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.
22 YEAR-OLD INTERN KILLED BY CAPTIVE LION IN CASWELL COUNTY: Authorities have identified the victim of a fatal lion attack at a wildlife conservatory in North Carolina. Citing a statement from the Caswell County Sheriff's Office, news outlets report that 22-year-old worker Alexandra Black was killed Sunday after being attacked by a lion in an enclosure that was being cleaned at the Conservators Center. Authorities say Black was from New Palestine, Indiana. She had recently graduated from Indiana University and had been working at the conservatory for about two weeks. The center says a "husbandry team" led by a professionally trained animal keeper was carrying out the routine cleaning when the lion somehow got loose. The facility was founded in 1999 and is in Burlington, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Raleigh. **author's note: Burlington is roughly 15 miles south of the Caswell County line, so...
REPUBLICANS THREATEN LAWSUIT IF GOVERNOR EMPANELS INTERIM BOARD TO INVESTIGATE NC09: Cooper vowed to appoint five members to an interim board to deal with the investigation into the 9th. But Republicans on Sunday warned that Cooper does not have the authority to nominate and appoint members to the “interim” board and promised to sue if he tries. In a letter from John Lewis, a former state board member and now special counsel to the N.C. GOP, the party said only its state chairman Robin Hayes could nominate Republicans to serve on the board. And Hayes has no interest in doing so until a new permanent board is created at the end of January. State lawmakers passed a bill in December — and overrode a veto by Cooper — establishing the new five-member board. “Any attempt by the Governor to usurp the authority granted to Chairman Hayes as Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party will result in litigation,” Lewis wrote. The new Congress will be sworn in on Jan. 3, and the election in North Carolina’s 9th is unlikely to have been certified by then. Democratic leaders in the House, including incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, have indicated that they will not seat Harris when the new Congress convenes, leaving the district which stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville along the South Carolina border without representation.
RUSSIAN FSB (FORMER KGB) ARRESTS AMERICAN ON ESPIONAGE CHARGES: A United States citizen has been detained in Moscow on espionage charges, Russia’s domestic security agency announced in a brief statement on Monday. The statement said that an American identified as Paul Whelan had been taken into custody on Friday on suspicion of spying. The statement implied that he had been caught red-handed, saying that the arrest had occurred “during an act of espionage.” A criminal case has been opened against Mr. Whelan, said the statement from the F.S.B., or Federal Security Service, which gave no other details. The arrest comes during an extended period of tension in relations between Moscow and Washington, particularly over the issues of election hacking and influence peddling. A Russian citizen, Maria Butina, 30, pleaded guilty this month in Federal District Court in Washington to a single charge of conspiring to act as a foreign agent. She admitted to being involved in an organized effort, backed by Russian officials, to try to lobby influential Americans in the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party.
CIA SUPERVISED AFGHAN FORCES ARE BRUTALLY KILLING CIVILIANS: Razo Khan woke up suddenly to the sight of assault rifles pointed at his face, and demands that he get out of bed and onto the floor. Within minutes, the armed raiders had separated the men from the women and children. Then the shooting started. As Mr. Khan was driven away for questioning, he watched his home go up in flames. Within were the bodies of two of his brothers and of his sister-in-law Khanzari, who was shot three times in the head. Villagers who rushed to the home found the burned body of her 3-year-old daughter, Marina, in a corner of a torched bedroom. The men who raided the family’s home that March night, in the district of Nader Shah Kot, were members of an Afghan strike force trained and overseen by the Central Intelligence Agency in a parallel mission to the United States military’s, but with looser rules of engagement.