North Carolina burglary fail: Would-be burglar beaten by resident

John Alexander Bracken is accused of breaking into a home and getting into a fight with a resident. (Fox 46)

CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. – A man accused of breaking into a home in Carolina beach reportedly ended up getting into a fight with the resident.

Scott Hettinger with the Carolina Beach Police Department tells WECT-TV they found the suspect, John Alexander Bracken, laying in the front yard of the home after being called out on a breaking and entering.

Officers determined that Bracken had kicked in the front door of the home, only to find the resident inside. That’s when the resident started beating the suspect to protect his property, according to WWAY-TV.

The resident was not injured.

Bracken was taken to the New Hanover County Jail under $7.500 bond. He faces charges of burglary, injury to real property and injury to personal property.

Click for more from Fox 46.

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North Carolina man receives shocking $100 million charge on water bill

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. – The water bill wasn’t so bad, but the service charge was eye-popping.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that Kieran Healy of Orange County in central North Carolina got a water bill for $189.92. The service charge was a dollar shy of $100 million.

Hey @owasa1, I just got a water bill for a hundred million dollars. Specifically, for $100,000,188 and 92 cents. Can I pay in installments?

— Kieran Healy (@kjhealy) June 14, 2017

Healy said he asked Orange Water and Sewer Authority on Twitter on Wednesday if he could make installment payments.

Healy posted later Wednesday the utility assured him that his bill was wrong.

The utility’s Stephen Winters said an outside company sends payment reminder emails to customers before their account is drafted. Winters said a mistake made it appear Healy faced a huge bill.

Winters said he doesn’t know how many customers may get emails with incorrect service charges, but the company is sending out apology messages.

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Civil Liberty Groups Decry North Carolina’s Restrictive Laws Push

Over the past six years, North Carolina has pushed some of the most restrictive legislation in the country, civil liberties groups say — and they caution that the state’s push could represent the proverbial "canary in the coalmine."

In two separate cases within the past few weeks, the North Carolina legislature suffered significant defeats in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the first, the high court declined to revive the state’s restrictive voter ID law, a law that gained national attention last year when a federal appeals court ruled its provisions deliberately “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls.

On May 22, the Supreme Court threw out two of the state’s congressional districts, ruling that lawmakers unconstitutionally used race as a predominant factor when drawing the maps.

Civil rights organizations celebrated these actions by the courts.

But North Carolina Republican legislators remain undeterred. Within hours after learning their appeal would not be heard on the voter ID case, state GOP leaders pledged to pass a new bill.

While other states have leveraged GOP majorities in state legislatures to push through conservative policies, North Carolina outpaces other states in passing laws that dial back civil liberties, said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

“There’s clearly been a broader breakdown in democratic culture in North Carolina that is extending beyond these discriminatory laws,” Weiser said. “I think of North Carolina as a canary in the coalmine.”

In North Carolina, civil liberty groups say, restrictive legislation follows a familiar pattern.

The Republican-dominated state legislature, armed with a veto-proof supermajority secured by carefully crafted gerrymandering, passes controversial legislation.

The law is challenged in court.

The state loses.

North Carolina is not the only state to take advantage of a 2010 Republican legislative sweep to put in place both legislative maps and voting laws that would entrench their current legislative majority.

In Texas, the courts have struck down strict voter ID laws and several congressional districts that were found to intentionally discriminate against minority voters. The Supreme Court advised a lower court examine Virginia’s redistricting efforts for signs of racial bias and gerrymandering. In a similar case in Alabama, the high court ruled 5 to 4 that the state legislature relied too heavily on race when it drew districts.

Rachel Jordan protests outside the House gallery during a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, Dec. 16, 2016.

But civil liberty experts say North Carolina has been unique in the breadth and scope of what they call its restrictive legislation.

"North Carolina Republicans, I think it’s fair to say, have gone further than their counterparts in any other state in using their total control over state government to manipulate election rules in such a way as to advantage their own party," says Zachary Roth, former national correspondent for and author of "The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy." "We’ve seen that in a number of states, but North Carolina Republicans have been the most brazen and aggressive about it."

Despite being rebuffed by the courts on legislation ranging from stripping the powers of the state’s Democratic governor, to portions of the infamous "bathroom bill," reproductive rights for women, stringent voting restrictions and gerrymandering based on race, many experts believe there is no end in sight.

“Republicans still hold all the cards,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of the nonpartisan group Common Cause North Carolina. “These court decisions are not deterring them at all, they’re just pivoting.”

With a supermajority in the legislature, Republicans can pass laws without a single Democratic vote. Because of this, substantial and consequential laws are being decided not on the assembly floor, but in the courtroom.

And as the state wages these lengthy court battles, the taxpayers are left footing this ever-rising bill.

As of November 2016, North Carolina Republican lawmakers had spent more than $10.5 million litigating controversial laws since coming to power in 2011, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. That total has only grown higher as cases have wound their way through the appeals process.

Almost half that money — $4.9 million — went to defend the state’s sweeping voter law, which was overturned by a panel of federal of judges. On May 15, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the state’s appeal. Lawmakers spent an additional $3.7 million defending the redistricting plans that were also overturned by the courts.

As the legislature proposes cuts to arts and physical education in North Carolina schools, residents wonder if this money tied up in courts, litigating highly unpopular legislation like the “bathroom bill,” could be better spent.

“For those of us that live in the state, this is sad because that’s money that might have gone to public education or other things that are important to the citizens of North Carolina,” says Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “But the state legislature obviously doesn’t seem to care. They’re continuing to try and press their claims, or defend against their claims, and the cost just doesn’t seem to be a factor.”

Advocacy groups worry that North Carolina could set a dangerous precedent for rest of the country if this rule-until-the-courts-intervene style of governance continues.

“I fear that once we start going down that path of allowing temporary legislative majorities to change the rules to entrench their power and benefit themselves in a variety of ways, regardless of what the people want, that it will snowball,” Weiser said.

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Cam Johnson makes case for release from Pitt, transfer to North Carolina

(Photo: Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports)

Cam Johnson, the sought-after graduate transfer from the University of Pittsburgh, has finally chosen his next school from an array of suitors: North Carolina.

Now the pertinent question becomes: Will he see the court for the Tar Heels this coming season?

Normally, this wouldn’t even be a question. Graduate transfers typically play immediately at any school of their choosing — but in this case, Pitt decided to place a restriction on Johnson that would force him to burn one of his two remaining years of eligibility (he graduated in three years, playing two of them, from Pitt) and sit out next season if he wishes to transfer to a fellow Atlantic Coast Conference school.

Johnson, a 6-8 wing who averaged nearly 12 points a game for the Panthers during his redshirt sophomore year last season, appears ready to fight his former school on this count.


In a statement released to the Raleigh News & Observer on Tuesday, Johnson added to his already compelling case for immediate eligibility:

"On June 2, I was informed that the NCAA had determined that Pitt’s attempt to make me ‘serve a year of residence prior to being eligible for competition’ does not apply to graduate transfers per bylaw 14.6.1.,” Johnson wrote. “According to the NCAA, this bylaw means graduate transfers must be immediately eligible or totally denied from attending a school. Having already won the right to “immediately receive athletically related financial aid” from an ACC institution at my appeal hearing, I believe, as does my family’s legal counsel, that I should be immediately eligible at North Carolina.”

In the lengthy statement, Johnson went on to point out that during his three years at Pitt he had a coach (Jamie Dixon) leave for TCU, a coach (Kevin Stallings) who left Vanderbilt to come to Pitt, an athletic director (Scott Barnes) leave for Oregon State, an athletic director (Heather Lyke) who left Eastern Michigan to come to Pitt and an associate athletic director leave for another school.

“All five of these individual left their jobs under contract and all had the freedom to move as they pleased,” Johnson wrote. “As a student-athlete, who is not a paid employee of the school, and a graduate, shouldn’t I be granted the same freedom of movement?”

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North Carolina high school principal apologizes for student’s ‘sexist’ yearbook quote

A North Carolina high school principal apologized on Wednesday after a student’s offensive statement was published in the school’s yearbook.

A senior at Panther Creek High School in Wake County submitted a quote to the yearbook committee that read: "I don’t know what’s worse, candy corn or women’s rights," according to The News & Observer.

Many students were outraged that the "sexist" statement was published in the high school memorabilia when they received the yearbooks on Wednesdsay. Principal Camille Hedrick issued an apology on Twitter later that day, assuring that administratives will look into its editorial review process in the future.

"I would like to apologize to our school community for the offensive senior quote that was not caught by the yearbook review process," Hedrick wrote in the statement.

"This sexist quote is a poor representation of our school and particularly our senior class. I am disappointed that it was published, and doubly disappointed that one of our students would harbor – let alone express – such a hateful viewpoint. This isn’t who we are," the statement read.

In the same week, principal Dana King of Millbrook High School, also in Wake County, issued an apology for another offensive yearbook quote that read, "I like my women how I like my milk: white, rich and 2% fat," the newspaper reported.

Principals in the Wake County public school system have the right to prohibit any "vulgar, indecent, or obsene" material from being published in the yearbook. However, the county website states: "Student reporters and editors are responsible for the content of student publications."

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