AP-NC Newswatch

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November 14, 2018
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November 14, 2018
AP-NC Newswatch




Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST


Farmer had abandoned tree picked for White House Christmas
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
NEWLAND, N.C. (AP) – The farmer who raised the Christmas tree destined for the White House this year says the Fraser fir “got the last laugh” after he “basically abandoned it.”
Larry Smith told The Charlotte Observer on Tuesday that the 19 1/2-foot-tall (6-meter-tall) tree didn’t seem to be doing as well as others so he hadn’t trimmed it in a couple years. But two White House officials “just loved the natural look to it.”
Smith’s Mountain Top Fraser Fir farm was selected to provide this year’s official tree after he won the National Christmas Tree Association’s contest in Wisconsin. Smith’s win bolsters North Carolina’s tally as the state with the most White House Christmas trees, at 12.
The tree will be cut Wednesday and driven up to Washington, where Smith will present it Monday.



Report: Staff abused kids treated at N Carolina psych center
(Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com)
RAEFORD, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina health department is threatening to revoke the operating license for a psychiatric center where state records show patients as young as 6 were subject to physical and verbal abuse.
The Charlotte Observer cites an Oct. 26 department letter accusing the Canyon Hills Treatment Facility of failing to provide an adequately structured living environment and supervision.
According to records obtained by the newspaper, patients and nurses told state investigators that staff physically harmed clients, called them names and mocked them. The report says clients were punished for circulating a petition asking for more food. Records show at least eight clients in the 24-bed facility lost weight after being admitted.
A statement from Canyon Hills’ lawyer, Jonathan Charleston, calls the state’s findings “factually and legally unfounded.”



Snow pelts Mississippi as temperatures plunge in South
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – Light snow fell in Mississippi as lingering precipitation mixed with cold temperatures to send the Deep South into the freezer.
After days of heavy rain and storms along a cold front, flurries left a thin layer of snow atop vehicles in western Mississippi early Wednesday. A Mississippi River bridge turned white in Greenville, Mississippi.
Low temperatures dropped into the 20s, and forecasters say the chilly weather will spread.
The National Weather Service issued a freeze warning for Louisiana through western Alabama as far south as the Gulf Coast from Wednesday night into Thursday. Forecasters say temperatures could drop into the upper 20s.
A flash flood watch remained in effect for north Georgia and the Carolinas, which forecaster say could get another 3 inches (8 centimeters) of rain.



Gene-edited food is coming, but will shoppers buy?
WASHINGTON (AP) – A new generation of biotech foods is getting close to the grocery aisles.
By early next year, the first foods made from gene-edited plants and animals are expected to begin selling. First up, probably salad dressings or granola bars made with soybean oil tweaked to be extra heart-healthy.
Researchers also are pursuing wheat with triple the usual fiber, mushrooms that don’t brown, dairy cows that won’t need painful de-horning and pigs immune to a dangerous virus.
It’s a different way of altering DNA than is used to make today’s GMOs. But governments are wrestling with how to regulate gene editing. And the bigger question is whether consumers will accept that difference or see the new products as GMOs in disguise.



NC recruiters had hope for Amazon jobs that went to NYC, DC
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina business recruiters say they heard from Amazon last month about the potential for the Raleigh area landing the tech giant’s second headquarters and weren’t told the 50,000 jobs would go instead to New York City and Arlington, Virginia.
Officials with North Carolina’s top two recruiting agencies said Tuesday they last heard from Amazon last month and weren’t told they’d been scratched from consideration.
The state Commerce Department and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina didn’t release details Tuesday of the millions in tax credits and other incentives offered to lure the tech jobs that Amazon said will pay an average of $150,000 a year.
Incentives packages offered for Pittsburgh, Dallas and Chicago were in the $1 billion to $5 billion range.



The Latest: McConnell, Schumer win new Senate leader terms
WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Democrats are keeping their team headed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York even though one of the two new Democratic senators-elect, Kyrsten Sinema (SIN’-uh-muh) of Arizona, has said she wouldn’t vote for him.
Democrats re-elected their party leadership by acclamation during a closed-door meeting Wednesday.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois was re-elected as minority whip, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state won a new term as assistant leader. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan was re-elected as Democratic policy committee chair.



FBI raises reward in case of kidnapped North Carolina teen
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) – The FBI has raised its reward for information in the case of a missing North Carolina teenager who was kidnapped outside her home.
Agent Andy de la Roche told a news conference Tuesday that the agency is raising its reward to $25,000 for information on the disappearance of 13-year-old Hania Noelia Aguilar. The state of North Carolina is already offering a $5,000 reward.
De la Roche said the agency wants either information leading to the girl’s whereabouts, or for information leading to the people responsible for Aguilar’s disappearance.
Relatives and police say the eighth-grader went outside on Nov. 5 in Lumberton to start a relative’s vehicle when a man forced her into an SUV. The SUV was found three days later in Lumberton.



Excessive partisanship claimed in North Carolina maps suit
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Another redistricting lawsuit has been filed in North Carolina, this one challenging General Assembly boundaries that Democrats and election reform advocates say are illegally tainted by excessive favoritism toward Republicans.
Common Cause NC, the state Democratic Party and voters sued GOP mapmakers Tuesday in Wake County court.
Partisan gerrymandering claims against state legislative lines are similar to those Common Cause and the party filed two years ago in federal court over state congressional districts. Federal judges have twice ruled the congressional map violated protections for Democratic voters. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear an appeal in that case.
Tuesday’s lawsuit is different because it focuses on the North Carolina Constitution.
At least eight lawsuits have challenged North Carolina maps since the current redistricting round began in 2011.