Friday News: Demagogue


MARK ROBINSON STINKS UP CONGRESS DURING HEARING: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson dominated a congressional hearing Thursday morning as he testified that he is tired of his race being used as a means to push a liberal agenda when it comes to voting rights. “It’s time that we modernize our election system in this country and stop playing all these silly games based on race, and please stop using me as a Black man as your pawn, and yes, I said it,” Robinson said. "Push your agenda. I’m sick of it.” Unlike Robinson, Barber chastised North Carolina lawmakers for what he said was suppression of minority votes through gerrymandering, trying to eliminate same-day registration and pre-registration of 16-and 17-year-olds and demanding residents show ID to vote.

BILL WOULD FINE NC HOSPITALS AND NURSING HOMES FOR NOT ALLOWING VISITORS DURING PANDEMIC: Senate Bill 191, titled the No Patient Left Alone Act, would fine any nursing home or hospital $500 a day for preventing any patient from having visitors. Sponsors say regulations of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services forbid such visitation restrictions, even during a pandemic. The state Department of Health and Human Services locked down long-term care facilities early in the pandemic to protect the elderly and frail residents who were at high risk from the virus. Hospitals statewide took similar steps to protect their patients and staff. Perry and other bill sponsors said they recognize the moves were well-intended, but they carried consequences where many people wasted away from loneliness or died without their families nearby. "No hospital patient or nursing home resident in North Carolina should be forced to remain isolated, alone, separated from their family," Daniel said. "Even more important, no patient should be forced to pass from this world to the next alone." But how many more would have passed from this world after being recklessly exposed to the virus?

GOVERNOR COOPER EXPECTS TO LIFT ALL RESTRICTIONS (EXCEPT MASKS) ON JUNE 1ST: Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday that he expects to lift almost all restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic on June 1 but will keep North Carolina’s mask mandate in place. Restrictions limiting capacity at indoor restaurants, bars and concert venues are among those that will be lifted, as are limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings. “With increasing vaccinations and ongoing work to slow the spread, I anticipate we’ll be able to lift all mandatory social distancing, capacity and mass gathering restrictions by June 1,” Cooper said. The current existing order expires April 30. Cooper said he’ll issue a new order next week with safety restrictions for May. The current order limits most outdoor gatherings to 100 people and indoor gatherings to 50 people. Retail establishments can operate at full capacity under the order, while restaurants are limited to 75% capacity inside. Bars, concert venues and sports arenas are limited to 50% capacity under the order. Dr. Mandy Cohen, the secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said reaching the two-thirds goal (fully vaccinated) of adults would mean that activities like Fourth of July fireworks and outdoor festivals could take place in something like a pre-pandemic setting.

CHINA PROMISES IT WILL REACH "PEAK" FOSSIL FUELS IN FIVE YEARS, THEN WORK TO REDUCE IT: As Biden’s virtual summit wraps up this week, it has reinforced the sense that the United States and China, despite fierce and nationalistic rivalry, will seek common ground on the existential issue of climate change. But it’s uncertain how much more ground Xi is willing to concede — and under what circumstances. Although the United States, Japan and Canada on Thursday unveiled tighter new greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2030, Xi — as well as another key figure, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — refrained from new commitments. After Xi’s speech, Chinese officials tasked with briefing reporters and Chinese state media repeated long-standing lines that developed countries must do more to cut their emissions while developing economies should receive more slack. Environmental groups say they were disappointed because Xi has staked out significant long-term goals to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 — but has not yet presented clarity about how to get there. Xi’s reticence at the summit could be driven by domestic considerations, said Li Shuo, senior adviser at Greenpeace East Asia. “He needs to balance divergent interests between domestic industrial groups and international expectations, the need to show China’s green image and also not be seen as caving to U.S. diplomatic pressure,” Li said. “It’s precisely because it’s a U.S.-organized event that China might have been more hesitant to put more offers on the table.” Li said the next venue for a potential Chinese announcement could be the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26 — a multilateral, rather than Biden-led, forum to take place in Glasgow in November. At least he showed up for this meeting, which is a pretty big deal in itself.

BIDEN ADMIN LOOKS TO USE FINANCIAL INCENTIVES AND RECOGNITION TO KEEP TALIBAN IN CHECK: On Wednesday, Mr. Blinken announced that the administration would work with Congress to expedite a commitment of $300 million in humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, pledged last fall under the Trump administration. “As the United States begins withdrawing our troops, we will use our civilian and economic assistance to advance a just and durable peace for Afghanistan and a brighter future for the Afghan people,” Mr. Blinken said in a statement. In a background briefing for reporters after Mr. Biden’s withdrawal announcement last week, a senior administration official said the denial of international legitimacy would be a punishment for any effort to roll back human rights and women’s rights in the country. Other U.S. officials and some prominent experts call this “pariah” theory valid, saying Taliban leaders have a record of seeking international credibility, placing a high priority on the removal of sanctions against them. Taliban officials have made clear their desire for foreign aid to rebuild their country after two decades of grinding war. Given the reality that Mr. Biden is removing all American troops by Sept. 11, diplomatic and financial pressure remain among the few tools the United States can use to constrain the Taliban. For the time being, the United States also will continue to supply military aid to Afghanistan’s government in hopes that its security forces will not be overrun. But in the long term, there is almost no doubt that the Taliban will either become part of the Afghan government or take over the country entirely. How the United States will respond is unclear. “Defining what is ‘acceptable’ for future Taliban influence in Afghanistan will be difficult,” said Jeffrey W. Eggers, who served as senior director for Afghanistan in the Obama White House and was an adviser to the top commander in the country, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.