JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS AMENDMENT LEAST LIKELY TO PASS: Voters have the chance to decide whether the governor should have sole discretion filling judicial vacancies, or if the legislature should have a role in the process. While supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to give the legislature a role say it would help cut down partisanship on the court and increase diversity on the bench, opponents argue the amendment is another example of legislative overreach. It’s one of the two amendments that are opposed by all five living former governors and six retired chief justices of the state Supreme Court. A recent poll from Spectrum News/SurveyUSA found that 36 percent of those polled were against the judicial appointments amendment, and 35 percent were for it. More than a quarter of those polled — 29 percent — were undecided. It was the least popular of the six constitutional amendments in the poll.
WOLFPACK TAKES ITS TURN AT ATHLETIC SCANDALS: A government witness at a college basketball corruption trial testified Thursday that he made a secret $40,000 payment to the inner circle of a North Carolina State recruit through an assistant coach at the school. Testifying in federal court in Manhattan, self-described recruitment facilitator Thomas "T.J." Gassnola told a jury he delivered the money in cash to the coach, Orlando Early, on a trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2015. He said the coach told him he was going to give it to a personal trainer for highly-touted point guard Dennis Smith Jr. as a way to get it to Smith's family. Business manager Christian Dawkins, former amateur coach Merl Code and former Adidas executive James Gatto have pleaded not guilty to defrauding various colleges by concealing the use of under-the-table payments of up to $100,000 from Adidas in exchange for commitments to programs that were seen as a path to big NBA paydays. Their lawyers haven't disputed payments were arranged in violation of NCAA rules, but they argue the schools never suffered any harm.
HURRICANE FLORENCE WASHES AWAY MUCH OF NC'S CLIMATE CHANGE DENIALISM: In the wake of Hurricane Florence, an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians — 76 percent — say that real-estate development should be restricted in low-lying areas that are prone to flooding, according to a new poll conducted by Elon University and released Thursday. It’s one of the few issues on which Republicans and Democrats see eye-to-eye in Elon’s poll of 848 registered voters about Hurricane Florence. But the poll shows that many Republicans are also concerned about global warming, even if not to the same degree as Democrats. Overall, 83 percent of people who responded think it’s either very likely or somewhat likely that climate change will negatively impact coastal communities in North Carolina within the next 50 years. The majority of people in both parties felt that way — 68 percent of Republicans and 94 percent of Democrats.
FACEBOOK CRACKS DOWN ON "INAUTHENTIC BEHAVIOR" WITH PURGE OF 800 PAGES: Facebook says it has purged more than 800 U.S. pages and accounts for spamming users with garbage links and clickbait. Facebook accuses their backers of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” for setting up networks of pages and accounts designed to mislead users about who they are and what they’re doing. The social network says these accounts spread “sensational political content” designed to drive people to ad-laden websites outside Facebook. In the past, such spammers have often focused on celebrity gossip, weight loss remedies and fake iPhones. The turn toward politics suggests that spammers are learning from the Russian playbook on how to get people riled up and clicking. Facebook has been working to weed out misinformation and election meddling since it acknowledged that Russian agents abused its service in 2016.
KANYE WEST OUT-TRUMPS TRUMP DURING OVAL OFFICE DIATRIBE: Live from the Oval Office, it's Kanye West with a jaw-dropping performance. The rapper didn't rap. But, seated across from President Donald Trump at the Resolute Desk, the musician delivered a rambling, multipart monologue Thursday that touched on social issues, hydrogen planes, mental health, endorsement deals, politics and oh so much more. Seizing the spotlight from the typically center-stage president, West dropped the F-word, floated policy proposals and even went in for a hug. During one pause, Trump seemed to acknowledge the oddness of the moment, saying, "That was quite something." West's mental health has been a question of speculation since he was hospitalized in 2016. Holding out his phone, West showed Trump a picture of a hydrogen-powered plane that he thought should replace Air Force One. "If he don't look good, we don't look good. This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest" and have "the flyest planes."