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ENTERTAINMENT
February 5, 2014 | By Gerrick D. Kennedy
From “American Idol” to Congress? Clay Aiken hopes so. The former “Idol” runner-up has formally announced his run for Congress as a Democrat in his native North Carolina. (And yes, we are just as confused as you are.)  Aiken officially launched his campaign for the seat held by Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers on Wednesday, and he's already issued a campaign video. In the nearly five-minute video -- it's on YouTube and is featured on his new campaign site -- the 35-year-old pop crooner stands in a modest living room, saying it's the home of a family friend who took him and his mother in years ago. PHOTOS: Celebrities by The Times "For most Americans, there are no golden tickets.
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ENTERTAINMENT
February 5, 2014 | By Christie D'Zurilla
This is one contest in which Clay Aiken really doesn't want to finish second: The singer is running for Congress, aiming to represent a district in North Carolina. Aiken, 35, who finished a close second to Ruben Studdard in the second season of "American Idol," announced his candidacy Wednesday via YouTube, Twitter and his own official website . He'll have to make it through a Democratic primary to take on the incumbent, Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers, who also has a primary challenger in what's reportedly a GOP-leaning district.
NATIONAL
February 4, 2014 | By David Zucchino
Tens of thousands of tons of coal ash have spilled into the Dan River from a closed North Carolina coal plant since Sunday, but drinking water supplies have not been affected, according to municipal officials and the plant's owner, Duke Energy. Between 50,000 and 82,000 tons of ash have poured into the Dan River, which flows between North Carolina and Virginia, Duke Energy said. Corporate officials, who blamed a broken storm water pipe, said Tuesday that the utility was still working to stop the leak at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, N.C. About 24 to 27 million gallons of basin water from a 27-acre coal ash reservoir at the retired plant also spilled into the river, Duke Energy said in a statement.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 3, 2014 | By Tony Perry
Neil Morgan, noted journalist, author and civic force in San Diego for more than six decades, has died. He was 89. Morgan died Saturday at his home in La Jolla after a long illness, including respiratory distress, according to his wife, travel writer Judith Morgan. With his column, first in the San Diego Daily Journal and later the San Diego Evening Tribune, Morgan chronicled the city's coming-of-age beginning after World War II. Among American cities, few were transformed by the war more than San Diego, Morgan often noted.
NATIONAL
January 30, 2014 | By David Horsey
When John McCain gets censured by members of his own party - McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who has one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate - it is clear that the biggest problem facing Republicans is the looniness in their own ranks. Largely a rural, Southern, aging white people's party, the GOP faces a big demographic challenge down the road, but this year the party has a clear shot at winning control of the Senate by gaining at least six seats. The liveliest Senate races are expected to be in South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska, North Carolina, Iowa, Georgia and Kentucky.
NEWS
January 16, 2014 | By Kathleen Hennessey
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Before President Obama unveiled a manufacturing initiative here Wednesday, he delivered his customary shout-out to local officials, including the Republican governor sitting in the front row, and thanked Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan "for the great work she's doing. " But Hagan wasn't there to hear his kudos, which Obama noted and which was already well-known by her Republican opponents. The senator, who is facing a tough battle for reelection, had been taking heat for days over whether she would attend, highlighting a quandary vulnerable Democrats will face until election day: how to welcome Air Force One to their state without carrying off its passenger's baggage.
SPORTS
January 11, 2014 | By Matt Wilhalme
P.J. Hairston could have been North Carolina's biggest offensive weapon this season, instead he'll probably see his first action on the court this year in the NBA Development League. "I am pursing an opportunity to play basketball in the NBA's Developmental League, and submitted my paperwork this afternoon," Hairston said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. Hairston, a 6-foot-6 guard who led North Carolina in scoring as a sophomore, had not appeared in a game for the Tar Heels this season while the school investigated possible NCAA violations.
SPORTS
January 2, 2014 | By Eric Sondheimer
 Orange Lutheran and Aliso Niguel will represent Southern California at the 16-team USA Baseball National High School Invitational Tournament March 26-29 in Cary, N.C. It's the same tournament Mater Dei and Harvard-Westlake have dominated the last two seasons. Orange Lutheran is led by shortstop Josh Morgan, a UCLA signee. Aliso Niguel has junior pitcher Kyle Molnar, a UCLA commit.   Eric.sondheimer@latimes.com  
NATIONAL
December 30, 2013 | By Saba Hamedy
When Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor - who will lead the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration Tuesday - touches off New York City's ball drop, the illuminated orb won't be the only thing falling around the country at midnight. These days, cities are dropping an array of creative items to cheering crowds as locals mimic the massive Times Square countdown event that has come to symbolize the nation's New Year's moment. Starting in Eastern Standard Time, there is a possum drop in North Carolina and a Peep drop in Pennsylvania (the marshmallow candy's home state)
NATIONAL
December 27, 2013 | By Saba Hamedy
It starts with capturing a possum.  Next, on New Year's Eve, the possum is slowly lowered in a plastic cage, as spectators watch and count down the seconds to midnight.  Then the possum is set free.  Happy New Year! This is the “possum drop,” an annual Brasstown, N.C., tradition that locals liken to the Times Square ball drop in New York City. It's so popular in the North Carolina mountain town that a 30-minute documentary about it, “The Possum Drop,” was released over the summer.  But in 2011, the possum drop got the attention of the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
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