Thursday News: Not a lucky number


MAJOR FOREST DONOR LINDBERG SENTENCED TO 7+ YEARS FOR BRIBERY: Greg Lindberg, the billionaire businessman at the heart of one of North Carolina’s worst government corruption scandals, will spend more than seven years in prison, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in Charlotte. U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn also ordered Lindberg to pay a $35,000 fine and placed him on three years’ probation for his scheme to bribe Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey with up to $2 million in campaign contributions. Eventually, Lindberg, one of the state’s largest political donors who wrote checks to both parties, funneled $250,000 earmarked for Causey through the state Republican Party, an illicit transaction handled by the party’s chairman, former Republican congressman Robin Hayes of Concord.

EAST CAROLINA JOINS LIST OF NC UNIVERSITIES WITH COVID 19 CLUSTERS: Pitt County's health director says the cluster of COVID-19 cases at an East Carolina University dorm involves 17 to 18 cases, WITN reports. ECU reported on Monday a cluster of COVID-19 cases in Gateway Residence Hall. A “cluster” is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as five or more cases that are deemed close proximity. ECU says contract tracing has begun for those who may have been exposed to the virus. Director Dr. John Silvernail recommended Greenville citizens avoid interacting with college students during the pandemic "unless they're your own kids." WITN reports a Twitter account, #ShutDownECU, wants the university to switch to all-remote classes like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But Silvernail said he doesn't think that's necessary at this time.

REVENUE WILL STILL BE A MYSTERY WHEN LEGISLATURE RETURNS IN EARLY SEPTEMBER: The legislature’s top economists had hoped that July’s delayed income tax filing deadlines would result in a clearer state revenue forecast this month, but they said last week that the forecast will now have to wait until late September. “Unfortunately, we are still facing significant economic uncertainty along with new uncertainty about federal policy and the Fiscal Research Division does not expect to have the information necessary to issue a revised, line-item forecast until late September,” division leaders Barry Boardman and Emma Turner wrote in an email to legislators last week. “This means we are operating with as much uncertainty as we were back in May,” Boardman and Turner wrote. “While our current economic forecast assumes some federal relief, without the extension of federal assistance many forecasters are projecting a ‘double dip’ recession, which would negatively impact the revenue forecast we currently have.” The legislature is set to return on Sept. 2 to handle appropriations of federal funding and appointments. Pat Ryan, a spokesman for Senate leader Phil Berger, said Monday that the session “will move forward as planned” even if there’s no action from Congress.

KAMALA HARRIS IS READY FOR A DUST-UP WITH TRUMP: “We’re at an inflection point,” Harris said. “The constant ­chaos leaves us adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: We can do better and deserve so much more.” The comments came in what was intended as an uplifting and emotional paean to female leadership, liberal crusades and the character of the former vice president. “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons,” Harris said. “Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose.” Outlining her own optimistic view of the country, Harris said she is “committed” to “a vision of our nation as a beloved community — where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love.” “In the streets of Oakland and Berkeley. I got a stroller’s-eye view of people getting into what the great John Lewis called ‘good trouble,’ ” Harris said of her upbringing, citing the recently deceased civil rights leader and Georgia congressman. She also spoke of her career as a prosecutor. “I know a predator when I see one,” she said, a line that she had used in her presidential campaign against Trump, though she did not connect it to him Wednesday.

PUTIN OPPONENT NAVALNY HOSPITALIZED AFTER BEING POISONED (AGAIN): Groaning in agony from a suspected poisoning before losing consciousness, the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny was rushed to a Siberian hospital on Thursday after the plane he was flying on made an emergency landing because of his sudden illness. Doctors at the No. 1 Clinical Hospital in Omsk, the Siberian city where the plane landed, initially said that Mr. Navalny, a fierce critic of President Vladimir V. Putin, was on a ventilator in “serious condition” but later reported that his condition, though still grave, had stabilized. Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told journalists that the Kremlin wished Mr. Navalny a swift recovery, “as we would for any citizen of Russia,” and would, if asked, provide help to get the opposition leader transferred to a hospital abroad. Last year, Mr. Navalny was hospitalized with a “severe allergic reaction” in jail, which his doctor at the time suggested could have been the result of a poisoning, after he was detained for leading an unauthorized election protest. He had been arrested and sentenced to 30 days in jail for calling a rally to protest a decision by the election authorities to bar several opposition candidates from running for Moscow’s City Council. Mr. Navalny was doused with a bright green liquid in the Siberian city of Barnaul in 2017 by an unknown assailant who had pretended to shake his hand. Mr. Navalny later said that a doctor had told him he lost 80 percent of the sight in one eye after suffering a chemical burn from the green liquid.