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It was a moment of unintended candor that provided clear insight into what too many of those who occupy seats in the North Carolina General Assembly believe but rarely state so directly.

Friday, May 19, 2023

A 79-year-old advice columnist — along with a handful of other brave women who testified in her case — has done what legal and political institutions have not yet managed: held the former president Donald Trump accountable in law for his actions, and for his lies.

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Regional banks took another market drubbing on Thursday, as the financial panic rolls on despite regulatory assurances that all is well. The turmoil wasn’t helped Thursday when midsize TD Bank and First Horizon Bank called off their merger, blaming regulatory impediments.

The old-fashioned way states craft learning standards for grade-school students is slow and sure: Committee upon committee of stakeholders, from teachers to mathematicians to geographers to political scientists, work out how best to distill a vast body of knowledge down to what’s most important for children to master. The latest example of this process in Virginia, however, has been a modern-day political drama, and, though it ended well enough, the episode shows how students could suffer as adults increasingly politicize the nation’s primary education system.

It is only common sense to most North Carolinians, that before someone can buy a handgun — whether from a federally-licensed firearms dealer, a vendor at a gun show or even an acquaintance — there’s a check to be sure that person isn’t:

Last week, the White House issued an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from using hacking tools that could be harnessed by foreign governments to abuse human rights — forcing firms to stop selling to bad actors or risk losing this country’s valuable business. 

Responding to clamoring from parents, and dreadful stories of youth suicide and hospitalizations, leaders in both parties convey an increasing sense of urgency to address epidemic levels of teenage anxiety, depression, loneliness and lashing out. About two dozen governors described teenage mental health as a crisis during their state of the state addresses this year and proposed budgets that would expand treatment options. The need is glaring; the pandemic supercharged trend lines that have grown worse as America’s social fabric has been pulled at the seams and social media has grown ubiquitous.

China’s Xi Jinping traveled to Moscow this week to commune with Vladimir Putin, cementing the new axis against the U.S. Compare that scene to President Biden’s proposed fiscal 2024 defense budget, which isn’t serious about matching American military power to growing threats.

A decade ago the legislature took a shredder to teacher pay — eliminating salary boosts for longevity and getting advanced degrees. They front-loaded pay scales so teachers with the most experience got the smallest pay increases. Along with it, legislators abolished tenure and eliminated caps on class size and increased teaching workloads.

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Twenty-five years ago, when a powerful state senator quietly and suddenly advanced a bill that would have allowed the leaders of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to transform the giant and successful health insurance nonprofit into a for-profit company, advocates, consumers, average citizens, and ultimately, the full General Assembly, took a stand.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that in the Obama era there were serious discussions about whether a “G2” could emerge — with the U.S. and China coming together, never easily but earnestly, and in good faith, to tackle the world’s great problems.

He seems to have abandoned “Jim Crow 2.0,” but that was the extent of the nuance in President Joe Biden’s political remarks Sunday in Selma, Ala. He was there to commemorate the anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the 1965 brutality against a civil-rights march at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Calling for the freedom to vote, marchers were met by clubs and tear gas.