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Tuesday News: It's Mueller time

TRUMP'S CHICKENS ARE COMING HOME TO ROOST IN RUSSIAN COLLUSION PROBE: With a double-barreled blast, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed Monday that he has won the cooperation of a former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign who says he served as a go-between with the Kremlin in the spring of 2016. And Mueller heaped a 31-page indictment on former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his partner Rick Gates that contains the weight of conspiracy, money laundering and tax related charges in connection with an alleged scheme to launder millions of dollars through scores of offshore accounts. The charges seem designed to pressure them to cooperate, as well. It was a powerful public salvo after months of silence since Mueller took over the investigation of Russia’s election-meddling, a subject that has consumed the nation’s capital and haunted Trump’s presidency.

Monday News: Running scared


TRUMP TWEETS OUT DESPERATE ATTACK ON HILLARY AS INDICTMENTS LOOM: President Donald Trump expressed renewed frustration Sunday over the investigations into alleged ties between his campaign associates and Russian government officials, saying on Twitter that the "facts are pouring out" about links to Russia by his former presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton. "DO SOMETHING!" Trump urged in one of five morning tweets. Trump's tweets followed a CNN report late Friday that a federal grand jury in Washington has approved the first charges in a criminal investigation into Russia ties led by special counsel Robert Mueller. In a final tweet on the subject, Trump suggests that Russia's re-emergence into the conversation is no accident. "All of this 'Russia' talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!"

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


GENE NICHOL: PHIL BERGER RULES BY WHIM TO GAIN PARTISAN OMNIPOTENCE: State Senate leader Phil Berger and his crew have determined, apparently, that -- gerrymandering the judges’ districts; eliminating their primaries; restricting their powers of judicial review; ending public funding for their campaigns; manipulating the size of the Court of Appeals; stacking individual Supreme Court elections; and becoming the first state in a century to demand the partisan election of judges -- isn’t enough to deliver the precise courts the Republicans require. Clearing the whole offending slate and forcing them to run constant, expensive, relentless and hyper-partisan campaigns seems now to be the trick. No matter that judges take oaths to be accountable to the law and the Constitution, not to the voters. Or that our jurists would have little time for their actual work, given the demands of perpetual campaigning. Party fealty, again, is all that matters.

Saturday News: Lock 'em up


MUELLER PROBE INTO TRUMP-RUSSIA COLLUSION YIELDS INDICTMENTS FROM GRAND JURY: The first round of charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election were approved Friday – but it's still not known what they are or who they target. A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., approved the charges, CNN reported Friday, citing sources briefed in the matter. The network said plans were being made to take anyone charged into custody on Monday. CNN said a spokesman for Mueller's office declined to comment. The special counsel has been digging into allegations of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign since May.

Friday News: The company he keeps


DAN FOREST ATTENDS FUNDRAISER WITH SPINDALE CULT LEADERS: A photo provided to The News & Observer shows Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest at a fundraiser with a leader of a western North Carolina church that’s being sued by a former member who says church leaders tried to beat the “homosexual demons” out of him. Forest, who was elected to a second term last year, is a socially conservative Republican who’s expected to run for governor in 2020. The photo shows Forest standing in a living room with Robin Webster, a leader of Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale in Rutherford County, about 70 miles west of Charlotte. Word of Faith has come under scrutiny in recent months after 43 former members told the Associated Press that church members try to expel demons using “blasting” prayers where congregants were smacked, choked, punched and thrown to the floor.

Thursday News: Talking trash

RECYCLING DOWN IN NC AS SOLID WASTE PILES UP: Several counties around the state, including those in the Triangle, are buried underneath mounting piles of trash as local leaders figure out how to dig out from under a growing problem that, left unsolved, will only get worse. "We're doing our best to deal with these things," said John Roberson, who is solid waste director for Wake County. Wake and other local counties are each taking different routes to adequately deal with the thousands of tons of trash that is delivered to landfills and recycling centers. But according to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, the amount of trash being taken to many county disposal sites is growing. North Carolina residents each year dispose of over $41 million worth of plastic. The state's residents toss nearly $17 million worth of steel products every year. About $270 million worth of goods that can be recycled is disposed of every year.

Wednesday News: Voting matters


DEMOCRACY NC REPORT: 100 MUNICIPAL RACES WON BY JUST A FEW VOTES (OR ONE): A study from nonpartisan voting rights advocacy group Democracy North Carolina shows that just a handful of votes – or in some cases, a single vote – can determine who wins or loses, especially in odd-year municipal elections. Democracy North Carolina has been one of the most active groups in lawsuits and other actions opposing voter ID and other Republican-led election changes, and it also addresses issues of money in politics. It sometimes partners with the North Carolina NAACP. Democracy North Carolina analyzed November 2015 elections in the state and determined that the mayor or a town council member in 69 cities won their election by five or fewer votes.

Tuesday News: Entrenched bigotry


BERGER & MOORE REFUSE TO SETTLE LAWSUIT ON HB2.0 OUT OF SPITE FOR LGBT AND COOPER: Gov. Roy Cooper and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit — LGBT citizens and civil rights groups — asked U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder last week to approve a settlement that would end the litigation. But the agreement also would make it clear that transgender people can use restrooms aligned with the gender they identify with in state government buildings that Cooper controls. But House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, who worked out a compromise with Cooper last spring on House Bill 2 and are defendants like Cooper, oppose the consent decree and wrote Monday they intend to file a motion to that effect. Meanwhile, they told Schroeder on Monday in a brief that the lawsuit against the replacement law known as HB142 should be thrown out because the plaintiffs haven't shown they've been injured by the new law.

Monday News: Toxic foxes in the hen house


SCOTT PRUITT BRINGS IN CHEMICAL INDUSTRY REPS TO HELP RUN EPA: The chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, has been linked to kidney cancer, birth defects, immune system disorders and other serious health problems. So scientists and administrators in the EPA’s Office of Water were alarmed in late May when a top Trump administration appointee insisted upon the rewriting of a rule to make it harder to track the health consequences of the chemical, and therefore regulate it. The revision was among more than a dozen demanded by the appointee, Nancy B. Beck, after she joined the EPA’s toxic chemical unit in May as a top deputy. For the previous five years, she had been an executive at the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade association.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


MARCIA MOREY: LEGISLATIVE LEADERS MAKING POWER-GRAB TO CONTROL NC COURTS: This systematic attack on North Carolina’s judiciary by the power hungry oligarchy leading the General Assembly is a disgrace. Even former state Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr, a Republican, labeled this latest initiative a “continued effort to try and intimidate the judiciary,” in an interview with N.C. Policy Watch. He found it repugnant. Step by step, bill by bill, the courts are being dangled and toyed with by legislative puppet masters regardless of the fact that they are a constitutionally separate and co-equal branch of government. This is not about better justice for North Carolinians. It is about the legislative leadership’s anger over recent court decisions declaring many of their laws unconstitutional, particularly a decision that said they were voted into power by illegal, racially gerrymandered districts.


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