Torture in trouble?

Via Andrea at Progressive Pulse.

The human rights group NC Stop Torture has pushed for a state investigation of Aero Contractors since last May, when Germany indicted three of the company’s pilots. The men have been linked to the 2004 kidnapping, detention and transport of Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent whom the CIA mistakenly identified as an associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

But North Carolina’s Attorney General’s office has said it is unable to ask the SBI to investigate because North Carolina doesn’t have a torture statute that would make the crimes illegal.

Wes Clark to work with Daniel Johnson or Larry Kissell?

Wes Clark will be joining a Democrats Work community service project this summer, and Democrats Work and WesPAC are running a contest to decide who will Serve with the General.

Thousands of people have already voted, but voting is so close that as of this morning North Carolina's 17th district has only 17 votes separating it from moving on to the next round!

North Carolina's 8th district is also in the top 10, and either district could be just one push away from winning it all!

On Friday, the top 5 vote getting districts will move on to the final round.

If you would like to meet Gen. Clark, or to help bring him to North Carolina to serve on a community project, cast your vote here.

Challenge of the week: Define progressive

What do we mean when when we discuss progressive issues or progressive candidates? Are there beliefs that are exclusively held by progressives? Are there qualities exclusively found in progressives? How are progressives different from liberals?

We've had a few starts to this conversation, but something Linda said sparked this idea and I thought it would be interesting to build on it.

This isn't intended to pigeon hole anyone. Let's just see from our conversation if there is a consensus on certain issues and qualities. Then we can go from there.

In praise of greed




John Hood, stage manager at the non-profit Art Pope Puppetshow, is at his free-market best today with a selective nod in the direction of accepting reality.

The reality here is that most people act with regard to their self-interest most of the time. They work in order to feed, clothe, house, and otherwise take care of themselves and their families. They’ll also gladly give of their time and money to causes they deem worthy, but that’s not their primary motivation to work, save, and invest.

Fortunately, another reality to accept is that intentions don’t determine results. When governments use coercion to force people to act contrary to their personal choices, the results are often disappointing regardless of how well-intended the government program may have been. And in a market economy, individuals freely transacting business to mutual advantage tend to advance the common interest by promoting innovation, lower prices, better service, and economic opportunity.

How can you disagree with that? Individuals freely transacting business to mutual advantage. Of course in some cases, that mutual advantage means you're a kid who doesn't get the crap beat out of you. Sounds like heaven to me.

Another state falls for phony Universal Health Care (i.e. we're screwed folks)

If Charlie Crist becomes John McCain's VP, you will be hearing a lot about how he brought Universal Health Care to Florida. So, I thought you should know what has happened there. Gov. Crist has accepted a bill, "Cover Florida", that provides low-premium insurance to the state's 3.8 million uninsured. The plan will provide insurance for $150 a month or more. But. Yeah, there is a big, fat, stinking butt in this plan. In exchange for providing this "low-low" insurance cost, the state agreed to wave a set of restrictions on the health insurance companies. What restrictions?

Health insurance companies will offer policies for $150 a month or more, in exchange for an exemption from the 50-plus mandates in current law that require insurers to cover items ranging from bone marrow transplants to acupuncture.

The plans — which aren't the "Cadillac of coverage," as Crist concedes — would cover some health screenings, doctor visits and office surgeries, but not medical attention that requires a specialist or prolonged hospital stays.

Memorial Day

From the N&O.

So let us all, even as we take this day off if we are able, even as we perhaps reunite with family to celebrate the traditional onset of summertime...let us not forget that this day is about that ultimate sacrifice that so many thousands have made over so many decades. It is about those who died in noble service to their country. Giving one day, to think and pray and ponder and wonder about them, doesn't seem like too much for the rest of us to do.

Scary news for non-profits in Minnesota

Coming soon to North Carolina?

The Supreme Court in Minnesota has determined that a daycare services provider is not a non-profit organization and, therefore, must pay taxes. The rationale for non-profit tax exemptions in Minnesota is outlined here:

The idea behind tax exemptions is that the organizations provide a public service or substantially reduce the burdens of government. Standards from property-tax exemptions are set by the states, while the federal exemption means charities are not taxed on their income.

Robinson Wins Award for Worst TV Ad

Growth & Justice, a progressive think tank in Minnesota, just gave Vernon Robinson the "Willie" award for WORST Political Advertisement. The award is "named for the infamous fearmongering Willie Horton ad that led to George Bush defeating Michael Dukakis." See a small clip of U.S. Senate candidates Al Franken and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer announce the award here.

Pat McCoal on wikipedia

As part of his plan to polish up his image (sort of like the plan to polish up the image of coal), Pat McCrory's minions have invaded the interTubes with a sweet little entry on Wikipedia.

After graduation, McCrory worked with Duke Energy Corporation in various management positions.

Too bad the entry doesn't describe exactly what those various management positions were. All I can find is that McCoal worked as a senior adviser for Duke Energy's business and economic development group. Which means he was likely responsible for helping to recruit big companies with big electric bills to jump onto Duke Energy's big coal bandwagon, thereby driving the supposed need for power plants like Cliffside, which will pump tons of greenhouse gases and mercury into our environment until well after most of us are dead and gone.

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