Trump pardons security contractors in deadly Iraq shooting
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has pardoned four former government contractors convicted in a 2007 massacre in Baghdad that left more than a dozen Iraqi civilians dead and caused an international uproar over the use of private security guards in a war zone. Supporters of the former contractors at Blackwater Worldwide had lobbied for the pardons, arguing that the men had been excessively punished in an investigation and prosecution they said was tainted. All four were serving lengthy prison sentences. The pardons reflect Trump’s apparent willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to American servicemembers and contractors when it comes to acts of violence in warzones against civilians.
BC-NC-SAME SEX WEDDING-VENUE
North Carolina wedding venue won’t serve same-sex couple
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A same sex-couple in North Carolina says the operator of a wedding venue told them that it could not hold their wedding ceremony based on its religious beliefs. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Tuesday that Kasey Mayfield and Brianna May have been looking for a place to hold their wedding in October 2022. They told the newspaper that The Warehouse on Ivy in Winston-Salem denied their request. Daniel Stanley, a representative of the venue, told the newspaper that it allows “anyone of any color, race, religion or belief to use our venue at any given time.” But he said, “we also strongly believe in our Christian values.” North Carolina has no anti-discrimination laws protecting people with LGBT identity.
MORTGAGE LENDER EXPANSION
Mortgage lender to add 500 jobs, invest $5.8M in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A direct mortgage lender will expand its Charlotte operations by adding 500 jobs over the next five years and investing about $5.8 million into its operations hub. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said in a Tuesday news release that Intercontinental Capital Group plans to begin hiring for the jobs next year. The company currently has 179 employees at its Charlotte office. Other cities outside the state were competing for the company’s investment. But CEO Dustin DiMisa told The Charlotte Observer he felt the mortgage lender would better attract and retain talent in North Carolina. The company had previously been censured and fined by different states for practices regulators said were misleading.
SEVERE WEATHER-DEEP SOUTH
Gulf Coast at risk of severe storms ahead of holidays
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Forecasters say more than 4 million people near the U.S. Gulf Coast will be at risk of severe storms just ahead of Christmas. The national Storm Prediction Center says damaging wind gusts will be one of the main threats, along with the possibility of a few tornadoes. The storms are expected to move through Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night. Forecasters say the area most likely to see strong storms Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night includes southern portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The region includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana; the Gulfport-Biloxi area in Mississippi; and the Mobile metropolitan area in Alabama.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
Governor warns of holiday COVID spread; no new restrictions
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is warning of increased transmission of the coronavirus over the Christmas holiday period. But he imposed no new restrictions on travel or gatherings as he spoke about the pandemic at a news conference Tuesday. All but eight of the North Carolina’s 100 counties are presently seeing substantial or critical levels of community spread. The state is also seeing more people in the hospital due to COVID-19 than ever before since the start of the pandemic. Cooper says he will limit his Christmas gathering to immediate family and remain at his home in Raleigh to celebrate.
CHIEF JUSTICE’S PORTRAIT
NC Supreme Court removing portrait of slave owner ex-justice
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court says it will remove portrait from its courtroom of a former slave-owning chief justice who once defended slavery through his court rulings. The ex-justice Thomas Ruffin argued in one case that a slaveholder should not be guilty of assault or battery of an enslaved person — and that an owner’s power over his slave was absolute. An advisory commission recently recommended Ruffin’s portrait be taken down. Outgoing state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley says it will be replaced with the seal of the court. Beasley is the second Black chief justice in the court’s history.
Police: Child who was struck by BB or pellet gun has died
STONY POINT, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina say that an 8-year-old girl has died after being struck in the chest by “a single shot from a BB or pellet gun.” The Hickory Daily Record reports that the incident occurred Sunday near a family’s home in Stony Point. The Alexander County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that the shooting appears to be accidental. Initial findings from the investigation indicate that two juveniles, ages 8 and 7, were shooting a BB gun and a pellet rifle at targets when the 8-year-old was struck. The child was being transferred to a hospital in Winston-Salem when the child went into cardiac and later died.
North Carolina girl recovering after attack by multiple dogs
MAXTON, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina say a 10-year-old girl is recovering in the hospital after she was attacked by as many as five dogs in her neighborhood last week. News outlets report the girl, whose name hasn’t been released, was taken by helicopter to UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, where she was listed in critical but stable condition. Robeson County Sheriff’s Maj. Damien McLean says the dogs involved in the attack on Friday have been seized and an investigation into the incident is underway. Animal control officials say the dogs will be held for observation to determine if their bites were life-threatening.
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