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News State / Region

Nationwide enforcement actions target dangerous new and emerging class of chemicals from overseas

Editor’s note: The Macon County News has been following the marketing and use of synthetic drugs locally, including the efforts of a group of teens working to ban synthetic cannibinoids. The following is a glimpse of the battle on an international level.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its law enforcement partners have announced enforcement operations in 35 states targeting the upper echelon of dangerous designer synthetic drug trafficking organizations that have operated without regard for the law or public safety.

These series of enforcement actions included retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. In addition, these investigations have uncovered the massive flow of drug-related proceeds back to countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

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As of Monday, changes in the unemployment benefits that many Macon County citizens receive went into effect. The new law cuts off extended federal benefits in an attempt to pay off some of North Carolina's $2.5 billion debt in unemployment claims.

North Carolina has the third highest debt in the country behind New York and California and is ranked fifth in unemployment nationally. Lawmakers opted to change aspects of the unemployment compensation laws to try and get a handle on the massive debt to the federal government. Legislation passed and the Governor signed the bill that would reduce the time that citizens can receive compensation from 26 weeks to 19 weeks, as well as reduce the amount being paid out from a maximum of $535 to $350.

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The saga of the Duke Energy rate hikes will continue when the North Carolina Utilities Commission hears expert testimony on July 8 in Raleigh.

Two weeks ago, Duke proposed a settlement of an overall 4.5 percent rate increase that will grow to 5.1 percent in two years, about half of what was originally requested. The higher rate would result in an increase in residential power bills, averaging about $7 a month.

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Granting Progress Energy a 7.5 percent increase in power bills while many North Carolinians are struggling to make ends meet is wrong, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday.

“Many people are already hard pressed to pay their bills, and now isn’t the time to ask them to pay more so utilities can make a bigger profit,” Cooper said.

Cooper filed Monday, July 1, with the N.C. Supreme Court to appeal the rate hike by Duke Energy Progress, formerly Progress Energy, which was approved in May by the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Cooper had previously opposed the rate increase before the Commission.

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