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Recent reports indicating that President Obama was aware of and personally approved an NSA program that involved spying on the personal communications of various international leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have once again highlighted the deception and intransigence of the Obama administration in dealing with the revelations that the National Security Agency has been acting outside the bounds of the law, sucking up electronic communications the world over.

While this may come as a shock to most Americans, I’ve been writing about the NSA’s illegal surveillance tactics since the 1980s. However, this latest development in the spying saga — that the NSA has been aiming its surveillance activities at the citizens of allied countries, including France and Germany — has thrown a kink into the Obama administration’s attempts at maintaining a cozy relationship with its foreign allies.


In the middle of a patch of political signs is a placard with “Handyman” and a phone number. The Franklin candidates, like the Handyman, believe that they can fix things. The question is - what is broken?

Voter involvement, or lack thereof, is often cited as a fundamental shortcoming of the political process. On the local level, voter turnout can be virtually non-existent. In 2011, a whopping 10 percent of voters turned out in Macon County for the Franklin and Highlands elections. And, that tenth of the population only included those registered to vote. So the real number is that 90 percent-plus of the citizenry stayed away from the polls. In all fairness, not only did voters ignore the election but so did potential candidates. There was not a contested position for the town of Franklin and all the incumbents were elected with only 60-odd votes each.


In N.C., there are some recent changes in the law regarding third grade students. In the fall of 2013, third-grade students were given a beginning-of-grade standardized test to see how they are reading. At the end of third grade, students will take end-of-grade tests in reading and in mathematics. These tests tell the parents, teacher and principal if the child has learned the basic skills that he or she needs to be successful in fourth grade.

North Carolina state law (Read to Achieve) now requires that third graders who are not reading at a proficient level on the end-of-grade test be given additional support. If your child is not proficient on the end-of-grade test in reading at the end of third grade:

The child will be given the opportunity to retest.


The controversy of making a mountain out of an Indian mound just won't go away. The place name “Nikwasi Mound” is a combination of Cherokee and English words denoting an earthwork, that is believed to have been made by a third group of people who predate us all, known as the Mississippian Culture. There is no evidence indicating that any of their direct descendants are living among us today, but the squabble continues over squatters rights concerning the Mound. Patterns of world history hold true on a local level. Waves of different groups of people, from the Mississippians to the Floridians have and will continue to occupy the land. Yes, the Cherokee utilized the Mound when they came into our area, including erecting a council house on top. It's unknown if they used force to gain access to what is now modern-day Macon County. White people did use force to secure land and have also utilized the Mound, most recently, as a experimental herbicidal laboratory.


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