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Opinion Roundup: Yuletide news, booming economy, record rainfall and more

Posted December 25, 2018 8:31 a.m. EST
Updated December 25, 2018 8:52 a.m. EST

Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018 -- A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: Recruiters won't disclose full offers to Amazon or Apple, 10 Best-Selling Liquors In NC, two gerrymandering cases that could shape the 2020 elections, Supreme Court rejects suit against Halifax Commissioners, Greensboro man inducted into International Santa Claus Hall of Fame, keeping the Mitzvah in Christmas and more.


FOR THE DAY
IVAN SAUL CUTLER: Keeping the Mitzvah in Christmas (Greensboro News & Record column) -- Want a more spiritual and profound Christmas? Consider keeping the Mitzvah in Christmas, as a satisfying way to give and receive great gifts of love compassion, responsibility and righteousness ... at a time when we all need it the most. Mitzvah is Hebrew for commandment, as in God’s commandments (Mitzvot) emanating from the foundational Jewish Bible, commonly known to Christians as the Old Testament. Unlike performing a good deed — which is usually voluntary — performing a mitzvah fulfills a divine commandment with positive, directed action.

REAL ELECTION FRAUD?
PAUL SPECHT: Bladen County election office gave special access to Dowless, former board member says (Charlotte Observer reports) -- Affidavits disclosed as part of an investigation into North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District race detail allegations of special access to confidential documents at the Bladen County Board of Elections.

POLICY & POLITICS
EMERY DALESIO: NC recruiters won't disclose full offers to Amazon, Apple (AP reports) — North Carolina taxpayers may never learn how much in tax breaks, free land and other giveaways business recruiters were willing to throw at tech giants Apple and Amazon to attract thousands of jobs to the Raleigh area.

JASON DEBRUYN: 10 Best-Selling Liquors In N.C. (WUNC-FM reports) -- Here's a list of the 10 best-selling liquors in North Carolina in 2018. Vodka is the clear favorite in the state as it accounts for the top seven spots. Then again, this list looks only at specific brands and bottle sizes, not overall sales by major liquor type. Ranking comes from the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission: 1.Tito's Handmade Vodka .75L; 2. Smirnoff 80 (PET) 1.75L; 3. Tito's Handmade Vodka 1.75L; 4. Burnett's Vodka 80 1.75L; 5. Aristocrat Supreme Vodka 1.75L; 6. Pinnacle 1.75L; 7. Platinum 7X 1.75L; 8. Hennessy VS .75L; 9. Jack Daniel's Black Label .75L’; 10. Fireball Cinnamon Whisky .75L

BRUCE HENDERSON: Mecklenburg had ended in-person jail visits. Why a new sheriff is bringing them back (Charlotte Observer reports) — Fulfilling a campaign promise, new Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden will restore in-person visits with jail inmates, starting temporarily this week. Face-to-face visits between inmates and family members and friends had ended under former sheriff Irwin Carmichael in favor of visits done solely via video monitors. McFadden, as a candidate, had said video should not be the only option for jail visits.

Two gerrymandering cases that could shape the 2020 elections are ramping up in court (Greensboro News & Record reports) — Democratic and Republican politicians alike are closely watching two gerrymandering lawsuits that could significantly affect the 2020 elections in North Carolina. Both suits allege that the state legislature engaged in unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering when it was redrawing political districts to comply with court orders after losing separate lawsuits over racial gerrymandering.

2 women overdose at Pender jail (Wilmington Star-News reports) -- Pender sheriff’s office said woman brought heroin to facility

GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN
PHILIP RUCKER: ‘I am all alone’: An isolated Trump unleashes a storm of Yuletide gloom (Washington Post reports) -- Since the shutdown began, the president has fired off roughly three dozen tweets — including 10 in three hours Monday that sounded like a running list of grievances.

IAN SHAPIRA, RACHEL WEINER & SEUNG MIN KIM: Impasse continues as workers idled by shutdown worry about paying the bills (Washington Post reports) -- Few see signs that the standoff over funding for President Trump’s border wall will end any time soon, leaving many furloughed government workers concerned about how they will make ends meet.

JENNIFRE LEVITZ & JIM CARLTON: Government Shutdown Scuppers Holiday Plans, Threatens Paychecks (Wall Street Journal reports) -- Four days into the third government shutdown of the year, the impasse between the White House and Congress tripped up holiday plans and threatened to delay paychecks for thousands of federal workers.

BOOMING ECONOMY?
Lara Trump: President’s Christmas gift to America -- a booming economy (Wilmington Star-News column) -- By restoring American manufacturing and restricting the supply of cheap labor from abroad, the administration has increased the individual worker’s bargaining power.

ALAN RAPPEPORT: Trump Renews Attack on Fed as Mnuchin Tries to Calm Markets (New York Times reports) -- A 48-hour effort by the Trump administration to soothe jittery financial markets did little to reverse the free fall in stocks on Monday, as the president’s renewed attack on the Federal Reserve and the specter of a prolonged government shutdown further rattled investors already worried about a global economic slowdown. With a single tweet on Monday, President Trump undercut his top economic advisers’ efforts to reassure the markets that he did not intend to fire Jerome H. Powell as Fed chairman. But Mr. Trump, who blames the Fed’s recent interest rate increases for the market gyrations, said “the only problem our economy has is the Fed,” an assertion that exacerbated the worst sell-off on Wall Street since the 2008 financial crisis.

HEATHER LONG: The Trump administration tried to calm markets. It backfired. (Washington Post reports) -- Many economists warned that the president’s obsession with the stock market would be a big problem. In recent days, it’s become apparent why.

NEIL IRWIN: Economy Is Strong. Leadership Is Shaky. Which Will Win Out in 2019? (New York Times reports) -- Sometime in the last couple of months, predictions of a major economic downturn or recession in 2019 went from being a crank view to the conventional wisdom. It is true that the global economy is sputtering, and that the stock market is in its worst pullback in a decade, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index down more than 19 percent since Sept. 20 as of Monday’s close. But this sense of gloom and pessimism has gotten ahead of the facts on the ground, especially concerning the United States economy. The real risk is not that insurmountable challenges knock the economy off course. It is that poor leadership converts moderate economic shocks into a crisis.

EDUCATION
ALEX GRANADOS: Supreme Court rejects suit against Halifax Commissioners (EdNC reports) — The state Supreme Court last week shot down a lawsuit brought by some Halifax County families against the county’s Board of Commissioners. The families were trying to hold the Board of Commissioners accountable for the quality of Halifax students’ education.

JOHN BLYTHE: A Look Back At The 80th Anniversary Of FDR's Speech In Chapel Hill (WUNC reports) — This month marks the 80th anniversary of a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at UNC, an event that is considered significant in FDR's political career. Roosevelt's arrival on December 5th, 1938 was the first visit to Chapel Hill by a sitting U.S. President in the 20th century. And his speech took place scarcely a month after midterm elections in which the Democrats lost 72 seats in the U.S. House and seven seats in the U.S. Senate.

MATT GOAD: How Triangle schools are trying to reduce black and Latino student suspensions (Durham-Herald Sun reports) — Orange County Schools may train bus drivers and cafeteria workers, along with the rest of its staff, in the latest local push to find alternatives to suspending students who misbehave. The Board of Education recently agreed to pay Cambridge, Massachusetts-based consulting firm Engaging Schools $57,000 to develop a district code of conduct with restorative practices.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
JOHN MURAWSKI: Florence bathed NC in raw sewage. New figures show it was even worse than we thought (Charlotte Observer reports) — As Hurricane Florence was soaking the state in September, local creeks and rivers were swirling with germs, chemicals, sewage and other filth from sources that are usually stored safely and not a threat to public health. What is known is that some 121 million gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage washed out at more than 200 waste water treatment systems.

MAXIM TAMAROV: ENC’s record rainfall tops 100 inches for 2018 (Jacksonville Daily News reports) — This has been one of the wettest years on record for Eastern North Carolina. Data from the Newport/Morehead City National Weather Service for ENC, including Onslow, Lenoir, and Craven counties, among others, recorded 100.43 inches in 2018. Participants contributing data from Swansboro recorded 100.44 inches and from Jacksonville — 102.88 inches.

… AND MORE
Longtime WTVD reporter Dave Boliek dies (Durham Herald-Sun reports) -- Dave Boliek, a longtime reporter for WTVD / ABC11, died on Monday in Arkansas. Boliek, a Hickory native, was 75. He covered state government and the legislature during his tenure in the 1980s and 1990s.

'Decent mother,' a 'bad cook': Randleman woman remembered for hating computers, negotiation in viral obituary (Greensboro News & Record reports) -- She was a "decent mother," according to her obituary. And a "bad cook" and a "horrible driver." Things seemed to go downhill fast in the remembrance of Martha Ware Hill, a Randleman woman who got "on up outta here" just short of 65 years. But it's all in jest. The obituary sounds like it may have been written by one of Martha Ware Hills' "offspring" that she "ambivalently" left behind. Read the obituary that has gone viral on social media:

The Christmas story reminds us of our core values (Fayetteville Observer) — It began in a humble stable in the Middle East, more than two millennia ago. And its spirit is with us to this day.

MICHAEL HEWLETT: Instead of calling cops, this Winston-Salem native baked a cake for her noisy neighbor. Then she became a viral sensation (Winston-Salem Journal reports) — All Winston-Salem native Candice Marie Benbow wanted to do was get some sleep in her New Jersey apartment the morning of Dec. 15, but she couldn't because the next-door neighbor she had never met was playing loud music at 3 a.m. What she did next — bake a pound cake and leave a note at her neighbor's door — has become a sensation on social media, underscoring the power of kindness. It resulted in calls to make a Hallmark movie and in stories from "Inside Edition" and news organizations in Europe.

JENNIFER FERNANDEZ: Greensboro man inducted into International Santa Claus Hall of Fame (Greensboro News & Record reports) — Jac Grimes has joined an elite club of elves. The lifelong Guilford County resident, who first donned the Santa suit in 2006, has been inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.

JOE DEPRIEST: A stranger’s Christmas present led to ‘a magical moment’ for this struggling family (Charlotte Observer reports) — The perfect gifts Barry McCrory is searching for can be as simple as flavored lip balm. Or skin lotion. Or soft, cozy pajamas. The gifts for any special occasion are for his daughters, Helen and Emily, who also like Disney musicals. Blind since birth, they can’t see the images, but they can hear the music.

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