Harbor House

15 Dec 18
They Lived Along a Rocky River

Those of you from Union County in North Carolina have all heard that the county’s first court met at a place called Labatt’s Crossroads. As the story goes, there was an Abraham P. Labatt who “lived out at the Houston or Tindle place. It was from him that the cross roads there take the name […]

15 Dec 18
Indlulamithi

Six months of planning and dreaming. Three people and their families, 3 cars. It is an ambitious trip. a country 2/3rds the size of South Africa with only 2million people and 2 weeks. I have packed and planned, hasty last minute adjustments to Gypsy. Tent arrived from factory with barely a few days to check […]

15 Dec 18
Retro Roxi

Dad was in the US Navy and we spent several years living in Hawaii in the early 1970’s when he was stationed at Pearl Harbor. We lived in Pearl City Hawaii where many of the Military Families did, almost always in Military Housing. We were a community that was used to constantly packing up and […]

15 Dec 18
STL.News

BLADENBORO, N.C. — Six months ago, election officials in rural North Carolina’s Bladen County resolved to tighten security at their headquarters and protect the ballots stored there by installing an alarm and video cameras and securing an unlocked door that leads to another government office. The fixes never got done before Election Day. The then-chairman […]

15 Dec 18
Lori's Prayer Closet

(Photo credit, someone’s cat Google images) Gotta love that face. One week until Christmas break and I can hardly believe it. Life continues to ebb and flow around us here. Elaine lost her favorite cousin. She found out last night as we were sitting having dinner and I was so glad she wasn’t alone when […]

15 Dec 18
The Mercury News
By Michael Biesecker and Emery P. Dalesio | Associated Press BLADENBORO, N.C. (AP) — Six months ago, election officials in rural North Carolina’s Bladen County resolved to tighten security at their headquarters and protect the ballots stored there by installing an alarm and video cameras and securing an unlocked door that leads to another government office. The fixes never got done before Election Day. The then-chairman of the county commissioners, who control the purse strings, did not see the need. Now Bladen County is at the center of a disputed congressional election rife with suspicions of fraud, including the possibility that absentee ballots were altered or discarded. While no evidence has surfaced to suggest ballots were stolen or tampered with inside the building, warnings about the potential for political chicanery in Bladen County were raised years before the burgeoning scandal dragged this patch of eastern North Carolina’s pine barrens into the spotlight. Marshall Tutor, who was lead investigator for the state Board of Elections for 15 years, said he frequently traveled to Bladen County over the years to probe accusations of wrongdoing. He said residents were often hesitant to talk to outsiders about possible voting fraud, much less testify. [dfm_iframe src=”https://apps.mercurynews.com/newsletters-signup/?campaign=morning-report” width=”100%” height=”220px” allowfullscreen=”yes” scrolling=”yes” /] “Looking back during my time at the Board of Elections, this mess in Bladen County, just from what I’ve seen and what I know, is the worst that I’ve encountered in the entire state,” said Tutor, who retired in March. With the congressional race now under investigation by state authorities, the state has refused to certify the results of the Nov. 6 vote in the 9th District, where Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. Both parties concede a do-over election might be needed. Foremost among the cast of characters in the case is Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., a 62-year-old local campaign operative and convicted felon who has been named a “person of interest” by the state Board of Elections. Authorities want to know whether he and others working on Harris’ behalf ran an illegal operation in which they collected large numbers of absentee ballots from voters. Because of the potential for mischief, it is against the law in North Carolina for anyone other than a voter or immediate family member to handle someone’s absentee ballot before it is sealed and mailed. In an interview with Charlotte station WBTV on Friday, Harris admitted making the decision to hire Dowless, who he said had come recommended by people in Bladen County. But the GOP candidate denied knowing about any illegal “ballot harvesting” tactics. The investigation highlights the vulnerabilities of the electoral process in the U.S., where many of the responsibilities for administering federal elections fall on state governments and myriad local jurisdictions big and small. Located about an hour’s drive from the coast, Bladen is among North Carolina’s least densely populated counties, with about 35,000 people. Good jobs can be hard to come by. The biggest employer is a massive hog processing plant in the town of Tar Heel. Politics here is more personal than partisan, with local races for sheriff and the county commission often generating more interest than state and federal contests. Untangling how the county became the scene of 2018’s last undecided congressional race requires a look at a network of decades-long friendships, political alliances and blood relations. Records reviewed by The Associated Press show Dowless and his relatives have received payments over the years from the campaigns of several of Bladen County’s top elected officials, including the current sheriff and some county commissioners. He has worked for Democrats and Republicans alike. Dowless, an affable, bearded chain-smoker known locally by his middle name, McCrae, has a criminal record that includes prison time for fraud and perjury. He has also held local elected office as a Soil and Water district supervisor. He declined to comment last week when an AP reporter visited his home, as well as in later phone calls. In recent years, one source of worry has been the unsecured door between the local elections office — where registration rolls, absentee ballots and other sensitive documents are stored — and the county veterans’ services office. Just before the 2014 election, Jens Lutz, a local Democrat, raised questions about ballot security in Bladen County in an email to state Democratic officials, who forwarded it the state election board. His concern: Republican Larry Hammond, who was formerly the county’s elections director and was still the local veterans services coordinator, continued to have free access to sensitive areas of the election offices. This was at a time, Lutz claimed, that Hammond was managing a GOP candidate’s race for sheriff. North Carolina’s Democratic Party chief asked the state election board to investigate the suspicions about Hammond, but the board’s then-attorney, Don Wright, replied via email that he knew Hammond and had “never noticed or been informed of any unethical or illegal behavior by him.” In an interview Monday, Hammond denied he managed the campaign of the candidate for sheriff, who ultimately won in a close vote. Hammond also denied he had ever improperly accessed the elections office. “No, absolutely not,” he said. “I value honest and fair elections.” But Lutz continued to harbor suspicions that something fishy might be going on inside the Bladen elections building. After he became chairman of the county of Board of Elections last spring, he persuaded the panel to vote 4-0 to block off or secure the door and adopt other measures, including changing the locks and repairing or replacing security cameras that hadn’t worked for at least a decade. Lutz’s concerns about what he termed the “lackadaisical openness” of the elections office were buttressed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which assessed the site shortly before this year’s election. In a report obtained by AP, the department said that because of the unlocked door, “sensitive voting materials are vulnerable.” It said the door should be eliminated and other security measures taken. Ray Britt, a Bladen County commissioner who served as the board chairman until earlier this month, said in an interview that security improvements were unnecessary. “We’ve never had any problems,” said Britt, a Republican. On Thursday, Bladen County Manager Greg Martin said he is working to adopt some of the changes recommended in the federal report but is unsure whether a lock will be added to the inside door. [dfm_iframe src=”http://apps.mercurynews.com/newsletters-signup/?campaign=breaking-mn” width=”100%” height=”220px” allowfullscreen=”yes” scrolling=”yes” /] On Dec. 7, a day after he was interviewed by the AP, Lutz unexpectedly resigned from the county Board of Elections. In a measure of how closely intertwined political figures are in Bladen County, documents soon emerged showing Lutz had previously started a political consulting business with Dowless. He has not responded to messages since quitting the board. Britt, too, has had connections to Dowless. His 2016 campaign issued a $500 check to Dowless with the notation: “To get out the vote.” The commissioner said he has known Dowless for years and the two remain in touch. He said he would need to see proof before he believed Dowless violated the law. [related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”curated” curated_ids=”5464861,5741538,5761038″]”But I don’t care if you’re a member of my family, if you do wrong, you’ve done wrong,” Britt said. Associated Press investigative reporter Michael Biesecker reported from Washington. AP reporter Gary D. Robertson contributed from Raleigh, North Carolina. Follow Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck and Emery P. Dalesio at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio.
15 Dec 18
The Commentary Gazette®

Since the third century, the Philippine Islands had been under foreign influence, first from Hindu-Malayan empires in Sumatra, Indochina, and Borneo, and then from the Chinese beginning with the early Ming dynasty. Shortly after 1400 Mohammedanism was introduced, and for more than nine hundred years all of the islands south of Luzon, and the southern […]

15 Dec 18
Andre Eger

As head of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq, now-retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal led the effort to take out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi, as the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, sought to ignite a sectarian conflict in the country after the US invasion. In tracking down and killing al-Zarqawi, however, McChrystal came to respect […]

15 Dec 18
THE PEACH REVIEW®

Sunday evening, Urban One hosted the inaugural URBAN ONE HONORS Awards show at The Anthem in Washington, DC. The star-studded show, hosted by comedian and REACH Media personality D.L. Hughley, honored Jermaine Dupri, April Ryan, Brandy, Tom Joyner, Marvin Sapp, DJ Khaled, June Ambrose, Doc Walker, Shaun King, Benny Pough, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jade […]

15 Dec 18
WGEH

By MICHAEL BIESECKER and EMERY P. DALESIOAssociated Press BLADENBORO, N.C. (AP) – Six months ago, election officials in rural North Carolina's Bladen County resolved to tighten security at their headquarters and protect the ballots stored there by installing an alarm and video cameras and securing an unlocked door that leads to another government office. The […]

15 Dec 18
Lake County Record-Bee
An unsafe and seemingly unchecked problem Recently, driving to the Upper Lake Light Parade, two speeding motorists passed me illegally using the turning lane – making this the 5th time in a month that I’ve had this unnerving experience in Lucerne. The long turning lanes along our Highway 20 towns have created an unsafe – and seemingly unchecked situation – allowing speeders to zip by with little to no chance of being caught.  In Lucerne, many express reticence to use the crosswalks – some won’t for fear of being hit. And some have taken to putting up their own signs: “Drive As though your kids live here.” Using the turning lanes to pass is the talk of the town.  In Town Hall Council meetings people are demanding intervention.  It’s a hot topic. I’ve been fired up about this problem for a while but the final straw was the Caltrans response to community outcry about unsafe Highway 20 travel along our family oriented towns and communities (reference Record-Bee article, November, 20, 2018). Like many living along the Highway 20 corridor, I’ve seen violators in Clearlake Oaks and Lucerne, each time praying we don’t lose a child – or anyone – to a negligent driver.  I’d hoped Caltrans would be influenced by the multiple communications from Supervisor Steele and, more recently, our Town Hall Councils. Instead, a Caltrans representative in Eureka thinks the safety concerns expressed are invalid.  His response? It’s just a perception of danger. His reasons? The accident rates don’t support changes.  The message? Until someone is killed or enough “recorded” accidents occur (not all accidents are recorded) while drivers are illegally using turning lanes to pass, we’ll get no constructive action. This is sad commentary on the agency that designs and builds our State highways with a mission “to provide a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability.” When a state highway passes through a town – where there are homes, schools, parks and businesses on both sides – it seems safety and livability would receive higher priority over commerce.  Instead turn lanes are used as convenient passing lanes, speed limits are ignored, noisy trucks barrel through at all hours on their way to I-5 or 101, people fear using the crosswalks, and at night even careful drivers worry about hitting a pedestrian along the very dark stretches through town. Interestingly, as part of a traffic-calming plan, Caltrans installed two traffic circles along the North Shore corridor, one near Nice and one near Upper Lake.  A good start perhaps but the circles don’t appear to have had a calming effect in our towns, as countless eyewitness accounts of violations attest. And while monitoring Highway 20 turning lane areas, as the Caltrans representative indicates will be done, sounds promising it begs the question – will the monitoring be effective?  Unless they’re installing cameras in strategic (hidden) locations to catch offenders, I’m skeptical. It shouldn’t take fatality statistics and recorded accidents to see the obvious.  Highway 20 is not just a transportation corridor – it’s where we live. We deserve better and Caltrans should put emphasis on safety and livability over commerce. When using crosswalks, sidewalks or driving through town there should be a reasonable expectation of safety and respect for the fact that people live, work and play in town communities.   Something needs to be done, if you agree, maybe you’ll send in your letter of concern as well. —Olga Martin Steele, Clearlake Oaks Reader backs Trump’s claims of ‘witch hunt’ Just loved watching the five major lamestream media throwing campaign finance violation up against the wall to see if it would stick.  It was like watching a three stooges rerun except there were 30 or more who were Democrat never Trumpers MC’ing. They had every left wing nut lawyer they could find saying “oh we got him now”!  It was hilarious!  Let’s put it this way, lets substitute Donald Trump’s name for Bill Clinton’s name and Stormy Daniels for Jennifer Flowers and watch the lame stream media turn 180 degrees and say there’s nothing here! Oh by the way, Jennifer Flowers got 800,000 for Bill’s indiscretions. What will happen, you will get your butt handed to you in 2020 because you wasted the people’s time and money while chasing a ghost.  And remember Nadler may stop the House Hearings but Graham will still push on with the Senate Hearings.  Let’s see how many of the Russians Muller indicted will ever appear in court, as in none! Muller spent over 35 million and still counting, just like the National Debt Clock! Now it turns out Jerome Corsi has filed a 350 million dollar lawsuit against Muller.  This ought to get to the core of this witch hunt.  Now Muller has to answer questions.  I also found it amusing that Pelosi & Schumer couldn’t or wouldn’t make eye contact with President Trump? Almost all of their comments were directed at the press.  Watch the Democrats run and I mean run, to the 9th Circus Court of Appeals with some bovine excrement lawsuit over the wall.  President Obama found 150 billion to give to Iran in cash on an unmarked plane yet you Democrats are arguing about 5 billion.  Can you spell hypocrite? The one thing I noticed on every day and night was not mentioned:  Pearl Harbor Day.  I only wish every World War II veteran was here today to remind you about what they gave up so some of you can throw the middle finger at this great U.S.A.. And if Kamala Harris runs in 2020, will her platform be “I helped let the illegal criminal alien free that killed Kate Steinle:? Deplorable as ever and proud of it! —Mac McKay, Lakeport  
15 Dec 18
pertinent food

Had nihilists been as common in the kitchen as they are in artistic circles, then no one would have dared deny cooking its rightful place among the Arts. What would I care? I’m not worried about the (lack of) dignity of my trade. And as a matter of fact – as I hope to make […]

15 Dec 18
As It Ought to Be

By Nicky Beer: DEAR BRUCE WAYNE, My parents are dead, too. A dirty, self-cannibalizing Gotham— I also claim it, its city limits built by my skin. I slough and slough, but the city remains. Tell me, if you’d watched your mother’s face go a slow yellow after they cut off her breast, if you’d watched […]

15 Dec 18
Life in Lemania

We had new neighbors move into our neighborhood during the night. The Jewel of the Sea hosts 2500 guests and it was soon docked next to the Anthem of the Sea with its 4000 guests! We spent some time with binoculars checking out this amazing vessels.The bow thrusters alone generate over 4500 horsepower! Then we […]

15 Dec 18
Russia News Now

…by Jonas E. Alexis and Mark Dankof Mark Dankof is the former 36th District Chairman of the Republican Party in King County/Seattle. He was an elected delegate to Texas State Republican Conventions in 1994 and 1996 and entered the United States Senate race in Delaware in 2000 as the nominated candidate of the Constitution Party against […]