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Tropical Storm Michael 

Tropical Storm Michael expected to become a hurricane, may aim for Carolinas, experts say
N&O // Aaron Moody // October 7, 2018

Summary: The storm brewing in the Caribbean strengthened to become Tropical Storm Michael about noon on Sunday, and experts now expect it to develop into a hurricane that could impact the Carolinas. “Nearly all of the intensity models bring the cyclone to hurricane strength over the Gulf of Mexico in 2 to 3 days,” the 10 a.m. Sunday forecast discussion by the National Hurricane Center said. The big picture on where the storm is expected to go has also shifted some since Saturday afternoon, when tracking showed Michael crossing the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama as a tropical storm. The track as of 5 p.m. Sunday reflected more of an eastward turn, to include areas still recovering from devastating flooding from Hurricane Florence. It shows Michael becoming a hurricane in the Gulf by 1 a.m. Tuesday, reaching Florida about 1 p.m. Wednesday and moving across Georgia and into the Carolinas by 1 p.m. Thursday.

Tropical Storm Michael could bring heavy rain to Triad by midweek. The storm also might spawn tornadoes, forecasters say.
Greensboro N&R // Jon Jimison // October 8, 2018

Summary: Forecasters are watching the track of newly formed Tropical Storm Michael, saying the system could dump some heavy rain in the Triad by midweek. “We are looking at possible impacts beginning as early as Wednesday night and into the day on Thursday,” said meteorologist Brandon Locklear of the National Weather Service in Raleigh. However, there is a lot of uncertainty with the timing of the system itself. Some models don’t project the storm to reach this region until Friday.


Restrict building among solutions NC leaders offer to save coast and inland communities
N&O // Nancy Webb // October 8, 2018

Summary: We asked readers what questions they had for NC leaders about environmental issues in the state. Here’s the question they wanted us to ask the 60 NC Influencers: “In light of sea level rise and recent flooding, what should be done to create sustainable development in coastal and eastern North Carolina?”

Fayetteville residents coping with damage from Florence and Matthew
WRAL // Emmy Victor // October 8, 2018

Summary: Two years ago today, Hurricane Matthew brought devastating flooding to North Carolina when it killed 31 people in North Carolina and caused $4.8 billion in damage. Some families in Fayetteville are facing hardships again -- this time from Hurricane Florence. For residents who live on Pennystone Drive in Fayetteville, residents were forced to evacuate during both storms because of flooding. Water from the nearby Rockfish Creek spilled into the Southwood subdivision, damage from Florence, which came ashore across North Carolina last month. The damage Matthew caused here includes houses on Pennystone Drive that were destroyed from the high water. One resident told WRAL News that she couldn't return to her neighborhood for at least a year, and she did not expect to see more damage from Florence just two years later. Cumberland was one of 28 counties in North Carolina to receive federal disaster aid during Florence -- and one of 45 during Hurricane Matthew.

Housing Impact

Evacuated and evicted, many of Hurricane Florence’s victims have nowhere to go
N&O // Josh Shaffer, Martha Quillin // October 7, 2018

Summary: When Hurricane Florence hit, Alex Carias took shelter in his pickup truck, riding out the storm with his terrier, Gus. With their mobile home ruined, he planned on living inside the truck at least temporarily, but a social worker found them and ordered them into a shelter in nearby Morehead City. On Saturday, he and dozens of others flooded into Ann Street United Methodist Church in Beaufort, filling out paperwork for rental assistance from FEMA, speaking to real estate agents about the chance of bunking in vacation homes. But Carias, who uses a wheelchair, came away from the housing fair shrugging, saying he’d added his name to a long list. “I’m pretty much lost,” said Carias, 60. “I’m going to have to sneak back into the trailer park and get my truck.”

Agricultural Impact

Tobacco losses a ‘catastrophe’
Reflector // Drew C. Wilson // October 8, 2018

Summary: Hurricane Florence has destroyed an estimated 100 million to 150 million pounds of the year’s tobacco crop. “Devastating is a good word to use for it,” said Kenneth Kelly, owner of Horizon Ltd., a tobacco warehouse in Wilson that receives tobacco from growers all over eastern North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina. “All of the rain and all of the wind just literally beat the crop to death in the field,” said Rick Smith of Wilson-based Independent Leaf Tobacco Co. Kelly estimates 100 million of the 430 million pounds anticipated for the 2018 crop in the country may never come to market. “Those are just estimates, but either way it is a heck of a big number of tobacco that will never make it to market,” Kelly said. Smith isn’t very optimistic.

Education Impact

UNC-Wilmington still repairing student housing after destruction by Hurricane Florence; classes set to resume Monday
Greensboro N&R // AP // October 7, 2018

Summary: Classes are set to resume at the University of North Carolina Wilmington following Hurricane Florence's destruction. But the school is still trying to repair student housing ahead of Monday's start. That means hundreds of students are scrambling to find a place to stay on campus. The Star-News in Wilmington reported Saturday that school officials were trying to find alternate housing options for students in hotels and short-term rentals around the city. But students were also urged to find a friend to stay with. Or they were sent to a gym where cots were being set up.

Environmental Impact

Experts predict fish kills, likely caused by Hurricane Florence, will continue for weeks in North Carolina
Greensboro N&R // AP // October 7, 2018

Summary: The widespread fish kills that were likely caused by Hurricane Florence are expected to continue for weeks. The Charlotte Observer reported Friday that such fish kills often naturally occur following a major hurricane. The cause is not pollution from floodwaters but a lack of oxygen in the water. The newspaper reviewed a report from North Carolina's Wildlife Resources Commission. Similar fish kills occurred after Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Isabel in 2003. An investigation is continuing into Florence's impact. But biologists said they believe the recent deaths are due to flooding produced by the hurricane.Future Planning


Faith Groups Get Out The Vote For The Midterm Elections
BPR // Jerome Socolovsky // October 8, 2018

Summary: President Trump has prayed with evangelicals in the White House. He's nominated judges they like to federal courts, and granted their wish of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. For the president's evangelical supporters, he has been a godsend. And now he has a request for them: Get out the vote in November's midterm elections. But religious leaders on the left are also inspired to get their people to go the polls. In the heart of the Virginia Theological Seminary campus, a pub named after the year the flagship Episcopal seminary was established — 1823 — recently hosted a get-out-the-vote event.

Constitutional Amendments 

Amendment weakens already weak governor post
Reflector // John Hood // October 8, 2018

Summary: McKissick and Goodwin repeatedly made the point that, as far as institutional powers are concerned, North Carolina governors are relatively weak by national standards. They’re right. According to the latest edition of Politics in the American States, a standard text, North Carolina’s governors are the second-weakest in the United States (Oregon’s are the weakest). Why? In most states, governors run a larger share of the executive branch. They have much-stronger veto power. They have more control over budgeting. In one key area, appointment power, North Carolina’s governors are right at the national average. The judicial-vacancies amendment would crimp that power a bit. Speaking for myself, I don’t necessarily object to involving the legislature in filling judicial vacancies. But I’d prefer to offset that loss of power by, say, giving the governor an item-reduction veto. Don’t evaluate either idea based on who currently occupies North Carolina’s executive mansion. In this case, it is more practical to be theoretical.

Is elections board amendment a victory for bipartisanship? Or a recipe for chaos?
N&O // Jim Morrill // October 4, 2018

Summary: It’s just 23 words. But a proposed amendment to the North Carolina constitution could have far-reaching impact on voters, lawmakers and political candidates. One of six amendments on the ballot next month, it would change the make-up of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement as well as the way its members are appointed. The wording on the ballot is simple: “Constitutional amendment to establish an eight-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement in the Constitution to administer ethics and elections law.”

NCGOP Women Pro Kavanaugh Politicking

NC GOP women stand up for Kavanaugh; say Democrats must ‘pay a political price’
N&O // Joe Johnson // October 7, 2018

Summary: A group of Republican women led by NC GOP vice chairwoman Michele Nix on Sunday accused Democrats of using smear campaigns and resorting to mob rule during last week’s confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Nix spoke at a press conference at the state GOP headquarters during a break in a party meeting. “The Democrat Party has become the party against freedom and liberty, the party of emotion over reason and the party of violence over civil debate,” Nix said. “In short, modern Democrats prefer mob rule over the rule of law. Over the past week, they have shown they will stop at nothing to get their way. Democrats destroyed a good man’s name, a good man’s family, all based on allegations that were refuted by the witnesses and disproved by seven FBI reports.”

Republican women praise Kavanaugh confirmation, call sexual assault claims 'outlandish'
WRAL // Sarah Krueger // October 7, 2018

Summary: North Carolina Republicans held a news conference Sunday afternoon, praising senators for confirming Justice Brett Kavanaugh, despite what they called a “smear campaign” spearheaded by Democrats. During the event, the women of the North Carolina Republican Party said the sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh are “outlandish.” The news conference opened up with Michele Nix, vice chairwoman of the North Carolina Republican Party, saying that women stand with sexual assault survivors, but they also stand in support of the presumption of innocence.


Hunter, Smith vie in House 5
Daily Advance // Jon Hawley // October 6, 2018

Summary: House District 5 voters’ choice in next month’s general election is between an incumbent legislator and a little-known, apparently inactive challenger. State Rep. Howard Hunter III, D-Hertford, is seeking his third term in the N.C. House representing a district that, following redistricting this year, includes only Pasquotank, Gates and Hertford counties. Also on the ballot is Phillip Smith, a Republican from Gates County. Hunter, a funeral home owner in Ahoskie, said Thursday he's running to continue pushing for better pay for state employees and teachers, investment in local roads and broadband, and improving rural healthcare. Smith, 36, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment for this story. However, shortly after filing in February, Smith described himself as self-employed home improvement contractor and first-time candidate running in part to improve local schools and control state spending.  Smith has said little about his candidacy since, and it’s not clear he’s campaigning for the District 5 seat. Smith in fact tried to withdraw his candidacy in May after failing to file campaign finance reports on time, based on a letter he sent to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. He didn't withdraw, however, so his name remains on the November ballot.
House Speaker's one-time fiancée only person considered for two state jobs
WRAL // Travis Fain // October 5, 2018

Summary:  A woman who was, at one point, House Speaker Tim Moore's fiancée was the only person considered for a pair of state jobs after the speaker's office forwarded her resume – and only her resume – for consideration. The second job, her current one, was created by the General Assembly through a 2017 budget bill. Jennifer Gray spent about nine years with the Wake County District Attorney's Office before joining the state Department of Insurance, where she works with local prosecutors to shepherd fraud cases through the courts. These cases lingered in the past, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said, and last year, the General Assembly added about 30 positions at the department to investigate and help prosecute them. Gray was hired at the department before those jobs existed, as an attorney at an annual salary of $82,000. Department General Counsel John Hoomani said Gray was the only person considered for that job and that her resume came from Moore's office. It was the only resume the office forwarded for the job, Hoomani said. That position, and Gray's current one at the department, was one of the hundreds exempt from normal state hiring rules, Hoomani said. Elected officials are essentially able to name whomever they want to these "exempt policymaking" jobs without interviewing others, much like a political appointment.

NC National Guard soldier killed in Afghanistan
Fayetteville Observer // Drew Brooks // October 5, 2018
Summary: A North Carolina National Guard soldier serving in Afghanistan was killed Thursday after his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device. Spc. James A. Slape, 23, of Morehead City was killed in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Friday. The NCNG said Slape was posthumously promoted to sergeant. And the attack that killed him is under investigation. Slape was assigned to the 430th Explosive Ordnance Company, which is part of the 60th Troop Command. His unit is based in Washington. North Carolina leaders said the Tar Heel state was in mourning following the attack. On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper spoke of how NCNG soldiers routinely make sacrifices to serve their communities and their nation. “National Guard members step up and answer the call to service wherever they are needed, whether at home to help during a natural disaster or overseas to protect our national security. They leave their homes, their families and their jobs and put their lives on the line for us,” Cooper said. “On behalf of the people of North Carolina, I honor the service and sacrifice of Sgt. James Slape and offer our deepest sympathy to his loved ones and his fellow soldiers.” He is the 26th NCNG soldier to be killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001.
Rebuilding conundrum: For some Florence flooding victims,answer is unclear
StarNews // Adam Wagner // October 6, 2018

Summary: As N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper has toured Eastern North Carolina in the weeks since Hurricane Florence made landfall Sept. 14 at Wrightsville Beach, he’s repeatedly said the state must rebuild in a way that is more protective of people and property. Cooper was elected in 2016 less than a month after Hurricane Matthew caused rivers and streams to swell, shoving their way into people’s homes and businesses. That storm was supposed to be as historic as Hurricanes Fran and Floyd -- the destructive hurricanes of the 1990s. Nearly two years later, Hurricane Florence crawled down the coast, drenching large swaths of Eastern North Carolina with seemingly endless rains and causing power outages that often lasted for days. According to the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office, Florence dropped 29.52 inches of rain on Hampstead, 27.44 inches near Southport and 26.58 inches in Wilmington. “I’m not sure that a so-called ’500-year flood’ is a 500-year flood anymore,” Cooper said Thursday. “We know that particularly with this storm, the combination of storm surge, flash floods and rising rivers all combing to be a devastating event in North Carolina. So what we’re going to have to do is to make ourselves more resilient.” One example for a path forward could be Nashville, Tennessee, where city leaders have required a 4-foot freeboard as part of every construction since 1979. Janey Camp, an engineering professor at Vanderbilt University, said the requirement saved more than $2 billion when the city saw major flooding in 2010. “We can stop and utilize recovery funds to build things a little bit better given what we now know about how storms are changing and becoming more intense,” Camp said. “It’s sad that it has to happen, often, post-disaster, but I think disasters are wake up calls for us to reevaluate.”
North Carolina National Guard Soldier KIA

National Guard soldier from North Carolina dies in Afghanistan
N&O // Carli Brosseau // October 6, 2018

Summary: A 23-year-old soldier from Morehead City died Thursday in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, the North Carolina Army National Guard said. Sgt. James Allen Slape was wounded by an improvised explosive device, spokesman Lt. Col. Matthew DeVivo said in a news release. Slape had gotten out of his vehicle and was working to clear the area of explosives when a bomb detonated, said Commander Grant Neeley, a spokesman for Resolute Support, a NATO-led mission to train and advise Afghan security forces. In a written statement, Neeley said Slape was evacuated to a medical facility, but staff there were unable to save him.

Climate Change

Climate change is real and it’s caused by humans, NC’s community leaders say
N&O // John Murawski // October 8, 2018

Summary: While the nation is divided on the question of global warming, North Carolina’s business and cultural leaders overwhelmingly believe that climate change is real and that human activities are contributing to the problem. The angst is shared across the ideological spectrum, though finding a consensus on solutions is another matter. Many also voiced frustration that the state legislature barred the use of scientific climate projections to guide growth planning policy. But that frustration is balanced by an acknowledgment that some of the most widely publicized environmental risks — such as coal ash basins and hog waste lagoons — are tied to industries that anchor the economy, employing thousands of people and serving millions of customers. The state’s leaders in business, politics and culture offered their thoughts on climate change, sea level rise and sustainable development as part of the NC Influencers series for The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald-Sun. Their solutions ranged from minimalist strategies in a bid to protect local economies from costly regulation, to ambitious goals that would tame the waters on a scale suggesting the canals of Venice or the docks of Holland.

UN report on global warming carrieslife-or-death warning
Greensboro N&R // Seth Borenstein // October 7, 2018

Summary: Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, an international panel of scientists reported Sunday. But they provide little hope the world will rise to the challenge. The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its gloomy report at a meeting in Incheon, South Korea.

Grim Forecast From U.N. On Global Climate Change
BPR // Christopher Joyce // October 8, 2018

Summary: Some of the world's top climate scientists have concluded that global warming is likely to reach dangerous levels unless new technologies are developed to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says pledges from the world's governments to reduce greenhouse gases, made in Paris in 2015, aren't enough to keep global warming from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial temperatures. That was the Paris agreement's most ambitious target (a 2-degree C rise was established as a more practical goal). But even with a 1.5-degree C increase, the world can expect serious changes to weather, sea levels, agriculture and natural eco-systems, according to a report issued Monday following an IPCC meeting in South Korea. "Limiting warming to 1.5 C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics," says Jim Skea of Imperial College London, one of the authors of the report, "but doing so would require unprecedented changes."

Federal News  

U.S. Senate

As Kavanaugh is confirmed, senator from NC slams Dems’ ‘politics of personal destruction’
N&O // Carli Brousseau // October 6, 2018

Summary: In the hours before Brett Kavanaugh was approved by the U.S. Senate for a seat on the country’s highest court, following dramatic Senate hearings and angry #MeToo protests, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis sent out a statement warning against a future filled with “the politics of personal destruction.” “Roles will be eventually reversed when a Democratic president nominates a Supreme Court justice,” Tillis said. “For the good of the nation, Republicans must resist the urge to reciprocate the politics of personal destruction when that time comes.” The statement echoed comments Tillis made when Kavanaugh appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member of the Republican majority. On Sept. 27, Tillis apologized to Kavanaugh. “I’ve gone through a campaign and had a lot of smears, but it pales in comparison to what you’ve had to deal with,” he said.

Sen. Mitch McConnell says Senate 'not broken' after Kavanaugh fight
Greensboro N&R // Hope Yen // October 7, 2018

Summary: Picking up the pieces after a contentious nomination battle, the Senate's majority leader said Sunday that the chamber won't be irreparably damaged by the wrenching debate over sexual misconduct that has swirled around new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. While Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Kavanaugh's confirmation was a shining moment for the GOP heading into next month's pivotal elections, GOP Gov. John Kasich of Ohio predicted "a good year" for Democrats and said he wonders about "the soul of our country" in the long term after the tumultuous hearings. McConnell, in two news show interviews, tried to distinguish between President Donald Trump's nomination of Kavanaugh this year and his own decision not to have the GOP-run Senate consider President Barack Obama's high court nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016. McConnell called the current partisan divide a "low point," but he blamed Democrats. "The Senate's not broken," said McConnell. "We didn't attack Merrick Garland's background and try to destroy him." He asserted that "we simply followed the tradition of America."


How Is Kavanaugh Likely To Rule On Critical Issues? Here's A Look At His Record
BPR // Colin Dwyer // October 8, 2018

Summary: Brett Kavanaugh is a Supreme Court justice. That much is certain after senators narrowly approved his controversial nomination Saturday, putting an end to his bitter confirmation battle with a slim vote in his favor. But even as one phase of Kavanaugh's story ends, another is beginning: His lifetime tenure on the highest court in the U.S. And this story promises to last much longer. So, what can we expect to see from Kavanaugh on the biggest, thorniest issues likely to come before the Supreme Court? Of course that question won't be answered with certainty until we see him actually on the nation's highest bench — but there are clues to be found in Kavanaugh's past statements and opinions.

With battle over, a new justice quickly gets to work and sets a record
WRAL // Adam Liptak // 
October 7, 2018
Summary:  A day after the bitter fight over his nomination ended in his elevation to the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was in his new chambers Sunday, preparing for the arguments the court is to hear as it enters the second week of its term. His supporters hope he can settle into the court’s work, demonstrate that he is an able judge and put accusations of sexual misconduct and questions about his temperament behind him. His critics say the court may never fully recover from a confirmation process marked by raw anger and partisan polarization.

Brett Kavanaugh Sworn In As Newest Supreme Court Justice
WUNC // Brian Naylor // October 7, 2018

Summary: A sharply divided Senate — reflecting a deeply divided nation — voted almost entirely along party lines Saturday afternoon to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. A little more than two hours later, Kavauangh was sworn in during a private ceremony as protesters stood on the court's steps. Kavanaugh becomes the nation's 114th Supreme Court justice and President Trump's second appointment to the court, creating a conservative majority on the nation's highest court for years to come. The Senate vote was 50-48. Only one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, joined Republicans in backing Kavanaugh. One Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted "present" although she said she opposed the nomination. One GOP senator was absent during the vote because of his daughter's wedding thousands of miles from Washington, D.C.

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