NC VOTING INCREASED DURING 2020 ELECTION, IN SPITE OF PANDEMIC: Despite the coronavirus pandemic, voter turnout in North Carolina increased in the 2020 elections compared to the 2016 election. More than 75% of registered voters cast a ballot, setting a new record. More Republicans voted. More Democrats voted. More independents voted. More young people, middle-age people and older people voted. More white people voted, and so did more Black, Hispanic and Asian-American people. Black voter turnout in North Carolina increased 4.1 points over 2016. But it wasn’t enough for Democrats to flip the state for Biden over Trump. In the end, 68.4% of North Carolina’s Black voters cast a ballot in the 2020 elections, compared to 78.8% of white voters. In total statewide, Democrats added 98,996 voters from 2016 to 2020 and Republicans added 251,107. But the ranks of unaffiliated voters grew by more than both parties combined, as they cast 409,416 more votes than they did in 2016.
CALLS FOR MADISON CAWTHORN TO RESIGN ARE GROWING: Nearly 34,000 people have signed a petition calling on Republican 11th District Congressman Madison Cawthorn to resign for his role in the run-up to the riot at the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago. Cawthorn, 25, who was elected to the district in southwestern North Carolina in November, is the youngest member of Congress and is seen as a rising GOP star. But even some members of the Republican Party say he has gone too far. After the riot, former Henderson County Sheriff George Erwin publicly apologized for having endorsed Cawthorn, as did Eddie Harwood, a conservative activist in Asheville. "Make no mistake: There is blood on his hands,” Harwood posted on Facebook the day after the riot. "He played a role in encouraging the violence and attack on our democracy yesterday.” "Words mean things, and when they leave your mouth, you cannot bring them back," Erwin wrote in a reply to Harwood's post. Your words can incite or calm. I saw no calming words, and people died and were injured. Our country is an embarrassment on the world stage." WRAL News has requested an interview with Cawthorn every day for more than a week, but he has refused to respond.
DURHAM MOVES TO PROTECT BLACK WOMEN FROM HAIRSTYLE DISCRIMINATION: The Bull City is on the verge of becoming the first city in the state to prohibit discrimination based on hair style, texture and types historically associated with race. The city, where 38% of the population is African-American, may also expand protections to the LGBTQ community and prohibit discrimination based on military status in a proposed ordinance it will consider Tuesday night. “All of the natural hairstyles that our hair can make, it can be [seen as] a statement or it can be used against us,” said Durham City Council member DeDreana Freeman, one of the ordinance’s leading advocates. “So many women make the decision not to wear any of those hairstyles, myself included, because you don’t want to be offensive.” Afros, Bantu knots, cornrows, braids, locs, twists, tight coils and curls would be protected under the ordinance. Black women’s hair is nearly three and a half times more likely than non-Black women’s hair to be perceived as unprofessional, according to a 2019 study by the CROWN coalition and Dove, a skin and hair care brand.
BIDEN PLANS TO OVERHAUL IMMIGRATION POLICY, INSTITUTE 8 YEAR PATH TO CITIZENSHIP: President-elect Joe Biden will roll out a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws the day he is inaugurated, including an eight-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status and an expansion of refugee admissions, along with an enforcement plan that deploys technology to patrol the border. Biden’s legislative proposal, which will be sent to Congress on Wednesday, also includes a heavy focus on addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, a key part of Biden’s foreign policy portfolio when he served as vice president. The centerpiece of the plan from Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris is the eight-year pathway, which would put millions of qualifying immigrants in a temporary status for five years and then grant them a green card once they meet certain requirements such as a background check and payment of taxes. They would be able to apply for citizenship three years later. In a significant contrast with the Obama administration — which was heavily criticized by the Latino community for not tackling immigration when Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House early in President Barack Obama’s tenure — Biden has made immigration his chief legislative priority behind the immediate health and economic relief stemming from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “Having leadership makes a big difference,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in an interview Monday. “You cannot achieve immigration reform without presidential leadership, and from what I see, the seriousness of their purpose to start off with gives me a real good feeling that the president-elect is actually going to use capital to try to make this happen.”
THE PENTAGON IS (FINALLY) CRACKING DOWN ON WHITE SUPREMACY IN THE RANKS: The F.B.I. investigation into the Capitol siege, still in its very early stages, has identified at least six suspects with military links out of the more than 100 people who have been taken into federal custody or the larger number still under investigation. They include a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel from Texas, an Army officer from North Carolina and an Army reservist from New Jersey. Another person with military service was shot and killed in the assault. The military’s examination of its ranks marks a new urgency for the Pentagon, which has a history of downplaying the rise of white nationalism and right-wing activism, even as Germany and other countries are finding a deep strain embedded in their armed forces. “These people are not representative of our country’s military,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview. He said most active-duty troops and veterans “continue to serve honorably and uphold their oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.” For more than a week now, General Milley has listened to analysts, read reports and viewed videos of the riots. “There was some indication that an unknown number of veterans associated with the insurrection,” he said. Defense Department officials say they are looking into stepping up the monitoring of social media postings from service members, in much the way companies do with their employees. Last Tuesday, General Milley and the rest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent an extraordinary letter to all military personnel, reminding them that Mr. Biden would soon be their commander in chief and that they were duty bound to defend the Constitution.