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Wake County judge avoided looking at Edwards sex tape

In case you missed it, an interesting anecdote from Anne Blythe's story about Wake County Superior Court Judge Abe Jones' retirement: "A broad smile stretches across his face as he talks about the role he played in the lawsuit filed by Rielle Hunter, the mother of former presidential candidate John Edwards’ youngest child, against Andrew Young, his former aide.

The infamous sex tape was part of that case. Jones said he refused to watch the tape to make sure it was the real thing. Instead he asked two female lawyers to watch it for him — one from each side — and index the important parts.

“I just didn’t want to do it,” Jones said. “I sometimes see him socially. I would feel like I was in his bedroom.”

'Edwards! The Musical' gets a local star

A brief detour from the legislative session for some theater news from New York, via our arts critic David Menconi: Onstage, Triangle expatriate Alina Simone has been known to break out the occasional Britney Spears cover. From there, one supposes, it's a short step to performing in the guise of Rielle Hunter -- notorious paramour of North Carolina's former senator/presidential candidate, John Edwards.

Improbably, Simone will don a blonde wig to do just that on Thursday at Brookyn's PowerHouse Arena, playing Hunter in "Edwards! The Musical." A satirical treatment of a pretty tragic series of events, "Edwards!" has been tapped as entertainment at the launch party for "The McSweeney's Book of Politics and Musicals." You can check out the script for "Edwards!" here.

Morning Roundup: Immigration ruling spurs mixed reaction in North Carolina

Local elected officials, immigration activists and others had mixed reactions to Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that threw out key provisions of a controversial Arizona immigration law. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--From AP: Rielle Hunter says she and former presidential candidate John Edwards have ended their relationship. Hunter told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday that she and Edwards were still a couple until late last week, as details from Hunter's memoir became public. The breakup was painful, but Hunter said Edwards will still be involved with their daughter, Quinn, who is 4 years old and lives with Hunter.

Morning Roundup: Dalton, McCrory square off in first debate

The governor’s race enters a new phase Saturday when Democrat Walter Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory trade harsh words in the campaign’s first debate. Sponsored by the N.C. Bar Association, the Wilmington forum is an important milepost in the campaign, giving the candidates an opportunity to define their candidacy and separate themselves from their partisan affiliates. So far the race is defined by association.

More political headlines:

--A joint press conference on the budget this week provided a striking moment pointed toward an emerging dynamic between Phil Berger and Thom Tillis, according to many political observers, who saw subtle tears in the GOP fabric compared to a year earlier when Republican lawmakers worked closely together to move North Carolina to the ideological right. 

Morning Roundup: All eyes on Gov. Bev Perdue

After months of watching the action from the sidelines Gov. Bev Perdue is back at center stage. Three weighty issues are on her desk, and state employees, natural gas companies, environmentalists, prosecutors and teachers are watching to see if she will get out her veto stamp. So far she isn't tipping her hand. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--North Carolina ranked 45th in the nation in per-student spending on public schools in 2010, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Thursday. The state’s public school systems spent an average of $8,409 per-student in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, according to the report. That compares to national per-student spending of $10,615. 

Another Edwards' ex-staffer writes a book -- this one a novel

Rielle Hunter’s newly released tell-all memoir and former aide Andrew Young’s 2010 inside account aren’t the only John Edwards-inspired books on the market. In August, an ex-staffer’s novel will be published.

Bridget Siegel, who was a young finance director for the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign with VP nominee Edwards, has written “Domestic Affairs.” According to the publisher, Weinstein Books, the novel is “full of all the scandal and back-room dealings that go into raising money for a presidential campaign.

“It also features an affair with a very married Southern candidate.”

Morning Roundup: Budget-watch continues, as do John Edwards headlines

Last year the governor and state lawmakers from both parties came together for the first sweeping revision of sentencing laws in North Carolina in nearly two decades, aimed at keeping closer tabs on ex-convicts. But for all the fanfare about the cutting-edge crime-fighting plan, lawmakers left out one key ingredient: money to pay for probation officers to supervise the newly released prisoners. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--John Edwards and Rielle Hunter continue to appear in the headlines. Exclusive photos appearing on a British tabloid’s website Tuesday appear to show John Edwards spending Father’s Day weekend at the beach with Rielle Hunter and their 4-year-old child, Quinn. The Daily Mail Online identified the locale as North Carolina’s Figure Eight Island, where Edwards owns a home. At the same time, Hunter is saying she wasn't Edwards' first mistress.

Morning Roundup: Rielle's tell-all book and the birther movement, oh my

Rielle Hunter's impending tell-all book is stuck in columnist Barry Saunders' crawCome on, now. Y’all didn’t really think this was going to fade away so quickly, that they – the protagonists in this drama of Faulknerian Southern sordidness – were through with us already, did you? Just as importantly, you knew we weren’t through with them because, face it, everybody needs someone to whom they can feel morally superior. For a lot of you, Rielle Hunter and John Edwards fill that role.

More headlines and stories from the weekend:

--The so-called "birther" movement won't die -- despite the categorically false nature of the notion about President Barack Obama's citizenship. And from his North Raleigh home, Bill Bryan runs a website that seeks to dispel the myth.

Morning Roundup: N.C. lawmakers plan speedy start to session

Legislators get back to making laws Wednesday with a running start on some of the state’s most controversial issues.

House budget writers are preparing to present their spending plans to the public after weeks of behind-the-scenes work. Onshore drilling for natural gas will move quickly off the blocks and will face votes over the first few weeks. A plan to close a Medicaid budget shortfall also will see early action. A Senate committee on Wednesday will debate a bill allowing live poker, blackjack and other table games at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ casino. Get a legislative preview here.

More political headlines:

--The end of the John Edwards trial came into view Tuesday as his defense team told the judge that only three potential defense witnesses remain — the defendant, his daughter, Cate, and his former mistress, Rielle Hunter. Defense Attorney Abbe Lowell announced the list while informing Judge Catherine Eagles at the end of Tuesday’s proceedings that the defense may rest on Wednesday or Thursday.

--Republicans launched the first television commercial Tuesday in the November governor’s race, an attack ad that tries to link Democratic nominee Walter Dalton to the unpopular Gov. Bev Perdue. But the 30-second spot’s major points don’t fully meet the truth test. Here’s a claim-by-claim fact check.

Morning Roundup: General Assembly to tackle tense issues in short time

The General Assembly gavels into session Wednesday with legislative leaders pledging to tackle big issues in a short time frame. The so-called short session is designed to tweak the two-year state budget approved in 2011. But the Republican lawmakers – starting just their second term at the helm of both the House and Senate – want to do much more. On the table are a bevy of controversial issues ranging from drilling for natural gas through fracking to requiring voter identification at the polls.

At the same time, GOP leaders want to finish business by the end of June, much sooner than during recent even-year sessions. Click here for a look at major issues on the agenda.

More political headlines below.

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