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Panel to address racial bias in N.C. justice system begins
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Judges, law enforcement, elected officials and others brought together to examine ways to eliminate racial disparities in North Carolina’s criminal justice and court systems are holding their first meeting. The North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice was created by Gov. Roy Cooper in the days after massive demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Attorney General Josh Stein and state Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls are the leaders of the panel meeting Friday. Cooper gave the commission until Dec. 1 to make specific recommendations to local governments and legislators to address systemic racial bias.
N.C. Republicans holding annual convention online
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Republicans are holding their annual convention online after COVID-19 health concerns led a top state health official to recommend GOP activists not gather in person. The state convention is being held Friday with some 1,400 delegates participating from home or at county party offices. A traditional convention planned for Greenville was canceled last week. Party leaders blamed Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration for the cancellation, saying they had agreed to scale back attendance. Cooper has defended the advice given by his state health director. The state Democratic Party held a virtual convention last month.
UNIVERSITY BUILDING CHANGE
University sheds civil rights opponent’s name from building
MURFREESBORO, N.C. (AP) – A university in North Carolina has renamed its athletic facility because of the previous namesake’s opposition to civil rights. News outlets report The Helms Center at Chowan University was named after former North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms. The university’s Board of Trustees announced last week that the facility would be renamed the Hawks Athletic Center, after the school’s mascot. The private Baptist university says the change comes after the community expressed concern that the position Helms took on civil rights didn’t match Chowan’s mission. Helms was a member of the conservative movement and represented the state in congress from 1973 to 2003. He opposed civil rights, racial integration and gay rights.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-LAST CALL
North Carolina county sets alcohol, food cutoff for virus
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina county has set a cutoff for restaurant dining and alcohol sales in hopes of limiting the spread of COVID-19. Officials in Orange County announced on Thursday that restaurants and private clubs will be closed for onsite consumption of food and beverages at 10 p.m. beginning Friday. The county also says restaurants may continue drive through, delivery, and pick-up services after 10 p.m. as long as there is no onsite consumption of food and beverages. Penny Rich, chairman of the Orange County Commissioners, says the county’s COVID-19 cases have tripled since Memorial Day, and the measures enacted will help protect the community.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
Cooper says reveal on N.C. schools plan to come next week
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says a decision on how public schools will start the year teaching students during the COVID-19 pandemic will come next week. Cooper previously delayed the disclosure set for July 1, saying he wanted more time for feedback and to review the science related to school reopenings and public health. School buildings have been shuttered since March, and classes are now set to begin Aug. 17. Cooper also said Thursday he will announce next week whether businesses still closed under his latest executive order set to expire July 17 can reopen. Case and hospitalization rates remain stubbornly high.
Tropical Storm Fay moves toward mid-Atlantic, New England
MIAMI (AP) – Tropical Storm Fay has slightly picked up speed and strength as it moves closer to land and forecasters decreased projections for rain totals and flooding. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Fay is expected to bring 2 to 4 inches of rain with the possibility of flash flooding in parts of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England. That’s down from earlier forecasts of 3 to 5 inches. The storm is producing top sustained winds of 50 mph, up from 45 mph. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Cape May, New Jersey, to Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The warning area includes Long Island and the Long Island Sound in New York.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA-BOWLING ALLEYS
Judge won’t delay order that lets N.C. bowling alleys reopen
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina judge has refused to delay enforcement of his ruling allowing dozen of bowling alleys to reopen in contradiction to Gov. Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 executive order. Judge James Gale denied on Wednesday the request from attorneys for the state representing Cooper in a lawsuit filed by an association of bowling lane operators. Now Department of Justice lawyers are asking the state Supreme Court to intervene. Gale decided the association was likely to win on arguments that Cooper’s order wrongly treated them differently compared to businesses with similar virus-risk levels allowed to reopen. Bars and gyms remain closed.
Watchdog details storm of political pressure in Sharpiegate
An inspector general report details the political pressure from the White House and Department of Commerce in what later became known as Sharpiegate. Thursday’s 115-page report details what the weather chief called “crazy” middle-of-the-night texts, calls and emails from political officials to get the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to criticize the Birmingham weather office. The Alabama weather office had told residents in a tweet they were safe from Hurricane Dorian just 10 minutes after President Trump tweeted they could get hit hard. Dorian hit 600 miles away. The inspector general said the political pressure could undermine public trust in weather warnings.