Well, here’s a headline you simply don’t see in a major metro daily’s coverage of a presidential race:

Yes, Donald Trump, accused of having small hands—AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS—went into last night’s presidential debate and defended the size of, um, Little Donald.

Trump found himself defending his business record and his conservative credentials on several fronts, lashed out repeatedly at Marco Rubio, and drew groans and gasps when he offered an unsolicited defense of the size of his genitalia.


The debate came just hours after the Republican Party’s 2012 nominee joined a cast of GOP establishment figures in an effort to stop Trump. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Gov. John Kasich sought to continue Mitt Romney’s work, painting Trump as unfit for office. But they all pledged that they’d support him as the eventual nominee.

Cruz and Rubio, in particular, aggressively sought to deflate Trump, fiercely attacking him as a false conservative, an ill-tempered bully and a flip-flopper on issues. Trump was having none of it, responding with his trademark bombast and insults – and at times reasoned arguments.

Fox News moderators challenged Trump on repeatedly reversing himself by featuring a video montage of his comments about whether he’d opposed or supported the invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

Is any of this going to help? Seems doubtful.

Thursday night’s Republican debate clarified that despite all the talk, no genuine coherent party-wide effort to stop Trump is going to happen.

The debate ended with everyone on stage — people who’d called Trump a con man and a fake, a liar unfit to serve, ignorant, etc. — agreeing that of course they would support him if he wins. But even before that, in their squabbling and inconsistent messages the non-Trump candidates showed that #NeverTrump isn’t really a thing for the people actually in the race.

And then there’s this, from Fox News’s favorite focus-grouper.

And from Fox News’s least-favorite presidential candidate:

Yeah, it didn’t go well. You know what else you’ll see a metric ton of between now and November? This:

But the GOP’s brewing civil war—while simultaneously hilarious and captivating and positively frightening—was not all that happened yesterday. Let’s get to the Roundup:

1. Preliminary report: Raleigh police say Akiel Denkins’s shooting was justified.

Raleigh police chief Cassandra Deck-Brown released a preliminary report Thursday afternoon that contains information regarding Monday’s officer-involved shooting that killed 24-year-old southeast Raleigh resident Akiel Denkins.

According to the report, RPD Senior Officer D.C. Twiddy spotted Denkins on Bragg Street around noon on Monday. Denkins ran and Twiddy pursued him. Twiddy slipped on some gravel and fell, while observing Denkins hopping over a fence. Twiddy got up and followed Denkins to South East Street, where he saw Denkins trying to climb over another fence.

At this point, according to the report, Denkins turned around to face Twiddy. Twiddy grabbed Denkins and was trying to arrest him when he both “felt” and “observed” Denkins reaching for an object in the waistband of his pants. Twiddy saw it was a handgun. Twiddy drew his own gun and fired off shots, while Denkins was continuing to wave his gun in Twiddy’s direction, and then reached for Twiddy’s weapon.

At this point, Twiddy stepped back and shot Denkins, “fearing that Mr. Denkins was either going to shoot him or attempt to take his duty weapon.”

As The News & Observer points out:

The report contradicts accounts from witnesses who have said Denkins was unarmed and that Twiddy shot him in the back as he fled. Reaction to the report on East Bragg Street on Thursday ranged from shock to disbelief.

M.M. Johnson, who had coached Denkins in basketball, said he talked to about 10 to 20 people who were on East Bragg Street the day Denkins was shot.

“They said he took off running,” Johnson said. “Everybody that was standing out there was talking about it. Ain’t nobody said nothing about a struggle. They said he took off running and the police officer fell and started busting (shooting) because he couldn’t catch him.”

We will have much more on this shooting—and the Southeast Raleigh community’s reaction to it—in next week’s issue.

2. The GOP shambles isn’t the only good news for Hillary Clinton.There’s also this, fresh off the wire:

The economy added 242,000 jobs in January while the unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 4.9 percent, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Analysts had expected 190,000 jobs to be added.

Why is that important for HRC (or Bernie Sanders)? Because election-year job growth is positively correlated with an incumbent party’s likelihood of winning a presidential election.

But this report—like the entirety of the recovery, frankly—is also a mixed bag:

Wages fell by 0.1 percent in February, a disappointing showing after the 0.5 percent increase in January.

Despite the improved economic picture, there is still plenty of distress and anger that has helped fuel the success of the Republican front-runner, Donald J. Trump, and rallied many Democrats behind the underdog Bernie Sanders’s attacks on inequality and Wall Street cronyism.

Part of the reason is the unevenness of the recovery, with fortunes diverging depending on where you live, how high your education and skill level and what industry you work in.

3. Dumb N.C. liquor laws screw up awesome event.

A Hillsborough auction house wanted to host the world’s largest auction of the hard-to-get Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. But then it ran headlong into the brick wall of vestigial Prohibition-era bureaucracy.

Leland Little, the auction house owner, issued a statement Thursday that state officials told them that numerous lots of the whiskey were “not in compliance with current N.C. ABC laws.” The statement said the auction house received its permit from the state to conduct the auction on Feb. 23. The auction house then sent out a press release, which generated some media coverage earlier this week.

Agnes Stevens, public affairs director for the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control, cited a state law that oversees special one-time permits for the sale of alcohol by collectors of “wine or decorative decanters of spirituous liquor.” Stevens said in a statement that the auction house ran afoul of state regulations for offering an online auction and selling non-decorative bottles of liquor.

“Commission staff reviewed the images on the auction website and provided the applicant with direction about what would and would not conform to the requirements of the law,” Stevens wrote in an email.

What is unclear is why state officials permitted earlier online auctions that included what appear to be non-decorative bottles of liquor. In early December, the auction house sold three bottles of Pappy Van Winkle: two 20-year bottles and one 15-year bottle for between $1,200 and $1,700 each. An online auction in June included dozens of bottles of vodka, cognac, bourbon, gin, tequila and more; some without presentation boxes or decorative bottles.

Mark Solomon, the auction house’s whiskey and fine wine director, said earlier this week that the more than 100 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle were assembled from collectors across the United States. The lots include 13-, 15-, 20- and 23-year Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve whiskey. Solomon said he had researched what had been previously been offered by other auction houses and determined this was the largest auction of Pappy Van Winkle whiskey to date.

Re-up: It’s high time to abolish the ABC.

4. The UNC board wants to delay the NCGAP plan.

Diverting UNC-bound students to community colleges for two years would slow them down and fail to result in more four-year degree earners in North Carolina, according to a new analysis, but it would save the state and students money.

The N.C. Guaranteed Admission Program, or NCGAP, would also have a detrimental impact on rural, low-income and minority students and could jeopardize the future of some of North Carolina’s historically black universities, according to a report from the UNC system and the N.C. Community College System.

5. Durham Public Schools suspensions are down.

Bucking a state trend, the Durham Public Schools saw a 14.44 percent decrease in short-term suspensions for the 2014-15 school year compared to the 2013-14 school year, according to the North Carolina Consolidated Data Report released this month.

DPS handed out 4,479 short-term suspensions, those lasting fewer than 10 days, during the 2014-15 school year, That’s 756 fewer than the 5,235 handed out the previous year.

So that’s good news. Also good news: Early voting for the March 15 primary—read/comment on our endorsements here—is underway. Click here to find your early-voting site.

That’s it for this week. We’ll see you on the other side.