HOFELLER'S MAPS USED COLOR CODE TO GUIDE GOP GERRYMANDERING: Christopher Cooper, a professor at Western Carolina University and expert witness for the challengers in the gerrymandering case, took the judges, lawyers and members of the public in court Friday through the Hofeller files. Cooper pointed specifically to two factors in the files that he said showed Hofeller worked hard to make sure the legislative districts would give Republicans an unfair partisan edge. Hofeller color-coded the state’s political leanings, Cooper said, using a traffic light system of green for Republican areas, yellow for tossup areas, and red for Democratic areas. His color-coding went down to the neighborhood level, broken up into individual voting precincts. “It shows that partisanship was front and center,” Cooper said.
3-JUDGE PANEL RULES IN FAVOR OF VOTER ID, LAWSUIT WILL CONTINUE: A lawsuit to overturn North Carolina’s new voter ID requirement will move forward, a panel of state judges said Friday, but the court won’t grant a preliminary injunction to delay the requirement while the case plays out. That means that, as of now, photo ID will be required at the polls in North Carolina, starting with 2020 elections. That decision may be appealed, but the judicial panel ruled 2-1 Friday that there’s not enough likelihood this lawsuit will succeed to hold off on the requirement. Photo ID won't be required during the 2019 elections because the General Assembly already delayed implementation to 2020. In their order, the judges dismissed all but one of the half-dozen claims attorneys put forward in the case, though the one left is enough to proceed. Allison Riggs, the lead attorney bringing this case for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said Friday that she and her team were reviewing the judges' order and planned to discuss it with their clients. The preliminary injunction decision may be appealed, she said.
ECU TRIES TO DISTANCE ITSELF FROM TRUMP AFTER RACIST RALLY CHANTS: East Carolina University distanced itself from President Donald Trump’s Wednesday rally on its campus, sending a letter to the university community Friday making it clear — once again — it did not “sponsor, host or endorse” the rally. During the rally at Minges Coliseum on ECU’s Greenville campus, supporters of the president chanted “send her back, send her back” as Trump attacked U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Omar, a freshman member of the House, is from Somalia. As a child, she immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee and became a citizen as a teen. “With this event and with any event on our campus, the University does not control, and is not responsible for, the content of speech,” the letter said. It was signed by the university’s senior leadership, including Dan Gerlach, the school’s interim chancellor.
TRUMP IS BACK ON THE ATTACK OF ILHAN OMAR, SAYS CHANTERS ARE "PATRIOTS": President Donald Trump broadly declared Friday that no one should criticize the United States while he is president, part of a renewed attack on four minority congresswomen whom he has targeted as un-American. Trump also praised his supporters at a rally where they chanted, “Send her back!,” a refrain directed at one of the lawmakers, Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. The president called the campaign crowd “incredible patriots” - a day after saying he disagreed with the chant. Trump said Friday that criticism of the United States is unacceptable and that the four congresswomen “can’t get away with” it. “I can tell you this, you can’t talk that way about our country, not when I’m the president,” he told reporters outside the White House. Every American has the right of free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution, a reporter pointed out - and the president acknowledged that. “We have First Amendment rights also - we can . . . say what we want,” Trump said. It was unclear who he was referring to as “we.”
IRAN'S SEIZURE OF BRITISH-OWNED OIL TANKER HEIGHTENS TENSION IN STRAIT OF HORMUZ: “We have advised U.K. shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period,” the British government said in a statement released early Saturday after an emergency meeting. “There will be serious consequences if the situation is not resolved,” the government warned. The capture of the tanker is a sharp step up after three months of rising tensions between Iran and the West that last month brought the United States within minutes of a military strike against targets in Iran. A fifth of the world’s crude oil supply is shipped from the Persian Gulf through the narrow Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Iran, and oil prices spiked sharply on Friday even before the British warning. Iranian news agencies reported that all 23 crew members of the British-flagged tanker would be held onboard in the Bandar Abbas Port in Iran during a criminal investigation of the ship’s actions. The nationalities of those crew members included Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino, the ship’s owner said in a statement.