Saturday, March 9, 2013

Brennan’s oath

March 9, 2013
by Scott Johnson

John Brennan took the oath on his swearing in as DCIA today on a draft of the Constitution. The photo is below.

(Powerline) - Commentators on the photograph make something of the fact that the draft Brennan swore on lacked the Bill of Rights. Has anyone bothered to read the Federalist lately? Publius (Hamilton) in Federalist 84 makes the case that a bill of rights is unnecessary and perhaps even dangerous to the liberties protected by the Constitution. C’mon, people, maybe Brennan is a Hamiltonian.

Or maybe Brennan is, as the rumor has it, a Muslim, allegedly converted while serving in Saudi Arabia, and avoiding the use of a Bible for that reason. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as they say, though it would be nice to know where he’s coming from.

Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution on which Brennan swore his oath requires that such oaths vow support of the Constitution. Swearing a constitutional oath on any version of the Constitution, with or without the Bill of Rights, is simply redundant and slightly weird.

It should be noted that the same provision of the Constitution also unqualifiedly prohibits any religious test for office: “[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” It is one of the supreme glories of the Constitution.

It would nevertheless be nice to know more about the deep thoughts of our new DCIA who is, based on what we already know about his views, unfit for the high office he attained today.

White House raps McConnell over exposing Eric Holder's intent to use civilian terror trial

March 9, 2013
By Justin Sink

(The Hill) - White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that the intelligence community disagreed with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) assessment that trying the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden in federal court posed a threat to national security.

"With all due respect to Senator McConnell, that's not the assessment of the intelligence community," Earnest said Friday. "It's not the assessment of the Department of Justice. It's not the assessment of the Department of Defense. So he's certainly welcome to his opinion, but that's not the assessment of the people who are responsible for protecting the national security of the United States of America."

In a statement Friday, McConnell warned that the decision to try Sulaiman Abu Ghaith in civilian court could damage intelligence gathering prospects.

"The decision of the President to import Sulaiman Abu Ghaith into the United States solely for civilian prosecution makes little sense, and reveals, yet again, a stubborn refusal to avoid holding additional terrorists at the secure facility at Guantanamo Bay despite the circumstances," McConnell said. "Abu Ghaith has sworn to kill Americans, and he likely may possesses information that could prevent harm to America and its allies. He is an enemy combatant and should be held in military custody."

Abu Ghaith pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges of involvement in a conspiracy to kill Americans. The al Qaeda spokesman, who appeared in propaganda videos for the terror group, was arrested overseas last month and brought by the Obama administration secretly to the U.S.

Republicans have objected to the White House's decision to try Abu Ghaith in federal court in Manhattan rather than at a military tribunal, arguing a military tribunal would provide more opportunity to interrogate the accused terrorist.

"The Obama administration’s lack of a war-time detention policy for foreign members of al Qaeda, as well as its refusal to detain and interrogate these individuals at Guantanamo, makes our nation less safe," Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said in a joint written statement. “We are at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups, and America’s detention policy must reflect that reality."

But on Friday, Earnest said there was "broad consensus" among intelligence and military officials within the administration that civilian court was the best option.

"Here is a pretty strong track record of the success of Article 3 courts in handling these kinds of trials. Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, was tried in an Article 3 court. He's currently serving a life sentence," Earnest said.

Earnest added that the administration remained confident that intelligence could be extracted from Abu Ghaith despite his civilian trial.

"I should also point out that there have been previous detainees who have been subject to similar questioning and similar circumstances that has yielded valuable intelligence," Earnest said.

Stubborn, Secretive Obama Admin Failed to Inform Congress of Its Intent to Grant Bin Laden Son-In-Law a Civilian Trial

March 9, 2013
by Bryan Preston
PJ Media

Sen. Lindsey Graham is up in arms, and he should be. The Obama administration failed to inform Congress that it planned to bring Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, to New York City for a civilian trial on charges of conspiring to kill Americans.

Ghaith is not a common criminal. He has been a top al Qaeda lieutenant of his late father-in-law for years; he appeared in a video alongside bin Laden taking credit for the 9-11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000, most of those casualties at the World Trade Center in New York. He is a true enemy combatant against the United States and should be subjected to trial under the laws of war.

Three years ago, the Obama administration attempted to hold the trial of 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York, as a civilian trial. The outcry was so fierce that the administration was forced to abandon that plan. KSM is facing a military tribunal, where he will not be able to grandstand to generate headlines and sympathy, and where the rules of evidence are different, and where he is subjected to the laws of war.

The Obama administration appears to have learned from that experience. Rather than inform Congress or anyone else beforehand of its intent to grant Ghaith a civilian trial, they just snuck him into the country and are making his civilian trial a fait accompli. Congress should ask, before the American people, why this president is so determined to give al Qaeda thugs access to our civilian courts, and the rights of US citizens accused of ordinary crimes.

Graham’s rage comes just a day after Sen. Rand Paul filibustered the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA, citing the administration’s lack of transparency on the anti-terror drone program. Americans only found out that that program exists in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. The Obama administration leaked details of the program to media to shore up the president’s national security credentials.

Graham railed against Paul’s filibuster yesterday. He may be eating his words today, as another example of the Obama administration’s stubborn and opaque behavior comes to light.

With canceled tours, White House teaching how democracy works

March 9, 2013
By David Nakamura

Melina Mara/THE WASHINGTON POST - Margot Levi, 21, and Alice Contessi, 19, take pictures at the White House on Friday, the last day of official tours.
The White House tour is a civics lesson on American democracy. And starting Saturday, when 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. shuts its doors to the public, that lesson will focus on the dysfunctional state of the union.

The Obama administration announced this week that it would indefinitely suspend all tours of the president’s residence to help the nation cope with $85 billion in mandatory across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester.

Across the country, parents and students preparing for spring-break trips to Washington were aghast.

“Kids very bummed out,” Parag Manihar of Irving, Tex., wrote on Twitter in reference to his two young sons, who will be visiting the nation’s capital for the first time next week.

“My 6-year-old wants to see the White House and the Statue of Liberty,” Manihar said in an interview. “Now I cannot honestly explain to them why it was canceled. At their age, they do not understand the sequester.”

Administration officials have sounded alarms about the potential impact of the cuts on ordinary Americans, from long security lines at airports to teacher layoffs to Pentagon furloughs.

But it was the cancellation of the tours — leaving tens of thousands of ticket-holders out of luck — that set off the latest round of finger-pointing and recriminations between Congress and the White House. Republicans have pounced, questioning why the Obama administration is ending the free, self-guided visits to a building that ultimately belongs to taxpayers.

Administration officials say the decision was made by the Secret Service, which estimated that ending the tours for roughly 11,000 people a week would save $74,000 in weekly overtime costs. That adds up to about $2 million in savings through the end of the fiscal year in September, it said.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said another 37 officers are needed to secure the White House grounds during public tours. The agency is looking for ways to trim a mandatory $84 million from its budget without resorting to layoffs, he said.

“The White House has a unique place as both the seat of government, the residence of the leader of the country, but also a museum,” deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday. “And it is a shame that, because of the sequester, those tours will no longer take place.”

But 1.6 miles to the east, skeptical Capitol Hill Republicans were having none of it. They accused the president of staging a political stunt aimed at pressuring the GOP into supporting his plan to offset the cuts by closing tax loopholes.

White House tickets are distributed through congressional offices, meaning it has been up to lawmakers to inform disappointed ticket-holders that their tours were canceled. But in doing so, many Republicans — and some Democrats — are reminding constituents that the legislative branch remains open.

“While I’m disappointed the White House has chosen to comply with sequestration by cutting public tours, I’m pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote in a letter to his home district, saying his chamber had found cuts in other areas to keep the building open.

Outside the Beltway, tourists were less interested in the political point-scoring than in the last-minute changes to their Washington itineraries.

Lisa Cambridge, 58, who is coming to the city for a speechwriting conference in two weeks, secured four White House tickets through Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.). She texted the good news to her daughter, Greta Gromovich, a State Department spokeswoman in the District. Gromovich texted back telling her to turn on MSNBC, where news of the tour cancellations was in heavy rotation.

Cambridge reacted with what she described as a “snarky” post on Facebook wondering whether Obama would be willing to “trim the fat” from his own pastimes.

“I think it’s a public-relations ploy, and I think it will backfire,” she said in an interview. “It’s really sad because right now the people who are going to be affected the most are children and students coming to Washington during spring break.”

One example is the sixth-grade class at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa. They had planned for months to get White House tickets for their trip to Washington next week, only to learn on the same day they got tickets that the tour had been canceled.

“The White House is our house! Please let us visit!” the students pleaded in a brief Facebook video, which was featured on ABC’s “World News Tonight” to dramatize the human costs of the political gridlock that has gripped Washington.

“There were a lot of groans, and then a lot of questions about why can’t they get it worked out,” said Karen Thalacker, whose son Malcolm Newell, 12, had his picture taken with Obama when he was campaigning in Iowa in 2007.

“They’re getting a lesson in advocacy,” Thalacker said of the students’ Internet activism, “and about how their government works.”

Conservatives piled on in an effort to embarrass the president. Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), asked whether celebrities such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé who supported Obama’s re-election campaign would still be allowed to tour the White House even though the public cannot. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) introduced an amendment to a spending bill that would ban Obama from traveling on the public dime to play golf until the tours are reinstated.

On Fox News, commentator Eric Bolling offered to pony up $74,000 of his own money to keep the tours going.

“If I can keep the White House doors open, I’ll pick up the tab,” Bolling said, after pointing out that Obama had recently gone golfing on a “boys’ weekend” in Florida and vacationed with his family last December in Hawaii.

Earnest, the White House spokesman, responded by accusing Republicans of “cheering this as a big victory” and saying that the president remains focused on the 750,000 people that the Congressional Budget Office estimates could lose their jobs because of the sequester.

The feud provides little solace to those whose White House tickets are now worthless. In the video by the St. Paul’s class, Newell holds the framed picture of himself and Obama, who had signed it: “To Malcolm, dream big dreams!”

For the time being, at least, the 12-year-old’s hopes of visiting the White House will have to be a dream deferred.

Emily Heil contributed to this report.

Alaska Senator Smacks Down Fellow Dem and his ‘East Coast Values'

March 9, 2013
by Bridget Johnson
PJ Media

Two Democrats are tangling over what one considers interference in his state by a congressman who doesn’t “understand that East Coast values do not always apply to other parts of the country.”

It started when Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is running in the special election to fill John Kerry’s vacant Senate seat, asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stand by a Fish and Wildlife Service decision to reject a proposal to build a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

“I, like you, believe we should respect the judgment of our scientists and leave politics out of this decision,” wrote Markey, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee. “We must continue to protect our nation’s most beautiful and precious wilderness. Not construct an unreliable and potentially dangerous road through the heart of it.”

Fish and Wildlife claimed the road would hurt vital habitat for grizzly bears, caribou, salmon, shorebirds and waterfowl.

But Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) today told Markey to butt out, stressing the 25-mile road from King Cove to Cold Bay is a potential life saver for rural residents in case of medical emergencies.

In a letter to the Massachusetts Democrat, Begich expressed “great frustration” with Markey’s interference in the plight of rural Alaskans “who are being denied access to basic life and safety needs because of federal ignorance about our way of life.”

“I’m especially irritated you didn’t bother to reach out to me and try to gain a real understanding of the dire situation facing residents of King Cove, Alaska.”

In 2009, Congress approved a one-lane gravel road through just 206 acres of the 315,000-acre refuge in exchange for Alaska adding 60,000 of protected land. King Cove residents were never allowed to personally make their case to Salazar during the years-long environment review until only recently, Begich said.

“Your letter is typical of those from national Democrats who fail to understand the needs of Americans who live in the West, especially in some of the most remote and extreme parts of our nation such as Alaska. Life is especially challenging in these communities where the nearest hospital is an expensive airplane, boat or snow machine ride away. Yet these Americans deserve the same opportunities for basic health care and public safety as those who live in Boston or elsewhere in our country. While the habitat values of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge are indisputable, the residents of King Cove have taken good care of this area for generations,” Begich wrote.

“In the future, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss the unique challenges facing residents of my state so you can better understand that East Coast values do not always apply to other parts of the country.”

While You Weren’t Looking, Obama Kills Military Commissions

March 9, 2013
By Andrew C. McCarthy
National Review

In the blink of an eye, the second Obama term has turned the clock back to the pre-9/11 days, when al-Qaeda was a law-enforcement problem, not a national-security challenge.

Remember the great ruckus over the administration’s attempt to give Khalid Sheik Mohammed & Co. a civilian trial in lower Manhattan? In what would, in effect, reward their savagery in killing nearly 3,000 Americans a few blocks from the federal courthouse, the administration proposed to endow them with all the constitutional rights and peacetime civilian due process protections of American citizens, despite the fact that the American people’s representatives in Congress — having authorized wartime combat operations against our jihadist enemies — had fashioned a military-commission system for the trial of alien enemy combatants. The administration gambit was unsuccessful because the public, even in blue, blue New York City, rose up in protest, spurring congressional outrage and, eventually, legislation barring the executive branch from using public funds to transfer terrorists from Gitmo to the U.S. for civilian prosecution. The message could not have been clearer: For enemy combatants, it is military commissions or no trials at all, not civilian due process.

Well, the administration has never forfeited its goal of returning to the Clinton-era counterterrorism, when all terrorists were deemed defendants presumed innocent, not enemies to be quelled. Now, with the help of President Obama’s Islamist confidant, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Obama has found a way around Congress’s ban.

Last month, Turkey found itself in custody of longtime al-Qaeda bigwig Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden and described by the FBI as the terror network’s “consiglieri.” To satisfy its Islamist base, Erdogan’s government pretended to extradite the Muslim terrorist to his native Kuwait rather than cooperate with American agencies. But the Turks conveniently shipped Abu Ghayth to Kuwait by way of Jordan . . . where the U.S. has more open, effective counterterrorism cooperation and where our government was thus able to take Abu Ghayth into custody.

So, was this high-ranking member of the enemy forces shipped to Gitmo for long-term detention and interrogation in the hope of gleaning fresh intelligence? Of course not. Because Abu Ghayth was not detained at Gitmo, he was not subject to the statutory prohibition against using government funds to transfer enemy combatants into the U.S. So, while no one was paying attention, the administration whisked him into lower Manhattan, where his indictment in civilian court was promptly announced. He thus promptly received legal representation — so much for interrogation — and is enjoying all the protections of the Bill of Rights.

According to a government press release, prosecutors plan to prove the overall al-Qaeda conspiracy against Abu Ghayth — going back to 1989 and “including the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, which killed approximately 2,976 people.”

Understand what this means. Other than the relative notoriety of the culprits, bringing Abu Ghayth to New York is no different from bringing KSM to New York for a civilian trial. The Obama administration’s intention is to try the same case against Abu Ghayth that it planned to present against KSM. This is a bold presidential decision to undermine military commissions and to proclaim that the civilian courts are the government’s venue of choice for all terrorism cases — even those against wartime enemy combatants.

Moreover, as Attorney General Holder must know, by proceeding with this civilian prosecution in New York at the very moment when KSM and the other 9/11 defendants are facing a military commission at Gitmo, he has given KSM & Co. an exquisite legal argument that proceeding with their military commission would be arbitrary and unjust in light of the grade-A due process Abu Ghayth is getting. That is, the government is virtually inviting the federal courts to invalidate military commissions — which was a top goal of many Obama administration lawyers back when they were in private practice, volunteering their services to terrorist detainees.

As we did in the 1990s, we can pretend that there is no war. I doubt that resurgent al-Qaeda will agree. So while we forfeit interrogation opportunities and shovel our intelligence files to the enemy in compliance with civilian due process protocols, the enemy will continue plotting against us. Al-Qaeda: less vulnerable, more confident, and better informed about our strengths and weaknesses. We’ve seen how this ends.

The Revolt Against FEMA

March 9, 2013

Sandy victims criticize FEMA flood maps, slow progress

BY: Mary Lou Byrd
March 9, 2013 4:59 am

Hurricane Sandy aftermath / AP
Some New Jersey hurricane victims are complaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is doing more harm than Superstorm Sandy did when it hit over four months ago and washed away their homes and businesses.

“FEMA has caused more damage to the shore than Sandy did,” said George Kasimos, a flood victim from Toms River, N.J.

He is the founder of the growing grassroots group, Stop FEMA Now. The group feels FEMA is responsible for suffering and uncertainty for many Sandy victims who cannot start to rebuild.

FEMA issued Advisory Base Flood Elevation Maps as a provision of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which was signed by President Barack Obama last July. That act expands flood zones, doubles flood insurance premiums, and requires those in certain flood zones to elevate their homes.

Stop FEMA Now is calling on Congress to revise the Biggert-Waters Act and curb FEMA’s power.

“We need answers,” Kasimos said.

He said residents need to know if raising their homes is a requirement and if the preliminary flood elevation maps will be changed.

Additionally, critics say, questions about appealing the flood designations and availability of flood mitigation grants need to be addressed quickly so Sandy victims can begin to rebuild.

FEMA will issue its revised maps in August.

However, residents do not feel they should have to wait another five months to start to rebuild and are questioning the preliminary issued flood maps.

“The township requested some type of interim interpretation specifically with respect to the velocity zone designations in advance of the issuance of the revised maps to assist our residents in making these important decisions; however, that is not possible according to FEMA,” the Toms River website states.

Stop FEMA Now has grown from a few dozen members to thousands of members, according to Kasimos. It was formed less than two months ago. Its last meeting had to be shut down by the local police due to overcrowding.

Kasimos’ own home is on the mainland of Toms River and has now been designated by FEMA as in a Flood V zone, the highest-risk flood zone. But other homes, a block from the ocean and on the barrier island, have been designated in a Flood A zone, which is a lesser designation.

A view of the maps shows the designations.

“The flood maps are riddled with errors,” Kasimos said.

Staney Depczek, a firefighter in Nutley, closed on his Toms River home three weeks before Sandy hit. He never even spent a night in the house, which he said his is now in Flood Zone V, but is far from the ocean.

“FEMA is not giving me answers,” Depczek said. “Do you knock it down, do you walk away? I’m not going to pay $30,000 for flood insurance.”

FEMA’s map of the Toms River area showed what the agency deems as higher risk flood areas.

“I would like to know, what is required of me,” Depczek said. “Every week, I’m getting hit with something. It’s not easy. It’s very emotional and difficult to deal with. We need direction. “

Depczek pointed out that many businesses are still shuttered due to the storm, and people are now unemployed.

“People can’t go to work, can’t move on with their lives,” he said.

“A lot of people are walking away from their homes,” RE/MAX realtor Fiona Barone said, describing the waterfront in the area of Toms River as being dotted with mold-filled and destroyed homes.

She said they are knockdowns at this point.

She said some listings of waterfront homes have gone on the market and are now showing up as short sales.

“People who are on the bay and the lagoon are now in Flood V zone, and they never were before,” she said. The elevation maps are “so sporadic.”

“It’s like someone played pin the tail on the donkey to make up these flood maps,” Barone said.

Barone organized a call-in to Democratic New Jersey Sens. Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg on March 5 to urge the senators to take action.

Additionally, both senators are now being criticized for their votes in favor of the Biggert-Waters Act.

“We need to know why Sen. Menendez and Sen. Lautenberg voted for the Biggert-Waters Act,” Kasimos said. “They need to explain to us, why they did this?”

“The Biggert-Waters policies are handcuffing our state politicians from rebuilding,” Kasimos said.

The yea vote by Menendez and Lautenberg improves the solvency for the National Flood Insurance Program at the expense of their New Jersey constituents. The act also requires FEMA to submit a repayment plan for its debt to the U.S. Treasury for storms prior to Sandy.

In other areas of New Jersey the same situation exists. Hoboken, located across the Hudson River from New York City, now finds 79 percent of its homes and business are in a designated flood zone. It is expected to have a substantial negative impact on the waterfront there, reports indicate.

Menendez and Lautenberg have sent letters to FEMA administrator Craig Fugate about the flood maps and its slow claims payment to flood victims. They also requested a meeting with Fugate.

It is unclear if the senators heard back from Fugate. The offices of Menendez and Lautenberg did not return a request for comment. FEMA also did not respond to a request for comment about Sandy victims and the flood elevation maps.

Washington Free Beacon

UPDATE: Both Obama's Labor and State Departments Investigating Lazy Ass OWS Dummies Complaint

March 9, 2013

So much for trying to do something nice for the underprivileged.. It certainly does appear that the placement agency is an anti-capitalist left wing front group.
Sadly, the lesson here is, instead of sharing the American dream with the less fortunate, we should simply keep it for ourselves. 

Sabrina Tan, a foreign students from Malaysia that worked at McDonald's on Trindle Road, attempts to get into the Hampden Twp. home she and seven others have been living in for the past four months. The house is owned by the same man who has employed the workers, Andy Cheung. Cheung owns six of the fast-food restaurants in the midstate, including the Camp Hill and Lemoyne locations, and others in the Harrisburg area. Eight workers, four men and four women, have been living in the basement of the house and were locked out after taking part in a protest at the Trindle Road location earlier Wednesday. Joe Hermitt,

The U.S. Department of Labor confirmed it is investigating complaints by seven foreign students who claim they were exploited by a Harrisburg-area McDonald's franchise owner.

The labor department is the same agency that imposed $356,000 in fines and back wages related to about 1,000 foreign students who repackaged Hershey candies at an Exel Inc. distribution facility in Palmyra during the summer of 2011.

Now, the department is investigating the March 6 complaint filed by seven foreign students who say they were employed at three Harrisburg-area McDonald's franchises owned by Andy Cheung.

(Gallery by Christine Baker |
The students, who say they each paid about $3,000 for a cultural exchange experience, want back pay and penalties against Cheung and an out-of-state firm called GeoVisions, which the students say matched them with jobs in the United States.

Cheung, whose business is based in the Middletown area, and GeoVisions have not responded to repeated requests for comment.

According to the complaint filed with the labor department, the exchange students are from Argentina, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Malaysia and Brazil. They are participating in the U.S. State Department's J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program.

A group of 18 foreign student guest workers and about 40 supporters staged a work-stoppage protest at McDonald’s fast-food restaurant on Trindle Road in Hampden Twp. on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. The event was intended to expose “severe exploitation at McDonald’s restaurants in Harrisburg, Lemoyne and Camp Hill,” according to a news release from the National Guestworker Alliance. Christine Baker |
The students have said they've been in the Harrisburg area for three to four months, and have worked at Cheung-owned McDonald's franchises, including one on Trindle Road in Hampden Twp.

According to their complaint, they earned $7.25 an hour and, while they were promised 40 hours per week, they were sometimes given as few as four. They further claim housing expenses were deducted from the paychecks, and they lived in basements of Harrisburg-area dwellings owned by Cheung.

The complaint alleges that Cheung and GeoVisions "used the J-1 program to source cheap, exploitable workers from Latin America and Asia and then treated them as sub-minimum wage surplus workforce at the fast food chain franchises."

The complaint alleges the students were each charged $300 per month in rent. After rent was deducted from their paychecks, their net pay was "far below minimum wage," according to the complaint.

The students, who are being represented by an advocacy organization called the National Guestworker Alliance, staged a protest at the Trindle Road McDonald's on Wednesday. The protest included some exchange workers who aren't staying in the Harrisburg area and who aren't part of the March 6 complaint.

In separate interviews, locally-employed students told of being among eight people living in the basement of a local Cheung-owned home. They told of a curtain hung across the room to separate males and females, and one told of sleeping next to a furnace in a utility room.

Their official complaint alleges the students were desperate for working hours because of their $3,000 exchange program debts, and that Cheung and GeoVisions "used this to their advantage."

"Students were on constant call to come in for work shifts on as little as 30 minutes' notice, and when they raised complaints of any kind, the employer retaliated by cutting their hours even further," the complaint alleges.

Yet the complaint also alleges some were forced to work up to 25 hours straight.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor said the department doesn't comment on specifics of ongoing investigations. She said she had no timetable for completing the investigation.

Their complaint asks the government to speed up the investigation because of the students' temporary status, and to take into account the possibility of retaliation.

When a group of the students returned to a Hampden Twp. home following Wednesday's protest, they found themselves locked out of their basement living quarters. They were eventually allowed in.

The U.S. State Department also is investigating.

Here is a copy of the complaint they filed. Highlighted is the "entitlements" they seem to think they deserve free of charge or entitled to do without consequence. (Italicized red in parenthesis  will be my response) And here we thought it was only our kids being taught socialist philosophies! 

National Guestworker Alliance
217 North Prieur Street ! New Orleans, LA 70112 ! Tel: 504-309-5161 ! Fax: 504-309-5205

Via Facsimile

March 6, 2013

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Stegmaier Building - Suite 373M
7 N. Wilkes-Barre Boulevard
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18702

RE: Notice of Violation of Fair Labor Standards Act by McDonald’s Franchisee Andy Cheung and Cheung Enterprises LLC and Geovisions

To U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division:

Please accept this Notice of Violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq. including failure to pay minimum wage, overtime, and retaliation (“complaint”)  (Mininum wage is not the remaining amount after taxes and expenses are paid. Overtime is paid out over a 40 hour pay period. Complaining in front of customers a public work place can and should impact a worker's availability to work) at the McDonald’s Franchises operated by Andy Cheung. This complaint is filed on behalf of the following guestworkers (“McDonalds Guestworkers”) and all similarly situated workers employed there in the past three years who are employed pursuant to J-1 summer work travel visas. The McDonalds guestworkers were employed at three of the at least six McDonald’s franchises operated by Andy Cheung.

Name of Worker    Country of origin

Jorge Rios                        Argentina
Rodrigo Yañez                    Chile
Luis Fernando Suarez         Peru
Alicia Marin                    Paraguay
Fernando Acosta             Paraguay
Ka Inn Lee                      Malaysia
Alex Amoria                      Brazil


Student guestworkers from Argentina, Peru, Chile, Malaysia, and other countries were recruited by Geovisions and jointly employed by Andy Cheung, Cheung Enterprises LLC, and Geovisions at three McDonalds franchises in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area. Each student paid at least $3,000 to participate  (Kids budgeting 3000 dollars spending money? nuff said) in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 student guestworker program- a program designed to offer foreign college students a summer cultural exchange in the United States.

Instead, McDonald’s franchisee Andy Cheung/ Cheung Enterprises LLC and Geovisions used the J-1 program to source cheap, exploitable workers from Latin American and Asia and then treated them as a sub-minimum wage ($7.25 an hour IS minimum wage) surplus workforce at the fast food chain franchises. Though students had been promised 40 hours of work a week, they were given as few as four hours of work a week at $7.25 an hour (40 hours a week to to stand around and complain and show disrespect to your employer is not guaranteed by law), and faced housing deductions to live in substandard housing owned and controlled by Andy Cheung that brought their weekly net pay down far below minimum wage. (It's called living expenses. Welcome to the real world kids!) Cheung charged students $300 each per month to live in basement apartments he owned, (Most kids pay more than 300 dollars a month to live at home kids. Pay your bills and learn "responsibility".)packing up to eight students in a single basement. Cheung and representatives from McDonald’s labor recruiter Geovisions also made surprise visits to the apartments to intimidate students who raised concerns. (Maybe you should be willing to air your concerns in private like this. Rather than in front of customers at work. How about it kids?)

Needing to pay off the over $3000 in program fees they had incurred for the cultural exchange program, students were desperate to be scheduled for hours at the McDonalds locations. Cheung and Geovisions used this to their advantage. Students were on constant call to come in for work shifts on as little as 30 minutes' notice, and when they raised complaints of any kind, the
employer retaliated by cutting their hours
even further. (Lucky you didn't work for me or you'd have been suspended or fired.)The few students who didn’t have too few hours had the opposite problem, being forced to work shifts of up to 25 hours straight. (If you really wanted more hours you wouldn't be complaining when you got them.)

When students raised concerns complained, Geovisions and Cheung responded with threats in order to suppress the complaints limiting the hours and engaging in other conduct designed to repress good faith complaints by student workers. (Notice the lack of explanation regarding threats and "other" conduct.)


Cheung Enterprises LLC is a privately-held limited liability company specializing in franchising McDonalds restaurant establishments. The company was incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania on June 19, 2009 and is wholly-owned by Andrew T. Cheung of Mechanicsburg, PA and currently operates six McDonald’s facilities in the Harrisburg/Central Pennsylvania
region. The McDonald’s guestworkers were employed at 3 sites.

Geovision is a nonprofit recruiter registered with the State Department purportedly based in New Hampshire. In addition to acting as the recruiting agent for the students, Geovision acted as the students joint-employer in multiple ways including directing all student complaints regarding workplace conditions to be made with Geovisions and retaliating against students who raised concerns by engaging in workplace actions including limiting the number of hours students were assigned to work. (The agency did not cave to the unrealistic entitlements demanded by the students. BTW how did the agency limit the hours scheduled by Cheung?)

McDonald’s franchisees rely on minimum wage labor to operate the McDonald’s business model. Compliance records available from the wage and hour division show a history of Fair Labor Standards Act violations by McDonald’s franchise owners. (Minimum wage is NOT an unfair labor practice you goof!)


The McDonalds guestworkers allege the following violations on behalf of themselves and all similarly situated workers including guestworkers and U.S. workers:

- record keeping violations for failure to record all hours worked
- failure to pay all hours worked resulting in a violation of minimum wage
- unlawful deductions, including for housing owned by the employer, resulting      in a failure to pay minimum wage
- unlawful pre-employment expenses which should be considered deductions       which result in a failure to pay minimum wage
- failure to pay overtime wages for hours worked more than 40 in a workweek
- retaliation against students for raising these issues with their employers

The McDonalds guestworkers were paid at a base rate of $7.25/hour. They were not paid for all hours worked and were not paid at a rate of 1.5 times their base rate when they worked over 40 hours in a workweek. Andy Cheung required some of the McDonald’s Guestworkers to sign documents confirming that Cheung Enterprises LLC would not pay overtime wages even when students worked hours in excess of 40 in a workweek. Cheung Enterprises also required students to live in basement housing owned and operated by Andy Cheung and made unlawful deductions for housing costs that dropped the students’ pay below minimum wage. Students also ask DOLWHD to fully investigate all time keeping, wage payment, and deduction systems to more fully analyze additional potential violations of the FLSA.


Finally, McDonald’s Guestworkers request that WHD ensure deconfliction of any DHS enforcement activities against the J-1 students who are complainants and witnesses contributing to this complaint. See March 31, 2011, Revised Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor Concerning Enforcement Activities at Worksites. This includes enforcement actions by ICE as well as any actions with immigration related consequences including actions that would prejudice students’ ability to obtain future visas to the United States.

Jennifer Rosenbaum, Legal Director is the authorized legal representative of the McDonald’s Guestworkers for purposes of this complaint. The McDonalds Guestworkers may be contacted through her: 217 N. Prieur St., New Orleans, LA 70112, (504) 309-5165 (office), (504) 376-6238 (cell), Additional documents and information are available upon request.

Students respectfully ask that DOL- WHD expedite consideration of their complaint and the investigation process given their status as temporary guestworkers. Given the past retaliation against students for raising FLSA violations, the students ask that DOL conduct the investigation taking into account best practices for workplaces where retaliation has already taken place.

Previous student complaints to the State Department were referred to Geovisions. Students are contemporaneously renewing complaints about violations of State Department program J-1 Summer Work Travel regulations with the Department of State.

Submitted this 6 day of March 2013,


s/ Jennifer J. Rosenbaum


Jennifer Rosenbaum
Counsel to Student Guestworkers
National Guestworker Alliance
217 N. Prieur St.
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 309-5165

source: PennLive

Help KeyWiki Expose Communist Infiltration of the Missouri State Legislature

March 9, 2013
by Trevor Loudon

(New Zeal) - In the last decade, the Missouri/Kansas District of the Communist Party USA has made a concerted effort to infiltrate the Missouri Democratic Party and in particular, the Missouri state legislature.

Lew Moye
Many of Missouri’s pro-communist legislators were recruited through the communist controlled Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. This group was headed for many years by Lew Moye, a Democrat, with a long history with the Communist Party. Moye is also a former adviser to Missouri Congressman William “Lacy” Clay.

The communists have even campaigned vigorously for Missouri’s US Senator Claire McCaskill.

One of the earliest communist successes was the election of John L. Bowman to the Missouri legislature in the early 2000s.

Bowman’s career ended in 2010, with a conviction for credit card fraud, but he is still working with the communists to influence state politics.

Other notable Communist Party affiliates in Missouri State politics include:
Former State Senator Robin Wright-Jones
Former State Senator Rita Heard Days
Former State Senator Maida Coleman
Former State House member Maria Chappelle-Nadal
Former State House member Jeanette Mott Oxford
Former State House member Rev. James Morris

The current Communist Party affiliates in the Missouri House include Reps. Clem Smith and Karla May

Clem Smith, Rita Heard Days and Communist Party member Tony Pecinovsky

Key Missouri communists behind this infiltration include Tony Pecinovsky and campaign strategist Glenn Burleigh, a former ACORN activist who has campaigned for Claire McCaskill and personally managed the successful 2008 campaign for Robin Wright-Jones, and for State Rep. Michael Butler in 2012.

Glenn Burleigh

Burleigh is currently managing the campaign of St. Louis mayoral candidate Lewis Reed.

KeyWiki is the premier website dedicated to exposing the covert side of US politics at every level.

Our site has enjoyed more than 30,000,000 views, of its 60,000 plus pages.

KeyWiki tracks the incestuous networks of the left, so you know who your real enemies are.

Help us raise our targeted $250,000 this year, so we can employ researchers and editors to increase and improve KeyWiki content in time for 2014 and 2016.

Every dollar counts!

Please contribute today!


Friday, March 8, 2013

War on Capitalism: Mother Begs Gun Retailer to Stop Sending Catalogs to Mentally Ill Son

March 8, 2013

A incapable and unfit mother of an out of control mentally ill child refuses to commit him. Instead complains about his awareness of the outside world

Mother claims she asked retailer several times with no results. 

A Norwalk mother says one of the country’s top gun retailers, Cheaper Than Dirt!!, has been sending her underage son gun catalogs after he ordered them online, despite her repeated requests for them to stop.

She says her son is mentally unwell and, since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, she is concerned. To protect her family, NBC Connecticut has concealed her identity. For the story, we will call her Amy.

“I can't get a gun company to stop sending my 15-year-old son catalogs,” Amy said. “The things that happened in Newtown are happening in my home. I have a kid with issues, and he's fascinated with guns.”

Amy told NBC Connecticut she discovered the first Cheaper Than Dirt! catalog in her mailbox at home in late December, about 10 days after the shooting in Newtown.

“I saw there were guns all over the front and flipped it over and I saw it was addressed to my 15-year-old son,” she said.

Her son, who has been diagnosed with ADHD and has criteria to be bipolar and sociopathic, told her he had requested it.

“He's been suspended at school for looking at guns online in school time. This is obviously an unhealthy obsession,” Amy said.

Psychologist Dr. Laura Saunders, of Hartford Hospital, said exposure to images of weapons can have an adverse affect on vulnerable teenagers.

“Sometimes kids who are more at risk have what we call magical thinking,” Saunders said. “They don't truly understand the consequences of the things that they're doing.”

Amy said her son was eager to see the catalog when it arrived.

"He said 'Oh Mom, can I see it, can I see it?' And I said, ‘No.’ He's never seen any of them," she said.

Amy immediately called Cheaper Than Dirt! to cancel the free subscription.

“I gave them the customer number, my son's name and address and said, ‘Do not send him anymore catalogs,’” she said, recalling her conversation with a sales representative.

According to Amy, Cheaper Than Dirt! said they could not find her son's name or address and couldn't do anything about the catalog subscription.

A month later, a second catalog arrived, then a third. Amy said she called the company repeatedly but said nothing was done.

“We live so close to Newtown, how could you not think that something horrible might happen?” Amy said. “I don't want it to be my son. I want to stop the feeding frenzy of showing him things he can use to kill people"

Infuriated, she called the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters. We contacted Cheaper Than Dirt! and asked them to suspend her address. Within hours, the company responded, saying in part:

Following her February 22 request, “We removed all addresses she gave us from our mailing list internally and externally, calling our list management company and printer to ensure that all address[es] [redacted name] gave us and names were removed and would not receive any further mailings or communications from our company ...”

They also said they removed his name and address of his father's house, where he had requested a separate subscription.

We asked Cheaper Than Dirt! why they didn't stop the catalogs when Amy first requested it.

In an email to NBC Connecticut, Cheaper Than Dirt! chief operating officer Roberta Wilson said they had no record of her calls or emails prior to February 22. Amy said she called multiple times in December, January and February.

Cheaper Than Dirt! said the minimum age to order a catalog or any product is 21, but signing up for a subscription is easy. The free request page is not restricted. When we first contacted the website, the catalog order page did not indicate a subscriber must be 21. After NBC Connecticut pressed them on the issue, Cheaper Than Dirt! vowed to change that.

The minimum age requirement now appears on the order page, but no verification or proof is required. Many other popular free catalogs that sell guns do not require a minimum age.

Dr. Saunders said vulnerable teenagers are most at risk to hurt themselves than other people.

“The stigma of mental illness is serious. We don't want to vilify these individuals, children and teenagers and adults. They need our help, they need our support,” Saunders said.

To mitigate harm, parents should closely monitor what their kids are exposed to.

“When we talk about supervision, we're talking about monitoring your child's activities. Knowing what kinds of video games they're using, what kind of movies they're watching, whether at home or out in the theater,” Saunders advised. “Having a close way to see what your kids are doing and what they're getting exposed to. Social media is another area.”

Amy said she is doing everything she can to help her son get through this challenging time. She hopes other parents do not have to deal with unwanted influences on their children.

“It shouldn't have to be so difficult to get help for your kid and to get a gun catalog to stop sending catalogs,” Amy said.


Eric Holder: Some Banks Are So Large That It Is Difficult For Us To Prosecute Them

March 8, 2013
Tyler Durden
Zero Hedge

While it is widely assumed that the too-big-to-fail banks in the US (and elsewhere) are beyond the criminal justice system - based on simple empirical fact - when the Attorney General of the United States openly admits to the fact that he is "concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them," since, "it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy," one has to stare open-mouthed at the state of our union. It appears, just as the proletariat assumed, that too-big-to-fail banks are indeed too-big-to-jail.

GRASSLEY: On the issue of bank prosecution, I'm concerned that we have a mentality of too-big-to-jail in the financial sector of spreading from fraud cases to terrorist financing and money laundering cases -- and I cite HSBC. So I think we're on a slippery slope.

HOLDER: The concern that you have raised is one that I, frankly, share. And I'm not talking about HSBC now. That (inaudible) be appropriate.

But I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.

Again, I'm not talking about HSBC. This is just a -- a more general comment. I think it has an inhibiting influence -- impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate. And I think that is something that we -- you all need to -- need to consider. So the concern that you raised is actually one that I share.

NY Mag: John McCain Doesn’t Understand How Civil Liberties Work

March 8, 2013

Probably didn't wake up yesterday
thinking, "Today the Senate will have
a lengthy debate over the legality of
my state-sanctioned murder."
John McCain, understandably distraught to see most of his party suddenly embracing the libertarian view of drone warfare, took to the Senate floor to pour contempt on Rand Paul. What particularly raised McCain’s ire was Paul’s use of an extreme hypothetical case: the government murdering Jane Fonda during her visit to North Vietnam. Sneered McCain:

To allege that the United States of America, our government, would drop a drone hellfire missile on Jane Fonda — that brings the conversation from a serious discussion of policy to the realm of the ridiculous.

Of course it’s ridiculous. This is one way of understanding the point of civil liberties. They're designed to prevent the government from doing ridiculous things. If your view is that we’d never do terrible things like that because we’re the United States of America, then you don’t need civil liberties. But the whole construction of the Constitution is premised on the possibility that elected officials might abuse their power.

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial today, which McCain quoted in his speech, attempting to allay Paul’s fear but serving only to spread confusion:

Calm down, Senator. Mr. Holder is right, even if he doesn't explain the law very well. The U.S. government cannot randomly target American citizens on U.S. soil or anywhere else. What it can do under the laws of war is target an "enemy combatant" anywhere at anytime, including on U.S. soil. This includes a U.S. citizen who is also an enemy combatant. The President can designate such a combatant if he belongs to an entity—a government, say, or a terrorist network like al Qaeda—that has taken up arms against the United States as part of an internationally recognized armed conflict. That does not include Hanoi Jane.Right. The government can’t just go assassinating American citizens. There’s an intermediate step of designating them an enemy combatant. The concern is that a president might be tempted to misuse the power of declaring somebody an enemy combatant.

I’m willing to be persuaded that a process like this could be designed. But the Journal seems to assume that the declaration of enemy-combatant status is tantamount to the real thing.

In 1972, Jane Fonda traveled to North Vietnam for a propaganda mission, and even posed on an anti-aircraft battery. You could at least argue that she “belonged to an entity” that was at war with the United States.

Now, Richard Nixon never tried to assassinate Jane Fonda, in part because she was a powerful propaganda weapon for his policies. He did order the firebombing of the Brookings Institution, though his henchmen didn’t carry it out, probably in part because they knew it was illegal. Imagining a president who orders a bombing of the Brookings Institution is even more absurd than imagining a president who orders the murder of Jane Fonda. The absurdity of the case is precisely its value.


Allen West for Governor - It is Time

March 8, 2013

Since Governor Rick Scott's capitulation to Obamacare and move to expand Medicare, it is clear that conservative's need to replace him. There is no more appropriate choice than Colonol Allen West to lead our state in this perilous time.


Obama Brings bin Laden Son-in-Law to New York for Trial

March 8, 2013
by Joel B. Pollak 
Breitbart News

He is an unlawful enemy combatant, captured on foreign soil while engaged in hostilities against the United States. He belongs in the military justice system and detention facility established by Congress in accordance with the Constitution and the Supreme Court. Yet President Barack Obama has brought Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, to face a civilian trial on U.S. soil in federal court in New York City.
In so doing, President Obama has defied the express will of Congress, which already refused to transfer foreign terror suspects from the Guantánamo Bay prison to the U.S. at the beginning of Obama’s first term. The decision to bring Abu Ghaith to New York is just the latest in a series of executive actions taken by President Obama that contradict the explicit intent of the legislature. It is also an action in pursuit of a policy doomed to fail.

The extreme left has continued to resist the idea of separate military and civilian justice systems in the war on terror (a term the Obama administration long since abandoned). The Obama administration’s embrace of that view led it to propose that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 plot, be tried in New York City in 2009.

That plan was scrapped, but Obama remained so committed to that radical view that his administration chose to accelerate the targeted killing of terrorists abroad rather than detaining, interrogating, and trying them in the manner established during the George W. Bush administration. Now, emboldened by his re-election, President Obama seeks to use the Abu Ghaith trial to establish a new precedent for future administrations--without regard to the consequences, both for our national security and our system of justice.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder seem to believe that they will set a moral example for the world by showing that our civilian justice system is robust enough to try the most notorious terrorists. It will do precisely the opposite, because there is no possible way Abu Ghaith will receive a fair trial. He will never be presumed innocent and the Obama administration will never free him in the unlikely event that he is acquitted.

The last time the U.S. faced this debate, in the Khalid Sheik Mohammed case, Obama and Holder essentially guaranteed that Mohammed would be found guilty and would not be released. Such proclamations do not demonstrate the virtue of the justice system; they make a mockery of it. Only in the military justice system, where an unlawful enemy combatant can be held while hostilities continue, can the rule of law truly be upheld.

In addition, there are many problems with civilian trials for foreign terror detainees. They cannot be questioned without counsel present and they can use the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions. The prosecution must also provide them with access to all of the evidence against them, potentially revealing intelligence secrets and sources. The public nature of a civilian trial can also allow terror suspects to rally their supporters.

Abu Ghaith is due to appear in federal court in New York on Friday. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) protested on Thursday that the administration had brought him to the U.S. without notifying Congress. Though a report in the New York Times suggested that Abu Ghaith “has not had an operational role in Al Qaeda for years,” he remained part of the group and had encouraged attacks against the U.S.

Perhaps President Obama had hoped to regain some of the moral high ground he once enjoyed on civil liberties, and which he lost to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) this week after the latter staged a dramatic filibuster on the floor of the Senate to protest Holder’s refusal to offer a clear statement that using drones to target non-combatant U.S. citizens on U.S. soil would be unconstitutional. Regardless, his decision will come at a very high cost.

According to reports, Abu Ghaith had spent most of the last several years in Iran. He might have been able to provide information about Iranian links to Al Qaeda. Now, with prosecutors having read Abu Ghaith his Miranda rights, that information may remain secret. President Obama is creating a kangaroo court, compromising national security, and degrading Congress--all to re-open an argument he already lost four years ago. 

Egypt's police protest against Muslim Brotherhood

March 8, 2013

CAIRO (AP) -- Thousands of low-ranking policemen on strike across Egypt on Thursday refused orders to work and protested what they claim is the politicization of the force in favor of the president's Muslim Brotherhood party.

The strike, in its fourth day, is a rare show of defiance by policemen against their superiors. It threatens to unravel a security force already weakened by two years of unrest following the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

For decades, Egypt's police aggressively targeted the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups that were once outlawed. Policemen say they are now being forced to confront protesters angry with Mubarak's successor, President Mohammed Morsi, and his Brotherhood supporters. They also are angry that they can be tried in military courts and complain that current laws do not protect them when they carry out their duties.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement Thursday that it stands at equal distance from all parties, and that the ministry is being objective in its duties.

The ministry, which oversees police in Egypt, relies on low-ranking policemen to protect government buildings, particularly in the face of angry protests in Suez Canal cities and in areas north of Cairo in the Nile Delta region. Hundreds of policemen have been wounded in the past six weeks of unrest in those areas, and several have been killed in the anti-government protests.

In Cairo, dozens of policemen blocked the entrance to one of the city's main police stations and expressed anger at Morsi's policies. Others held a sit-in outside Morsi's house in his hometown of Zagazig, northeast of the capital.

South of the capital, in Assiut and Luxor, policemen protested what they say is new Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim's attempts to use the force to protect the Brotherhood.

Security officials in the Interior Ministry said that the former interior minister refused orders to direct police against anti-Morsi protesters outside the presidential palace in Cairo in December. They say that the Brotherhood was also enraged that police did not protect the group's offices that month from being torched by Egyptians angry with Morsi's handling of the drafting of the constitution.

The strike comes just two days before a court is expected to hand down verdicts to defendants standing trial for a deadly soccer riot that killed 74 people in the canal city of Port Said. Nine security officials are among the 73 people on trial. Earlier, 21 people in the case were handed death sentences, which can be appealed, sparking a wave of violent protests in the city that led to 40 deaths in late January and accusations that police used excessive violence to clamp down on rioters.

Anger is also boiling in the Nile Delta province of Dakahliya, where protesters and policemen accuse the new security director there of ordering heavy-handed tactics to suppress anti-Brotherhood protests. Sami al-Meehy was appointed the province's security chief in recent days, just as anger there was mounting against the Brotherhood and a civil disobedience campaign began. Police there are accused of intentionally running over and killing a protester last weekend.

A similar strike last month by thousands of low-ranking policemen led to work stoppages for five days. They were demanding better firepower, wages and working conditions. The ministry said it agreed to purchase 100,000 new 9mm pistols and improve health care facilities for policemen, ending February's strike.

The police force, once a frightening and powerful underpinning of Mubarak's rule, has been accused by rights activists of carrying out the same brutal tactics under Morsi.

Egypt's uprising, which began two years ago on a day meant to commemorate police, was largely rooted in widespread hatred of security forces under Mubarak. More than 100 policemen have been put on trial for the killings of protesters, and all but two were acquitted.

Allegations of torture at the hands of police persist, and more than 70 people have been killed in nationwide protests since late January. Rights groups allege that police are still operating with impunity.

The latest allegation took place late Wednesday in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla. Hundreds of residents took to the streets to protest the killing of Ibrahim el-Kady, his wife, their daughter and their daughter's fiancé. According to Mahalla activist Samuel Adly, police were chasing a suspect when they fired at the wrong car, killing the four.

Security officials say they are investigating the incident.

The family's son told the satellite channel Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr alleges that policemen were behind the killing. He said he saw men dressed in police uniform firing on his father's car, which was parked outside the family's house.

Lawlessness also has plagued parts of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, where two British tourists were freed just hours after their kidnapping on Thursday.

A military intelligence official said the couple was released unharmed after police promised the Bedouin kidnappers that they would release a detained relative who had been arrested and accused of smuggling weapons from Libya to Egypt. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Tourists have been targeted in the past by Bedouin in Sinai wanting to pressure police to free detained relatives. Tourists are typically not held long and released unharmed.

In another development, Egypt's electoral commission said it had suspended parliamentary elections and canceled the dates of the vote after a court ordered a stop to the elections. It said that the timetable set earlier for the parliamentary vote is no longer valid after Cairo Administrative Court issued a ruling on Tuesday. The ruling said the Islamist-dominated transitional parliament had improperly pushed through a law organizing the elections without allowing the Supreme Constitutional Court to review it.

The court annulled a decree by Morsi calling for the election. The cancellation of the vote was welcomed by Morsi's opposition which had decided to boycott the vote.

The Watermelon Hunter

March 8, 2013

Bloomberg-Backed Anti-Gun Lobbyist Enjoys ‘Assault Weapons,’ photo shows

BY: CJ Ciaramella
Washington Free Beacon

One of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s top gun-control lobbyists in Colorado appears to enjoy firing the very guns he is working to restrict.

Denver-based Headwaters Strategies lobbyist Adam Eichberg participated at a “watermelon shoot” in September 2012 at the farm of Colorado state Sen. Greg Brophy (R.) where he fired a semi-automatic rifle with a high-capacity magazine.

A picture obtained by the Washington Free Beacon shows Eichberg smiling broadly as he shoulders a DPMS .308 rifle with a 20-round magazine.

“I really hate watermelons,” Eichberg said via email when asked for comment.

Bloomberg’s group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, hired Headwater Strategies in January to lobby for several gun-control bills under consideration by the Colorado legislature. Those bills would ban the future sale, transfer, or manufacture of so-called high-capacity magazines in the state.

The Colorado-based company Magpul produces the high-capacity magazine Eichberg used, which would be banned under one proposed Colorado bill. Magpul has threatened to leave the state if the bill passes.

“It seemed like he had a darn fine time,” state senator Brophy said in an interview with the Free Beacon.

While Colorado Democrats have stopped short of proposing an outright assault weapons ban in the state, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has been a high-profile supporter of such bills.

Brophy said it was not just Eichberg who wanted to pop off a few rounds at immobile melon targets. Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also asked to be invited to the melon shoot, he said.

“To top it all off, a week after we did the watermelon shoot this last year, the governor was out in eastern Colorado doing a bike tour,” Brophy said. “And the governor comes to my house on Friday night and practically begs to come to my melon shoot next year. A few months later he’s in contact with Bloomberg’s group and planning gun-control measures in Colorado.”

Hickenlooper’s office did not return requests for comment.

Brophy said he is a friend of Eichberg, but could not let him or Hickenlooper slide.

“You wonder if they’ve had a change of heart, or if they’re being hypocritical like we see in so many politicians where they don’t want to live under the laws they’re pushing,” Brophy said.

Brophy said he has been holding the annual watermelon shoot for seven or eight years, usually on the third Friday in September.

“We do a bike ride, have dinner then go out to the farm the next day and blow up watermelons with various firearms,” he said. “It’s an absolute blast.”

“Shooting watermelons is one of the most fun things in the world,” Brophy continued. “It makes a great sound … KATHUNK.”

Kentucky House Democrats Pass New Redistricting Maps Over GOP Protests

March 8, 2013

Democratic leaders in the Kentucky House won passage Wednesday of a legislative redistricting plan that could strengthen their majority by forcing 11 Republicans to run against each other next year.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 53-46 along party lines for the measure, which now moves to the GOP-led Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

House Republicans made emotional pleas not to pass the legislation, saying it was born out of "purely partisan politics."

"Nobody did it to be punitive to anybody in this chamber; I can assure you of that," House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in his pitch for the measure, drawing guffaws from Republican lawmakers.

House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover called the legislation "another political play" by Democrats who want to protect their 55-45 majority in the House.

"I understand that," he said. "But is it fair?"

The Senate opted to wait until next year to deal with its own redistricting plan. And it remains to be seen whether the Senate will approve the House plan with five working days remaining in the legislative session. By moving ahead with the House's version this year, the Senate would remove a political bargaining chip next year.

Stumbo said he's willing to publicly pledge that House Democrats would pass the Senate plan as proposed next year if the Senate moves ahead with the House plan this year.

Always a divisive issue, redistricting occurs every 10 years to account for population changes found by the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky's overall population grew from 4 million to 4.3 million between 2000 and 2010. The change requires a major reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate.

The proposed House districts would pit Republican Reps. Steven Rudy of Paducah and Richard Heath of Mayfield against each other in far western Kentucky.

Republican Reps. Lynn Bechler of Marion and Ben Waide of Madisonville would be in the same district. And in south-central Kentucky, three GOP representatives _ Jim DeCesare of Rockfield, C.B. Embry Jr. of Morgantown and Michael Meredith of Brownsville _ would compete for a single seat if all choose to seek re-election.

In eastern Kentucky, Rep. Marie Rader of McKee would have to run against Rep. Toby Herald of Beattyville, a fellow Republican. And the one Democrat who would be affected, Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook, would take on Republican Rep. Jill York of Grayson.

And GOP Reps. Mike Harmon of Danville and Jonathan Shell of Lancaster would be in the same central Kentucky district.

The Kentucky Supreme Court struck down legislative redistricting last year, finding the proposed districts weren't balanced by population and didn't comply with the federal and state "one person, one vote" mandate of state and federal law.


House Bill Would Exempt Some Kansas-Made Guns From Federal Regulations

March 8, 2013

Some Kansas lawmakers want to stay a step ahead of any new federal gun laws or regulations by reintroducing a bill that would exempt some Kansas-built firearms and accessories from any federal regulation. 

House Bill 2199, known as the Second Amendment Protection Act, is seen by some as a declaration of states' rights. It is seen by others, including a Wichita firearms manufacturer, as politics as usual.

"Right now you're seeing a knee-jerk reaction on all sides," said Marlon Knapp, owner of Knapp Weaponry.

Knapp, who manufactures firearms parts, sells guns and offers concealed carry training, said that knee-jerk reaction is behind an increase in gun and ammunition sales.

"The ammunition and firearms shortage that we face is a direct result of the fear that the feds immediately instilled in all the gun owners and those who want to be gun owners," he said.

Knapp believes all the attention given to the debate surrounding a push by some federal lawmakers for tighter gun control legislation is behind the reintroduction of House Bill 2199.

The bill calls for personal firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition "manufactured commercially or privately in Kansas and that remains within the borders of Kansas" to be exempt from any federal law or regulation. The bill's provisions do not apply to "other than shotguns, a firearm that discharges two or more projectiles with one activation of the trigger," or to "ammunition with a projectile that explodes...after the projectile leaves the firearm."

Supporters of the bill say it is about much more than guns.

"While the front issue or the visible issue is about guns, the issue behind that is about Second Amendment protections and also 10th Amendment protections," said Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita. He said there will likely be more legislation this session clarifying the state's rights.

Knapp thinks the bill is more about political opportunity than states' rights.

"They've tried it in the past, so this is just their newest opportunity to try to push it through," he said.

Friends University Associate Professor of Political Science Russell Arben Fox also believes the bill's motivations are more political than anything else and that it will have no real legal impact.

"But it will create paperwork for someone," he said. "And that's the sort of thing that I think these folks want to show off."

Fox said the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with states in previous Second Amendment-related cases.

"For a state to claim for itself a defense of a Second Amendment that has already been interpreted to give the state the power to create its own schemes of enforcement is really kind of ridiculous," he said.

Knapp, the gun shop owner, views House Bill 2199 as a power play between state and national politicians.

"It's the two kids on the playground arguing over whose dad can beat up whose dad," he said.

The bill passed the Kansas House last year, but stalled in the Senate. Its reintroduction has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee.