Tuesday News: It's the One, not the Thousand, that is worrisome

DISTRUST OVERSHADOWS BEGINNING OF REDISTRICTING PROCESS: The plan centers on roughly 1,000 maps drawn by a computer algorithm from Jowei Chen, a University of Michigan professor whose testimony helped convince a panel of Superior Court judges that General Assembly maps drawn by the GOP majority two years ago were so tilted toward Republicans that they constitute an illegal partisan gerrymander. Both the House and Senate would winnow those numbers down by having staff rank each map on a trio of criteria the court in Common Cause v. Lewis identified as particularly important, then amend them here and there in public votes. Wary Democrats and others behind the lawsuit that got the current maps declared unconstitutional were anxious about the process Monday. Several times, they asked GOP leaders whether any analysis had already been done on the Chen maps, an insinuation that Republicans could have seen something they liked and reverse-engineered a process to get it.

SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICANS PUSH FOR 6-WEEK BAN ON ABORTIONS: Some S.C. Senate Republicans are hoping to fast-track the state’s latest effort to curb access to abortions: a so-called fetal heartbeat ban that would effectively ban abortion around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. On Tuesday, a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee has scheduled four hours of testimony on the bill — which already has passed the state House — in hopes of passing it out of committee before lawmakers reconvene in Columbia in January. But Palmetto State Republicans are not the only ones pushing for deeper restrictions on abortion. The S.C. bill is part of a flurry of new laws sweeping state legislatures. Such bans, passed in other states including Alabama, Georgia and Missouri, so far have been held up in court and blocked or overturned by judges. Courts have said the bans violate the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion before a fetus is viable outside the womb, usually about 24 weeks into a pregnancy. But abortion opponents see an opening under conservative judges appointed by President Donald Trump to spark a court challenge that overturns or scales back Roe v. Wade.

CHIEF JUSTICE CHERI BEASLEY ANNOUNCES PARENTAL LEAVE FOR ATTORNEYS: North Carolina's chief justice will be announcing new rules for attorneys that quadruple the amount of time they can take off from court appearances after the birth or adoption of a child. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley will provide details of the change Tuesday. But online changes made to rules for attorney appearances in appellate, Superior and District courts show that attorneys will be able to take 12 weeks off within 24 weeks of the birth or adoption. The change is in addition to the three weeks of leave attorneys can already take. Under the rule, attorneys will tell the courts when they're unavailable so that their cases aren't scheduled. The change comes after a meeting in February between various legal groups and the chief justice's professionalism commission.

TRUMP ATTACKS DEMS AND PATS HIMSELF ON THE BACK DURING FAYETTEVILLE RALLY: Mr. Trump and Mr. Bishop, who joined him briefly onstage, framed the race as a crucial stand against what the president called “radical socialism” and a Democratic Party-aligned “fake news” media bent on his defeat. “To stop the far left, you must vote in tomorrow’s special election,” Mr. Trump told cheering supporters here. “Tomorrow is your chance to send a message to the America-hating left.” Before leaving Washington to appear with Mr. Bishop at a rally at the Crown Expo Center in Fayetteville, Mr. Trump expressed optimism about the race. “If you look at the numbers from two weeks ago, and I got involved about two weeks ago, and the numbers have gone way up,” Mr. Trump said. That the conservative district is up for grabs at all is a concern for Republicans, and the president’s appearance in the state on the eve of the election highlighted that. Mr. Trump carried North Carolina by less than four points in 2016.

CIA PULLED AN ASSET OUT OF RUSSIA AFTER TRUMP REVEALED CLASSIFIED INFORMATION TO RUSSIAN OFFICIALS: In 2017, the United States extracted from Russia an important CIA source who had provided information about the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to current and former officials. The operation, known as an exfiltration, followed mounting concerns among U.S. officials that the individual could be discovered by the Russian government. The exfiltration took place sometime after an Oval Office meeting in May 2017, when President Trump revealed highly classified counterterrorism information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, said the current and former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation. The Russian RT television station reported Tuesday that before 2010, the suspected asset worked at the Russian Embassy in Washington. It said the man, his wife and three children left for Monte­negro on July 14, 2017. Russian intelligence officials who have crossed Putin have been targeted in the past.




I predicted last week that the GOP would do anything and everything possible to rig the redistricting work with partisan bias. But damn, even I didn't imagine that would happen in the opening hours.

Readers can judge for themselves what the motivations and intentions are, but from where I sit, the only conclusion that makes sense is "power at any cost" ... even if the cost is your soul.