Perhaps this will cause Duke Energy to reconsider building more nuclear power plants?
MT: Duke Energy to retire idle Florida nuclear plant. Duke customers pay, not Duke shareholders. newsobserver.com/2013/02/05/265… via @newsobserver
— Bob Geary (@rjgeary) February 5, 2013
Seems like there are cheaper, more reliable ways to generate electricity.
Col. Morris (Moe) Davis was chief U.S. prosecutor for military trials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba until he quit in protest over orders to allow so-called evidence gained via enhanced interrogation techniques, the methods formerly known as torture.
Davis will be speaking at UNC and Duke during the day on Thursday (tomorrow), at Johnston County Community College Thursday evening, and on Friday, noon, at N.C. State. All are free lectures open to the public.
(Here's a column I wrote about anti-torture efforts in the Triangle a couple of weeks ago, centered on Johnston County Airport and its tenant, Aero Contractors.)
This is from our friends at N.C. Stop Torture Now:
COL. DAVIS’ NORTH CAROLINA SPEAKING SCHEDULE
(all events free and open to the public)
Jan. 31, noon: UNC School of Law, 160 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill, Room 5042. “Confronting Torture: How It Makes America Less Safe.” Sponsor: Prof. Deborah Weissman, UNC School of Law.
Jan. 31, 4 pm: Duke University, East Duke Parlor, 210 East Duke Building. Sponsor: Prof. Robin Kirk, The Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.
Jan. 31, 7:30 pm: “Torture Puts U.S. Service Members at Risk,” Johnston Community College, Graphic Arts Building, 245 College Road, Smithfield. Sponsor: NC Stop Torture Now.
Feb. 1, noon: NCSU, Caldwell Hall G-107. Sponsors: NCSU Political Science Dept., NCSTN.
More background on Davis from N.C. Stop Torture Now —
Confronting Torture: Former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo to Speak at Four North Carolina Schools
RALEIGH, NC — A major figure in the international debate over the U.S. policy of using torture on its “war-on-terror” detainees will speak publicly in four Triangle-area communities on January 31 and February 1.
Col. Morris “Moe” Davis, a 25-year Air Force veteran, served as chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay from 2005 to 2007. He resigned that position because he objected to the use of evidence obtained by torture, and in protest against political interference in the trials.
Col. Davis writes: “More than 4,000 American troops died and more than 30,000 were wounded after we invaded Iraq on the false claim that Saddam Hussein supported al Qaeda, a claim based on a lie a man told his torturers so they would stop torturing him. Condoning torture does not just sanction torturing American troops if they are captured, it can put their lives at risk for no good reason.”
He described his disillusionment at Guantanamo here:
Col. Davis has strong North Carolina ties: he received his B.S. in Criminal Justice from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and his Juris Doctor (JD) from N.C. Central University School of Law in Durham, NC. He is a member of the North Carolina and Washington, DC, bars, and is now a professor at the Howard University School of Law.
“The United States cannot stand up for justice and the rule of law when it sits idly on its own record of torture,” Col. Davis wrote in March 2011. “It diminishes the weight of its moral authority to influence others around the world when it treats its binding legal obligations as options it can choose to exercise or ignore.”
Col. Davis argues here that it is time to make Guantanamo testimony public and to declassify the new Congressional report on Bush-era interrogation methods:
Col. Davis’ North Carolina tour comes amid increasing controversy over harsh U.S. interrogations. The film “Zero Dark Thirty” is playing nationwide, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is considering whether to release a massive and allegedly shocking report on detainee treatment. The report is said to conclude that the torture program has damaged the U.S. in multiple ways.
Former state Sen. Eric Mansfield is out of the contest for state Democratic Party chair, citing the ill health of his mom. That leaves Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller unopposed at this point — nine days before the Feb. 2 election meeting of the party's State Executive Committee
To read Mansfield's statement, click on the link in the tweet embedded below. Bob Etheridge is said to be considering a run in Mansfield's place. I gather this is the party establishment, such as it is, squirming unhappily at the prospect that Voller could prevail?
Voller time? “@nationhahn: I am sad that my friend Eric Mansfield must drop out of the race for Chair ericmansfieldforchair.com/announcement_r… #ncdem #ncpol”
— Bob Geary (@rjgeary) January 24, 2013
By the way, it would seem like the door would be open to a woman candidate, except that — someone correct me if I'm wrong about this — both candidates for first vice chair are women ... in part because until Mansfield dropped out, both candidates for chair were men. Is there a party rule that the two posts can't be the same gender?
[Update, Tuesday: The measure passed by a 5-3 vote, albeit with a friendly amendment to remove the words " ... troops and ..." from the text — as shown below. Voting yes: Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Councilors Russ Stephenson, Eugene Weeks, Thomas Crowder and Mary-Ann Baldwin. Voting no: Councilors Randy Stagner, John Odom and Bonner Gaylord. The amendment, offered by Crowder, was addressed to Stagner's distaste for any implication that the troops were the problem for our wasteful wars (Stagner is a retired Army colonel). Stagner wasn't won over. Odom objected on grounds that there are no "war dollars" to be used at home, "it's all borrowed." Gaylord said he objects to voting on issues over which Council has no control.
[Some of the ROWD contingent were in the room for the vote, including Joe Burton, who coordinated the campaign. Betsy Crites, director of N.C. Peace Action, said she was unsure how the resolution would fare and "delighted" that it was approved.]
The original post from Monday —
Return Our War Dollars (ROWD), a coalition of Triangle area social justice and peace activists led by the leaders of N.C. Peace Action, presented a resolution to the Raleigh City Council two weeks ago and asked for its support. The resolution is on the Council agenda at tomorrow's 1 p.m. session.
After a number of whereas clauses, here's the punchline:
“BE IT RESOLVED that the Raleigh City Council call upon the U.S. Congress and President Obama to end our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our
troops andwar dollars home, and use those and other savings in military spending to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.”
According to the group, the U.S. Council of Mayors passed a similar resolution, as have several dozen city councils from L.A. to Cleveland to, in North Carolina, the Durham City Council.
There are eight Council members in Raleigh, including Mayor Nancy McFarlane. For the resolution to pass, it needs at least five affirmative votes.
Bring our troops home, cut military spending and use the savings to rebuild our domestic economy— with a focus on renewable energy?
Seems uncontroversial to me.
(Updated to include McCrory press release, below, with bios of Tata and three other appointments, including two with extensive Duke Energy backgrounds — like McCrory himself.)
Tony Tata, ex-Army general turned ex-Wake schools superintendent, will be DOT secretary in the McCrory Administration. Puts me in mind of the "Welcome Back, Kotter" theme song.
Ironic, in that bus transportation snafus led to Tata's ouster by the current Wake school board. Or, at least, they were the stated reason for ...
General Tony Tata, fmr Wake Co superintendent, will serve as Secretary of the Department of Transportation #ncpol twitter.com/PatMcCroryNC/s…
— Pat McCrory (@PatMcCroryNC) January 3, 2013
Now I wish I'd gone to the press conference :(
p.s. I'm tweeting away about it, nonetheless. Tata's basic problem in Wake schools was (IMHO) a 100-lb. choice plan in a 50-lb. budget. In other words, the plan couldn't be executed given the parsimonious Wake County Commissioners and their refusal to appropriate enough money to run a first-rate school system.
That said, Tony let his critics get under his skin more than he should've. But he did work his tail off and, as I said more than once, his intentions were good.
From McCrory's press folks:
Raleigh, N.C. — Today, North Carolina Governor-Elect Pat McCrory announced that he will appoint Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata (U.S. Army, Retired) as Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Sharon Decker as Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Bill Daughtridge as Secretary of the Department of Administration. Additionally, the Governor-Elect announced Neal Alexander will serve as Director of the State Office of Personnel.
With these appointments, Governor-Elect McCrory has filled all eight of his cabinet secretary positions with a diverse, bi-partisan group of people representing all portions of the state. Half of Governor-Elect McCrory’s cabinet secretaries are Republican and half are either Democrat or Independent.
“I am incredibly proud of the strong team we’ve assembled,” said Governor-Elect McCrory. “These individuals are pragmatic problem solvers and leaders that will help me run the government in the most effective way possible while seeking long-term solutions for our state.”
Governor-Elect McCrory has outlined broad objectives for his cabinet and leadership team, including: (1) instituting a culture of customer service to state government, (2) identifying and implementing efficiencies in state government, (3) collaborating and sharing resources across departments and agencies and (4) instituting the highest ethical standards while serving in government.
Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata (U.S. Army, Retired) joins Governor-Elect McCrory’s cabinet after most recently serving as Superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, leading the state’s largest school district of 18,000 employees, 150,000 students and a $1.25 billion budget. Prior to serving as Superintendent, General Tata was in Afghanistan where he served as the Deputy Commanding General of U.S. forces from 2006-2007. Throughout his career, General Tata has planned and implemented multiple operations involving complex transportation and infrastructure challenges ranging from multi-mode operations involving ports, airfields, rail, and highways to designing and implementing extensive infrastructure plans in developing countries. Among his many military assignments, General Tata served two tours of duty in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. He also served as a brigade commander in the 101st Airborne Division and as the Deputy Commanding General of the 10th Mountain Division. General Tata graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1981.
Sharon Decker enters the McCrory Administration with extensive private sector experience. She was the CEO of the Tanner Company, a large textile company based in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. In 2004, Decker created the Tapestry Group, a non-profit that helps individuals lead healthy lives in body, mind and spirit. Decker has served on the boards of three Fortune 500 companies. She also has more than 17 years of experience with Duke Power Company, now Duke Energy. She began working with the company in consumer services and moved rapidly through the ranks to become the youngest and first female vice president in Duke Power’s history. Her work at Duke Power led to the creation of its 24-hour customer service center, an organization that still serves as a model for the industry.
Bill Daughtridge is the President of Daughtridge Gas & Oil Company based in Rocky Mount and currently is on the UNC Board of Governors, where he serves on the Budget Committee. From 2002-2008, Daughtridge served in the North Carolina House of Representatives, where he chaired the Commerce Committee and focused his efforts on promoting economic growth and development in North Carolina. Daughtridge is also a former President Area Seven (VA and NC) on the Southern Region Board of Directors for the Boy Scouts of America and is a former member of the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Board, the Nash County Board of Travel & Tourism, Carolinas Gateway Partnership and the Rocky Mount Community Foundation. Daughtridge also held other statewide and local leadership positions including President of the North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association, Rocky Mount Area United Way and Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to three Cabinet appointments, McCrory also announced that Neal Alexander will serve as the Director of the State Office of Personnel. Alexander joins Governor-Elect McCrory's leadership team with 40 years of experience in various Human Resources roles at Duke Energy. Most recently, he served as Vice President for Human Resources for Duke Energy’s US Franchised Electric and Gas Service, and has won awards for excellence in Human Resources such as the Duke Power William S. Lee Leadership Award and The Employers Association Babcock Award. He also currently serves as chair of the Gardner-Webb University Board of Trustees and The Employers Association, which provides human resources and training services to organizations.
Thank You Readers! ra.ly/UIsNrz
— NewRaleigh (@NewRaleigh) January 2, 2013
New Raleigh lived up to its name. Its founders and its many contributors and readers publicized, advocated for and otherwise hopped up and down about every nifty new thing that happened in downtown Raleigh over the last five years, helping to create the vibe that would bring on the next nifty new thing.
Great work, David Millsaps and Jed Gant. I'll look for your next nifty new thing.
Good news on New Year's Eve in the Wilmington Ten case. Gov. Bev Perdue has come through with the hoped-for pardons of innocence.
Her office sent us the photo.
Gov. Perdue's statement follows:
“I have spent a great deal of time over the past seven months reviewing the pardon of innocence requests of the persons collectively known as the Wilmington Ten. This topic evokes strong opinions from many North Carolinians as it hearkens back to a very difficult time in our state’s past, a period of racial tensions and violence that represents a dark chapter in North Carolina’s history. These cases generate a great deal of emotion from people who lived through these traumatic events.
In evaluating these petitions for clemency, it is important to separate fact from rumor and innuendo. I have decided to grant these pardons because the more facts I have learned about the Wilmington Ten, the more appalled I have become about the manner in which their convictions were obtained.
In 1980, a federal appeals court overturned the convictions in a written decision that highlighted the gross improprieties that occurred during the trial. The federal court determined as a matter of law that numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct and other constitutional violations took place. Among other things, the court ruled that with regard to the testimony of the prosecution’s key witness — upon whose credibility the case depended entirely — “the conclusion is inescapable that [he] perjured himself” and that “this fact was bound to be known to the prosecutor . . .” The court also declared that it was undisputed that key documents had repeatedly been withheld from defense lawyers. It also found numerous errors by the trial judge that had the effect of unconstitutionally prejudicing the defendants’ ability to receive a fair trial.
Since the trial ended, the prosecution’s key witness and two supporting witnesses all independently recanted their testimony incriminating the defendants. Furthermore, last month, new evidence was made available to me in the form of handwritten notes from the prosecutor who picked the jury at trial. These notes show with disturbing clarity the dominant role that racism played in jury selection. The notes reveal that certain white jurors believed to be Ku Klux Klan members were described by the prosecutor as “good” and that at least one African American juror was noted to be an “Uncle Tom type.”
This conduct is disgraceful. It is utterly incompatible with basic notions of fairness and with every ideal that North Carolina holds dear. The legitimacy of our criminal justice system hinges on it operating in a fair and equitable manner with justice being dispensed based on innocence or guilt — not based on race or other forms of prejudice. That did not happen here. Instead, these convictions were tainted by naked racism and represent an ugly stain on North Carolina’s criminal justice system that cannot be allowed to stand any longer.
Justice demands that this stain finally be removed. The process in which this case was tried was fundamentally flawed. Therefore, as Governor, I am issuing these pardons of innocence to right this longstanding wrong.”
Shanahan is Governor-elect McCrory's pick to be secretary of public safety.
It's a big job now that prisons have been rolled into the same department with other functions like the Highway Patrol.
A former Raleigh city council member, Shanahan is an ex-prosecutor who's scowling even when he's smiling — which from a fellow Irishman is meant as a compliment.
He's been working his way up in the Republican ranks, so no surprise that he's in McCrory's cabinet.
But in the wake of recent events, Shanahan might want to think about a new motto for his law firm, in place of the current — as of this morning — questionable one. Which is:
"Don't bring a knife to a gunfight."
Sending along a tweet from the Washington Post:
This WaPo chart shows that most Senate Dems up in '14 have "C" or worse grade from NRA wapo.st/TsmaqO
— amy walter (@amyewalter) December 17, 2012
Sen. Hagan, a Democrat who knocked off Elizabeth Dole in 2008, gets an F rating from the National Rifle Association and another F from the similarly right-wing Gun Owners of America.
Badges of honor, those F's.
Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina's other senator and a Republican, gets a pair of A's.
A's for assault rifle, perhaps.
Don’t lose this feeling. This mix of tears and resolve—don’t get over it; don’t set it aside.
This is what I’ve been telling myself since Friday. Keep it. Act on it.
Last night, Pam and I took part in the vigil at Pullen Church in Raleigh. At the end, everyone lit a candle using one of the 27 candles already burning in memory of the victims in Newtown. Read the name beside your candle, the minister said, and keep it in your heart.
When I got home, I found her picture online; family friends shared it on a Facebook page.
What a shiny little one she was. Precocious and completely endearing, someone said.
How terribly we failed her.
As a nation, how terribly we’re failing our children.
Yes, I mean where guns are concerned, and mental illness. But it goes much deeper.
We’re failing them by giving up on the future—their future—before they can shape it themselves.
@nytimes: Shooting at a Connecticut school. I was working on a different column Friday when I saw the first reports on Twitter. I went back to work. But I check Twitter reflexively, and an hour or two later, I saw an Associated Press report. @AP: 27 dead, including 18 children.
Later, 20 children.
Pam turned a TV on, and we followed the outpouring of media accounts. The tots who were lined up and killed. The principal and teachers who died so bravely. The killer, a psychotic young man with his mother’s arsenal of weapons, which she thought would defend her—and which instead killed her and other innocents.
For too long, we’ve stood helpless in America before the scourge of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons that have no purpose, except, if they fall into the wrong hands, a murderous one.
An industry of weapons dealers and political apologists has grown up in my lifetime, and nothing they say makes any sense when measured against the senseless violence they promulgate; but reasonable people are afraid of them and are silent.
For too long, we’ve allowed people with mental illnesses to be imprisoned or abandoned instead of finding them the care they deserve.
So now we have a series of troubled young men armed like Rambo and shooting in movie theaters, shopping malls and, of course, schools, because what’s more instrumental in a shooter’s rage than his treatment, real or perceived, in school?
All this in a culture that celebrates violence, elevates the warrior and derides art and literature as effete.
It’s the holiday season, and over the weekend we were in a big-box toy store looking for a tutu for our great-niece Evelyn, 1, and a keyboard for her brother Jack, 4.
There were a fair number of tutus, but musical instruments were hard to find amidst the aisles of toy guns, tanks, combat artillery and other weapons of mass destruction for the boys. Not to mention the video games of death.
It’s nature and nurture, I suppose, that combine to produce a mass murderer, but we’re obviously going wrong with our boys, because in no other nation do angry boys grow up to be mass murderers on the scale that we tolerate: According to Time.com, 15 of the worst 25 mass killings in the world over the last 50 years occurred in the U.S. (Finland was second with two.)
Five of the worst 11 massacres in the U.S. have been since 2007.
Gun violence, too, is a singularly American problem. According to the Washington Post, we in America are 20 times as likely to be killed with a gun as people living in the other developed nations of the world. (Mexico, if considered a developed nation, is worse than the U.S. because of ongoing drug wars among the cartels; Honduras, very violent and under-developed, is also worse.)
Our problem, in a word, is the guns. We have far more of them per capita than any other nation. And unlike other nations, we allow people to own assault weapons which fire bullets in bursts of 30, 40 or 50 at a clip. Then we mythologize their owners, as if the well-regulated militia called forth by the Second Amendment might soon be needed to defend us from space invaders.
Little Olivia, we’re told, loved to dance and sing.
I’m a practical person. I like to write about subjects where there’s a chance to make a difference and avoid calling for the impossible. I suppose that’s why I haven’t written about gun control in some years. Politically, it was an issue too deadly to say its name.
Similarly, I haven’t written a lot about climate change since Al Gore's film came and went in 2006. It was “An Inconvenient Truth” that time would run out on the planet if the industrialized nations—meaning the United States, first and foremost—didn’t curb greenhouse-gas emissions. But we refuse to curb them, even though we could, and the polar ice caps are melting.
Thus, what should have been a crisis is now on the verge of being a catastrophe. though we remain in denial about it. That’s the column I was working on Friday—about the responsibility we have in North Carolina to force change on Duke Energy, now the nation's largest utility. I’ll write it in January.
But as I contemplated our failures on guns, mental health, the culture of violence and climate change, it dawned on me what the fundamental problem is: We’ve given up.
We have the know-how and resources to address all of these issues and others—like the so-called fiscal cliff—of lesser magnitude. But to do so requires that we first regain control of our political institutions. And in that regard, we haven’t a clue how to get our elected representatives to do anything good about anything.
It’s a hard problem on which we currently expend almost no mental energy. Instead, “We the People” cede our authority to soulless corporations, and the results reflect the nihilism of their quarterly balance sheets. Our hopelessness, sadly, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy of despair for our children’s futures.
President Obama, Sunday night, called on the nation to gather itself and be worthy of the children who died in Newtown.
He was talking about curbing gun violence, but I think it goes way beyond that.
When I see the picture of little Olivia Engel, I think about what must’ve been in her mind just before she was gunned down.
And I tear up.
Every time I see a child I try to make eye contact, and when I do, the reaction is always the same. Little children are trusting. They trust that we, the adults will do right by them, now and for the years ahead.
They’re sweet that way, even the boys. No one should ever want to break that trust.
So that’s what I’m feeling, and it’s what I don’t want to lose.
I’m sad to the point of tears about giving our children a world more dangerous and unhappy than it ought to be.
I’m resolved to stop being so practical and to start being hopeful about what can be achieved with a political revolution—and to trust that, guided by hope, we can find our way to the future our children deserve.
The future you see in Olivia’s eyes.