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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Primer: North Carolina Might Be the Future of U.S. Politics and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 8:51 AM

Morning, folks. There’s a lot of ground to cover today. I’ll do so as expeditiously as possible. Let’s begin. 1. IN N.C., THE FUTURE OF POLITICS. THE GIST: Jason Zengerle is out with a piece in The New York Times Magazine this week that poses something of an unsettling question: “Is North Carolina the Future of American Politics?” It leads with the Air Horn Orchestra—the INDY’s former managing editor, Grayson Haver Currin, and partner-in-rabble-rousing Tina Haver Currin get a shoutout—shutting down and then reconvening to protest Governor Cooper’s HB 2 compromise. But the bulk of the story centers of the...

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Primer: U.S. Escalates in Syria, Afghanistan and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 8:24 AM

Happy Monday, everyone. Let’s jump right into the news. 1. U.S. SHOOTS DOWN SYRIAN AIRCRAFT. THE GIST: Yesterday, the U.S. military shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet that the Pentagon says had bombed local forces aligned with the Americans, which the Associated Press calls a “new escalation of the conflict.” Nut graph: “While the U.S. has said since it began recruiting, training and advising what it calls moderate Syrian opposition forces to fight [the Islamic State] that it would protect them from potential Syrian government retribution, this was the first time it resorted to engaging in air-to-air combat...

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Reverend Barber Says Banning Him from the Legislature Won’t Stick

Posted By on Sat, Jun 17, 2017 at 7:12 AM

The Reverend William Barber II has been told to keep away from the main General Assembly building until his return to court June 30 on trespassing charges brought at the legislature May 30. However, the Goldsboro-based civil rights leader said Friday that similar attempts to ban him and other protesters have been made in the past but had been overturned. Barber’s lawyer criticized the restriction as unconstitutional under both the state and U.S. founding documents. "They banned all of us," Barber, fifty-three, told the INDY via text message Friday. "They've done it before and the courts change it[,] smile." Barber...

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Primer: Cuba Crackdown and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 9:27 AM

Happy Friday, y’all. Two thoughts before we begin: 1) As always, your feedback is appreciated; this newsletter is an evolving creature, and we’re perpetually trying to make it better. 2) Tomorrow is Saturday, which means it’s the day this week’s Primer sponsor, Beer Camp on Tour, comes to town. So one last time: if you’re looking for something fun to do, or if you need a last minute Father’s Day gift (dads like beer!), click here, or click the ad image at the bottom of the page, and check it out. One last thing: After I published the newsletter...

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Primer: Trump Under Investigation + Five Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 9:22 AM

Happy Thursday, everyone—or, as a former colleague used to call it, Little Friday. Let’s jump right in. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. TRUMP UNDER INVESTIGATION. THE GIST: Under normal circumstances, this would qualify as a bombshell, except I imagine most people assumed it to be the case after former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week: The Washington Post reported last night that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Trump for obstruction of justice. Nut graph: “Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not...

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Primer: A Congressman Is Shot, Trump Hates Trumpcare, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 9:06 AM

Happy Wednesday, everyone. Just as I was finishing up the newsletter version of Primer—which you can sign up for by emailing us here—some news broke: Representative Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican and the House majority leader, was shot this morning during a congressional baseball practice. From CNN: “Rep. Steve Scalise was shot in Alexandria, Virginia, Wednesday morning, Rep. Mo Brooks told CNN. Brooks said he was on deck at a practice for the congressional baseball team when the shooting occurred. Scalise appears to have been shot in the hip and it appears two Capitol Hill police agents were shot. Alexandria police...

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

City Staffers Pick York Properties to Manage Union Station

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 7:54 PM

A long-familiar Oak City company got the nod from city staff Tuesday for providing leasing and management duties at the under-construction Raleigh Union Station. York Properties, with roots as a construction company dating to 1910, submitted the best among three proposals, said David Eatman, transit administrator for the city. The other contenders were commercial real estate companies Cushman and Wakefield and NAI Carolantic. The transportation staff's choice will have to be signed off on by council members, likely at a July 5 meeting. "The firm has a vested interest in the community," Eatman said. "York Properties presented what I thought...

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Primer: Trump Is Thinking About Firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 10:27 AM

Happy Tuesday, everyone. There’s a lot in the news, and we’ll get to it straightaway. But first, may I ask a favor? Our first Primer seemed to go well; the response was overwhelmingly positive. But if you are experiencing any problems or have any suggestions about how we can make this newsletter more readable—e.g., if the formatting looks wonky on your computer or device—please pass them along to jbillman@indyweek.com. This is a new venture, and we’re learning as we go. So with that said, let’s go. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. HE WOULDN’T DARE. (WOULD HE?) THE GIST: According to one of...

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Friday, June 9, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Comey Calls Trump a Liar

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 8:43 AM

It's Friday. We made it through another week. Let's go out with a bang, courtesy of former FBI director James Comey. 1) Comey calls Trump a liar. For those of you who watched the former FBI director testify on the Hill yesterday, you know that James Comey dropped more than a few bombshells. From The New York Times: "Those were lies. Plain and simple." He set that tone from the beginning, opening with a goodbye to his former employees, to whom he was unable to personally bid farewell. And he said Mr. Trump had lied — a word that is...

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At Immigrant-Rights Rally, Reverend Barber Offers Refuge to Family of Man Under Threat of Deportation

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 8:33 AM

Within the space of a few minutes Thursday, Raleigh ten-year-old Ezequiel Chicas became a bright light in immigration-rights circles in North Carolina. Giving a speech near the General Assembly and seeking a safe haven from deportation for his father, he found what seemed to be a way out of his family’s dilemma. The Reverend William Barber II, a civil rights leader with a growing national profile, found himself picking up where Ezequiel’s story of his father’s threatened deportation left off. It all happened at a Faith Advocacy rally on Bicentennial Mall, designed to show opposition to what participants called anti-immigrant legislation,...

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Legislature Calls Off Special Session Demanded by Governor

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 1:38 PM

Wednesday, Governor Cooper called for a special session of the legislature for the purpose of redrawing voting maps the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional and racially gerrymandered. From the INDY: In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Cooper called for a special session of the legislature to redraw state House and Senate voting maps recently deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The session, which will be held along with the ongoing regular session, will kick off tomorrow at two p.m. and last for two weeks. Cooper's announcement comes two days after the Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision that twenty-eight...

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Raleigh Mayor Backs Down from Plan for Top-Down Citizen Engagement

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 1:40 PM

Droves of supporters of Raleigh’s citizen advisory committees descended upon Tuesday's city council session to speak out in opposition to a new community engagement board created by the council May 2 on the recommendation of a task force that contained few CAC voices. Some thirty people, many of them CAC chairs or members, signed up to speak during a public comment period. Virtually all opposed the new board. Mayor Nancy McFarlane, part of a 5–3 majority that created the new board, showed in opening remarks that she had already heard clearly that the CAC groups, who have advised the city council...

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Supreme Court Rejects Racist Legislative Districts, Durham City Council Rejects Publix

Posted By on Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 9:48 AM

A lot happened around the Triangle Monday. Let's review. 1) Supreme Court confirms that district lines were racially gerrymandered. It's unclear whether special 2017 elections will occur, but the high court delivered a blog to the GOP-controlled legislature. From the INDY: This morning the Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision that twenty-eight state legislative districts in North Carolina are racially gerrymandered, but vacated the court's order to redraw the maps and hold special elections in 2017. The Supreme Court's three-page order zeroed in on the panel's decision to call for new maps and special elections, explaining its decision to...

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Nancy McFarlane Signs On to National Climate Mayors Agreement

Posted By on Mon, Jun 5, 2017 at 1:42 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said Monday that she has signed on to a national Climate Mayors agreement opposing the United States' withdrawal from the Paris climate accords. McFarlance had already joined U.S. mayors in opposition through her membership in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, her office said. "Mayor McFarlane is signed on to the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement through the US Conference of Mayors, a bipartisan effort that includes over one thousand mayors that have signed on from across the United States," her office said in a statement Monday morning. In addition, McFarlane, who is seeking a sixth term as...

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Friday, June 2, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Trump Kicks Planet in the Face

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 8:55 AM

It's Friday, but there's really not much to celebrate. 1) Trump pulls U.S. out of historic Paris climate accord. It's not exactly shocking that President Donald Trump made good on a campaign promise and pulled the U.S. out of the most significant climate agreement in history. But it's still a disaster. From The Washington Post: President Trump announced Thursday afternoon that he is withdrawing the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement, an extraordinary move that dismayed America’s allies and set back the global effort to address the warming planet. Trump’s decision set off alarms worldwide, drawing swift and...

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Trump Expected to Pull U.S. Out of Paris Accord

Posted By on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 10:37 AM

Let's get right to it. 1) President expected to withdraw from Paris accord. Sorry, Mother Nature. From The New York Times: The Obama administration pledged $3 billion to an international fund meant to aid the hardest-hit countries. Only $1 billion of that had been transferred to the fund by the time President Trump took office on Jan. 20. He wants to walk away from the balance of the commitment, though Congress may have the last word. Mr. Trump, his Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt and Stephen K. Bannon, a top White House adviser, argue that meeting the terms of...

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Flynn Will Turn Over Documents to Senate

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 10:56 AM

Good morning friends. It's Wednesday. Go grab the new INDY. In the meantime, let's review some headlines. 1) Mike Flynn is about to play ball. A person close to President Donald Trump's embattled former national security adviser says Flynn will hand over documents to the Senate in response to a subpoena he has, until now, been ducking. From The Washington Post: Former national security adviser Michael Flynn will hand over documents and records to the Senate Intelligence Committee in response to a set of subpoenas for information from his businesses and personal files related to the committee’s probe of alleged...

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Morning Roundup: GOP Health Care Plan Leaves 23 Million Without Insurance

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 9:09 AM

Wednesday was another banner day for the GOP. Let's take a stroll through some headlines. 1) Obamacare replacement would leave twenty-three million out in the cold, according to the CBO. Premiums would go down (at least for the young, wealthy, and healthy), but costs would go up for people with preexisting conditions. And more than twenty million would lose coverage altogether. From The New York Times, by way of the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office: A bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that narrowly passed the House this month would leave 14 million more people uninsured next year than under...

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Suspecting Fraud, State Treasurer Dale Folwell Requires Proof of Dependents' Eligibility For State Health Plan

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 8:20 PM

If you’re employed by the state, you’ve likely received a letter informing you that you have until July 31 to prove your spouse is your spouse and your children are your children, or they will be dropped from the State Health Plan. The proof—tax returns, marriage and birth certificates, and/or adoption papers—must be submitted electronically. The letter recommends scanning the documents or taking “a photo with your smartphone” and uploading them to the State Health Plan website. Here is the notice state workers received: One concerned state employee contacted the INDY, asking: “1) Is it really legal for them...

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City of Raleigh Says Moore Square Renovation Will Begin This Fall (Honest!)

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 4:13 PM

Work on Raleigh’s $12-million-plus remake of Moore Square will begin this autumn and take about a year, with the reopening of the enhanced landmark planned for the fall of 2018. No, really. Followers of parks, downtown Raleigh, and the city council will remember that the master plan for the park was completed way back in 2011. Since then, projected start dates in several different years have come and gone. But this time, bids for the project have arrived or will show up in less than two weeks, says Grayson Maughan, the city’s parks planner. “We had our mandatory site visit...

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The Morning Roundup: Trump Proposes Slashing Spending on the Poor

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 9:54 AM

It's Wednesday, which means a new edition of the INDY is on the streets. Go grab one. In the meantime, let's review some headlines. 1) Trump hires an attorney as the Russia probe heats up. From The Washington Post: President Trump has retained the services of a trusted lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and suspected Russian interference in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the decision. Kasowitz, who has known Trump for decades, has represented Trump in numerous cases, including on his divorce records, real estate transactions and allegations of...

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Dalai Lama Accepts Raleigh Mayor's Invitation, Will Visit Oak City This Fall

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 7:18 AM

Earlier this month, the INDY reported that Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was making a push to draw the Dalai Lama to Raleigh. Mayor Nancy McFarlane has booked a trip to India, at her expense, and will bring the Dalai Lama the many dozens of prayer flags that people inscribed Sunday. A low-key afternoon event at the budding Oak City nexus of Dix Park was organized by McFarlane (courting the be-here-now vote in this fall's election?), along with Raleigh Denim founders Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko and Bida Manda co-owner Vansana Nolintha. "We really do hope that he will come and...

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

N.C. High Schoolers Lobby for In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 2:29 PM

On Wednesday afternoon, dozens of high schoolers filed into the Statehouse and patiently waited for the fifth annual "undocugraduation" ceremony to kick off. After spending the morning lobbying legislators to support in-state tuition for undocumented students, they were participating in a faux-graduation spearheaded by the Adelante Education Coalition for College Tuition Equality, a campaign to raise awareness about tuition inequality. One by one, donning graduation caps and robes, they marched to the front of the room and read aloud their names, schools, and goals for the future. Their aim? To highlight the need for tuition equality regardless of immigration status. ...

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The Morning Roundup: Trump Follows Up Bad Tuesday With a Really, Really Bad Wednesday

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 8:27 AM

Not to be outdone by his horrible Tuesday, President Donald Trump had a really bad Wednesday. For the sake of maintaining order amid the chaos, we'll go through it chronologically. 1) Comey is summoned by Burr, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In a rare show of backbone, North Carolina’s own Richard Burr summoned former FBI director James Comey to testify about his interactions with the president and that memo he reportedly sent that informed his colleagues at the bureau that Trump wanted him to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn. From the INDY: It appears the Trump-Russia investigation got a kick in...

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Updated: McClatchy Shut Down The Chapel Hill News As Readers Knew It

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 7:20 AM

The News & Observer will continue printing community papers such as The Chapel Hill News, but for the most part will stop inserting them into daily or Sunday editions of the main paper, N&O editor John Drescher said Wednesday. And as the N&O concentrates more on its digital offerings, additional changes may be coming the main newsroom as well as to the community papers, Drescher said. The Chapel Hill News staff has moved to the newsroom of the Durham-Herald Sun, a publication that the N&O’s parent McClatchy Corp. purchased in December. Journalists Mark Schultz, Tammy Grubb and Virginia Bridges, who had put...

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