3-JUDGE PANEL APPROVES USE OF NEW CONGRESSIONAL MAP: North Carolina judges ordered a new U.S. House district map that Republican state legislators drew last month be used in the 2020 elections, deciding on Monday there wasn’t time to scrutinize the boundaries further for any left-over extreme partisan bias. The three-judge panel agreed it was too late in the election cycle to receive evidence and testimony that would be necessary to consider detailed redistricting arguments from the lawmakers and from Democratic and independent voters who challenged the latest congressional maps. “There's simply not sufficient time to fully develop the factual record necessary to decide the constitutional challenges to the new congressional districts without significantly delaying the primary elections,” Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway said from the bench. “It is time for the citizens to vote.”
CANDIDATES OVERWHELM STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS OFFICE WITH FILING: The governor's office and other statewide political positions are up for election, as is every seat in the General Assembly, 13 congressional seats, a U.S. Senate seat, a long list of judgeships and a load of local offices. As in other election years, so many people showed up to file at the State Board of Elections in downtown Raleigh that officials handed out numbers and candidates had to wait, like at a deli, to do their paperwork. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey was the first to file. State Rep. Holly Grange, a Republican running for governor, got No. 43. Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Jessica Holmes, a Democrat running for state labor commissioner, was No. 41. Filing runs through Dec. 20, and candidate lists will be posted routinely on the State Board's website. Information on how to file is available there as well. Some offices require candidates to file at the State Board and others, including General Assembly races, at county boards of election.
UNC BOG CONSPIRED WITH CONFEDERATE GROUP BEFORE THEY FILED LAWSUIT: It’s unclear how long UNC System officials and board members had been talking with the N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans about the group taking ownership of Silent Sam or suing. But court documents show UNC System Interim President Bill Roper and Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey agreed to the terms before the lawsuit was filed. The announcement and the lawsuit came after the board’s university governance committee met in closed session Wednesday. The UNC System said the meeting was behind closed door to discuss a legal matter. Greenville businessman Harry Smith, who was chairman of the Board of Governors when the committee was formed, left the board in November but remains interested in developments there. Reached by phone on Monday, he said he was not aware that the committee had been in discussions with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “I never recall seeing anything in writing,” he said.
AND NOW TRUMP IS PICKING A FIGHT WITH THE FRENCH: President Trump on Tuesday slammed as “very, very nasty” and “very disrespectful” recent comments by his French counterpart about the diminished state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance. Referring to comments President Emmanuel Macron made last month in an interview with the Economist magazine — in which Macron described the “brain death” of NATO resulting from America’s failure to consult with its allies — Trump attacked Macron during his first remarks on the first day of the NATO 70th anniversary summit in London, calling the comments “very insulting.” Trump’s tough talk on France came just a day after the United States threatened new tariffs of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion in French products, including wine, cheese and yogurt — a response, Trump’s chief trade negotiator said, to a French digital services tax that the United States concluded is discriminating against American Internet companies. “They’re our companies; they’re American companies,” he said. “If anyone is going to take advantage of the American companies, it’s going to be us. It’s not going to be France.”
TRUMP WANTS TO CONTINUE TRADE WAR WITH CHINA UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION? President Trump signaled on Tuesday that he was in no rush to end a long trade war with China, suggesting that he could wait until after the 2020 presidential election to strike a deal. “I have no deadline,” Mr. Trump told reporters during a wide-ranging 52-minute appearance in London with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general. “In some ways I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal.” He added: “But they want to make a deal now, and we’ll see whether or not the deal’s going to be right, it’s got to be right.” Mr. Trump’s comments, which rattled European stock markets, cast more uncertainty on an agreement he said he had made weeks ago with China’s top trade envoy, Vice Premier Liu He. They announced in mid-October that they had reached a so-called Phase 1 trade agreement that would allow Chinese purchases of American agricultural goods to resume while the United States would cancel additional tariffs scheduled for Oct. 15. Administration officials had previously suggested that those tariffs could be canceled if the two sides concluded a trade deal. But sticking points remain — including whether Mr. Trump will remove any of the tariffs already placed on $360 billion worth of products. If he proceeds with that December round, the United States would essentially be taxing every shoe, television and laptop that China sends into the United States and risking more retaliation.