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Saturday News: Gerrymandering saga continues


US SUPREME COURT WILL TAKE ON NC PARTISAN REDISTRICTING IN MARCH: The Supreme Court is plunging back into the issue of whether electoral districts can be too partisan. Disputes have arisen in cases involving North Carolina's heavily Republican congressional map and a Democratic congressional district in Maryland, and the justices said Friday they will hear arguments in March. The high court could come out with the first limits on partisan politics in the drawing of electoral districts, but also could ultimately decide that federal judges have no role in trying to police political mapmaking. Justice Anthony Kennedy had said he was open to limits. He has since retired, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh has taken Kennedy's seat. He has no judicial record on the issue.

Friday News: The new Supermajority

JUSTICE ANITA EARLS SEATED ON NC SUPREME COURT, GIVING DEMS 5-2 EDGE: Earls has worked diligently for years to win equal opportunity for her clients. She served as deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice under former President Bill Clinton, and she later founded the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a civil rights group that successfully challenged North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law and gerrymandered voting districts. Through her work, she said Thursday, she learned bridging those divides isn't something she could accomplish alone. "It will take all of our country's public and private institutions to effect that healing, to bring us together for the common good, to lift us up instead of tearing us apart," she said. "It requires a system of justice that adheres to the rule of law ... a system in which no one is above the law and justice does not depend on gender, wealth, status, political party, race, creed or color."

Thursday News: The Mandamus gambit


MARK HARRIS WILL ASK JUDGE TO CERTIFY HIS TAINTED ELECTION: Republican Mark Harris said Wednesday he’ll ask a Wake County Superior Court judge to certify his election in the 9th Congressional District immediately, even as a probe into alleged election fraud continues. Harris’ announcement came after North Carolina state elections officials postponed next week’s hearing into allegations of election fraud in the 9th District — and after Gov. Roy Cooper accused Republicans of blocking the probe. It also came a day before a new Democratic-controlled U.S. House is sworn in, presumably without Harris, the winner of November’s election. Instead of taking a seat in Congress on Thursday, Harris will meet with investigators looking into the fraud allegations in Raleigh, according to a spokesman for the state elections board and Harris’ attorney.

Wednesday News: Dangerous fetish


IDIOT FIRES GUN INTO THE AIR, COLLEGE STUDENT PAYS THE PRICE: Allyson Cole said she and her roommate, 22-year-old Kaitlyn Kong, watched the Acorn Drop at midnight and were listening to music when Kong suddenly dropped her phone and grabbed both her chest and her friend. "'I’ve been hit. I got hurt really bad,'" Cole said Kong told her. "Her breathing was labored, so I knew something was wrong." Police said the two women were near the intersection of Fayetteville and Davie streets when revelers fired guns in the air at 12:05 a.m. to celebrate the new year during a fireworks display. Kong was taken to WakeMed, where an X-ray revealed an object in her abdomen. Raleigh police said the bullet entered her chest and landed in her abdomen. Based on its trajectory, investigators said they believe the bullet came from above. Cole and Kong's mother, Gwynne Kong, said the bullet nicked one of Kaitlyn Kong's lungs, perforated her diaphragm, went through her stomach and ended up next to her hip.

Tuesday News: The year of racism


WHITE GIRL + BLACK BOYFRIEND = UGLY RACIST VANDALISM: A Goldsboro family and Wayne County law enforcement officers are asking for the public's help to catch the criminals who torched the family's newly purchased van and spray painted another one with racist and profane hate speech. The family's mother believes they were targeted because her 14-year-old daughter, who is white, currently has a black boyfriend. Amanda Miller said she still can't believe the hate she woke up to last Thursday. "And when you walk out, all you see is a swastika and you're like, 'Oh my gosh, what just happened?'" she said. One of the family's van was covered with spray paint that had expletives and the N-word. The family's other SUV, a 2018 model that was recently bought and financed, was sprayed with racist language. "They're estimating (the damage) at $17,000," Miller said. "We've only made four payments. And we owe $25,000."

Monday News: Now that's paternalism


GOP FIGHTS BACK AGAINST EVIL SOY AND ALMOND MILK: Jan. 1 sets the clock ticking on the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to come up with an enforcement plan “to prohibit the sale of plant-based products mislabeled as milk, such as soy milk and almond milk.” But don’t expect immediate action. The legislation gives the agriculture department a 90-day window to put its plan in motion, but that deadline will be triggered once 11 states — out of a list of 14 — pass similar laws. Republican lawmakers said the provision, part of the 2018 Farm Bill, was an effort to enforce longstanding federal law and ensure that consumers are not confused by product labeling, The News & Observer has reported. Lawmakers also noted that dairy farmers recently have been forced to sell milk at below-production costs.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


STATE HEALTH PLAN CUTS WOULD HURT RURAL CARE: Recently, State Treasurer Dale Folwell made a series of remarks regarding the State Health Plan, as he reviews options for covering the cost of health insurance for state employees. His solution would be to enforce massive cuts — to the tune of $400 million — to health systems and hospitals across North Carolina. While the treasurer talks about the “average” impact these cuts would have across the state, it’s important to note that rural communities are not average. The treasurer’s proposal would have a disproportionate impact on these communities, including eastern North Carolina. North Carolina has the second largest rural population in the United States with over 3 million people living in rural communities. Communities that also have lower incomes, lower job growth, higher poverty rates and higher health disparities with higher mortality than urban communities. Communities that need access to quality care—care which would be limited should the treasurer’s proposal go through.

Saturday News: It's the fraud, stupid


NC GOP CALLS FOR HARRIS TO BE SEATED, STENY HOYER SAYS "NOPE": "The investigation as indicated by this particular board of elections is over," said Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party. "There might be – and we hope there are – continuing to be criminal investigations for anybody that's done anything, but this board has failed to act. They have now expired. Mr. Harris should be seated." The stakes of the showdown and the chaos surrounding the 9th District race have been ratcheted up as the Jan. 3 date for the new Congress to be seated approaches. Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer, the incoming U.S. House majority leader, said Democrats won't seat Harris until the investigation is resolved. "In this instance, the integrity of our democratic process outweighs concerns about the seat being vacant at the start of the new Congress," Hoyer said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Friday News: And then there were none


COURT RULES NC ELECTIONS BOARD BE DISSOLVED TODAY: The North Carolina board investigating allegations of ballot fraud in a still-unresolved congressional race could be disbanded Friday under a state court ruling in a protracted legal battle about how the panel operates. A three-judge state court panel ruled Thursday to allow the state Board of Elections to dissolve at noon Friday, ahead of a scheduled Jan. 11 evidentiary hearing into the 9th district congressional race. It's not clear when a new election board could be put in place if the ruling stands. The court previously found the board's makeup unconstitutional in a protracted legal battle launched when the Republican-controlled legislature altered the board in 2016 in a power struggle with the Democratic governor. The court had ruled earlier this year to allow the board to remain in place until Friday while it investigates the congressional race. The latest ruling came just after lawmakers enacted a new law to largely restore the board to how it operated before 2016.

Thursday News: Abusing public trust


FORMER BUNCOMBE OFFICIAL PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD & CONSPIRACY: The Asheville Citizen-Times reports the plea by former Buncombe County assistant manager Mandy Stone was part of a deal in which she agreed to assist a federal county corruption probe. The deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office was reached last week, and a judge is set to rule Wednesday on whether to accept the deal. Stone's plea means she admits to conspiring with former county staffers Jon Creighton and Michael Greene, both of whom have pleaded guilty. Greene's mother and former county manager Wanda Greene has pleaded not guilty to charges in the scheme. Prosecutors say they took bribes from Georgia-based contractor Joe Wiseman, who hasn't been charged.


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