REPUBLICANS WANT COOPER TO HURRY UP AND VETO, BECAUSE CHRISTMAS: Senate Republicans are asking Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to not be a “grinch” by waiting to veto legislation that could force lawmakers to return to Raleigh during Christmas week to try to override his rejections. In a news release Monday, Senate Republicans said Cooper should veto or sign the remaining bills on his desk now so that legislators can act on overriding them on Tuesday as opposed to next week. But former state GOP legislator Charles Jeter, who’s now government relations coordinator for Charlotte Mecklenburg schools, said it’s lawmakers who are to blame for putting themselves in this situation of potentially needing to vote during Christmas week. “The NCGA made the decision of the time of year to force these issues, not the Governor,” Jeter said in a message. “If they didn’t want to come back next week, they should’ve waited until next year. They chose this, not Cooper.”
NC GOP FLIP-FLOPS BACK TO DEMANDING HARRIS BE CERTIFIED: Republican leadership in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District called Monday on the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to certify results in the race despite an ongoing investigation of election irregularities. The call brings GOP leadership full circle in some ways: After initially calling for the board to certify Mark Harris' victory in the race, the state party's executive director last week all but called for a new election. "The committee felt strongly it was a gross abuse of process to prevent the 9th from having a member in the new Congress without one piece of measurable public evidence presented before Jan. 3," North Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said in a text Monday. The 9th District's executive committee passed its resolution over the weekend, and the decision was unanimous, the resolution states.
WALTER JONES' ILLNESS MAY BE WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT: Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican who represents much of Eastern North Carolina, will miss the rest of the congressional term with an illness. Jones, who turns 76 in February, has not cast a roll call vote since Sept. 26, missing the last 27 roll call votes in the House including some in late September and since the House re-convened in November. The House voted to approve the 2018 farm bill on Dec. 12, though many of the votes Jones has missed have been ceremonial, such as renaming a wildlife refuge and adding to the National Register of Historic Places. Jones was granted a leave of absence by the House for the rest of the year on Dec. 11. Congress faces a potential government shutdown over funding for a border wall, and Republican lose control of House next year. Jones, from Farmville, plans to return to Washington on Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress, according to his office. The office declined to offer any additional specifics on Jones’ illness.
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS OPPOSE ARTIFICIAL ISLAND FOR OIL DRILLING IN ALASKA: The base of the gravel island would cover 24 acres of ocean floor, about the size of 18 football fields, with sloped sides leading to a work surface of 9 acres, the size of nearly seven football fields. To create the island, trucks would travel by ice road to a hole cut in sea ice and deposit 83,000 cubic yards (63,450 million cubic meters) of gravel. The surface would have room for 16 wells. Hilcorp anticipates extracting 80 million to 130 million barrels over 15 to 20 years. Hilcorp proposes to move oil to shore by buried pipe. Liberty would be the 19th artificial drilling island in Alaska, including four now pumping oil from state waters. Liberty spokeswoman Lori Nelson did not respond to a request for comment Monday. The four other groups suing are Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife and Pacific Environment. They're represented by environmental law firm Earthjustice.
MUSLIMS INTERNED IN CHINA FORCED INTO GARMENT-MAKING SLAVE LABOR: Muslim inmates from internment camps in far western China hunched over sewing machines, in row after row. They were among hundreds of thousands who had been detained and spent month after month renouncing their religious convictions. Now the government was showing them on television as models of repentance, earning good pay — and political salvation — as factory workers. But mounting evidence suggests a system of forced labor is emerging from the camps, a development likely to intensify international condemnation of China’s drastic efforts to control and indoctrinate a Muslim ethnic minority population of more than 12 million in Xinjiang. Accounts from the region, satellite images and previously unreported official documents indicate that growing numbers of detainees are being sent to new factories, built inside or near the camps, where inmates have little choice but to accept jobs and follow orders.