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HERTFORD — The Perquimans Festival of Lights on the lawn of the historic Perquimans County Courthouse is drawing people to downtown Hertford for a holiday-themed light show — but one former county official is not a fan of the display.

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The richest man in the world, Elon Musk, just spent $44 billion to expose the corrupt dealings of big tech and the media. Musk clearly saw how censorship had been deployed as a one-way operation against conservatives. Something every critical thinking person already knew but of course, colum…

“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude,” former US president Donald Trump wrote on his pet social media platform, Truth Social, “allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” In reference, of course, to his fantasy that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.

Nothing that Elon Musk is doing in the wake of his takeover of Twitter should be considered controversial. The fact that the world’s richest person and self-described “free speech absolutist” is currently taking endless flack for attempting to limit online censorship and gatekeeping in the interests of widening public debate is a testament to the fact that the prominent social media platform had become a gatekeeper for the Western establishment status quo and the primarily left-leaning ideals that they relentlessly champion.

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State AP Stories

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At least six Supreme Court justices are sounding skeptical of making a broad ruling that would leave state legislatures virtually unchecked when making rules for elections. The North Carolina case the high court was hearing Wednesday has the potential to reshape elections for Congress and the presidency in other states as well. It concerns the power of state courts to strike down congressional districts drawn by the legislature because those state courts believe they violate state constitutions. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan said eliminating that power would allow for the “most extreme forms of gerrymandering from legislatures.”

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Duke Energy says it has completed repairs on substation equipment damaged when it was shot up and that it expects power to be fully restored by the evening. In a statement to customers on its website, the energy company said Wednesday that all of the equipment damaged in an attack on two substations Saturday has been fixed or replaced. The company said that Moore County customers will gradually get power back throughout the day as it finishes testing and completes restoration safely. As of late Wednesday morning, fewer than 20,000 customers were without power in the county, according to poweroutage.us. That’s down from a peak of more than 45,000 customers without power over the weekend.

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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.

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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.

National & World AP Stories

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NEW YORK (AP) — More than two decades after a tiny Greek Orthodox church in lower Manhattan was destroyed by the falling south tower of the World Trade Center, that church's far grander replacement opened to the public this week in an elevated park overlooking the rebuilt trade center's memo…

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Could trawler cams help save the world’s fish? A bevy of companies is installing high-resolution cameras on U.S. fishing boats to replace scarce in-person observers and meet new federal mandates aimed at protecting dwindling fish stocks. But taking the technology beyond U.S. waters, where the vast majority of seafood consumed in the U.S. is caught, is a steep challenge. Only a few countries in the world can match strict U.S. regulatory mandates. Scientists fear the result could be that well-intended American initiatives to replenish fish stocks and reduce bycatch of threatened species could backfire by transferring more fishing into unregulated overseas waters.

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Duke Energy says it has completed repairs on substation equipment damaged when it was shot up and that it expects power to be fully restored by the evening. In a statement to customers on its website, the energy company said Wednesday that all of the equipment damaged in an attack on two substations Saturday has been fixed or replaced. The company said that Moore County customers will gradually get power back throughout the day as it finishes testing and completes restoration safely. As of late Wednesday morning, fewer than 20,000 customers were without power in the county, according to poweroutage.us. That’s down from a peak of more than 45,000 customers without power over the weekend.

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Authorities say the leader of a small polygamous group near the Arizona-Utah border had taken at least 20 wives and punished followers who didn't treat him as a prophet. The details of Samuel Bateman's life were alleged in an FBI affidavit released last Friday. It was filed in a case that charges three of his female followers with kidnapping children from state custody in Arizona and impeding a foreseeable prosecution. Two of the women are scheduled to appear in federal court in Flagstaff on Wednesday. Bateman is facing state and federal charges of child abuse and tampering with evidence.

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Sports programs across the county are weighing whether tough coaching styles still have a place in the athletic world. The styles once embodied by legends such as Bear Bryant and Bobby Knight have fallen out of favor at a time when student-athletes demand more sensitive treatment and more individualized training. Athletes of this younger generation also possess greater personal power over their career paths, which sometimes forces coaches to accommodate them or risk losing top talent.

Scientists have discovered the oldest known DNA and used it to reveal what life was like 2 million years ago in the northern tip of Greenland. Today, it’s a barren Arctic desert. But back then it was a lush landscape of trees and vegetation with an array of animals, even the now extinct mastodon. The study published Wednesday looks at environmental DNA — bits of genetic material that organisms leave in their surroundings. By studying these tiny pieces, scientists found an unusual mix of species, with reindeer and geese perhaps living alongside mastodons.

Reducing waste while boosting recycling and reuse, known as the ‘circular economy,’ will be vital for halting the loss of nature by meeting growing demand with fewer resources and will make communities more resilient to climate change by encouraging more sustainable practices on the African continent, organizers of the World Circular Economy Forum said Wednesday. The conference, which brings together climate and economic experts as well businesses and think tanks, is being held in the Rwandan capital Kigali — the first ever in the global south.