Tag: North Carolina

Walter Jones: A Hero to the Anti-War Movement

Kenneth Casey | United States

On Sunday, America lost one of their most principled and honorable members of Congress with the passing of Walter Jones, the U.S. Representative of North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District. According to Fox News, Jones had suffered a broken hip at his home on January 14th and underwent surgery at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville the following day, which was just one of a series of ailments that Jones had faced.

The North Carolina politician first entered the cutthroat world of politics in 1983 after being elected as a representative of North Carolina at the state level, serving as a Democrat for the entirety of his tenure. After his father vacated his U.S. Congressional seat as a member of North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in 1992, Jones decided to run for his father’s seat and did so successfully. While being a Democrat and serving his first term as so, he decided to switch his party affiliation to the Republican Party in 1994 and has remained a member of the party since.

For around a decade, Jones worked like most people in Washington. He flew under the radar, for the most part, not garnering much national attention. He often served as the standard Republican member of Congress by commonly voting in line with his party as most members of Congress do. The practice of rarely breaking party line and staying away from even the slightest hints of contrarianism is popular in Congress as it increases your chances of being re-elected. That’s why, just about every year, 90% or more of Congress gets re-elected. As long as you do your part and vote in line with your party on the most important issues, the party leadership will support your re-election bid and make the threat of a primary challenge extremely unlikely.

It wasn’t until 2003 that Jones did something that garnered widespread mainstream media attention. Unless you know Walter’s path of getting where he is today, what he did may just surprise you.

A Figure Emerges

Walter was one of the biggest supporters of the Invasion of Iraq back in 2003. His passion for the war was so strong that when France announced their opposition to the United States’ involvement in Iraq, Walter, along with fellow House Republican Bob Ney of Ohio, led the charge to alter a couple names of food choices on the House Cafeteria menu. “French Fries” were to be changed to “Freedom Fries”; “French Toast” was changed to “Freedom Toast”. Yes, Jones’ first real moment of prominence after 10 years a Congress was when he became known as one of the Republicans who bootlicked for the Invasion of Iraq so much that he made his disapproval of France’s stance on the issue known by removing the word “French” from the House Cafeteria Menu.

By the end of 2005, the number of American casualties had reached 2,181. It was around this time that Walter Jones drastically changed his views on Foreign Policy. He called on President Bush to withdraw from Iraq, stating he had “come to believe that there had been little reason to go to war, despite his earlier support, which had been based upon selective intelligence supplied to Congress.” Walter did something that we hardly ever see in politicians, and that is admitting that they are wrong. After coming to the realization of his past faults, he became one of the biggest non-interventionists in Congress, supporting peace every single chance he got and opposing war at all costs.

Because of his heroism among anti-war activists, he earned the label “Champion of Peace” by fellow non-interventionist Congressman Ron Paul. In the years following his change of heart towards the Iraq War, Jones has signed over 12,000 letters to families and extended families who have lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and has hung posters displaying the faces of the dead along the hallway leading to his congressional office in Washington D.C. “That was for me asking God to forgive me for my mistake,” Jones told the NPR in 2017.

An Enemy of War Hawks

Of course, whenever Jones defied the Republican and neoconservative establishment by advocating for non-interventionism and going against their mainstream ideology, they did not take kindly to that. In both 2014 and 2016, Jones a faced primary opponent who benefited from having received millions from neoconservatives, most notably Bill Kristol, who despised Walter for his foreign policy and didn’t think that he belonged in the modern day Republican Party. Even though his views didn’t exactly coincide with the majority of the Republican Party’s, he still managed to easily brush off his primary challengers both times from the hawkish right, with his constituents proving they wanted to keep their principled politician. This led to him being awarded another nickname from Ron Paul: The Neocon Slayer.

Later on in his congressional career, following the changes in his foreign policy beliefs, he lived by a mindset that he felt his father had failed to follow. That mindset was doing what he believed was right even if it resulted in his career ending abruptly ending. He noted in a 2005 interview that he remembered the worst day of his father’s career was when he had to vote for a financial bailout of New York City in 1970, something his father personally opposed but had to vote for because of “political reasons”.

A Legacy to Remember

If you asked Jones, prior to his death, how he feels looking back at the time in which he was known as the guy who was the reason for the Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast denominations on the House Cafeteria Menu, he most likely would have reacted by laying his cheek in his left hand. This was a habit he said he would “repeat dozens of times a day when lost in thought or sadness”. He would uncharacteristically say nothing, wishing to erase that point in his political career from his and everybody else’s memory. Sixteen years after his vote to send American troops into Iraq, Jones would still have been furious with himself and shaken that he reacted with the dramatic response to a problem much bigger than that, ashamed and regretful of his past votes and rhetoric. In a 2015 interview, he stated he would “go to his grave regretting that he had helped kill 4,000 American soldiers.”

In his later days, Walter ended up becoming so much more than what I previously described in this article: an unprincipled politician who really doesn’t have a person in Congress other than to be there as a yes-man. Walter ended up becoming something that is such a rare species. Some wonder if principled, honorable politicians are already extinct. The type of morality that Walter Jones displayed earns the amount of respect none of us are capable of giving. For that, he deserves to be recognized, honored, and never forgotten in our memories.

May he rest in peace.


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Interview With Brent DeRidder of the Liberty Coalition for Disaster Relief

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

71 Republic’s Indri Schaelicke had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Brent DeRidder, the founder of the Liberty Coalition for Disaster Relief. He discussed the organization, its accomplishments, and how the people can help it meet its goals.

Continue reading “Interview With Brent DeRidder of the Liberty Coalition for Disaster Relief”

North Carolina Sends Cease and Desist Order to Cryptocurrency Mining Company

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

The state of North Carolina sent a cease and desist letter to cryptocurrency mining company Power Mining Pool (PMP) last week. It was found that PMP was in violation of multiple parts of the securities act:

The Securities Division found that PMP is violating the Securities Act by: a. offering unregistered securities in the form of ‘mining pool shares;’ b. offering securities while it is not registered to do so; and c. making material misstatements when offering securities.

Continue reading “North Carolina Sends Cease and Desist Order to Cryptocurrency Mining Company”

Raleigh Police Demand Google Release GPS Data Of Users Near Crime Scenes

According to WRAL, North Carolina police have successfully convinced a Wake County judge to order Google to hand over the data records of citizens found to be within a digital corridor on the night or day of a specified crime scene. The state claims they have the right to access Google’s database in an effort to identify suspects in the area of a crime.

The two cases in question revolve around the murders of a taxi cab driver and another man killed in his driveway last year. Drawing on a satellite map, Raleigh police presented the Wake County judge with a highlighted area encompassing the crime scene. Any citizen that passed within this territory during an estimated time of criminal activity would be included in the digital roundup.

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WRAL

While privacy activists across the country criticized the news, county officials suggested that this is simply the natural evolution of forensic techniques. Raleigh police presented the tech giant with warrants to provide the digital information of any active cell phones found within the area of the two separate murders.

For one of the warrants, the judge ordered Google to hand over the data of any user within a 17 block radius of the crime scene. This area includes residential houses and businesses, meaning that the data dump could potentially include thousands of free and lawful citizen’s private information. Some have suggested this is a breach of our constitutional rights to search without due cause.

According to research, 92% of all Americans own a cellular device. While users have the option to turn off GPS location services, citizens can still be tracked by connected cellular networks that constantly monitor users. Google has remained quiet on the proceedings and offered a brief statement regarding how they decide to release information to authorities:

We have a long-established process that determines how law enforcement may request data about our users. We carefully review each request and always push back when they are overly broad. – Google

The statement suggests that Google protects the rights of its users up to a point. Without any specifics, however, it is tough to assume what their policy really is and how dedicated the tech giant is to its user’s private information. Furthermore, the data was not limited to Android users. Any user connected to a google app was targeted in the sweep. In the case of the two murders in Raleigh, perhaps the search optimization site was shown convincing evidence that compelled them to release the records of thousands of area citizens. Or perhaps this isn’t a battle the Silicon Valley enterprise wants to fight.

According to the presiding judge, this ruling does not allow for a limitless search of a user’s phone. Text messages, emails, and phone calls were precluded from the warrant although the judge suggested these could be obtained with through a different process. This ruling holds precedent in Orange County California where a digital search warrant to comb through the records of cellular users has been used in past cases.

Americans are not stupid. They know they are being watched and recognize that the monolithic tech giants of our age often have no recourse (or interest) in protecting the rights of their consumers. This decision stands and Google’s weak stance on privacy helps illuminate the reality that your right to digital privacy in The United States continues to be eroded with certainty and precision by a new grouping of technological authorities that seem not to possess an understanding or care for constitutional rights.

The fourth amendment to the constitution states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Constitutional advocates will recognize the issue with judges ordering private data of citizens that happen to pass through a geographical territory while a crime is committed. While the information could be used to prosecute a killer, it also serves to disenfranchise the property rights of the other 99.9% of citizens who have a right to be secure in their persons against unreasonable search. Ordering the release of is an unreasonable search.

What’s worse is that this sort of legislation will undoubtedly target minorities as it already did in the taxi driver case. Crime is highest in places of poverty, and if authorities are allowed the opportunity to search private citizen’s property based on territorial generalizations, it is a certainty that the weakest among us will only get weaker. Furthermore, this new technique could possess technological challenges. For instance, this modern form of analytics could lead to false accusations based simply on being within a 17 block area of a committed crime.

As we move into the era of complete technological adoption, clarification regarding privacy and the rights of individuals in the digital age are becoming contested issues. While officials suggest these new measures are in line with a mentality required to investigate crimes of the 21st-century, where does the breach of privacy end? Every inch we give up as Americans is another inch gained by the corporate monoliths of government and business. These latest cases are simply another example of how commonplace it has become for the state to monitor its citizens without their consent.

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NC Teachers Get Accidental $3,500 Bonus On Paychecks

By Jason Patterson | United States

In the Tar Heel State, more than 119 teachers accidentally received bonuses in their January paychecks, and now Wake County is forcing them to pay it back.

Wake County officials told WTVD that they sent out an email to employees stating that 124 teachers were “mistakenly paid” extra because of a clerical error on Thursday.

The money for elementary and middle school teachers averaged $3,000, and high school teachers received a range of cash from $25 to $3,500.

According to North Carolina law, the teachers are required to give the money back.

School officials said the district will work with teachers on a repayment plan if necessary.

Wake sent an email Wednesday to employees that said 117 teachers were mistakenly paid the bonus money because there was “an error in processing the data file provided to the district from the state.”

“It is with tremendous regret that I must inform you that you have received a bonus in your January paycheck in error,” the email said. “Per North Carolina state law, we must collect the overpayment of the bonus.”

Lisa Luten, a spokeswoman for Wake schools, said the district will work with affected teachers to return the money. Initially, the teachers said the bonus money would be deducted from their February paychecks.

Teachers were only eligible for bonuses if they ranked in the top 25 percent for student growth in reading for third through fifth grade or in math for fourth through eighth grade. High school teachers were eligible if their students earned certifications or credentials in career-technical classes or earned high scores on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education exams.