Saturday News: Come what May


GOVERNOR COOPER VETOES PRIMARY ELECTION DELAY BILL: North Carolina’s primary elections for 2022 will likely remain scheduled for May 17, as Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill Friday that would have moved them to June. The reason the date is in question at all is an ongoing court case over the political district maps that Republican lawmakers recently drew, and which Democrats have called unconstitutional gerrymanders. The court already pushed the primary back once, from its usual March date. Cooper said the decision should remain up to the court, not the legislature. “The constitutionality of congressional and legislative districts is now in the hands of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the court should have the opportunity to decide how much time is needed to ensure that our elections are constitutional,” Cooper, a Democrat, said in a press release announcing his veto. The candidate filing schedule has yet to be modified; we will keep you posted.

OCEAN ISLE MAYOR IN HOT WATER OVER REAL ESTATE DEAL: The mayor of a North Carolina coastal town acted inappropriately when her real estate company purchased the town’s former police station site in 2018, according to a report from the state auditor. The nearly 200-page report from State Auditor Beth Wood's office outlines how Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith, Town Administrator Daisy Ivey and the Ocean Isle Beach Board of Commissioners each are accused of acting inappropriately during the sale process, news outlets report. An investigation found in February 2018 that a town resident was interested in buying the former police department building and land. The following month an appraiser hired by the board valued the property at $460,000. At a June 2018 closed session meeting, Ivey told the board the interested resident did not respond after Ivey tried to contact him about the offer amount. According to the report, that resident told investigators that he never received a response from the town. Two months later, a realty company owned by Smith and her brother offered the town $460,670 for the property, and in October 2018 the board voted to accept that offer. And before you say, "we need more context," there is no missing information that would make this an ethical transaction. Come on, people, it ain't rocket surgery.

WALKER TURNS DOWN TRUMP OFFER(?), IS STAYING IN SENATE RACE: U.S. Rep. Ted Budd can’t get rid of the opponent who might threaten his chance to win North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race. On Thursday, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker announced his plans to continue his campaign — for now. “The last 45 days have been a whirlwind,” Walker said. “When we stepped away from Congress, it was in our hearts to run across North Carolina to be able to take what we’ve been able to do in central North Carolina, and take it across the state for the U.S. Senate.” The announcement comes despite an endorsement offered in early December by former President Donald Trump if Walker leaves the Senate race and runs for House. That would ensure he doesn’t split Budd’s votes in the Republican primary and give the win to former Gov. Pat McCrory. “It obviously is better for McCrory than Budd,” said Chris Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University. “I think Walker and Budd are competing for many of the same voters." And we can expect Trump to do Trump, lash out at Walker for not being "loyal." Or whatever.

SEE NOW, THIS IS WHAT ELECTION FRAUD LOOKS LIKE: The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob has issued subpoenas to 14 individuals who cast bogus electoral votes for the former president in seven states won by Joe Biden in 2020. The move comes as two Democratic attorneys general have asked federal prosecutors in recent days to investigate whether crimes were committed in assembling or submitting the “alternate” Trump slates. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco this week confirmed prosecutors’ consideration of what she termed the “fraudulent elector certifications.” In a statement Friday, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the select committee investigating the Capitol attack, said the panel had obtained information that multiple advisers to former president Donald Trump or his campaign had used the actions of the bogus electors to “justify delaying or blocking the certification of the election during the Joint Session of Congress on January 6th, 2021.” Ten of the subpoenaed individuals had gathered Dec. 14, 2020, the day of the electoral college vote, in the capitals of five states that Biden had won: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin. They declared themselves “duly elected and qualified” and sent signed certificates to Washington purporting to affirm Trump as the actual victor. The House Jan. 6 committee has issued dozens of subpoenas as part of its investigation into last year’s insurrection. This month, it subpoenaed members of Trump’s outside legal team who pursued and disseminated unfounded claims of mass election fraud, including Trump’s former personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, former White House aide Boris Epshteyn, and lawyers Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell. And every single Congressional Representative who tried to use these bogus Electors to deny or delay Biden's certification are guilty of fraud, also.

JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE REACHES L2, LOOKS TO URSA MAJOR: The James Webb Space Telescope is setting its eyes towards the Big Dipper. Although the spacecraft is still months away from beginning its official scientific observations, one particularly bright star named HD 84406 will soon be the object of JWST's attention. "Star light, star bright … the first star Webb will see is HD 84406, a sun-like star about 260 light years away," NASA officials tweeted on Friday (Jan. 28) via JWST's official Twitter account. Now that JWST has reached its final destination in space, the mission team is getting the next-generation space telescope prepped for observations. A bright point like HD 84406 provides a helpful target by which the team can align JWST's honeycomb-shaped mirrors and to start gathering engineering data, according to the tweet. This star will play an important role for this specific purpose, but it won't be studied by the observatory once it officially begins its science projects. "HD 84406 will be too bright to study with Webb once the telescope starts to come into focus. But for now, it is the perfect target to begin our search for photons, a search that will lead us to the distant universe," according to a NASA blog post published on Thursday (Jan. 27) written by Jonathan Gardner, Webb deputy senior project scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and Alexandra Lockwood, project scientist for Webb science communications at Space Telescope Science Institute. In addition to JWST placing itself in its observational perch, this week has marked another important development for JWST. According to the blog post, the team has also turned on JWST's High-Gain Antenna and it can now downlink observations via the Deep Space Network's Ka radio band, a channel that "provides a much higher data rate" to download science images and data for astronomers to analyze. Giggity. Bring me all the images, I'm hungry.