FBI EXECUTES SEARCH WARRANT ON RICHARD BURR, CONFISCATES PHONE: U.S. Sen. Richard Burr turned his cell phone over Wednesday night to FBI agents amid an investigation into stock sales he made in February, The Los Angeles Times reported. Burr, a North Carolina Republican and the chairman of the Senate’s intelligence committee, was served a search warrant at his Washington, D.C.-area residence, according to the LA Times, which cited a law enforcement official. Burr’s office declined to comment on the report when contacted by McClatchy late Wednesday night. Citing the law enforcement official, The LA Times reported that the Justice Department is “examining Burr’s communications with his broker.” Burr sold up to $1.7 million in stocks in early and mid-February, according to a Senate disclosure that he filed.
PHIL BERGER MUST BE IN DIRE NEED OF A HAIRCUT: Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger called on Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday to grant counties local flexibility to reopen hair salons and barbershops, noting 25 states have reopened these businesses in some capacity, with three more to follow in the coming days. "It's time to follow the lead of the majority of states in our region and the country. Hair salon owners and employees can't work, and many of them still can't get unemployment assistance from the Cooper administration," Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. "The majority of states in our region and the country have reviewed the science, facts and data and reached a different conclusion than Gov. Cooper's. What is his strategic endgame in choosing a different path based on similar facts and data?" Berger said salons and barbershops could schedule customers by appointment only, making sure that none is sick, require customers and employees to wear masks, disinfect equipment after each use and remove magazines and other material that could be passed around.
MANY COLLEGE STUDENTS FALL INTO A "STIMULUS GAP" AND WON'T GET MONEY UNTIL 2021: If your son or daughter is 17 or older and claimed as a dependent, you’re not getting an extra $500. In many cases, the college student won’t get that money either. The IRS notes that “a 20-year-old full-time college student claimed as a dependent on their mother’s 2019 federal income tax return is not eligible for a $1,200 Economic Impact Payment.” And the parent isn’t getting an extra $500 for that college student if they do not qualify as a child age 16 or younger. “If the student cannot be claimed as a dependent by their mother or anyone else for 2020,” the IRS said, “that student may be eligible to claim a $1,200 credit on their 2020 tax return next year.” The Economic Impact Payment is “an advance payment of a new temporary tax credit that eligible taxpayers can claim on their 2020 return,” the IRS said. Keep the letter you receive by mail a few weeks after the stimulus payment is issued.
CONSERVATIVE WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT TOSSES GOVERNOR'S STAY-AT-HOME ORDER: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority sided with Republican legislators and struck down on Wednesday the decision by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’s administration to extend a stay-at-home order intended to quell the spread of the novel coronavirus. The 4-3 decision limits Evers’s ability to make statewide rules during emergencies such as a global pandemic, instead requiring him to work with the state legislature on how the state should handle the outbreak. On Wednesday night in the heart of downtown Platteville, Wis., just hours after the Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out the state’s stay-at-home order, Nick’s on 2nd Street was packed wall to wall, standing room only. It was sometime after 10 p.m. when “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by The Hollies came over the the sound system and a bartender took out his camera. In a Twitter broadcast, he surveyed the room of maskless patrons crammed together, partying like it was 2019. A few were pounding on the bar to the beat. Some were clapping their hands in the air and some were fist-pumping, a scene so joyous they could have been celebrating the end of the worst pandemic in a century. Instead, as Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) knew, they were just celebrating the apparent end of his power over them — at least for now. “We’re the Wild West,” Evers told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi on Wednesday night, reacting to the state Supreme Court’s ruling and the scenes of people partying in bars all across Wisconsin.
PIGS ARE BEING GASSED AND SHOT DUE TO MEAT PLANT CLOSURES: One Minnesota hog farmer sealed the cracks in his barn and piped carbon dioxide through the ventilation system. Another farmer has considered gassing his animals after loading them into a truck. And a third shot his pigs in the head with a gun. It took him all day. These are dark days on many American pig farms. Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants across the Midwest have created a backlog of pigs that are ready for slaughter but have nowhere to go. Hundreds of thousands of pigs have grown too large to be slaughtered commercially, forcing farmers to kill them and dispose of their carcasses without processing them into food. And yet, around the United States, scores of people are struggling to find enough to eat, lining up at food banks after losing their jobs in the economic fallout of the pandemic. Distribution issues have caused grocery stores and fast-food restaurants to run low on meat. Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the United States, is limiting the amount of ground beef and pork that customers can buy at some stores. Costco has placed a three-product cap on purchases of fresh beef, poultry and pork. Wendy’s has run out of hamburgers at hundreds of locations. The waste of viable pigs at a time of great need is causing both deep economic loss and emotional anguish across the nation’s pork industry. The number of pigs being slaughtered but not used for food is staggering. In Iowa, the nation’s largest pork-producing state, agricultural officials expect the backlog to reach 600,000 hogs over the next six weeks. In Minnesota, an estimated 90,000 pigs have been killed on farms since the meat plants began closing last month.