DEQ REVOKES WASTEWATER DISCHARGE PERMITS FOR GENX MANUFACTURER: The state revoked permits Thursday for the factory accused of dumping pollutants into the main source of drinking water for southeastern North Carolina. State regulators in the Department of Environmental Quality had been criticized by several legislators earlier this year – both Democrats and Republicans – who accused them of not acting swiftly enough to address the release of a chemical called GenX. They took their harshest action yet on Thursday, stripping the factory’s permission to put any of its wastewater into the river from here on out. The Cape Fear is the source of drinking water for cities like Fayetteville, Wilmington and others in that corner of the state.
STRAY BULLET FROM HUNTING INCIDENT ALMOST HITS RALEIGH 12 YEAR OLD: The owner of a wooded property in north Raleigh on Thursday blamed a "rogue hunter" for firing shots two weeks ago that almost hit a 12-year-old boy inside his home. Lemuel Thornton said he often allows people to hunt on his property off Capital Boulevard near the Neuse River, but only if they get written permission from him. He said no one had permission to hunt there on Nov. 3, when two shots tore through a house on Meryton Park Way, with one missing by inches hitting Jordan Members in the head. Police told the Members family that the bullets likely came from a .22-caliber rifle, but Thornton said they came from a more powerful gun. Thornton said people sometimes trespass on the property and think they can target practice there. "They think everything out here is country, and there's nobody around and they just go to shooting," he said. "They're not smart enough to realize that that weapon they're shooting is a killer."
GOP TAX BILL PASSES HOUSE, MOVES ON TO THE SENATE: Now comes the hard part. House Republicans cleared a tax overhaul Thursday after a pep talk from President Donald Trump, but the course is littered with speed bumps in the Senate. Republican angst in the House — over the prospect of raising deficits by $1.5 trillion and delivering more benefits to corporations than people — is mirrored in the Senate, where the margin for success is razor thin and prospects for passage remain shaky. Several House members said they voted reluctantly for their chamber’s bill Thursday. Like the House bill, the Senate version makes corporate tax cuts in the measure permanent, but phases out individual tax cuts by 2026, creating a political predicament for many lawmakers.
FRANKEN SAYS HE WELCOMES INVESTIGATION INTO SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS: Minnesota Sen. Al Franken faces a storm of criticism and a likely ethics investigation after a Los Angeles radio anchor accused him Thursday of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour. He is the first member of Congress caught up in the recent wave of allegations of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior. Franken apologized, but the criticism only grew through the day. Fellow Democrats swiftly condemned his actions, mindful of the current climate as well as the prospect of political blowback. Republicans, still forced to answer for the multiple allegations facing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, joined in pressing for an investigation. Franken said he would welcome it. Leeann Tweeden posted her allegations, including a photo of Franken and her, on the website of KABC, where she works as a news anchor for a morning radio show.
HOMEMADE "GHOST GUNS" EMERGE AS NEWEST THREAT IN GUN CONTROL PROBLEM: Kevin Neal, 44, was armed with what authorities believe were two high-powered rifles that he made himself when he opened fire Tuesday on homes, cars and an elementary school around his tiny hometown of Rancho Tehama Reserve. A deputy finally shot and killed him. It is the latest case of homemade semi-automatic weapons being used in a crime, and it comes as federal authorities try to draw attention to the dangers posed by these “ghost guns,” which contain no registration numbers that can be used to trace them. In Baltimore, a man used a homemade AR-15-style rifle to shoot at four police officers in July 2016. They returned fire, killing him. It’s legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop, and advances in 3-D printing and milling has made it easier to do that. Kits can be purchased legally for $450 to $1,000 from hundreds of websites without the kind of background check required for traditional gun purchases.