Monday News: Nineteen thousand, four hundred twenty six


OMICRON VARIANT IS SWEEPING ACROSS NC: At least 1,686,667 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 19,426 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, Dec. 31, reported 19,174 new COVID-19 cases, up from 18,571 the day before. Before Thursday, the highest single-day jump in cases was recorded at 11,581 in January. At least 2,387 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 on Dec. 31, up from 2,267 the day before, health officials said. As of Dec. 28, the latest date with available information, 22.9% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. That’s up from 21.6% the previous day. Roughly 74% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 69% have been fully vaccinated. That's one out of every four adults who still refuse a free vaccine. Tell me again about the Socratic Method, George...

NC GERRYMANDERING LAWSUIT BEGINS TODAY: A fast-moving trial to determine whether North Carolina's new congressional and legislative maps contain unlawful gerrymanders or otherwise should be used in the 2022 elections was set to begin Monday. An array of lawyers for plaintiffs and leaders of the Republican-controlled General Assembly that approved maps in November will have three days to present evidence before a panel of state trial judges. Closing arguments are Thursday. The quick timetable is the result of the state Supreme Court, which last month ordered the judges to hear redistricting litigation and rule by Jan. 11 — after which appeals are expected. The justices delayed the March 8 primary until May 17 in the meantime. Advocacy groups and voters suing say district boundaries are tainted by extreme partisanship and racial bias that make GOP majorities unbreakable and must be redrawn. Republicans say the lines are lawful, crafted using a transparent process that avoided racial and partisan data. Simple fact: a party ranked third in voter registration could not achieve supermajorities without using partisan data.

TWO THIRDS OF REPUBLICANS STILL BELIEVE THE BIG LIE: One year after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Americans are deeply pessimistic about the future of democracy. A new NPR/Ipsos poll finds that 64% of Americans believe U.S. democracy is "in crisis and at risk of failing." That sentiment is felt most acutely by Republicans: Two-thirds of GOP respondents agree with the verifiably false claim that "voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election" — a key pillar of the "big lie" that the election was stolen from former President Trump. Fewer than half of Republicans say they are willing to accept the results of the 2020 election — a number that has remained virtually unchanged since we asked the same question last January. "There is really a sort of dual reality through which partisans are approaching not only what happened a year ago on January 6th, but also generally with our presidential election and our democracy," said Mallory Newall, a vice president at Ipsos, which conducted the poll. "It is Republicans that are driving this belief that there was major fraudulent voting, and it changed the results in the election," Newall said. "I think the Democrats rigged the election," said Stephen Weber, a Republican from Woonsocket, Rhode Island. "And who the hell would vote for Biden?" More than 81 million people voted for Biden, compared to more than 74 million for Trump. Biden won the electoral vote by a margin 306 to 232. It boggles the mind that more than a handful would believe that, much less tens of millions. But here we are.

MARJORIE TAYLOR-GREENE BANNED FROM TWITTER OVER CORONAVIRUS MISINFORMATION: The first-term lawmaker has repeatedly stirred controversy over inflammatory commentary. On social media, she has voiced support for racist views, unfounded QAnon pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theories such as the lie that the 2020 election was stolen and calls for violence against Democratic politicians, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Last February, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called her embrace of conspiracy theories and “loony lies” a “cancer for the Republican Party.” The Democratic-led House that same month tossed her from her two committee assignments, the House Education and Labor Committee as well as the House Budget Committee. In July, Twitter suspended Greene for a week after President Joe Biden urged tech companies to take stronger action against bogus vaccine claims that are “killing people.” Twitter has defended its efforts to keep dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 off its site, saying it has removed thousands of tweets and challenged millions of accounts worldwide. Among Greene's final tweets was one Saturday that falsely referenced “extremely high amounts of covid vaccine deaths,” according to tweets stored in the Internet Archive. Hereafter to be referred to as the victory of AI over QI (Questionable Intelligence).

WITHOUT Q, Q-ANON DETERIORATES INTO INTERNAL SQUABBLES AND PETTY POWER GRABS: The result is a chaotic melodrama, playing out via secretly recorded phone calls, personal attacks in podcasts, and a seemingly endless stream of posts on Twitter, Gab and Telegram calling their rivals Satanists, communists, pedophiles or “pay-triots” — money-grubbing grifters exploiting the cause. The infighting reflects the diminishing financial rewards for the merchants of right-wing disinformation, whose battles center not on policy or doctrine but on the treasures of online fame: viewer donations and subscriptions; paid appearances at rallies and conferences; and crowds of followers to buy their books and merchandise. But it also reflects a broader confusion in the year since QAnon’s faceless nonsense-peddler, Q, went mysteriously silent. Without Q’s cryptic messages, influencers who once hung on Q’s every “drop” have started fighting to “grab the throne to become the new point person for the movement,” said Sara Aniano, a Monmouth University graduate student of communication studying far-right rhetoric and conspiracy theories on social media. “In the absence of a president like Trump and in the absence of a figure like Q, there’s this void where nobody knows who to follow,” Aniano said. “At one point it seemed like Q was gospel. Now there’s a million different bibles, and no one knows which one is most accurate.” That's because they are f**king idiots.