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According to the latest-available set of comparable data, North Carolina ranks 33rd in the nation in “deaths of despair” — that is, in the combined rates of suicides, fatal drug overdoses, and alcohol-induced deaths. In 2020 our age-adjusted rate was 55.5 deaths of despair per 100,000 residents, slightly higher than the national average of 54.8. From 2018 to 2020, our rate rose by 26%. Read moreJohn Hood: Deaths of despair need careful analysis

Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court more than four years ago, on Oct. 6, 2018. His oath followed perhaps the ugliest Supreme Court Senate confirmation process in history — and that, given the previous examples of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, is saying something. But when it was all over, Kavanaugh settled in to the court, where he has, by all accounts, performed admirably ever since. Read moreByron York: There's a never-ending war on Brett Kavanaugh

State AP Stories

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As mass shootings are again drawing public attention, states across the U.S. seem to be deepening their political divide on gun policies. A series of recent mass shootings in California come after a third straight year in which U.S. states recorded more than 600 mass shootings involving at least four deaths or injuries. Democratic-led states that already have restrictive gun laws have responded to home-state tragedies by enacting or proposing even more limits on guns. Many states with Republican-led legislatures appear unlikely to adopt any new gun policies after last year's local mass shootings. They're pinning the problem on violent individuals, not their weapons.

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The families of five passengers killed in a plane crash off the North Carolina coast have settled wrongful death lawsuits for $15 million. Their attorneys told the court the companies that owned the plane and employed the pilot paid the money. The suits claimed the pilot failed to properly fly the single-engine plane in weather conditions with limited visibility. All eight people aboard died off the Outer Banks. The passengers included four teenagers and two adults, returning from a hunting trip. The founder of the company that owned the plane was killed, and his family wasn't involved in the lawsuits.

A man who caused evacuations and an hourslong standoff with police on Capitol Hill when he claimed he had a bomb in his pickup truck outside the Library of Congress has pleaded guilty to a charge of threatening to use an explosive. Floyd Ray Roseberry, of Grover, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to the felony charge in Washington federal court. He faces up to 10 years behind bars and is scheduled to be sentenced in June. An email seeking comment was sent to his attorney on Friday. Roseberry drove a black pickup truck onto the sidewalk outside the Library of Congress in August 2021 and began shouting to people in the street that he had a bomb.

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North Carolina Democrats have introduced legislation to codify abortion protections into state law as Republicans are discussing early prospects for further restrictions. Their legislation, filed Wednesday in both chambers, would prohibit the state from imposing barriers that might restrict a patient’s ability to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability, which typically falls between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Current state law bans nearly all abortions after 20 weeks, with narrow exceptions for urgent medical emergencies that do not include rape or incest. House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters he didn’t expect the Democrats’ bill to get considered.

National & World AP Stories

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Pope Francis has started a six-day visit to Congo and South Sudan where he'll bring a message of peace to countries riven by poverty and conflict. Aid groups are hoping Francis’ trip will shine a spotlight on some of the world’s forgotten conflicts. But Francis’ trip will also bring him face-to-face with the future of the Catholic Church: Africa is one of the only places in the world where the Catholic flock is growing, in terms of practicing faithful as well as of fresh vocations to the priesthood and religious life. That makes his trip particularly important as Francis nears the 10-year-mark in his papacy.

Winter weather is bringing ice to Texas and nearby states, causing the cancellation of more than 980 flights and delays to nearly 800 more. Numerous auto collisions were reported in Austin, Texas, with at least one fatality reported. Tracking service FlightAware says more than 500 flights to or from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and nearly 125 to or from Dallas Love Field were canceled or delayed Tuesday. The storm began Monday as part of an expected several rounds of wintry precipitation through Wednesday across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee. A winter weather advisory is in place into much of Kentucky, West Virginia and southern parts of Indiana and Ohio.

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani authorities scrambled Tuesday to determine how a suicide bomber was able to carry out one of the country’s deadliest militant attacks in years, unleashing an explosion in a crowded mosque inside a highly secured police compound in the city of Peshawar. The…

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At a time when democracy has withered in Haiti and gang violence has spiraled out of control, armed men like Jimmy Cherizier – known by the nickname Barbecue - have filled the power vacuum left by a crumbling government. The U.N. estimated in December that gangs controlled 60% of Haiti’s capital, but nowadays most on the streets of Port-au-Prince say that number is closer to 100%. While gangs profit from the chaos, at least 155,000 people have been forced to flee the violence.