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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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 MSNBC.com 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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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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$500 Million Opium Poppy Field Accidentally Found in North Carolina

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Supreme Court’s North Carolina Congressional Districts Ruling Could Mean Trouble for Similar Texas Cases

AP

WASHINGTON — In striking down North Carolina’s congressional district map, the Supreme Court sent Texas a firm warning Monday about how the state’s case may fare if it reaches that stage.

The 5-3 North Carolina ruling affirmed a previous district court decision, which found that Republican state legislators there had “packed” black voters into two Democratic-held districts to dilute the impact of minority votes in other congressional seats.

Written by Justice Elena Kagan, the ruling is the latest in a series of rejections from the Supreme Court in recent years towards redistricting efforts that include racial considerations. The court demanded the review of Virginia state legislature districts in March and also ruled against Alabama’s state legislature districts in 2015.

Even Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative skeptic of discrimination complaints in the past, sided with the majority in the North Carolina case.

Kagan wrote that the court offers “significant deference” to the district court’s ruling, leaving Texas with the tall order of proving that the lower courts made a “clear error” in the earlier judgments.

Perhaps most significantly, Kagan detailed the court’s opinion in a footnote that using a political defense does not necessarily solve the racial issues. Some Republican-controlled states have argued that, rather than discriminating against minorities, they were merely intending to discriminate against Democrats.

That reliance on partisan gerrymandering as a legal excuse will not hold, Kagan wrote.

As Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California Irvine, summed up his reaction to the distinction: “Holy cow this is a big deal.

“This will lead to many more successful racial gerrymandering cases in the American South and elsewhere, and allow these cases to substitute for (so far unsuccessful) partisan gerrymandering claims involving some of these districts,” Hasen wrote on his blog.

Justice Samuel Alito penned a dissent in the case, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy — but it is the majority’s opinion that will hold legal precedence moving forward.

“Partisan gerrymandering is always unsavory, but that is not the issue here,” Alito wrote. “The issue is whether District 12 was drawn predominantly because of race. The record shows that it was not.”

The Texas cases

A three-judge panel in federal district court in San Antonio ruled in March that Texas’ 2011 congressional maps were racially gerrymandered to dilute minority voters. The judges did not detail next steps, likely reserving any potential remedies for when they hear a follow-up case on the 2013 maps in July.

The court specifically took issue with the districts held by Republican Reps. Will Hurd of San Antonio, Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi and Michael Burgess of Lewisville, as well as Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin.

But the forthcoming July hearing on the 2013 map, which was drawn as a temporary fix as the 2011 map faced challenges, is where major changes could be either ordered or avoided.

The San Antonio judges said in their order announcing the trial on the 2013 map that it was taking into consideration the time crunch at hand given the upcoming 2018 elections, meaning they may seek to rule quickly if they hope to fix the maps by that time.

Some of the boundaries that the court took issue with in the 2011 maps are identical to those in the 2013 version.

A spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the North Carolina ruling. But Paxton has previously expressed confidence in the state’s 2013 maps after the district court struck down the 2011 effort.

“The adoption of those maps in 2013 mooted any issue with the 2011 maps. There are no lines to redraw,” Paxton said in a written statement at the time. “Accordingly, we are confident we will prevail in this case.”

Michael Li, a redistricting expert and senior counsel at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, said the North Carolina ruling will be an “important decision” for the other districting efforts winding through the legal system, including those in Texas.

“It makes clear that this isn’t about any sort of talismanic test or anything like that but that you actually have to delve into the facts and circumstances about how maps are drawn,” Li said. “So even a district that looks pretty and has nice lines and everything like that can still be problematic, and it’s really up to the trial court to delve into that.”

Brewing Supreme Court battle

Democrats in Texas celebrated the ruling as a promising indication of how their arguments will fare moving forward.

“I am happy that North Carolina voters secured another victory against the national Republican crusade to undermine the voting power of African Americans and Hispanics in local, state, and federal elections,” said Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who has been on the front lines of another legal case against Texas’ voter ID law.

Though the North Carolina decision may be a setback for Texas’ chances, it will not necessarily be determinative of the outcome. As Kagan reiterated, the specific details of the districts matter greatly. And newly confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch will be able to hear the Texas case, whereas the North Carolina arguments occurred before he took his seat on the court.

While Li said he was reticent to predict Paxton’s decision-making, he expects the North Carolina case will factor into how he handles Texas’ efforts moving forward.

“It should be a warning to states about how the court is going to look at these cases, but that doesn’t mean that Texas won’t appeal,” Li said. “It is fact-specific and there’s a lot politically riding on these decisions, and sometimes taking your chance at the Supreme Court can be important.”

But if Texas does not have more success in district court defending the 2013 map than it did in defending the 2011 map, the North Carolina decision suggests that the state is not likely to find a receptive audience in appealing to the nation’s highest court.

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North Carolina’s U.S. Senator Tillis Collapses at Charitable Race: AP

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) questions Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., in this file photo dated March 21, 2017.

United States Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina collapsed while competing in a three-mile charitable race in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reported.

Tillis, a Republican, was participating in the ACLI Capital Challenge 3 Mile Team Race when he suddenly fell unconscious, the AP reported. Bystanders performed CPR on the 57-year-old, who appeared to be breathing when he was led away in an ambulance, the AP said.

A spokesman for Tillis declined to comment.

Fellow politicians, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, sent their well wishes to Tillis and his family on social media.

“Please pray for my Senate colleague,” Rubio wrote on Twitter.

Tillis, who previously served as speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, unseated Democrat Kay Hagan in the 2014 U.S. Senate elections.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Bernard Orr)

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Cooper Optimistic About Many More Corporate Expansions into Nc

Sealed Air has officially moved to Charlotte, marking the city’s largest corporate relocation in history. The manufacturer, perhaps best known as the maker of Bubble Wrap and other packaging materials, on Wednesday held a ribbon-cutting of its new corporate headquarters off Tyvola Road.

For North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, the event marked the first of many major corporate relocations to North Carolina that he hopes to see during his time in office.

“When you get these kinds of quality jobs and open up an amazing facility for employees, it’s a good day,” Cooper said Wednesday. “I’ve said many times that I want to work to get more money into people’s pockets. The better-paying jobs that we can bring to our state help to do that. I’m excited about having many more of these announcements.”

At its 32-acre campus off Tyvola Road near the airport, the Fortune 500 company now employs over 1,110 people. Sealed Air CEO Jerome Peribere said that workforce figure will grow once Sealed Air closes the deal to sell its Diversey Care unit, which represents about a third of the company, for $3.2 billion.

Cooper said the repeal of House Bill 2, the state’s controversial bill limiting legal protections for LGBT citizens, helped lift a shadow that had been cast over the state’s economy. Many companies, such as PayPal, decided against major expansions to North Carolina over opposition to HB2.

“I think that’s helped open the door for businesses in North Carolina. I’ve talked to a number of CEOs, and they feel comfortable to come to our state. Clearly sporting events are coming back. It’s important to our reputation, but it’s also important for our LGBT citizens in North Carolina,” Cooper said.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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As Complaints Pile Up, North Carolina Rethinks Public-Private Road Project

CORNELIUS, N. C.—When North Carolina brought in a private operator to add toll lanes to a 26-mile stretch of highway north of Charlotte, its goal was to reduce congestion and build a road the state couldn’t otherwise afford.

The hope was that the state’s first public-private partnership for roads would be a model of efficiency and the first of many such projects. But the expansion of Interstate 77 has hit speed bumps, with travel…

North Carolina Police: 20-Year-Old Man Killed in ‘Senseless Act’

ROXBORO, N.C. (WDBJ7) Roxboro, North Carolina police say they believe a 20-year-old man was an unintentional victim in a fatal shooting.

Police say the victim, Cornell Torian, was at Longhurst Park on Monday around 5:30 p.m. when two men began arguing. During that argument police believe shots were fired. Police say they believe that the bullets were not meant for Torian.

Richard Jackson turned himself in after 2 p.m. on Tuesday. He is charged with first degree murder and is being held without bond. He is scheduled to appear in court this week.

Roxboro Police Chief David L. Hess said in a statement, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to both families dealing with this senseless act.”

Roxboro, North Carolina is close to the Virginia border.

Anyone with information is asked to call 336-599-8345.

Tips for Saving Money in Charlotte North Carolina

If you are looking to travel to Charlotte North Carolina anytime soon, you are going to want to utilize the following money saving tips.

Money Saving Tips:

1. Plan Early.

The main thing that you are going to want to do when it comes to saving money on your trip to Charlotte is to plan ahead of time. The earlier you plan, the better the chances you are going to be able to save a significant amount of money on your accommodation and lodging.

2. Shop Around.

Never choose the first deal for your flight or accommodation. You want to shop around for different options for both. By doing this, you should be able to find the best value. Not only can you find a great deal on a hotel or accommodation, but you should be able to set a price alert for a plane ticket which can enable you to get alerted to great deals on flights to North Carolina.

3. Public Transportation.

Another thing that you are going to want to do when it comes to being able to save a good amount of money is rely on public transportation while you are there. By doing this, you should be able to save a significant amount of money on not having to rent a vehicle while you are there.

4. Car Sharing.

Another good way to save money on your transportation while you are in the city is to utilize car sharing services. Not only is it easy to save money by using promo codes and other kinds of coupons with these services, but you should be able to save a good amount of money by using the services in the first place as they are typically going to be a lot cheaper than taking a traditional taxi.

5. Use Credit Card Points.

Another good way to shave a significant amount of money off of your trip is by utilizing credit cards that have rewards attached to them. By using credit cards with travel rewards, you should be able to save money by accumulating more points for future rewards or even by redeeming points for current rewards to use while on your trip.

Overall, there are plenty of ways to save money on your next trip to Charlotte. Consider utilizing the tips above to achieve great results on your entire trip.