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Thousands of people converged on North Carolina's capital to call on Republicans leading state government to reverse and repeal laws they say have abridged voting rights and denied Medicaid coverage to more working people.

The state NAACP and more than 100 advocacy groups staged the 9th annual "Moral March on Raleigh" on Saturday. Demonstrators came with a long list of grievances and demands, ranging from raising the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit. Abortion rights and gay rights activists also were represented.

Yousef Abu-Salha / facebook.com via WUNC

Family, friends and supporters gathered Thursday for services for three young adults shot in North Carolina in what police call a parking dispute.

Funeral services were planned for one of Raleigh's largest mosques, where the families are longtime members. But, with a crowd estimated at 5,500, the service was moved to athletic fields across from the mosque. The fields are owned by North Carolina State University, where two victims had graduated and one was a student.

Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via Associated Press/NY Times

The FBI says it's opened a "parallel preliminary inquiry" in connection with the shooting deaths of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill to determine if federal laws were violated.

A statement issued on Thursday said the FBI is continuing to provide assistance to the Chapel Hill Police Department to process evidence related to the shootings.

Police have said they are investigating whether religious or ethnic hatred motivated shooting suspect Craig Stephen Hicks in any way, and federal investigators have said hate crimes haven't been ruled out.

Tony Kiss
Asheville Citizen-Times

A cold weekend  weather  wise, but the arts and culture scene continues to be hot.  Lovers may celebrate Valentines Day with the music of Patsy Cline performed by Sweet Dreamers at the Altamont Theater.  Arlo Guthrie is in town for two nights at Diana Wortham Theater.  Also at the DWT (2/13)  at 6:30,  Sing Together: Freedom Songs and Spirituals with Becky Stone and Jim and Beth Magill. 

wbhm.org

One former and one current magistrate have filed a lawsuit against North Carolina court officials, claiming that being forced to preside over same-sex marriages violates their religious freedoms.

Media outlets report Charlie Smoak, who was a Moore County magistrate for 10 years, and another magistrate listed in the lawsuit as "Jane Doe" over fear that she might lose her job, are targeting the Administrative Office of the Courts.

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, we thought you might enjoy this romantic selection of favorites from Brevard Music Center's Principal Guest Conductor, JoAnn Falletta.  Happy Valentine's Day

1. You are So Beautiful
Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher - sung by Joe Cocker

Whether you are looking at an adorable puppy or kitten, or your own sweetheart, this is the music of love.

University of North Carolina Asheville's new  Chancellor Mary Grant is  now on campus.   The Massachusetts native has spent the past twelve years as President of the  Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.   Chancellor Grant spoke with David Hurand about her career in education,  the future of UNC-Asheville,  the value of a liberal arts education, and her devotion to the Boston Red Sox, and Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

Angie Newsome via carolinapublicpress.org

Economists at the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory's administration agree for now there will be a small shortfall this fiscal year relative to North Carolina's $21 billion state government budget.

They released a report Tuesday saying they anticipate the gap between actual and expected tax collections to be $271 million.

2011 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

The longtime executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina has resigned amid questions about possible financial improprieties at the group.

Dana Cope announced his departure Tuesday, saying he had blurred the line between his personal life and his professional life.

David Schaper NPR

Senate Republicans say their bill to rework North Carolina's gasoline tax will provide a short-term break to motorists while making road-building revenues more stable. Opponents argue it's just a tax increase in disguise.

The full Senate meets Wednesday to debate and hold the first of two required votes on a measure that reformulates the tax.

First, the bill would reduce the gas tax from 37.5 cents per gallon to 35 cents starting March 1 through the rest of 2015. The tax floor would be 35 cents moving forward.

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