NC News Wire seems to be back up and running

For the past couple of days, a dead feed in my reader has sprung back to life: NC News Wire, a NC news link blog, seems to be back. I've restored the block containing their feed down at the very bottom of the right sidebar. They're not always the most timely source, and the feed links go the NC News Wire site (wherefrom you can link to the real story), but if you're too busy to keep up with NC's major newspapers, the feed can be pretty handy.

Oh, and, you can click on the little blue "b" beside the items in the block below to quickly start a new blog post about the story in question. Just FYI.

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Taylor Throws Money Around, Breaks Law, Loses.

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I thought I was finished writing about Charles Taylor, but the man's misdeeds just won't stop hitting the news. Taylor smashed the conventional election wisdom by getting shellacked despite outspending Heath Shuler by over 2 million dollars. From the N&O: "In the 11th District in Western North Carolina, Democrat Heath Shuler spent $1.7 million in upsetting Republican Rep. Charles Taylor, who spent $3.8 million. That includes $2.7 million that Taylor loaned his own campaign."

Back in 2004, Taylor broke the law by refusing to file campaign expenditures to the Federal Elections Commission, and now they're whacking the lumpy former Congressman with a big fine -

Meet Kirk Ross

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Last night, we introduced George Pence as a new front-pager at BlueNC. Today we're pleased to announce that veteran journalist Kirk Ross is also joining our ranks.

Kirk has been hanging around BlueNC as “kmr” for a good long while. You haven’t seen him post much, but that’s not because he’s a slacker. Kirk is a prolific freelance writer and has other blogs, including Exile on Jones Street. When forced to account for himself last year, Kirk wrote this:

. . . a longtime North Carolina journalist, musician and public policy enthusiast. Before striking out on his own, he served as Managing Editor and online development manager for the Independent Weekly. Prior to that he was a reporter for the Chapel Hill News covering government, higher education, politics and schools. He won the North Carolina Press Associations’ top investigative reporting award in 2002 for his work on post 9/11 immigration and labor issues.

Will Black Plead?

The rumor mill has been operational all through the holidays and the latest ripples in the mill pond concern a possible plea bargain by Jim Black with federal prosecutors. Rumor has it that Jim Black is considering pleading to five felony counts and a two year sentence to avoid indictment on up to 50 felony counts with a protracted and expensive legal battle sure to produce damaging, even if not conclusive, evidence.

Whether a plea bargain is imminent or a federal indictment is to follow it seems apparent that a successor to Black in House District 100 will need to be found. Though the House does not formally convene until January 24th at 12 noon, terms began today January 1st. While the race for Speaker of the House is shaping up this is a great opportunity to search for a progressive candidate who could represent the dynamic demographics and vibrant economy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding counties and municipalities should Black choose or, be forced to resign.

A Trip to The Drug Store



Fort Bragg is shaped like a muscular forearm jabbing east from Southern Pines to the chin of Fayetteville. I live close enough to this mammoth facility that a few days a month I can hear the distant thunder of artillery as soldiers practice for warfare.

When I first moved to Whispering Pines all those soldiers had to do was practice, but of course all of that has now changed. When I go shopping in Fayetteville I no longer see scores of men in combat fatigues shopping with their wives. What I see are mothers shopping alone, dividing their attention between rock bottom specials and errant children. Husbands and fathers once involved in the routine of ordinary life are now in Iraq.

Here in Moore County homes in every community are decorated by trees that have sprouted yellow ribbons. Virtually every one of those ribbons is a sign that someone inside is missing, and an indication that others inside that home are praying for a soldier’s safe return. Standing in line at the grocery store I’ll see mothers wearing lapel pins with a star that stands for a child in combat and the terrible burden of persistent anxiety.

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New Year Open Thread

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I've spent much of the day reading online, discovering lots and lots of conversations about the role of blogs in culture and politics. Via Ed Cone, I enjoyed this column by John Robinson at the Greensboro News and Record. Hope you're having a happy day, despite the rainy skies.

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John Edwards on marriage equality

[I posted this over at the JE08 blog after someone posted No politician has to take a position on this,, meaning marriage equality.]

Actually, they do.

This is a question every person who cares about civil equality should ask of every candidate -- and expect an answer:

Are gay and lesbian couples entitled to benefits at the local, state, and federal levels that are automatically conveyed with civil marriage? If not, why not? If yes, tell us why?

We're talking about equal rights to civil marriage, not "gay marriage" (which is loaded -- and leaves it open to the conflation of religious and civil marriage, which the right counts on). In the wake of so many state amendments that have passed, placing gay and lesbian families' rights in legal jeopardy, those running for office are obligated to get on the record. Merely stating one believes "marriage is between a man and a woman" or saying "let the states decide" will no longer fly. Edwards' statement and public emotional wrangling over the issue is heartfelt, but his position is not markedly different than in 2004.

Resolution required

This year, let's end this war.

Via Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

North Carolina (70)

Aberdeen Voss, Michael S. Staff Sergeant 08-Oct-2004
Apex Tosto, Michael L. Sergeant 17-Jun-2003
Apex Taylor, David G. Major 22-Oct-2006
Asheville Hess, Kenneth D. Specialist 11-Apr-2006
Ayden Murray, Rodney A. Sergeant 09-May-2004
Benson Parr, David S. Lance Corporal 06-Feb-2006
Chapel Hill Beard, Bradley S. Specialist 14-Oct-2004
Chapel Hill Martinez, Misael Staff Sergeant 11-Nov-2006
Charlotte Howman, Gregory C. Lance Corporal 15-Sep-2004
Charlotte Jacobsen Jr., William W. Captain 21-Dec-2004

Meet George Pence


The new year promises to be a big one for BlueNC, and to get things off to a proper start, I have this announcement. Our friend and frequent contributor, George Pence, has agreed to become one of BlueNC's front-pagers! George's gentle way with words and his independent streak have already added much to our community - so please join me in welcoming him aboard.

When I asked George how I should introduce him, he shared this:

I live in Moore County. My Congressman is Howard Coble, my state Senator is Harris Blake, and my state Rep is soon to be Joe Boylan ... Republicans all.

I've been fairly active in the Moore County Democratic Party. I've been an assistant precinct chair, 1st Vice Chair, 2nd Vice Chair, and GOTV chair. I'm a white guy, but I'm the political action chair of the Moore County NAACP and I'm a member of the North Carolina Black Leadership Caucus. In 2004 I was the Moore County liaison for Oscar Harris' run for the state senate.

Transparency

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In the world of big business today, transparency is all the rage. Many companies have opened themselves up for public scrutiny like never before – getting both the benefits and risks of sharing tons of financial and other information. Consultants sometimes call it visibility, but whatever you call it, access to knowledge is usually a good thing. It’s certainly essential for democracy.

Out here on the Internets, we’ve come to expect transparency as a matter of trust. Skepticism is healthy, and confidence is hard to find in a world where everything is at least one step removed from reality. In the spirit of transparency, here’s a report on December traffic at BlueNC.

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