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Friday News: Lock him up


GREENVILLE RACIST WHO THREATENED BLACK FAMILY GETS TWO YEARS IN PRISON: A North Carolina man who pleaded guilty three months ago to charges that he threatened to shoot an African American family for renting a home has been sentenced to more than two years in prison. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the prison sentenced handed down to Douglas Matthew Gurkins, 34, on Monday, is followed by three years of supervised release. No hometown was given for Gurkins, and officials didn't say where the incidents occurred. Court documents said Gurkins drove to the family’s home, yelled racial slurs at them and told them they didn’t belong in the home. According to the documents, Gurkins threatened to shoot the mother and four children and any other Black people who entered the property. He then threatened the family with a metal rod, prosecutors said. The family moved out a few days later.

Thursday News: Doxing the doxer

NC STATE EMPLOYEE IN SPOTLIGHT OVER PROUD BOY CONNECTION: N.C. State University is investigating the online behavior of an employee who is alleged to be a member of the Proud Boys, a right-wing group that is proudly anti-feminist, pro-Western civilization and has sometimes been involved in street violence. The Proud Boys are designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The employee, Chadwick Jason Seagraves, told the News & Observer in a statement Wednesday that he is not a member of the Proud Boys and “to paint me as a racist and fascist is heinous slander.” Olivia Katbi Smith, co-chair of the Portland chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, filed a lawsuit against Seagraves in Oregon for invasion of privacy last week, the alternative weekly newspaper Willamette Week reported. She alleges that Seagraves shared the address of her and her family as part of a data dump of thousands of files with photos and activists’ personal information.

Wednesday News: Clean, legal, safe


NC BOARD OF ELECTIONS CERTIFIES RESULTS, NO COVID CASES LINKED TO VOTING: The North Carolina Board of Elections has certified nearly all of the state’s votes, confirming Electoral College votes for incumbent President Donald Trump, who lost the national general election to Joe Biden. The board also certified the reelection of N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican, along with almost all races and ballot measures across the state. Elections officials also report no COVID-19 cases linked to voting. There were 3.6 million votes cast during early voting, the most ever for North Carolina, she said. Bell said there was “75.4% voter turnout in a pandemic, which is remarkable.”

Tuesday News: Ghost Forests

SALTWATER INTRUSION FROM RISING SEA LEVELS IS DESTROYING COASTAL HABITATS: The cascading consequences of saltwater intrusion were starkly revealed in interviews with more than 100 researchers, planners and coastal residents, along with soil testing, drone footage and analyses of well-sample data conducted by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism. “Ghost forests” of dead and dying trees are spreading along coastlines from New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico as saltwater pummels from above and seeps in from beneath. In North Carolina along the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula, roughly 15% of a 65-square-mile area has changed recently from healthy forest into ghost forest, according to newly published research by Lindsey Smart, a research associate at North Carolina State’s Center for Geospatial Analytics.

Monday News: Five thousand thirty four


CORONAVIRUS RAGES ACROSS NC, 4,514 NEW CASES YESTERDAY: At least 336,775 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 5,034 have died, according to health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reported 4,514 new COVID-19 cases, up from 3,415 reported Saturday and breaking the state’s previous record of 4,296 cases reported Thursday. As of Sunday, 1,571 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19. State officials last week said patient counts would be higher due to a change in how the federal government reports hospital stays. About 7.1% of tests were reported positive on Friday, the latest day for which data are available.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


JOSH STEIN: HARD WORK MADE NC ELECTIONS "BUSINESS AS USUAL" IN VERY UNUSUAL TIME: When historians reflect on 2020, there will be plenty to characterize as unprecedented, out of the ordinary, and extreme. The North Carolina State Board of Elections’ approach to handling the election during a pandemic – despite histrionic partisan claims to the contrary – will not fall into that category. The board was charged with administering an election amid circumstances unlike any we’ve ever experienced. We take for granted just how complicated and miraculous a safe, fair, and free election where every legal vote is counted really is – even during a normal year. But pulling that off in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in a century? It was quite a tall order. When you look at the facts, you see that in the 2020 election, five and a half million North Carolinians, 75 percent of those registered, voted – the highest voter turnout percentage in over a century. It is as remarkable as it is boring – against all odds, exactly what is supposed to happen in an election happened. The process was fair, and the people spoke. I believe history will judge it the same way.

Saturday News: Insurrectionists

WHITE SUPREMACIST/NEO NAZI CELL ARRESTED ON WEAPONS CHARGES: While the firearms charges against Duncan, Collins and Kryscuk were previously disclosed, Friday's release represents the first time prosecutors referred to the group's “ties to white supremacy.” According to the indictment, Collins posted frequently on the online message board platform called Iron March, which prosecutors said was used by neo-Nazi and white supremacy extremist groups. Collins spoke of recruiting for a group he described as “a modern day SS” located in the Northeast, and in 2016, he posted that he was organizing a paramilitary force. The indictment said Collins and Kryscuk would eventually discuss the three steps they felt were necessary to effect the change in the country they were seeking, including “knocking down The System, mounting it and smashing (its) face until it has been beaten past the point of death.”

Friday News: 306-232=74


JOE BIDEN OFFICIALLY DECLARED WINNER OF GEORGIA: Joe Biden has won Georgia and its 16 electoral votes, an extraordinary victory for Democrats who pushed to expand their electoral map through the Sun Belt. The win by Biden pads his Electoral College margin of victory over President Donald Trump. Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election on Nov. 7 after flipping Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to the Democrats’ column. Biden now has 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Trump won Georgia by 5 percentage points in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Georgia hadn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Thursday News: Let's be blunt

STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE PANEL CALLS FOR DECRIMINALIZATION OF MARIJUANA: A panel appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper called Wednesday for decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, saying arrests for such crimes disproportionately affect Black residents. The North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, which is chaired by Attorney General Josh Stein and Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls, also called for studying the prospect of further legalizing the cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana in the state. "You cannot talk about improving racial equity in our criminal justice system without talking about marijuana," Stein said in a statement. "White and Black North Carolinians use marijuana at similar rates, yet Black people are disproportionately arrested and sentenced."

Wednesday News: Silencing voices of dissent

THREE ARRESTED AFTER NC SENATOR-ELECT GALEY REFUSES TO ALLOW PUBLIC COMMENTS: Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement wanted to express their dismay at being pepper sprayed during a march to the polls two weeks ago. But the chair of the all-Republican board, Amy Scott Galey, brought the meeting to a close before they got a chance to approach the podium. Among the things they wanted to talk about was the sheriff’s (Terry Johnson) deputies use of force on them. They felt that public officials had become inaccessible after they, and some of their children, were pepper sprayed Oct. 31, in an incident that attracted national attention. Within minutes, three people attending the meeting were in handcuffs. The sheriff’s office did not respond to The News & Observer’s request for an interview about Monday’s arrests.


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