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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

Ukrainian authorities are investigating sites where torture allegedly took place in the city of Kherson. More than two weeks after Russians retreated from the southern city, investigators say five torture rooms have been found in the city and at least four more in the wider Kherson region. Ukrainians allege that they were confined, beaten, shocked with electricity, interrogated and threatened with death. Human rights experts warn that the allegations made so far are only the beginning. The Ukrainian national police say more than 460 war crimes have been committed by Russian soldiers in recently occupied areas of Kherson.

Chinese universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests after crowds angered by its severe “zero COVID” restrictions called for President Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. With police out in force, there was no word of new protests in Beijing, Shanghai or other major cities. Some anti-virus restrictions were eased in a possible effort to defuse public anger following weekend protests in at least eight cities. But the ruling party affirmed its “zero COVID” strategy, which has confined millions to their homes. Universities cited the need to protect students from COVID-19. But dispersing them to far-flung hometowns also reduces the likelihood of more activism.

Asian shares are trading mostly higher as jitters over protests in China about its stringent anti-COVID policies fade. Hong Kong's benchmark gained 4% and most other markets were higher. U.S. futures edged higher. Oil prices rose more than $1 per barrel. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.5% after the government reported the unemployment rate for October was unchanged from September at 2.6%, while the available jobs per job seeker increased. China's economy has been stifled by a “zero COVID” policy which includes lockdowns that continually threaten the global supply chain. Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street on Monday.

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“Everything Everywhere All at Once” has won best feature at the 32nd Gotham Awards on Monday, taking one of the first major prizes of Hollywood’s awards season and boosting the Oscar hopes of the anarchic indie hit of the year. The Gotham Awards serve as a downtown celebration of independent film and an unofficial kickoff of the long marathon of ceremonies, cocktail parties and campaigning that lead up to the Academy Awards in March. Most outstanding lead actor went to “Till” star Danielle Deadwyler. Supporting actor went to “Everything Everywhere” costar Ke Huy Quan. Special honorees included Adam Sandler and Michelle Williams.