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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

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!

The crisis over raising the nation’s debt limit is upon us again. While we may be able to trim some pork from our federal budget — and we must raise taxes on the 34 richest American corporations that paid no taxes in 2018 following former President Trump’s disastrous tax cut for the rich — w…

There are many factors that go into building and sustaining a strong and healthy democracy: free, clean and transparently funded elections; inclusive suffrage; freedom of speech and association; an independent news media; predictable and reliable law enforcement; and an absence of widespread corruption.

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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Gaza militants fired rockets and Israel carried out airstrikes as tensions soared following an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank. The raid killed nine Palestinians, including at least seven militants and a 61-year-old woman. It was the deadliest single incursion in the territory in over two decades. The flare-up in violence poses an early test for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government and casts a shadow on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s expected trip to the region next week. Palestinian militants fired five rockets at Israel, which carried out a series of airstrikes at what it said were militant targets. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

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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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Asian 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 at 4.2%, and higher than the Bank of Japan’s target of 2%. On Thursday, Wall Street stocks climbed to their highest level in nearly eight weeks after the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace in the last quarter, ending 2022 with momentum despite higher interest rates and widespread fears of a looming recession.

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Public water agencies in California will be getting more water from the state because of recent heavy rain. State water officials on Thursday said public water agencies will be getting 30% of what they asked for. That’s up from the 5% state officials had announced in December. A series of powerful storms dumped an estimated 32 trillion gallons of water on California in just three weeks. The deluge has helped replenish the state’s reservoirs that had been at dangerously low levels. State officials warned that dry conditions could return. There are two months left in the state’s rainy season.

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The shooting that left four dead at a California mushroom farm on Monday was at least the second time an employee tried to kill a coworker on the property. Court documents and a case summary from the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office show California Terra Garden manager Martin Medina was charged with attempted murder after he threatened to kill the other manager and then fired a gun into the man’s trailer. The bullet went through the trailer and into a neighboring one. Charging documents obtained by The Associated Press show the second trailer was home to Yetao Bing, who was killed in Monday's shooting.

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BANGKOK (AP) — The production of opium in Myanmar has flourished since the military's seizure of power, with the cultivation of poppies up by a third in the past year as eradication efforts have dropped off and the faltering economy has led more people toward the drug trade, according to a U…