STATE ELECTIONS BOARD WARNS COUNTY MEMBERS TO STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA: The state board ultimately voted 4-1 last week to reject a pair of complaints filed by local Republican Party leader Jane Pait against two members of the Bladen County Board of Elections, who she accused of posting statements on Facebook that disparaged President Donald Trump. One of the posts in question involved an image of Trump’s face superimposed on the head of a lion with the caption “The Lyin’ King.” “We have spent a disproportionate time on social media posts,” chairman Damon Circosta said. “It absolutely has to stop. ... Stop posting on social media, look back at your own social media.” Board member David Black echoed those concerns. “It’s important that you not seem to be biased in any way when you’re talking to the public,” Black said. “Get off Facebook, delete your Twitter account. ... It’s just not worth the effort to try to make those types of posts.”
DONATE YOUR (REAL) CHRISTMAS TREE TO CAROLINA TIGER RESCUE: Now that the holiday is over, many people are likely wondering what to do with their Christmas tree. The Carolina Tiger Rescue, located at 1940 Hanks Chapel Road in Pittsboro, could be an option. The wildlife animal sanctuary is collecting leftover Christmas trees for their tigers and other animals who will use the trees as part of their daily enrichment to help boost mental stimulation. The organization rescue tigers and other animals who have been kept as household pets or surrendered by a roadside zoo. Officials said they have been caring for animals for over 45 years on their 67-acre site in Chatham County. Visitors can see the animals by appointment only, and tickets can be puchased on their website.
CHILDREN ARE EATING THE TINY YET POWERFUL MAGNETS IN THEIR TOYS: The number of children ingesting rare-earth magnets - powerful tiny balls that are a popular desk toy and can shred a child’s intestines - has skyrocketed in the three years since courts blocked the efforts of federal regulators to force changes to the industry, which largely holds the power to regulate itself. The nation’s poison control centers are on track to record six times more magnet ingestions - totaling nearly 1,600 cases - this year than in 2016, when a federal court first sided with industry to lift the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s four-year ban on the product. Medical researchers say the only explanation for the spike is the return of these unusually strong magnets to the market after the court ruling. Rare-earth magnets are unusually dangerous because they are often 10 times stronger than the ordinary magnets used to hold a shopping list to a refrigerator. If multiple rare-earth magnets - each the size of a BB pellet - are swallowed, they can pull together inside the intestines, potentially causing life-threatening holes and blockages. Emergency surgery is the usual result. “This is one of the most dangerous products on the market,” said Rudolph, the pediatric gastroenterologist who participated in the standards process.
BUTTIGIEG FACING CRITICISM OVER HIS PROPOSED SUPER-MANDATE: Under Buttigieg’s proposal, Americans who lack coverage would be automatically enrolled in the government plan, potentially saddling them with a big bill at the end of the year for “retroactive” coverage. Buttigieg’s campaign has said the proposal will ensure the candidate’s promise of universal health coverage — without eliminating private insurance, as some of his more liberal opponents have proposed. “Mayor Buttigieg’s retroactive enrollment is just a supercharged version of the unpopular individual mandate that he’s trying to obscure with misleading rhetoric,” said Matt Bruenig, head of the People’s Policy Project, a left-wing think tank. “Instead of paying a $695 fine at the end of the year for being uninsured, you are hit with a bill to pay an entire year of premiums that could be ten times that amount,” he said. “This will be a political nightmare.” Before its repeal, the Obamacare mandate hit people without insurance with a $695 annual fine or a charge worth 2.5 percent of their income, depending on which was higher. Critics say Buttigieg’s plan could leave people with year-end bills of more than $7,000.
NETANYAHU TRIES TO HOLD ON TO LIKUD LEADERSHIP AFTER CRIMINAL INDICTMENT: With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political future on the line — and possibly Israel’s — members of his conservative Likud party voted Thursday on whether to stick with their scandal-scarred leader or replace him ahead of a general election in March. Mr. Netanyahu, who was indicted last month on corruption charges including bribery, was widely expected to prevail over his challenger, Gideon Saar, a seasoned but less popular party veteran. Even so, this is the most serious challenge to the prime minister’s party leadership since 2005, and fears of a low turnout on a day of bad weather made the outcome harder to predict. The result of the vote, expected to be known early Friday, will determine whether Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, will lead Likud into the country’s third parliamentary election in less than a year. The previous two general elections, in April and September, ended inconclusively and left the deeply divided nation in a political deadlock. About 116,000 paying Likud members are eligible to vote — a small fraction of those who vote for the party in general elections — and only about half have turned out for party primaries in the past.