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The usual summer lull in political activity has turned out, this year, to be more of a spike. Democrats, having entered the humid season deep in a funk, now sense that because of a series of transformative events, their future political prospects may be far less dire than most of them had imagined before the summer began. Both in the state of North Carolina and from coast to American coast, the Democratic party looks as if it may just have the power to blunt Republicans’ midterm momentum and sustain a smaller blow to their majorities than almost everyone in the political class had confidently predicted last year. Read more

You’ve probably heard Republicans say the Inflation Reduction Act — the massive spending bill just passed by Senate Democrats — includes provisions to hire 87,000 new Internal Revenue Service agents. The number seems too big too believe. The IRS has just 93,654 employees, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Why would Congress, in one bill, increase the IRS workforce by something like 92%? It doesn’t seem possible. It certainly doesn’t seem wise. Read more

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State AP Stories

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A $100,000 reward is being offered in the case of a North Carolina sheriff’s deputy found fatally shot along a dark stretch of road last week. “Horrified” by a string of shootings that have injured and killed several deputies in the state in recent weeks, on Monday the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association announced the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the killing of Wake County Sheriff’s Deputy Ned Byrd. Authorities say they're trying to learn why Byrd stopped there. The sheriff's office says there’s still an active investigation that now includes the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

North Carolina’s state of emergency for COVID-19 is officially ending more than two years after Gov. Roy Cooper issued his first order. Cooper signed an executive order Monday terminating the emergency at the end of the day. He already announced last month it would end now because the state budget law contained health care provisions that would allow his administration to keep responding robustly to the virus. Cooper's initial order was signed on March 10, 2020. Republican legislators complained about his powers under the orders. A 2021 law will give the Council of State and the General Assembly more say-so about long-term emergencies.

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The “Wellness District” is a place where customer service means taking care of the customer from the inside out. The North Asheville neighborhood is flush with businesses promoting healthy lifestyles all within walking distance of each other.

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Police in eastern North Carolina say two customers at a two fast-food restaurant died when a vehicle crashed into the building. It happened Sunday morning at a Hardee's in Wilson, which is about 40 miles east of Raleigh. The sport utility vehicle struck 58-year-old Christopher Ruffin and 62-year-old Clay Ruffin, both of Wilson. One died at the scene, while the other died at a Greenville hospital. Police identified the driver as 78-year-old Jesse Lawrence of Wilson. He was treated at a hospital and released. Police say they don't believe the crash to be medical- or impairment-related, and no charges had been announced late Sunday afternoon.

National & World AP Stories

Giorgia Meloni is riding a wave of popularity that next month could see her become Italy’s first female prime minister and its first far-right leader since World War II. Meloni's message blends Christianity, motherhood and patriotism. Her Brothers of Italy party has neo-fascist roots. But Meloni has sought to dispel concerns about its legacy. She says voters have grown tired of such discussions. But there are still nagging signs that such a legacy can't be shaken off so easily, Her party’s symbol includes an image of a tri-colored flame. It's borrowed from a neo-fascist party formed shortly after the end of the war.

Agreements to unblock Ukrainian grain stuck at Black Sea ports for nearly six months of war also gave a boost to Russia's food and fertilizer. The parallel deals depend on each other as Russia demanded and won assurances that its agricultural products won’t face sanctions. The industry is vital to the economy of the world’s biggest wheat exporter. And the deal helped ease concerns from insurers and banks about running afoul of sanctions. One Western shipper has been able to move two vessels of grain out of Russia in a matter of weeks. It used to take months before the deal. Russian and Ukrainian grain is important to developing countries where the war has worsened poverty and hunger.

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The United States and South Korea will begin their biggest combined military training in years next week in the face of an increasingly aggressive North Korea. Pyongyang has been ramping up weapons tests and threats of nuclear conflict against Seoul and Washington. The South’s military said Tuesday the drills underscore Washington and Seoul’s commitment to restore large-scale training. They had canceled some of their regular drills and downsized others to computer simulations in recent years to create space for diplomacy with Pyongyang and because of COVID-19 concerns. The drills will almost surely draw an angry reaction from North Korea, which describes all allied trainings as invasion rehearsal.