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Duke grad's confirmation to Air Force Secretary on hold

Deborah Lee James, President Barack Obama’s choice to be the next secretary of the Air Force, is a Duke University graduate. James majored in comparative studies and graduated in 1979.

If she’s confirmed by the Senate, James will be responsible for 330,000 active-duty men and women in the Air Force, 176,000 Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members, and about 186,000 civilian defense workers. She’ll also oversee a budget of more than $110 billion.

Duke study: The more extreme your political views, the more certain you're right

Conservatives tend to be more dogmatic about their believes than liberals, but both sides their their views are superior and all other views are inferior, according to a new Duke University study.

The study, posted online edition of Psychological Science, questioned 527 adults on nine hot-button issues. It found those who endorse the extremes of conservative and liberal viewpoints demonstrate greater belief superiority than those who hold moderate views.

"These findings help to explain why politicians with more extreme view can't reach across the aisle,'' said Kaitlin Toner, who was the lead author of the study. "As more extreme candidates get elected to Congress, compromise becomes more difficult and deadlocks increase because those with more extreme views are more certain that they are right.''

The study found that "dogmatism was higher for people endorsing conservative views than for people endorsing liberal views, which replicates the rigidity-of-the right hypothesis.''

But Mark Leary, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke, said the key finding, is that people with more extreme views are more certain that they are right.

"MotorcycleVagina'' forum Monday — we are not making this up

What is undoubtedly, the first "MotorcycleVagina" forum will be held at Duke University on Monday. Or more properly, #MotorcycleVagina": The North Carolina Legislature's War on Women.

The panel discussion is being sponsored by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and will feature a panel of abortion choice supporters discussing the ramifications of the anti-abortion legislation passed earlier this year by the legislature.

The anti-abortion legislation was attached to a motorcycle bill in the Senate — hence the name.

The forum will held Monday at 12:15 p.m. in room 3037 of the Duke Law School.

Those scheduled to speak are Alison Kiser, director of affairs, Planned Parenthood of NC; Sarah Preston, policy director, ACLU of NC., Suzanne Buckley of NARAL Pro-Choice NC, and Jedediah Purdy, Duke law professor.

Morning Memo: Amid controversy, political hire further fans DHHS flames

ANOTHER POLITICAL HIRE IN AGENCY UNDER FIRE: Former McCrory campaign filmmaker will work on DHHS 'brand' A lobbyist and filmmaker who made an election-night video for Gov. Pat McCrory is the new brand and marketing manager at the state Department of Health and Human Services. Aaron Mullins, 38, started the job Sept. 4. He makes $68,000 a year.

Mullins is one of several new staff members at state agencies with political connections. Ricky Diaz, who worked on McCrory’s campaign, is a spokesman at DHHS making $85,000. Heather Jeffreys, finance director for McCrory’s campaign, has a communications job at the N.C. Department of Transportation making $58,879. Read more here.

***Get a statewide political news roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo -- and look for more polling numbers on the govenror later today.***

Perdue sets post governor plans, mum on Raleigh GOP

Former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue has recently finished her teaching fellowship at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and plans to launch an education consulting business from her home in Chapel Hill.

“I'm older, I've got probably 10 years of really robust kind of activity, and I'm very discerning about it is I want to choose to do with my time,” she said in a recent interview with Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal. “So I have agreed to do some work with one company around education and technology. I'm setting up the company now.''

Perdue plans to work with a number of outside experts with the company that will be called Perdue Strategic Group. She is also working on a biography with two writers, Barlow Herget and Marion Ellis.

U.S. Senate as polarized as the early 1900s

The recent debates in Washington about budget cuts and guns show increasing evidence of polarization, a new study highlights.

Researchers at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill visualized the divide going back to 1the start of the 20th century. “We have not seen the current level of partisanship since the early 1900s,” professors James Moody of Duke and Peter Mucha of UNC-CH found. (Maybe this is why some in the U.S. Senate don't think so highly of political science research.)

University experts to work on early-childhood evaluations

Child development experts from around the state will begin meeting at Duke University this week to come up with new ways to measure children's readiness for school and to evaluate their progress in the early grades.

The effort related to a new law aimed at curbing social promotion by having third graders pass the state reading test before they enter fourth grade. The law requires the state to come up with ways to measure student progress in kindergarten through third grades. The "assessments," as they're called, must be individualized, and schools can't use standardized end-of-grade tests for students in kindergarten through second grade as they do for older students.

Experts from public and private universities from across the state will work on the project for six months, and their recommendations will be used to create the assessments. The effort is funded, in part, by the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant the state won two years ago.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson is sponsoring the meetings, which they're calling a "think tank." John Pruette, director of the office of early learning in the state Department of Public Instruction, and Kenneth Dodge, director of the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy, are in charge.

Dodge said in a statement that the new measures would help create a more complete picture of young children's progress.

"This is an opportunity to change the dynamic for teachers and children in the early grades," Dodge said.


The group will also focus assessments of health and physical development, social and emotional development, and a child's approach to learning, Pruette said.

Perdue will be fellow at Duke

Bev Perdue will have her backpack stuffed with books and all ready to stride through the hallways of academia this year making new friends at Duke and Harvard.

Earlier, it was announced that the former governor will be a fellow at Harvard University this spring at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Then this fall, she will be a distinguished visiting fellow at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Duke Dean Bruce Kuniholm made the announcement Friday in a news release. Perdue will be able to engage with students and faculty and share her insights from a life in politics, Kuniholm says. She will also be an adviser with the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.

“I had always hoped my professional career could end the way it began. So, this is a dream come true for me,” Perdue is quoted as saying in the release. She was a public school teacher before she was a politician.

Perdue has a doctorate in education administration and a master’s degree in community college administration, both from the University of Florida. Her bachelor’s degree is from the University of Kentucky.

Congressmen to talk money in politics at Duke forum

Democratic Congressmen David Price and John Sarbanes will talk about the affects of big money in politics in a forum Thursday at Duke University.

The free event starts at 5 p.m. at Fleishman Commons at the Sanford School for Public Policy. Also on the panel: Anita Earls, the executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and state Rep. Larry Hall, the House minority leader. Gunther Peck, associate professor of history and public policy, will moderate.

Duke University forum to explore media's role in 2012 election

The dust is never settled on the 2012 election. A Duke University forum Saturday will take a look at media coverage of the campaign season with a panel of national journalists.

John Dickerson, a media critic with Slate and CBS News, Ben Smith, the founder of BuzzFeed, and Nia-Malika Henderson, a Washington Post reporter, will serve on the panel. Duke professor James Hamilton will moderate. 

The forum is 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Fleishman Commons of the Sanford Building. It is free and open to the public.

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