The State Department held a classified briefing for members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on April 26 regarding the administration’s handling of the reported attempt in February by a high level Chinese official to defect to the United States. As reported here previously, Wang Lijun, the famous “crime fighter” and chief of police for Chonqing City (where he was also vice mayor) made a dramatic, secret visit to the United States Consulate General in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, provoking a major armed standoff between police and military forces representing Chonqing, who had been sent to capture him, and forces from Sichuan, who were ordered to take Wang into custody and stop the Chonqing police from arresting him.
As nationwide opposition against the controversial United Nations Agenda 21 “sustainability” plan continues to build, a popular bill in Arizona that analysts say looks set to pass would prohibit all state agencies and political subdivisions from implementing or supporting any portion of the UN’s so-called “sustainable development” scheme. The legislation was approved by the state Senate last month and has already cleared initial hurdles in Arizona’s House of Representatives.
Millions of employers and health insurance policyholders will collectively receive $1.3 billion in rebates this year, as part of President Obama’s healthcare reform law, a research group reported Thursday. As the constitutionality of ObamaCare remains under contention, the White House and Democrats in Congress are touting the rebate scheme as an indication that the law is giving back to American consumers.
While police in Mobile, Alabama, have arrested a suspect in the beating of a white man by a group of black men, and the Mayor has asked federal authorities to investigate the attack as a hate crime, the inspiration for attack is still unclear.
The judge presiding in the case against Army Private Bradley Manning has ruled that all 22 charges against him will stand, including the charge of "aiding the enemy." However, he also warned the military attorneys prosecuting the case that they must prove that Manning knew he was helping the enemy or that particular charge could be thrown out.
As turmoil in the Middle East endures, and as gas prices linger just below the $4-a-gallon mark, one U.S. oil company is offering a rather ambitious guarantee: "There is no Mideast oil in our products." The United Refining Company, based out of Warren, Pennsylvania, pledges that 100 percent of the gas it sells is refined from North American crude — meaning, the oil comes only from the U.S. and Canada.
"We think Americans feel good about it," says John Catsimatidis, CEO and chairman of the United Refining Company. "People drive by, and every time they get annoyed at... (Hugo) Chavez, every time they get annoyed at BP Petroleum, every time they get annoyed at the Middle East, you know what they say? ‘Why don't I buy American oil and buy American-made gasoline?’ "
The gasoline is sold at more than 300 stations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York under the Keystone, Country Fair, and Kwik Fill brand names. The company, which brands its products as "American Made Gasoline Driving America!," pumps out approximately 70,000 barrels of oil per day through its facilities in Warren, Pennsylvania, one of the destinations that a 35-year-old Canadian pipeline runs through.
United Refining Company has enjoyed groundbreaking profits since it launched its "Made in America" marketing campaign, which heavily advertises its no-Mideast-oil guarantee. Television commercials tout the benefit, Kwik Fill stations have "Driving America" signs strung across their stores, and the slogan is even branded on some of the gas pumps. The Kwik Fill website highlights the company’s "buy American" approach:
Following 10-plus years of legal conflict thanks to a nuisance lawsuit filed in 2001 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a federal judge has finally ruled that a cross placed in the Mojave Desert in 1934 to honor World War I veterans may remain there permanently.
In the settlement approved April 23, the National Park Service will turn over the hilltop area known as Sunrise Rock, upon which the simple cross sat before being removed by the park service, in return for the private donation of five acres elsewhere in the 1.6 million acre preserve in Southern California. The care of the cross site will fall to a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Barstow, California, along with the Veterans Home of California-Barstow, reported the Associated Press.
“Once the swap is complete, the park service will fence the site, leaving entrances for visitors, and post signs noting that it is private land,” reported AP. Said Mojave National Preserve spokeswoman Linda Slater of the lengthy legal wrangling: “We want to wrap this, we want to get it done. No cross can go up until the exchange is complete.”
The land is being donated by Henry and Wanda Sandoz, who lived in the area before moving to Yucca Valley. Henry had promised World War I veteran Riley Bembry, who first erected the cross in 1934, that he would continue caring for the site after Bembry died, and Wanda said that over the years her husband cared for or replaced several crosses that had been stolen or defaced. “We love the cross,” she told AP. “It’s in a beautiful spot…. My husband is not a veteran, but he feels like this is something he can do for our country.”
NATO will be holding its 25th summit in President Obama’s hometown of Chicago, United States, on 20-21 May 2012,” the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has announced.
According to NATO’s website, the Chicago conference is expected to “deliver on decisions that were taken at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, driving forward key Alliance policies and reaffirming the transatlantic link.”
Among the many significant achievements announced by the heads of state and government in the 2010 Lisbon Declaration referenced above is their claim that “we have ... invited Russia to deepen its cooperation with us on the areas where we have common interests.”
A dramatic move toward closer ties between NATO and Russia has played out over the past several years while, on the surface, at least, relations between Brussels and Moscow have appeared to deteriorate. President-elect Vladimir Putin, who has been noted for bashing the United States and NATO, stepped up the harsh rhetoric during his recent presidential campaign, no doubt gaging much of his forensic attack to appeal to Russian nationalism. How much of this was theatrics for domestic and international consumption is open to debate. However, in his role as prime minister, Putin approved of NATO's use of Russian territory for air supply convoys for the Afghanistan War.
With little more than a month to go until Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker faces his recall vote, unions and their supporters are pulling out all the stops to replace him with one of their own.
Writing for the pro-union newsletter The Progressive, its political editor Ruth Conniff decried every major piece of “Act 10” — the highly contested Budget Repair Bill that Walker finally got passed by the Wisconsin legislature last March — saying that “If you want a preview of the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan plan for America, take a look at Wisconsin:
- Huge tax breaks for corporations….
- Deep cuts to health care, education, unemployment insurance….
- Rolling back … protections and … regulations….
- Waging war on labor unions, taking away public employee’s collective bargaining rights….
So where does this blueprint leave us?
Wisconsin is now dead last in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for job loss.
Between January 2011 and January 2012, while 44 states and the nation as a whole were adding jobs, Wisconsin was one of only six states to lose jobs — and Wisconsin's job loss was the worst among that handful of losers.
Padilla (left) is a citizen of the United States and a convicted terrorist. On Monday, he filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that the nation's highest court review the decision of an appeals court to dismiss his suit alleging torture at the hands of U.S. government officials.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia upheld a lower court's dismissal of the complaint. In his suit, Padilla claimed that, as an American citizen captured within the United States, he was unconstitutionally designated as an "enemy combatant," and alleged a range of other constitutional violations arising from his detention at a military prison in South Carolina.
Additionally, Padilla said that he was denied access to legal counsel in contravention of his civil rights as guaranteed by the First, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Padilla also asserted that he was denied access to the courts in violation of his constitutional rights as set out in Article III, the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and that the government of the United States refused to permit his writ of habeas corpus in violation of the the Habeas Corpus Suspension Clause of Article I.