Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
VOTER CHALLENGES-NORTH CAROLINA
US judge voids part of North Carolina election law
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal judge is invalidating part of North Carolina elections law that allows one voter to challenge another’s residency, a provision that activist groups used to scrub thousands of names from rolls ahead of the 2016 elections.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs signed an order Wednesday saying the residency challenges are pre-empted by the 1993 federal “motor voter” law aimed at expanding voting opportunities.
Biggs said challenges to county elections boards must follow the federal law’s requirements for advance notice of voter disqualification and individual investigations before most people can be dropped close to a federal election.
Biggs ordered days before the 2016 elections that Cumberland, Moore and Beaufort counties restore thousands of canceled voter registrations. The NAACP had sued, alleging the purge of voter rolls disproportionately targeted blacks.
LEMONADE STAND STICKUP
Police make arrest in North Carolina lemonade vendor robbery
MONROE, N.C. (AP) – Deputies in North Carolina have arrested a suspect who they say robbed a 9-year-old lemonade vendor of $17 at gunpoint, an incident which led to more than $200 in donations and a riding lawn mower.
Tony Underwood of the Union County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday detectives obtained security camera footage which showed a person who matched the suspect’s description and was in proximity to the robbery scene.
Underwood said the juvenile’s identity cannot be released under North Carolina law.
Detectives working with the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice obtained petitions charging the juvenile with robbery with a dangerous weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia.
A judge issued a secure custody order for the suspect. Underwood said the order means he will be confined until his next custody hearing in juvenile court.
Man who supported Islamic State online to be deported
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man who declared support for Islamic State online will spend two years in prison and be deported.
A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Houcine Ghoul to 24 months in prison for immigration fraud and false statements on his tax returns. After his sentence, the Tunisian national will be deported.
Ghoul entered the country on a visa in 2001 and married a U.S. citizen to obtain permanent legal resident status. He later was divorced.
Prosecutors said Ghoul first attracted attention from federal authorities in 2014 after posting a photo online expressing support for the Islamic State.
When Ghoul applied for citizenship, he made false claims to about his past to immigration authorities in 2017. Ghoul also underreported his income by $90,000 on his 2015 and 2016 tax returns.
Plaintiffs in North Carolina map case say they can still sue
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Democrats and advocacy groups say they have the individuals and data necessary to satisfy a U.S. Supreme Court directive and show nearly all of North Carolina’s congressional districts are illegal partisan gerrymanders.
A panel of judges asked lawyers in two redistricting lawsuits to write briefs by this week on whether the plaintiffs had legal standing to sue on claims that skewed district boundaries favoring Republicans diminished voting power.
The League of Women Voters of North Carolina, Common Cause and other plaintiffs told the judges they have citizens who can make claims in 12 of 13 House districts.
Lawyers for Republican lawmakers who drew the 2016 map wrote Tuesday the plaintiffs repackaged a statewide challenge like one the Supreme Court rejected in a Wisconsin case, so the lawsuits should be dismissed.
North Carolina officials warn of algal bloom in Chowan River
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Officials in North Carolina are warning residents to avoid contact with green or blue water in the Chowan River because of an algal bloom.
The N.C. Division of Water Resources said in a news release that the affected areas include Bertie and Chowan counties. Reports indicate the bloom has appeared along the eastern and western shorelines of the river from Harrellsville downstream to the Edenton Bay area, as well as the Colerain and Rockyhock areas.
So far, there have been no reports of health problems associated with the bloom.
Algal blooms of this type usually appear bright green, but when a bloom starts to decay, the color can change to a milky blue. The decaying algae produces a strong, foul odor that can impact a large area.
CHILD SAVES TODDLER
‘I jumped in’: Child honored for saving toddler from pool
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
CARRBORO, N.C. (AP) – A 10-year-old boy has been honored by North Carolina authorities for saving a 15-month-old girl from an apartment pool.
The News & Observer reports Joseph Ray “saw the baby sinking to the bottom of the pool” after she tipped out of a float. He says he jumped in and carried her out. The Carrboro Police Department awarded Ray with its Lifesaver Award on Wednesday. The girl was taken to a hospital for observation.
Carrboro Police Officer Steven Dixon responded to the 911 call about the incident. Dixon says that despite all the adults around, Ray was the only one who recognized the baby was in danger. Ray’s mom, Tina Ongoro, says Ray didn’t know the baby was a neighbor at the time, but now the two families keep in touch.
NEW YEAR’S EVE-BLUEBERRY DROP
North Carolina town to drop blueberry to ring in 2019
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
BURGAW, N.C. (AP) – In North Carolina’s state capital, they ring in the new year by dropping an acorn, but officials in another town say their approach to ringing in 2019 will carry a fruity theme.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports officials with the N.C. Blueberry Festival in Burgaw say they will mark the new year by dropping a blueberry.
While planning is still underway, organizers say visitors can expect to see a large metal, painted blueberry drop over the Historic Train Depot. Unlike Times Square in New York, the event runs from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. to allow people to get home and enjoy their own traditions.
By comparison, Kure Beach drops a beach ball at midnight. Brasstown went to court over its opossum drop before ending the tradition last Dec. 31.
ONLINE SALES TAX-NORTH CAROLINA
NC tells big online retailers to charge, turn over sales tax
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina will be one of the first states to start collecting sales taxes on online purchases.
State tax-collectors issued a directive Tuesday requiring online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases by North Carolina consumers. The move comes after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that states can collect sales tax even if the seller lacks a physical presence in that state.
North Carolina’s Revenue Department says it will start enforcing an existing state law on Nov. 1. That means companies selling more than $100,000 or having at least 200 transactions into North Carolina last year or this year would have to collect sales taxes and turn it over to the state.
State officials say they don’t know how much additional money the collections will bring.