First Drip (7/10/15): The Confederate flag comes down

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South Carolina officials removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state Capitol grounds where it has flown since 1961 this morning. Large crowds showed up to watch the ceremony at 10 a.m., and some happily sang "Nah Nah Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" as the flag made its way down the pole. The flag was brought to a relic room and will eventually be displayed in a multi-million dollar shrine lawmakers promised to build as part of a compromise to get the bill ordering the flag's removal through the House.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that challenged new, tighter limits on air pollution the size of smoke particles or smaller set in 2010. Cars, refineries, factories, and power plants — especially coal plants — emit this particulate matter. State environment officials objected to the tightening of the standard, saying it could limit companies from working in the state, and launched the lawsuit in 2013. The judge said the lawsuit was filed far after the 60-day window allowed for such challenges. 

Charlotte officials are discussing rescinding benefits offered to unmarried same-sex couples it has offered since 2013, now that same-sex marriage is recognized in the state and throughout the country. The city estimates only about 17 people take advantage of some form of same-sex benefits for their partner. The city does not offer benefits to the partners of unmarried, opposite-sex couples. Mecklenburg County, which has offered similar benefits since 2009, is also in discussions to rescind them. 

CMPD announced this morning that the Charlotte woman with Down Syndrome who had been missing for the better part of this week has been found and reunited safely with family members. Family members filed a missing persons report for Zakia Luck, who is highly functional and independent, after last seeing her on Monday morning. 

Mecklenburg County Commissioners have approved a 20-percent pay raise for county manager Dana Diorio, raising her yearly pay by more than $50,000 to $345,000. Commissioners said the raise was based in part on the fact that Diorio was underpaid compared to other county managers in comparable areas. County commissioners are still in discussions to possible raise their own pay by nearly double, despite recently learning that 123 county workers are currently on public assistance. 

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