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Facing federal corruption charges, Rep. David Lewis resigns from the General Assembly

Powerful Republican lawmaker admits wrongdoing, seeks plea deal In early 2019, State Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, introduced a bill entitled "Civic Responsibility in Education." The measure would have required public school districts to teach students about respect for authority and service to others. The bill language defined good citizenship as "obeying the laws of the nation and State...

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Environment Top Story

PW exclusive: Herbicide-tainted compost plaguing NC farmers and gardeners

Yard waste, specifically illegally sprayed grass, is suspected as a source The tomatoes grew necks like gourds. The leaves of the purple cornflower, a favorite of butterflies, were twisted and deformed. More plants — cucumbers, peppers, green beans, even the majestic Roselle Hibiscus — began to wither and fail. Earlier this summer throughout central and western North Carolina, gardeners flooded their neighborhood listservs, county extension offices and garden stores with complaints: Something was killing their plants, en masse.

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COVID-19 Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

As COVID clusters mount, university dashboards provide incomplete and outdated information

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is being rocked by a series of COVID-19 infection clusters  just one week after the start of classes. Four such clusters — defined by the state Department of Health and Human Services as five or more infections in a related area — have been identified in student housing since Friday.

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Environment Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at NC’s waste stream and recycling efforts

In 1972, my family bought our first color TV, a 26-inch screen illuminated by cathode-ray tubes and encased in a behemoth cherry cabinet made by RCA that was roughly the size of a stove. But it was an upgrade from the 19-inch plastic black-and-white model on which we had watched Johnny Carson, Batman and Robin and the first moon landing, so my father’s near-hernia to haul in this exciting new piece of furniture was worth it.

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Environment Top Story

Promises, promises: 11 years after a federal agreement to stop GenX contamination, Chemours makes a similar promise to the state

The news sounded significant, if not groundbreaking: A 2019 state consent order was amended yesterday to force Chemours to stop 99% of GenX and PFAS contamination from entering the Cape Fear River, a drinking water source for hundreds of thousands of people downstream.

“This is a huge win for the Cape Fear River and the people who depend on it. This plan will ensure that contaminated groundwater, streams, and runoff no longer pollute the river and don’t reach communities downstream,” said Kemp Burdette, Cape Fear Riverkeeper in a prepared statement.

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Education Top Story

Advisory board advances plan to expand struggling virtual charter schools during the pandemic

The state’s two virtual charter schools should be shining examples of remote learning. But instead of basking in the glow of high demand, the schools are facing tough questions about their students’ academic performances.  For the fourth consecutive year, NC Cyber Academy  and NC Virtual Academy both have performance ratings of "D," said David Stegall, deputy state superintendent of innovation at a Charter School Advisory Board meeting this week. “It does concern me that they are not high-performing charter schools,” he said.

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News Top Story

At least 26 trans people have been killed in the U.S. this year. This is who they are.

As of July 31, at least 26 trans people have been killed in the U.S. this year, and a majority of them were people of color. The violence each of them endured is horrific and should not happen to anybody, especially those who are merely trying to be who they are.

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

New report says poor and low-income Americans can change the nation’s political landscape

Voters from low-income backgrounds are consistently less likely to vote in national elections compared to those with higher incomes, a new study shows — a potential harbinger as the 2020 presidential election looms in swing states such as North Carolina. Why don’t low-income voters go to the polls? In 2016, when Donald Trump won the presidency, “The most common reason that low-income individuals did not vote in 2016 was...

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Environment Top Story

BREAKING: DEQ denies key permits for MVP Southgate natural gas pipeline

Division of Water Resources cites doubts about MVP Mainline project, says construction in NC could cause "unnecessary water quality impacts" Another natural gas pipeline in North Carolina has been derailed, at least temporarily, as the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has denied a water quality permit for the MVP Southgate project that would route through Rockingham and Alamance counties.

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News Top Story

Trump administration imposes big hike in immigration fees

Critics say hikes could have 'devastating impact,' serve as 'another form of voter suppression’ The Trump administration has nearly doubled the cost of applying to become a U.S. citizen, a development immigration advocates are likening to “another form of voter suppression.”

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at how NC is responding to the 2020 census

While COVID-19 has cancelled a lot of things this year, it hasn’t cancelled the 2020 Census. The problem, however, is that more than four out of ten North Carolina households have yet to fill out their forms. They are not being counted.

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Education Top Story

NC may turn to low-performing virtual charters in response to demand for online education

Last year, after four consecutive years of poor academic performance, state lawmakers rewarded North Carolina’s virtual charter school pilot program with an extension that allows its two schools to operate through the 2022-23 school year.  The pilot program created in 2015 was supposed to end after the 2018-19 school year. But lawmakers apparently saw something promising in N.C. Cyber Academy (NCCA) and N.C. Virtual Academy (NCVA) not reflected in their academic performances.

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COVID-19 Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

UNC-Chapel Hill leaders come under fire at emergency faculty meeting

Chancellor's failure to share health department reopening recommendations called a "breach of trust" The Orange County Health Director has urged the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to move to online education for the fall semester and keep on-campus housing to an absolute minimum as the COVID-19 pandemic in the county worsens. The campus will be doing neither of those things, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said Wednesday.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

Republican senator presses reluctant GOP leadership for billions in state, local aid in next relief deal

Burr and Tillis apparently still sticking with McConnell WASHINGTON – GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana is making a strong push to rescue ailing state and local governments in a fifth coronavirus relief bill — but his party’s leaders are resisting as they debate the contours of the next package. The freshman senator is pressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for $500 billion in assistance and urging the nation’s mayors to lobby for aid to cities and states.

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

UNC’s ‘worst-case scenario’ plans could be just the beginning

Enrollment drops. Employee furloughs and layoffs. Faculty cuts. Shuttered athletic programs. UNC System schools could see all of these things, according to a new report on campus plans to deal with the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. And experts say this could be just the beginning.

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Education Top Story

Monday numbers: the shocking number of students and teachers who can’t get online

Millions of children will begin the new school year learning from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The pivot to remote learning for U.S. schools has exposed a troubling digital divide between children from low-income families, mostly Black and Latinx students, and their peers from wealthier zip codes. > ...

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