Thursday News: It's worse than you think

NEW GERRYMANDERING LAWSUIT EXPOSES REPUBLICAN CHEATING: The lawsuit claims that even if Democratic candidates were to win the statewide vote by a significant margin, it still wouldn’t be enough to take control of the legislature. “Indeed, it would likely take a statewide win by at least seven points for the minority party to have a chance to elect a majority of the seats in any of those chambers — something that never happens in a state as 50-50 as North Carolina,” a press release announcing the lawsuit said. Republicans could expect to win 60% of the legislative races — enough for a veto-proof supermajority — with just 50% of the statewide vote, one of the filings in the lawsuit claims. If they win, the challengers say the legislature should be forced to redraw new, fairer maps — and that if they don’t, then a court should replace the current maps with the ones the challengers drew. Looks like it's Special Master time again...

THEY JUST CAN'T SEEM TO STOP ATTACKING VOTERS: With the legislative year nearing an end, North Carolina Republicans on Wednesday advanced a string of measures that voting rights groups fear would prevent lawfully cast ballots from being counted and discourage participation in the 2022 election. The bills the GOP moved through the House rules committee are unlikely to become law, as they would almost assuredly lack the support of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and enough Democratic state lawmakers to override a possible veto. Among the measures Republicans are pursuing is a plan to prevent the counting of absentee ballots that arrive at county elections offices after polls close on Election Day. Sen. Warren Daniel, a Burke County Republican and bill sponsor, said the extra time the state offered for ballot collecting in 2020 as part of its effort to make mail-in voting more accessible during the pandemic unnecessarily lengthened the vote counting process and undermined voters' confidence in the results because it took several days after the election for then-President Donald Trump to be declared North Carolina's winner but the overall national loser to Democrat Joe Biden. “Everybody knows when Election Day is. It’s when the votes are all in, and vote counting begins," said state Daniel said. "Every day that passes after that creates the possibility of distrust in the process. Ideally, we’d like to have a winner on Election Night.” This is the last time I'm going to say this, because it hurts my fucking brain to have to do it, but that distrust in elections was created and promoted by Republicans like Donald Trump and Warren Daniel. For him to use that as an excuse to further erode our constitutional rights is both absurd and infuriating. Now I need a Tylenol.

ORANGE COUNTY AT ODDS OVER GREENE TRACT PROJECT: A neighborhood’s plans for affordable housing will compete with others’ desire for recreation and environmental preservation this week when local governments talk about the 164-acre Greene Tract in Orange County. The Carrboro Town Council and the Orange County Commissioners will meet virtually at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Chapel Hill Town Council will meet virtually at 7 p.m. Wednesday. There is no official development plan yet for the land, just north of the Chapel Hill town limits in the historically African-American community on and around Rogers and Eubanks roads. The forest holds the tributary headwaters that feed Old Field, Bolin and Booker creeks and has been seen for years as a potential place for affordable housing. Older residents remember Black-owned family farms and sawmills, playing under the trees as children, and the day that the Orange County Landfill opened on Eubanks Road in 1972. The governments promised paved streets, a community center and other services in return, but residents lived instead with 40 years of trash, traffic, buzzards, septic issues, odors and failing wells. When the landfill closed in 2013, as it neared capacity, the governments were left with the Greene Tract, which was purchased in 1984 for a landfill expansion that never happened. There's a chance to right some historical wrongs here, and those chances don't come along very often.

CONGRATULATIONS, DR. CORBETT, DR. BARIC: Orange County native and scientist Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett and UNC professor and researcher Dr. Ralph Baric are among nine people who will receive North Carolina's highest honor on Thursday. Corbett and Baric are being recognized for their scientific contributions in the fight against coronavirus. Corbett graduated from Orange County High School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She helped develop Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine and is the National Institute of Health's lead scientist for coronavirus vaccine research. Baric, a professor in UNC's Departments of Epidemiology, Microbiology and Immunology, has been an integral part of local coronavirus research since the beginning of the pandemic. Other honorees include: Dudley E. Flood and Maria Foxx Spaulding, Public Service, David Lowrey Holt, Fine Arts, André Leon Talley and Timothy Buie Tyson, Literature, Francis S. Collins and Blake S. Wilson, Science. Gov. Roy Cooper will present the awards at a special ceremony at 6 p.m. at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Previous recipients of the North Carolina Award include James Taylor, Dean Smith, Maya Angelou and Billy Graham. This event is sponsored by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, CBC/WRAL Community Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Bolding mine, because Tim Tyson deserves bolded letters.

QANON SHAMAN (COSPLAY) SENTENCED TO 41 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR INSURRECTION: Jacob Chansley, whose brightly painted face, tattooed torso and horned cap became a visual icon of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison by a federal judge in Washington. His lawyer had asked the judge to impose a sentence of time already served, basically the entire 10 months since the insurrection, during which Chansley attracted more attention for demanding an organic diet while in jail and giving an interview to “60 Minutes.” The sentence of roughly 3 ½ years is equal to the longest yet handed down to a Capitol rioter. Of the roughly 130 people who have pleaded guilty so far, only 16 have admitted to felonies, and Chansley is the fourth felon to be sentenced. The other three received terms of eight, 14 and last week a man who punched a Capitol police officer also received 41 months. Chansley’s lawyer, Albert S. Watkins, argued that his client had been sufficiently penalized by his 10 months in jail. Nope. Chansley, who lives in Phoenix, had grown a following on various social media platforms in the months before Jan. 6, and posted messages such as, “We shall have no real hope to survive the enemies arrayed against us until we hang the traitors lurking among us,” prosecutors said. And we won't survive the assaults on our democracy if we fail to punish those who tried to destroy it.