5 fun things to do this rainy weekend

Friday

Opening ceremony

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Get in the Olympic spirit by watching the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games at 8 p.m. on NBC. You can watch it at Draught, where you can get $2 beers and dollar shots as you watch the Olympic torch get lit.

You can also find the Winter Olympics schedule here for the duration of the event.

Saturday

Pick up a couple free trees

Trees Charlotte is opening its “tree store” for the day, where Charlotte residents can pick up two free trees to plant on their land. Trees Charlotte is an organization that is trying to improve Charlotte’s canopy and promote a greener city. There is tree training before you pick up your new plants, as they are 6’10”, and you have to show proof of Charlotte residency. Head over to the Eastland Mall from 9 to 10:30 a.m. You can find more information here.

Frigid 5K run and plunge at the Whitewater Center

Brave the chilly weather by running a 5K through the center’s trail system before jumping into 40 degree water at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Tickets are $37 on race day, and you can find more info here.

Be an Olympian and learn how to curl

Head over to the Charlotte Curling Center to get a hands-on lesson and tour the facility to find out how curlers roll… or slide. The discounted lessons start at 11 a.m. and are $10. TIN Kitchen will offer up lunch if you stick around, and it’s a great way to learn an Olympic sport! More info here.

Sunday

Go see the Hornets play

Watch the Hornets take on the Toronto Raptors this Sunday. The game is at 1 p.m. at the Spectrum Center. Find more info here.

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Weekend Roundup: Bruno Mars coming to Charlotte, Panthers topple Rams and early election results

Local News

Panthers strike early, hold off Rams for win in L.A.

The Carolina Panthers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-10 after scoring early and relying on their defense to save the game.

Cam Newton threw 62 percent (20/32) for 225 yards and no interceptions, above his last three yearly passing percentages and down for yards per game. Panthers are now 3-5, tying them for third in the NFC South with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Watch the early touchdown here, along with other pass highlights.

Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic Tour” is coming to Charlotte, Raleigh

Bruno Mars is on the verge of dropping his album after releasing two songs: “24K Magic” and, most recently, “Versace on the Floor.”

You can read all about Mars’ tour — which is making stops in Charlotte and Raleigh —  here.

Regional News

Pipeline that exploded in Alabama to resume operations; no sign of gas shortage in North Carolina

The pipeline that burst into flames on Oct. 31 is set to resume operations, Colonial Pipeline announced Saturday. The pipeline left one dead and seven injured after it exploded. This was the same pipeline that started a fuel shortage in Charlotte in September.

Learn why North Carolina wasn’t affected by the disruption this time by clicking here.

Potentially the largest sporting event in North Carolina history is coming – The 2018 World Equestrian Games

You may have seen an equestrian event during the Summer Olympics with horses and their riders showcasing their disciplines. The World Equestrian Games are a major event for these riders, and the games are held every four years, between the Summer Olympics.

Learn how many hundreds of millions of dollars North Carolina could make by clicking on the full article here.

Election 2016

Early voting results are in, and there is no clear winner

Over 42 million Americans exercised their rights and voted early. In comparison to the last general election, that counts for a third of the votes.

TargetSmart, a website the organizes voter data, found women are outpacing men in voting 56 percent to 44 percent.

Seventy-nine percent of early voters were Caucasian.

Find out what this means for Trump and Clinton by reading the full article here.

In Real Clear Politics poll average, Trump is ahead, but barely; national polls in favor of Clinton — also barely

In the past three days, Trump has barely gained the lead in North Carolina, according to Real Clear Politics. Trump’s 1.5 percent lead shows that our state is still a draw. North Carolina being a crucial swing state mirrors the 13 other states that do not indicate which candidate they lean toward.

40 million Americans went to vote early – here are the results

After 40 million people mailed in their ballots or cast their votes early, it goes to show that no result is ruled out of this election.

Elect Project compiled early voting results from multiple sources, and these are the results they got:

North Carolina’s Democrats got out early, with 41.7 percent against the Republicans’ 31.9 percent, leaving Independent voters at 26.1 percent.

Florida is one of the tightest races, with 39.6 percent Democrats voting against 39.1 percent Republican, leaving the Independent vote at 18.9 percent.

Donald Trump plans to hold one final rally at 11 a.m. today in Sarasota, Florida. Hillary Clinton plans to have boots on the ground with Vice President Joe Biden, stopping in Tallahassee and St. Petersburg, Florida.

The other closest state is Arizona. Not only is the state currently a toss-up on who will win the electoral votes, but Democrats have seen a massive surge during voting. Arizona has voted Republican since 1952, with the exception of voting for Bill Clinton in 1996 by a margin of 2.2 percent. In the years since 1996, there was always a margin of 7 to 10 percent, which made it somewhat close, but still predictable.

Stay tuned for results from the general election and state races late Tuesday night.

Bruno Mars is coming to Charlotte, Raleigh North Carolina for 24K Magic Tour

Bruno Mars just released the locations he is planning to stop on his new  24K Magic Tour.

The recently released lists of tour stops show a visit to Charlotte and Raleigh are planned in although venues have not been specified.

Mars announced on Twitter that his album was done on October 3.

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Fans of Bruno Mars can pre-order his new album “24K Magic” to reserve tickets before the general public.

Mars has been busy promoting his new album after he released two singles “24K Magic” and most recently “Versace on the floor.”

Mars  performed on Saturday Night Live on October 15, and was featured in Rolling Stones on November 4.

Mars stared during Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014 and as a guest act alongside Coldplay during Super Bowl 50.

Trump takes the lead in North Carolina polls, a highly contested state

In a WRAL exclusive poll released Tuesday Republican nominee Donald Trump has taken the lead by a strong 7 points ahead of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

In a three way race WRAL recorded that Trump was at 51%, Clinton at 44%, and Libertarian Gary Johnson was tied with undecided voters at 3%.

These new poll numbers reflect the major announcement after a letter to congress released by the FBI stated that new emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton needed to be review. Although the severity of them are not yet known.

In a poll released by Remington Research Group that was released Oct. 31 gave Trump a two point lead over Clinton. The poll broke down the survey by city where Trump lead by 12%.

Real Clear Politics averages all state polls and puts the presidential nominees in a dead heat.

No matter what, go out and vote.

Gas shortages could be back after Alabama pipeline from Sept shortage goes up in flames

HELENA, Ala. – The same pipeline in Alabama that caused fuel shortages in September in the Charlotte area has now exploded. The ruptured pipeline left one worker dead and injuring five others, according to the Associated Press.

The incident happened after a worker driving a backhoe reversed into the fuel line, causing the explosion.

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It is still unclear on how much of an impact this rupture will have on the Charlotte area but many experts have advised filling up and driving less.

The previous leak on the same gas line spilled over a quarter of a million gallons before being fixed, leaving many fuel pumps around the Charlotte area closed as a result of the shortage.

Stay tuned to the Free Press for more updates on this story.

EDITORIAL: That was not Charlotte

The people of Charlotte protested. After a march around the courthouse they even arrived where they started and had a candlelight service. The general vibe was discontent, and they have every right to be upset. Some ended their night at Little Rock Zion Church to pray, and others took a different path.

Once a mass of peopled entered the EpiCenter I knew the peaceful protests were coming to a close. Watching a dozen live video streams from different vantage points gave the continuous feeling of chaos after that point. I have never seen the people of Charlotte act that way, and worse things have happened than this. I can only imagine that there are a percentage of the population that waits for these opportunities to wreak havoc on a vulnerable area. Wanting change in your community means you don’t destroy your community. And I know Charlotte knows that.

For those that read this, and care about their community. Those people will go to their neighbor, their friend, their local government and start a conversation on how to mend these wounds.  Wounds that are apparent and need to be dealt with.

Joshua Komer for the Free Press.