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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five important takeaways from last week’s assault on democracy

It’s been less than a week since a mob of traitorous criminals, directly incited by the President of the United States, carried out one of the most despicable acts in American history. Happily, in the hours and days that have followed, there have been some encouraging signs that finally, at long last, several powerful conservative voices who have long tolerated and abetted Trumpism have had enough.

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Law and the Courts News Top Story

New Administrative Office of Courts director replaced top employees with Republican loyalists on his first day

Five employees asked to resign with just a few hours' notice Last Friday, within hours of being appointed by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby as the head of a key judicial office, Andrew Heath began purging it of some career employees. As new Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) director, Heath forced top senior employees to resign with only a few hours' notice and replaced them with Republican loyalists, including the daughter of a conservative appellate judge.

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COVID-19 News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday numbers: COVID cases skyrocket in NC while vaccine rollout lags

It's Monday, Jan 11. At least 7,425 North Carolinians did not see the sunrise today after dying of COVID-19. The number of cases and deaths is growing, as the state grapples with record-high daily new cases, a shortage of hospital beds and a slow vaccine rollout. “In the ten months that we have been fighting this pandemic, this is the most worried that I have been for our state,” state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said last Friday at a press conference.

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COVID-19 News Top Story

In inaugural address, Gov. Roy Cooper looks to North Carolina emerging stronger after the pandemic

Gov. Roy Cooper started his second term Saturday facing the challenges of a pandemic that is killing dozens of North Carolina residents each day, as well as political divisions in the state and the nation.  Dozens of North Carolinians ...
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Education Top Story

State Board of Education unanimously revokes struggling Rowan County school’s charter

State education officials will help place students in other schools for 2021-22 academic year A tardy audit submission in late December couldn’t save Essie Mae Kiser Foxx Charter School.  The State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously voted to revoke the Rowan County school’s charter because its leaders failed to submit required financial audits for 2019 and 2020 on time.

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

U.S. Capitol attack is another sign of the rise of domestic terrorism, a Duke expert says

After he leaves office, Trump will likely still have a platform for disinformation

Pro-Trump supporters’ attack on the U.S. Capitol Wednesday was more evidence of a growing domestic terrorist movement in the country that the next administration needs to address, a Duke University expert on national security and terrorism said. 

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Original Commentary Radical Right Reality Check Top Story

Chaos in Washington: So now the enablers think things have gone too far?

Voices that long abetted Trumpism seem to finally awaken as his backers storm the Capitol

Mike Pence. Mitch McConnell. William Barr. Ted Cruz. Lindsey Graham. Thom Tillis.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

UNC experts discuss tensions in Washington, possible prosecutions and the future

On Tuesday night, as runoff elections in Georgia decided control of the U.S. Senate and Congress braced for a standoff over certifying the presidential election, legal and political experts from UNC-Chapel Hill gathered for a public discussion of a tumultuous first week of 2021.

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News Top Story

At least six members of Congress from NC plan to contest Electoral College votes today

Dan Bishop, Madison Cawthorn, other GOP members of U.S. House backing baseless claims of election fraud WASHINGTON — The final step in a turmoil-filled 2020 presidential election is set for Wednesday, when Congress will certify election results showing that Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump.

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COVID-19 Law and the Courts News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Fewer people incarcerated in NC’s county jails during the pandemic, but the ones left are staying longer

Backlogged court system and delayed trials create social justice inequities during COVID-19

While the number of people in county jails has dropped because of the pandemic, some incarcerated people in North Carolina are staying locked up longer, a study monitoring these populations shows.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The pandemic: where things stand, what comes next and what we should have learned

The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously one of the worst events to have struck humanity in modern history. In the coming days, the global death toll will exceed two million – and that, of course, is just a part of the story. In addition to the human lives that it has taken directly, the virus has ruined or damaged the lives of millions more...

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Hard year’s signposts in quest for justice

Even for those of us who found a measure of joy during the year whose end we now mark – taking delight from a child’s birth, perhaps, or from a marriage, a graduation, success at work – Americans will remember 2020 chiefly as a showcase of conflict and sorrow. It brought of course the rampage of the coronavirus, costing upwards of 330,000 lives with many more in the balance.

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News Top Story

Monday Numbers: A new year, a new administration, an urgent need to help families

The first Monday of the New Year comes with much hope and optimism that things will be better than 2020. But as the Biden-Harris administration prepares to take over in just 16 days, there is much work that needs to be done to address hunger, health and homelessness in our country. This week's Monday numbers column looks at some of the challenges as highlighted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that require an urgent response from the new president and the incoming Congress.

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Environment Top Story

Environment 2020: A year of major wins, but also major losses

If it didn't create air pollution, I'd burn my 2020 calendar. A terrible, awful year, despite a few, albeit significant environmental wins. Climate change, of course, continued unabated. Otherwise, without a massive coal ash spill or major hurricane to capture the public's attention, the environmental losses were quieter, more piecemeal, albeit also significant...

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Top Story

Policy Watch’s Top 10 editorial cartoons of 2020

As we say goodbye to 2020, we hope you will enjoy some of our favorite editorial cartoons of the past 12 months by Policy Watch cartoonist John Cole.

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COVID-19 Education News Top Story

The year in review: Some of the top stories from a tumultuous time in public education

The pandemic only added to the enormous challenges confronting NC public schools It’s been called a year like no other.  And 2020 has been that, especially for teachers and parents struggling to educate school children during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 people across the United States.

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