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Saturday News: Sexist to the core

REPUBLICAN COA JUDGE CENSURED FOR ALLOWING SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Judge Hunter Murphy's conduct wasn't bad enough to warrant suspension or removal from the bench, the state Supreme Court said in an opinion posted Friday, but it did merit censure. Law clerks in Murphy's office told investigators that Tuite made "comments of a sexual or inappropriate nature" and that they told Murphy about it. In one incident, Tuite was talking about a female job applicant and called her breasts "fun bags." The judge, the Judicial Standards Commission reported, was in the room at the time. The judge repeatedly condoned and enabled toxic behavior, the commission found. When some of the problems were reported to the Administrative Office of the Courts' human resources department, the judge "lacked candor and downplayed, minimized and mischaracterized Mr. Tuite’s actions," the commission found.

Friday News: No more Kakistocracy

BIDEN CHOOSES NC DEQ'S MICHAEL REGAN TO HEAD EPA: Regan’s record on environmental justice, including his creation of the state’s Environmental Justice and Equity Board, helped secure him the role. In announcing his selection, the Biden-Harris team pointed to his efforts in working on Cooper’s climate change executive order and his negotiations on cleanup of both coal ash and pollution in the Cape Fear River, as well as the equity board. “He’s been a collaborative, energizing force, putting into action his core belief that when you make decisions with input from a diverse group of stakeholders your outcomes are better and more durable because of it,” said Hawley Truax, a regional director with the Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement. Regan, 44, worked for the EPA for eight years in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations before working for the Environmental Defense Fund. He joined Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration at the beginning of 2017.

Thursday News: Christmas bonus, GOP style


SEVERAL QUARANTINING AFTER PHIL BERGER'S STAPH PARTY: Several people with ties to state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger's office were in quarantine Wednesday after attending Berger’s recent Christmas party. According to spokesman Pat Ryan, Berger, R-Rockingham, hosts a Christmas party every year for current and former staff members. This year, the senator hosted a smaller celebration with some current staff and guests at a Raleigh restaurant. “The gathering was in line with all relevant restrictions, including capacity limits inside restaurants," Ryan said in a statement to WRAL News. Current pandemic restrictions limit indoor gatherings to 10 people, but restaurants are allowed to seat up to 50 percent of their indoor capacity. Ryan estimated the party had fewer than 30 attendees.

Wednesday News: Certifiable


STEINBURG GOES OFF THE DEEP END ON TRUMP ELECTION CONSPIRACY THEORY: Sen. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, paraphrased on his Facebook page comments that retired Gen. Thomas McInerney made earlier this month on a conservative talk show. Among other things, McInerney suggested President Donald Trump declare a national emergency, invoke the Insurrection Act and suspend habeas corpus. Steinburg also made it clear he believes the recent presidential election was stolen and that Trump is the victim of a conspiracy to which multiple countries, the media, U.S. government agencies, officials and judges are either a part or turning a blind eye. “There’s something going on here bigger than what anybody is willing to talk about," he said. "I’m not nuts. … I’m not a conspiracy theory person. I don’t like them. I don’t like conspiracy theories at all. But something is going on here that’s bigger than meets the eye.”

Tuesday News: Change we can live with


RACIAL EQUITY TASK FORCE RELEASES RECOMMENDATIONS: Gov. Roy Cooper’s task force on racial equity released dozens of recommendations Monday in a report that called for widespread changes to address racial bias within the state’s policing and criminal justice systems. The 125 recommendations address policies and laws that disproportionately affect people of color, from traffic stops to protest responses, arrests and reentry into the community after prison time. Other recommendations in Monday’s report include decriminalizing marijuana, revising the role of school resource officers and increasing oversight and accountability for law enforcement. “This is just the start of a public conversation,” Stein said. “We are committed to working alongside leaders across the state to turn these ideas into action.”

Monday News: Five thousand, eight hundred twenty three


DAILY CASE COUNTS FOR CORONAVIRUS CONTINUE TO RISE IN NC: North Carolina reported 6,819 new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the second-highest total since the pandemic began, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Across the state, 2,520 people were hospitalized with the virus, according to data reported by 95% of hospitals. That’s the second-highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations during the pandemic, topped only by Saturday’s reported number. Hospitalizations have been steadily increasing for a month, reaching new highs on each of the 10 days before Sunday. North Carolina also reported 27 new COVID-19 deaths Sunday, bringing the virus’ total toll to 5,823 residents.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


ENTERTAINING TRUMP'S PHONY CLAIMS BREEDS UNWARRANTED DISTRUST IN ELECTIONS: The failure to acknowledge the obvious – that Biden DID get the most votes from ALL Americans who cast ballots and DID capture the most electoral college votes to become the next president – isn’t some passive partisan act. Why do these elected representatives tolerate and even encourage Donald Trump’s outrageous and false claims in his desire to keep an office he didn’t win? Why aren’t they speaking up for the integrity of the ballots cast by voters who put them in office? These elected representatives are breeding unwarranted distrust in our electoral system – the most honest and secure on the planet. That isn’t some modest conjecture. Just look at what’s been done by state and local elections officials here in North Carolina. Every challenge – no matter how frivolous – has been objectively examined and found baseless. That’s been repeated by state and local election officials across the nation.

Saturday News: Sanity returns


U.S. SUPREME COURT CURTLY DISMISSES ELECTION LAWSUIT: The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a lawsuit backed by President Donald Trump to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory, ending a desperate attempt to get legal issues rejected by state and federal judges before the nation’s highest court and subvert the will of voters. Trump bemoaned the decision late Friday, tweeting: “The Supreme Court really let us down. No Wisdom, No Courage!” In a brief order, the court said Texas does not have the legal right to sue those states because it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.” Trump complained that “within a flash,” the lawsuit was “thrown out and gone, without even looking at the many reasons it was brought. A Rigged Election, fight on!”

Friday News: Obstinacy

NC GOP LEADERS HOLD MOSTLY MASKLESS INDOOR VICTORY PARTY: Nationwide, 15.5 million people have reportedly contracted the virus resulting in 290,000 deaths. That did not stop the NC Republican Party from hosting a Victory Party Saturday, along with a luncheon, an executive committee meeting and its central committee meeting. The 96 photos published of the events show some of North Carolina’s leaders attending without masks. Gov. Roy Cooper’s press secretary Dory MacMillan responded to the event in a written statement to The News & Observer. “Elected officials who care about our overwhelmed health workers and the lives of our most vulnerable people will cancel parties and mask up during a critical time of record-high cases and hospitalizations,” MacMillan wrote. “Leaders from all political stripes should come together and set the right examples.”

Thursday News: Culture of fear

ELON POLL FINDS 60% OF NC RESPONDENTS MAY NOT TAKE COVID VACCINE: That number is “low and disappointing,” UNC Charlotte public health sciences Professor Melinda Forthofer told the Observer. “Our best bet for managing this pandemic is to have a much higher percentage of people receiving the vaccine when they can,” she said. Some people surveyed by the Elon poll said they wouldn’t get the vaccine because they worry they could contract COVID-19, or that they believe the vaccine development happened too quickly. But Wessner said it’s impossible to contract COVID-19 from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. 30% of people surveyed identified themselves as Republican, 35% identified as Democrat and 35% identified as neither.


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