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AP-US-REDRAWING-AMERICA-DATA-RACE

Records reveal concerns of deceased GOP redistricting expert

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The previously confidential computer records of a deceased Republican strategist reveal he was concerned that Democrats were developing better data that could give them an advantage in the next round of redistricting. Republican consultant Thomas Hofeller died in 2018. His estranged daughter posted scores of his electronic records online this month. An Associated Press review of those records shows Hofeller in 2013 had proposed a $1.4 million annual budget to create a new Republican office focused on redistricting data. While his plan was not implemented, Republicans launched a separate effort in 2017 with a broader objective and larger budget.

SUPREME COURT PORTRAITS

Court portrait of writer of notorious slave ruling reviewed

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The artwork in the North Carolina Supreme Court building faces a review, following criticism of a towering portrait of a 19th-century chief justice who wrote a notorious decision on the rights of slaveholders. Justice Thomas Ruffin's portrait hangs above the chief justice’s seat. Two African American chief justices have sat beneath it, including current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. In an 1829 decision, Ruffin overturned the conviction of a slaveholder for shooting a slave in the back, saying “the power of the master must be absolute.” A state commission reviewing the court’s artwork is supposed to make its recommendations at the end of this year.

SOLDIERS KILLED-FORT BRAGG

Remains of fallen US soldier returned to Fort Bragg

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — The remains of a soldier who was killed a week ago in Afghanistan have been returned to his family in the U.S. The Fayetteville Observer reports the family of Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin greeted his flag-draped casket at Pope Army Airfield at Fort Bragg on Saturday. The 29-year-old from Newport News, Virginia, was killed Jan. 11 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Also killed in the attack last Saturday was 21-year-old Pfc. Miguel A. Villalon of Joliet, Illinois. After McLaughlin's widow was given a moment to say goodbye, hundreds of other paratroopers lined the roadway to salute as the hearse was escorted away.

AIR VENT ESCAPE

Police rescue suspect who hid in air vent, got stuck

SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina say they had to rescue a suspect after he tried to escape arrest by hiding in an air vent. The man got stuck and had to be rescued by deputies before being taken to jail, according to the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, which conducted a roundup earlier this week targeting people who allegedly weren't paying child support. Ten people with outstanding warrants were arrested, as were six more for interfering with deputies, the Charlotte Observer reported. The attempted air vent incident wasn't the only botched attempt to avoid arrest, according to police.

DISMAL SWAMP CANAL CLOSURE

Dismal Swamp Canal to be closed to traffic for about 90 days

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) — The Dismal Swamp Canal on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway between North Carolina and Virginia will be closed to traffic for about 90 days for maintenance.  The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City reports the locks at South Mills and at Deep Creek in Virginia have temporarily discontinued operations while the work is being completed. The Army Corps of Engineers says canal gates are removed and restored every 15 to 20 years. The South Mills gates were last rehabilitated in 2002. The estimated cost of the rehabilitation project is $525,000. The work is expected to be completed by the end of March.

TEACHER STRIKE SURVEY

North Carolina group gauges teachers' support for strike

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Association of Educators wants to know how long teachers would stay out of the classroom to get the pay raises and benefits that they want. The NCAE is surveying teachers to find out how long they would participate in a work stoppage if the legislature doesn’t meet its demands, which include 5% pay raises, $15 minimum wages, Medicaid expansion and reinstating previous retiree health benefits. NCAE President Mark Jewell says the survey is a first step in determining teachers' support for a work stoppage. The NCAE is the leading lobbying group for teachers in North Carolina.

UNC BOARD-STATE BUDGET

University leaders plead for NC budget stalemate to end

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — The governing board of the University of North Carolina system is pleading with state elected leaders to resolve soon a budget stalemate that began last summer. The board passed unanimously on Friday a resolution calling on elected officials to “move swiftly” to approve the state budget. A two-year budget passed by Republican legislators has never been enacted, as Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed it. System President Bill Roper says the stalemate has blocked money to cover enrollment growth for students who need scholarships, as well as pay raises and hundred of millions of dollars in construction.

HIGHWAY SHOOTINGS-NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina teen accused of shooting at cars

WILSON, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina have accused a teenager of shooting at vehicles on a highway. News sources report the 14-year-old will be charged in juvenile court with 20 counts of discharging a barreled weapon into an occupied vehicle and 20 counts of damage to personal property. The Wilson County Sheriff's Office says the shootings happened Wednesday near the 38-mile marker on U.S. 264.