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September 11, 2019
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September 11, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT






The Latest: GOP’s Bishop wins NC special election

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Conservative Republican Dan Bishop has won a special election for an open House seat in North Carolina, averting a demoralizing Democratic capture of a district the GOP has held for nearly six decades.

But Bishop’s narrow victory over centrist Democrat Dan McCready didn’t erase questions about whether President Donald Trump and his party’s congressional candidates face troubling headwinds approaching 2020.

Bishop is a state senator best known for a North Carolina law dictating which public bathrooms transgender people can use. He tied himself tightly to Trump, who staged an election-eve rally for him, and Tuesday’s voting seemed no less than a referendum on the president.

Trump quickly took credit for the triumph, proclaiming a “BIG NIGHT FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY” on Twitter.




2 found guilty of vandalizing monument to black workers

(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) — Two people accused of vandalizing a memorial to enslaved and free black workers who built UNC-Chapel Hill have been ordered to pay fine and perform community service.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports 31-year-old Ryan Francis Barnett of Sanford and 50-year-old Nancy Rushton McCorkle of Newberry, South Carolina, were found guilty of injury to real property and larceny, both misdemeanors.

An Orange County judge sentenced Barnett and McCorkle to 200 hours of community service, 18 months of unsupervised probation and a $500 fine.

The two were accused of marking the Unsung Founders Memorial in March with what the school’s interim chancellor said was “racist language.”

The memorial is in a central plaza that also featured a statue of a Confederate soldier before protesters tore it down in August.




As impasse goes on, Republicans advance more ‘mini-budgets’

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Republican legislators are advancing chunks of a spending plan vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper that they believe can win bipartisan support.

The legislature’s appropriations committees approved on Tuesday more so-called pieces of “mini-budget” legislation.

The four bills — expected to be heard on the Senate and House floors on Wednesday — provides money for school and prison safety improvements, earmarks more disaster relief funds and directs how to test all old sexual assault evidence kits held by law enforcement. All were contained in the budget that’s been sidelined during the impasse.

Cooper last month signed four state employee and law enforcement pay measures approved unanimously by the GOP-controlled General Assembly. But he vetoed another one addressing the state’s long-planned shift to managed care for Medicaid.




Court strikes down Montana law barring political robocalls

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal appeals court says a Montana law that restricts automated telephone calls about political campaigns violates the First Amendment’s free-speech protections.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that so-called robocalls can’t be regulated based on the content of their messages.

The ruling that strikes down the 1991 Montana law barring political robocalls also applies to the eight other Western states within the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction.

The judges say the court has previously upheld state laws that regulate robocalls, such as those that aim to protect consumers from scams.

But they say restricting a robocall based on its content is a different matter. The opinion written by Judge Richard Paez says “prohibiting political robocalls strikes at the heart of the First Amendment.”




Remap transparency order means live video, lottery machine

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A court-ordered directive for more openness in North Carolina redistricting is leading to actions directed at improving public access and transparency.

The state House and Senate redistricting committees on Tuesday started live-streaming their meetings, where they are working to meet a Sept. 18 deadline that state judges set to enact new boundaries. The judges last week declared district maps approved in 2017 violated the state constitution by injecting boundaries with extreme partisan bias to favor Republicans. They ordered the remapping must be conducted “in full public view.”

The livestreams have aired spreadsheets and voices of legislative staff workers as they crunch numbers involving potential replacement maps.

The Senate also has brought in a state lottery machine with pingpong balls inside to pick certain maps at random, in keeping with transparency.




Sheriff: Kitchen stove to blame for house fire that killed 2

RICHLANDS, N.C. (AP) — Investigators in North Carolina say a kitchen stove is to blame for a weekend house fire that killed two sisters.

The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office says in a news release that deputies responding to a fire near Jacksonville on Saturday found 63-year-old Phyllis Moore outside the home and unresponsive. Phyllis Moore was taken to a local hospital, where she died.

While helping Phyllis Moore, deputies learned a second person was inside the home. Upon entering, they found 63-year-old Katherine Moore, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Onslow County Emergency Management investigators determined the fire was accidental and began on the stove.

Preliminary results from autopsies performed on both victims on Monday showed the women died of suffocation from smoke. A final determination is pending a toxicology report.




NC chief justice announces new parental leave for attorneys

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s chief justice will be announcing new rules for attorneys that quadruple the amount of time they can take off from court appearances after the birth or adoption of a child.

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley will provide details of the change Tuesday. But online changes made to rules for attorney appearances in appellate, Superior and District courts show that attorneys will be able to take 12 weeks off within 24 weeks of the birth or adoption. The change is in addition to the three weeks of leave attorneys can already take.

Under the rule, attorneys will tell the courts when they’re unavailable so that their cases aren’t scheduled.

The change comes after a meeting in February between various legal groups and the chief justice’s professionalism commission.




Adidas fixer gets 1 year of probation in college hoops case

NEW YORK (AP) — A former Adidas consultant who became a key government witness in a college basketball corruption case has been sentenced to one year of probation.

Thomas “T.J.” Gassnola received the term on Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan after apologizing for his crimes.

Gassnola had pleaded guilty in a scheme to funnel secret payments to the families of top recruits and agreed to testify against a former Adidas executive and two other defendants at a 2018 trial. All three were convicted on fraud charges.

He told jurors he was among a crew of fixers conducting what he described as “black ops” to try to get prized prospects to sign with Adidas-sponsored basketball programs.

As part of probation, the 47-year-old Gassnola’s will have to serve two months of home detention.