Culpable in genocide: American involvement in Saudi war crimes

We need to get out of the war business:

American mechanics service the jet and carry out repairs on the ground. American technicians upgrade the targeting software and other classified technology, which Saudis are not allowed to touch. The pilot has likely been trained by the United States Air Force.

And at a flight operations room in the capital, Riyadh, Saudi commanders sit near American military officials who provide intelligence and tactical advice, mainly aimed at stopping the Saudis from killing Yemeni civilians.

It's likely readers found the above headline verging on hyperbole. I do not use the term "genocide" as freely as others do when discussing military conflicts, but here's another word that may help you understand why I arrived at that conclusion: "Knowingly." It is often used in war crimes trials to demonstrate the difference between intentional acts of brutality and collateral damage. War criminals *always* claim that latter occurred, and proving it's the former makes all the difference. Case in point:

Wednesday News: The plot thickens


DOWLESS WAS GIVEN SPECIAL ACCESS TO CONFIDENTIAL VOTER INFORMATION: Bladen County election board staff allowed Dowless to “take and copy unredacted absentee ballot request forms, which include social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, state ID numbers, and signatures,” according to Lutz, who resigned in mid-December. Lutz also claims in the affidavit that Dowless used public records laws to determine when voters would receive absentee ballots, “allowing Mr. Dowless to send his workers to those voters right after the ballots arrived.” Because the race of voters is included on the county reports about absentee ballot requests, “Mr. Dowless could have used it to target African American voters,” Lutz testified. On another occasion, Lutz witnessed Dowless “pressuring Board staff to provide this information to him,” according to his affidavit. Lutz then “confronted Mr. Dowless and told him that the Board office was closed,” Lutz reported. Dowless “responded angrily, and my fellow Board of Elections member, Mr. (Bobby) Ludlum, went outside to explain the situation, after which he left the Board of Elections.”

Black Sheep Christmas: Tips for recovering addicts during the holidays

Facing the family can be a terrifying prospect:

Terri Edwards’ first Christmas home after entering an addiction recovery program was “very uncomfortable.” She had been away from her family for five years while she was using substances.

“I didn’t know exactly what my place was anymore because I had removed myself from the family unit for so long,” she said. “I was still trying to figure out who I was in recovery, and how I fit in with my family now.”

I have experience from both sides of this issue, and you *definitely* need some sort of a plan to get through it. And that doesn't just apply to the recovering addict's approach; whoever's hosting the gathering needs to take some steps too. You can't assume everybody is on the same sheet of music. Especially when opioids are involved, some of the family members or friends in attendance may have been hurt more than others, with outstanding loans or even money and other valuables stolen by the addict. And they may view this gathering as an opportunity to vent their frustration. So sending out a group e-mail (that way everybody knows that everybody knows) asking people to avoid the subject might be wise. Here's some more helpful tips:

Monday News: Fool mongering


MEADOWS EVOKES "REMEMBER THE ALAMO" IN HIS ZEST FOR WALL FUNDING: Mark Meadows wanted money for a U.S.-Mexico border wall so badly he defied Senate Republicans, his own House Republican leadership and even President Donald Trump. And as the government began a partial shutdown Saturday, he was triumphantly getting his way. As the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Meadows rallied House Republicans and the president to make a stand on wall funding and risk the shutdown, rather than pushing the issue into early next year when Democrats will control the House. He convinced Trump that the president’s 2020 electoral chances were on the line. “You can remember the Alamo in San Antonio. It’s not because they won there, it’s because they fought there,” Meadows said. “If we’re willing to fight, I think a lot of people support the president and his willingness to fight. I support him in that.“

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


THE NC GOP, MORE THAN THE STATE ELECTIONS BOARD, NEEDS TRANSPARENCY: It is hard to imagine where the North Carolina GOP leadership found the gall to have the Ninth Congressional District Republican Executive Committee pass a “resolution” demanding the State Board of Elections “immediately certify” Mark Harris the winner of that district’s disputed election. These are the same politicians who have spent the last eight years rigging elections through hyper-partisan gerrymandering; mid-election changes in ballot order and candidate identification; placing illegal limits on early voting; passing voter ID legislation courts ruled targeted African-Americans with “surgical precision;” and more. While purporting to push voter ID laws to thwart voter fraud, these same GOP leaders have expressed token concern about the very strong indications that mail-in absentee voting was manipulated – particularly in the Ninth District.

The perils of privatization: Aqua NC customers score dubious win

A reduction in rate increases for nasty water is hardly a victory:

Homeowners tired of brown drinking water were celebrating Friday night after learning that the North Carolina Utilities Commission denied Aqua North Carolina's request for an 8 percent increase in rates. Aqua customers packed a rate hearing in June to complain to the Utilities Commission about the brown water that stains their clothes, sinks and bathtubs.

The commission apparently heard them and approved an average increase of 2.5 percent. "I don't mind paying it if the water's clean. When the water's not clean, you get upset about paying a premium and still having dirty water coming through your tap," Aqua customer Owen Cavanaugh said.

Once again, the Utilities Commission has failed in its most basic responsibility: To ensure that utility operators are providing a safe and equitable service to their ratepayers. Those of you who are relatively new to the environmental watchdog club may be unfamiliar with this company, but this heinously expensive brown water thing has been going on for a long time. Lisa Sorg wrote this for the Indy five years ago:

Saturday News: The tyranny of the mapmakers


NC GERRYMANDERING LAWSUITS TO BE ARGUED IN 2019: Both suits allege that the state legislature engaged in unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering when it was redrawing political districts to comply with court orders after losing separate lawsuits over racial gerrymandering. One deals with the U.S. Congress, and the other deals with the North Carolina General Assembly. It’s an important case because whichever party controls the state legislature after the 2020 elections will be in charge of the state’s next round of redistricting in 2021, following the 2020 census. The lawsuit against the legislature and other state officials was filed by the N.C. Democratic Party and the government watchdog group Common Cause. In the latest developments in that lawsuit, Republican legislators moved the case to federal court on Dec. 14. Several days later they issued a press release saying they don’t want the case to be heard in state courts because they think judges in North Carolina might be too liberal to give them a fair trial.

Veto S469, Municipal Charter School pension access


Segregation then, segregation now, segregation forever:

A law that allows for town-run charter schools in four Charlotte suburbs has been criticized because it could lead to more racially segregated schools in that area. Now, a bill to offer state pensions to teachers at those proposed schools could make it easier for the model to spread to more cities. That bill (S469) is on the governor’s desk awaiting veto or signature.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has publicly opposed the technical corrections bill passed last week that would allow municipal charter schools to offer state benefits to their employees. “Prior to this technical corrections bill, the functional reality is, these schools weren’t going to start,” said Charles Jeter, legislative liaison for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The whole idea of municipal charters is insane, but allowing them to participate in the state's pension system is even crazier. Why? Because it makes us all complicit in the re-segregation of schools. First of all, municipalities have the ability/authority to refuse incorporation of poor and (quite often) African-American communities, basically blocking those black students from attending the new schools. And throwing the pension in there will no doubt draw many good teachers away from county schools and into the same white incubator. But that's not all this particular bill would do. It's a "technical corrections" bill (see omnibus), which would also give $8,000 vouchers to disabled students attending private schools:

Friday News: And then there were three


COLUMBUS SHERIFF'S RACE UNDER SCRUTINY OVER POSSIBLE ABSENTEE BALLOT FRAUD: In Columbus County, campaign finance records show that Republican sheriff candidate S. Jody Greene paid political strategy firm Red Dome $2,500 for “consulting for campaign” in August. Dowless worked for Red Dome, the company has said. Greene beat the incumbent, Lewis Hatcher, a Democrat, by fewer than 40 votes. More than 300 votes in the race were cast using mail-in absentee ballots. Hatcher won 243 of those absentee votes to Greene’s 93, according to results posted on the state elections board’s website. The county elections board dismissed four complaints challenging the results in the sheriff’s race. At least two have since been appealed to the the state board. Neither Greene nor Hatcher responded to interview requests from The News & Observer. But Greene’s wife, Angie, said in an interview last week at the elections office: “We did not specifically hire McCrae Dowless. We hired Red Dome.”


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