Friday News: Iconic

GK BUTTERFIELD ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT AFTER GOP NIXES MAJORITY-MINORITY DISTRICT: U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield announced Thursday he will retire from Congress, accusing the North Carolina General Assembly of racially gerrymandering new political maps that leave him in a less favorable district. Butterfield, a 74-year-old Democrat from Wilson who has served in Congress since 2004, is a civil rights advocate and former judge. He currently serves in North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, which stretches through Eastern North Carolina. “The map that was recently enacted by the legislature is a partisan map,” Butterfield said in a video announcing his retirement. “It is racially gerrymandered. It will disadvantage African American communities all across the 1st Congressional District." If they are allowed to do this, Congress will see a whitewashing that hasn't happened for over half a century.

VAL FOUSHEE WILL RUN FOR DAVID PRICE'S VACANT CONGRESSIONAL SEAT: State Sen. Valerie Foushee announced Wednesday she is running to represent the Triangle in the U.S. House. “I am thrilled to enter this race and bring a fighter for North Carolina to Congress,” Foushee told McClatchy in a written statement. “I’ve dedicated my entire life to public service, and I know and understand the values of this district.” Foushee said if elected to Congress she wants to be a champion for working families, a leader in criminal justice reform and tackling systemic racism, and to help protect the environment while addressing climate change. Foushee is a lifelong resident of Orange County, which is now part of North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District along with Durham and portions of Wake. The left-leaning district has already drawn a crowd of Democrats vying for the seat after U.S. Rep. David Price announced his retirement in October. Not an endorsement, but I really like her.

THIS SOCIAL/CLIMATE CHANGE BILL WOULD BE A FANTASTIC ACCOMPLISHMENT: Two weeks after centrists' objections forced Democrats to delay the measure, the bill began moving amid optimistic signs from leaders and lawmakers that their divisions were all but resolved — for now. Facing uniform Republican opposition, Democrats can lose no more than three votes to prevail in the House. The package, a top priority for President Joe Biden, would bolster child care assistance, create free preschool, curb seniors' prescription drug costs and beef up efforts to slow climate change. Biden and other Democratic leaders have said the 10-year, $1.85 trillion measure would pay for itself, largely through tax increases on the wealthy, big corporations and companies doing business abroad. A cost estimate on the bill, promised by Friday from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, was expected to show a modestly higher price tag and deficits of perhaps $200 billion over the coming decade. Early signs were that those differences were unlikely to derail the legislation, which exceeds 2,100 pages. “Each of these investments on its own will make an extraordinary impact on the lives of American families," said House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., ticking off the bill's initiatives. Noting that savings would come from higher levies on the rich and corporations, he added, “It's a helluva deal." It is a helluva deal. If billionaires can afford to race each other around the planet in orbit, they can afford to take care of said planet and its peeps.

JURORS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE TRIAL BEING TAUGHT WHITE SUPREMACIST CODE LANGUAGE: As jurors consider the plaintiffs’ accusation that the rally organizers conspired to foment racial violence, they have been presented with a trove of evidence that includes messages laced with slurs, memes of using cars to run over protesters and calls for cracking skulls. Over the past four weeks, plaintiffs’ attorneys have tried to make their case by carefully breaking down the jokes and catch-phrases favored by far-right extremists, in an effort to teach jurors how to decode white supremacists’ secret vocabulary of hate. Whether the jury takes this evidence literally or views it as exaggeration is the crux of many arguments in this trial. The plaintiffs’ attorneys have called in experts to help the jury understand what is sinister about the numbers 1488 — which refer to “14 words,” a popular white supremacist slogan, and “Heil Hitler,” because "H" is the eighth letter of the alphabet. They have translated the phrase “RaHoWa,” which may sound like gibberish to outsiders but among hate groups stands for “racial holy war.” And they explained how a question that seems innocuous — “Did you see Kyle? — is actually a play on words for the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil.” Heidi Beirich — a co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism and former director of intelligence at the Southern Poverty Law Center — said the subculture of extremism on display in this trial illustrates how the brazen racism seen on the streets of Charlottesville four years ago emboldened and radicalized racists across the country, including those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. SPLC rocks, all day, and all of the night.

10% OF KIDS GOT VACCINATED IN TWO WEEKS, MUCH QUICKER THAN ADULTS: That represents a faster uptake than when adults were initially offered coronavirus vaccine shots about a year ago, he added. “For perspective, it took about 50 days for us to reach 10 percent of adults with one shot,” he said. There are at least eight times as many adults as there are kids in the 5-11 age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zients, speaking to reporters alongside the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, said that since injections began this month for kids younger than 12, about 2.6 million of them had received their first shot. “In fact, the pace of vaccinations for kids has been accelerating. In the last week, 1.7 million kids got vaccinated — double the prior week,” Zients said. Zients also said that about 80 percent of Americans age 12 or older had received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine and 31 million people had been injected with boosters. “There’s more work to do, but these milestones represent critical progress,” he said. The positive developments that the White House sought to highlight coincided with grimmer news. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths were increasing in some colder states, though the nation as a whole was seeing covid-19 fatalities decline, Washington Post figures show. More than 763,000 Americans have died of covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. Kids are great. No, really, kids are great.