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21
Fleeing toward the mountains from her burning village, fifteen years old and trapped on a dusty road packed with refugees, she was captured and carried across the border to a town on the Euphrates River filled with captive women from other towns.
 
The soldiers sold part of the women at an auction as slaves then divided the rest as spoils;---taken by a bearded soldier she fought back until he put a knife to her 19 year old sister’s throat then she followed him out of the camp to a house where he told her to undress and bathe and gave her a hijab to wear; for trying to escape she was beaten and traded to another soldier who locked her in a room full of women he intended to force to marry him.
 
The next night, sitting and listening to girls in other rooms in the house being raped, she tried to escape again, squeezing through a small window – just before dawn, exhausted, at an isolated farm house a young Arab man gave her shelter. The next day he took her to an older man who offered to smuggle her out of Syria if her family would pay him a ransom.
 
Her brother paid $3,700.
 
It’s a story straight out of the Dark Ages but it didn’t happen nine hundred years ago in the Levant it was reported in The New York Times last Saturday.
 
ISIS is the rebirth of the Mongol Horde and the Huns and our army could stop it but our President has been in China making a treaty on global warming.


 

 

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20
The Governor sent a letter to Thom Tillis and Phil Berger taking the legislature to task for asking for an independent audit of the Department of Health and Human Services.
 
Then the next day, when the Governor needed it least, the News and Observer reported that when DHHS’ new computer didn’t work the Department got into such a tizzy the number of mistakes it made processing food stamp claims quadrupled and it paid out $440,000 in excess benefits.
 
Here’s how government works: DHHS spends a hundred  or so million dollars on a computer program, it  doesn’t work, the department makes four times more mistakes than it did the year before and pays out $440,000 in excess benefits – and the Governor tells the legislature an audit’s a waste of time.


 

 

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19
Pat McCrory had one of those days.
             
First, a typist switched an ‘h’ for an ‘f’ so he sent out a press release announcing a Wilmington company was ‘firing’ 1300 new workers instead of ‘hiring’ 1300 workers.
 
Then a passing photographer snapped a photo of the Governor with his arm draped across Rep. Tim Moore’s shoulder and sent it sailing across the Internet – which sure looked like the Governor  was diving into the middle of the Speaker’s race – which left him backpedaling, saying it wasn’t so.
 
Then, piling Pelion on Ossa, the Governor sued Senator Phil Berger – which is like walking into a grizzly bears cage and whopping him on the nose.
 
Sometime between now and next June Berger and the Senate are going to vote on a budget which includes the Governor’s salary and how many staff the Governor has and right now it’s even money by next summer the Governor will be down to one part-time assistant and won’t have a penny to pay the lawyer he just hired to sue Phil Berger (and Thom Tillis).
 
So why would the Governor pick a fight with Phil Berger (and Thom Tillis)?
           
He says last session the legislature set up three Independent Commissions (on coal ash, fracking and Medicaid) but didn’t give him all the appointments to the Commissions. Instead the legislature gave him some and kept some for itself which, according to the Governor, is downright unconstitutional.  
 
Phil Berger answered the Governor’s charge pretty simply, saying if he thought the laws were unconstitutional he should have vetoed them which he hadn’t.
 
It’s hard to figure out: The Governor’s fighting Phil Berger over control of the Coal Ash Commission. Think about that: If you were Governor and the legislature said it wanted to own two thirds the biggest tarbaby in North Carolina you’d hardly  be able to believe your luck – you’d say, Sure, in fact, if you want, you can have it all.
 
But Pat McCrory wants to own the whole tarbaby.           


 

 

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18

 

President Obama set out to restore his political fortunes by going to China – and announcing a new climate change agreement.
 
Then, still intent on repairing his fortunes, he traveled on to Australia where he announced he was giving $3 billion to the U.N to help poor nations fight the harm done by climate change.
 
Then he returned home and announced to save the Internet he’s going to fight for ‘net neutrality.’
 
There’re Russians in the Ukraine. ISIS is beheading people. Iran is building a nuclear bomb. And the President’s spending money to help poor nations repair the damage from a meltdown that hasn’t happened yet and fighting to save the Internet from Netflix.
 
What’s wrong with this picture?


 

 

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17
Governor McCrory needed a lawyer to advise him on cleaning up Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds but the one he found raised eyebrows: He hired a Duke Energy attorney.
 
The press naturally asked if that wasn’t a bit like having the fox guard the hen-house so the Governor had his spokesman explain to reporters, Not at all – that there was a “legal wall of separation between his new lawyer and any issue effecting Duke’s coal ash operations.”
 
But, then, the reporters went to an Environmental Management Commission meeting and there sat the Governor’s new attorney on the front row advising the members how to change groundwater regulations that affected his former client.
 
Next, Southern Environmental Law Center pointed out how, when it had sued Duke a year ago, one of the lawyers representing Duke, saying the ponds didn’t need cleaning up, was the attorney now telling the Governor how to clean them up.
 
You couldn’t make this stuff up.

 

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13
Carter and I spoke Wednesday at a post-election panel sponsored by the Public School Forum, a group of education advocates. I suggested they have nothing to worry about in the coming legislature, since Republicans ran as Democrats, promising to raise teacher pay to the national average and improve the public schools.
 
Tom Murry, who once called the NCAE “union trash,” even handed out Election Day cards saying he was endorsed by the NCAE. He wasn’t. He lost anyway.
 
On education, then, Republicans ran to the left. Now, will they govern to the left – higher teacher pay and more money for the schools? Or to the right – toward vouchers, charter schools and abandoning standards?
 
Governor McCrory’s post-election comments suggested he might go left on issues like Medicaid expansion.
 
But Senator Berger made clear which way he’s going. His first order of business is letting magistrates refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
 
Two years from now, in an expanded presidential-year turnout, Democrats will be sure to hold Republicans to promises made this year.
 
Education was the issue that kept Senator Hagan within two points of Thom Tillis. You can count on it being front and center in a year with a governor’s race.

 

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04
The provost was heartbroken, the former faculty Chairwoman felt betrayed, and the poor tenured lambs on the faculty felt humiliated which, at the faculty meeting, bred a fervor not unlike a foot-washing Baptist in pursuit of the Devil which, of course, led to the demand the sinners – who’d caused the heartbreak and humiliation – be punished and the punishment the professors settled on was taking away the basketball team’s National Championship Trophies.
 
They also demanded that from then on they (the professors) and not the Chancellor would make the big decisions about sports at UNC  – like deciding how much liquor drinking is socially acceptable in the ‘Blue Zone’ at Carolina football games. The professors then rolled out of the meeting with high fine sense of purpose which rolled over into the newspapers but the professors had missed a key point: They’d gone too far. By disrespecting two totems sacred to just about every UNC Alum – whiskey and ole’ Roy’s Basketball Trophies.
 
Over in Chapel Hill they’ve got a hospital to cure the sick and a library to educate the ignorant and a long, rich tradition of being tolerant to a fault, but any professor who figures tolerance and open-mindedness justify giving up a basketball trophy had better be looking for a lot safer place to hide than an ivory tower.  


 

 

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03
It’s hard to sort out: Kaci Hickox sees healing the ill in Africa as a noble calling but protecting Americans from Ebola as pure villainy.
 
Ole Obama rides to Hickox’s rescue, saying Chris Christie’s a mean-hearted varmint stigmatizing heroes with his quarantine then, in his next breath, Obama announces the Army’s going to quarantine soldiers returning from the Ebola Zone.
 
So, now, Christie’s stigmatizing Hickox and Obama’s stigmatizing the Army. 
 
It’s like Alice Through the Looking Glass: Helping the Africans is noble. Protecting Americans is wicked. Quarantining soldiers is good. Quarantining Hickox is bad. Up’s down. And down’s up.


 

 

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30
President Obama may have the most brilliant strategy on earth to defeat Ebola but, on the other hand, he may go down in history as the first head of a government to encourage thousands of people (doctors and nurses) to visit a plague zone and then return home to meld back into the population without, first, determining whether or not they caught the plague.


 

 

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29
A pollster will usually ask voters: Would you say you 1) Always vote Democratic, 2) Usually vote Democratic, 3) Always vote Republican, 4) Usually vote Republican or 5) would you say you split your ticket and vote for about as many Republicans as Democrats?
 
Down at the Editorial Board (not in the news room) at the News and Observer the boys have gone 5 for 5 in the local Congressional Races – picking five Democrats and not a single Republican.  
 
They also went 4 for 4 in the County Commissioners races – picking 4 Democrats.  
 
And they endorsed Lorrin Freeman, the Democrat in the District Attorney’s race.
 
Then they went 12 of 12 – endorsing 12 Democrats in the State House races.
 
They did endorse one Republican – Sheriff Donnie Harrison – in a backhanded way, spending most of their editorial explaining what Donnie had done wrong and praising his opponent.
 
At any rate, one thing’s clear: Whoever’s doing the picking down at the N&O Editorial Board isn’t a ticket splitter.

 

 

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Carter & Gary
 
Carter Wrenn
 
 
Gary Pearce
 
 
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
 
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
 
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
 
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
 
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
 
 
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