Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

State officials move to curb another dangerous virus that threatens North Carolina

As the global pandemic has reminded us with tragic ferocity in recent years, viruses can, despite our best efforts, be enormously destructive and hard to contain – especially as our world has grown ever-more-crowded and interconnected.     And sadly, that goes not just for physical viruses like COVID-19, but viruses of the mind as well. In the era of instant global communication, it’s easier than ever for ideas – even delusional lies and fantasies – to spread like wildfire and do enormous damage before they are exposed and debunked.

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State Treasurer Dale Folwell should be doing a better job of investing NC pension funds

PW investigation raises important questions about holding billions of dollars in cash In a way, there’s something almost quaint about the investment strategy that North Carolina’s conservative Republican treasurer, Dale Folwell, pursues for the massive pension funds he oversees for the state’s public employees and retirees.

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North Carolina climate change deniers owe the world an apology

As you’ve no doubt noticed, our state, nation and planet are experiencing yet another summer of record heat and intense storms. As scientists have been explaining and predicting for decades, climate change resulting from carbon-pollution-driven global warming is altering weather patterns and spurring big and deeply problematic changes in the Earth’s environment.

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The last best hope for North Carolina’s public schools

There is a bit of mythology that sometimes creeps into the way longtime supporters of North Carolina’s public education system describe the halcyon days of the late 20th Century under the leadership of former Gov. Jim Hunt and Democratic legislators like former House Speaker Dan Blue and former Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight.

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NC Republican lawmakers: Running government “like a business” alright

One supposes that it’s at least conceivable there could be merit to the idea of moving the headquarters of the 17-campus UNC System from the place it’s always been – Chapel Hill – to the state capital in Raleigh. Maybe. But here’s another obvious fact about such an ambitious plan: ramming it through without debate and without consulting the system’s Board of Governors would be a brazen and indefensible act.

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North Carolina’s new budget should be much better

North Carolina has a new budget for the state fiscal year that began July 1. At the very end of the 10-day period allotted to him by the state constitution, Gov. Roy Cooper affixed his signature to a 193-page bill drafted mostly behind closed doors by Republican legislative leaders that amends the two-year budget enacted last year. Cooper’s decision to sign the measure was, one supposes, an act he viewed as an exercise in political pragmatism.

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The legislature heads home – now what?

The North Carolina General Assembly brought its 2022 “short session” to a close last week. Well, at least, it kinda’ sorta’ did. Unlike in decades gone by in which the legislature generally adjourned in early summer, not to return until the following year, the current leadership on Jones Street prefers to keep the state’s supposedly part-time lawmakers yoyoing back and forth to the state capital. And so it is that the adjournment resolution approved by both houses last week...

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American freedom will be on the line this November

Last week’s U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that Americans no longer have a constitutional right to control their own reproduction is a disaster of monumental proportions. Never before in American history has the nation’s high court taken away such a well-established and long exercised fundamental right.

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The NC GOP’s copycat crusade against voting rights continues

It’s a familiar childhood scene – perhaps even from your own. A group of cool, older kids engages in some kind of rebellious action or expresses a shared opinion on an issue of perceived import and soon thereafter, a younger sibling or friend, trying hard to keep up, attempts to mimic their behavior or statements. The younger kid never gets it quite right, or often, even fully grasps the substance of the subject matter, and their behavior will likely be barely acknowledged by the older ones...

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Incremental GOP moves on guns, Medicaid and pot are promising and maddening at the same time

A lot of things have been happening in the world of policy and politics of late that, not all that long ago, seemed fairly unimaginable. In Washington over the weekend, a group of 10 Republican U.S. senators, including North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, came together with a group of Democrats to announce an important agreement on gun safety legislation. Though extremely modest in scope...

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Yes, let’s do talk about ‘rights’ in public education

American politicians have a fondness for bestowing grandiloquent titles on the legislation they sponsor. It’s not enough to describe merely and accurately what a bill does; there needs to be a catchy acronym or inspiring and propagandizing headline built in that will make the bill harder to vote against. Remember the U.S.A. Patriot Act (which stood for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”)?

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Make no mistake, it’s the guns that make us different

It’s hard to remember now, but three-plus decades ago when the phenomenon of steroids as a performance enhancing drug for athletes first burst upon the American public’s consciousness, there were those who initially defended the practice and/or denied that it provided users with an unfair advantage. After Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson’ astonishing world record victory in the 100 meter finals of the Seoul Olympics... ...

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Governor’s office must do much better on hurricane recovery

As most voters have shown they understand, Roy Cooper has been one of the best governors in modern North Carolina history. He’s a skilled lawyer, pragmatic politician, and a caring and committed progressive who believes in human rights and building a fairer and more equitable and sustainable society. He’s no saint – no one would ever expect such a thing – but in comparison to many of the cynical and on-the-make charlatans and hatemongers...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Another Election Day that most North Carolinians will sit out

Today is primary Election Day in North Carolina. Across our state, voters will make scores of important decisions about the future of our democracy. In many places, Democrats and Republicans will select the two finalists in a host of key contests – from the United States Senate to the state legislature to the state courts. In many others, where one party or the other dominates, today’s vote will effectively decide the outcome of the election.

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State must act ASAP to address facts uncovered in Policy Watch hurricane recovery investigation

In some ways, of course, there’s nothing new or terribly surprising when large bureaucracies – be they government agencies or big corporations – are revealed to be plagued by waste and malfeasance. Humans and their institutions being as they are, flawed and prone to human foibles like incompetence, greed, sloth, overpromising, and favoritism, such revelations have been a constant in the American experience since prior to the country’s founding.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The last best chance for North Carolina’s public schools

A few years ago, I reserved a room at the North Carolina Association of Educators Building in Raleigh for a large public luncheon. When our team arrived a half hour before the event to get set up, however, we encountered a troubling surprise. To our alarm, we discovered that there had been a scheduling mix-up and the large room in question was occupied by a sizable assemblage of teachers who were in town for some kind of training session. Tables, chairs, and materials were scattered across the room. What to do?

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