EARLY VOTING CANCELED IN PARTS OF CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS: Fifteen counties in the 3rd Congressional District — covering much of northeastern North Carolina — are shutting down early voting for Friday. Ten will close for all or part of Thursday as well. In the 9th Congressional District, which stretches along North Carolina’s southern border from Bladen County to Mecklenburg County, four counties are limiting early voting. Bladen County’s early voting sites are closed Thursday and Friday. Robeson and Scotland won’t offer early voting on Thursday, and Cumberland County will only have one early voting site open at the county Board of Elections from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday. The county board will decide on Friday morning if sites should be open that day.
RISE IN FIREARMS STOLEN FROM (OFTEN UNLOCKED) CARS IN CHARLOTTE AREA: A North Carolina police department says it's concerned about a sharp increase in the number of firearms stolen from vehicles. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department told a news conference on Wednesday that it's seen an increase of nearly 20% in the number of firearms stolen from unoccupied vehicles in the city. Officials also pointed out that there were at least three instances in 2019 in which violent crimes were committed in firearms stolen from vehicles were used. The department also says that of the 516 guns stolen from vehicles so far this year, 232 guns were taken from unlocked vehicles. At the same time last year, the department reported 435 firearms stolen from vehicles.
TRUMP'S "ZERO TOLERANCE" FAMILY SEPARATIONS AT BORDER CAUSING EXTREME TRAUMA FOR CHILDREN: The children, many already distressed in their home countries or by their journey, showed more fear, feelings of abandonment and post-traumatic stress symptoms than children who were not separated, according to a report from the inspector general’s office in the Department of Health and Human Services. Some cried inconsolably. Others believed their parents had abandoned them and were angry and confused. “Other children expressed feelings of fear or guilt and became concerned for their parents’ welfare,” according to the report. The report is the first substantial accounting by a government agency on how family separation under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy has affected the mental health of children. It was based on interviews with about 100 mental health clinicians who had regular interactions with children but did not directly address the quality of the care the children did receive. The separations have been widely criticized, and children’s health advocates have said the kids likely suffered trauma. A second report by the watchdog, also released Wednesday, found that thousands of childcare workers were given direct access to migrant children before completing required background and fingerprint checks.
SENSENBRENNER JOINS FLOCK OF REPUBLICANS RETIRING FROM U.S. HOUSE: Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., who has served in Congress for 40 years and is the second-most senior House member, announced Wednesday that he won’t seek reelection, joining more than a dozen Republicans heading for the exits. The 76-year-old Wisconsin lawmaker becomes the highest-ranking Republican to say he would step down at the end of his term, part of a growing wave of retirements that suggest GOP pessimism about regaining the House majority in 2020. Sensenbrenner joined two of his colleagues in calling it quits on Wednesday alone, making him the 16th House Republican to announce he would not seek reelection in 2020. By contrast, only four Democrats have announced plans to voluntarily exit the chamber, which their party controls, with Rep. Susan A. Davis of Southern California adding her name to that list with an announcement Wednesday.
BORIS JOHNSON'S BROTHER QUITS PARLIAMENT AS SUPPORT FOR NEW PM COLLAPSES: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s uncompromising, take-no-prisoners approach to Brexit on Tuesday drove the grandson of Winston Churchill from the Conservative Party. On Thursday, it pushed out the prime minister’s brother Jo Johnson, a Conservative lawmaker and government minister. “In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest,” Jo Johnson wrote in a Twitter post announcing his resignation from his ministerial post and his seat in Britain’s Parliament. “It’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister.” The resignation punctuated what has been, by some measures, one of the most miserable starts ever for a British prime minister, with the government losing its first five votes in Parliament, losing control of the legislative agenda and driving a wedge through the Conservative Party by purging lawmakers who broke with the government in votes this week.