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Do you remember back in the day when recruiting high school teenagers was the best way for college coaches to get good football players? That was so pre-pandemic.

Opinion

The Respect for Marriage Act, codifying same-sex marriage as federal law, already decided as such by the Supreme Court in the Obergefell decision in 2015, has now passed the Senate. If it passes in the House, President Joe Biden will sign it into law.

Legislative leaders are baffled. We all should be. After pouring more than $200 million additional dollars into helping our children read at grade level, they (and we) want to know when we are going to see results. Just before Thanksgiving we learned that the 2021 test results showed only 47 percent of third-grade students were proficient in grade-level reading. End of grade tests further demonstrated that 53 percent of students in grades three through eight were “not proficient” in grade level reading.

Features

Some seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah would prophesy the hope of the soon-coming King. Of course, many did not understand the nature of the King or His Father’s kingdom. Still, with years of hindsight, today we realize that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords foretold years ag…

State AP Stories

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North Carolina drag performers and LGBTQ community members fear for their safety after an attack on the electrical grid in Moore County left tens of thousands without power for several days. Authorities have said two power substations were shot up by one or more people with apparent criminal intent Saturday evening. The attack cut power to a drag show happening simultaneously in Southern Pines that had been the target of protests. While police have not drawn a connection between the drag event and the outages, the incident intensified concerns in the local LGBTQ community.

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Authorities in North Carolina are seeking search warrants related to the shooting of electric substations in Moore County that caused widespread power outages. FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch confirmed Thursday that the agency is seeking cell phone records that could indicate who was near the substations Saturday night. She said such search warrant applications “are a normal step in a law enforcement investigation.” Richard Maness, chief deputy of the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, told The News & Observer that detectives have requested court approval for several warrants. He declined to provide specifics. The shootings had cut power to 45,000 customers as well as schools and a hospital.

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One of the world's most ruthless pirates hid in plain sight in the American colonies, according to new evidence. A historian and metal detectorist in Rhode Island says that he’s unearthed 26 silver coins with Arabic inscriptions that notorious English pirate Henry Every once seized from an armed Indian ship. The 1695 heist made Every the target of the first worldwide manhunt. Detectorists say that before he fled to the Bahamas and then vanished, Every first hid out in New England.

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Duke Energy says it has completed repairs on substation equipment damaged in shootings over the weekend and restored power thousands of customers who lost electricity in a central North Carolina county.  All but a handful of households in Moore County had regained power as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, according to Duke Energy’s outage map. A peak of more than 45,000 customers lost power over the weekend. 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. Police have not released a motive.

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The Supreme Court seems skeptical of making a broad ruling that would leave state legislatures virtually unchecked when making rules for elections for Congress and the presidency. In nearly three hours of arguments Wednesday, liberal and conservative justices appeared to take issue with the main thrust of a challenge asking them to essentially eliminate the power of state courts to strike down legislature-drawn, gerrymandered congressional districts on grounds that they violate state constitutions. But it was harder to see exactly where the court would land. A trio of conservative justices who probably control the outcome, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, seemed open to simply limiting state court power in some circumstances.

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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.

National & World AP Stories

BERLIN (AP) — German authorities said Friday that judges have confirmed the arrest of 23 people detained earlier this week on suspicion of planning to topple the government, while the extradition of two others detained abroad is being sought.

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Social media users are reporting a rash of COVID-19 cases in schools and businesses across China after the ruling Communist Party loosened anti-virus rules as it tries to reverse a deepening economic slump. While official data showed a fall in new cases, they no longer cover large parts of the population after this week’s decision to end mandatory testing for many people. That was part of dramatic changes aimed at gradually emerging from “zero COVID” restrictions that sparked protests and demands for President Xi Jinping to resign. Social media users in Beijing and other cities said coworkers or classmates were ill and some businesses had closed due to a lack of staff.

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Hate mealy apples and soggy french fries? Science can help. Food companies are increasingly turning to chemistry and physics to tackle the problem of food waste. There are spray-on peels and chemically-enhanced sachets that can slow the ripening process in fruit and digital sensors that can tell when meat is safe to consume. Packets affixed to the top of a takeout box use thermodynamics to keep fries crispy.  Experts say growing awareness of food waste has led to an uptick in efforts to mitigate it. More than one-third of food produced in the U.S. currently goes uneaten; much of that winds up in landfills.

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Brittney Griner has returned to the United States, nearly 10 months after the basketball star’s detention in Russia made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad and set off a political firestorm. Griner’s status as an openly gay Black woman, her prominence in women’s basketball and her imprisonment in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LBGTQ community brought tremendous attention to her case. Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine after her arrest complicated matters further. A deal announced Thursday saw Griner exchanged for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner was seen getting off a plane that landed Friday in Texas.

For many of the visitors descending on Qatar for The World Cup, Doha's Museum of Islamic Art provides a peek into diverse aspects of Muslim heritage, art and craftmanship. The collection at MIA, as the museum is known, spans three continents and many centuries. It includes metalwork, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork and textiles. Designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, MIA’s complex stands out for its clean and sharp architectural lines and its waterfront location. The museum is part of larger efforts by Qatar to brand itself as a cultural and arts hub. The small country with big ambitions and the vast wealth to match is not alone in the Gulf region with such a vision.

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This past year has seen a horrific flood that submerged one-third of Pakistan, one of the three costliest U.S. hurricanes on record, devastating droughts in Europe and China, a drought-triggered famine in Africa and deadly heat waves all over. Yet this wasn’t climate change at its worst. With all that death and destruction in 2022, climate-related disaster damages are down from 2021, according to insurance and catastrophe giant Swiss Re. That’s the state of climate change in the 2020s that $268 billion in global disaster costs is a 12% drop from the previous year, where damage passed $300 billion.