First in Torture? NC's deep involvement in extraordinary renditions

Flying the not-so-friendly skies:

According to testimony provided to the Commission, “research shows conclusively that aircraft operated by Aero Contractors played a central role in the CIA torture program. 200 From 2001 until 2004, Aero Contractors operated two aircraft owned by a series of CIA shell companies — a 737 Boeing Business Jet originally numbered N313P and a Gulfstream V originally numbered N379P — on behalf of the CIA. 201 Aero Contractors utilized two airports in North Carolina for these purposes: Johnston County Airport (JNX) in Smithfield, N.C. for N379P 202 and Kinston Regional Jetport at the state-run Global TransPark for N313P. 203.

Aero Contractors was formed on September 28, 1979. 206 It is incorporated in Delaware as a “[c]ontract aviation services” business, 207 and its filings with the North Carolina Department of State list four corporate addresses in Smithfield, North Carolina. 208 Its founder was Jim Rhyne, “a legendary C.I.A. officer and chief pilot for Air America, the agency’s Vietnam-era air company.” 209 Aero Contractors’ involvement in clandestine transfer of individuals pre-dated 9/11, as the company operated rendition flights in the 1990s for the U.S. government. 210.

I left those footnote numbers in there for a reason. This is an insanely well-researched report, and should not be dismissed out-of-hand. I would also be remiss if I didn't remind readers that Air America engaged in numerous criminal activities during the Vietnam War, including drug-running in order to help finance their operations. Back to the report:

Wrongfully imprisoned, then ripped off by their lawyer

The system has failed them at every turn:

A Florida lawyer defrauded, deceived and embezzled funds from two mentally disabled clients who were declared innocent after spending 31 years in prison, according to a complaint filed Wednesday by the North Carolina State Bar. Henry McCollum and his half-brother, Leon Brown, were exonerated in 2014 after serving decades in prison for the notorious rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. They received $750,000 each from the state in compensation.

The North Carolina State Bar charged that Orlando lawyer Patrick Megaro took excessive fees when he pocketed a third of each award despite having done virtually no work on their exonerations or compensation cases. The complaint lists 16 separate ethical violations. Megaro allegedly lied to federal and state judges, double-billed his clients and misused trust funds.

Not only does this case exemplify the mistreatment of African--Americans in our criminal justice system, it also exposes the disgusting fear-mongering Republicans thrive on during campaign season:

Thursday News: Frat boys stick together

burrdon'tcare.jpg

IGNORING THE VICTIMS, RICHARD BURR PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR KAVANAUGH: "Democrats made it clear they would stop at nothing to block President Trump’s Supreme Court pick before Judge Kavanaugh was even chosen as the nominee. President Trump has every right to nominate the individual of his choosing to the Supreme Court, and the Senate should go through the normal advice-and-consent process, as it has done for the last 12 weeks," Burr said in a statement. "Immediately following the conclusion of Thursday’s hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee should vote up or down on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. I intend to support Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination when it comes before the full Senate." WRAL News asked Burr spokeswoman Caitlin Carroll whether his support could change if unfavorable evidence against Kavanaugh were to come out in the committee hearing. "He intends to support Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination in the full Senate," Carroll responded.
https://www.wral.com/burr-tillis-take-positions-on-kavanaugh-hearing/17874676/

Ted Budd's hold on Congressional seat just got more tenuous

tedbuddgun.jpg

His race against Kathy Manning is now a toss-up:

This matchup may be the biggest culture clash in the country: Budd is a gun store owner and first-term Freedom Caucus member who homeschools his children in rural Davie County. Wealthy Democratic philanthropist Kathy Manning was the chief fundraiser for Greensboro's $78 million performing arts center scheduled to open next year. If ever there was a race that's "all about that base," this is it.

It's also behaving like open seat: Budd remains relatively unknown and undefined after winning this seat in 2016 with just 20 percent of the vote in the crowded GOP primary and some help from the Club for Growth. And even though the district voted for President Trump 53 percent to 44 percent, Greensboro may be energized and there aren't compelling statewide races to turn out rural GOP voters.

If there's any single "key" to this race (and a lot of others) it's turnout. While Kathy Manning may not be the ideal candidate for progressives, her campaign is vigorous and well-funded. And at the end of the day, when you're running against an empty-suit demagogue who will likely have a lot of money pouring in during the final stretch, having the ability to ramp up your advertising at the last minute is critical. Also, people who pose with their gun while trying to sport a "warm and welcoming" smile are at least three sandwiches shy of a picnic. True story.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Here come the sludge

And this will be fouling the Neuse River for a long time to come:

Matthew Starr had paddled only a half mile of a stretch of Neuse River near Duke Energy’s H.F. Lee power plant in Goldsboro when he saw initial signs that something had gone very wrong. “There was exposed coal ash on trees, floating in the river, on the road,” said Starr, the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper. “There was coal ash lying on the ground. We scooped it up out of the water.”

Flooding from Hurricane Florence had drowned two inactive coal ash basins in five feet of water. The active basins, according to state regulators, were structurally sound, but the Half Mile Branch Creek, according to images published by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), was flowing through the inactive basin complex, which is covered in trees and other vegetation. Cenospheres, hollow balls of silica and aluminum that are coal ash byproducts, were floating on the water. But cenospheres are not entirely innocuous; they often contain arsenic and lead, just like the coal they came from.

This is one of the coal ash sites Duke Energy was ordered to relocate, but in late 2016 they sought for and received approval to recycle that ash instead. In other words, it shouldn't have been there to leak out. At least not in the volume it did. But of course that "volume" is hard to quantify, since we can't trust Duke Energy to be honest about its reporting:

Wednesday News: Highly reprehensible

bluenccup-1[1]_0.jpg

LUMBERTON RESIDENTS SEEK CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST RAILROAD COMPANY CSX: If they succeed in getting their class certified by the federal judge, that would kick off a class action lawsuit open to anyone who owns property in Lumberton that was damaged during Florence. That could include anything from real estate to a car. It would also include any local business with a claim that it lost income due to flooding from the CSX site. The residents claimed Tuesday in court that that nearly all of the Hurricane Florence flooding in town could’ve been prevented — saving nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in damages to the town and its residents — if only CSX had taken action. Matt Lee is a Raleigh attorney for the Whitfield, Bryson and Mason law firm that’s filing the complaint. He said Lumberton has “a levee system that was designed to prevent this kind of flooding and the one open spot was where CSX had train tracks running underneath I-95. CSX knew about that, and they didn’t do it. They wouldn’t even have had to pay for it.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article219005520.html

Tuesday News: Pay-to-play Tim

timmoore.jpg

GOP SPEAKER HAS QUESTIONS TO ANSWER ON CONTRACTS, LEGISLATION, AND CAMPAIGN DONATIONS: Whitaker said KNOW Bio’s co-founder and board chairman Neal Hunter had given Moore the contract. What Whitaker, who left the company in April, said she didn’t know is that four years earlier, Moore as the powerful Rules Committee chairman had helped Hunter with a controversial development that was in danger of failing. Moore ran legislation that forced the city of Durham to provide water and sewer for the 751 South project, which will place 1,300 residences and 600,000 square feet of offices and shops on 166 acres near Jordan Lake. Mitchell is a friend and campaign supporter of Moore’s. In 2015, when Moore became speaker, the House voted Mitchell to the UNC Board of Governors. State election records show since 2013, Mitchell and his wife have contributed $30,300 to Moore’s campaign fund; Hunter and his wife have given $33,300.
https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article218576350.html

Pages

Subscribe to Front page feed