Thursday News: It rolls uphill, sometimes


LEADERSHIP SHAKEUP AT DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY: Gov. Roy Cooper's administration changed out the top leader in the state's unemployment office Wednesday in a surprise announcement. Assistant Secretary for the Division of Employment Security Lockhart Taylor, a career employee at DES, is out. Pryor Gibson, a former lawmaker who had been directing a rural development program for the administration, is the new assistant secretary, effective immediately. Taylor will "assume a different role at the Department of Commerce with separate duties and responsibilities," Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland said in a news release announcing the change. WRAL News is seeking more information on what precipitated the move. All the governor's press office had to say on the matter Wednesday was that "the governor has directed the Department of Commerce to take actions necessary to address this unprecedented crisis and get more unemployment benefits faster to people who need help now."

SENATE REPUBLICANS OPPOSE MAKING ELECTION DAY A HOLIDAY: Caitlin Swain, an attorney and co-director of the Durham-based group Forward Justice, said Tuesday that there are several vital elections-related changes — notably, making Election Day a holiday — that lawmakers should pass but that aren’t currently in the elections bill. Making Election Day a holiday, she said, would allow for polling places to be put in large buildings like schools that would otherwise be in use during the day. The larger the building, the better for public health and social distancing, she said. Plus, if Election Day was a holiday, state officials might not be as reliant as they usually are on older people to serve as poll workers — a concern this year, Swain said, since older people face higher risks from coronavirus. Grange said Wednesday that she and the other bill sponsors did consider the possibility of making Election Day a holiday — but decided against proposing it due to opposition from her colleagues in the Senate. “What is in this bill is what they are willing to agree to,” she said.

JUDICIAL WATCH IS FILING LAWSUITS TO PURGE NC VOTER ROLLS: Conservative groups have accelerated their litigation to push state officials to purge voter rolls, in moves that could affect who receives mail-in ballots in this time of Covid-19 and could impact November's presidential contest. In related action, the conservative group Judicial Watch has filed new lawsuits against North Carolina and Pennsylvania officials, claiming they have violated federal law by not keeping their rolls current. The Public Interest Legal Foundation, another right-wing group at the forefront of challenges to state lists, has a pending claim against Detroit. The group asserts that thousands of names of dead people are on city rolls. Judicial Watch recently targeted two counties in North Carolina (Mecklenburg and Guilford) and three in Pennsylvania (Bucks, Chester and Delaware), asserting that thousands of inactive and potentially ineligible voters are on the rolls. In a motion to intervene in the North Carolina case, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and other voting-rights advocates say they would oppose any "aggressive -- and potentially unlawful" purging of names from state rolls, especially during a pandemic, when it would be difficult to reach and reregister people. State officials are scheduled to respond in upcoming weeks to the April complaint from Judicial Watch.

AFTER TWITTER FACT-CHECKS TRUMP, EXECUTIVE ORDER ATTACKING SOCIAL MEDIA IS PREPARED: The Trump administration is preparing an executive order intended to curtail the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for what gets posted on their platforms, two senior administration officials said early Thursday. Such an order, which officials said was still being drafted and was subject to change, would make it easier for federal regulators to argue that companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter are suppressing free speech when they move to suspend users or delete posts, among other examples. The move is almost certain to face a court challenge and is the latest salvo by President Trump in his repeated threats to crack down on online platforms. Twitter this week attached fact-checking notices to two of the president’s tweets after he made false claims about voter fraud, and Mr. Trump and his supporters have long accused social media companies of silencing conservative voices. This week, Mr. Trump repeatedly spread a debunked conspiracy theory about the MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and the death of a woman who worked for him in his congressional office years ago. The woman’s widower has pleaded with Mr. Trump to stop. The president ignored the widower’s request and denounced Twitter, claiming in a tweet that the social media company was trying to tamper with the November presidential election. On Wednesday, he continued to criticize the company, accusing it of stifling conservative views. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CREATES CHARITABLE FOUNDATION AFTER TRUMP CUTS FUNDING: The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday it welcomed the establishment of a new WHO Foundation, headquartered in Geneva, to fund the agency’s work on coronavirus and other health emergencies. The independent foundation will “facilitate contributions from the general public, individual major donors and corporate partners,” the WHO said in a statement, adding the donations will be dedicated to “the most pressing global health challenges.” The WHO said the creation of the entity was in the works for years, but its announcement comes at a critical time, only weeks after the Trump administration temporarily suspended payments to the U.N. agency in April amid U.S. criticism that the organization is too closely aligned with China. Trump recently suggested he may permanently halt U.S. payments and withdraw from the agency. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus denied the creation of the foundation was linked to the latest U.S. threats, according to a U.N. News release. “One of the greatest threats to WHO’s success is the fact that less than 20 percent of our budget comes in the form of flexible assessed contributions from Member States, while more than 80 percent is voluntary contributions, from member states and other donors, which are usually tightly earmarked for specific programs,” said Tedros, according to the release.



Liars hate to be called out

And Trump is the King of Lies. If you think about it, this is another impeachable offense; abusing the powers of his office for political purposes, retaliating against social media platforms who are merely trying to preserve the truth. But he has abused that office so many times we can't recognize it for what it really is.