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September 24, 2019
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September 24, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





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


UNC denies claims of bias in Middle East studies program
The University of North Carolina is disputing federal allegations of bias in a Middle East studies program it runs with Duke University.
In a letter Friday to the U.S. Department of Education, the university defended the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, saying it has been a leader in Middle Eastern language studies.
The department had said the consortium was breaking federal grant rules by focusing on cultural programs and placing too much emphasis on “the positive aspects of Islam” and not other religions.
UNC says that its Urdu language enrollment is the highest in the U.S. and that it organizes dozens of programs on national security annually. Still, the school said it will establish an “advisory board” to review consortium activities.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had ordered the investigation.


NC Republicans make case for new remap to be upheld
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Republicans leading the North Carolina General Assembly say state judges should sign off on new legislative boundaries that the judges directed be drawn when they ruled 2017 maps were skewed illegally by GOP bias.
Attorneys for Republican lawmakers filed a legal memorandum explaining how dozens of House and Senate maps approved last week were created and comply with standards the judges laid out.
The lawyers wrote on Monday that their clients disagree with the partisan gerrymandering ruling, but followed the judgment to create an “unimpeachably fair, nonpartisan and transparent” process.
The plaintiffs who sued in the case have until Friday to make any objections to the plans. The judges could approve the districts as they are or alter them with the help of an outside expert.


NC officials aim to reopen Ocracoke highway by Thanksgiving
OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Department of Transportation aims to reopen the only highway on Ocracoke Island in time for Thanksgiving.
The department says in a news release that it’s already coordinated with the National Park Service and other agencies and has a detailed repair plan for N.C. Highway 12, which suffered what NCDOT describes as “catastrophic damage.”
Work will include a reconstruction of the dune line protecting the roadway and complete rebuilding of about 1,000 feet (304 meters) of roadway. The N.C. Ferry Division’s Dredge Manteo will pump sand from the old Hatteras ferry channel to supply sand for reconstruction of the dune.
The contract sets a target a date of Nov. 22 for reopening the roadway, with incentives for opening early.
Final completion is set for April 30.


Decisions on GOP mapmaker’s files shifted to single judge
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – One trial court judge will decide whether more computer files from a late Republican consultant who drew North Carolina’s electoral districts this decade can be made public.
A three-judge panel ordered Monday that legal conflicts over additional disclosure of documents from Thomas Hofeller’s computer hard drives is being transferred to Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier.
Hofeller’s files surfaced when plaintiffs in a redistricting lawsuit presided over by the three judges subpoenaed them. A few dozen documents were used in the trial.
But Hofeller documents surfaced in a federal census case and are now being sought in a voter identification lawsuit.
The three judges ordered the files remain confidential while Hofeller’s consulting firm designates those it wants private. That order expires late Friday.


NC Democratic leader revives budget override vote complaints
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Democratic leader in the North Carolina House says it’s plainly clear Republican counterparts have misled him and the public on how an unexpected override vote on Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget bill veto came about.
House Minority Leader Darren Jackson told reporters on Monday he’s so convinced Speaker Tim Moore’s top lieutenant told him no votes would be taken the morning of Sept. 11 that he’s taken a lie detector test. Jackson called on Moore, Rules Chairman David Lewis and two others to do the same and offered to pay for the tests.
Moore responded with his own news conference later Monday, calling the test dare a “sideshow” and “silly games.”
Most House Republicans but only about 15 Democrats were in the chamber that morning when the override vote occurred.


Dorian-flooded NC school to get iPads for displaced students
OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s top education official says the state will send hundreds of iPads to students and teachers on an island damaged by Hurricane Dorian.
North Carolina Public Schools said in a press release that Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Monday the department of public instruction would send 200 iPads to Ocracoke School, where flooding forced 185 students out of their building.
The department says it hopes the iPads will help students stay on schedule with schoolwork until their building can be reopened. Students are currently attending classes in a teaching center.
The release says the Sept. 6 hurricane flooded Ocracoke School with more than 3 feet (1 meter) of water.
Gov. Roy Cooper has asked President Donald Trump to declare the island a disaster area so federal funds can be accessed.


Ex-prosecutor convicted of peeping suspended by State Bar
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – The N.C. State Bar has suspended a former prosecutor convicted of peeping after he violated an agreement which banned him from a college campus.
Brooke McKinley Webster was convicted in January of going onto the Wake Forest University campus in September 2018, claiming it was a cut-through. The former assistant district attorney in Wilkes and Yadkins counties had been banned because he was accused of using a handheld mirror under a desk to look at a female student in April 2017.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the State Bar determined that suspension was appropriate but also stayed the decision for two years, meaning Webster can still practice law. To maintain the stay, Webster has to meet some conditions, including getting a psychological evaluation and complying with the recommended treatment.


The Latest: Man in cyberstalking case remaining in custody
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – A federal magistrate is ordering a white Florida man charged with cyberstalking and making racist threats against a black activist in Virginia to remain in custody.
Magistrate Judge Thomas Wilson on Monday ordered Daniel McMahon to continue in confinement, saying his mental instability raised concerns that he would be a threat to the community.
Wilson made his decision during a hearing in Tampa.
The judge says McMahon’s cheering on of mass shooters, such as ones in Pittsburgh and Charleston, worried him.
But McMahon’s defense attorney argued that McMahon’s diatribes were only political speech. Attorney Nicholas Matassini said those words were protected by law, as distasteful as they may be.
A federal prosecutor, Carlton Gammons, said that making threats of violence against another person wasn’t free speech.



AP-WF-09-24-19 1020GMT