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There are a few things this week worth mentioning, none more so than Jeff Charles having broadcast his 1,000th ECU basketball game the other day.

Opinion

The N.C. Local Government Commission revoked the charter of of the town of East Laurinburg. This effectively dissolved the town’s government because it had been unable to maintain adequate accounting controls, and the town had become financially insolvent. Scotland County was forced to assum…

Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court more than four years ago, on Oct. 6, 2018. His oath followed perhaps the ugliest Supreme Court Senate confirmation process in history — and that, given the previous examples of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, is saying something. But when it was all over, Kavanaugh settled in to the court, where he has, by all accounts, performed admirably ever since.

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) quickly became a global punchline when his multiple, contradictory misrepresentations of his background were revealed after he was elected in November. But there’s nothing funny about Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s refusal to call on Santos to resign, as a few other Republicans have.

North Carolina faces many challenges. You and I may disagree with how to rank those challenges, or what to do about them, but we share a belief that our state could be in a better place than it is today.

Features

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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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.

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North Carolina Democrats have introduced legislation to codify abortion protections into state law as Republicans are discussing early prospects for further restrictions. Their legislation, filed Wednesday in both chambers, would prohibit the state from imposing barriers that might restrict a patient’s ability to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability, which typically falls between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Current state law bans nearly all abortions after 20 weeks, with narrow exceptions for urgent medical emergencies that do not include rape or incest. House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters he didn’t expect the Democrats’ bill to get considered.

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Supporters of abortion rights have filed separate lawsuits challenging abortion pill restrictions in North Carolina and West Virginia. The lawsuits were filed Wednesday. They are the opening salvo in what’s expected to a be a protracted legal battle over access to the medications. The lawsuits argue that state limits on the drugs run afoul of the federal authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency has approved the abortion pill as a safe and effective method for ending pregnancy. More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery.

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The University of Wisconsin System has joined a number of universities across the country in banning the popular social media app TikTok on school devicies. UW System officials made the announcement Tuesday. A number of other universities have banned TikTok in recent weeks, including Auburn, Arkansas State and Oklahoma. Nearly half the states have banned the app on state-owned devices, including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Dakota. Congress also recently banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices over bipartisan concerns about security. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. Critics say the Chinese government could access user data.

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North Carolina’s elected state auditor has apologized for leaving the scene of a Raleigh accident last month after she drove her state-issued vehicle into a parked car. Monday's statement by Democratic Auditor Beth Wood is her first comment about charges against her that were made public last week. Wood called her decision “a serious mistake” and says she will continue serving as auditor. Wood was first elected to the job in 2008. Raleigh police cited Wood for a misdemeanor hit-and-run and another traffic-related charge. Her court date is later this week. Wood says the collision happened after she left a holiday gathering Dec. 8.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will study whether to toughen regulation of large livestock farms that pollute waterways. The agency hasn't revised its rules dealing with the nation's largest hog, poultry and cattle operations since 2008. Farm manure and fertilizer runoff fouls lakes and streams. It's a leading cause of harmful algae blooms. EPA says it reconsidered its intention to leave existing rules in place after an environmental group filed a lawsuit. The agency says it will gather information on how bad the pollution is and what new methods might bring improvements.

National & World AP Stories

The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man in a flashpoint city in the occupied West Bank. Monday's death was the latest bloodshed in spiraling violence that comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the region. The Israeli military had no immediate comment. Palestinian authorities say the man was shot in Hebron, often a center of clashes between the Israeli military and Palestinians. Israeli-Palestinian violence has spiked in recent days. An Israeli military raid on a militant stronghold in the West Bank city of Jenin last week killed nine Palestinians, most of them militants. A Palestinian shooting attack in an east Jerusalem Jewish settlement killed seven Israelis.

Europe is cutting more energy ties with Russia. A ban on imports of diesel fuel and other products made from crude oil in Russian refineries takes effect Feb. 5. The goal is to stop feeding Russia's war chest with energy payments. But it's not so simple. Diesel prices have already jumped since the war started on Feb. 24, and they could rise again. The ban is likely to be accompanied by a price cap, and the uncertainty of how that will work has markets on edge. Depending on how the cap is applied, flows of diesel could reshuffle after temporarily higher prices, with Europe finding new suppliers in the U.S., Middle East and Asia.

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Nissan and Renault have agreed to make their mutual cross-shareholdings equal at 15%, ironing out a source of conflict in the Japan-French auto alliance. Renault Group will transfer 28.4% of the Nissan shares it owns to a French trust, making its ownership level with Nissan Motor Co.'s stake in the French automaker. The companies said in a statement that voting rights would be “neutralized” for most decisions. The move had been anticipated. The Nissan-Renault alliance began in 1999, at a time when the Japanese automaker was in tough financial straits. The disparity was a cause of friction, especially after Nissan became far more profitable than Renault.

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Israel's new government is moving quickly to repeal a tax on single-use plastic goods like cups, plates and cutlery. These items have become the latest weapons in a culture war between the country's secular majority and the smaller but politically powerful religious minority. The former government passed a tax on plastic goods in 2021 in what it said was a move to protect the environment. But ultra-Orthodox Jews, who have large families and use paper goods for convenience, accused the government of targeting them. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet, which relies heavily on ultra-Orthodox support, took a key step on Sunday toward repealing the tax. Green activists fear this could lead to other steps harmful to the environment.

India’s Adani Group, run by Asia’s richest man, has hit back at a report from U.S.-based short-seller Hindenburg Research, calling it “malicious”, “baseless” and full of “selective misinformation.” Shares in the conglomerate have suffered massive losses since Hindenburg issued its report alleging fraud and other malfeasance. Adani has also accused Hindenburg, which said it was betting against the group's companies, of trying to derail a share sale originally expected to bring in about $2.5 billion. Adani's 400-page rebuttal issued late Sunday accused Hindenburg of attacking India and its institutions. Hindenburg denied that and said the group’s response failed to address key questions.

Pope Francis’ long-awaited visit to Congo and South Sudan next week comes amid soaring insecurity in both war-torn countries, as desperate populations say they want his visit to quell the endless violence and bring stability and attention to two of the world’s most neglected crises. The Vatican said the violence forced the cancellation of the Pope’s trip to the regional capital Goma, which threatened not only his security but also that of the population. Throughout decades of war, the church has played a pivotal role in mitigating conflict in both countries. Religious expert say that in countries with enormously entrenched problems, people need to be lifted out of a generational sense of dread and anxiety through messages of eternal hope.

As clean water runs short, one of Africa’s fastest growing cities is struggling to balance the needs of creating jobs and protecting the environment, and the population of over 4 million feels the strain. The Nairobi River which traverses informal settlements and industrial hubs morphs from its clear waters at its origin to black waters within the city and later dark brown downstream where it is used to irrigate vegetables that are sold in the capital.

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Russia’s embassy in North Korea says the country has eased stringent epidemic controls in capital Pyongyang that were placed during the past five days to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses. North Korea has not officially acknowledged a lockdown in Pyongyang or a re-emergence of COVID-19 after leader Kim Jong Un declared a widely disputed victory over the coronavirus in August. But the Russian embassy’s Facebook posts have provided rare glimpses into the secretive country’s infectious disease controls. The embassy posted a notice Monday issued by North Korea’s Foreign Ministry informing foreign diplomats that the “special anti-epidemic period” imposed in Pyongyang since Wednesday was lifted as of Monday.