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North Carolina News – February 2

North Carolina News – February 2

FERTILIZER PLANT FIRE

Explosion fears remain as N. Carolina fertilizer plant burns

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — An uncontrolled fire at a fertilizer plant has continued to burn in North Carolina. Fire officials in the city of Winston-Salem said the potential for an explosion had not gone down early Wednesday. Thousands of evacuated residents are still barred from going home. Bobby Wade is a division chief for the city’s fire department. He said the burning down of the fire  will be a slow process. He could not say when people can return to their homes. The fire is at the Winston Weaver Company fertilizer plant on the north side of the city of about 250,000 people. The blaze began Monday night. An estimated 500 tons of combustible ammonium nitrate were housed at the plant.  

BC-UKRAINE-TENSIONS

Biden sending more troops to Europe amid Ukraine tension

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Pentagon says President Joe Biden is sending about 2,000 troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland and Germany this week, and sending part of an infantry Stryker squadron of roughly 1,000 troops based in Germany to Romania. Biden has said he will not put American troops in Ukraine to fight any Russian incursion, although the United States is supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend itself. The military moves come amid stalled talks with Russia over its military buildup at Ukraine’s borders. 

REDISTRICTING-NORTH CAROLINA

Future of latest NC redistricting plans before Supreme Court

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s highest court is ready to hear arguments whether it has authority to throw out new congressional and General Assembly districts because they comfortably favor Republicans in an otherwise closely divided state. The state Supreme Court scheduled 90 minutes on Wednesday to listen to lawyers for voters and advocacy groups suing over the latest redistricting and for GOP legislative leaders who drew lines in November. A trial court last month declined to throw out the maps despite what it called evidence of intentional changes favoring the GOP. The plaintiffs argue court intervention is necessary to protect democracy. It’s unclear when the justices will rule. 

FISHER REPLACEMENT

New N. Carolina state House member replaces veteran Fisher

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A data scientist and former Peace Corps volunteer has joined the North Carolina House, succeeding longtime Rep. Susan Fisher of Asheville. Democrat Caleb Rudow was sworn in on Tuesday, the day after Fisher resigned. He was the choice of Buncombe County Democratic activists to serve out the remainder of Fisher’s two-year term. Fisher joined the House in 2004. Rudow is an Asheville native. He served with the Peace Corps in Zambia for over three years. Rudow says he intends to run for a full two-year term, beginning with the primary set for May 17.

FERTILIZER PLANT FIRE

Thousands flee homes near N. Carolina fertilizer plant fire

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — An uncontrolled fire at a fertilizer plant has forced thousands of people to evacuate in North Carolina. Firefighters warn that chemicals at the site near Wake Forest University could cause a large explosion. Authorities urged people within a mile of the Winston Weaver Company to take shelter elsewhere. No injuries have been reported since the fire started Monday night, but officials say a huge explosion could still happen through Wednesday. Firefighters had to pull back as 600 tons of ammonium nitrate burns. Winston-Salem’s fire chief says that’s more than what exploded in a Texas fertilizer plant blast that killed 15 people in 2013. 

ELECTION 2022-NORTH CAROLINA-CAWTHORN

N. Carolina Rep. Cawthorn seeks to block candidacy challenge

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn has sued to block efforts seeking to prevent him from running for Congress this year. The Republican congressman filed a federal lawsuit a few weeks after some voters urged the State Board of Elections to disqualify him. They cite his involvement in the January 2021 rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot and a provision in the U.S. Constitution on insurrections or rebellions. Cawthorn’s lawsuit says the candidate challenge process violates his constitutional rights, and the constitutional provision doesn’t apply to him. The congressman said Tuesday that he’s never engaged in an insurrection against the United States.

BIRTH CONTROL-NO PRESCRIPTION

Birth control without prescription now available in NC

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Women in North Carolina are now able to obtain birth control pills and patches from a pharmacy without a prescription. The provision took effect Tuesday. It is part of a broader law expanding certain pharmacists’ dispensing powers that was approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper over the summer. Emergency contraceptives were already available over the counter. Harnett County Republican Sen. Jim Burgin championed the bill. He says the new law could prevent abortions in North Carolina.  

CLERK OF COURT-REMOVAL

NC appeals judges vacate removal order of local court clerk

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina state appeals court panel has vacated a 2020 order by a trial judge removing the elected clerk of Superior Court for Franklin County. The Court of Appeals on Tuesday raised procedural and constitutional questions about the sanction of Patricia Chastain. The trial judge removed Chastain because of numerous actions that he wrote “demonstrated a reckless disregard for the high standards of her office.” Chastain appealed. The appeals court says it’s unclear exactly whether the trial judge considered her acts “corruption or malpractice” in her office or simply “misconduct.” The appeals judges also say her due process rights were violated.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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