Opinion Roundup: Silent Sam comes down, state board backs GenX threshold, reinstating Net Neutrality and more

Police stand guard after the confederate statue known as Silent Sam was toppled by protesters on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018 — A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: Protesters topple the controversial "Silent Sam" statue, no charges for police videotaped subduing man with baton, unspecified threat prompted Raleigh Jewish synagogue to cancel weekend events, states attempt closing racial gaps to improve graduation, GenX health goal gets stamp of approval and more.

SILENT SAM COMES DOWN
SARAH KRUEGER & CANDACE SWEAT: Unlawful and dangerous: UNC chancellor on ‘Silent Sam’ toppling (WRAL reports) — More than 200 protesters first gathered at the Peace and Justice Plaza at about 7 p.m., before marching to the base of the statue, calling for its removal. By 9:30 p.m., the statue was on the ground and the crowd erupted in cheers.

ALAN BLINDER: Protesters Down Confederate Monument ‘Silent Sam’ at UNC (New York Times reports) — Protesters toppled the towering Confederate monument at UNC-Chapel Hil, perhaps ending — but also perhaps only intensifying — a debate over the propriety of a divisive symbol at a renowned public institution.

SUSAN SVRLUGA: ‘Silent Sam is down’: Crowd topples Confederate statue at UNC (Washington Post reports) — toppled a Confederate statue at UNC, with cheers and smoke bombs filling

ANTONIA NOORI FARZAN: ‘Silent Sam’: Racist Jim Crow-era speech inspired UNC students to topple a Confederate monument (Washington Post reports) — Students at UNC-Chapel Hill took down the controversial Confederate statue.

SCOTT JASCHIK: Protesters Tear Down Silent Sam (Inside Higher Ed reports) — Protesters toppled Silent Sam, the Confederate statue at UNC- Chapel Hill. Press accounts in N.C. said that the protesters used ropes to pull down the statue after first covering the statue with banners, one of which said that it was time for "a world without white supremacy." When the statue fell, people cheered.

JONATHAN DREW: Confederate statue on UNC campus toppled by protesters (AP reports) — A Confederate statue in the heart of North Carolina’s flagship university was toppled during a rally by hundreds of protesters who decried the memorial known as "Silent Sam" as a symbol of racist heritage.

CHARLIE MCGRE & MYAH WARD: Silent Sam toppled in protest the night before classes begin (Daily Tar Heel reports) — After decades of racial tension, the Silent Sam monument was forcibly pulled down by demonstrators. At around 9:30 p.m., a group of an estimated 250 students, faculty and community members convened on the statue and began to pull it down using ropes. The statue toppled and students began to cover the head in dirt and mulch.

JANE STINCILL: Protesters topple Silent Sam Confederate statue at UNC (Durham Herald-Sun reports) — Silent Sam protesters gathered near the UNC-Chapel Hill campus Monday to voice support for the graduate student who faces criminal and honor court charges for throwing red ink and blood on the Confederate statue.

Durham industrialist Julian Carr’s speech at 1913 Silent Sam dedication (University of North Carolina Library – Southern Historical Collection) — “I trust I may be pardoned for one allusion, howbeit it is rather personal. One hundred yards from where we stand, less than 90 days perhaps after my return from Appomatox, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern Lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison, and for 30 nights afterwards slept with a double-barrel shot gun under my head.”

CAMPAIGN 2018
DAN HOPKINS: What We Know About Voter ID Laws (FiveThirtyEight.com analysis) — Estimating the effects of voter ID laws is a tricky business, but the most credible estimates suggest the laws’ turnout effects haven’t been large enough to swing many elections. First, while voter ID laws are often discussed as a single class of laws, they differ in subtle but crucial ways. Different laws require different kinds of ID. States including Texas don’t allow student IDs, a policy that clearly hinders younger voters. Second, if voter ID laws reduce turnout, they are likely to do so both by preventing some people who show up at the polls from voting and by deterring others from showing up in the first place.

DAVID E. SANGER & SHEERA FRENKEL: Russian Hackers Now Targeting Conservative Think Tanks (New York Times reports) — The Russian military intelligence unit that sought to influence the 2016 election appears to have a new target: conservative U.S. think tanks that have broken with President Trump, a report by Microsoft found.

TYLER DUKES: Lawsuit alleges NC House candidate abused her power in police firings (WRAL-TV reports) — Three Greenville police detectives disciplined after a May 2018 traffic stop filed suit against a city councilwoman this week, arguing that her formal complaint against them amounts to an abuse of authority.

POLICY & POLITICS
JORDAN HENSLEY: From harm reduction to treatment, governor, panel discuss opioid crisis (Hickory Daily Record reports) — Leaders from across the region gathered at Partners Behavioral Health in Hickory on Monday afternoon for a panel discussion with Gov. Roy Cooper on opioid abuse. Those combating the issue in Catawba County were present to share with Cooper what is working locally when it comes to battling the opioid crisis.

KASEY CUNNINGHAM: DA says viral video ‘unfortunate, troubling,’ but Raleigh officers will not face charges (WRAL-TV reports) — After watching body camera video from an incident in which a Raleigh man fights six police officers before they subdue him with fists and clubs, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said there would be no charges against the officers.

ANDREW DUNN: Gaston County’s development is poised to explode (Charlotte Agenda reports) — Gaston County appears to be on the verge of a major economic boom, including plans for a minor league baseball stadium and ambitious historic textile milll rehab projects.

AMANDA LAMB: Strong and beautiful, NC Troopers Caisson Unit provides tribute to fallen heroes (WRAL-TV reports) — When an officer dies in the line of duty they deserve the highest possible tribute. The North Carolina Trooper’s Association Caisson Unit, based in Goldsboro, is a big part of making that happen.

YOUJIN SHIN: Almost 250 officials have spoken out against Trump’s decision to revoke Brennan’s clearance. Here’s a list. (Washington Post reports) — Last week, President Trump revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance. Since then, a growing group of former intelligence officials have expressed support for Brennan.

NATALIE ANDREWS: Mel Watt Sued by Government Employee Alleging Sexual Harassment, Retaliation (Wall Street Journal reports) — A senior federal employee sued the director of the agency that oversees housing-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, accusing Mel Watt of denying her a raise and promotion after she rejected his sexual advances.

Let’s not drop protections for troops from attacks by predatory lenders (Greensboro News & Record) — Shame on the Trump administration for trying to make it easier for unscrupulous lenders to take advantage of military service members.

JOHN HENDERSONl: Millions of hurricane disaster money awarded to Fayetteville for new homeless day center (Fayetteville Observer reports) — Millions of dollars of federal Hurricane Matthew disaster recovery money are being awarded to Fayetteville to build a new homeless day center. But officials say they aren’t sure yet who would fund the ongoing operational costs and where it might be located. The final cost of construction has yet to be determined, but the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds can be used only for construction of the center, not ongoing operational costs.

Ex-Buncombe managers plead not guilty (Asheville Citizen-Times reports) – Each three former top Buncombe County officials arrive at federal court with their lawyers. They were met outside by angry residents.

ALEX DEROSIER & JONATHAN DREW: DA: No charges for police videotaped subduing man with baton (AP reports) — No charges will be filed against NC police captured on video striking a suspect with a baton, the district attorney said Monday, as police released new footage of the man throwing punches at officers and knocking one down.

Police sue, say council member tried to provoke officers (AP reports) — Two former NC police officers and a current one are suing a city council member who they say staged encounters with officers to provoke them. The North Carolina Police Benevolent Association announced the filing of the lawsuit Monday at a news conference in Greenville.

SLOANE HEFFERNAN: Raleigh police reps: ‘Listen to police when they are giving commands’ (WRAL reports) — Leaders of the union that represents about 500 Raleigh police officers spoke Monday about the arrest caught on camera that showed a Raleigh man fighting with officers before he was ultimately subdued with fists and clubs.

ADAM OWENS: Unspecified threat prompted Raleigh Jewish synagogue to cancel weekend events (WRAL reports) — Raleigh police and the FBI are investigating after a local Jewish synagogue received an unspecified threat over the weekend, prompting religious officials to cancel some weekend activities, authorities said Monday.

TIM BUCKLAND: Rouzer gets update on Wilmington VA clinic (Wilmington Star News reports) — Reduced wait times. Better customer service. And, yes, safe water. These were the highlights given by staff at the Veterans Affairs clinic in Wilmington during a visit to the facility Monday by U.S. Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C.

VA chief’s approach to change just might work (Fayetteville Observer) — Will it be different for the Fayetteville native who has spent a long career serving members of Congress between stints at increasingly high levels of the Pentagon? Ultimately, only the president can answer that question, because it’s clear that Wilkie knows what needs to be done. He simply needs the support to do it.

JANNETTE PIPPIN: Onslow more assertive in tax collections (Jacksonville Daily News reports) — Onslow County has stepped up tax collection efforts over the past year and it has shown in more ways than one. The tax collection rate is at an all-time high for the county but the cost to taxpayers trying to avoid foreclosure has raised the concern of property owners.

22 States Ask U.S. Appeals Court to Reinstate ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules (Reuters reports) — The state attorney generals suing represent states with 165 million people — more than half the United States population — and include California, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

EDUCATION
DANA GOLDSTEIN: How Do You Get Better Schools? Take the State to Court, More Advocates Say (New York Times reports) — A wave of lawsuits against states has opened another front in the fight for more resources and greater fairness in public education.

MICHAEL BRAGG: With money for classroom supplies coming out of teachers’ pockets, a local organization steps in to help (Winston-Salem Journal reports) — Teachers with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are stocking up on free school supplies to soften the blow on their own bank accounts as the first day of school looms. The Educator Warehouse, in its eighth year, is a nonprofit that falls under the Forsyth Education Partnership to offset the cost teachers bear for stocking classrooms.

ASHLEY SMITH: States Attempt Closing Racial Gaps to Improve Graduation (Inside Higher Ed reports) — More than 40 states have set goals to increase the number of adults who have a college degree or high-quality professional credential within the next few years. But far fewer states have set goals and created policies to close racial equity gaps in pursuit of higher college graduation rates. Some states that did take steps to close these gaps are seeing progress after following through on specific set goals.

RICHARD CRAVER: WSSU, Wake Forest University and Wake Forest Baptist Med Center get $510,000 grant for study of sports-related concussions (Winston-Salem Journal reports) — Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University have received a two-year grant worth a combined $510,000 to continue their participation in the largest-ever study of collegiate sports-related concussion. The NCAA’s Department of Defense Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium study examines the incidence and effects of concussion and repetitive head-impact exposures among student-athletes at colleges and universities in all NCAA divisions.

GILBERT BAEZ: Hoke County practices response to school shooter and enlists hi-tech help (WRAL reports) — Hoke County law enforcement officials on Monday performed an active shooter drill to practice how they and school district officials would respond in the event of such an emergency. The county also plans to use a high-tech app to help law enforcement officers respond sooner.

MONICA LALIBERTE: What all renters, including college students, need to know about their rights (WRAL reports) — From problems with landlords, apartment conditions or leases, the number of issues renters have is astounding. Students reached out to 5 on Your Side last year when they moved into a Raleigh apartment with a filthy refrigerator, mold in the appliances and someone else’s mess left behind.

YASMIN BENDAAS: 3D video game design: Where creativity reigns (EdNC reports) — Rising seventh graders Elijah Finley and Austin Emmons are into video games — so much so that they make them. For Finley, it started with Nintendo.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
ABBIE BENNETT: NC beach homes and coast are ‘doomed’ and residents need to get out, scientist says (Charlotte Observer reports) — An award-winning Duke University professor emeritus of geology, who is also the founder and director emeritus of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, Pilkey doesn’t mince words when it comes to sea level rise. There’s a “disaster” approaching North Carolina’s coast, and it’s not a hurricane. It’s an increasingly encroaching sea.

TRAVIS FAIN: State board backs low threshold on GenX (WRAL-TV reports) — Appointed board of scientists signs off on longstanding health goal over industry’s hope for less conservative number on GenX contamination.

EMERY DALESIO: Science panel: Health goal for chemical in water is right (AP reports) — A NC science panel said Monday that state health officials were right to set a health target for a little-studied industrial chemical found in drinking water at a level 500 times lower than the manufacturer proposed.

ADAM WAGNER: GenX health goal gets stamp of approval (Wilmington Star News reports) — The Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board (SAB) has deemed NC’s provisional GenX health goal of 140 parts per trillion appropriate, according to a draft report released to the public and reviewed by the board on Monday.

AND MORE…
Bigfoot — real or not — is being proclaimed the ‘official animal’ of Marion, NC (Charlotte Oberver reports) — The North Carolina mountain town of Marion is proclaiming Bigfoot its official animal, despite the fact that town officials have never seen one. The proclamation is ceremonial, they say.

LIZ BIRO: Our Coast’s Food, Make Friends With Okra (Coastal Review column) — Not everyone is immediately taken with okra or its notoriously slimy goo, but proper selection and preparation can add to the vegetable’s appeal.

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