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Monday News: Twelve thousand, three hundred eighty seven

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NC'S HOSPITALIZATIONS AND POSITIVE TEST RATE INCH UP, DESPITE VACCINATIONS: At least 943,693 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 12,387 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,475 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 2,434 the day before. At least 1,064 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, up from 1,020 on Thursday. On Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 5.5% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Edgecombe County was the only red county in the state’s tiered COVID-19 county alert system as of Friday, indicating it has the most severe spread. There were no red counties at the last update two weeks ago, The News & Observer reported.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article250764449.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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STOP EFFORTS TO MICRO-MANAGE VOTER TURNOUT: Republicans see advantage to limiting participation – whether it is when polling places are open and voting closes, what it takes for voters to identify themselves or the ways voters can cast their ballots. They’ve even admitted it in court – including during arguments recently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Michael Carvin, a lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party, said the state’s voting restrictions were aimed at giving the GOP an advantage over Democrats. “Politics is a zero-sum game,” he said. Doing away with the state’s restrictive law – limiting out-of-precinct voting – “puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats,” he confessed. “It’s the difference between winning an election 50-49 and losing an election 51 to 50.” Republicans are pushing legislation that generally sets narrower limits on when those who qualify can register, how and when those voters can cast ballots and get them counted.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-stop-efforts-to-micro-manage-voter-turnout/19627567/

Saturday News: Love & Treason?

RANDOLPH COUNTY MAN, TEXAS WOMAN IN CUSTODY FOR CAPITOL BREACH: Bennett was a QAnon devotee from small-town North Carolina, according to court records. She was a musician, lifestyle coach and essential oils guru from San Antonio. In a series of videos and photographs posted real-time from the day, the couple strolled through the Capitol and posed inside the Senate chambers. Williams mugged for the camera both inside the iconic building and outside on its grounds. “TODAY WAS A REVOLUTIONARY MESSAGE,” Bennett roared in an all-caps Facebook mini-manifesto posted that day. “WE WON’T GO AWAY. WE WILL FIND VICTORY.” For now, both must find lawyers. Bennett remained in custody Friday at the Mecklenburg County Jail, where he awaits transfer to the federal courts of Washington, which will prosecute his case. He joins some 420 others facing trial in connection with the Capitol siege. At least 12 are from North Carolina.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article250731494.html

Friday News: Sgt. Big Brother

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RALEIGH POLICE VIOLATED POLICY WITH FACIAL RECOGNITION SOFTWARE: In the months that followed, emails provided by the Raleigh Police Department show, at least 20 people at the department had access to Clearview, a service that trumpeted its “unlimited” power to identify just about anyone in seconds with a single photo. That number far exceeds the three employees authorized to use the service before the department abruptly banned it in February 2020. “I think facial recognition technology, in the long run, has much more potential to change our lives as we know it, and to completely eradicate practical obscurity,” said Jolynn Dellinger, a senior lecturing fellow at the Duke University School of Law and former special counsel for privacy policy and litigation at the N.C. Department of Justice. If anyone can be identified anywhere — at a political protest, church or Alcoholics Anonymous meeting — Webb said authorities gain the “unprecedented power to spy on us wherever we go.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article250462501.html

Thursday News: Wrong, as usual

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MCCRORY CALLS DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION OF TRANSGENDER BILLS "CANCEL CULTURE": “There are a lot of issues, including that issue, that need to be allowed to be discussed that doesn’t involve the cancel culture. It needs fair discussions.” Cancel culture has become a broad term used to describe everything from people losing their jobs for their behavior to businesses boycotting states over policies they disagree with. Major League Baseball moved its All-Star Game and several corporations have rebuked Georgia in recent weeks after passage of a package of election laws. “This cancel culture has got to end and the identity politics has gone way too far, especially on the left,” McCrory said. “We’ve got to end the identity politics and cancel culture and we need to be judged by our individual character, heart and souls.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article250666439.html

Wednesday News: Voucher madness continues

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NC REPUBLICANS PUSH TO INCREASE ELIGIBILITY AND PAYMENTS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS: The state House voted 69-49 on Tuesday to approve legislation that would increase the $4,200 annual amount provided to students who receive school vouchers, or Opportunity Scholarships. Senate Bill 671 would increase the income eligibility to 175% of the amount required for a family to be eligible for a free- or reduced-price lunch. That works out to a family income up to $56,400 for a two-person household and up to $85,794 for a family of four. The legislation also would raise the voucher amount to a maximum of $6,500 a year, according to bill sponsors. The bill ties the voucher amount to the average amount spent by the state per student each year. Republicans are expected to try work out a compromise between the two bills to see if it will get enough Democratic support to override a potential veto from Cooper.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article250629959.html

Tuesday News: Back in court

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NC VOTER ID TRIAL BEGINS, INHERENT RACISM LEADS DEBATE: North Carolina's latest law requiring photo identification to cast ballots went on trial on Monday, with attorneys for voters challenging the mandate by arguing it still disproportionately prevents Black residents from carrying out their constitutional right. A panel of three state Superior Court judges began hearing evidence in the lawsuit filed to overturn a December 2018 law that filled in the details of how a voter ID constitutional amendment approved in a statewide referendum several weeks before would be implemented. Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled legislature said the new law isn't racially suspect, pointing out they expanded the types of qualifying IDs and made it easier for registered voters without IDs to have their votes counted. The evidence shows the new law, rushed for passage so Republicans could override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto before their power waned during the next legislative session, suffers from the same racial taint and faults as the previous law, said Allison Riggs, a lawyer for the voters who sued.
https://www.wral.com/trial-begins-on-challenge-to-latest-nc-voter-id-law/19622995/

Monday News: Twelve thousand, two hundred forty eight

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ONE QUARTER OF NC'S ADULT POPULATION HAS BEEN FULLY VACCINATED: At least 929,406 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 12,248 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,509 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 2,087 the day before. At least 977 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, down from 1,010 on Thursday. As of Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 4.6% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. More than 2.3 million people in North Carolina have been fully vaccinated. That includes more than one-quarter of the state’s adult population and one-fifth of all North Carolinians, health officials said.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article250590889.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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FIND WAYS TO EASE VOTING, NOT RESTRICT IT: This needless “Elections Integrity Act” bill demands mail-in ballots not only be cast by Election Day, but if mailed, must be RECEIVED no later than Election Day. It is a change that is not necessary, won’t make elections any more secure and simply erects another unnecessary impediment to casting a fair ballot and getting it counted. There was no problem to be fixed. Things worked better than ever! The quest should be for ways to get MORE people to vote and get MORE properly cast ballots counted. A legal vote legally cast on or before Election Day (including placed in the mail) should be counted. The current practice for receipt of mail-in ballots is basic common sense. To seek a political advantage, regardless of whether done to help Democrats or Republicans, under the guise that appointed elections officials or staff professionals acted improperly is disingenuous at best.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-find-ways-to-ease-voting-not-restrict-it/19617716/

Saturday News: Privatization push

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LOUISIANA INVESTMENT COMPANY TARGETS NC MUNICIPAL UTILITIES FOR TAKEOVER: A private-equity management company has been quietly reaching out to communities across North Carolina offering tens of millions of dollars to manage their utilities for as long as 30 years. Bernhard Capital Partners and a local subsidiary formed in August 2019, North Carolina Municipal Utility Services, have pitched “concession agreements” to more than 10 cities over the past two years. But what Bernhard is proposing in each case is somewhat of a mystery. The company required some community leaders to sign nondisclosure agreements and would not disclose key details in an interview. “Obviously they are in business to make money,” she said. “That is what their goal is and so they are going to have to find ways to do that. Whether it’s raising rates or cutting expenses, there’s going to have to be a way they can make money."
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article250519894.html

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