Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

The anti-RBG: Amy Coney Barrett’s dark and regressive worldview

It’s been more than a quarter-century since Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Sadly, for Thomas and the country, however, the thing for which he remains best known – especially given his extremely infrequent contributions to the Court’s jurisprudence in the intervening 27 years – is his contentious confirmation hearing and the way it shined, for one of the first times, a national spotlight on the issue of sexual harassment.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The time for polite dialogue with the political right is over

Supreme Court hypocrisy, effort to infiltrate progressive NC groups ought to be the last straws It should have been obvious to anyone paying attention as far back as the fall of 2000. It was during those grim days and weeks of raw and cynical political thievery that followed the Bush v. Gore presidential election that the modern, extreme, win-at-all-costs American political right fully announced itself as a movement with no time for quaint niceties like fairness, precedent and the rule of law.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

When it comes to the climate emergency, hope is not enough

In 2008, artist Shepard Fairey’s iconic image of then-Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama with the word “hope” emblazoned below became one of the most popular and impactful campaign posters in modern American history. Its simple and powerful message – that there was a way out of what then seemed to be very dark times – helped inspire millions in a nation that had, for most of the preceding two-plus centuries, taken hope for a brighter future as more or less a given.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Americans may be badly divided, but few see the military as a place of ‘suckers’ and ‘losers’

In a time of stark political and ideological divisions in the United States, one somewhat surprising area of general accord and harmony in 2020 concerns the U.S. military. This is not to say that there aren’t many widely divergent views on the military – as to its purpose, history, funding, organization, traditions and many other aspects – but when it comes to the people who serve in the military, and the basic concept of individuals devoting themselves to protecting the nation and making it a safer place, Americans are an overwhelmingly united lot.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

Surely this is not what American conservatism is all about

There are a lot of basic aspects of modern life about which American progressives and conservatives differ. Indeed, “differ” seems much too polite a term to describe the yawning gaps that exist on issues like racial equality, education, taxes, health care, the environment, separation of church and state and many others. The hard truth is that, in many of these areas, we are a bitterly divided nation in which millions upon millions of people have a difficult time even conceiving of how those on the other side of the divide can possibly see the world in the way they do.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Memo to UNC system leaders: It’s your fault, not the students’

The news has been coming fast and furious from the UNC system in recent days and little of it has been good. To the surprise of just about no one (except, evidently, the leaders of the system), the plan to reopen the state’s 17 campuses for in-person instruction has been quickly unraveling. As Joe Killian reported over the weekend for Policy Watch, East Carolina and UNC Charlotte have joined UNC Chapel Hill and NC State in moving to online-only instruction to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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COVID-19 Weekly Briefing

UNC’s top-down, one-size-fits-all reopening plan isn’t working

For many years prior to their ascent to power a decade ago, North Carolina Republican legislative leaders loved to lecture anyone in earshot about the need for “local control.” On subject after subject, it became almost a conservative mantra in the Legislative Building that state government should devolve as much autonomy as possible in local officials who, as the logic went, were closest to the people and knew best of their needs and desires.

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COVID-19 Top Story Weekly Briefing

Trump’s latest last-ditch con

History reminds us that it is a familiar pattern with autocrats and delusional politicians who perceive they could be facing the latter days of their time in power: as their influence ebbs, the grandiosity of their “orders” and “commands” tends to grow. And so it appears to be with Donald Trump as he confronts the growing possibility that he is entering the final few months of his presidency.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

As schools reopen, we’re rolling the dice with people’s lives

North Carolina is now almost five months into the massive societal disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s more than understandable that just about everyone – especially parents of young children – is going a little stir crazy. The weather has been stifling, the news has been mostly sobering, a vaccine remains several months away at best, and the utter incompetence and moral bankruptcy in the White House’s handing of the crisis remains absolute.

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COVID-19 Top Story Weekly Briefing

Unprecedented crisis demands strong medicine from the federal government

It’s been more than six months now since the novel coronavirus produced its first diagnosed infection in the United States and to say that the nation has botched its response to the crisis would be a massive understatement. Rather than tackling the crisis head-on by implementing a comprehensive national shutdown and marshaling a massive and immediate federal economic intervention capable of sustaining the nation while a huge share of the workforce stayed home, the U.S. dilly-dallied.

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

The pandemic election: NC makes voting slightly easier, but more action is needed

For a nation that has long billed itself as the “world’s greatest democracy,” the U.S. carries a lot of problematic baggage when it comes to elections. Topping the list is how the nation has sought so effectively, right up until the present, to prevent people of color from voting. These efforts to restrict the franchise have taken many forms through the decades...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Grappling with the back-to-school conundrum

Nation’s failed response to the pandemic leaves state and local officials in an almost impossible situation It’s now been almost six months since the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the United States and it’s hard to see how the national response to the disease can be described as anything other than an abject failure. At the most recent count, more than 3 million Americans have become infected and more than 130,000 people have died.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Glimmers of hope at a time of crisis

If ever there was a year in which it is a good thing to be past the midway point, 2020 would appear to be it. Between the illness, death and mass economic suffering ushered directly in by the pandemic, the truck-sized fissures, inequities and injustices in our society that the crisis has brought into sharper-than-ever relief...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The 2020 General Assembly in a nutshell: profits over people

It’s never safe to predict what the current leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly will do when it comes to scheduling gatherings in Raleigh, but if the end of the 2020 legislative session really is nigh at it appears, the past several weeks will have served as a fitting conclusion to a decade of conservative Republican rule.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

C’mon North Carolina, choose life and health – wear a mask

For many Americans, the initial reactions to seeing images on the news (or even occasionally in an American airport) of seemingly young and healthy people – usually from Asian countries – wearing protective masks in public places was mostly negative. They included: “What the heck, could things really be that bad?” “What a pain that must be. What a lousy and fearful way to go through life.”

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

William Barber explains how to tell if we’re really at a watershed moment for race in America

The signs out there are so striking and numerous that it sure seems as if something transformative and historic is underway in America. All across the nation, powerful and conservative white voices – voices that have long remained silent or actively opposed real change and progress in addressing centuries of racial oppression – are speaking up to say, in effect, “we were wrong.”

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