STANDOFF OVER NEW STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH PLAN IS OVER, FOR NOW: The State Treasurer announced a new move Thursday to ensure that the health insurance plan covering more than 720,000 teachers and other state employees will include major N.C. hospital systems as in-network facilities. Two big providers for the Charlotte area, Atrium Health and Novant Health, said the new deal means they will remain in-network for state employees next year. Duke Health also said it will be in-network. The new plan will let those health care systems and other providers that didn’t sign on to State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s proposal of state-set prices for medical service to keep their existing agreements with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Blue Cross Blue Shield administers the state insurance plan.
DAN FOREST USES CNN AS AN EXCUSE TO NOT HAVE RED FLAG LAWS FOR GUNS: "You can't say just, because the media says that, 'Oh well, you're a Republican evangelical Christian, you're unstable and you shouldn't own a gun,'" he continued. "Because that's what CNN would try to do. But the reality is that there are people that are mentally unstable out there." WRAL News reached out to the Lieutenant Governor's Office for more details Wednesday, then to his campaign Thursday and Friday. They responded Friday with the written statement, saying all the red flag bills proposed so far have been "overly broad, undefined plans that could lead to government gun confiscation." A spokesman declined to say whether Forest, who presides over the North Carolina Senate, would work to craft a red flag bill more to his liking. Democrats in both legislative chambers filed red flag bills, and other gun control bills, months ago. So far, they haven't gotten a committee hearing, but Democrats are pushing for one now. In the House, they filed a discharge petition, a potential end-around House Republican leadership to bring the bill to the floor if enough members sign on.
LATINO CONSTRUCTION WORKERS THREATENED BY RIFLE-TOTING WHITE DUDE IN DURHAM: The men are employees of Flores Roofing and were finishing a roof at a house in the 751 South community in Durham on Wednesday when it happened. "I couldn't believe it," said Daisy Reyes, manager of Flores Roofing. "I couldn't believe our company was targeted more than anything." Jose Flores was working at the construction site at the time and told WRAL with help from an interpreter that he was scared for his life and for the safety of the other men on the crew. He described how the men jumped off the roof to hide behind a dumpster. The Durham County Sheriff's Office was called to the site on Thursday, and deputies are now looking for a suspect they describe as about 6 feet tall with blonde hair. He is said to be driving a small, gray sedan. The construction crew was made up of Mexicans, some documented and others undocumented. They said they feel they were targeted because of the way they look.
BIDEN MAINTAINS LEAD OVER DEM RIVALS, DESPITE NUMEROUS GAFFES: “You just want me to say the words so I sound like everybody else,” Mr. Biden said, a flash of anger in his voice. “I’m not everybody else. I’m Joe Biden. I’m staying the way I am.” This summer has been full of predictions about an early Biden demise as a presidential candidate, be it from a poor debate performance or some gaffes, like his comment Thursday that “poor kids” are just as bright as “white kids.” But Mr. Biden has rebounded repeatedly, maintaining a commanding, crowd-drawing position in the contest. Now, as he works to solidify that lead, a new political dynamic is energizing and clarifying the purpose of Senator Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris and the rest of the Democratic field: To emerge as the leading rival to the former vice president. If a formidable rival is to emerge to Mr. Biden, political watchers say, it is likely to happen in Iowa. Many of the state’s most influential Democrats remain highly skeptical of Mr. Biden, with county chairs, activists and other officials questioning the depth of his support and the breadth of his campaign presence in the state.
INDIA'S AGGRESSIVE MOVE TO STRIP KASHMIR'S AUTONOMY STIRS PROTESTS, VIOLENCE: The protesters gathered by the thousands after Friday prayers and set off from a mosque in the Kashmiri capital of Srinagar, chanting slogans about freedom. Security forces told them to turn back, but they refused and sat down in the road, six eyewitnesses said. Not long after, the firing began. The protest — in which at least eight people were injured from shotgun pellets — was one of the largest displays of public anger against India’s abrupt move this week to strip Kashmir of its autonomy and statehood. The step plunged Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority region, into uncertainty and led to a diplomatic breakdown with rival Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the decision to alter Kashmir’s status as a “new dawn” for residents of the troubled region. But since the announcement Monday, much of Kashmir has felt more like a prison, with severe limits on movement and an unprecedented communications shutdown that has restricted contact with the outside world.