Saturday News: Not so fast, Mark

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JOHNSON'S "EMERGENCY" ISTATION CONTRACT MAY BE BLOCKED: The state school superintendent’s $928,570 “emergency purchase” of a controversial school reading curriculum earlier this week could be canceled because it lacked the approval of North Carolina’s chief information officer. In a memo Friday, Patti Bowers, chief procurement officer for the state, said North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction “has not provided adequate justification for an emergency purchase.” The memo said Johnson has until 10 a.m. Tuesday to provide the state Department of Information Technology with “sufficient amended justification” for the emergency purchase. The memo also said Chief Information Officer Eric Boyette could decide to cancel or suspend the purchase. In a heated exchange with Johnson on Wednesday, board members questioned the amount of the contract and said they had been unable to get a copy from DPI staff.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article239179718.html

Soleimani's assassination was a tactical mistake as well as a moral one

But Trump doesn't have the mental capacity to understand that:

Iran’s government faced widespread protests in November over rising prices, with many apparently also outraged by Iran’s foreign spending on interventions in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and other countries while its own economy falters.

More than 300 people were killed in the anti-government protests, according to rights organization Amnesty International. During the violence and in the days that followed, Iranian authorities blocked access to the internet. Soleimani’s killing, however, helped rally the public around the leadership again.

That wasn't the first time Iranian citizens had engaged in widespread protests over economic issues in the last 15-20 years, but it was by far the deadliest. And it may have been the first time foreign interventions by (that's right) Soleimani's Quds Forces have been at the top of their list of complaints. While the government cracked down harshly on these protests, it is somewhere between possible and likely they would have curbed some of those foreign activities to avoid future domestic unrest. Something similar happened with their dockworkers' strike a few years ago. But setting that aside for the moment, it also appears Soleimani was engaged in diplomatic activities on this particular trip, in an effort to ease tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia:

Friday News: Campaign posturing?

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MARK JOHNSON CONTINUES ACCUSATIONS ABOUT 3RD GRADERS BEING PROMOTED WRONGLY: State Superintendent Mark Johnson charged Wednesday that thousands of third-grade grade students have been improperly promoted to the fourth grade when they aren’t proficient in their reading skills. But local school leaders argued against making policy changes that would force them to hold children back. State Board of Education members asked local superintendents and teachers in attendance Wednesday to describe how they implement the program. They argued they’re following the law while taking advantage of its flexibility to decide whether to promote students. “You have to have both flexibility and accountability,” Wake County Superintendent Cathy Moore told state board members. “If you have one without the other, then you’re losing the impact of the ability to actually make a difference individually with children. So you need to find a way to do both.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article239050288.html

Trump threatens to Veto HR 535 PFAS regulatory bill

Breaking his own promise to control these chemicals:

The Trump administration threatened to veto H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, which would set deadlines for EPA to reduce ongoing PFAS releases and set a drinking water standard for two notorious PFAS chemicals. Last February, David Ross, the Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant administrator for water, pledged to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate environment panel, that “by the end of this year,” the agency “will propose a regulatory determination, which is the next step in the Safe Drinking Water Act process” for establishing an enforceable legal limit.

But although the EPA has sent a regulatory determination to the White House, administration officials have blocked efforts to require drinking water utilities to filter PFAS from tap water.

It's an election year, so you'll have to excuse me for moving politics to the forefront of this conversation. But this issue is in the top five of things that directly affect North Carolinians, and those voters need to know just how little Trump cares about the health and well-being of their families. Every day that passes in the absence of EPA oversight is a gift to polluters like Chemours, and a curse to the rest of the state. But it isn't just a NC problem, some 100 million Americans may be dealing with these chemicals in their drinking water:

Thursday News: DTH rocks

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DAILY TAR HEEL SUES UNC-BOG OVER SILENT SHAM: The Daily Tar Heel, UNC-Chapel Hill’s student-run newspaper, is taking legal action against the University System, its Board of Governors and individual board members over the controversial Silent Sam statue agreements. The DTH Media Group filed a lawsuit Tuesday saying the $2.5 million settlement and additional $74,999 payment between the UNC System and the N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans were “conceived, negotiated, approved and executed in total secrecy” in violation of North Carolina Open Meetings Law. The group is asking the court to declare both settlements null and void. They argue that the group of board members assigned to work on the Silent Sam issue are members of a public body and therefore, they were required to meet in public, give notice of the meetings and keep full and accurate meeting minutes.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article239078573.html

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