Associated Press

As dry conditions move east from North Carolina's mountains, five counties are now in an 'exceptional' drought - the highest level as determined by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

State officials say exceptional drought has now spread to Graham, Macon, and Swain counties, joining them with Cherokee and Clay counties. More than 40 percent of North Carolina is now in some stage of drought, up from 30 percent last week.

The state Medical Examiner's Office late Monday released the autopsy of Keith Lamont Scott. It shows Scott died of gunshot wounds to the back and abdomen, but lacking in whether Scott was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the shooting. 

In an effort to diversify magnet schools, the CMS board will begin placing heavy priority on a student's socio-economic status in student assignment decisions. That's part of the first phase of the board's student re-assignment plan passed unanimously Wednesday night.

Among the factors the district will take into account are income, parents' education levels, and English language fluency. The changes will only affect students applying to enter magnet programs.

The Colonial Pipeline Company says it expects to have the damaged pipeline up and running again by Sunday afternoon, reducing fears of a possible gas shortage and price increases at the pump.

The pipeline exploded and erupted into flames on Monday while a crew was making repairs related to a September gas spill. One environmentalist likened the scene to a "geyser of fire." One worker died in the incident, and four others were injured.

In April, 2015, then-Charleston police officer Michael Slager allegedly shot an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, eight times in the back as he fled a traffic stop. Now, nearly a year and a half later, a court will decide whether Slager was justified in the shooting.

Attorneys for the prosecution and the defense delivered opening statements Thursday to a jury of 11 white people and one black man who were selected earlier in the week.

Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Federal officials plan to reduce the territory of the world's only wild population of red wolves to parts of a single North Carolina county under a revamped management plan.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the new footprint for the program will take effect around the end of 2017 under the plan announced on Monday.

Officials also announced that they plan to mix wild wolves with those in a captive breeding program to boost the species' overall population.

The state's congressional district boundaries have since been redrawn, which has reshaped the 1st and 12th districts.
ncleg.net

A panel of federal judges has struck down two North Carolina majority black congressional districts, saying race was the predominant factor in drawing those lines but state legislators lacked the justification for doing so.

Davie Hinshaw / Charlotte Observer

The North Carolina General Assembly has passed a bill that requires a 72-hour waiting period for abortions.

The state House gave final approval to the bill Wednesday, sending it to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's desk. The bill adds other rules for doctors and clinics that perform abortions and includes several unrelated criminal justice measures.

Three other states have 72-hour waiting periods: Missouri, South Dakota and Utah. Oklahoma's waiting period of that length goes into effect in November.

bobbyharrell.com

Suspended South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell has pleaded guilty to six campaign finance violations and agreed to resign from office. 

Harrell accepted a plea deal Thursday that lets him avoid jail time. Instead, he will have six years in prison suspended as long as he completes three years of probation. He was also fined $30,000, ordered to turn over about $10,000 remaining from his campaign account to the state and will pay $93,000 to South Carolina's general fund. 

WASHINGTON Officials familiar with the deal say Bank of America has reached a record $17 billion settlement with federal and state authorities over its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

The officials say the bank will pay $10 billion in cash and provide consumer relief valued at $7 billion.

They spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal isn't scheduled to be announed until Thursday at the earliest.

The bank declined comment. 

The Taliban has suspended talks over a possible exchange of Taliban and U.S. prisoners due to the "complexity" of the situation in Afghanistan, the militant group said on Sunday.

"Due to the political complexity of the current situation in the country, the leadership of the Islamic Emirate has decided to suspend the issue for some time," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an email to media organizations, using the name the Taliban gave their 1996-2001 government.

A 55-year-old restaurant manager died and more than two dozen others were taken to hospitals Saturday after being overcome by carbon monoxide at a New York mall, police said.

Suffolk County police identified the man who died as Steven Nelson, a manager at the Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station on Long Island.

Police said 28 others affected by carbon monoxide were taken to area hospitals.

Kjetil Jansrud gave Norway a record-equalling fourth straight win in the men's super-G at the Sochi Games on Sunday, while a tearful Bode Miller shared bronze to become the oldest Olympic Alpine skiing medallist at 36.

Andrew Weibrecht, starting 29th with all the favorites gone, used a pair of U.S. teammate Miller's skis to go one better than his third-place finish in Vancouver and win a surprise silver.

Sage Kotsenburg of the United States won the first gold medal of the 2014 Olympics on Saturday, soaring to victory in the men's snowboarding slopestyle final.

Kotsenburg had a score of 93.50 to edge Staale Sandbech of Norway. Mark McMorris of Canada, who barely made the finals, took bronze.

Canadian Max Parrot, who topped qualifying on Thursday, missed the podium. He washed out at the end of his first run and his second run wasn't quite crisp enough. Parrot finished fifth.

Stan Wawrinka held off an injured Rafael Nadal to win his first Grand Slam title with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory Sunday in the Australian Open final.

The 28-year-old Swiss player had never taken a set off Nadal in 12 previous meetings, but attacked from the start at Melbourne Park against the 13-time major winner.

Nadal appeared to be on the verge of retiring in the second set, when he hurt his back and needed a medical time out, but recovered slowly after getting treatment to push it to four sets.

The stakes were high and the vote was close as Boeing production workers agreed to concede some benefits in order to secure assembly of the new 777X airplane for the Puget Sound region.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Boeing hailed Friday's vote, which proponents said solidifies the aerospace giant's presence in the Seattle area.

"Tonight, Washington state secured its future as the aerospace capital of the world," Inslee declared.

Phil Everly, who with his brother Don formed an influential harmony duo that touched the hearts and sparked the imaginations of rock 'n' roll singers for decades, including the Beatles and Bob Dylan, died Friday. He was 74.

Everly died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at a Burbank hospital, said his son Jason Everly.

Jay Z easily led Grammy Award nominations announced Friday with nine, but left-of-center rappers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kendrick Lamar were among a group of new stars who took many of the major nominations.

Macklemore and Lewis' gay marriage anthem "Same Love" was among song of the year nominees and the Seattle rap crew joined Los Angeles rapper Lamar with seven nominations apiece, including best album and best new artist of the year. Pharrell Williams had four major nominations among his seven and Justin Timberlake also had seven.

Paul Walker, the star of the "Fast & Furious" movie series, died Saturday in a car crash that killed one other person north of Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 40.

Walker died Saturday afternoon, Ame Van Iden told the Associated Press.

A statement on the actor's Facebook page said he was a passenger in a friend's car, and that Walker was in the area to attend a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.

"We ... are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news," the statement said.

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks tripped Allen Craig for a game-ending obstruction call on Jon Jay's ninth-inning grounder, giving the St. Louis Cardinals a bizarre 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night and a 2-1 World Series lead.

Boston had tied the score with two runs in the eighth, and Yadier Molina singled with one out in the ninth off loser Brandon Workman. Allen Craig pinch hit and lined Koji Uehara's first pitch down the left-field line for a double that put runners on second and third.

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