Thursday News: Partial victory


COURT DRAWS NEW CONGRESSIONAL MAP, BUT ACCEPTS LEGISLATIVE ONES: The judges overseeing the lawsuit ruled that they would accept the newly redrawn versions of maps for the N.C. House and N.C. Senate that lawmakers passed — but not the new congressional map. Instead of taking the legislature’s congressional map, or the proposed maps drawn by the challengers in the case, the judges had a group of outside experts draw a new congressional map for the state. An analysis of the map drawn by the outside experts shows it would have more safe seats for Democratic candidates, and fewer tossup seats, than the map the Republican-led legislature had drawn. This is now the second version of GOP-drawn congressional maps to be snubbed by the judicial system in recent weeks. And unlike the Supreme Court, this panel of judges has a Republican majority. This could (very easily) make the difference in whether Dems can keep the majority in the U.S. House or not. I'll take it.

SOME OF THESE WAKE COUNTY FOLKS ARE IDIOTS: Around 60 people rallied outside the school board’s headquarters in Cary on Tuesday to say that masks should become optional now. Tracy Taylor of OpenNC said at the rally that the group is organizing a statewide protest Friday encouraging students to not wear masks in schools. She spoke in front of a crowd carrying signs such as “Child Abusers Meeting Going On Now! WCPSS,” “Education Over Suffocation” and “Free My Smile Today.” “It is time for civil disobedience,” Taylor said to cheers from the crowd. “We are done.” On Feb. 1, the school board unanimously voted to continue the face mask requirement. Some critics charged there was a conspiracy to continue masking indefinitely because administrators had unsuccessfully recommended that the board expand the mask mandate to children as young as age 2. "Open NC" appears to be a lame recycling of Reopen NC, but it's still the same conspiracy theory nonsense. This might piss a few readers off, but Cary also scored a dismal 12 out of 100 on the LGBTQ inclusivity scale. Just thought it worth mentioning.

SPEAKING OF CRAZY ISH HAPPENING IN WAKE COUNTY: A viral Facebook video is giving insight into just how intense the demand for housing is in Raleigh – especially housing under $300,000. The video, shared by real estate agent Monique Edwards with NC Living Realty, shows crowds of people showing up to tour a house in north Raleigh. A line of cars stretches up and down the neighborhood street. Prospective buyers showed up again Wednesday to view the house on Lafferty Court, which is listed for $260,000. Less than 8.5% of homes listed for sale across 16 counties in NC are in the $209K-$288K price range, according to data from Triangle MLS. More than 80 people came to Tuesday night's open house, and Edwards captured the spectacle on video, saying, "I just want you to take a look at all the people lined up to see this property." Edwards says the crowd is evidence of a 'housing crisis' in the Raleigh area. She came to show her client this house – only to have a crush of other home seekers and their agents arrive. "This is absolutely ridiculous," she said. "We've got to get control over these prices in the housing inventory." Just so you know, my little town is a mere 50 miles from downtown Raleigh, just a few minutes from the Interstate, and we've got new housing being built in 8 different developments. Yes, it is too far of a commute. Right now, anyway...

FORMER OFFICER IN BREONNA TAYLOR CASE ON TRIAL FOR ENDANGERING HER NEIGHBORS: Nearly two years after Breonna Taylor was killed by police, the only Kentucky officer charged criminally in the botched raid went on trial Wednesday for shooting bullets that penetrated Taylor’s neighbors’ apartment. Brett Hankison, now a former officer, fired 10 shots, none of which hit the Black woman, but prosecutors said they endangered the couple and child who lived next door. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of three counts of wanton endangerment. Assistant Kentucky Attorney General Barbara Maines Whaley told jurors the case is not about the killing of Taylor, for which the city of Louisville paid a settlement to her family, an amount that won’t bring her back. Nor, she said, is it about police decisions that led to the raid. She said the charges are focused on Hankinson’s decision to fire blindly through Taylor’s apartment, endangering her neighbors. Before Taylor's front door was breached, Hankison escalated the situation by yelling at a neighbor to go back inside, she said. And once the shooting started, “He’s shooting in a different direction than the other two detectives,” she said. Defense attorney Stewart Mathews countered that Hankison' s shooting was justified during a chaotic scene lasting just 10 to 15 seconds from when Taylor's door was breached to when the shooting stopped. Actually, none of it was justified. But thanks for playing.

NASA NEEDS YOUR HELP PROVIDING POWER TO MOON BASE: Under Artemis, NASA plans to return to the Moon using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. This will require lunar surface systems that can deliver continuous, reliable power to support mining and construction, research activities, and human habitation. The newest phase of NASA’s Watts on the Moon Challenge offers up to $4.5 million in prizes to design, build, and demonstrate a prototype that addresses technology gaps in power transmission and energy storage. Maximizing system efficiency and minimizing system mass will be an important part of what the challenge participants address in their designs, given that transporting all the needed equipment to sustain human presence on the lunar surface will require multiple missions. This challenge seeks advanced technology that is well-positioned to progress toward flight readiness and future operation on the lunar surface after the challenge. "Challenges like Watts on the Moon give us the chance to utilize the creativity of industry, academia, and the public to power our return to the Moon,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “I look forward to seeing how their solutions may also have important applications here on Earth and help advance similar technologies for terrestrial application and commercialization.” Phase 1 of Watts on the Moon opened in September 2020 and focused on the ideation of energy management, distribution, and storage solutions. In May 2021, seven winners were awarded a total of $500,000. To compete in Phase 1, teams had to submit ideas to support aspects of a hypothetical mission scenario – harvesting water and oxygen from a dark crater at the Moon's South Pole with energy generated by a power plant located on the crater's outer rim. NASA invites previous participants as well as new teams to compete in Phase 2. This is going to be awesome.