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Paula Dance made it a point, quite literally with the point of her finger, to remind Pitt County residents who the backbone of their sheriff’s office is at her swearing in ceremony Monday morning.

Local Events

To the BYH-er who wanted to know why Biden hasn’t called for hammer control, because hammers don’t kill people, crazy white guys do, silly. Let’s ban them instead.

Let the games begin, and I’m not talking reindeer games here. I’m talking about the political gamesmanship already beginning in the congress. Most of the rhetoric of revenge and retribution is coming from one man and one political party. For any of us who hoped the 2020 election would end th…

In a normal market, creditors demand higher interest from borrowers to whom they lend money for longer periods of time. That’s because these creditors are assuming more risk that they won’t be paid, and because a dollar of interest received tomorrow is usually more valuable than a dollar of …

Few tropes in North Carolina political discourse annoy me more than the claim that Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson is “fascinating.” In a state that elected Jesse Helms to five terms in the U.S. Senate, a political career fueled by bigotry hardly registers as unusual. The victims of Robinson’s — and …

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 after many readers on Thursday complained. As the editor, it is my job to ensure such comments are not careles…

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State AP Stories

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Two power substations in a North Carolina county were damaged by gunfire in what is being investigated as a criminal act. A spokesman for Duke Energy said at a news conference with local officials on Sunday that the damage caused the night before could take days to repair. Power was out for roughly 37,000 customers Sunday. In response, officials announced a state of emergency that included a curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday. County schools will be closed Monday. Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields says authorities have not determined a motivation.

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The Supreme Court is about to confront a new elections case that could dramatically alter voting in 2024 and beyond. A Republican-led challenge is asking the justices for a novel ruling that could significantly increase the power of state lawmakers over elections for Congress and the presidency. The court is hearing arguments Wednesday in a case from highly competitive North Carolina, where Republican efforts to draw congressional districts heavily in their favor were blocked by a Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court. The question for the justices is whether the U.S. Constitution’s provision giving state legislatures the power to make the rules about the “times, places and manner” of congressional elections cuts state courts out of the process.

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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.

National & World AP Stories

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Two more strategic sites inside Russia have reportedly been hit by drone attacks. The governor of Russia's southern Kursk region said Tuesday that a fire blamed on a drone attack broke out at an airport. Russian independent media said drones also targeted an industrial plant not far from Ukraine's border. Moscow blamed Kyiv for drone strikes on two air bases deep inside Russia on Monday but hasn't accused Ukraine in the new attacks. The unprecedented attacks in Russia threaten a major escalation of the nine-month war. In a new display of defiance from Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to an eastern city near the front line to mark Ukraine's armed forces day.

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U.S. futures were essentially flat one day after markets tumbled on surprisingly strong economic reports that highlighted the challenges the Federal Reserve faces in battling inflation. Futures for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrials shifted between small gains and losses before the bell Tuesday. With growing concern about a coming recession, Fitch Ratings revised its forecasts for world economic growth downward on Tuesday to reflect the Fed’s and other central banks’ interest rate hikes. Major airline stocks got a nudge after an airline trade group forecast the industry would return to annual profitability in 2023 for the first time since 2019.

EU leaders and their counterparts in the Western Balkans are to meet for talks aimed at strengthening their partnership as Russia's war in Ukraine threatens to reshape the geopolitical balance in the region. The EU wants to use the one-day summit in Albania’s capital to tell leaders from Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia that they have futures within the wealthy economic bloc, and give them concrete signs, instead of just promises, that they will join one day. Since Russia started its war in February, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has been repeating that stepping up the bloc’s engagement with the sextet of nations is more crucial than ever to maintaining Europe’s security.

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Schools contending with soaring student mental health needs and other challenges have been struggling to determine just how much the pandemic is to blame. Are emotional struggles the sign of a disability that will impair their learning, or something more temporary? For students who don’t qualify for special education, where should they go for help? It all adds to desperation for parents trying to figure out how best to help their children. To qualify for special education services, a child’s school performance must be suffering because of a disability in one of 13 categories, according to federal law.

Here and there, across the far-flung Muslim and Arab worlds, LGBTQ people see glimmers of progress — but those are rare exceptions. Many Muslim nations criminalize gay and lesbian sex -- including World Cup host Qatar. LGBTQ people routinely are rejected by their families, denounced by Islamic authorities, hounded by security forces, and limited to clandestine social lives. Appeals for change from LGBTQ-friendly nations are routinely dismissed as unwarranted outside interference. In some countries, apparent advances for LGBTQ people have been followed by setbacks. Lebanon and Turkey are prime examples

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The final day of the round of 16 concludes Tuesday at the World Cup when Morocco faces Spain and Portugal goes head-to-head with Switzerland for the final two spots on the quarterfinals. Morocco is trying to secure its first appearance in the quarterfinals. The Atlas Lions topped Group F to reach the knockout round for the first time since 1986. The neighboring nations met in the teams’ final group game in 2018, which ended 2-2. Portugal heads into its match against Switzerland with all eyes on Cristiano Ronaldo. He's rumored to be about to join a Saudi Arabian team. A poll in Portugal said most in his home nation don't want him playing for the team. And Ronaldo angered his coach with bad body language when he was pulled from a loss against South Korea.

The suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, is set to appear in court again Tuesday. Anderson Lee Aldrich is expected to learn what charges prosecutors will pursue in the attack, including possible hate crime counts. Investigators say Aldrich entered Club Q just before midnight on Nov. 19 and began shooting during a drag queen’s birthday celebration. They say the killing stopped after patrons wrestled the suspect to the ground, beating Aldrich into submission. The club had long been a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in mostly conservative Colorado Springs.

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Indonesia’s Parliament has unanimously passed a revision of the country’s penal code that criminalizes sex outside of marriage for citizens as well as foreigners, prohibits promotion of contraception and bans defamation of the president and state institutions. The amended code also expands an existing blasphemy law. It maintains the previous criminalization of abortion but adds exceptions for women with life-threatening medical conditions and for rape, provided that the fetus is less than 12 weeks old. Rights groups criticized some of the revisions as overly broad or vague and warned that they could penalize normal activities and threaten freedom of expression and privacy rights.