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HEPATITIS C LAUNCH
North Carolina fights rising hepatitis C infections
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A multi-million dollar initiative to fight hepatitis C infections is launching in North Carolina after the opioid crisis caused a dramatic spike in statewide infections.
HepConnect is holding a launch event in the state capitol on Thursday following similar launches in states like Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Indiana.
The state department of health and human services estimates there are over 100,000 North Carolinians living with hepatitis C. The virus can spread through sharing needles and can cause severe liver damage, or in some cases, death. The initiative aims to increase access to care for those infected with the virus.
Democratic Rep. Gale Adcock will be speaking at the launch event on Thursday, along with a panel of North Carolina-based medical and public health experts.
Golden LEAF Foundation begins search for new president
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) – The Golden LEAF Foundation board of directors is searching for a new president after its previous leader accepted a position as interim chancellor of East Carolina University.
The foundation said in a news release that it’s hired Raleigh-based firm Elinvar to search for someone to succeed Dan Gerlach, who’s now at ECU in Greenville.
Elinvar will accept applications through July 15th. The board is expected to choose a new president in the fourth quarter of this year.
The foundation awarded more than 1,700 grants totaling over $870 million during its 20 years of operation. The nonprofit was established in 1999 to receive part of North Carolina’s funding from a 1998 settlement agreement with cigarette manufacturers.
Its grants are awarded to tobacco-dependent, economy distressed and rural areas of North Carolina.
MUSLIM STUDENTS SLAIN-THE LATEST
The Latest: Authorities didn’t have enough for hate charges
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – An attorney who has worked with the families of three Muslim students gunned down in February 2015 says federal authorities decided they did not have a strong enough case to pursue hate-crime charges against their killer.
Joe Cheshire is a defense attorney in North Carolina who has been working with the victims’ families and guiding them through the legal process over the past four years.
He said at a news conference Wednesday that federal authorities could not satisfy themselves that 50-year-old Craig Hicks’ actions met all the required conditions of bringing a successful hate crime prosecution. He says they couldn’t discount Hicks’ initial explanation that the violence was provoked by a dispute over parking spaces.
Hicks pleaded guilty Wednesday to three counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of 23-year-old Deah Barakat; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and Abu-Salha’s 19-year-old sister Razan Abu-Salha. He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison without parole.
Cheshire says federal authorities’ decision not to pursue hate-crimes charges “hurt a lot of feelings and it added to the false narrative.”
He says the federal government “failed this family and our multicultural democracy.”
ROTC CADET REMOVED
Cadet to be removed from Army ROTC for ‘pro-Nazism’ tweets
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A cadet will be removed from the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps for posting racist, anti-Semitic and “pro-Nazism” messages on social media.
U.S. Army Cadet Command spokesman Maj. Robert Carter said Wednesday that Martha Gerdes is on a “leave of absence” from the program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte pending her disenrollment from the ROTC.
UNC-Charlotte spokeswoman Buffie Stephens says federal law prevents the university from commenting.
Gerdes was a student at Davidson College when the Army began investigating in November. Carter says ROTC officials learned of Gerdes’ online activities when a group called Carolina Workers Collective posted screenshots of tweets it attributed to her.
Carter says Gerdes’ online activities were “inconsistent with the high moral expectations of a future Army officer.”
SBI: 3 charged with fraudulent voting in 2018 NC primary
GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) – State investigators say three people from eastern North Carolina have been charged with fraudulent voting during last year’s primary elections.
The State Bureau of Investigation announced Wednesday’s arrests of two Goldsboro residents and one New Bern resident. All three were charged with using fraudulent addresses to vote while one of the three also was charged with voting twice.
An SBI release says the investigation began in May at the request of the State Board of Elections.
The SBI identifies the defendants as Terrell William Graham and David Edward Williams of Goldsboro and Keymonti Winn-Hocutt of New Bern. The SBI says Winn-Hocutt faces two counts. The other two face one count each.
Attempts to reach the defendants by phone were unsuccessful. It wasn’t clear Wednesday whether they had attorneys.
Retooled immigration directive wins over NC sheriffs’ group
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Republicans have retooled legislation designed to counter recent decisions by some new sheriffs who are refusing to comply with written requests by federal immigration agents to hold criminal defendants.
The amended measure eases somewhat a directive in the version that the House approved in April. That version would have forced sheriffs to fulfill Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers.
The alternative debated by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday lets a judge or magistrate decide whether to hold an inmate for ICE. The changes were enough for the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association to now back the measure.
Immigration and civil rights advocates still oppose the updated bill, saying the changes don’t ease the chilling effect such directives have on crime victims who are in the country unlawfully.
WIRELESS NETWORK-FIRST RESPONDERS
Earthquake tests new wireless network in far-flung Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – A major earthquake that rocked Alaska proved to be a trial run in the state’s largest city for a new national wireless network dedicated to first responders.
Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll and other commanders had just signed on to test the FirstNet network on their personal cellphones when the 7.1 magnitude quake struck last year.
After it caused widespread damage and knocked out phone lines, Doll says officials with FirstNet were the only ones who could communicate without problems.
Public safety agencies nationwide are tapped into the network established by Congress in 2012 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It launched last year.
The network is secure, encrypted and off limits to the public. It’s raised concerns among media advocates that the secrecy shields police from scrutiny.
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Lawmaker wants unlimited handgun purchases on single permit
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A state Senate Republican has proposed that North Carolina sheriffs be able to issue handgun permits that allow for unlimited purchases rather than requiring a permit for each firearm.
Sen. Danny Britt of Robeson County says his bill that was before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday would eliminate the requirement that sheriffs issue a permit for each piston purchased. Instead, a permit would be good for unlimited purchases on a single five-year permit.
Britt says the change would make the process easier for law-abiding citizens. It has the backing of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, which considers it an efficiency step.
Democratic Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham County criticized the bill, saying it would lead to the purchase of more firearms that could endanger others.