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Maryland Takes Over Hundreds Of Purple Line Contracts After Fallout With Contractors : NPR

The Maryland Transit Administration will now oversee the day-to-day management of the construction of the Purple Line.

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The Maryland Transit Administration has taken over hundreds of contracts for the Purple Line light rail construction, following a months-long battle with the private-partner consortium working on the $5.6 billion project.

State officials announced the news Friday, according to the Washington Post, potentially upending one of the largest public-private partnerships in the country.

The takeover comes after contractors with Purple Line Transit Partners LLC, the consortium of private companies that partnered with the state to develop the line, quit construction over cost disputes with the state — squabbles that had persisted for years. Under the public-private partnership, the state owns the project, but the contractors under PLTP oversaw the build-out of the light-rail, which would connect New Carrolton to Bethesda.

In September, a judge ruled that the contractors could quit amid cost overruns and construction delays, and required them to stay on the job until Sept. 14. On Sept. 23, many crews began packing up.

The disruption now leaves roads torn up and bridges half-built across Montgomery and Prince George’s County. The state and subcontractors will work together to continue working on the corridors in the county over the next 30 days, according to Maryland Department of Transportation spokesperson.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater wrote in a statement provided to DCist that the state will now oversee the “day-to-day” management of the light rail (including manufacturing, maintenance, and 233 design and construction agreements), but the move will likely delay final completion — which was originally slated for March 2022 — by years.

In mid-September, following the judge’s ruling, state transportation officials met with Montgomery County councilmembers to assure them that the rail would be completed

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North Carolina Governor Drops ‘Bathroom Bill’ Lawsuit Against U.S. : The Two-Way : NPR

Supporters gather at the North Carolina Capitol in April in support of a law that regulates which bathrooms people can use and blocks local governments in the state from extending anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people.

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Supporters gather at the North Carolina Capitol in April in support of a law that regulates which bathrooms people can use and blocks local governments in the state from extending anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people.

Gerry Broome/AP

North Carolina’s governor has dropped a lawsuit asking a federal court to preserve the state’s HB2 law limiting civil rights protections for LGBT people and regulating who uses which public bathrooms.

In court documents Friday, Gov. Pat McCrory cited “substantial costs to the State” as one reason for dropping his lawsuit against the federal government, writing that it did not serve the “interests of judicial economy and efficiency.”

Businesses, performing artists and event organizers have boycotted the state since House Bill 2 was passed. In July, the NBA announced it was pulling its February All-Star Game out of Charlotte, saying in a statement, “We do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by the current law.”

This month, the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference both moved championship sporting events out of the state.

McCrory sued the federal government in May, after U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said HB2 violated both the Civil Rights Act and Title IX and threatened to withhold federal funding to the state. The Department of Justice countersued, seeking to ban enforcement on the grounds that the law is, as Lynch said at the time, “impermissibly discriminatory.”

“This action is about a great deal more than just bathrooms. This is about the dignity and respect we accord our

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Why Home Improvement Has Surged And How It’s Changing America : NPR

“It used to be a backyard. Now it’s a summer oasis,” says Astoria Camille of the water feature she built in her mother’s Kansas City, Mo., backyard using an old stock tank and 53 bags of pea gravel.

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“It used to be a backyard. Now it’s a summer oasis,” says Astoria Camille of the water feature she built in her mother’s Kansas City, Mo., backyard using an old stock tank and 53 bags of pea gravel.

Frank Morris/KCUR

The sound of power tools is roaring in neighborhoods across the United States.

In the Brookside neighborhood in central Kansas City, Mo., John Buhr has do-it-yourself projects going from top of the garage to the basement.

“As soon as COVID hit, we needed someplace the kids could play,” Buhr says, noting that neighborhood parks were closed. “So we put a playhouse down [in the basement] first and then found the kids liked it so much that we went ahead and built a living room. And then my wife needed the space to work.”

So now Buhr is building an office for his wife in what was an unfinished attic above the garage. He’s also working on a self-contained apartment for his parents and in-laws to use when they’re in town for extended babysitting visits.

“This all kind of became immediately necessary, thanks to COVID,” Buhr says.

John Buhr now devotes much of his time to fixing up his family’s home in Kansas City. He’s building a playhouse for his young children, an apartment for the grandparents to use on their extended babysitting visits and an office for his wife, who supports the family working in the tech industry.

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Necessity is one factor driving the building boom.

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Trump Expands Ban On Racial Sensitivity Training To Contractors : NPR

President Trump, here on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday, signed an executive order on certain training about race for federal contractors, expanding an earlier ban on federal employees.

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President Trump, here on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday, signed an executive order on certain training about race for federal contractors, expanding an earlier ban on federal employees.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump on Tuesday said he had expanded a ban on racial sensitivity training to federal contractors.

His administration had instructed federal agencies to end such training earlier this month.

Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday that he had expanded the ban on “efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex and race-based ideologies” to contractors doing business with the federal government and those receiving grant funds.

“Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t there’s nothing in it for you!” he tweeted.

Last week, Trump announced efforts to promote “patriotic education” and railed against students learning about systemic racism.

He signed an executive order that requires contracts to now include a provision that says contractors with the federal government will not have “workplace training that inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating” or face the cancellation of contracts.

“Instructors and materials teaching that men and members of certain races, as well as our most venerable institutions, are inherently sexist and racist

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