Wednesday News: Nothing to see here, move along...

3-"JUDGE" PANEL GIVES REPUBLICANS THE THUMB'S-UP ON GERRYMANDERING: North Carolina’s new political districts are not unconstitutional, a panel of judges ruled Tuesday. “At the end of the day, after carefully and fully conducting our analysis, it is clear that Plaintiffs’ claims must fail,” the ruling says. “Judges, just like many of the citizens they serve, do not always like the results they reach. That fact notwithstanding, judges have a solemn duty to uphold the law.” The ruling upheld both the congressional map, which is expected to give Republicans a 10-4 or 11-3 advantage among North Carolina’s 14 U.S. House of Representatives seats, and the maps for state legislature, which were also expected to produce strong Republican majorities. So: they used secret maps, which were subsequently destroyed to remove evidence of their guilt, but everything's hunky-dory. WTAF. Take it to the top, and then take it apart, piece by piece.

PARENTS FEELING THE CRUNCH OF THE GOP'S HYPOCRISY: Since July, qualifying parents have received $250 per child between 6 and 17 years of age, and $300 for children 5 and under through the American Rescue Plan. But the program allowing those advance, expanded payments expired in December and Congress didn’t pass legislation to renew it. The American Rescue Plan expanded the 2021 child tax credit given yearly from $2,000 to $3,000 for children between 6 and 17 and $3,600 for children 5 and under, with advanced payments made monthly and with more low-income families eligible. With the expiration, the 2022 tax credit reverts back to $2,000 and to the old eligibility rules, and would once again be paid out annually in income-tax refunds. Republican senators, including North Carolina’s Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, have spoken out against the bill, saying that it threatens to increase taxes on the middle class and increase the nation’s debt. Now, are those the $400,000 per year middle-classers, or the real ones? Crickets.

EVEN IF THIS DOESN'T WORK, HIS ROLE IN INSURRECTION WILL BE FRONT PAGE NEWS: A group of North Carolina voters told state officials on Monday they want U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn disqualified as a congressional candidate, citing his involvement in last January’s rally in Washington questioning the presidential election outcome before a Capitol riot later that day. Cawthorn's office quickly condemned the candidacy challenge of the Republican, which was filed on behalf of 11 voters with the State Board of Elections, which oversees a process by which a candidate’s qualifications are scrutinized. The voters contend that Cawthorn, who formally filed as a candidate for the 13th District seat last month, can’t run because he fails to comply with an amendment in the U.S. Constitution ratified shortly after the Civil War. The 1868 amendment says no one can serve in Congress “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress . . . to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.” The written challenge says the events on Jan. 6, 2021 “amounted to an insurrection” and that Cawthorn’s speech at the rally supporting President Donald Trump, his other comments and information in published reports provide a “reasonable suspicion or belief” that he helped facilitate the insurrection and is thus disqualified. Oh yeah, he led the pep rally right before it happened.

FAUCI AIN'T HAVING NONE OF RAND PAUL'S BULLSHIT: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, angrily accused a senator Tuesday of making false accusations that are leading to threats against him -- all to raise political cash. Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has repeatedly said Fauci lies about the pandemic and in a hearing Tuesday also claimed that he tried to “take down” some scientists who disagreed with him. Paul and other conservative critics have focused their ire at how the pandemic is being handled on Fauci, the National Institutes of Health infectious disease chief who also is President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser. Fauci has needed increased security since 2020 because of threats and harassment against him and his family. Tuesday, Fauci expressed frustration that this far into the pandemic the senator still “accuses me of things that are completely untrue” and “kindles the crazies out there.” He pointed to the arrest last month of a California man who was stopped for speeding in Iowa and told a sheriff’s deputy he was on the way to the nation’s capital to kill a list of people in power -- including Fauci. Court documents show the man, Kuachua Brillion Xiong of Sacramento, had an AR-15 style rifle, ammunition and body armor in the car. Fauci said Paul’s website has a “fire Dr. Fauci” page and includes a call for political contributions ranging from $5 to $100. He accused Paul of using the pandemic "for your political gain,” he said. Go get him, Doc.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED PIG HEART TRANSPLANTED INTO HUMAN PATIENT (SO FAR SUCCESSFULLY): Doctors have transplanted the heart from a genetically modified pig into the chest of a man from Maryland in a last-ditch effort to save his life. The first-of-its-kind surgery is being hailed as a major step forward in the decades-long effort to successfully transplant animal organs into humans. Although it’s been tried before—one of the earliest subjects, known as Baby Fae, survived 21 days with a baboon’s heart in 1984, according to Time—the practice has fallen into disuse because the animal organs are usually quickly rejected by their human host. But doctors say this new transplant is a breakthrough because the donor pig had undergone gene-editing to remove a specific type of sugar from its cells that’s thought to be responsible for previous organ rejections in patients. The surgery took place on Friday (Jan. 7), and after four days the human patient is breathing on his own, although he is still connected to a heart-lung machine to strengthen his blood circulation, according to a statement from the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). The next days and weeks will be critical to whether he survives the operation. The man, 57-year-old David Bennett from Maryland, has terminal heart disease, but several medical centers had determined that he was ineligible for a human transplant, the statement said. “It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark but it’s my last choice,” Bennett said the day before his surgery. “I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover.” So...if I got one of these pig hearts when this one gives out (knock on wood), and then I ate some bacon, would that make me a cannibal?