North Carolina News – May 20

North Carolina News – May 20


Report: Tenure offer revoked from slavery project journalist

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Faculty members of a North Carolina university want an explanation for the school’s reported decision to back away from offering a tenured teaching position to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. Hannah-Jones’ work on the country’s history of slavery has drawn the ire of conservatives. A report in NC Policy Watch on Wednesday said Hannah-Jones was to be offered a tenured professorship as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The story says the school changed its offer to a five-year term as a professor with an option for review. Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for her work on The 1619 Project for The New York Times Magazine.


US education secretary visiting to promote preschool plan

CARY, N.C. (AP) — Joe Biden’s education secretary is coming to North Carolina to promote the president’s proposal to offer free preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds. Secretary Miguel Cardona plans to tour a prekindergarten center on Thursday in Cary with Gov. Roy Cooper and state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen. Cardona, Cohen and others will later participate in a roundtable discussion at the Bright Beginnings Child Development Center. The American Families Plan that Biden has pitched to Congress would spend $200 billion toward the universal preschool goal. Cardona was previously Connecticut’s education commissioner.


Construction worker dies in North Carolina trench collapse

TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A 37-year-old North Carolina construction worker has died in a trench collapse. Authorities in Alexander County say emergency responders were sent to the parking lot of a diner near Taylorsville on Wednesday afternoon where they found a portion of a trench had caved in and trapped the man. The county sheriff says the trench was dug during a pipe replacement project in the parking lot of the business. The worker was removed from the trench and pronounced dead at the scene. He hasn’t been identified. The state Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is set to investigate the accident.


Broadband, education atop Cooper’s $5.7B virus aid proposals

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Broadband, education, local infrastructure and targeted businesses would be among the greatest beneficiaries should Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposals to spend $5.7 billion in federal coronavirus relief become law. Cooper on Wednesday unveiled his ideas to spend the latest tranche of aid coming from Washington. Cooper proposed to state legislators that $1.2 billion go toward fiber installation grants and other broadband projects. A higher-education package of $835 million would create new or expanded scholarships. And “Extra Credit Grants” implemented last year would be retooled to target lower-income families. The legislature will now consider his ideas.


Owner: Video shows deputy urinating outside funeral home

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) — An Elizabeth City council member says surveillance footage at a funeral home he owns captured a deputy in uniform urinating on the property. Gabriel Adkins says he believes it was an act of retaliation for joining protests after Andrew Brown Jr.’s fatal shooting by deputies. He posted a video of the Saturday night urination incident on Facebook. A man in uniform exits a vehicle and appears to urinate on a shed in the one-minute clip. Adkins says footage also captured a deputy urinating on the property the night before. The county sheriff said in a statement that the deputy “didn’t know who owned the business and meant no disrespect.”


Down syndrome abortion bans gain traction after court ruling

Anti-abortion activists say 2021 has been a breakthrough year for legislation in several states seeking to prohibit abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Two such bills have been signed into law, in Arizona and South Dakota. Two more are pending, in North Carolina and Texas. Most significantly, a federal appellate court said Ohio could begin to implement a 2017 law that previously had been put on hold. Similar laws remain blocked by the courts in several other states. The conflicting rulings increase the chances that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider one of the cases.


Lawyers ask that ex-NC Rep. Lewis receive no prison time

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Attorneys in the case of a longtime North Carolina state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to federal charges last year have asked a judge not to sentence former Rep. David Lewis to active prison time. Federal prosecutors recommended probation for Lewis in a court filing this week. Lewis’ defense lawyers made a similar request Wednesday. The U.S. government says Lewis created a scheme in which he siphoned campaign dollars to his ailing family farm through bank fraud.  Lewis used to be House Rules Committee chairman and was an author of Republican redistricting plans. Prosecutors pointed out Lewis admitted wrongdoing and reimbursed the money he funneled.


Las Vegas business owner sentenced for Medicaid fraud

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a Las Vegas business owner has been sentenced to more than 14 years in prison for defrauding the North Carolina Medicaid Program of more than $13 million over two years. Citing court documents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District says in a news release that Latisha Harron admitted to conspiring with her husband to carry out a massive fraud upon the Medicaid program by billing the government for fictitious home health services between 2017 and 2019. Harron also admitted to working with her husband to launder the money to purchase a private jet, luxury jewelry and clothing, and properties in North Carolina.

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