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Wednesday News: Dandy, denied

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JUDGE BLOCKS FOREST'S EFFORT TO STIFLE GOVERNOR COOPER'S AUTHORITY: Despite the claims of his Republican rival, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper likely has the authority to keep issuing coronavirus-related orders even if other political leaders don’t sign off on them, a judge has ruled. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who’s running against Cooper for the governor’s office in this year’s elections, had sued Cooper over some of his executive orders. Forest said Cooper shouldn’t be able to issue the orders on his own. Gale said his order shouldn’t be seen as a ruling on the merits or necessity of the details of Cooper’s orders, but that Cooper appeared to be acting consistently and within the bounds of the law. He wrote that the coronavirus executive orders from Cooper have been “consistent with imposing a necessary ‘floor’ to be applied state-wide, while leaving more restrictive requirements to those areas where the pandemic’s affect and risk of spread is more severe.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article244744432.html

Tuesday News: Scot-free?

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ROBIN HAYES WILL SPEND ZERO TIME IN JAIL FOR HIS CRIMES: When recruited in 2018 to help funnel some $2 millions in bribes to Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, Robin Hayes said he was “more than happy to help,” a new court document shows. While Hayes, as state Republican Party chairman, raised concerns about the size of an illegal $250,000 campaign donation he had been asked to direct through the GOP to Causey, he nevertheless told his co-conspirators, “I’ll get ‘er done.” On Monday, a filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte recommended to Hayes’ judge on how much prison time the former 11-term congressman should serve. That number would be zero. In explaining its recommendation of probation, prosecutors cited Hayes’ plea agreement and his lack of a previous criminal record. Hayes was also prepared to testify against his partners in the scheme, the filing indicates. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, Hayes, who turns 75 this week, faced up to six months in prison. Both sides, however, recommended probation.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article244852887.html

Monday News: Budget buster

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TRUMP'S $400 UNEMPLOYMENT BOOST REQUIRES 25% FROM STATE COFFERS: Trump announced an executive order Saturday that extends additional unemployment payments of up to $400 a week to help cushion the economic fallout of the pandemic. But under Trump's plan, the $400 a week requires a state to commit to providing $100. Many states are already facing budget crunches caused by the pandemic. Asked at a news conference how many governors had signed on to participate, Trump answered: “If they don't, they don't. That's up to them.” A clarifying statement from the White House said the “funds will be available for those who qualify by, among other things, receiving $100/week of existing assistance and certify that they have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.” Several advocacy groups that follow the issue, though, said it's clear the way the executive order is structured that the federal money will be contingent on states making a 25 percent contribution.
https://www.wral.com/states-on-hook-for-billions-under-trumps-unemployment-plan/19227571/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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MAIL SERVICE IS CRITICAL TO 2020 ELECTIONS, TRUMP NEEDS TO END IRRESPONSIBLE ATTACKS: In his short tenure DeJoy has taken action making mail delivery slower, less sure and inefficient. He ordered a halt to paying postal workers the overtime so mail carriers could complete their daily rounds. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, postal package volume has nearly doubled – exacerbating the opportunities for Trump to find ways to exploit his feud with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s top executive and owner of The Washington Post. It has caused significant delays in deliveries of letters and packages. In the midst of his actions that effectively are dismantling the postal service, that service has never been more critical to the nation and especially with the approach of the national election. Wendy Fields of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of voting and civil rights organizations, said the president was “deliberately orchestrating suppression and using the post office as a tool to do it.” This is no political biased pot-shot. It is a very real worry that will have an impact on Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated voters alike.
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/editorial-mail-service-critical-to-2020-elections-trump-needs-to-en...

Saturday News: Beware of false prophets

FALWELL JR OUT AT LIBERTY UNIVERSITY AFTER RACY PHOTO SURFACES: Jerry Falwell Jr. took an indefinite leave of absence Friday as the leader of Liberty University, one of the nation's top evangelical Christian colleges, days after apologizing for a social media post that caused an uproar even among fellow conservatives. The private university in Lynchburg, Virginia, gave no reason for Falwell's departure in a one-sentence announcement Friday afternoon. But it came after Falwell's apology earlier this week for a since-deleted photo he posted online showing him with his pants unzipped, stomach exposed and his arm around a young woman in a similar pose. The statement said the executive committee of Liberty's board of trustees, acting on behalf of the full board, met Friday and requested Falwell take leave as president and chancellor, “to which he has agreed, effective immediately.”
https://www.wral.com/liberty-universitys-falwell-taking-leave-of-absence/19225012/

Friday News: Kakistocracy, continued

LOUIS DEJOY IS WREAKING HAVOC AT THE POSTAL SERVICE: Critics say the Greensboro businessman already has launched policies that have slowed mail service. They worry that as a major donor to President Donald Trump, he’ll delay delivery of what’s expected to be a flood of absentee ballots that could decide the presidential election. “DeJoy has engineered an unconstitutional assault on our Postal Service from within the organization itself,” said Democratic Rep. Alma Adams of Charlotte. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a “heated discussion” with DeJoy Wednesday over their concerns about mail delivery, according to the Washington Post. DeJoy, 63, could not be reached. But in a statement last week, he said the postal system is “financially unsustainable” stemming from “a broken business model.” He promised to fix it.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article244724002.html

Thursday News: Five more weeks

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GOVERNOR COOPER EXTENDS PHASE 2 RESTRICTIONS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 11: The new order means bars, gyms, movie theaters and amusement parks — places where people are usually in closer contact — will now be closed for nearly six straight months. Gatherings are still limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with some exceptions. As many university campuses and K-12 public schools begin fall classes this month with some in-person instruction, Cooper said it's important to keep the same social distancing restrictions in place. Retaining the other restrictions will help counterbalance the higher risk associated with bringing together students, the governor said. “There are key openings already occurring this month,” Cooper said at a media briefing, and with “the hustle and bustle of opening schools, people will move around more, and so will the virus.”
https://www.wral.com/business-assembly-and-mask-mandates-extended-longer-in-n-c/19221561/

Wednesday News: Frivolous

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JUDGE WILL ISSUE WRITTEN OPINION IN FOREST'S LAWSUIT AGAINST GOVERNOR: Forest vs. Cooper — the lawsuit, not the election battle — hinged on interpretation of the state’s Emergency Management Act and what the state law says about the authority of the governor. After 90 minutes of arguing each side by lawyers and questioning by Gale, the judge said that instead of giving a “horseback opinion,” he owed it to them to write a thorough opinion because of the significant public importance. He also acknowledged Cooper’s Phase Two of reopening is scheduled to expire on Friday so he said he would rule as quickly as he could. Forest has said the lawsuit is about the process, not the orders themselves. Forest and other Republicans on the Council of State have said they want more of a say in the governor’s coronavirus response. However, Forest was not joined by other Council of State members in the lawsuit.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article243960812.html

Tuesday News: It could have been worse?

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HURRICANE ISAIAS SPAWNS TORNADOES AND FLOODING ACROSS EASTERN NC: Flooding, power outages and possible tornadoes were reported across Eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Isaias made landfall near Ocean Isle Beach just after 11 p.m. Monday. More than 362,000 power outages were reported across the state early Tuesday morning, including more than 90,000 in coastal New Hanover County and almost 50,000 in Brunswick County. Flash flooding remains a threat along the Interstate 95 corridor, after up to 4 inches of rain fell overnight and an additional inch is expected, according to the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service confirmed one tornado in North Carolina around 2:30 a.m. in Northampton County, near the Virginia state line. Damage in the area was not yet reported. Another tornado was reported in nearby Bertie County, and government officials posted on Facebook that they were investigating. The suspected tornado is believed to have hit up to 20 mobile homes and injured several people in the Windsor area of the county, WRAL reported.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/weather-news/article244694222.html

Monday News: What balance of powers?

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AFTER SENATE REJECTION, TRUMP PUTS TATA AT PENTAGON ANYWAY: Just days after a Senate committee canceled his nomination hearing, former North Carolina state official Tony Tata has been placed in a top Department of Defense position. Tata, a former Wake County schools superintendent and NC Department of Transportation chief, had been nominated by President Donald Trump for the No. 3 post in Defense. “Our system of checks and balances exists for a reason and the Senate’s role in the confirmation process for administration appointees ensures individuals at the highest levels of government are highly qualified,” said Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington state Democrat. “If an appointee cannot gain the support of the Senate, as is clearly the case with Tata, then the President should not put that person into an identical temporary role. This evasion of scrutiny makes our government less accountable and prioritizes loyalty over competence.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article244676842.html

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