GOP EXTREMIST "LAWMAKERS" ARE GOING AFTER DURHAM VOTERS: Conservative Republicans in the North Carolina House said Thursday morning that they plan to investigate voting machines used in the 2020 election in Durham County for modems or other ways they could have been connected to the internet. And they plan to use the legislature’s police to help them do so. “We will do whatever it takes to go about our mission,” said Rep. Jeff McNeely, an Iredell County Republican and member of the freedom caucus, a group of very conservative House Republicans. McNeely and other freedom caucus members pulled Durham County — a Democratic stronghold — out of a hat that they said contained the names of all 100 counties during a press conference at the legislature Thursday morning. Riiight, they just happened to pull Durham out of a hat. Roll up your pantlegs, the shit's gettin' deep.
DEM CHARLES GRAHAM IS TAKING SOME HEAT OVER VOTING FOR HB2: State Rep. Charles Graham's congressional campaign hit the ground running this week with an online ad that quickly went viral. But the the attention Graham D-Robeson, garnered from the ad also prompted some people to point out conservative stances he has taken on legislation in the General Assembly, such as limiting transgender individuals' access to public bathrooms. Graham likely will run for the 9th Congressional District seat held by Republican Congressman Dan Bishop, depending on how new districts are drawn over the next several weeks. During the ad, he talked at length about a 1958 confrontation between the Ku Klux Klan and members of the Lumbee tribe in Maxton that has come to be known as the Battle of Hayes Pond. The 50 KKK members who showed up for a nighttime rally and cross-burning were met by some 400 Lumbees, who set them running. "Hundreds of normal folks deciding to stand together against ignorance and hate," Graham said. Graham, who said in the ad that "human dignity is a human right," issued a formal apology Tuesday for his House Bill 2 vote, calling it a mistake on a rushed piece of legislation.
BERGER FLIRTS WITH MEDICAID EXPANSION, BUT HE WON'T SHOW UP FOR THE DATE (That's "dating" date, not the calendar thing, but when you have to explain your joke...): Republican Senate leader Phil Berger has said for years — and reiterated as recently as Wednesday — that Medicaid expansion is bad policy. But Berger is “open to discussion” on the issue this year, said Republican state Sen. Danny Britt, of Lumberton. That shift comes as the federal government is offering new incentives to North Carolina if it expands health insurance to hundreds of thousands of poor people. Doing that now could mean $1.7 billion in federal funds for the state — an offer that some Republicans don’t want to turn down. “Medicaid expansion and tax cuts are probably going to be at odds with each other, and that’s something we’re talking through,” said Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican and top House budget writer. And you just proved you have no idea what you're talking about, Jason. Medicaid expansion will cost next to nothing budget-wise.
IBM TELLS TRIANGLE EMPLOYEES TO GET VACCINATED OR LOSE JOB: IBM, one of the largest private sector employers in the Triangle, is mandating that workers be vaccinated by Dec. 9 or be “out on an unpaid leave of absence.” A spokesperson for IBM cited the wide availability of vaccines as a reason in a statement provided to WRAL TechWire on Thursday. The news toughens an earlier announced plan from IBM that workers be vaccinated before being allowed to return to offices. Earlier Thursday, Red Hat – which is part of IBM – announced to its workers that vaccinations would be required or employees and contractors would lose their jobs. “As we’ve said throughout the pandemic, IBM’s health and safety practices are driven by science. Given the continued spread of COVID-19, the local clinical conditions around IBM sites, and the reality that vaccines are readily available nationwide, we will now require all IBM U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated by December 8,” Carrie Bendzsa, U.S. Markets and Regional Communications Manager for IBM Americas, told TechWire. Good for you, and your employees.
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN HAVE LOST A PARENT TO COVID 19: Ten months after James Vance, a former Marine and retired policeman in Princeton, W.Va., died of covid-19, his two young children are still reeling from his death. Julia, 12, a middle-schooler who used to do everything with her father, is withdrawn. Her sister Jamie, 7, still talks about him in the present tense. As for Mom, Jerri, a third-grade teacher, she is struggling to keep up with bills and maintain a sense of normalcy for her daughters while still processing the devastation of losing the love of her life. “All three of us are in therapy,” Jerri Vance said. “Every time we go out, everything is about covid. We have to see that daily and deal with people who say it isn’t real when it’s beyond real to us.” Throughout the pandemic, public health experts and other observers have often noted that children have been largely spared the worst because they are less likely to develop severe illness from the virus. The fact that many of the dead are parents or caregivers has been largely left out of the conversation. A new study published Thursday in the journal Pediatrics attempts to quantify the vast hole left by these deaths, estimating that roughly 140,000 children under 18 may have lost parents or caregivers from March 2020 to June 2021 due to covid or other causes classified as pandemic-related. Those numbers take into account both official covid deaths and deaths from other causes, such as homicides and drug overdoses, beyond those expected in a typical year before the pandemic. The consequences are life-changing: Losing a parent or other primary caregiver is one of the most stressful things that can happen in a child’s life — putting them at risk of a trajectory of depression and post-traumatic stress, as well as physical manifestations of grief, such as heart problems. I'll be honest, I really haven't considered this side of the issue. Heartbreaking.