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Supreme Court will not stay ruling calling for overhaul of gerrymandered N. Carolina districts

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a request to stay a ruling that two congressional districts in North Carolina were racially gerrymandered in a 2011 redistricting and needed to be redrawn within two weeks.

A panel of federal judges this month barred elections in the majority black districts, the 1st and the 12th, until new maps are approved, calling the current maps unconstitutional. Congressional primaries in the state are set for March 15.

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The Supreme Court gave no explanation for its decision in a one-sentence order issued late on Friday night.

The ruling said race had been the main factor when the Republican-controlled legislature redrew the boundaries and state lawmakers were not justified in using that benchmark.

Three voters filed suit in 2013 to invalidate the districts. Both are represented by Democrats, with G.K. Butterfield in the 1st, and Alma Adams in the 12th.

Broadcaster WRAL reported that while state lawmakers hoped for a stay, legislators in the state’s House on Friday moved ahead and gave final approval to newly-drafted congressional maps ahead of the Court’s decision to reject the stay request.

Politico reported that Justice Antonin Scalia had been expected to vote in favor of staying the ruling before his death last Saturday, though it was not immediately clear how his death affected the court’s decision.

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(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)


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Trump administration quietly guts COVID-19 paid leave provision that already excluded 75 percent of workers

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The Trump administration has quietly issued new guidance that will exempt many small businesses from having to provide some workers with paid leave during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Labor issued a temporary rule Wednesday that effectively exempted businesses with fewer than 50 workers from being required to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers whose children are suddenly at home from school or child care under the coronavirus stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Trump is deploying national guardsman to provide pandemic support without any health benefits: report

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The National Guard are an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of them have potentially been exposed to infected civilians, making it a particularly dangerous and important time to serve.

But according to The Daily Beast, the guard has been deployed in a way that prevents them from being eligible for the military's health care system.

"The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs," wrote senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman. "But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE — think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform — to cover them."

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Vaccine researchers grew ‘alarmed’ as Trump’s CDC wasted weeks of their time with a flawed coronavirus test: report

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According to a report from the Washington Post, in the early days as health officials became concerned about the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic blossoming out of China, researchers sat and wasted days they could have used to start developing a vaccine because they were assured by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that a testing kit was on its way.

As it turned out, that test was flawed.

Relying on emails and interviews, the Post is reporting, "On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing 'unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,' according to an email summarizing the call."

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