GOP SENATE HOPEFULS QUESTIONED ABOUT THE BIG LIE: Of the three leading Republican candidates in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate primary, just one confirmed he would have voted to certify the election of President Joe Biden. Pat McCrory, a former governor and Charlotte mayor, confirmed through an advisor this week that he would have voted to uphold the election results. U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, who received former President Donald Trump’s endorsement in early June, was in Congress on Jan. 6 and Budd voted against certification. In a statement, an advisor to Budd’s campaign said the lawmakers were “exercising their Constitutional authority to seek a review of the integrity of the 2020 elections process.” Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who left office on Jan. 3, said through an advisor this week that he would have voted for “election integrity,” but declined to answer the question directly.
GOVERNOR COOPER VETOES BILL THAT WOULD CUT OFF FEDERAL UNEMPLOYMENT DOLLARS: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday he has vetoed a bill that would have ended $300 weekly federal pandemic payments to the state's unemployed workers. Republican lawmakers who backed Senate Bill 116 said it would help resolve labor shortages in some areas. They blamed the additional weekly money for keeping jobless workers on the sidelines of the labor market. The bill was supported by the North Carolina Chamber and other business groups. Many other southern states have also voted to withdraw from the benefit program, which is scheduled to end in early September. "The federal help that this bill cuts off will only last a few more weeks, and it supplements North Carolina’s state benefits, which are among the stingiest in the country," Cooper said in his statement. "Prematurely stopping these benefits hurts our state by sending back money that could be injected into our economy with people using it for things like food and rent."
PITTSBORO WARNED OF CANCER-CAUSING CHEMICAL RELEASE HEADED ITS WAY: The Department of Environmental Quality said Thursday that Greensboro reported a discharge of 1,4 dioxane into South Buffalo Creek, a tributary of the Haw River, from the TZ Osborne Wastewater Treatment Plant. Municipalities with drinking water intakes downstream, including Pittsboro and Fayetteville, have been notified and additional sampling is underway at the Pittsboro raw water intake. Considering the current stream flow and the levels of the chemical in samples of the plant’s effluent, officials said levels of the chemical in the Pittsboro drinking water source may exceed the EPA’s drinking water health advisory level. The source of the chemical is under investigation, department spokeswoman Anna Gurney said by telephone. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified 1,4 dioxane as a likely human carcinogen. It’s a clear liquid found in paint strippers, varnishes and other solutions.
RANSOMWARE ATTACK BY RUSSIAN HACKERS COULD AFFECT 200 BUSINESSES: Researchers said cybercriminals were sending two different ransom notes on Friday — demanding $50,000 from smaller companies and $5 million from larger ones. Huntress Labs, a cybersecurity software company that has clients who were affected by the attack, said it believes Russian-speaking hacking group REvil is behind the ransomware attack. That’s the same group that the FBI said was responsible for the attack on JBS Meats, which resulted in the company paying REvil $11 million in ransom. The assault came just weeks after President Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, warning him that the United States would hold Moscow accountable for cyber attacks that emanate from Russia. Many cybersecurity threat analysts believe that REvil operates largely out of Russia. The recent spate shows underscores the challenge facing the Biden administration in deterring ransomware attacks conducted by criminals given safe harbor in countries like Russia. Huntress Labs said they had found eight managed service providers (MSPs) — companies that provide IT services to other companies on a contractual basis — that had been hit by the attack. Around 200 businesses that are served by these MSPs have been locked out of parts of their network, Huntress Labs said. “It is absolutely the biggest non-nation state supply-chain cyberattack that we’ve ever seen,” Allan Liska, a researcher with cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, said Friday. “And it’s probably the biggest ransomware attack we’ve seen, at least the biggest since WannaCry.”
BIDEN LOOKING TO CRACK DOWN ON TAILPIPE EMISSIONS TO PUSH EV CAR SALES: The Biden administration plans this month to propose a tailpipe emissions rule that would largely mimic the Obama standards, which were jettisoned in 2019 by President Donald J. Trump. At the same time, according to four people familiar with the plan, the administration is starting to write more stringent auto pollution rules that could cut emissions more deeply and force carmakers to increase sales of electric vehicles but could also face political pushback and disrupt the auto industry. Mr. Biden has set the most ambitious climate agenda of any American president, pledging to cut the pollution that is driving global warming by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. That goal would require a radical transformation of the nation’s economy away from fossil fuels, including a rapid shift by American drivers from internal combustion engines of the last century to zero-emissions electric vehicles. As other sources of greenhouse gas gases have decreased, transportation has become the largest single source of climate-warming pollution in the United States, accounting for 28 percent of carbon emissions. Because tailpipe emissions rules pertain to the average mileage per gallon of all vehicles sold by a carmaker, more stringent standards are designed to force auto companies to sell more electric cars to offset the sales of conventional pickup trucks, sports utility vehicles and other models that get low mileage. The Ford F-150, for example, is the nation’s most popular vehicle and gets only about 20 miles per gallon.