Wednesday News: One step backwards


COURT RULES GERRYMANDERING NOT SUFFICIENT TO BLOCK VOTER ID AND TAX CAP: "We conclude that the Superior Court erred in holding that our General Assembly lost its power granted by our state constitution ... simply because a federal court had determined that the maps contained too many majority-minority districts, such that some members elected to that body were from districts that were illegally gerrymandered based on race," Judge Chris Dillon wrote for the majority. "It is simply beyond our power to thwart the otherwise lawful exercise of constitutional power by our legislative branch to pass bills proposing amendments." Judge Donna Stroud wrote in a concurring opinion that declaring the General Assembly invalid because of some gerrymandered districts wouldn't allow any legislative action – even drawing new voting districts – which would create chaos.

SURGE IN VIOLENT CRIME LEAVES DURHAM RESIDENTS DEMANDING SOLUTIONS: Durham police are investigating shootings that left eight people, including two teens, injured Monday night. A man shot in the head was in critical condition. As of Aug. 22, there had been 158 shooting incidents in Durham this year, with a total of 189 people shot, according to police. Those numbers do not include accidental and self-inflicted gunshots. All told, violent crime is up nearly 15% this year according to police statistics. As of July 25, there had been 867 reported aggravated assaults, a 30% increase over the same period last year. “Last night was tragic. It’s a continuation of a very disturbing pattern that we’re seeing in our city,” City Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton said. “What we realize is that there’s no particular zip code or neighborhood that exempts you from being touched by gun violence.”

SOFTWARE GLITCH CAUSES THOUSANDS OF FALSE COVID 19 NOTIFICATIONS IN MECKLENBURG COUNTY: The messages were sent by text messages to more than 6,700 residents in Mecklenburg County on Friday, The Charlotte Observer reported. More than 500 people also received a county email with the notice. The county told residents that morning the messages were a “scam,” and that their health department does not notify people of their COVID-19 test results through text message. A few hours later, the county said on Twitter the messages had actually gone out due to a glitch “in the software system that has been addressed by the software provider.” County Manager Dena Diorio told county commissioners in an email Monday that the messages were sent through HealthSpace Data System, a company based in Canada, the newspaper reported. The county has been using the company’s software since May to help with contact tracing efforts amid the pandemic. Wake and Cumberland counties told WRAL News on Tuesday that they do not contract with HealthSpace Data System.

JD WOOTEN FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST AMY GALEY OVER DEFAMATORY CAMPAIGN TACTICS: Fraud allegations that Wooten used a Veterans Administration-secured loan to buy an investment property made in Galey campaign materials this summer were false and distorted, according to the suit Wooten filed Sept. 14 in Guilford County, and include “demonstrably false, misleading, scurrilous, and defamatory statements” about his loan application when buying a house in 2019. Wooten used a VA-secured loan from First Bank to buy a second house on Lindell Road in Greensboro. The loan program is intended for buying primary residences, not investment properties, but there is no minimum time limit a veteran has to live in a house after buying it, according to Wooten’s suit. In this case, Wooten moved from Greensboro to a rental home in District 24, after litigation over district boundaries and gerrymandering settled where those lines would be, according to the suit, which his lawyer advised him fell within that exemption. District 24 includes Alamance County and part of eastern Guilford County. He is asking for damages of at least $25,000 for harm done to his reputation as a veteran and lawyer.

HITLER TRUMP YOUTH GROUP FORMS VIRTUAL TROLL FARM TO SPREAD MISINFORMATION ON INTERNET: One tweet claimed coronavirus numbers were intentionally inflated, adding, “It’s hard to know what to believe.” Another warned, “Don’t trust Dr. Fauci.” A Facebook comment argued that mail-in ballots “will lead to fraud for this election,” while an Instagram comment amplified the erroneous claim that 28 million ballots went missing in the past four elections. The messages have been emanating in recent months from the accounts of young people in Arizona seemingly expressing their own views — standing up for President Trump in a battleground state and echoing talking points from his reelection campaign. Far from representing a genuine social media groundswell, however, the posts are the product of a sprawling yet secretive campaign that experts say evades the guardrails put in place by social media companies to limit online disinformation of the sort used by Russia during the 2016 campaign. Teenagers, some of them minors, are being paid to pump out the messages at the direction of Turning Point Action, an affiliate of Turning Point USA, the prominent conservative youth organization based in Phoenix, according to four people with independent knowledge of the effort. Their descriptions were confirmed by detailed notes from relatives of one of the teenagers who recorded conversations with him about the efforts. In response to questions from The Post, Twitter on Tuesday suspended at least 20 accounts involved in the activity for “platform manipulation and spam.” Facebook also removed a number of accounts as part of what the company said is an ongoing investigation.