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Community Band: The Tar River Community Band will present a program of Christmas music at 7 p.m. today at the Greenville Mall, 714 S.E. Greenville Blvd., between Belk and Victoria’s Secret.

Federal investigators on Thursday announced they ruled the cause of a fire that shuttered the QVC Distribution Center as undetermined after a nearly yearlong investigation.

For more than 200 years, sailboats and fishing boats have unknowingly passed over the site of a presumed historic shipwreck off the southern coast of the island of Antigua. Now, East Carolina University maritime historians, underwater archaeologists, divers and students are researching the h…

WASHINGTON  — The House is set to give final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages in federal law, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of such unions that reflects a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes.

Nutcracker: Dance Arts Theatre will present “The Nutcracker” ballet at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday in ECU’s Wright Auditorium. The ballet is accompanied by the Eastern Symphony Orchestra. Tickets are $40 for the general public and $34 for youth. Call 328-4788 or visit Sales at the door begin 45 minutes prior to the performance.

Local Events

East Carolina’s women’s basketball team turned in another impressive defense-to-offense performance on Tuesday night and strolled past visiting Maryland Eastern Shore, 67-42, in Minges Coliseum.

Bless our hearts, if you-know-who takes the oath of office again, he will swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, except those times he terminates it.

The Respect for Marriage Act, codifying same-sex marriage as federal law, already decided as such by the Supreme Court in the Obergefell decision in 2015, has now passed the Senate. If it passes in the House, President Joe Biden will sign it into law.

Legislative leaders are baffled. We all should be. After pouring more than $200 million additional dollars into helping our children read at grade level, they (and we) want to know when we are going to see results. Just before Thanksgiving we learned that the 2021 test results showed only 47…

BOH. Why is no one talking about the sheer pleasure of coming home from vacation and using your own bathroom?

Most of a North Carolina community found itself in the dark Saturday night after someone ripped away a gate and riddled a pair of unmanned Duke Energy substations with bullets.

James Sprunt Community College would like to extend congratulations to Emily Craft, JSCC Foundation Presidential Scholar, for receiving Girl Scouting’s highest honor, the Girl Scout Gold Award.

I love sandwiches. They are easy to make, easy to eat, packed with a wheel of healthy colors and offer up a world of flavor combinations. It’s no wonder Americans consume millions of sandwiches per year. This brings me to this week’s Hot Dish. Let me introduce you to Kings Deli, located in t…

The holiday season is full of traditions. Traditions bring pleasure and reassurance. They give us something to look forward to, and in times of difficulty or uncertainty, traditions root and comfort us. Sharing and repeating traditions connect us to our past and reinforce our relationships w…

The seniors in Pitt County have done well in getting their vaccines; younger people not so much. If you are going to be around older adults this holiday, please get vaccinated and boosted. Eat healthily and be physically active. You don’t want to be sick and miss out on the holiday fun.

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State AP Stories

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North Carolina drag performers and LGBTQ community members fear for their safety after an attack on the electrical grid in Moore County left tens of thousands without power for several days. Authorities have said two power substations were shot up by one or more people with apparent criminal intent Saturday evening. The attack cut power to a drag show happening simultaneously in Southern Pines that had been the target of protests. While police have not drawn a connection between the drag event and the outages, the incident intensified concerns in the local LGBTQ community.

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Authorities in North Carolina are seeking search warrants related to the shooting of electric substations in Moore County that caused widespread power outages. FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch confirmed Thursday that the agency is seeking cell phone records that could indicate who was near the substations Saturday night. She said such search warrant applications “are a normal step in a law enforcement investigation.” Richard Maness, chief deputy of the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, told The News & Observer that detectives have requested court approval for several warrants. He declined to provide specifics. The shootings had cut power to 45,000 customers as well as schools and a hospital.

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One of the world's most ruthless pirates hid in plain sight in the American colonies, according to new evidence. A historian and metal detectorist in Rhode Island says that he’s unearthed 26 silver coins with Arabic inscriptions that notorious English pirate Henry Every once seized from an armed Indian ship. The 1695 heist made Every the target of the first worldwide manhunt. Detectorists say that before he fled to the Bahamas and then vanished, Every first hid out in New England.

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Duke Energy says it has completed repairs on substation equipment damaged in shootings over the weekend and restored power thousands of customers who lost electricity in a central North Carolina county.  All but a handful of households in Moore County had regained power as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to Duke Energy’s outage map. A peak of more than 45,000 customers lost power over the weekend. Authorities have said the outages began shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday night after one or more people drove up to two substations, breached the gates and opened fire on them. Police have not released a motive.

The Supreme Court seems skeptical of making a broad ruling that would leave state legislatures virtually unchecked when making rules for elections for Congress and the presidency. In nearly three hours of arguments Wednesday, liberal and conservative justices appeared to take issue with the main thrust of a challenge asking them to essentially eliminate the power of state courts to strike down legislature-drawn, gerrymandered congressional districts on grounds that they violate state constitutions. But it was harder to see exactly where the court would land. A trio of conservative justices who probably control the outcome, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, seemed open to simply limiting state court power in some circumstances.

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Duke Energy says it expects to be able to restore power by Wednesday night to a county where electric substations were attacked by gunfire. Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said the company expects to have power back Wednesday just before midnight in Moore County. The company had previously estimated it would be restored Thursday morning. About 35,000 Duke energy customers were still without power Tuesday, down from more than 45,000 at the height of the outage Saturday. Authorities have said the outages began shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday night after one or more people drove up to two substations, breached the gates and opened fire on them.

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Two North Carolina Democratic government lawyers have argued on competing sides at an appeals court in a case over whether the Wake County district attorney can prosecute Attorney General Josh Stein or others for a 2020 campaign commercial. Private attorneys for Stein and Wake District Attorney Lorrin Freeman met Tuesday before a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. At issue is a state law that makes certain political speech a crime. Stein's campaign ad criticized his then-Republican challenger for AG over untested rape kits. Stein and his allies say the 1931 law is unconstitutional and want the judges to block its enforcement.

A U.S. Supreme Court case involving North Carolina's congressional districts could have ramifications for the way voting districts are drawn in other states. At issue in Wednesday's arguments is whether state courts can strike down U.S. House maps passed by state lawmakers for violating state constitutions. North Carolina's Republican legislative leaders are asserting an “independent state legislature” theory — claiming the U.S. Constitution gives no role to state courts in federal election disputes. The outcome could affect similar lawsuits pending in state courts in Kentucky, New Mexico and Utah. It also could have implications in New York and Ohio, where state courts previously struck down U.S. House districts.

National & World AP Stories

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — These really are pinch-yourself times for Morocco: A first ever spot in the quarterfinals of a World Cup — the first to take place in the Arab world, no less — and now a meeting with Portugal and its superstar striker, Cristiano Ronaldo.

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BERLIN (AP) — An alleged plot to topple the German government, led by a self-styled prince, a retired paratrooper and a Berlin judge, had its roots in a murky mixture of post-war grudges, antisemitic conspiracy theories and anger over recent pandemic restrictions, experts say.

Social media users are reporting a rash of COVID-19 cases in schools and businesses across China after the ruling Communist Party loosened anti-virus rules as it tries to reverse a deepening economic slump. Official data showed a fall in new cases, but those no longer cover big parts of the population after this week’s decision to end mandatory testing for many people. That was part of dramatic changes aimed at gradually emerging from “zero-COVID” restrictions that sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign. Social media users in Beijing and other cities said coworkers or classmates were ill and some businesses closed due to lack of staff.

Ukraine's finance minister says crucial Western financial aid is “not charity” but “self-preservation" as donor countries share the price of turning back Russian aggression. Serhiy Marchenko told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that his country is protecting freedom and democracy far beyond its borders. He said he believes EU officials will resolve their dispute with Hungary that is holding up 18 billion euros in loans and would cover a large part of Ukraine's looming budget gap. That outside financing is needed to avoid printing money at the central bank to cover basic needs like pensions, a practice that risks fueling already painful inflation.

Shares are higher in Asia after an advance on Wall Street led by the latest rally in technology companies. Chinese benchmarks rose on reports the government is planning new measures to support the ailing property sector. The relaxation of some of the country's “zero-COVID" rules is also boosting hopes for a recovery of slumping growth. U.S. futures were higher. On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.8% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 1.1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5%. U.S. crude oil prices hit another low point for the year. They were higher early Friday.

An unprecedented crisis of confidence is shaking a historic center of Catholicism in Germany. Catholic believers have protested the deeply divisive archbishop of Cologne and are leaving the archdiocese in droves over allegations that he may have covered up clergy sexual abuse reports. In the latest escalation of the crisis, Cologne prosecutors have opened an investigation against Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki in two cases on suspicion of making false affidavits. In each case, the question is whether Archbishop Woelki was informed earlier about the abuse allegations than he has stated. The cardinal himself rejects all accusations against him.

For some children in low-income areas in England, a school lunch may be the only nutritious hot meal they get in a day. School lunches are given for free to all younger children in England and to some of the poorest families. But the Food Foundation charity estimates that there are 800,000 children in England living in poverty who are not eligible for the free meals. Whether Britain’s government should pay to feed more schoolchildren is a hot-button issue in the U.K. amid a deepening cost-of-living crisis. As inflation soars, increasing numbers of families cannot afford basics after paying skyrocketing energy and food bills.