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No decent citizen could fail to be appalled by the video, released Friday, showing Memphis police officers beating a 29-year-old Black man, Tyre Nichols, so badly on Jan. 7 that he died three days later. No feeling citizen could fail to be moved by the anguish of his mother, RowVaughn Wells, as she eloquently described her grief at losing a young man, himself the father of a 4-year-old, who cried out for “mom” as he absorbed the assault. And no concerned citizen can fail to be impressed by, and appreciative of, the way in which those who justifiably protested Nichols’s death heeded — with sporadic exceptions — Wells’s call for nonviolence. Read moreEditorial: Over-reliance on violent policing gets us nowhere

State AP Stories

Some North Carolina senators want tougher punishments for intentionally damaging utility equipment in light of the December attacks on two Duke Energy substations in Moore County that left 45,000 customers without power. The legislators filed a bill on Wednesday that would make it a high-grade felony to intentionally destroy or damage any “energy facility.” Current state law only makes it a misdemeanor to vandalize equipment that interrupts the transmission of electricity. A perpetrator also would face a $250,000 fine and potential lawsuits. Someone also fired at an electric cooperative's substation in Randolph County two weeks ago, causing damages but no outages. No arrests have been in either attack.

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A bill advancing in North Carolina’s Senate would prohibit instruction about sexuality and gender identity in K-4 public school classes. The proposal approved Wednesday by the Senate education committee would require schools in most circumstances to alert parents prior to a change in the name or pronoun used for their child. The measure defies the recommendations of parents, educators and LGBTQ youths who testified against it. The bill now heads to the Senate health care committee. A version passed the state Senate last year but did not get a vote in the House.

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North Carolina civil rights advocates have denounced a House rule change that could allow Republicans to override vetoes on contentious bills with little notice, saying it subverts democracy and the will of voters. Republicans pushed through temporary operating rules this month that omitted a longstanding requirement that chamber leaders give at least two days’ notice before holding an override vote. The move could allow Republicans to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes while Democrats are absent, even momentarily. Calling the change “a shameful power grab meant to thwart the will of the people,” Jillian Riley of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic said it undermines the functionality of the General Assembly.

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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.

National & World AP Stories

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Wall Street is rising further, led by excitement around tech stocks and a surge for Facebook’s parent company. The S&P 500 was 1.4% higher Thursday, a day after hitting its highest level since the summer. The Dow was lagging because it has less of an emphasis on tech. Several Big Tech companies are set to report their results after trading closes for the day, including Apple, Amazon and Google’s parent company. Stocks had already been on the upswing through the start of the year on hopes that the Federal Reserve may soon pause on its hikes to interest rates.

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Pope Francis has led Congo’s young people in a rousing denunciation of political corruption. He turned an otherwise scripted meeting with church catechists into a rally that shook the capital’s sports stadium. Francis was repeatedly interrupted as some of the 65,000 people took up his call to say “No” to corruption. Their response turned into a demand for Congo's president to not run for a second term after elections later this year. The Argentine pope often uses his foreign trips to denounce corruption, particularly in meeting with young people in hopes that future generations will resist the temptation to make side deals for personal gain. He continued that tradition on Thursday in Kinshasa, denouncing the “cancer of corruption.”

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Growing numbers of people are flocking to U.S. churches that center their practice around a bitter psychedelic tea known as ayahuasca. Organizers and their legal advisers argue a 2006 Supreme Court ruling protects them from prosecution and participants say they are taking part in a religious service. Some experts raise concerns that the benefits of ayahuasca haven’t been well studied. Many who attend the ceremonies, which can last for days, argue their experience on the illegal substance brings them closer to God than they ever felt at traditional religious services. Surveys have also found many come away feeling better afterwards, with some saying it helped with depression and problems with risky substance use.

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A continuing winter storm has forced the cancellation of hundreds more airline flights in Texas, although not as many as in previous days. The mess of ice, sleet and snow is blamed for at least nine traffic fatalities. Thousands of customers in Texas are enduring freezing temperatures with no power. Winter watches and warnings extend from the Texas-Mexico border through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana and into western Tennessee and northern Mississippi. A warming trend is forecast to bring relief Thursday. But an Arctic cold front is expected to enter the northern U.S. with snow and windchills of more than 50 below.