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Inflation occurs when the demand for goods and services exceeds the supply. The Federal Reserve’s solution is to reduce demand by forcing interest rates higher. The higher rates will reduce the demand for items which are typically financed, like cars and houses. And some of the workers who m…

For the next few weeks, Washington faces a brief, and important, window of opportunity. Suspended in time between an election that’s just over and another that’s already starting, the lame duck session of Congress has a critical question to answer.

Back when my wife and I moved to the country, many of our citified friends were alarmed. One well-meaning fellow even questioned if I’d be safe out in rural Perry County, Arkansas, given my political apostasy. (Trump won 75% of the 2020 vote there.)

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State AP Stories

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The nation’s largest public utility is recommending replacing an aging coal burning power plant with natural gas, ignoring calls for the Tennessee Valley Authority to speed its transition to renewable energy. TVA on Friday announced the completion of its environmental impact statement for replacing the Cumberland Fossil Plant near Cumberland City, Tennessee. TVA says in a news release that solar and battery storage would be more costly and time-consuming than gas. The recommendation still needs the approval of TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash. He has previously spoken in favor of gas. The announcement drew immediate backlash from groups that include the Center for Biological Diversity, which calls the plan “reckless.”

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Eight years into a U.S. program to control damage from feral pigs, the invasive animals are still a multibillion-dollar plague on farmers, wildlife and the environment. They've been wiped out in 11 of the 41 states where they were reported in 2014 or 2015. And there are fewer in parts of the other 30. But in spite of more than $100 million in federal money, officials estimate there are still 6 million to 9 million hogs gone wild nationwide and in three U.S. territories, doing at least $2.5 billion a year in U.S. damages. Estimates in 2014 were 5 million hogs and $1.5 billion in damages. Experts say the bigger figures are due to better estimates, not increases.

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Police in Raleigh, North Carolina, have released body camera video from a shootout with a 15-year-old boy suspected of fatally shooting five people and wounding two more. Police spent several hours searching for the armed suspect after the rampage seven weeks ago. The teen was ultimately found in a shed behind a residential property. The newly released video images show officers surrounding the structure. Multiple shots ring out from the building, and officers return fire. The video also shows Raleigh Police Officer Casey Clark being shot in the right knee and then dragged to safety behind another building.

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Since the recovery of sunken treasure began decades ago from an 1857 shipwreck off the coast of South Carolina, tens of millions of dollars worth of gold has been sold. But scientists, historians and collectors say that the real fortunes will begin to hit the auction block on Saturday in Reno. For the first time, hundreds of Gold Rush-era artifacts entombed in the S.S. Central America, known as the “Ship of Gold,” will go on public sale. A few of the items from the pre-Civil War steamship, which sank in a hurricane on its way from Panama to New York City, could fetch as much as $1 million.

North Carolina government is appealing a judge’s order that demands by certain dates many more community services for people with intellectual and development disabilities who otherwise live at institutions. Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley announced the formal challenge on Wednesday. He says his agency has grave concerns about some directives issued four weeks ago by Judge Allen Baddour. One in particular says new admissions to new admissions for people with such disabilities in state-run development centers, privately intermediate care facilities and certain adult care homes must end by January 2028. Kinsley says the decision could shutter small facilities and leave clients without accommodations.

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Incoming and returning Republicans to the North Carolina Senate have chosen a key lawmaker on tax, voting and energy issues to become majority leader for the next two years. The Senate Republican Caucus on Monday elected Sen. Paul Newton of Cabarrus County to the post. Newton succeeds Sen. Kathy Harrington, who didn't seek reelection this fall to her Gaston County seat. The caucus also agreed to nominate Phil Berger to a seventh term as president pro tempore when the session convenes in January. He has held the job since 2011. Senate Democrats meeting separately Monday reelected Sen. Dan Blue of Wake County as minority leader.

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A memorial service will be held this weekend for Betty Ray McCain. She was a longtime North Carolina Democratic Party activist and counselor to former four-time Gov. Jim Hunt who died last week at age 91. McCain was the first woman to chair the state Democratic Party in the 1970s. Hunt named McCain secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources in 1993. She also served multiple terms on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and on many boards and commissions. Current Gov. Roy Cooper called McCain a “trailblazer for women and a powerful force for good in the arts, education and public service."

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Democrats celebrated winning North Carolina's lone toss-up race for the U.S. House this month as Wiley Nickel won the 13th District seat. The victory creates a 7-7 split in the state’s delegation — the best showing for Democrats in a decade. But there’s a good chance Nickel’s district and others will be altered for the 2024 elections, returning the advantage to Republicans. The current lines are only being used for these elections. New lines will be drawn by Republicans, who still control the General Assembly. And a new GOP majority on the state Supreme Court likely will be more skeptical of legal challenges that scuttled previous boundaries.

National & World AP Stories

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A surge of anti-Jewish vitriol spread by celebrities is stoking fears that public figures are normalizing hate and ramping up the risk of violence. Former President Donald Trump hosted a Holocaust-denying white supremacist at Mar-a-Lago. The rapper Ye expressed love for Adolf Hitler in an interview. Basketball star Kyrie Irving appeared to promote an antisemitic film on social media. Those are just a few recent examples of influential people abusing their platforms to amplify antisemitism in a way that has been taboo for decades in the U.S. Some people say the incidents harken back to a darker time in America when powerful people routinely spread conspiracy theories about Jews with impunity.

Voters with no religious affiliation supported Democratic candidates and abortion rights by staggering percentages in the 2022 midterm elections. The unaffiliated voted for Democratic House candidates nationwide over Republicans by more than a 2-1 margin. They voted against abortion restrictions in Kentucky in Michigan by 4-1 margins. They supported Democrats in other bellwether races by similarly lopsided margins. And the religiously unaffiliated are growing. Twenty-nine percent of U.S. adults identified as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” in a 2021 report by the Pew Research Center. That’s up 10 percentage points in a decade.

A daunting canoe voyage — covering almost 500 kilometers, or about 300 miles across a stretch of the Pacific Ocean — is underway. It’s the Hoki Mai Challenge, which started in Rapa Nui, a territory in the Pacific that is part of Chile and is better known as Easter Island. The event consists of a canoe voyage by nine Rapanuis, two Chileans and one Hawaiian seeking to celebrate the union of the islands of Polynesia. The 12 athletes have been training six days a week since mid-September, preparing for a three-day voyage that will take them from Rapa Nui to Motu Motiro Hiva, another island in the mid-Pacific that belongs to Chile.

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Chinese authorities have announced a further easing of COVID-19 curbs with major cities such as Shenzhen and Beijing no longer requiring negative tests to take public transport. The slight relaxation of testing requirements comes even as daily virus infections reach near-record highs and follows weekend protests across the country by residents frustrated by the rigid enforcement of anti-virus restrictions. Along with the relaxation in the capital Beijing, the southern city of Shenzhen said Saturday that commuters no longer need to show a negative COVID-19 test result to use public transport or when entering pharmacies, parks and tourist attractions.

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Of the seven stadiums Qatar built for the World Cup, one will disappear after the tournament. That’s what the games’ organizers have said about Stadium 974 in Doha, a 40,000-seat port-side arena partially built from recycled shipping containers and steel. Qatar says the stadium will be fully dismantled after the World Cup and could be shipped to countries that need the infrastructure. Outside experts have praised the design, mostly for the emissions saved from avoiding new construction. But they say more needs to be known about what happens after the event.

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What started as an unplanned vigil last weekend in Shanghai by fewer than a dozen people grew hours later into a rowdy crowd of hundreds. The protesters expressed anger over China's harsh COVID-19 policies that they believed played a role in a deadly fire on Nov. 24 in a city in the far west. Then, a woman defiantly shouted for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to resign, emboldening others. Before dawn, police moved in to break up the gathering. The Nov. 26 protest in Shanghai wasn’t the first or the largest. But it was notable for the bold calls for the leadership change — the most open defiance of the ruling Communist Party in decades.

Most railroad workers weren't surprised that Congress intervened this week to block a railroad strike, but they were disappointed because they say the deals lawmakers imposed didn't do enough to address their quality of life concerns about demanding schedules and the lack of paid sick time. Railroad workers face difficult tradeoffs that sometimes force them to skip doctor's appointments or miss family events. The railroads acknowledge that more needs to be done to address workers' “work-life balance concerns," but managers believe these new contracts should help create more predictable schedules. And the five-year deals include 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses.