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A rising force in state politics, Carolina Forward — a center-left policy organization to which I am also a contributor — held a recent post-election discussion forum that yielded provocative insights about the state of North Carolina’s political field. If I could distill a single message from the panel, it would be: “Democrats, don’t stop fighting.” The party has certainly struggled recently to surmount North Carolina’s conservative rut, but our state is not beyond the reach of a progressive renaissance. Read moreAlexander H. Jones: Don't quit, Dems — N.C. remains purple

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State AP Stories

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Incoming and returning Republicans to the North Carolina Senate have chosen a key lawmaker on tax, voting and energy issues to become majority leader for the next two years. The Senate Republican Caucus on Monday elected Sen. Paul Newton of Cabarrus County to the post. Newton succeeds Sen. Kathy Harrington, who didn't seek reelection this fall to her Gaston County seat. The caucus also agreed to nominate Phil Berger to a seventh term as president pro tempore when the session convenes in January. He has held the job since 2011. Senate Democrats meeting separately Monday reelected Sen. Dan Blue of Wake County as minority leader.

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A memorial service will be held this weekend for Betty Ray McCain. She was a longtime North Carolina Democratic Party activist and counselor to former four-time Gov. Jim Hunt who died last week at age 91. McCain was the first woman to chair the state Democratic Party in the 1970s. Hunt named McCain secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources in 1993. She also served multiple terms on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and on many boards and commissions. Current Gov. Roy Cooper called McCain a “trailblazer for women and a powerful force for good in the arts, education and public service."

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Democrats celebrated winning North Carolina's lone toss-up race for the U.S. House this month as Wiley Nickel won the 13th District seat. The victory creates a 7-7 split in the state’s delegation — the best showing for Democrats in a decade. But there’s a good chance Nickel’s district and others will be altered for the 2024 elections, returning the advantage to Republicans. The current lines are only being used for these elections. New lines will be drawn by Republicans, who still control the General Assembly. And a new GOP majority on the state Supreme Court likely will be more skeptical of legal challenges that scuttled previous boundaries.

CHERRYVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A Cherryville woman’s first birthday party ever at age 105 turned out just perfect. Line dancers and square dancers performed routines to entertain her, 12-year-old Lily brought her 10-week-old yellow Labrador named Nina for her to pet and she even got the chance to …

National & World AP Stories

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BAGHDAD (AP) — Soccer fans in Iran's Kurdish region set off fireworks and honked car horns early Wednesday to celebrate the U.S. win over the Iranian national team in a politically charged World Cup match that divided the protest-riven country.

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State media say former Chinese President Jiang Zemin has died at age 96. Jiang led China out of isolation after the army crushed the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989. He supported economic reforms that led to a decade of explosive growth. State media say Jiang died in Shanghai of leukemia and multiple organ failure. Jiang saw China through history-making changes including a revival of market-oriented reforms, the return of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997 and Beijing's entry into the World Trade Organization. His government stamped out dissent, jailing human rights, labor and pro-democracy activists and attacking the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

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China's ruling Communist Party has vowed to “resolutely crack down on infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces." The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission's statement was released late Tuesday after the largest street demonstrations in decades by citizens fed up with strict anti-virus restrictions. While it did not directly address protests, the statement serves as a reminder of the party's determination to enforce its rule. There has been a massive show of force by the internal security services to deter a recurrence of protests that broke out over the weekend in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities. Security forces have conducted random ID checks and searched mobile phones for evidence of participation in demonstrations.

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NATO is struggling to find ways to help three countries shaken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova. The military alliance is seeking to extend its security umbrella across Europe. Foreign ministers from the three countries met Wednesday with their NATO counterparts, as the war in Ukraine exposes them to political, energy and territorial uncertainty. No straightforward proposals about what might be done were offered by NATO ministers as they arrived for the meeting in Bucharest. Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra says the meeting itself shows “how important it is to create stability not only for NATO countries itself, but also beyond.”