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ELECTION 2020-EARLY VOTING

Early voting means 2020 primary is already here for millions

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Iowa caucuses haven't yet happened, but millions of Americans are already free to vote. Many of the Super Tuesday states that hold primaries on March 3 offer early voting. That gives campaigns a chance to bank votes before results in the first four voting contests can reshape the trajectory of the race. Early voting began in person last week in Minnesota. California, Colorado, North Carolina and Texas are expected to see a strong early voting turnout, either by mail or in person, when it opens next month.

VOTER ID

N Carolina attorneys file appeal plans of voter ID ruling

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's attorney general has filed notice to appeal a federal judge's ruling that blocked the latest attempt by the General Assembly to carry out voter photo identification. Lawyers serving under Democratic AG Josh Stein entered the paperwork on Friday. U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs issued an injunction last month preventing the photo ID requirement from being carried out for at least the March 3 primary. Stein's Department of Justice had already announced its plans to appeal, making clear it would not seek to do so in time for the primary so as to avoid confusion.

SLEEPING DRIVER-CRASH

Trooper: NC driver fell asleep, injured 6 kids, 3 adults

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina say a driver fell asleep at the wheel and careened off an interstate, injuring herself, two other adults and six children. Highway Patrol Trooper Ray Pierce says no one in the vehicle Thursday night was wearing proper restraints, including the children ranging from 4 months to 10 years old. An 8-month-old baby was being held by an adult in the front seat. All nine people remained hospitalized Friday. Driver Shontavia Smith Barber told troopers she fell asleep and veered off of Interstate 485 Inner Loop. Barber faces multiple charges, including reckless driving and failure to restrain children.

APARTMENT FIRE-DEATH

One dead after fire at North Carolina apartment complex

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina sheriff's office says one person is dead after an apartment fire. The Onslow County Sheriff's Office says in a news release that the fire erupted shortly after 1 a.m. on Friday at a complex just outside of Jacksonville. Investigators say a second person was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. The Onslow County Sheriff's Office says 12 apartments at the complex were either damaged or destroyed.

SEA TURTLES FREEZING

120 sea turtles 'stunned' during North Carolina cold snap

ROANOKE ISLAND, N.C. (AP) — Rapidly dipping ocean temperatures have been stunning sea turtles off North Carolina's Outer Banks, causing them to float to the surface of the chilly waters and wash ashore in critical condition. The Virginian-Pilot reports that 120 sea turtles were brought to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island by Wednesday. Teams there are treating the turtles so they can be returned to the sea. Wildlife educator Karen Clark says the cold-blooded creatures can become temporarily immobile when water temperatures suddenly drop below 55 degrees. National Park Service biological technician William Thompson said water temperatures hovered around 55 degrees this week before dropping to 40.

LOCKE FOUNDATION-CEO

Colorado think tank leader now heads NC's Locke Foundation

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The new chief executive of North Carolina's leading conservative think tank comes to the John Locke Foundation from a similar organization in Colorado. The foundation announced this week that Amy O. Cooke is now leading the 30-year-old group. Cooke worked for 16 years with the Denver-based Independence Institute, serving as executive vice president and director of its Energy and Environmental Policy Center. Cooke also will be publisher of the foundation's Carolina Journal newspaper. Cooke is the foundation's fourth CEO.

BC-US-HURRICANE MICHAEL-LINEMEN KILLED

No contest plea in crash that killed workers after hurricane

CHIPLEY, Fla. (AP) — A man prosecutors say was high on drugs when his pickup truck fatally struck three utility workers fixing power lines in the Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Michael faces the possibility of life in prison. Court records show 38-year-old John Goedtke pleaded no contest Thursday to DUI manslaughter and other charges. He had no deal with prosecutors and awaits sentencing Monday by a judge in Florida's Washington County. Investigators say the Florida man was pulling a trailer at high speed just before he crashed his pickup truck in October 2018, striking the three workers as they were repairing lines north of Panama City.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING CHARGE-NORTH CAROLINA

NC sheriff: Man held woman in 'sexual servitude' for 5 years

ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina say a tip helped them capture a man accused of keeping a woman as a sex slave for five years. The Randolph County Sheriff's Office says 48-year-old Salvador Escobar is expected in court Friday. The Asheboro man was arrested Wednesday after deputies received information from the National Human Trafficking Tip Line. A release says Escobar is accused of keeping a woman in “sexual servitude” by withholding basic needs in exchange for forced sexual acts since January 2015. Escobar is charged with felony human trafficking. It's unclear whether he has an attorney who could comment on his behalf.