EASTERN DISTRICT EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR VOTER RECORDS TO JANUARY: North Carolina’s state board of elections and 44 counties will not have to turn over voting records until after the November elections and will be able to redact any information on how someone voted, an assistant U.S. attorney said in a letter to the state board on Thursday.The letter comes less than a week after a federal prosecutor’s office, at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, subpoenaed extensive voting records from the state board of elections and the board of elections from 44 counties, including Wake, in the eastern part of the state. They demanded the records, including state records on all 100 counties, by Sept. 25. The state board said its subpoenas would encompass more than 15 million documents, while the county subpoenas would produce more than 2.3 million ballots “traceable” to a voter, causing alarm among interest groups, members of Congress and voters.
MARK JOHNSON COMPLAINS ABOUT BEING QUESTIONED BY STATE BOARD: "I just want to stop what's happening here and just again say, Why are we having this back and forth at a board meeting?" Johnson said. "If this is something you were concerned about, you have my cellphone number. You have my email. I have never refused a meeting with any state board member. This, this is not good." "The public’s entitled to know this stuff. You know that, Mark," said state board member Wayne McDevitt. "I agree with the superintendent that working together would be the optimal way to do this," Willoughby said, speaking directly to Johnson. "I have not found you to be very collaborative on any issue, and I understand that you would prefer that we call you and meet with you as I did with the org chart during the month, but this is a very public board. This is a very public agency."
TRUMP'S TRADE WAR WITH CHINA CONTINUES TO GROW WITH TARIFFS ON ADDITIONAL $200 BILLION IN IMPORTS: The Trump administration may impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods, after a public comment period ended Thursday. The imports are equal to nearly 40 percent of all the goods China sold the U.S. last year. Doing so would escalate a confrontation between the world's two biggest economies and likely squeeze U.S. companies that import everything from handbags to bicycle tires. China has said that it is ready to retaliate with "necessary countermeasures" if President Donald Trump goes ahead with the tariff hike. Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday that the country is confident it can maintain "steady and healthy" economic growth. It has announced a $60 billion list of American products targeted for retaliation.
DESPITE VIGOROUS OPPOSITION BY DEMOCRATS, KAVANAUGH APPEARS TO BE HEADING FOR CONFIRMATION: Senate Democrats mounted a last, ferocious attempt Thursday to paint Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a foe of abortion rights and a likely defender of President Donald Trump if he makes it to the high court. But their chances of blocking Trump’s nominee seemed to fade away by the end of a second marathon day of testimony in his confirmation hearing. The hearing pivoted during the day to Roe v. Wade, the high court’s landmark abortion case. The Democrats’ best hope of stopping Kavanaugh — who could swing the court further to the right for decades — would be branding him as a justice who might vote to overturn the ruling, attracting the votes of two Republican senators who support abortion rights. A newly disclosed email suggested he once indicated the abortion case was not settled law, though Kavanaugh denied in the hearing that he had been expressing his personal views on the issue.
TEHRAN SUMMIT ON IDLIB OFFENSIVE MARKS FINAL STAGES OF SYRIAN CIVIL WAR: Northwestern Idlib province and surrounding areas are home to about 3 million people — nearly half of them civilians displaced from other parts of Syria. That also includes an estimated 10,000 hard-core fighters, including al-Qaida-linked militants. For Russia and Iran, both allies of the Syrian government, retaking Idlib is crucial to complete what they see as a military victory in Syria's civil war after Syrian troops recaptured nearly all other major towns and cities, largely defeating the rebellion against Assad. A bloody offensive that creates a massive wave of death and displacement, however, runs counter to their narrative that the situation in Syria is normalizing, and could hurt Russia's longer-term efforts to encourage the return of refugees and get Western countries to invest in Syria's postwar reconstruction. For Turkey, the stakes couldn't be higher. Turkey already hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees and has sealed its borders to newcomers.