scharrison's blog

Erik Prince flees to Abu Dhabi

To avoid paying for all his crimes against humanity:

In documents filed last week in a civil lawsuit brought by former Blackwater employees accusing Prince of defrauding the government, Prince sought to avoid giving a deposition by stating that he had moved to Abu Dhabi in time for his children to enter school there Aug. 15.

Prince does not face any criminal charges, but five former top company executives have been indicted on federal weapons, conspiracy and obstruction charges. Two guards who worked for a Blackwater-affiliated company face murder charges from a 2009 shooting in Afghanistan, and the Justice Department is trying to revive its prosecution of five former Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

I would say, "Good riddance to bad rubbish", but what's to stop him from setting up shop in Abu Dhabi?

Ballantine files Chapter 7

Now that's a lotta money to owe:

Former state Sen. Patrick Ballantine has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing assets of $819,937 and liabilities of $6.2 million, according to court records.

Ballantine, of Wilmington, listed debts totaling more than $3 million in connection with investments in The Peninsula development in Ocean Isle Beach, where he held a 12.5 percent interest, according to the filing in late June in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Eastern North Carolina.

"My family is just one of the millions of families" going through bad times, Ballantine said.

Er, how many of those "millions of families" could get their hands on six million bucks?

Real Jobs or snow jobs?

Is it just me, or is this:

"Real Jobs North Carolina is not partisan. We hope this message reaches all voters," said Art Pope, a Real Jobs NC leader and longtime Republican activist whose family company has given $100,000 to the effort. Personally, Pope said he believes "the Democratic parties at the national level and at the state level have in effect destroyed jobs."

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which works to elect GOP candidates at the state level, gave $300,000 to the group in June and July, according to a State Board of Elections report filed last week.

not one of the most blatantly contradictory statements ever made? If that's not partisan, God help us if they decide to go all partisan on us. ;/

UNC-TV's Alcoa saga continues

If you pay the piper, will he play your favorite tunes?

Former House Speaker Richard Morgan, who works for the N.C. Water Rights Committee, gave $3,000 to Martin Sansone, a long-time friend of Eszter Vajda, the UNC-TV correspondent who reported stories about Alcoa that aired last month.

Morgan said Vajda and Sansone, a citizen of Great Britain, solicited the money during a meeting with him and several others connected to the water rights committee. "They both met with me and others and essentially pitched us for subsistence so he could stay here," Morgan said. "He couldn't afford to stay otherwise."

This raises several questions, not the least of which is: How often does this "private subsidization" of in-depth media reports happen?

The other North Carolina government

I realize that poking fun at fringe groups is a weakness of mine; a pointless self-indulgence, as it were. But sometimes I can't help myself:

In 1997, John Ainsworth, along with several others, legally re-established the de jure (lawful) state of North Carolina. The North-Carolina American Republic, or NCAR, has been in operation since that time and convenes monthly. The basis of this re-establishment is rooted in a legal argument that is supported by irrefutable historical evidence which was uncovered by Ainsworth as a result of over 19 years of study. Armed with this knowledge, lawful state citizens have taken the matter to court - demanding that the current state of North Carolina prove its lawfulness.

Protecting the two-percenters

UNC's Gene Nichol roasts Republicans for their deficit hypocrisy:

My own sense of it is the national Republicans are now saying, clearly, even if by indirection, "We're the party of the 2 percent." We're willing to further bust the budget, to countenance massive teacher and first-responder layoffs, to leave millions out of work, to permit our beyond-frayed social safety net to crumble, to increase what is already the steepest income inequality in the Western industrial world and to flatly discard the concerns of "the least of these" in order to bolster the economic prospects of a relative handful of the wealthiest people in the United States. Some mission that.

Puppets in the paper

Have they rented a certain amount of page space from the N&O, or what?

North Carolina is trying to prepare for the future economy by putting recommendations from Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton's JOBS (Joining Our Businesses and Schools) Commission into practice. Two bills that Gov. Bev Perdue recently signed into law come directly from the commission's report.

Unfortunately, the JOBS Commission recommendations - and therefore the new laws - are based on false assumptions and unrealistic projections.

Here we go again: dueling studies about the value of studies, all in the interest of partisan politics.

UNC tuition cap in jeopardy

Some will feel the pinch more than others:

A group of tuition and financial aid experts from across the UNC system is recommending that the four-year-old cap be loosened so tuition can go higher if state money lags. The group suggests that the cap could rise if the state provides less money to the university in a given year than the 6 percent increase it has averaged over time.

The 6.5 percent cap was put in place in 2006 at the behest of UNC President Erskine Bowles, who took office that year trumpeting the need for more predictable tuition growth.

So much for having economic diversity in our state institutions of higher learning...

Exploring renewable energy targets

Bob Geary from the Indyweek crunches some numbers for energy generation and efficiency:

In North Carolina, the institute study found, renewables could supply 40 percent of the state's electricity by 2025. Costs would be comparable to those of conventional power sources—coal, nuclear, natural gas—but with major advantages in air quality, reduced water consumption and zero "climate impacts," it said.

North Carolina could reduce electricity usage by almost one-fourth by 2025. In the next 20 years, renewables (40 percent) combined with energy-efficiency (24 percent) could account for nearly two-thirds of the state's electric-power needs.

But there is a debate amongst proponents on whether (or not) we should reopen SB3 (REPS bill) for modification.

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