Michael Tomsic became a full-time reporter for WFAE in August 2012. Before that, he reported for the station as a freelancer and intern while he finished his senior year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Heââ

History
9:03 am
Sun October 28, 2012

Closing Courthouse Brought Moonshiners To Justice

The John B. Hayes Federal Building in Wilkesboro, N.C., is among several federal courthouses being closed in the South.
Michael Tomsic WFAE

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 10:58 am

Moonshine used to be big business in the South, an illegal business that also kept the federal courthouses busy. Now one of those facilities, once on the front lines of the war on homemade booze, is shutting down.

The Johnson J. Hayes Federal Building is in Wilkesboro, N.C., where distilling corn whiskey in backwoods breweries was once the town's main trade. It's one of six federal courthouses closing in the South over the next year or two.

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Asia
6:21 am
Sun October 28, 2012

With Barbs, Author Becomes Literary Star In China

Blogger and race car driver Han Han doesn't shy away from skewering Chinese government and society.
Robert Cianflone Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 7:41 pm

Not so long ago, many Chinese commentators wrote in a cautious, oblique style designed not to offend the nation's famously humorless leaders — then came the Internet, blogs and a cheeky young man named Han Han.

The voice of China's post-'80s generation, Han is ironic, skeptical and blunt — writing what many young Chinese think but dare not say publicly.

Now 30 years old, Han has boy-band good looks, drives race cars and has 8 million followers on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

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It's All Politics
5:43 am
Sun October 28, 2012

Democrats See Opportunity In Fiery Illinois House Race

Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh and challenger Democrat Tammy Duckworth before a televised debate at the WTTW studios on Oct. 18, 2012, in Chicago.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 3:06 am

One of the most bitter congressional races is in the suburbs of Chicago, where controversial freshman Republican Joe Walsh is fighting to keep a seat he was actually drawn out of.

The Tea Party favorite's bombastic rants frequently get him into trouble, even with members of his own party, and Walsh is facing a tough Democratic opponent in Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in combat.

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Economy
7:15 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

Bust To Boom: Why Housing Matters, Economically

A construction worker finishes a roof in Chicago on Oct. 12. Signs of recovery in the housing market are springing up nationwide, but there's still a ways to go.
Nam Y. Huh AP

Originally published on Sat October 27, 2012 7:45 pm

The economy has peppered political speeches for much of the presidential campaign. But talk of creating jobs has stolen thunder from the housing market.

The epic housing collapse four years ago was a key ingredient in creating the Great Recession in the first place. Plus, boosting the housing market can be a boon for overall economic recovery.

Beginning A 'Long-Term Cycle'

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The Two-Way
6:59 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

A Flurry Of Contradicting 'Facts' Convolutes Reality In Afghanistan

U.S. troops patrol in the Baraki Barak district of Logar province, Afghanistan.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 2:43 pm

Reporting in Afghanistan isn't just challenging because of the security concerns and the complexity of society and the stories here; it's challenging because "facts" are often in the eye of the beholder. Just last week, an incident that seemed to be factual is now an open question: Was there a deadly firefight or not?

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The Salt
4:28 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

For The Love Of Cheese, Diners Unite In Italy

An inspector checks a wheel of Reggiano cheese at the Parmigiano-Reggiano storehouse in Bibbiano, Italy. Earthquakes rocked the region, sending the cheese toppling.
Marco Vasini AP

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 9:46 am

In Italy tonight, everyone's having the same thing for dinner, and there's no doubt that it's going to smell terrific.

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It's All Politics
4:27 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

Tiny N.H. Draws Big Money And Names To Gubernatorial Race

Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide Lamontagne talk during a break in their gubernatorial debate in Henniker, N.H., on Oct. 4.
Jim Cole AP

Originally published on Sat October 27, 2012 7:45 pm

There are 11 gubernatorial races this fall, and one of the most competitive is in the swing state of New Hampshire.

There, Republican Ovide Lamontagne and Democrat Maggie Hassan are vying to replace a popular Democrat who opted not to seek a fifth term. Both political parties and outside advocacy groups are pushing hard in a race where neither candidate enjoys a clear edge.

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It's All Politics
3:25 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

Among Israelis, Romney Appears The Favorite

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney places a prayer note during a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem in July. Israel is one of the few foreign countries where residents have a clear preference for Romney over President Obama.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 9:51 am

Israelis view the American presidential election much the way they tend to view most issues: What does it mean for Israel?

And by a wide margin, Israelis seem to believe that Republican candidate Mitt Romney would be more attentive to Israel's interests than President Obama.

The Peace Index Poll, commissioned by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute, found that Romney was favored 2-to-1 by Israelis back in August.

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House & Senate Races
3:03 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

Tale Of The Tape: Brown Vs. Warren In Massachusetts

Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Sat October 27, 2012 3:23 pm

A special election two years ago to fill the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat brought a huge change to Massachusetts politics: the first Republican U.S. senator in nearly four decades.

Not surprisingly, Sen. Scott Brown has been a thorn in the side of the state's Democratic establishment since his 2010 victory.

"Most of the time here, you have a Democratic primary and then shortly thereafter, a swearing in," says Maurice Cunningham, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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