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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

I’ve never worked in a bank where I was in charge of the money but I’m pretty sure that someone can account for every dollar at every bank. I’ve also never been in charge of a military armory, but I’m sure someone there is accountable for every weapon and its location. I think that many jobs…

Ideas that start on the progressive fringes have a way of becoming government policy these days, as President Biden’s $400 billion student loan cancellation shows. Lo, Democrats in Congress are now pressing the president to impose rent control nationwide.

Our senior senator, Thom Tillis, has a target on his back. Angry, disillusioned partisans are calling him a traitor, a betrayer. Curiously enough, those name callers aren’t Democrats, as might be expected, but Republicans — members of his own party!

Features

State AP Stories

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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.

Conservative political commentator Lynette Hardaway died earlier this month of a heart condition, according to a death certificate obtained by The Associated Press. Known by the moniker “Diamond” of the pro-Trump commentary duo Diamond and Silk, Hardaway, 51, died Jan. 8 of heart disease due to high blood pressure. The cause of Hardaway's death had become a topic of widespread speculation. A torrent of social media users suggested COVID-19 was to blame, while noting the sisters’ promotion of falsehoods about the virus. COVID-19 was not listed as a cause or contributing factor on Hardaway's death certificate.

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Lawmakers in at least two states that have seen recent attacks to electrical infrastructure are proposing new legislation to improve security around substations and increase the penalties for damaging utility equipment. Attacks last month in Moore County, North Carolina, knocked out power to more than 45,000 customers for several days. Those attacks, and others in Washington, Oregon, South Carolina and Nevada, have underscored the vulnerability of the nation’s far-flung electrical grid, which security experts have long warned could be a target for domestic extremists. South Carolina lawmakers have filed two related bills, and a North Carolina lawmaker is drafting legislation.

National & World AP Stories

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Five fired Memphis police officers have been charged with murder and other crimes in the killing of Tyre Nichols, a Black motorist who died three days after a confrontation with the officers during a traffic stop. Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said although the officers each played different roles in the killing, “they are all responsible.” All of the officers are Black. Video of the Jan. 7 traffic stop will be released to the public sometime Friday evening. Nichols’ family and their lawyers say the footage shows officers savagely beating the 29-year-old father and FedEx worker for three minutes.

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Novak Djokovic has put aside some shaky early play to beat unseeded American Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 and reach the Australian Open final. Djokovic will face Stefanos Tsitsipas for the title on Sunday. The winner will move up to No. 1 in the ATP rankings. Tsitsipas made it to his second Grand Slam final with a 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 semifinal victory over Karen Khachanov. The No. 3-seeded Tsitsipas had been 0-3 in semifinals at Melbourne Park. Djokovic is seeking his 10th Australian Open championship to extend his own men's record and a 22nd Grand Slam trophy overall to equal Rafael Nadal's mark.

Nick Sirianni is getting his flowers figuratively instead of thrown at his face. The chest-bumping, sideline-prancing, expletive-tossing head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles has won over a tough city that questioned his credentials and mocked his introductory news conference when he was hired two years ago. Sirianni has the Eagles in the NFC championship game and now he’s becoming more popular than Rocky Balboa in the city of cheesesteaks and Liberty Bell.  The Eagles will host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday with a chance to reach the Super Bowl for the fourth time in franchise history and second time in six seasons. Sirianni is leading the way with his swagger and an offensive system labeled “unstoppable” by CBS analyst Tony Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

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Israel’s defense minister signaled Friday that the military would stop its airstrikes if Palestinian militant groups halted rocket attacks, a day after the deadliest Israeli raid in decades raised the prospect of a major flare-up in fighting. After a limited exchange of Palestinian rockets and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza overnight, residents of Jerusalem were on edge Friday morning. Israel’s defense minister instructed the military to prepare for new strikes in the Gaza Strip “if necessary.” The bombardments followed an Israeli raid in the flashpoint Jenin refugee camp, which turned into a gun battle that killed at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman and sparked clashes elsewhere.

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Global shares have advanced, boosted by a rally on Wall Street following reports suggesting the economy and corporate profits may be doing better than feared. Markets remained closed in Shanghai for the Lunar New Year holidays. In Tokyo, data showed the core consumer price index was up 4.3%, slightly higher than expected and higher than the Bank of Japan’s target of 2%. Markets have veered up and down recently as worries about a severe recession and weaker profits battle against hopes that the U.S. economy can manage a soft landing and the U.S. Federal Reserve may ease up on interest rates.

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Survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau are gathering to commemorate the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German death camp amid horror that yet another war has shattered peace in Europe. The site is located in the town of Oświęcim in southern Poland, which during World War II was under the occupation of German forces and became a place of systematic murder of Jews, Poles, Roma and others. In all, some 1.1 million people were killed there, most of them Jews, before it was liberated by Soviet troops on Jan. 27, 1945. Among those who are expected to attend commemorations on Friday is Doug Emhoff, the husband of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

Tennis Australia says Novak Djokovic’s father has decided to stay away from the 21-time Grand Slam champion’s semifinal after getting embroiled in a flap involving spectators who brought banned Russian flags to Melbourne Park. Djokovic was scheduled to face Tommy Paul for a berth in the men’s singles final on Friday night. Tournament organizers said they have spoken with players and their teams about not engaging in any activity that causes distress or disruption. After Djokovic’s quarterfinal victory over Russian player Andrey Rublev on Wednesday, Djokovic's father was filmed standing with a group of people waving Russian flags outside Rod Laver Arena. Four people were kicked out of the tournament because of the flags and for threatening security guards that night.

Just before Nazi Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944, Jewish youth leaders in the eastern European country jumped into action: They formed an underground network that would save tens of thousands of fellow Jews from the gas chambers. This chapter of the Holocaust heroism is scarcely remembered in Israel. Nor is it part of the official curriculum in schools. But the few remaining members of Hungary’s Jewish underground want their story told and are dismayed at the prospect of being forgotten. Now in their 90s, they and their families are working to keep the memories of their mission alive. The efforts come as the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday.