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POLICE CAR-STUFFED MONKEY
Police remove stuffed monkey from patrol car after complaint
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina police chief is apologizing after officers carried a stuffed black dreadlock-wearing monkey in the back seat of their police cruiser.
Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson said Wednesday that the stuffed animal was removed from the patrol car after a woman who posted a video of it on Facebook called it the most racist thing she’d ever seen.
Police said the toy was used to calm children who have been traumatized by anything from a fire to an act of violence.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports the chief said she understands why people were offended. Thompson said steps are being taken to make sure nothing like that happens again.
Southern drought shows first improvement in weeks
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – A drought that threatened crops and helped spark wildfires across the South is showing the first real improvement in weeks.
A new assessment from the National Drought Mitigation Center says more than a quarter of the Southeast was drought-free on Thursday.
That’s an improvement of more than 10 percentage points in a week, and forecasters say heavy rain could inundate the region this weekend.
More than 25 million people are still affected by arid conditions in the Southeast, with much of eastern Alabama, northern Georgia and western South Carolina far too dry. Millions more are living in drought-plagued areas in Texas and the Southwest.
Alabama lifted a statewide fire alert this week and high schools in several states are rescheduling Friday night football games because of the rainy forecast.
ELECTION 2020-SENATE FUNDRAISING
While Trump rakes in cash, some Senate Republicans lagging
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump is raising record amounts of cash for his 2020 reelection bid. But it’s not spilling over to the most vulnerable Republicans fighting to hold onto their seats in a narrowly divided Senate.
Democrats outraised Republicans in key battlegrounds like Arizona and Maine. In Colorado, the Republican incumbent was nearly outraised by a former governor who had been in the race only five weeks. And even in states where the GOP is on firmer footing, such as Iowa and North Carolina, candidates posted lackluster sums.
The lagging numbers suggest that much of the enthusiasm among the GOP base is focused on Trump and doesn’t necessarily translate to Republicans running for other offices.
The dynamic could complicate the GOP’s effort to maintain its 53-47 grip on the Senate.
Missing family dog among 51 found in western NC home
MARSHALL, N.C. (AP) – A dog missing for two years is home with his family after he was found with 50 other dogs in a western North Carolina home.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports the shepherd mix named Ruger was 6 months old when he disappeared from Barnardsville. The town is about 45 miles away from where he was found earlier this month in the unincorporated community of Spring Creek in Madison County.
The county’s animal control has set up a temporary shelter at the county fairgrounds to house the dogs, known as the “Madison 51.” Officials encouraged people with missing dogs to check the shelter.
Ruger was reunited Wednesday with his owners.
The 78-year-old woman who was housing the dogs faces assault charges because authorities say she threatened to kill animal control officers.
North Carolina 2020 congressional districts go before court
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina judges are listening to a request to order a new state congressional map for next year’s elections even before a trial is held on whether district lines were drawn by Republicans with extreme intent to favor the GOP.
A three-judge panel set a hearing for Thursday to consider the legal motion by Democratic and independent voters who sued to overturn the map. Their lawyers say evidence is overwhelming that partisan gerrymandering occurred when boundaries for 13 U.S. House districts were drawn in 2016.
Republican legislators say ordering a remap would create electoral disorder for races set to begin with candidate filing in December and primaries in March.
The plaintiffs are emboldened by a September ruling from the same three judges ordering changes to dozens of state legislative districts.
North Carolina authorities seize 50 pounds of pot in bust
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff’s office says investigators seized about 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of marijuana during an investigation that also led to two arrests.
A news release Wednesday from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office says the two-month probe began when it received information from another sheriff’s office.
The release says deputies arrested Anthony Colon and Bailey Deoliveira on Tuesday and charged them with multiple marijuana trafficking counts.
It says Colon was arrested with a pound of marijuana in his car. Detectives then executed warrants at two apartments where they found more marijuana along with THC vape cartridges.
Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. J.J. Brewer said investigators didn’t know if the men had attorneys who could speak on their behalf.
NC principal accused of assaulting high school student
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A principal of a North Carolina high school is accused of assaulting a 15-year-old student.
News outlets report North Pitt High School principal Maurice Harris was arrested Wednesday and charged with simple assault. An arrest warrant says the 43-year-old grabbed the teen by “the collar” on Oct. 1 and took him to the floor, where he struck the teen’s upper body and face with his knee.
Pitt County Schools says Harris is now on paid administrative leave. Harris has since posted bail and been released from custody. It’s unclear if Harris has a lawyer who can comment on his behalf.
Dire prison conditions described 2 years after NC slayings
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina officials are warning that conditions in dozens of prisons are as dire as they’ve ever been as low pay and more violent inmates are pushing more guards to leave, making surroundings riskier for those remaining.
State Prisons Commissioner Todd Ishee said Wednesday a correction officer who escaped serious injury after being stabbed in the head earlier this month is among the average of two prison employees being assaulted every day.
Ishee says about a quarter of the corrections officers needed to run the state’s prisons have left jobs vacant. Mandatory overtime on top of 12-hour days means some guards are only getting a couple of days off per month.
A prison reform advisory board recommended improving pay and benefits for guards so they’re comparable with outside law officers.