Latest North Carolina News:
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
Cooper eases North Carolina gathering, occupancy limits
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolinians will soon be able to gather in larger groups and businesses will be able to operate at greater capacity. The updated pandemic guidance from Gov. Roy Cooper takes effect Friday and will remain in place until April 30. The statewide mask mandate remains in place. A required six feet of physical distancing may not allow businesses to reopen at the capacity caps outlined. The announcement comes as North Carolina works to shift its allocation strategy to support communities where a smaller share of residents have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. The state is considering offering incentives to encourage vaccinations.
XGR-SCHOOL REOPENING GUIDANCE
N.C. 6-12 graders OK’d to return with less desk separation
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Updated guidance from North Carolina state health officials now allows middle and high school students to return to daily, in-person instruction without having to be separated by 6 feet (1.8 meters) while seated inside a classroom. The change comes in response to federal guidance that recommends all K-12 students be kept at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) apart. School can still operate under a different plan that requires the six feet of separation. Meanwhile, state lawmakers advanced a pair of bills that would include charter schools in the K-12 reopening plan and allow the state’s public college and university system to make pay cuts.
Cooper to unveil proposed NC budget for next 2 years
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper will disclose spending and priorities when he unveils his North Carolina government budget proposal for the next two years. The Democratic governor scheduled a Wednesday news conference to roll out his plan. The General Assembly will consider his requests as House and Senate Republicans fashion a budget bill and get it to Cooper’s desk. GOP legislators and Cooper have had mixed success over the past two years finding consensus on large spending bills. The two sides never agreed on a conventional two-year budget in 2019 due to an impasse over Medicaid expansion.
NC House members file bill on transgender students in sports
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Several North Carolina Republican legislators have filed a bill that would block transgender women and girls from joining women’s high school and college athletic teams. The state House measure filed this week comes as legislators in nearly 30 other states have proposed similar prohibitions. At least two states have passed laws. A bill sponsor said on Tuesday that he wasn’t aware of public controversies surrounding transgender athletes in the state but wanted to be proactive. The LGBT rights group Equality North Carolina opposes the bill as discriminatory. The measure would allow “biological female students” to sue if the law was violated.
Senators press NC elections chief for answers on ballot deal
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Republican senators peppered the state’s top elections administrator with questions about a legal settlement that altered rules for the fall election. GOP members of a committee accused State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell on Tuesday of carrying out unlawful balloting changes and reducing voter confidence. Brinson Bell defended her actions and those of the board as building trust in the system by ensuring more mail-in ballots would be counted after worries about postage delays during the pandemic. One big change allowed county election boards to wait six days longer for ballots postmarked by Election Day.
EATING THE EVIDENCE
Child porn conviction follows attempt to eat the evidence
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A Mexican national has been convicted on child pornography charges after authorities say he tried to swallow memory cards containing pornographic images when he was detained following a traffic stop. Federal prosecutors say 31-year-old David Sierra Orozco was convicted Tuesday after a two-day jury trial in Raleigh, North Carolina. of possessing child pornography. Local deputies in Harnett County stopped Orozco in July 2017. During the traffic stop, deputies found more than $100,000 in cash. During a subsequent search, officers found memory cards wrapped in a folded $100 bill. when several cards fell to the floor, Orozco tried to eat them. He faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing. His lawyer declined comment.
CAPITOL RIOT-PROUD BOY PLEA
Seattle Proud Boys leader pleads not guilty in Capitol siege
SEATTLE (AP) – A Seattle-area man and a leader of the far-right Proud Boys has pleaded not guilty to federal charges accusing him of helping to plan and lead the deadly January attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Seattle Times reports Ethan Nordean made the plea Tuesday during a video conference before Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Nordean was arraigned with another Proud Boys leader and co-defendant, Joseph Biggs of Florida, who also pleaded not guilty. They and two others are accused of being ringleaders in the siege to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
DISCARDED PIT BULLS
Dogs’ bodies found in ditch during N.C. community cleanup
LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) – The bodies of 10 dogs, mostly pit bulls, were found discarded in trash bags during a community cleanup even in North Carolina. Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said Saturday in a Facebook post that the dogs’ discovery is under investigation. He said the trash bags containing the dogs’ bodies had been discarded in a ditch. The bags were found during a community cleanup event Saturday organized by first responders in the county. Volunteers collected more than 1,500 bags of trash and 200 tires. Wilkins said the dogs’ bodies had deteriorated too badly to determine their cause of death.