This is a re-blog. Allowing foreign countries to control our utilities or food supply sounds pretty dangerous.

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“Night Moves” in North Carolina…

dukeenergypipe1…in the back room, the alley, or the trusty woods…

It looks like there has been some “night-move deal-making” going on between The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Duke Energy.

I mean, these guys are supposed to be against each other, right?

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh issued new subpoenas Wednesday, Feb 20th, which order 18 N.C. state water-quality officials to appear next month before a federal grand jury in Raleigh. They are supposed to report e-mails, memos, and reports going back to 2009 and any payments and gifts from Duke.

Also, there is a fresh round of subpoenas seeking information on the state’s regulation of every Duke Energy coal ash dump in the state.  There are more than 30 of them at 14 different locations across North Carolina.

The U.S. attorney’s office described the subpoena in this way:

“An official criminal investigation of a suspected felony is being conducted by an agency of the United States and a federal grand jury.”

Ouch.

The new round of subpoenas comes after earlier subpoenas were issued on February 10th.    That was the day after the AP reported that environmental groups tried three times in the past year to sue under the federal Clean Water Act to force Duke to clear out leaky coal ash dumps.

The state of North Carolina “co-opted” the lawsuits filed by these private environmental groups (which is legal).  They have 60 days to file their own case after a private party does.  If the state files its own case, it will then take over the whole case.

Here’s a problem:

After negotiating with Duke’s lawyers in private, the state proposed settlements that environmentalists regarded as highly favorable to the company.  Duke, a company valued at $50 billion, was going to pay fines of only $99,111 for groundwater pollution leaking from two coal dumps like the one that ruptured at Eden, on the Dan River.  The settlement would have required Duke to study how to stop the contamination, but it included no requirement to clean up the dumps.

Here’s another problem:
After the environmental groups’ third attempt to sue, the state then filed enforcement actions for all of Duke’s remaining 30 or so coal ash sites in North Carolina.  This effectively blocked environmentalists from pursuing further action under the federal act.  The McCrory administration hosted a press conference yesterday to respond to questions about the matter, and the officials left the room while reporters asked them for more information. 

Holder Backs Restoration Of Former Felons’ Voting Rights

EricHolder2In a speech at Georgetown University Law Center on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder asked states to repeal the laws that prohibit felons from voting even after they are released from prison.

According to the Justice Department, voting rights for felons are restricted in 11 states, which are: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming.

State Republican leaders made clear that they were not receptive to Holder’s remarks.

In the past, Holder has sued Texas and North Carolina to overturn voter-identification laws that studies show are more likely to keep minorities and the poor from voting.

Laws banning ex-felons from voting disproportionately affect minorities. African-Americans represent more than a third of the estimated 5.8 million people who are prohibited from voting.

According to the Attorney General, 10 percent of the population of Florida is ineligible to vote because of the ban on ex-felons at the polls.

This post of updated to use the word “ex-felon” and list the states that restrict ex-felons’ voting rights.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/12/us/politics/holder-urges-states-to-repeal-bans-on-voting-by-felons.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/11/eric-holder-felon-voting_n_4762863.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/eric-holder-makes-case-for-felons-to-get-voting-rights-back/2014/02/11/b0556492-932b-11e3-84e1-27626c5ef5fb_story.html

None of ‘Em are Clean…

davidwildstein1Though the mainstream press tends to gloss over it, the New Jersey press and MSNBC (as well as some others) are giving the Christie bridgegate scandal a lot of coverage.

David Wildstein, the Chris Christie appointee to the port authority who allegedly orchestrated the bridge shutdown, has offered to produce evidence that Christie was involved in the shutdown if the New Jersey investigative committee would grant him immunity.

In press conferences, Christie seemed to go out of his way to belittle and distance himself from Wildstein – a decision that may have made it easier for Wildstein to levy the accusations and offer evidence if granted immunity.

According to some sources, Wildstein could potentially be facing up to three to 10 years in prison on official misconduct charges related to Bridgegate.

So far, three of Chris Christie’s appointees – Bridget Kelly, Bill Stephian, and David Wildstein – have all decided to plead the fifth amendment in some form during the investigation.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/02/03/fired-christie-aide-invokes-fifth-amendment/

http://www.northjersey.com/news/David_Wildstein_will_talk_to_investigators_in_exchange_for_immunity.html

http://johnib.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/former-christie-deputy-chief-of-staff-bridget-kelly-takes-the-fiftth-will-not-comply-with-subpoena-for-documents/

Senators State John Kerry Wants to Arm Syria’s Rebels

Syriancivilwar1According to an article by Josh Rogin, some senators have stated that Kerry believes that peace talks have failed, and now it’s time to arm the moderate opposition.

Good luck with that.  In Syria there are “moderate” rebels and also “insurgent” rebels affiliated with Al-Qaeda.  Good luck with supplying some rebel groups with arms but not others.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/03/senators-kerry-admits-obama-s-syria-policy-is-failing.html