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Wednesday News: 3rd time's the charm

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GERRYMANDERED LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS SENT BACK TO NC SUPREME COURT: A challenge to election maps drawn in 2011 that has twice come before the N.C. Supreme Court will return for a third pass before a court that has shifted since its most recent review from a Republican to a Democratic majority. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday issued an order that sent a lawsuit filed by former Democratic state legislator Margaret Dickson for another review by North Carolina’s highest court. The order tells the North Carolina justices to reconsider its 2015 decision upholding the maps in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that found lawmakers relied too heavily on race when drawing congressional districts in 2011.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article15...

Tuesday News: Theatre of the Absurd

RUSSIAN COMPLAINS ABOUT SECRET MEETINGS BEING EXPOSED BY LEAKS TO US MEDIA: Speaking to Russian news agencies on Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: "You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow: maybe you'll see what you discussed with your counterpart on the pages of Washington Post or on CNN." Ryabkov did not elaborate, but added that the communication with the Trump administration is currently "on the basic level" because he "wouldn't tell my counterparts in Washington what I wouldn't be able to tell you." Ryabkov's comments came several days after top White House adviser Jared Kushner faced allegations that he tried to create back-channel communications with Russia.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/world/article153310864.html

Monday News: Another failure under his belt

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TRUMP'S G-7 AND NATO PERFORMANCES ALIENATE ALLIES: The sense of a White House under intensified siege was heightened by the sobering comments from Merkel, Europe's most powerful politician. "Naturally, we'll maintain our friendship with the United States ... wherever possible," Merkel said. "But we have to realize that we Europeans are going to have to fight on our own behalf." Although Trump touted "big results" in a tweet Sunday about his Europe trip, Merkel's comments marked a potentially far-reaching negative assessment of his meetings with European Union officials and NATO heads of state in Brussels and the leaders of major industrialized nations at the Group of 7 summit in Sicily.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article153197414.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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DISGUISING VOTER SUPPRESSION BEHIND MASK OF VOTER ID: The problem is that Berger and Moore are disguising the truth. If they really cared about identification, they could easily write a bill that would pass constitutional muster. In reality, while the two TALK about voter ID, what they are DOING is voter suppression. The law the courts struck down was MORE about discouraging voting: reducing early and Sunday voting; eliminating same-day voter registration; ending pre-registration of teenagers; and disallowing out-of-precinct voting. All that comes on top of efforts to make it difficult for certain groups of voters, such as students, to vote by moving polling places from convenient locations, like student unions, to more remote locations on the fringes of college campuses.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-disguising-voter-suppression-behind-mask-of-voter-id/16724460/

Saturday News: Lock him up, too

KUSHNER REQUESTED USE OF RUSSIAN EMBASSY COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM FOR BACK CHANNEL: Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports. The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser. Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate - a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article152964829.html

Friday News: Bad cop, slightly less disgusting cop

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SENATE FOOD STAMP AND EDUCATION PROGRAM CUTS LEFT OUT OF HOUSE BUDGET: Some of the cuts in the budget plan that has passed the N.C. Senate aren’t included in a partial budget released by the N.C. House Thursday – setting up negotiations between Republican leaders over the fate of food stamps, the Governor’s School and other programs. The House did not include a budget provision that changes eligibility requirements for the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP – commonly known as food stamps. The Senate’s proposal would have resulted in 133,000 people losing access to food stamps, including 51,000 children.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article152674624.html

Thursday News: Folwell's Folly

TOP ADMINISTRATOR FOR STATE HEALTH PLAN RESIGNS, LEAVING HUGE EXPERIENCE GAP: Mona Moon, who has been the executive administrator in charge of day-to-day operations for the N.C. State Health Plan for the last four years, has abruptly resigned. “It’s a loss to the State Health Plan,” said John Hammond, a former member of the health plan’s board of trustees and a professor emeritus at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. “She knew the ins and outs of the healthcare system.” Folwell recently has overseen the hiring of two officials with no previous experience in health insurance or health care into director-level positions at the health plan. He has said that he hired people with “integrity, ability and passion” who could implement changes that are needed.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article152352622.html

Wednesday News: NC SNAP recipients in deep trouble

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TRUMP BUDGET COMPOUNDS NC SENATE'S CUTS TO FOOD STAMPS: North Carolina food stamp users, already at risk of having their eligibility limited, found Tuesday that the Trump administration agrees with the cutbacks. President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget, unveiled Tuesday, has $190 billion in cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which serves more than 40 million Americans. Some conservative Republicans expressed concern about the cuts. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said, “What bothers me is that too many times some who don’t have as much as the average citizen, who’s looking out for them?” “Many people do need it,” Jones said of SNAP recipients. “If you’re talking about saving money, where’s the money going? Is it going to pay for tax cuts? That’s not fair, if it’s true.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article152219127.html

Tuesday News: Lock him up

FLYNN LIED ABOUT FOREIGN RELATIONSHIPS WHEN SEEKING SECURITY CLEARANCE: Former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appears to have lied to federal investigators last year about who paid for his 2015 trip to Moscow during a Defense Department inquiry into the renewal of his top-secret security clearance, a leading Capitol Hill Democrat said Monday. Flynn has been implicated on several grounds, including that he lied in denying that he had discussed the U.S. sanctions against Russia during post-election phone calls and that he may have violated a federal law by failing to promptly register as a foreign agent last fall because his consulting firm had accepted more than $500,000 from a Dutch company with ties to Turkey.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article152018577.html

Monday News: Unraveling the safety net

TRUMP'S BUDGET WILL SLASH MEDICAID AND OTHER FUNDING FOR THE POOR: For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump's budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade. The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article151860397.html

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