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Headline Roundup: Extra Police With Extra Power Tonight; NC One Of Busiest For ACA Enrollment; More

There will be added Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers on the streets in uptown tonight. And they’re being given more power to stop and search people during New Year’s Eve festivities. Tonight’s celebration has been declared an “extraordinary” event which means police can search people who look suspicious or are carrying anything on a list of prohibited items like backpacks. The official New Year’s Eve celebration in uptown Charlotte starts at 7 tonight at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The event is free.

NC ACA Enrollment Third Highest In Nation

North Carolina is again one of the country's busiest states for consumers signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service says nearly a quarter-million North Carolina residents signed up for the first time or re-enrolled in health plans in the first month of the latest sign-up period. That trails only Florida and Texas.  

Government data show more than four out of 10 of the people who selected an insurance marketplace plan to take effect after today were new customers.

Durham Police Concerned For Safety After Recent Shootings

Durham police are concerned about their safety after two officers were shot at over the past week.

The department is seeking the public's help in finding the shooters. Meanwhile, Deputy Police Chief Larry Smith says officers have been told to be "extra vigilant." He adds police don’t know whether the shooters were targeting officers.

Last Thursday, an unidentified man fired six shots at an officer as he stepped out of his marked patrol car near N.C. Central University. A preliminary report shows the officer fired two shots as he ran for cover. He was not hit.

On Monday afternoon, someone shot at an off-duty officer's apartment in northern Durham. No one was injured.

NC Flu Cases At Highest Levels In Five Years

Cases of flu and similar illnesses across North Carolina are at their highest levels in more than five years, according to data from a network of health care providers. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared a national flu epidemic Tuesday.

The Charlotte Observer reports across North Carolina, this means emergency rooms and doctors’ offices are flooded with flu patients.

Some state health officials are still receiving reports of low supplies of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug used to combat the flu, in some areas.

Officials with the North Carolina Division of Public Health say the main flu strain this year has undergone an unexpected mutation. As of last week it appeared that this year’s vaccine would be less effective because of the mutation.

Monarch Butterfly May Be Added To Endangered Species List

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The federal government is considering putting a butterfly that frequents the Lowcountry on its endangered species list.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports  that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday it would conduct a status review for monarch butterflies.

That's the first step to possibly declaring the animal threatened. A coalition of environmental advocates led by the Center for Biodiversity petitioned in September for the review.

Experts say the number of monarchs arriving at wintering grounds in Mexico has been on the decline. Federal officials say threats to the butterflies include loss of a primary food source for monarch caterpillars and death as a result of pesticide use.

At the peak of fall migration, thousands of the butterflies can be seen along beaches in the Lowcountry.

Gov. Haley, SC Legislature Seek Rehearing On Educational Funding Ruling

Attorneys for Gov. Nikki Haley and the Legislature want the state Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling that lawmakers have failed South Carolina's poor, rural children.

The State newspaper reports Wednesday that the state's attorneys are seeking a rehearing on the high court's landmark order that lawmakers must fix the educational system to give more students the opportunity to succeed. The filings mean Republican lawmakers are still fighting an education funding lawsuit filed by rural districts 21 years ago.

The justices' November decision came two years after the justices last heard arguments on the case.

Haley's petition says the 3-2 decision overlooked education initiatives that she pushed and legislators passed in this year's state budget. It also contends the court overstepped its authority in ordering the Legislature to act.