AP Newswatch

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March 6, 2018
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March 6, 2018
AP Newswatch


Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
N. Carolina city asks court for all of police beating video
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina city has asked that all police body camera footage of white officer beating a black man accused of jaywalking last year be released.
The Citizen Times reports Asheville City Attorney Robin Currin filed a petition Monday with Buncombe County Superior Court requesting the release of all footage related to the August arrest of 33-year-old Johnnie Jermaine Rush. The petition cites a need for “total transparency” but notes that body camera footage is not a public document under state law.
The city argues no loss of privacy will occur because the public already has access to the footage as it was given to the Times.
Asheville police Chief Tammy Hooper says the video’s release was illegal and an investigation is needed to determine the source of the leak.



In GOP victory, judges decide Supreme Court ruling is narrow
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A panel of state judges says a recent North Carolina Supreme Court ruling favoring Gov. Roy Cooper means only a small portion of a 2017 law he challenged that combined the state ethics and elections boards is struck down.
Monday’s unanimous order by three trial court judges is a victory for Republicans at the General Assembly who last month passed small changes related to the combined board’s membership and Cooper’s powers.
GOP leaders believed that was enough to comply with the Supreme Court ruling. Cooper’s lawyers had argued the Supreme Court ruling meant the judges should void the entire law. That would have opened the door to Cooper’s wishes and revert to separate elections and ethics boards, and Democrats getting a majority of elections board seats.



NC regulator considers another Duke Energy rate hike request
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina regulators are considering raising electricity rates on an additional 2 million Duke Energy customers by more than 11 percent.
The state Utilities Commission on Monday began considering the company’s request to charge an extra $539 million a year to customers of its Duke Energy Carolinas subsidiary in central and western North Carolina. The Charlotte-based company says that translates into a 14 percent increase for the typical residential customer’s $104 monthly bill.
The commission’s hearing in Raleigh comes after it last month allowed a 7 percent rate increase on Duke Energy Progress customers, an amount reduced for four years as state income tax savings are returned.
The commission will again decide how much of the billion-dollar costs of cleaning up toxic coal ash will be passed along.



North Carolina legislator won’t resign despite allegations
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina state legislator says he won’t step down even though fellow Democrats -including Gov. Roy Cooper – called on him to resign following a media report in which people said he made unwanted sexual advances.
Rep. Duane Hall of Raleigh sent a statement over the weekend to WUNC radio saying he’ll defend his reputation and accused “a tiny far-left element” in the Democratic Party of seeking to finish him off.
NC Policy Watch’s report last week identified a Democratic campaign aide saying Hall made inappropriate sexual remarks to her. The report also quoted witnesses saying he kissed two women without their consent at public events.
He admitted to The News & Observer of Raleigh inappropriately kissing one woman but denied harassment allegations. Hall has a primary in May.



Ethics complaint filed against North Carolina House speaker
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A Washington-based group has asked North Carolina ethics officials to investigate state House Speaker Tim Moore about his business interests and interactions with state environmental regulators over some land.
The nonprofit Campaign for Accountability said Monday it filed a complaint with the state ethics board based on public records requests to what is now the Division of Environmental Quality.
The complaint accuses Moore of improperly intervening with DEQ so his limited liability company could avoid fines while the company worked to sell an old poultry plant in Chatham County.
Moore called the complaint a “meritless election-year political ploy” and said regulators handled the project as they would any other.
The Legislative Ethics Committee would investigate if the state ethics board found probable cause to continue the probe.



Container lost from cargo ship contains sulfuric acid
(Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com)
NASG HEAD, N.C. (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard says a cargo ship lost 70 of its 30,000 containers off North Carolina’s Outer Banks in 65-mph (100-kph) storm winds and waves up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall.
The agency says one of the containers knocked overboard Saturday from the Maersk Shanghai contained nearly 6,000 pounds (2,700 kilograms) of sulfuric acid, a chemical commonly used to produce fertilizer. The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reports that Coast Guard spokesman Ronald Hodges cites experts in saying the environmental threat appeared minimal because sulfuric acid dissolves in saltwater.
Company spokeswoman Katherine Mosquera says the Liberia-flagged ship anchored in Charleston, South Carolina, where officials were assessing the situation.
The Coast Guard says it found four of the containers floating offshore.
It wasn’t immediately reported what other containers held.



Official: North Carolina jail inmate dies after 12-foot fall
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – An official says an inmate at a North Carolina jail has died after falling 12 feet over a second-floor railing.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports Forsyth County Chief Deputy Brad Stanley said 61-year-old Robin Steven Thomason fell about 7:45 p.m. Sunday over a railing in the housing area of the jail. Stanley said Thomason was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he died about an hour later.
Stanley said there were other inmates out at the time of Thomason’s fall, but he added it doesn’t appear Thomason was forced over the railing.
Thomason was jailed since last April after his arrest for indecent liberties with a child.
The State Bureau of Investigation, the sheriff’s office and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services are looking into the death.



Container lost from cargo ship contains sulfuric acid
(Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com)
NASG HEAD, N.C. (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard says one of the containers lost from a cargo ship in rough seas off North Carolina’s Outer Banks contained almost 6,000 pounds of sulfuric acid, but an official says it poses little threat to the environment.
The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reports Coast Guard spokesman Ronald Hodges cites the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in saying the environmental danger is minimal because sulfuric acid dissolves in saltwater.
Sulfuric acid is most commonly used to produce fertilizer.
The cargo ship Maersk Shanghai reported to the Coast Guard late Saturday that rough seas of up to 30 feet and winds up to 65 miles per hour knocked overboard about 70 of its 3,000 containers about 17 miles off Oregon Inlet. The Coast Guard has found four of the containers.

AP-WF-03-06-18 1120GMT