Associated Press

NCDOT Suspends Road, Lane Closures for Holiday Travel

Over the river and through the woods will be relatively easy for most North Carolina motorists during the Thanksgiving holiday. A news release from the N.C. Department of Transportation says the road and lane closure suspension began Tuesday morning and continues through 8 p.m. on Nov. 27. The only exceptions are where work has made it unsafe to open all lanes, such as where a bridge is being replaced or travel lanes are being constructed or rebuilt. Among the closures, the eastbound U.S. 158 Wright Memorial Bridge is closed for deck rehabilitation. In Vance and Warren counties, Interstate 85...

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Court: Application for Poor to Get Lawyer Can’t Be Evidence

An appeals court says prosecutors can’t use the document needed to get a court-appointed defense lawyer guaranteed by the Constitution to prove a North Carolina man’s relationship with a teenage girl was illegal. The state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Raul Diaz must be retried on statutory rape and child abduction charges after the girl ran away with him to New Mexico and Oklahoma. Diaz was 19 and the girl was 14 and they went to the same Pitt County high school when they started their relationship. Judges said prosecutors shouldn’t have been allowed to show jurors the...

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North Carolina Advocate to Meet with Pope Francis This Week

A Protestant minister known as the architect of the Moral Monday protest movement in North Carolina will spend the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend at a Vatican conference dedicated to labor and the workers’ movement that includes a meeting with Pope Francis. The Rev. William J. Barber II told The News & Observer that he received an invitation to the Vatican earlier this fall, along with other worker and labor rights advocates. Barber stepped down as head of the state NAACP last month to focus on his role as president of new social justice organization Repairers of the Breach. Barber,...

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Coal Ash is Focus in Duke Energy’s $478M Rate Increase Bid

The nation’s largest electric company is fighting to persuade regulators that North Carolina consumers should pay 15 percent more on average, including nearly $200 million a year to clean up the toxic byproducts of burning coal to generate power. Consumers, the state’s attorney general and the state’s utilities consumer advocate are digging in ahead of hearings starting Monday. Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp.’s requested $478 million passes along the full cost of cleaning up its coal ash pits. The rate increase would affect customers of Duke Energy Progress, the subsidiary that operates in much of eastern North Carolina and around...

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Chemical Company’s Unreported Spill May Lead to Waste Ban

North Carolina regulators say they’re suspending and may revoke a chemical company’s key permit after it didn’t report the spill of an unregulated compound. The Department of Environmental Quality said Thursday it is moving to revoke The Chemours Co.’s permit to discharge wastewater from operations at its Fayetteville plant into a neighboring river. Regulators say the discharge ban could come in 60 days because the company failed to report a spill last month of a precursor of the chemical GenX. The agency said this week it was considering fining the Wilmington, Delaware-based company for failing to report the spill....

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Cooper School Funding Panel Led by Outgoing Blue Cross CEO

The outgoing chief executive of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will lead a panel created by Gov. Roy Cooper to make recommendations on complying with landmark court rulings over public school funding. Cooper announced Wednesday the commission’s membership, with Blue Cross CEO Brad Wilson as chairman. Wilson has announced his retirement from the health insurer and his successor has been named. Cooper says the commission seeks to fulfill a 1997 ruling by identifying resources so all children can have an equal opportunity to obtain a sound basic education. The panel is expected to work with an...

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Ex-UNC Player’s Estate Sues ACC, NCAA Over Concussions

Representatives of a former North Carolina football player’s estate are suing the Atlantic Coast Conference and the NCAA, saying they ignored the dangers of concussions and it led to Ryan Hoffman’s death. Sandra LaMountain and Noah Hoffman brought the 39-page lawsuit on behalf of Ryan Hoffman’s estate and filed it Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Greensboro. They allege negligence, breach of express contract and unjust enrichment. They argue that both groups failed to protect and promote the safety and well-being of the players, and breached a contract with the players by failing to properly educate and warn them...

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Civil Rights Attorney Running for N Carolina Supreme Court

A longtime civil rights attorney who successfully sued in striking down North Carolina legislative redistricting maps is running for the state Supreme Court next year. Anita Earls is executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. She announced plans Wednesday at state Democratic Party headquarters to run for an eight-year term in 2018. Earls would run for the seat currently held by Justice Barbara Jackson, a Republican. How judicial elections will play out next year remains unclear. The legislature approved a law this fall that cancelled the May primaries for judicial races, setting up one election for each...

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Special Master Offers Draft Maps for N Carolina Legislature

An outside expert appointed by a federal court to help draw some North Carolina legislative districts that judges worry remained unconstitutional has suggested changes. Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily filed Monday his preliminary House and Senate plans. The special master also requested formal responses from Republican legislative leaders who originally drew the boundaries and from voters who successfully sued over them. The judges wants Persily’s final proposal by Dec. 1. The judges have said four districts redrawn last summer by GOP legislators still appeared to preserve illegal racial bias, so Persily said he redrew compact replacements for them....

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Fitzsimon Leaving NC Policy Watch to Spread Effort Elsewhere

The founder of a liberal-leaning think tank that’s developed into a media outlet following North Carolina state government is leaving his job to try to replicate the effort in other states. North Carolina Policy Watch Executive Director Chris Fitzsimon said Monday he’s going to work for what’s called “The Newsroom,” which seeks to expand nonprofit news operations based on Policy Watch’s model. His last day at Policy Watch will be Wednesday but Fitzsimon says he’ll continue as a writing contributor. Fitzsimon was previously a WRAL-TV reporter and later an aide to then-House Speaker Dan Blue. He led the Common...

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