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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.

Opinion

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, “...in 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.

“We have no choice but to make hard decisions,” Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern recently said. He leads the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 160 Republican lawmakers that recently called for making cuts in Social Security.

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

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.

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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.

National & World AP Stories

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In recent weeks, Iraq’s currency has taken a plunge, largely as a result of newly imposed measures that have restricted dollar transfers from the United States. While the official exchange rate is about 1,450 dinars to the dollar, the trading rate on the street has jumped to 1,750 dinars to the dollar. The devaluation has already sparked protests and could challenge the mandate of the government formed in October after a yearlong political stalemate. According to multiple political and banking officials, the reason behind the U.S. tightening of the dollar spigot was widespread money laundering that had facilitated the funneling of billions of dollars to Iran and Syria, both of which are under U.S. sanctions.

A protracted legal fight over how city council districts were drawn in Jacksonville, Florida, reflects an aspect of redistricting that often remains in the shadows. Political map-drawing for congressional and state legislative seats captures wide attention after new census numbers are released every 10 years. No less fierce are the battles over the way voting lines are drawn in local governments, for city councils, county commissions and even school boards. A group of Jacksonville residents and civil rights organizations successfully sued the city last year, alleging the council’s redistricting plan amounted to racial gerrymandering by packing Black communities into a handful of districts.

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NEW DELHI (AP) — Embattled Indian billionaire Gautam Adani said Thursday his conglomerate will review its plans for raising capital after calling off his flagship company’s $2.5 billion share offering following the loss of tens of billions of dollars in market value due to fraud claims by a …

Pope Francis is urging Congo’s young people to work for a peaceful and honest future. Francis received a raucous welcome on his last full day in Congo as he joined tens of thousands of young people at the Martyrs’ Stadium in the capital, Kinshasa. The crowd that pulsed in the stands on Thursday repeatedly interrupted the pope, cheering especially loudly when Francis denounced the “cancer of corruption.” The audience broke into a chant in the Lingala language directed at the country’s president, thundering that his mandate was over. The stadium event was aimed at encouraging a generation that has been particularly hard hit by Congo's chronic poverty, corruption and conflict.

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The Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates by as much as half a percentage point. That would outpace the latest hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The move on Thursday comes as the central bank seeks to tame decades-high inflation that has driven a cost-of-living crisis and predictions of recession. Economists suggest it may be the last big rate increase for the central bank. It has approved 10 consecutive hikes since the reopening of the world economy after the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine pushed U.K. inflation to 40-year highs. High food and energy prices have lead to the U.K.’s biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s. The situation has triggered a wave of strikes.

Top European Union officials have arrived in Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian officials. Thursday's visit came as rescue crews dug through the rubble of an apartment building in eastern Ukraine struck by a Russian missile. The strike killed at least three people and wounding about 20 others. The scene of devastation in the eastern Donetsk provincial city of Kramatorsk served as a grim reminder of the war’s toll almost a year after Russia invaded its neighbor.  Emergency workers spent the night searching for survivors after the missile hit late Wednesday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was due to meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Thursday.