Mecklenburg and beyond

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Animals: Some people like their pets better than their people, and their devotion is reflected more and more in their obits.

Teens: Birth rates among teenagers are up in 26 states, including North Carolina.

War: A roadside bomb killed 24-year-old Jason Parsons in Afghanistan last week. Parsons, a Lenoir native, loved the military and had planned a career in the Army. A week ago, Jessie Cassada, a 19-year-old Marine from Hendersonville, was killed during an operation in the Helmand province.

Rights: More gay firings at a suburban Nashville hotel.

Economy: An Indiana businessman appears to have faked his death in a plane crash to avoid financial problems. Now authorities are looking for the 38-year-old man.

Crime: Wake County Schools used a swipe-card system last week to determine that a man trying to sign in as a visitor was a sex offender. The man had convictions for incest and statutory-rape solicitation, among other crimes. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has a new sex-offender policy.

Politics: Gotta love diet Pepsi.

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