council's Zoning Decisions Could Come Back to Haunt Them

Posted By on Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 8:07 PM

Members of the state General Assembly decided in their last session that if Raleigh City Council, or any other local North Carolina governing body, decides to color outside the lines when making a zoning decision, the change will become part of city code. In planning jargon, that means if the council approves a land use that doesn't jibe with the city's comprehensive plan, the change becomes an amendment to the plan. In plainer language, the council can be stuck with a single decision they've made when deciding future cases. One of many examples of the General Assembly's reaching down to...

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Trump’s Pick to Run the 2020 Census Helped Republicans Gerrymander North Carolina

Posted By on Wed, Jan 3, 2018 at 9:11 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. This week’s INDY cover story dives into Thomas Farr’s and his work with Jesse Helms, and I’d encourage you to read it . Farr, nominated for a federal judgeship by President Trump, defended the legislature’s racist voter ID and gerrymandering laws, which have been repudiated by the courts. And as we now learn, Trump’s appointee to be deputy director of the U.S....

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Global Warming Could Be Part of the Reason N.C. Is So Damn Cold Right Now. (Seriously.)

Posted By on Tue, Jan 2, 2018 at 8:44 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. As a rule, I tend not to talk about the weather in Primer. The TV stations all dedicate seemingly endless resources to the latest Doppler 50,000 or whatever, and besides, you can usually look outside your window and get a pretty good sense of what’s going on. But if that’s the rule, today is the exception. After all, this cold front that...

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Friday, December 29, 2017

As North Carolina Battles the Opioid Crisis, New Painkiller Prescription Limits Will Take Effect Monday

Posted By on Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 4:58 PM

New rules to place limits on the number of painkillers that doctors can prescribe are slated to take effect on Monday, Governor Cooper's office announced in a press release this afternoon. The changes are part of the state's ongoing effort to tackle the opioid epidemic, which claims the lives of an estimated four North Carolinians per day. The state is home to four of the twenty-five worst cities in the nation for opioid abuse, with Wilmington earning the number one spot. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina saw a 73 percent increase in opiate-related deaths...

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Durham's Phil Freelon Named Fast Company Design's Architect of the Year

Posted By on Fri, Dec 29, 2017 at 3:27 PM

Although Phil Freelon is originally from Philadelphia, Durham claims the architect as its own. "It’s impossible to visit Durham and not encounter Freelon’s work," writes Diana Budds for business publication Fast Company's design blog, Co.Design. Last week, the site named Freelon its Architect of the Year, dubbing the sixty-five-year-old "America’s Humanitarian Architect." From the article: "Freelon is riding a decade-long hot streak in his career. He’s designed nearly every major museum or public space dedicated to black culture in the United States, from the [National Museum of African American History and Culture] in D.C., and the Center for Civil and...

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Senator Tillis, I’d Like to Have a Word with You, Please

Posted By on Tue, Dec 19, 2017 at 8:56 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Pressure is continuing to mount for the Senate Judiciary Committee to take another look at Raleigh attorney Thomas Farr’s appointment to the federal bench. As you’ll recall, late last month the INDY’s Thomas Goldsmith reported that, while Farr told the committee that he had no prior knowledge of a racist voter-suppression effort while working on Jesse Helms’s 1990 campaign, a former Department...

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Monday, December 18, 2017

WaPo Editorial Board Takes on Thomas Farr Again; Thom Tillis Spox Defends Him, Calling the INDY a “Left-Wing Blog”

Posted By on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 7:25 PM

More calls are coming for the Senate Judiciary Committee to reexamine its approval of Raleigh attorney Thomas Farr to the federal bench in the district court of eastern North Carolina. As the INDY first reported, Farr told the committee that he had not been involved with a 1990 voter-suppression case in which the Jesse Helms campaign, for whom Farr worked, sought to intimidate black voters through a postcard campaign. However, Gerald Herbert, a former Department of Justice attorney who worked the case, told the INDY that Farr was actually involved in planning that campaign—which, if true, means he misled the...

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The Republicans Are Gunning for Robert Mueller. Will Senator Burr Join Them?

Posted By on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 9:25 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. On Saturday, a lawyer representing Trump for America sent a letter to House and Senate oversight committees complaining about supposed violations of the Fourth Amendment and attorney-client privilege on the part of special counsel Robert Mueller . Mueller’s crime: obtaining a trove of transition-team emails from the General Services Administration, which, for some reason or another, appears to have the Trump folks...

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Friday, December 15, 2017

UNC Passes System-Wide “Free Speech” Policy

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 6:35 PM

The UNC Board of Governors approved a free speech policy for its seventeen campuses today amid concerns from faculty and civil rights advocates. Effective immediately, the policy outlines how UNC schools may punish a student or faculty member who “substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others.” Individual campuses are empowered to implement sanctions “up to and including dismissal or expulsion." The policy lays out minimum punishments for repeat offenders but says schools can impose different sanctions if warranted. The policy suggests at least suspension for a second offense and...

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Now the General Assembly Wants to “Reform” School Funding. Oh, Boy.

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 8:49 AM

In a hearing yesterday of the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform, the chief financial officer of the Department of Public Instruction pleaded with lawmakers that, while some improvements can be made to the state’s school funding formula, it doesn’t need a wholesale overhaul. The Republicans who make up the bulk of that task force were not impressed. “State lawmakers could overhaul the way $9.4 billion in public school dollars are spent annually, affecting the way that North Carolina’s 1.6 million public school students are educated. Legislators are looking at changing how the state funds K-12 education following...

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Durham Church Offers Immigrant Sanctuary from Deportation

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 11:39 AM

Samuel Oliver-Bruno has been living at Durham's CityWell United Methodist Church since Sunday. On Wednesday, he received something to make his stay at the Lakewood-area church a little more comfortable: a pillow handmade by Juana Ortega, thought to be the first person to take sanctuary in a North Carolina church from the Trump administration's ramped-up immigration enforcement policies. By moving into CityWell, Oliver-Bruno becomes the fifth. The church held a press conference Wednesday to announce its decision and show support for Oliver-Bruno and his family. A slight and gentle man who had been taking classes at Duke Divinity School, Oliver-Bruno thanked...

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UPDATED: Nobody in North Carolina Was Sentenced to Death in 2017

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 11:27 AM

For the third time since 2012, no jury in North Carolina sentenced a convicted murderer to die in 2017, according to the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. There were four cases, in fact, in which prosecutors sought capital punishment, and jurors rejected them all. As the CDPL notes in a statement: “Only a single person has been sent to N.C. death row in the past three and a half years, and most of the state’s district attorneys are no longer seeking the death penalty. North Carolina has not executed an inmate since 2006 because of ongoing litigation over the state’s lethal...

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Well I think it's for the best. I wouldn't want his Holiness within 500 miles of the snake den that …

by Jim C. on Well, That Sucks: The Dalai Lama Is Not Coming to Raleigh Next Year After All (News)

I don't understand. Your headline says "Warmest Year on Record" but your graphic says that 1990 was equally warm. Shouldn't …

by Jim O'Hara on Don't Let the Cold Front Fool You: North Carolina Just Had its Warmest Year on Record (News)

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