Friday News: Saying the quiet part outloud


WOODHOUSE CITES "WATER COOLER TALK" FOR HIS GERRYMANDERING PREDICTION: “Carolina Journal has learned that GOP redistricting leaders will consider approving a new map designed to elect a 10 Republicans and four Democrats beginning in 2022,” an early version of the article said. The article was later edited, softening Woodhouse’s prediction of a 10-4 split. But the report spread quickly among North Carolina politicos, sparking early debate over how lawmakers will redraw the districts. Woodhouse’s article also suggested the new district could be drawn specifically for House Speaker Tim Moore — a Republican from Cleveland County, west of Charlotte, who will have personal influence over the map-making process. Moore also said he is not planning to run for Congress, but plans to run for state House again.

NC REPUBLICANS ARE BACKING OFF ON ATTACKS AGAINST TRANSGENDER YOUTH: The North Carolina General Assembly won't advance legislation this year preventing transgender girls and women from competing in school sports labeled for biologically female athletes, a top legislative leader said. “The House will not be taking up that bill,” House Speaker Tim Moore told The Associated Press in an interview. “We’ve spoken with the bill sponsors and others and simply believe that there’s not a need to take it up at this time.” The inaction marks another decision by state Republicans to step away for now from controversial LGBT legislation rather than face criticism that GOP leaders in other states have experienced. Those actions, however, have failed to generate broader backlash. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s office said last week that there would be no votes on a bill that sought to limit medical treatments for transgender people under 21 and punish doctors who facilitate that treatment, adding that there was no pathway for it to become law. Rep. Mark Brody, R-Union, and chief sponsor of the legislation, said Wednesday that he feels pretty confident the measure got derailed because “Apple's come to town" but lacked hard evidence.

32 YEAR-OLD WHO KILLED PARENTS AND 2 DEPUTIES HAD A "LARGE CACHE" OF WEAPONS: A gunman who killed himself, two deputies and his mother and stepfather in a 13-hour home standoff in North Carolina had a large cache of weapons and may have been contemplating an attack in public, a sheriff said Thursday. Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman said George Wyatt Ligon, 58, and his wife, Michelle, 61, were killed Wednesday, and the shooting suspect, Isaac Alton Barnes, 32, died at the scene. Barnes was Michelle Ligon's son and the man's stepson. Hagaman told reporters that family members had expressed worries about the large number of weapons in Barnes’ possession. “There was familial concern that he might try to do something and he had evidently a fairly large cache of weapons and he was at the house, which we didn’t think he would be,” the sheriff said. “I’m convinced that the attitude of the suspect was such that he was planning this, not particularly at the officers, but possibly the public in general,” Hagaman added. This story has "Red Flag laws" written all over it, it's long past time we put that in place.

GIULIANI WAS WARNED HE WAS BEING TARGETED BY RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE: On his trip to Kyiv, Giuliani met with Andriy Derkach, a politician sanctioned by the United States in September and accused by the Treasury Department of having been an active Russian agent “for over a decade” and maintaining “close connections with Russian intelligence services.” Derkach, who attended a KGB academy in Moscow, has denied involvement with any foreign intelligence agency and any illegal activities. In late 2019, before Giuliani’s trip to Kyiv, U.S. intelligence agencies warned the Trump White House that Giuliani was the target of a Russian influence operation, as The Post reported last year. Officials became concerned after obtaining evidence, including communications intercepts, that showed Giuliani was interacting with people tied to Russian intelligence. The warnings led then-national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien to caution Trump that any information Giuliani brought back from Ukraine should be considered contaminated by Russia. To distance themselves from the disinformation, the Russian spy services relied on Ukrainian individuals including Derkach, the report said. Derkach and others “sought to use prominent U.S. persons and media conduits to launder their narratives to U.S. officials and audiences,” the report stated. “These Russian proxies met with and provided materials to Trump administration-linked U.S. persons to advocate for formal investigation . . . and attempted to make contact with several senior U.S. officials.” Giuliani’s electronic devices were seized by authorities Wednesday in searches of his Manhattan home and office as part of the federal investigation into whether he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukraine. The probe centers on Giuliani’s interactions with Ukrainian figures ahead of November’s election, as he sought information that might undermine Joe Biden and lobbied for the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine while also pressing Ukrainian officials to announce an inquiry into Biden.

THE PANDEMIC IS RAGING OUT OF CONTROL IN SOUTH AMERICA: Uruguay, once lauded as a model for keeping the coronavirus under control, now has one of the highest death rates in the world, while the grim daily tallies of the dead have hit records in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Peru in recent days. Even Venezuela, where the authoritarian government is notorious for hiding health statistics and any suggestion of disarray, says that coronavirus deaths are up 86 percent since January. As vaccinations mount in some of the world’s wealthiest countries and people cautiously envision life after the pandemic, the crisis in Latin America — and in South America in particular — is taking an alarming turn for the worse, potentially threatening the progress made well beyond its borders. Last week, Latin America accounted for 35 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the world, despite having just 8 percent of the global population, according to data compiled by The New York Times. Latin America was already one of the world’s hardest hit regions in 2020, with bodies sometimes abandoned on sidewalks and new burial grounds cut into thick forest. Yet even after a year of incalculable loss, it is still one of the most troubling global hot spots, with a recent surge in many countries that is even more deadly than before. The crisis stems in part from predictable forces — limited vaccine supplies and slow rollouts, weak health systems and fragile economies that make stay-at-home orders difficult to impose or maintain. But the region has another thorny challenge, health officials say: living side-by-side with Brazil, a country of more than 200 million whose president has consistently dismissed the threat of the virus and denounced measures to control it, helping fuel a dangerous variant that is now stalking the continent.



Several fully vaccinated friends

have posted about their plans to travel to Latin America, and some have already booked reservations. A couple of them mentioned Costa Rica, which is closing non-essential businesses right now in an attempt to contain its latest outbreak.

It ain't over yet, folks, don't get ahead of yourself.