DEAD WHALE-OUTER BANKS
Humpback whale washes ashore on North Carolina’s Outer Banks
RODANTHE, N.C. (AP) — A dead humpback whale has washed ashore on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Charlotte Observer reported Thursday that the 18-foot whale was found on Pea Island about half-mile north of Rodanthe. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the carcass shows some evidence of shark bites. But a shark attack is not necessarily the cause of death and likely occurred after the mammal died. Biologists conducted a field assessment and collected tissue samples. The death will also be reported to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Whale deaths are often blamed on vessel strikes and entanglement with fishing gear. But a cause of death has not been determined.
Storms send TV anchors scrambling off set in N Carolina
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Storms that left splintered homes and broken trees across Alabama and Mississippi have moved into Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas. A storm with a tornado warning forced anchors at a TV station in High Point, North Carolina, to leave their studio for a few minutes. No serious damage or injuries were reported in the storms Thursday along the Atlantic Coast. At least two people were hurt Wednesday when an apparent tornado struck southwest Alabama, destroying a house. But the region appeared to escape the kind of horrific toll many feared after ominous predictions of monster twisters and huge hail.
Absentee ballot turn-in deadline moved up in NC Senate bill
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Some Republicans have filed a bill proposing absentee ballots in North Carolina must be received by county election officials by Election Day or the primary election date to be counted. The measure was filed on Thursday in the Senate. It also would move up the usual deadline to request a mail-in ballot by one week. The legislation comes as GOP lawmakers remain upset about a legal settlement last fall that extended the time to receive mailed ballots six days beyond what state law directs. That case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Any change would need House and Senate approval.
Financial incentive for more Medicaid draws mixed reaction
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A financial carrot for North Carolina to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands low-income adults is raising already elevated hopes among Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and allies that the General Assembly will adopt it this year. But GOP leaders remain wary of expansion. The new federal COVID-19 relief law would give North Carolina and other states that haven’t accepted expanded coverage more money to cover traditional Medicaid patients for two years if they sign up. Cooper says the incentive creates an “open window” for expansion. Republican Senate leader Phil Berger says the extra money is temporary and doesn’t like creating a new entitlement.
Ex-judge Cheri Beasley to run for U.S. Senate, advisers say
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley will soon announce her plan to run for U.S. Senate in North Carolina. Advisers close to her say she’ll enter the race in early April. She’ll join a growing field of Democrats looking to fill an open seat being left by Republican Sen. Richard Burr in 2022. Beasley will join the contest after having recently lost her chief justice election bid. Backers of her prospective campaign believe she’ll be a strong contender. Beasley holds a competitive edge as the only Democratic candidate in the race to have won a statewide election. There are currently no Black women in the Senate.
Georgia Senate committee revives measure to limit protests
ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia state Senate committee is reviving a proposal to declare more protests illegal and enact harsher penalties for acts including blocking highways. The Senate Public Safety Committee on Thursday voted 5-3 to overhaul House Bill 289, replacing unrelated language with most of another bill sponsored by Republican Randy Robertson of Cataula. That bill had failed to win a vote in a different Senate committee after members expressed concerns about violating free speech and assembly rights. The committee also voted to approve House Bill 286, a Republican-based bill to block “defund the police” movements in cities and counties. It says local governments generally can’t cut spending on their police departments by more than 5% a year.
Fujifilm biotech firm to build massive plant in central NC
HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. (AP) — A subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Fujifilm Holdings Corp. says it will open a massive biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant in central North Carolina in 2025, ultimately creating 725 jobs. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies and government officials announced Thursday that the overall $2 billion project in Holly Springs. The firm manufactures drugs and vaccines for other pharmaceutical companies. It already has a campus in nearby Research Triangle Park and employs more than 600 people. The Commerce Department said at a meeting that Texas was also in the running for the plant. Fujifilm could receive $33.5 million in state grants and training as part of the deal.
Google announces North Carolina cloud engineering hub
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Google has announced plans to create a hub in Durham, North Carolina, for hundreds of engineers to work on its Google Cloud products. The company said in a statement Thursday that it is already recruiting for the site and that it plans to employ 150 people by the end of the year. The company said it will aim to add 300 more employees next year and 500 more in 2023. The site will eventually support more than 1,000 jobs and be one of Google Cloud’s top engineering hubs. The Google service uses cloud-based computing to help companies with a range of needs including managing databases and collaborating remotely.
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