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The online version of Bless Your Heart on Monday included a comment that targeted the LGBTQ+ community in a threatening and hateful manner. The column was removed from reflector.com after many readers on Thursday complained. As the editor, it is my job to ensure such comments are not careles…

The Pitt County Board of Commissioners on Monday is scheduled to swear in new members and hear an update on bids for a new building for the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, among other business.

ECU performances: The ECU School of Music will host a performance by the Early Music Collective at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday at A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall. The ECU Guitar Ensemble will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at Fletcher. Both shows are free. Live streaming available at www.youtube.com/ecuschoolofmusiclive. Call 328-6851.

Local Events

The online version of Bless Your Heart on Monday included a comment that targeted the LGBTQ+ community in a threatening and hateful manner. The column was removed from reflector.com after many readers on Thursday complained. As the editor, it is my job to ensure such comments are not careles…

The U.S. soccer team seems to have captured part of the national imagination, again. We appear to have advanced in the World Cup, though I imagine most Americans do not understand how or why we have advanced. Succeeding is important to Americans and our team has managed to appear to be winne…

Golf Digest asks if Tiger would ever drive a cart on the PGA Tour. The short answer is “no.” Tiger is a great driver of the ball, but a car, not so much, BHH.

For the next few weeks, Washington faces a brief, and important, window of opportunity. Suspended in time between an election that’s just over and another that’s already starting, the lame duck session of Congress has a critical question to answer.

Back when my wife and I moved to the country, many of our citified friends were alarmed. One well-meaning fellow even questioned if I’d be safe out in rural Perry County, Arkansas, given my political apostasy. (Trump won 75% of the 2020 vote there.)

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State AP Stories

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The nation’s largest public utility is recommending replacing an aging coal burning power plant with natural gas, ignoring calls for the Tennessee Valley Authority to speed its transition to renewable energy. TVA on Friday announced the completion of its environmental impact statement for replacing the Cumberland Fossil Plant near Cumberland City, Tennessee. TVA says in a news release that solar and battery storage would be more costly and time-consuming than gas. The recommendation still needs the approval of TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash. He has previously spoken in favor of gas. The announcement drew immediate backlash from groups that include the Center for Biological Diversity, which calls the plan “reckless.”

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Eight years into a U.S. program to control damage from feral pigs, the invasive animals are still a multibillion-dollar plague on farmers, wildlife and the environment. They've been wiped out in 11 of the 41 states where they were reported in 2014 or 2015. And there are fewer in parts of the other 30. But in spite of more than $100 million in federal money, officials estimate there are still 6 million to 9 million hogs gone wild nationwide and in three U.S. territories, doing at least $2.5 billion a year in U.S. damages. Estimates in 2014 were 5 million hogs and $1.5 billion in damages. Experts say the bigger figures are due to better estimates, not increases.

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Police in Raleigh, North Carolina, have released body camera video from a shootout with a 15-year-old boy suspected of fatally shooting five people and wounding two more. Police spent several hours searching for the armed suspect after the rampage seven weeks ago. The teen was ultimately found in a shed behind a residential property. The newly released video images show officers surrounding the structure. Multiple shots ring out from the building, and officers return fire. The video also shows Raleigh Police Officer Casey Clark being shot in the right knee and then dragged to safety behind another building.

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Since the recovery of sunken treasure began decades ago from an 1857 shipwreck off the coast of South Carolina, tens of millions of dollars worth of gold has been sold. But scientists, historians and collectors say that the real fortunes will begin to hit the auction block on Saturday in Reno. For the first time, hundreds of Gold Rush-era artifacts entombed in the S.S. Central America, known as the “Ship of Gold,” will go on public sale. A few of the items from the pre-Civil War steamship, which sank in a hurricane on its way from Panama to New York City, could fetch as much as $1 million.

North Carolina government is appealing a judge’s order that demands by certain dates many more community services for people with intellectual and development disabilities who otherwise live at institutions. Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley announced the formal challenge on Wednesday. He says his agency has grave concerns about some directives issued four weeks ago by Judge Allen Baddour. One in particular says new admissions to new admissions for people with such disabilities in state-run development centers, privately intermediate care facilities and certain adult care homes must end by January 2028. Kinsley says the decision could shutter small facilities and leave clients without accommodations.

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Incoming and returning Republicans to the North Carolina Senate have chosen a key lawmaker on tax, voting and energy issues to become majority leader for the next two years. The Senate Republican Caucus on Monday elected Sen. Paul Newton of Cabarrus County to the post. Newton succeeds Sen. Kathy Harrington, who didn't seek reelection this fall to her Gaston County seat. The caucus also agreed to nominate Phil Berger to a seventh term as president pro tempore when the session convenes in January. He has held the job since 2011. Senate Democrats meeting separately Monday reelected Sen. Dan Blue of Wake County as minority leader.

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A memorial service will be held this weekend for Betty Ray McCain. She was a longtime North Carolina Democratic Party activist and counselor to former four-time Gov. Jim Hunt who died last week at age 91. McCain was the first woman to chair the state Democratic Party in the 1970s. Hunt named McCain secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources in 1993. She also served multiple terms on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and on many boards and commissions. Current Gov. Roy Cooper called McCain a “trailblazer for women and a powerful force for good in the arts, education and public service."

National & World AP Stories

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The OPEC oil cartel and allied producers including Russia aren't changing their targets for shipping oil to the global economy. The decision Sunday comes amid uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market. Starting Monday, a European Union boycott of most Russian oil and a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian exports by the EU and the Group of Seven democracies take effect. On the other side, oil has been trading at lower prices on fears of a slowing economy reducing demand. OPEC said in October that's why it was a slashing production by 2 million barrels per day starting in November. That remains in effect.

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The head of U.S. intelligence says Russia’s war against Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces may have the upper hand in coming months. Avril Haines said Russian President Vladimir Putin “is becoming more informed of the challenges that the military faces in Russia.” But she said it's unclear whether he has a “full picture” of the challenges. She said her team expects that both sides will look to refit, resupply, and reconstitute for a possible Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring. In recent weeks, Russia’s military focus has been on striking Ukrainian infrastructure and pressing an offensive in the east, near the town of Bakhmut.

Three Chinese astronauts have landed in a northern desert after six months working to complete construction of the Tiangong station, a symbol of the country’s ambitious space program. State TV reported Sunday that a capsule carrying commander Chen Dong and astronauts Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe touched down at a landing site in the Gobi Desert in northern China at approximately 8:10 p.m. The three astronauts were part of the Shenzhou-14 mission, which launched in June. The Tiangong is part of official Chinese plans for a permanent human presence in orbit. Last week, a crew of three Chinese astronauts blasted off for Tiangong’s final construction stage. The station’s third and final module docked with the station this month.

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The World Cup has become a political lightning rod in Qatar. So it comes as no surprise that soccer fans’ sartorial style has sparked controversy. Fans from around the world have refashioned traditional Gulf Arab headdresses and thobes at the first World Cup in the Middle East. Western women have tried out hijabs. England fans have donned crusader costumes. The politically-minded have made statements with rainbow accessories in a country that criminalizes homosexuality. Fan fashion has drawn a range of reactions from locals in the tiny Muslim emirate that has seen nothing remotely like the spectacle of the World Cup before. The outfits have elicited amusement and excitement in some cases. They have brought backlash in other instances.

The trial of 10 men accused over the 2016 suicide bombings at Brussels airport and an underground metro station starts in earnest this week. Survivors, and relatives of the 32 people killed in the deadliest peacetime attacks on Belgian soil, are hoping the trial will bring them closure. If convicted, some of the 10 defendants could face up to 30 years in prison. Among them is the only survivor among the Islamic State extremists who in 2015 struck the Bataclan theater in Paris, city cafes and France’s national stadium, Salah Abdeslam. The trial was initially expected to start in October but was pushed back to allow changes to the seating arrangements for the defendants.