Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Separate And Unequal: Gen. Petraeus Facing Mild Wrist Slap For Leaking Eight Books Full Of Classified Info To His Mistress

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Can’t wait to see Ed Snowden offered the same sweet deal. I’m sure that will happen, right?

The administration still wants to punish whistleblowers and leakers, but only if it can do it with logic borrowed from Animal Farm. When it comes to prosecution, some leakers are more equal than others.

John Kiriakou — who exposed a single CIA operative’s name while exposing its waterboarding tactics — spent more time in jail than former CIA director Leon Panetta, who has spent (at last count) a grand total of 0 days locked up for leaking tons of classified info to Zero Dark Thirty’s screenwriter, Mark Boal.

Of course, some leaks just aren’t leaks, at least not according to the government. Kiriakou’s were wrong. Panetta’s were right. And Kiriakou spent three years in prison for a lesser "crime."

via Techdirt..

Clinton ran own computer system for her official emails ::

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Hillz got mad skillz, running her own mailserver. Who knew she was a 7337 hacX0R?

The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

via Clinton ran own computer system for her official emails ::

Reporters on the CIA take

Friday, February 20th, 2015

The story of Ken Dilanian playing footsie with the CIA brought to mind a comment I heard a few years back from someone in a position to know who insisted that news anchor Ted Koppel was a paid CIA asset. That was quite an extraordinary claim but I did not follow up and I could not find much evidence on the web to back it up.

It is not, however, a new phenomenon. Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein wrote a lengthy story about improper CIA involvement with the media. Wikipedia describes “Operation Mockinbgird” as a CIA plan to influence media and speaks of it in the past tense, though there is no indication that the operation has ended. Perhaps it hasn’t.

RALEIGH: Senate plan would cut NC gas tax | State Politics |

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Our state legislature is considering cutting our state gasoline tax when we should be doubling it. How unfortunate.

Also, I’m not happy with Bruce Sieceloff’s story about it as he doesn’t explain why our state’s gasoline tax is so high. North Carolina has the largest state-maintained highway system in the country, bigger than Texas and even California. That’s why North Carolina’s gas taxes are higher than neighboring states. Shame on you, Bruce, for failing to mention this fact.

The legislature has moved twice over the past decade to put an upper limit on rising gas tax rates. But in 2009, a tax ceiling that had been enacted two years earlier was converted to a floor to close a gap in the DOT budget. Without that action in 2009, the tax rate would have dropped from 29.9 to 27.9 cents.

North Carolina’s gas tax is one of the highest in the nation. The highway use tax collected at the time of car sales, another major source of road money, is lower in North Carolina than in neighboring states.

via RALEIGH: Senate plan would cut NC gas tax | State Politics |

Update: As I noted then, the N&O’s editorial board mentioned this back in May 2012:

“There’s a good reason why our gas tax is so hefty. State government here, due to a policy with roots in the Depression, bears a much greater share of local road expenses than in most states. North Carolina ranks second only to Texas in miles of state-maintained roadways. This policy serves to lighten the load on county governments and is reflected in their relatively low tax rates.”

I feel it is only fair that when our state’s high gas tax is mentioned, our state’s gigantic, state-owned highway system should be mentioned, too.

Brian Williams and lies about Iraq

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

There’s a lot being made about NBC News anchor Brian Williams having claimed he was in a helicopter in Iraq that made an emergency landing after being hit by enemy fire. I give Williams a pass. He had made a living telling other people’s stories, stories he did not write. After reading thousands of these over the years, it must become difficult keeping straight what one did and what one only read or saw. It does not diminish my perception of Williams if his helicopter wasn’t hit as he claimed. In the heat of it all it becomes difficult to piece together what’s what.

As the photo above attests, it would be a shame if Williams were the only one punished for lying about Iraq. There are presidents, vice-presidents, cabinet officials, – and, yes, news media – that buried everyone under lie upon lie about Iraq. Williams’s faux pas is tame by comparison.

Hanging Brian Williams out to dry for Iraq lies is like making Martha Stewart the fall guy for insider trading. The worst offenders get away.

Dean Smith passes away

Sunday, February 8th, 2015
Dean Smith speaks with Erskine Bowles

Dean Smith speaks with Erskine Bowles

Dean Smith, legendary basketball coach of the team I love to beat (the Tar Heels), passed away last night at the age of 83. Though I’m a Wolfpack fan, I had a lot of respect for Coach Smith. You knew when your team beat his it was something special because he always had his teams prepared.

I was fortunate to stand behind him at the Kerry-Edwards rally at N.C. State on July 10, 2004. It was unbearably hot and he was sweating through his dress shirt. I asked him if the heat bothered him and he smiled and said it was actually his bad knees that bothered him. We were on risers with no seats and at that moment I wanted to flag down and organizer and demand a seat be provided to Coach Smith.

Google Fiber and an FCC decision could give more people cheaper access to the Internet | News Feature | Indy Week

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Indyweek talked with Erica Swanson, head of Google Fiber’s Community Impact programs, about bringing broadband to all income levels.

The bad news about Google Fiber coming to seven cities in the Triangle is that the high-speed Internet service won’t be installed in your neighborhood by the next season of House of Cards.

The good news is that Google Fiber says it will seek out traditionally underserved communities—low-income, minority, non-English speaking areas, where some residents don’t have home Internet at all.

About 60 million people in the U.S. don’t have Internet at home, according to the Pew Research Center. In cities, that number is 1 in 4. For some, a computer and a connection are too expensive; others say they don’t need it—the Internet has no place in their lives.

That might change, hinging on Google’s expansion plans, along with a pending decision by the FCC, that could give more people cheaper access to the Internet.

"Affordable connectivity, that’s the piece we can address," says Erica Swanson, Google’s head of Community Impact Programs.

via Google Fiber and an FCC decision could give more people cheaper access to the Internet | News Feature | Indy Week.

R-Line envy

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Speaking of transit, I see that the marketing director for Cameron Village is trying to drum up support for diverting the R-Line buses from the original mission of serving downtown Raleigh. I’m all for improved transportation around Cameron Village because trying to drive anywhere around there is a nightmare. That said, I’m not sure extending the R-Line is the answer.

The R-Line buses came about through a joint effort of the Raleigh Transit Authority, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA), and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB). All three groups helped make the R-Line possible. Cameron Village is not part of DRA and I don’t see that they do much with the GRCVB. Is the shopping center proposing to help pay for this extended service the way these other groups have? If so, I haven’t heard it. It would be great to get everything for free, but someone has to pick up the tab.

Cameron Village already has city bus service (two routes, 12 and 16). It makes sense to improve this existing service and leave the R-Line to do what it’s been doing: giving visitors an easy way to get around downtown Raleigh. That’s why downtown businesses subsidize it.

N&O’s Christensen gets light rail wrong

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

The N&O’s Rob Christensen makes the classic light rail vs. commuter rail blunder in this week’s column. If the media can’t even properly explain the difference between light rail and commuter rail, how do we ever expect the public to understand?

When it comes to a light-rail system for Raleigh, label me a skeptic.

I am a believer in buses, and I think our bus system should be expanded and more bus shelters erected.

Before we sink huge bundles of money into a light-rail system, I think a stronger case needs to be made, given our limited resources.

He also misidentifies the real problem with our bus system, which is it’s unusable to all but those who have no other choice. I’ve written about that before.

via Christensen: Raleigh needs buses, not rail | Rob Christensen |

The FCC is moving to preempt state broadband limits – The Washington Post

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

It looks increasingly likely that the FCC will overturn North Carolina’s anti-municipal broadband law, freeing cities like Wilson, NC to provide broadband to whomever it chooses.

Federal regulators are moving ahead with a proposal to help two cities fighting with their state governments over the ability to build public alternatives to large Internet providers.

The Federal Communications Commission this week will begin considering a draft decision to intervene against state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that limit Internet access operated and sold by cities, according to a senior FCC official. The agency’s chairman, Tom Wheeler, could circulate the draft to his fellow commissioners as early as Monday and the decision will be voted on in the FCC’s public meeting on Feb. 26.

Chairman Wheeler just released the following statement:

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler issued the following statement today regarding a proposed Order on community broadband that he will circulate to his fellow commissioners this week:

“Communities across the nation know that access to robust broadband is key to their economic future – and the future of their citizens. Many communities have found that existing private-sector broadband deployment or investment fails to meet their needs.

They should be able to make their own decisions about building the networks they need to thrive. After looking carefully at petitions by two community broadband providers asking the FCC to pre-empt provisions of state laws preventing expansion of their very successful networks, I recommend approval by the Commission so that these two forward-thinking cities can serve the many citizens clamoring for a better broadband future.”

I wonder if this means the FCC can also veto any spending limitations that state law has shackled municipalities with?

via The FCC is moving to preempt state broadband limits – The Washington Post.