FACING BUDGET SHORTFALL, UNC-CH PONDERS FURLOUGHS AND EARLY RETIREMENTS: "We are going to be faced with some difficult decisions in the coming months," Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz told members of the Faculty Council in a Friday afternoon meeting. Becci Menghini, vice chancellor for human resources, said UNC-Chapel Hill has a limited number of tools to address the lost revenue: Some furloughs have already happened, and more are possible. Some employees may be required to work reduced hours for reduced pay. There could be temporary reductions in base salary for those making more than $45,000 a year. Some faculty and staff could be asked to take early retirement. Administrators also told faculty that they haven't made any decisions yet on the spring semester, including when and how it will start and whether there will be a spring break.
TEXAS DRILLER WITHDRAWS APPLICATION FOR SEISMIC TESTING OFF NC COAST: WesternGeco, a Houston-based company, withdrew its application in a Sept. 4 letter to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore drilling. The letter was brief, stating that the company was withdrawing an application it had first sought in April 2014 and providing no further explanation. North Carolina officials, including Attorney General Josh Stein, indicated Friday that the lawsuit will move forward in order to address four other companies that have previously applied for permits to test off of the North Carolina coast. “I am pleased by WeseternGeco’s decision and urge the Trump Administration to stop its headlong rush to put oil rigs off North Carolina’s beautiful shores,” Stein wrote. Under President Donald Trump, BOEM tried replacing the document with a new version opening North Carolina and many other coastal areas to offshore drilling. That effort has gone quiet, though, since a March 2019 federal case in Alaska effectively removed waters from the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from consideration.
NC'S VOTER ID LAW IS STILL BEING FOUGHT IN FEDERAL COURT: A federal appeals court on Friday struggled with how to weigh North Carolina’s history of discriminatory voting restrictions while examining the state’s latest election law that requires voters to present photo identification before casting ballots. The new photo ID provision has been blocked by federal and state judges, and will not apply in the November election. Officials in the swing state began mailing absentee ballots last week. Ahead of oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) urged the judges to prevent the measure, known as S.B. 824, from taking effect over objections from Republican legislative leaders. “Lifting the injunction now would be disastrous,” lawyers for the governor told the judges in court filings. “The brunt would be borne by the same voters whom S.B. 824 targeted for disenfranchisement in the first place: minority voters who are both least likely to possess photo IDs that satisfy S.B. 824 and most vulnerable to COVID-19.” The photo ID requirement is the latest in a series of North Carolina election measures scrutinized in court. The law was passed after the 4th Circuit struck down a separate set of voting rules that the court said in 2016 deliberately undercut the political power of Black voters and “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PUSHES 8,800 UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN INTO MEXICO: About 8,800 unaccompanied children have been quickly expelled from the United States along the Mexico border under a pandemic-related measure that effectively ended asylum, authorities said Friday. The Trump administration has expelled more than 159,000 people since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emergency order took effect in March, a figure that also includes more than 7,600 adults and children who crossed the border in families. The figures on children were reported for the first time in a declaration by Raul Ortiz, the Border Patrol's deputy chief, as part of the administration's appeal of an order to stop housing children in hotels. The administration “immediately” expelled most children and families to Mexico but more than 2,200 unaccompanied children and 600 people who came in families were held until flights could be arranged to return home, Ortiz said. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles ruled that using hotels for long-term detention violated a two-decade-old settlement governing treatment of children in custody. She ordered border agencies to stop placing children in hotels by Tuesday.
NO LONGER "CALIFORNIA" WILDFIRES; PORTLAND IS NOW THREATENED: A 36-mile-wide line of flames edged into the towns around Portland, Ore., and cities along the West Coast were smothered in acrid smoke and ash on Friday as history-making wildfires remained unchecked, killing at least 17 and leaving dozens of people missing. “We are preparing for a mass fatality incident based on what we know and the numbers of structures that have been lost,” Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, said as firefighters struggled to contain blazes that have spread across millions of acres of the Pacific Northwest. Fires in California, Oregon and Washington have torn through idyllic mountain towns, reduced neighborhoods to ash and spewed so much smoke that pilots were unable to pursue aerial attacks that can be critical in preventing such mass wildfires from encroaching on communities. Portland’s mayor, fearing the possibility that fires could start and spread in the city, has declared a state of emergency. Tens of thousands of people have sought refuge in shelters, with friends and in parking lots up and down Interstate 5 — with emergency responders struggling to create safe shelter for all of them in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. On the outskirts of Portland, a site set up to shelter evacuees had to be evacuated itself as the fire line continued expanding toward suburban towns south of the city. State fire officials said winds had pressed a 36-mile-wide wildfire front toward those outlying Portland suburbs on Thursday, with fire jumping over the community of Estacada and threatening others around the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.