Friday News: Geez, Marty

ALLEGED SUPPORTER OF THE ARTS AND ARTISAN BURGERS IS ACTUALLY A RACIST: The UNC-CH Board of Trustees on Thursday struck down a member’s proposed resolution that would have prohibited the university from strictly using “race, sex, color or ethnicity” in admissions and hiring decisions. The last-minute motion proposed by board member Marty Kotis followed a closed session, where trustees discussed ongoing legal matters. UNC-CH has been a part of a years-long federal affirmative action lawsuit claiming white and Asian applicants are discriminated against. A federal judge ruled last month that UNC-CH can use race in its admissions process. Kotis said he thinks everyone should have a fair opportunity to be admitted, apply for a job or do contract work at UNC-CH “without fear of being labeled or stuck in a bucket.” Stuck in a bucket? WTF are you talking about, dude?

WE'LL BE SEEING Y'ALL IN COURT, THANK YOU VERY MUCH: North Carolina's new congressional and legislative district maps received final approval in the General Assembly on Thursday. But that might not be the final word on them. The maps, which are reworked every decade to account for changes in population, are usually drawn by the party in power to keep them in power. Critics say the Republican legislative majority went overboard on that point this year. The current balance of power in the state Senate, for example, is 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats. Under the new Senate district map, experts agree it will likely shift to 30 Republicans and 20 Democrats – a veto-proof majority for the GOP – by drawing two Democrats out of their districts and making it more difficult for several others to win re-election. Left-leaning groups protested the redistricting process outside the Legislative Building on Wednesday, saying lawmakers purposely limited public input and then ignored the comments they received about the maps. "Good map drawing starts with a fair process and ends with a fair result," said Joselle Torres, spokeswoman for Democracy North Carolina. Asher Hildebrand, an associate professor of public policy at Duke University who studies redistricting, noted that the maps changed very little during the process to reflect any criticisms or requested adjustments. Of course they didn't change much, those hearings were merely pro-forma, staged for future "evidence" in the inevitable lawsuits.

JOSH STEIN SUES THE PANTS OFF CHEMICAL COMPANIES OVER PFAS: Lawsuits filed by North Carolina's attorney general against 14 manufacturers of a fire suppressant claim the makers caused a public nuisance, created a design defect, failed to warn their customers and fraudulently transferred corporate assets to shield their profits, a news release said Thursday. Attorney General Josh Stein filed four lawsuits which named 3M, Corteva, and DuPont, among others. In the lawsuit, Stein is asking the court to require the manufacturers to pay for investigations to determine the extent of the damage, clean up the damage, replace water treatment systems and wells, restore damaged natural resources and to monitor water quality. “These companies made and sold firefighting foam with dangerous forever chemicals to our firefighters, military servicemembers, and first responders, long after they knew or should have known how harmful this foam was,” Stein said in the news release. “As a result, forever chemicals have seeped into our soil and groundwater and put people’s health at risk – all so these chemical companies could line their pockets. It’s wrong." AFFF is designed to be mixed with water and sprayed liberally, which leads to contamination of soil, groundwater and natural resources, Stein said. In the lawsuits, the attorney general alleges that AFFF manufacturers knew or should have known about the toxic nature of PFAS chemicals and how they harmed people, wildlife, and the environment, but continued to manufacture, market, and sell their products in North Carolina and elsewhere while concealing the risks. Go get 'em, Josh.

DONALD TRUMP IS STILL RUNNING PART OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT? An analyst who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations against Donald Trump has been arrested on charges that he repeatedly lied to the FBI about where and how he got his information, officials said Thursday. Igor Danchenko’s role in providing information to British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the accusations about Trump in a series of reports, has long been a subject of investigators’ scrutiny and became a particular focus of special counsel John Durham. Trump and his supporters have accused senior FBI officials of conducting an unfair investigation into whether his campaign had ties to Russia, with little actual evidence to try to discredit or defeat him. The FBI’s defenders, however, say the agency was obligated to examine allegations of Russian interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign during the election. Then-Attorney General William P. Barr appointed Durham in 2019 to investigate the origins and handling of the Russia investigation. This is a pointless exercise, designed mainly to give Trump and his henchmen something to spin conspiracy theories with. Shut it down.

WE NOW HAVE AN ANTIVIRAL DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY TO FIGHT COVID 19 CASES: Regulators in Britain granted approval to the experimental drug molnupiravir from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck on Thursday, marking the first authorization from a public health body for an oral antiviral treatment for covid-19 in adults. Experts have said that if widely authorized, the medicine could have huge potential to help fight the coronavirus pandemic: Pills are easier to take, manufacture and store, making them particularly useful in lower- to middle-income countries with weaker infrastructure and limited vaccine supplies. “We will continue to move with both rigor and urgency to bring molnupiravir to patients around the world as quickly as possible,” Merck President Robert M. Davis said in a statement. The company, which added that it would submit applications to other regulatory agencies, has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, while the European Medicines Agency has launched a rolling review of the drug. In a global clinical trial, the pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by nearly half among higher-risk adult coronavirus patients diagnosed with mild to moderate illness, according to Merck, which developed the drug with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics after a discovery at Emory University. The first dose given to a volunteer in the trial was in the United Kingdom. The FDA needs to approve this ASAP.