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I am not normally a fan of writing about a topic that everyone else is discussing in sports however, it seems unavoidable as it regards the Super Bowl.


Rural North Carolina has some of the most beautiful scenery in America, as documented by the growing numbers of tourists. Almost 40 percent of our 10.5 million residents live in the 80 counties considered rural, defined as having a population density of 250 people or fewer per square mile. Demographers tell us rural citizens are older, poorer, more obese, have higher blood pressures, greater instances of diabetes, and a lower life expectancy than state averages.

Republicans are stumbling over themselves to argue that the problem with the documents found locked up in President Biden’s garage or, for that matter, those found in former Vice President Pence’s home, is the same as the problem with the documents found at former President Trump’s home at M…

Kudos to Elizabeth City City Council for agreeing last week to approve significant pay raises for our city’s depleted police force. Councilors agreed on Jan. 23 to raise the annual pay of all officers up to the level of deputy chief by $6,500 — $1,500 more than even the city’s interim police…

Claude Milot’s column, “Clowns on climate, reparations supply plenty of laughs” in your Jan. 27 edition states, “ California where legislators proposed to give every Black man, woman and child in the state a tidy sum of $5 million in reparations....” This is not correct.


In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus reminds us to store up treasure in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves cannot break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-21 reminds us that where you keep your treasure, there also will be the desires of your heart.

State AP Stories

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North Carolina’s newly seated Supreme Court has heard arguments on whether people convicted of felonies should be permitted to vote if they aren’t in prison but still are serving probation or parole or have yet to pay fines. The justices listened Thursday to their first high-profile case since the court flipped to Republican control in January. They didn’t immediately rule. The case stems from 2019 litigation that challenged a 1973 state law automatically restoring voting rights only after the “unconditional discharge of an inmate, of a probationer, or of a parolee.” Roughly 56,000 people could be affected by the outcome.

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Critics of a North Carolina bill that advanced in the state Senate say it could jeopardize the mental health and physical safety of LGBTQ students who could be outed to their parents without consent. The bill would require schools to alert parents prior to a change in the name or pronouns used for their child. Several mental and behavioral health experts, parents and teachers told the Senate health care committee on Thursday that the bill would force teachers to violate the trust of their students and could create life-threatening situations for students without affirming home environments. The proposal now heads to the Senate rules committee.

Some North Carolina senators want tougher punishments for intentionally damaging utility equipment in light of the December attacks on two Duke Energy substations in Moore County that left 45,000 customers without power. The legislators filed a bill on Wednesday that would make it a high-grade felony to intentionally destroy or damage any “energy facility.” Current state law only makes it a misdemeanor to vandalize equipment that interrupts the transmission of electricity. A perpetrator also would face a $250,000 fine and potential lawsuits. Someone also fired at an electric cooperative's substation in Randolph County two weeks ago, causing damages but no outages. No arrests have been in either attack.

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A bill advancing in North Carolina’s Senate would prohibit instruction about sexuality and gender identity in K-4 public school classes. The proposal approved Wednesday by the Senate education committee would require schools in most circumstances to alert parents prior to a change in the name or pronoun used for their child. The measure defies the recommendations of parents, educators and LGBTQ youths who testified against it. The bill now heads to the Senate health care committee. A version passed the state Senate last year but did not get a vote in the House.

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North Carolina civil rights advocates have denounced a House rule change that could allow Republicans to override vetoes on contentious bills with little notice, saying it subverts democracy and the will of voters. Republicans pushed through temporary operating rules this month that omitted a longstanding requirement that chamber leaders give at least two days’ notice before holding an override vote. The move could allow Republicans to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes while Democrats are absent, even momentarily. Calling the change “a shameful power grab meant to thwart the will of the people,” Jillian Riley of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic said it undermines the functionality of the General Assembly.

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As mass shootings are again drawing public attention, states across the U.S. seem to be deepening their political divide on gun policies. A series of recent mass shootings in California come after a third straight year in which U.S. states recorded more than 600 mass shootings involving at least four deaths or injuries. Democratic-led states that already have restrictive gun laws have responded to home-state tragedies by enacting or proposing even more limits on guns. Many states with Republican-led legislatures appear unlikely to adopt any new gun policies after last year's local mass shootings. They're pinning the problem on violent individuals, not their weapons.

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The families of five passengers killed in a plane crash off the North Carolina coast have settled wrongful death lawsuits for $15 million. Their attorneys told the court the companies that owned the plane and employed the pilot paid the money. The suits claimed the pilot failed to properly fly the single-engine plane in weather conditions with limited visibility. All eight people aboard died off the Outer Banks. The passengers included four teenagers and two adults, returning from a hunting trip. The founder of the company that owned the plane was killed, and his family wasn't involved in the lawsuits.

A man who caused evacuations and an hourslong standoff with police on Capitol Hill when he claimed he had a bomb in his pickup truck outside the Library of Congress has pleaded guilty to a charge of threatening to use an explosive. Floyd Ray Roseberry, of Grover, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to the felony charge in Washington federal court. He faces up to 10 years behind bars and is scheduled to be sentenced in June. An email seeking comment was sent to his attorney on Friday. Roseberry drove a black pickup truck onto the sidewalk outside the Library of Congress in August 2021 and began shouting to people in the street that he had a bomb.

National & World AP Stories

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Trading in shares in troubled Adani Enterprises has gyrated as the flagship company of India’s second-largest conglomerate tumbled 30% and then rebounded after more than a week of heavy losses. Adani's listed companies have lost tens of billions of dollars in market value over the past 10 days after a U.S. short-selling firm issued a report claiming the group engages in market manipulation and other fraudulent practices. Adani denies the allegations. Shares in Adani Enterprises fell as much as 30% early Friday. It rebounded to close down 2%. The company’s share price has plunged by over 50% since Hindenburg Research issued its report, saying it was betting against Adani shares.

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The U.S. was tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon spotted over American airspace, and China said that it would look into those reports. The discovery further strained already tense relations between Beijing and Washington. The Pentagon decided not to shoot down the balloon because of concerns of hurting people on the ground. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said Friday that China has “no intention of violating the territory and airspace of any sovereign country” and urged calm while the facts are established. The news comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was expected to make his first trip to Beijing this weekend. The visit has not been formally announced, and it was not immediately clear if the balloon’s discovery would affect his travel plans.

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LeBron James is soon going to be in the NBA record books as the most prolific scorer ever. But for all his accomplishments on the basketball court, it is James’ ambitious pursuits off-the-court that may ultimately distinguish his legacy from other superstar athletes’. James co-founded an entertainment company, bought stakes in professional baseball and soccer franchises and, with help from product endorsements, his net worth is estimated to be above $1 billion. The off-court achievement James is most proud of is working to uplift the lives of people in his hometown of Akron. Many athletes have excelled in one or more of these areas. But few have done all of them as well as James.

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As rising temperatures offered some hope for frustrated Texans shivering in their homes days after losing power in a deadly winter storm, another wave of frigid weather was taking aim at the northern U.S. Austin Mayor Kirk Watson says the duration of the icy storm that has plagued Texas and other southern states since this week has made it challenging to restore power. The storm is blamed for at least 10 deaths across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. A wave of Arctic air is forecast to target New England with the coldest weather in decades starting Friday. Wind chills could plunge to minus 50 degrees or lower.

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On the Belarusian border, Ukrainian units are using drones to monitor a long expanse of marsh and woodland for a possible surprise offensive from the north. That would be a repeat of the unsuccessful Russian thrust toward Kyiv at the start of the war nearly a year ago. Even though military experts and Western intelligence have played down the possibility of a renewed northern offensive, the Ukrainians are taking no chances. Since the summer they have been reinforcing defenses, building and expanding trenches and laying mines in the forest ahead of the springtime offensive military officials expect. Unlike the east with its devastating artillery duels, here in the north it’s largely a war of quadcopters.

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Top European Union officials are due to meet in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a show of support for the country as it battles to counter Russia’s invasion and strives to join the EU and NATO. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, as well as 15 European Commissioners, traveled to the Ukrainian capital for what they described as a summit meeting Friday. The last such summit was held in Kyiv in October 2021 — a few months before the war started. EU assistance for Ukraine has reached almost 50 billion euros ($55 billion) since the fighting started, according to EU officials.

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Pope Francis opens the second and final leg of his African pilgrimage by heading to South Sudan. There, he and the Archbishop of Canterbury are hoping to encourage the country’s stalled peace process and draw international attention to its worsening humanitarian crisis. The overwhelmingly Christian country is the world’s youngest nation, having gained independence from the majority Muslim Sudan in 2011, but it has been beset by civil war and conflict. The fighting has displaced some 2 million people and hampered implementation of a 2018 peace deal. But residents said the prospect of Francis' arrival on the first-ever papal visit to South Sudan Friday gave them hope.