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Battle over N.C. transgender law intensifies as lawmakers reconvene

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Thousands of people flocked to North Carolina’s capital on Monday to show both support and disdain for a law that has thrust the state into the international spotlight over its restrictions on transgender bathroom access and gay rights.

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh to begin a short session designed to address the state budget. But controversy over the new law, which has drawn reaction from U.S. presidential candidates, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron among others, is expected to dominate.

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The measure puts the state at the center of a debate over equality, privacy and religious freedom as states propose legislation seen as discriminatory against gay and transgender people in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court last year ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

North Carolina became the first U.S. state to require transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings and schools that match the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.

“Our state is a state of crisis,” Chris Sgro, executive director of the Equality North Carolina advocacy group, said in Raleigh before activists delivered petitions to Republican Governor Pat McCrory’s office demanding the law’s repeal.

A group of Democratic representatives filed a bill also seeking a repeal. But leading Republican lawmakers in the state so far have shown little willingness to back down, and they were greeted at a rally on Monday by thousands of people who came on church buses and held signs thanking them for the measure.

Business leaders, entertainers and politicians including Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump have come out against the law. Opponents contend it demonizes transgender people and limits government protections against discrimination for gays and lesbians.

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Supporters including social conservatives and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz say it is needed to protect women and children from sexual predators in bathrooms.

At a news conference with Cameron on Friday, Obama said the law should be overturned, while the British prime minister added that laws should be used “to end discrimination, rather than try to enhance it.”

As part of the backlash, companies and associations have relocated conventions and halted job-creating investment projects initially slated for North Carolina. A long list of entertainers have canceled shows in the state in protest.

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Republican State Representative Paul Stam criticized companies, including PayPal Holdings , that have pulled jobs out of North Carolina over the measure.

“They have offices in countries where homosexuals are executed,” he said at the rally. “The hypocrisy of those who oppose this bill is amazing.”

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(Additional reporting and writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


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Donald Trump Jr. one of only 3 people who wants to legally kill an Alaskan grizzly bear this year

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According to a report from Reuters, Donald Trump Jr. has been awarded an out-of-state permit from Alaska to hunt and kill a grizzly bear this year making him one of only three who applied for one of the 27 permits available.

The report states the son of President Donald Trump has "been granted the right to hunt a grizzly bear in northwestern Alaska near the Bering Sea town of Nome, a state official said on Friday."

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Internet heaps praise on CNN’s Anderson Cooper for his ‘must watch’ destruction of Rod Blagojevich

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CNN's Anderson Cooper received near-universal praise across the board for what one commenter called his "fiery rebuke" of recently paroled former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on Friday night that culminated in the CNN host telling him excuses for why he should not have been in prison were "bullsh*t."

During the highly-contentious interview, Cooper came armed with facts and did not let Blagojevich get away with comparing himself to political prisoner Nelson Madel a which drew a smirk and rebuke from the CNN host.

Many on Twitter were quick to point to the interview as one all cable hosts should look at as a way to stop guests who go on shows to lie with no pushback.

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Bill Barr’s relationship with Trump ‘on the rocks’ as unleashed president ‘openly defies him’: ex-prosecutor

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In a CNN segment analyzing Donald Trump's insistent comments and tweets about Justice Department business, former federal prosecutor Eli Honig stated that the relationship between the president and Attorney General Bill Barr is now "on the rocks" and does not look promising for the future.

Speaking with "New Day" host Christi Paul, Honig explained that Barr has repeatedly cautioned the president about his comments but that Trump is flat out ignoring the Attorney general -- meaning that their relationship has taken a bad turn.

"It's interesting, Christi, the relationship between Trump and Barr seems to be on the rocks," Honig explained. "We saw Bill Barr step up and show some spine when he said to ABC News, the president is making my job impossible."

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