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The first Confederate statues were monuments to victory in a war of Southern aggression. Defeated at Appomattox, Southern whites regrouped by organizing terrorist militias and ransacking the region’s newly biracial local and state governments. As the North soured on Reconstruction and white Republicans finally abandoned the freed slaves, Southerners completed the “Redemption” of the old Confederacy with the imposition of a slavery-esque system of apartheid. Up went the statues to celebrate Dixie’s revenge. Read moreAlexander Jones: Conservatives are the cultural aggressors

State AP Stories

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North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Senate has passed a bill requiring teachers to alert parents in most circumstances before calling a student by a different name or pronoun. Sponsors say the bill is needed to keep parents informed about what their children are being taught in public schools. Critics say it would make schools unsafe spaces for LGBTQ and questioning children to explore their identities. The proposal passed the Senate 29-18 on Tuesday. It would also prohibit instruction about gender identity and sexuality in K-4 classrooms. It now heads to the state House, where Republicans likely would need some Democratic support to push it through.

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The daughter of a South Florida Lyft driver who went missing more than a week ago has confirmed that the man has died. Lindsay DiBetta posted on Facebook on Tuesday that the family would be announcing information on services for her father, 74-year-old Gary Levin, in the next few days. Levin went missing Jan. 30 after dropping off a customer north of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. His family reported him missing when he didn’t return home. Levin’s red 2022 Kia Stinger was spotted in Miami, Okeechobee and Gainesville, in north Florida last week. It was stopped Thursday night in North Carolina, and the driver is being held on $2 million bond.

Former longtime North Carolina state Sen. Jerry Tillman has died at age 82. A funeral home confirmed Monday that Tillman died Saturday at a Greensboro health facility from natural causes. The Randolph County Republican was a retired public schoolteacher, administrator and coach first elected to the Senate in 2002. He served as a Senate majority whip, education budget writer and finance committee co-chair after Republicans took over the Senate. Tillman often pressed for legislation that promoted school choice and tax relief. He retired in mid-2020. A funeral is set for later this month in Archdale.

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Republican lawmakers are accusing China of deliberately surveilling sensitive U.S. military sites with a suspected spy balloon. And they say the Biden administration has given Beijing an intelligence opening by not downing the balloon during its high-altitude drift through American airspace. Democrats are defending Biden and they note that there were similar incursions while Donald Trump was president. A missile from an F-22 fighter jet downed the balloon on Saturday off the South Carolina coast. A U.S. official tells The Associated Press that those involved in the recovery of the balloon are planning to take it to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, for further analysis.

National & World AP Stories

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the British people for their support since “Day One” of Russia’s invasion — and pressed for fighter jets to ensure his country's victory. Zelenskyy’s daring to visit Britain in a bid for more advanced weapons comes as Kyiv braces for an expected Russian offensive and hatches its own plans to retake land held by Moscow’s forces. Hundreds of lawmakers and parliamentary staff packed the 900-year-old Westminster Hall for Zelenskyy’s speech. It was only his second confirmed journey outside Ukraine since Russia invaded nearly a year ago.

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The suspected gunman in the racist 2019 attack at a Walmart in El Paso that killed 23 people is expected to plead guilty to federal hate crime and firearms charges. Patrick Crusius was set to appear in an El Paso courtroom on Wednesday. Crusius published a document online shortly before opening fire that said his shooting was in response to what he called “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Some Democrats and immigrant rights advocates say they're disappointed that more than 80 Republican candidates amplified this language about an “invasion” on the U.S.-Mexico border during last year's midterm elections.

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A big fireball and billowing smoke rose into the sky when officials released and burned toxic chemicals from the wreckage of a derailed train in an Ohio village. Residents in the immediate area there and nearby in Pennsylvania remain evacuated Wednesday because of health risks from the fumes. Officials warned that burning the vinyl chloride would result in two concerning gases — hydrogen chloride and phosgene, which was used as a weapon in World War I. Officials say air monitoring hasn't detected concerning levels inside or outside the evacuation radius, and they're still working with experts to determine safe levels for various gases before residents can return.