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Ten and a half years ago, Clay Aiken rose to fame by winning America's votes. In 2014, he may try to court them again, this time at the ballot box.

Only one district of North Carolina will decide the winner of this contest, though, if he decides to enter it: Clay is considering running for U.S. Congress.

Clay Aiken on the Red Carpet

According to a new report from the Washington Blade, the second-season American Idol runner-up is "actively" laying the ground work for a political run.

He has consulted with political operative Betsy Conti, who worked for former Vice President Al Gore and former North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue.

One Democratic source said Aiken made phone calls to gauge support, talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee about a potential bid.

Although it’s unclear when Aiken might announce a decision, the source said Aiken is “actively considering” it and “sounding and acting like a candidate."

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly executed his uncle and a handful of the man’s aides by feeding them to a horde of 120 starving dogs.

Jang Song Thaek, the former #2 official in the regime, is believed to have been stripped naked and tossed into a cage along with five others.

According to the Straits Times of Singapore:

“Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is also called ‘quan jue’, or execution by dogs."

It's called insanity if that's true.

The news of the execution first surfaced in description a Hong Kong newspaper that serves as the official mouthpiece of China’s government there.

However, more established outlets in mainland China have not repeated the account, for whatever that's worth. The account continues as such:

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MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry is in hot water for making jokes about Mitt Romney's adopted, African-American grandchild on the air last weekend.

The comments came during a segment in which a roster of comedians were riffing on notable photos from the past year, and things went off the rails.

A photo of the Romney family with Mitt's latest grandchild, Kieran Romney, who is adopted and African-American, on Mitt's knee, sparked laughter.

“One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same,” sang out Pia Glenn, one of Harris-Perry’s guests on the show.

Harris-Perry herself said she would like to see the “gorgeous” child and North West, daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, get married some day.

“Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?” she said.

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Despite much controversy over the past two weeks, Duck Dynasty will return on schedule next year, with Phil Robertson an active participant, A&E announced.

The company suspended Robertson indefinitely December 18 following controversial anti-gay comments the 67-year-old made in an interview with GQ.

Duck Dynasty had been on hiatus when the comments went public; the show is set to return in January and to resume filming new episodes this spring.

None of that will change. The network, “after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups,” says the show will go on.

The Robertson Family

The Robertson family admitted that the anti-gay comments were coarse, but criticized the suspension and implied they would not film without Phil.

Since the national controversy erupted, Phil Robertson has been defiant, reiterating his stance on gays, sin and homosexuality at a Bible study group.

He has been roundly criticized by gay rights groups, but supporters began demanding his reinstatement and even planning a Chick-Phil-A Day.

The network thus found itself in the midst of a PR nightmare, and ultimately decided to distance itself from Phil's views while still bringing back the show.

A&E's statement on the decision, released Friday, reads:

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Conrad Barrett was arrested Thursday and charged under federal hate crimes law, which defines a hate crime as “motivated by enmity or animus against a protected class.”

The FBI also lists anti-white crimes as hate crimes, but the fact that he was charged for playing the "knockout game" and assaulting a black man has sparked controversy.

The knockout game, in which an assailant tries to knock out a random bystander with a single punch, has garnered national attention in recent months.

It is unclear whether the "game" has become more popular or whether the Internet has simply allowed for isolated incidents to be broadcast more widely.

The majority of the reported knockout game incidents, however, have involved black men targeting white victims and none triggered federal involvement.

The fact that the Justice Department elected to step in now, when a black man was the victim, has critics saying the government is using the hate-crime statute unevenly.

Donald Green, a political scientist at Columbia University in New York, says:

“The reason why you have black perpetrators and white victims being prosecuted asymmetrically hinges on what evidence there is about why they’re doing what they’re doing."

“If suspects call the victim racial names, and one of the other witnesses testifies to that effect, it would be prosecutable as a hate crime."

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In a sign of how far the gay rights movement has come, Pope Francis has been named 2013 Person of the Year by The Advocate, a prominent LGBT magazine.

"While 2013 will be remembered for the work of hundreds in advancing marriage equality," The Advocate wrote, "it will also be remembered for the example of one man."

Pope Francis, who has single-handedly sought to unite, rather than divide the Catholic Church and all of humanity, was named Time Person of the Year as well.

Pope Francis on The Advocate

The Pontiff has not supported gay marriage, but he has called for the end of the church's "obsession" with gays and abortion and said he does not judge gay people.

That, symbolically, put the finishing touch on 2013, The Year of Gay Marriage.

From statehouses to the Supreme Court, and from shifting public opinion to politicians' "evolutions," the year saw many milestones. The Pope certainly wasn't alone.

After all, 2013 likely would not have happened were it not for 2012, when President Barack Obama finally embraced same-sex marriage and went on to win reelection.

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Phil Robertson disrespected the gay employees at A&E, and that's ultimately what got the star suspended from Duck Dynasty, according to a new report.

Robertson Family

The 67-year-old Robertson family patriarch's suspension has become a polarizing topic this week, and now TMZ has insight into how it all went down.

Why would the network suspend one of its most popular personalities when it knew the backlash it would get for it from fans and certain pundits?

A&E CEO Nancy Dubuc felt she could not in good conscience ask the network's gay employees to kill themselves for the show after Phil's comments.

When Robertson disrespected them by calling all gays sinners, and rather coarsely at that, in his recent interview with GQ, Dubuc felt she had no choice.

A number of gay employees involved in the production of Duck Dynasty were outraged by Phil's comments to GQ and wanted Dubuc to take action.

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The Duck Dynasty cast released a statement in support of suspended star Phil Robertson, implying that they can't go forward with the show without him.

“We are in discussions with A&E to see what [this] means for the future of Duck Dynasty,” the family statement said of Phil Robertson's suspension.

“We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.”

The family defended Robertson’s comments and stressed that they are a “family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.”

“While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible,” the family said.

“Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"

"Phil would never incite or encourage hate.”

The Robertson family said it has “spent much time in prayer” since learning A&E had suspended Phil over anti-gay comments he made in GQ.

The family also criticized A&E for its actions, saying he was placed on hiatus “for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.”

Indeed, he sparked a national debate on religion and tolerance in an interview in which the reporter asked him what he considered to be sinful behavior.

The 67-year-old Robertson, who fans of the show know is very religious, said:

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Phil Robertson has been suspended indefinitely from A&E's Duck Dynasty amid the intense backlash over his recent anti-gay comments in GQ.

The family patriarch is famously outspoken and never affair to ruffle feathers (excuse the pun), but these remarks were particularly eyebrow-raising.

Many were offended, but others are attacking A&E, saying Phil Robertson's anti-gay comments are merely statements of his religious and personal beliefs.

Sarah Palin was one of many fans to take to social media in response, charging that the Duck Dynasty star's suspension is an attack on freedom of speech:

“Free speech is an endangered species. The ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also voiced support for his embattled constituent:

“Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana."

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Barbara Walters had a diverse group of people to choose from in selecting her 21st and likely final Most Fascinating Person from this year. So who was it?

There was Jennifer Lawrence, a blessing with her great acting and great quotes, an A-list movie star who somehow feels like everyone's BFF.

There's new parents Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, the Duck Dynasty cast (also in the news thanks to Phil Robertson), and obviously Miley Cyrus.

None of them topped the last though. That honor goes to ...

Hillary Clinton! She was the first person selected by Barbara Walters when she began her series of specials 21 years ago, so it was a fitting choice.

Yet also somewhat of an odd one, as Clinton stepped down as Secretary of State early this year and has been almost entirely out of the spotlight.

In any case, Barbara Walters says she's retiring after this year, making this the final Most Fascinating special. As for Clinton retiring? A lot less clear.

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