Saturday News: They just can't be trusted


NC HOUSE REPUBLICANS PASS ANOTHER GERRYMANDERED MAP: There were 14 in the N.C. House, and most of the solutions that legislators came up with throughout the past few days were uncontroversial. However there is one area of southeastern North Carolina, near the South Carolina border, where Democrats think Republicans drew with political purposes in mind, despite a court order telling them not to. “You don’t have to be very astute to know what we are doing in this bill is partisan gerrymandering in the benefit of a member,” said Democratic Rep. Joe Sam Queen on Friday before voting against the maps. A handful of other Democrats also objected to the new maps for Fayetteville, saying this process had taken a bad gerrymander and unintentionally made it worse. Democrat Rep. Billy Richardson said he hadn’t looked at any political data, but he knows the area well enough to believe the new maps are an even worse gerrymander than they were when the court struck them down.

COURT APPOINTS NATHAN PERSILY TO BE SPECIAL MASTER OF NEW LEGISLATIVE MAPS: The three-judge state court which found North Carolina’s legislative districts to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders under that state’s constitution has appointed Stanford professor Nate Persily as the referee/special master in the case. This means that Persily at the least will evaluate for the court the maps that the state’s legislature is expected to pass this week, and if the judges are dissatisfied with what the North Carolina General Assembly has come up with, Persily will draw maps to be used for state legislative elections. To begin with, it seems fairly likely that the court will call on Persily to draw new maps. The maps are being drawn by the NCGA in a strange way by beginning with some maps that were introduced into evidence in the lawsuit to demonstrate the bias of the old plan; these are not being drawn on a bipartisan basis. And the House just gave a few minutes notice before allowing for public comments on the map. This is not the kind of procedure I expect will endear the NCGA to the court, a court which already found unconstitutional action.

TILLIS SAYS IMMIGRANTS ARE "RENTING" CHILDREN TO HELP THEM GAIN ASYLUM: Even though Tillis initially opposed a presidential emergency declaration, he defended Trump's decision to move money from various defense construction projects to help fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He said Congress is working to back-fill that spending so projects at Camp Lejeune and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base aren't delayed. "We have a crisis at the border," he said. "We've got an open border where they're coming into this country and we're not capturing – we're not detaining – all of them. They're a threat to our national security, and the president is right to want to build that wall and secure our border." He downplayed stories of children being separated from their parents and held in detention centers for weeks, saying instead that some immigrant children are "rented" repeatedly by adults pretending to have families in hopes that will improve their odds of staying in the U.S.

TRUMP SAYS ENERGY-SAVING LIGHTBULBS MAKE HIM LOOK ORANGE?: In between bashing the Democratic candidates in Houston and running through a list of what he considered GOP triumphs, Trump said that energy-saving lightbulbs — which his administration has tried to block — make him look orange. His exact remarks, delivered during a nearly 70-minute opening address: “The lightbulb. People said what’s with the lightbulb? I said here’s the story. And I looked at it, the bulb that we’re being forced to use, number one to me, most importantly, the light’s no good. I always look orange. And so do you. The light is the worst.” Tamzin Smith, a portrait photographer in Rockville, Md., pointed out that Trump’s orange complexion is visible even when he is photographed against white backgrounds. If bulbs were responsible for casting a warm glow, anything white in a photo of the president — including the background, a white shirt, or even his teeth — should also be orange. The president’s skin tone, said makeup artist Jason Kelly, is more likely the result of artificial tanning and an overapplication of bronzer, a type of powder or cream designed to give a tanned look.

NOTRE DAME FIRE SPREAD TOXIC LEAD DUST OVER PARIS NEIGHBORHOOD: The April fire that engulfed Notre-Dame contaminated the cathedral site with clouds of toxic dust and exposed nearby schools, day care centers, public parks and other parts of Paris to alarming levels of lead. The lead came from the cathedral’s incinerated roof and spire, and it created a public health threat that stirred increasing anxiety in Paris throughout the summer. Five months after the fire, the French authorities have refused to fully disclose the results of their testing for lead contamination, sowing public confusion, while issuing reassuring statements intended to play down the risks. Their delays and denials have opened the authorities to accusations that they put reconstruction of the cathedral — which President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to complete in five years — ahead of the health of thousands of people. More than 6,000 children younger than age 6 live within a half mile of those locations, a Times analysis found.