Gay Bakeries Deny Service to Traditional Marriage Celebration

I agree with Gay activists that refuse to make a cake for a traditional marriage celebration that says Gay Marriage is Wrong. The question is why should Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Conservative Jews, and others be forced to make same sex marriage cakes? The question is why would the government pursue one not the other? Does it show why we should let people make their own decisions in this regard? Watch the video here.

Yemen Area Naval Situation De-escalates

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

The US/Iranian naval tensions, related to suspected strategic arms shipments to Houthi rebels in Yemen appears to be de-escalating as the US Navy aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and guided missile cruiser USS Normandy are being withdrawn and are now heading back to the Persian Gulf, according to Pentagon officials.

Yesterday, the nine-ship Iranian convoy, thought to be carrying arms to Yemen, contrary to UN sanctions, reversed course in the Arabian Sea.

The International Dimensions of Yemen Sector Naval and Evacuation Operations

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Beyond the current U.S. “Big Stick” naval diplomacy versus Iranian (pre-nuclear) asymmetric maritime power play situation in open waters off the coast of war-torn Yemen, international dimensions have evolved.

According to the International Business Times, three German and two Japanese Navy vessels are known to be along the southern periphery of the oceanic area between the port cities of Aden in the west and Al Mukalla further east. The IBT article cited its source as: http://www.ibtimes.com/us-allied-naval-forces-converge-yemen-iran-suspected-supplying-weapons-houthis-1890833 , a free global ship tracking site.

Their specific configurations and missions are virtually unknown at this point, but are surmised to be more directed toward general external maritime traffic monitoring rather than surveillance and arms interdiction in Yemeni waters.

http://www.ibtimes.com/us-allied-naval-forces-converge-yemen-iran-suspected-supplying-weapons-houthis-1890833

Egyptian and Saudi Naval vessels are monitoring Yemeni waters, with Saudi warships effectively closing Yemen’s commercial ports, preventing ship movements earlier this month.

Five French Navy ships as well as various Indian, Russian, and Chinese naval assets are also present in the region. Pakistan has also agreed to send navy ships.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/04/17/263508/pakistan-agrees-to-send-ships.html

An illustrative map and chart of most naval and air assets committed to the Yemen area is viewable at:

http://cigeography.blogspot.com/2015/04/operation-resolute-storm-saudi-led.html

Under the April 14 UN Security Council arms embargo, allied naval forces may monitor ships outside the recognized 12-mile territorial limit of Yemeni waters. However, they have no legal mandate to stop board and search vessels of any nationality, unless clearly justified in anti-piracy operations. Legal authority to interdict ships suspected of arms trafficking takes effect only upon their entry into Yemeni waters.

International cooperation in recent evacuation operations was well coordinated and executed. India evacuated nationals of 23 other countries besides its own nationals in Operation Rabat, concluded on April 8.

http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/23-countries-want-indias-help-in-yemen-evacuation-operations/

Russian and Chinese evacuations also afforded safe passage to foreign nationals.

http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20150405/1020494564.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/03/us-yemen-security-china-idUSKBN0MU09M20150403

[ Ironically, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt is nicknamed “the Big Stick” and its call sign is “Rough Rider”. ]

Iranian Convoy Bound for Yemen Reverses Course

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of annonymity in an apparently unauthorized statement, said that the nine-ship convoy of Iranian cargo ship suspected of carrying advanced weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen has apparently reversed its course, at least temporarily.

The official said it remains unclear where the convoy is currenly headed, but it reportedly was no longer moving toward of the key Yemani port of Aden as of Thursday, April 23.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, yesterday, would not indicate whether or not the US Navy would forcibly stop and board Iranian ships entering Yemeni waters.

It should be noted that this report is, as yet, unconfirmed, given the circumstances of its release.

See: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/us-official-iranian-cargo-ships-reverse-30534625

U.S. Probably Will Not Join KSA Blockade of Yemen

Further Pentagon Denials Issued

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

The United States will not join in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s naval blockade of Yemen according to a Pentagon Spokesman, quoted in an April 17 Washington Post article by Dan Lamothe.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/04/17/navy-has-seven-combat-ships-around-yemen-as-saudi-led-blockade-continues

The Midlantic Dispatch has compiled a list of eleven ships from various sources, comprising the currently deployed US Navy force as follows:

Nimitz class aircraft carrier USNS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-70); Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USNS Normandy (CG-60); Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers USNS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98), USNS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) and USNS Sterett (DD 104); Avenger class minesweepers USNS Sentry (MCM-3) and USNS Dextrous (MCM-13); amphibious assault ship USNS Iwo Jima (LHD-7, Wasp class), amphibious transport dock USNS New York (LPD-21, San Antonio class); dock landing ship USNS Fort McHenry (LSD-43, Whidbey Island class), and dry cargo ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10, Lewes and Clark class). Attached is a force of about 2400 US Marines.

Iranian ships are said to be patrolling in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a narrow body of water and critical oil transport chokepoint between Yemen and Djibouti connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to an April 19 Big News Network post:

http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php/sid/232097333.

A US official, quoted in an April 21 ABC News report stated the Iranian convoy remains in international waters 150 miles east of the Yemen-Oman border headed in a westward direction.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-navy-ships-board-iranian-ships-headed-yemen/story?id=30479887

According to the Washington Post in light of the US increase of naval force near Yemen, Air Force Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for US Central Command (CENTCOM), downplayed the development, saying the United States is not a part of the Saudi-led blockade and is simply patrolling waters in the region as usual.

The Washington Post and CNN have reported that according to a navy spokesman, Lt. Timothy Hawkins, at the Pentagon, no other ship has been boarded in the area since April 1, when a boarding party from the destroyer USS Sterett, searched the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship Saisaban in the Red Sea near western Yemen. It was suspected to be carrying weapons from Iran to Yemen, but nothing was found. The search was actually consentual, as the US does not have authority to forcibly board Panamanian ships.

The United States Navy has previously confirmed that it has routinely searches ships in the region for arms while conducting anti-piracy operations near the Horn of Africa.In 2013, Force Reconnaissance Marines with a maritime raid force (as part of anti-piracy operations around the Horn of Africa) boarded a ship in search of an insurgent leader off the coast of Yemen who was not found. The USN ship’s commanding officer indicated that the Navy often looked for area weapons smuggling activity on small vessels known as dhows.

On or about March 30, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia originally imposed a naval blockade of Yemeni ports aimed at preventing arms shipments to Houthi rebels. Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri stated on March 30 that coalition naval forces are blocking the movement of ships to prevent weapons and fighters from entering or leaving Yemen. He also said they had not yet intercepted anything at that time.

Currently, the Iranian ships are supposedly located in international waters outside of the Saudi-imposed blockade zone.

On April 14th, the UN Security Council approved a general arms embargo on aid to Houthi combatants. Iran is additionally precluded from exporting arms under UN sanctions related to its nuclear weapons development program under Resolution 17137 (of December 23, 2006 ) et.al., according to CNN.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/14/middleeast/yemen-crisis/

[See also: http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1737/ ]

UPDATE 4/24/2015: Additional US Navy ships involved in operations in the Yemen maritime sector are listed as Arleigh Burke class guide missle destoyer USNS Farargut (DDG-99), fast combat support ship USNS Artic (T-AOE-8, Supply class), Fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO-203, Henry J. Kaiser class). The IRINS light replenishment ship Bushehr (AORLH-422, Bandar Abbas class) was deployed with the Iranian Navy Frigate Alborz (FF2-72, Alvand class)

HB 50, Parental Right to Opt Out of Smarter Balanced Squeaks out of Committee

HB 50 received the 8 votes necessary to release it from committee over the objections of the chairman. 1 in favor, 7 on its merits, 1 opposed and 5 no votes.

The committee report is as follows: This bill allows a parent or guardian of a Delaware public school student to opt that student out of the annual assessment (Smarter Balanced Assessment System).

Committee Findings: The committee found that while the legislation brings about certain questions surrounding educational quality, it warranted debate by the full House of Representatives. The committee found the bill acceptable for release.

Parents, Conservatives, the Delaware PTA, and the DSEA joined to support the legislation. The broad coalition is reflected in the sponsors of the legislation. Previous discussion of the bill can be found in an earlier post.

Ukraine Still A Tinderbox

U.S. Troops In Eastern Ukraine Combat Zone Training Ukrainian Forces.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4e665f1a-e993-11e4-a687-00144feab7de.html#axzz3YA2sKr5G

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/23/us-ukraine-crisis-russia-usa-idUSKBN0NE1N920150423

Alexei Pushkov, head of the lower house of Parliament’s foreign affairs committee and close ally of Vladimir Putin, has been an outspoken critic of Western sanctions on Moscow for its role in Ukraine. He suggested Thursday the worst was over in a crisis between the European Union and Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine and called for better cooperation with Burssels, according to Reuters News sources.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, U.S. troops are now in eastern Ukraine training Ukrainian Defense forces, Reuters recently reported. “U.S. troops are in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine and are training Ukrainian forces,” Interfax news agency quoted a spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry as saying on Thursday.

Defense Ministry Spokesman, Igor Konashenkov stated, U.S. troops were training Ukrainian forces not only in western Ukraine, as TV Channels show, but directly in the combat zone in the area of Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Artyomovsk and Volnovakha.

Konashenkov’s statement from Moscow came hours after the U.S. said Russia was breaching a six-week-old ceasefire deal in eastern Ukraine. Washington said Russia was stepping up its military involvement, including complex training exercises and the deployment of air defense systems near the front line, according to the Financial Times.

According to the Financial Times, Since the outbreak of conflict in eastern Ukraine last year, more than 6,000 people have been killed, 15,000 wounded and a million displaced. While the latest ceasefire accord has brought a lull in fighting, there have been violations throughout.

Russian-backed separatists are reported to have used heavy artillery. Separatists and Moscow accuse Kiev of failing to live up to its promises by attaching conditions to a law offering limited self-government to breakaway eastern regions.

U.S. state department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said late on Wednesday that Russia’s troop presence on the Ukraine border was its biggest since October and that heavy weapons had been moved into eastern Ukraine in recent months. “Combined Russian separatist forces continue to violate the terms of Minsk 2 agreement signed in Mid-February,” she said. {Financial Times}

Pushkov played down the Ukrainian problem and annexation of the Crimea saying, “We need to go beyond Ukraine in our ties with the European Union. We cannot reduce everything to the Ukrainian crisis,” In remarks over the weekend Putin took a conciliatory tone, saying Washington and Moscow should work together on matters of mutual interest. Earlier, Putin had been fiercely critical Washington over the Ukraine, accusing the U.S. last week of putting pressure on allies not to attend the anniversary events in Moscow.

Pushkov has been hit by U.S. sanctions with a visa ban and assets freeze during the Crimea crisis, but not by the EU.

Russia has denied supporting separatists with military kit or operating in Ukraine and has warned that Washington’s program to train Ukraine’s national guard, which involves 300 troops could destabilize the situation.

Exiled Russian Duma Member Tells All

An Interview With Ilya Ponomarev

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

On March 20, 2014, contrary to the will of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ilya Ponomarev cast the sole vote of opposition when the Russian State Duma voted 445 to 1 to annex the Ukrainian region of Crimea. He stated that it was his duty to do this as a matter of principle.

Within a few months, he was summarily stripped of his legislative immunity from prosecution and exiled from Russia. Although still officially a Duma member, he is now is working to organize a more formal opposition to Putin from within the Russian Diaspora, outside of the country.

Currently residing in the US, Ponomarev in a VOX interview, reveals the forces behind renewed Russian expansion, the roots and limits of Putin’s power, possible future changes in store for Russia and answers the question of why President Putin is not afraid of President Obama.

Read the entire interview here:

href=”http://www.vox.com/2015/4/21/8458697/russia-putin-ilya-ponomarev” target=”_blank”

Dover City Election Results

MAYOR

CANDIDATE TOTAL VOTES

Carleton E. Carey, Sr. 622 OF VOTES (29.40%)

Robin R. Christiansen 1,390 OF VOTES (65.69%)

George J. Gaudioso 104 OF VOTES (4.91%)

FIRST DISTRICT CITY COUNCIL

James E. Hosfelt, Jr. 485 OF VOTES (59.88%)

Beverly C. Williams 325 OF VOTES (40.12%)

SECOND DISTRICT CITY COUNCIL

Brian E. Lewis (Unopposed)

THIRD DISTRICT CITY COUNCIL

Vacant Council Seat – Term to Expire in May 2017

Chevis R. Anderson 172 OF VOTES (29.86%)

Fred A. Neil 404 OF VOTES (70.14%)

Expiring Council Seat – Term to Expire in May 2019

David L. Bonar 241 OF VOTES (41.13%)

Scott W. Cole 345 OF VOTES (58.87%)

FOURTH DISTRICT CITY COUNCIL

Wallace R. Dixon 58 OF VOTES (19.66%)

Kenneth G. Roach 84 OF VOTES (28.47%)

Roy Sudler, Jr. 153 OF VOTES (51.86%)

US- Iranian Naval Situation Not Widely Disclosed.

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Apparently, US Naval forces have already boarded a vessel suspected of carrying arms to Yemen in the Red Sea. On April 1, according to the Wall Street Journal, a search of the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Saisaban by a boarding party of the guided missile destroyer USNS Sterett (DDG 104) on April 1 did not find evidence of an arms shipment. This is the first boarding operation conducted in the area to intercept strategic arms bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen according to US military officials.

Read the original WSJ story here: http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-wants-to-block-iran-from-arming-yemens-houthi-rebels-1428868461

The USNS Sterett is a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. Details are available at: www.public.navy.mil/surfor/ddg104

Details of the Panamanian freighter Saisaban are available at : http://www.uskowioniran.com/2015/04/uss-sterett-boards-cargo-ship-searching.html

The Navy is currently expanding operations around Yemeni waters in the Arabian Sea. There is no word as yet if Iranian vessels under Iranian naval escort will be boarded by elements of the US Navy.

Meanwhile, in another incident not widely disclosed, an unarmed Iranian observation Y-12 aircraft made two separate passes at and approached within 50 yards of an armed US Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter that was flying from the deck of the USNS Carl Vinson (CVN -70, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier) on a routine patrol in international airspace in the Persian Gulf.

This incident aroused aeronautical safety as well as command and control concerns. US Navy officials indicated that this aggressive, deviant, unsafe and rather unprofessional maneuver may have been ordered by a local Iranian commander, according to an April 1, 2015 CNN report. http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/31/politics/iran-aircraft-buzzes-navy-helicopter-persian-gulf/index.html

Details of the USS Carl Vinson are available at: www.navy.mil/local/cvn70

Another Reason to Oppose Fast Track

TPA Fast Track Authority could be Trojan Horse for Open Borders

Dick Morris exposes how Congress would be foolish to give up its authority to make amendments and give up its proper role of supervision of trade. Now buried in the Trans Pacific Partnership is climate change and open borders. It may be a stealth EU. Some Republicans have been quick and even shrill to denounce as amnesty anything that addresses the problem of the 11 million immigrants here without proper papers. Here is something worse than amnesty. It is open borders. They had better wake up on this one.

Republican leaders are blindly and inexplicably pushing Fast Track in spite of the fact the last 8 years have demonstrated that many responsible trade pacts can be passed without it. In fact, you have a broader and more responsible consensus when the President knows that Congress has there as an equal partner.

Reagan had fast track authority, Nixon had fast track (the first President to have it), Clinton had fast track so it should be a Presidential power goes the argument. First those Presidents at least focused on trade agreements for the sake of trade. Second, the fact is that the President should not even be negotiating trade agreements. Unlike treaties which are under the President with advise and consent of the Senate (advise means that they should have input before the treaty is submitted which the President seems determined to avoid as much as possible in the Iran deal.), the authority to regulate trade is a Congressional authority under Article 1. Why? Nothing affects the economy in the original Constitution (before the advent of the income tax and reinterpretation of the Commerce clause) like trade agreements. The Founders wanted the House to be involved because it represented the interest of the people directly. They did not want the economic interests of Americans to be another bargaining chip for the Executive and the Senate to use for their foreign policy interests. The trade representative is supposed to be a Congressional appointee. Congress gave away its primacy to the executive on this issue with the disastrous result of a wrecked manufacturing base.

Congress is now considering giving fast track to an imperial regime bent on locking in its legacy of fundamentally transforming America by any means possible. This President could use the slavish devotion of many Republicans to anything labeled free trade to achieve anything that he can negotiate. Open borders, labor law, and climate change seem to be his starting point. The best way to save free trade is to make sure Congress can keep it free. Otherwise, we will get a socialist pact supporting open borders and executive amnesty. Republicans will commit at least short term electoral suicide and maybe find long term irrelevance with the economic and demographic changes ushered in if the TPA becomes law without possible amendments.

Other problems with the TPA is that it leaves out countries like Singapore and the Republic of Korea while including low wage havens like communist Vietnam and Malaysia which is overwhelmingly Muslim (by itself that is not bad, but giving open borders authority to a place that may become infiltrated is not wise.) It will put even more pressure on American wage earners and be another challenge for national security.

Morris said, “This is huge. I hope everybody listening takes action call your senator about it. If he is a Republican he is voting wrong. “I dont think that people understand that in this deal which is a trade agreement among Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, and Chile, there’s a provision for free flow of workers, just like in the European Union. What It means is unrestricted immigration. It means literally that congress would not have the authority to restrict immigration because a treaty supersedes a statute under our constitution.”

Are U.S. Warships Heading To Yemeni Waters to Intercept Iranian Weapons Shipments?

Conflicting News Reports Emerge

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

We are getting conflicting reports of possible US Navy intercepts of Iranian weapons shipments in or near Yemeni waters. A Huffington Post article stated that US Navy officials have confirmed that the aircraft carrier USNS Theodore Roosevelt is headed toward the area to join other US Navy vessels (including the cruiser USNS Normandy) that are prepared to intercept Iranian arms shipments to Houthi insurgents in Yemen, while a Washington Times article stated that a US Navy spokesman at the Pentagon has officially denied this claim, classifying the event instead as conducting “maritime security operations”.

The US Navy has, in response to the recent coup in Yemen, increased its presence in the Arabian Sea. No details on Iranian naval movements in the area are currently available, however, an unspecified convoy of Iranian supply ships is reported to be heading towards Yemani ports.

The reports may be compared as follows:

href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/20/us-warship-iran-weapons_n_7102168.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592″>

href=”http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/20/navy-officials-us-warship-heads-to-yemeni-waters-t/”>

*** UPDATE: ***

The semi-official Fars News Agency has reported that Iranian warship Alborz [F-72] has left Iranian waters for deployment in response to stepped-up US weapons shipments to the Saudi-backed coalition. On Wednesday April 8, 2015 Iran dispatched a destroyer and another logistic vessel to waters near Yemen

The Alborz is an Alvand class frigate (built in Britian) commissioned in 1971.

USG Offers Redress for NO-Fly Listees

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

No longer will persons on the infamous DHS/TSA NO-Fly List be legally left “hanging in the air”.

The US Government, in response to legal challenges, has revised its redress procedures for persons placed on Department of Homeland Security’s NO-Fly List, according to an article in FAS Roundup.

The US Department of Justice announced in an April 13,2015 court filing that persons placed on the NO-Fly List will have new opportunities to challenge the denial of boarding on commercial aircraft.

Before the ruling, the government steadfastly refused to confirm or deny that persons were placed on the list for reasons of national security. Challengers argued that the procedures were constitutionally deficient or otherwise improper.

The entire article by Steven Aftergood can be read here:

http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/2015/04/no-fly-redress/

Delaware Legislators Consider Solutions to Sussex Tech Crisis

School Tax Increase Looms on the Horizon

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

In the face of the Sussex Technical High School District’s growing financial and enrollment complications, state legislators are sponsoring remedial measures.

House Bill 100, filed last Thursday, will grant the STHS District the power to impose a 5.5 cent tax increase beginning July 1st for the 2016 fiscal year. In FY 2017, the district will be allowed an additional one cent increase. This will inflate the overall rate to 30 cents per $100 of assessed value, costing the average Sussex County homeowner $8.86 in the first year and $10.47 in the following year.

The impending school tax increase is the result of various factors:

● A 19.3% increase in student enrollment from 1295 in FY 2011 to 1545 at present.

● Disparity of the rate of growth of the Sussex County property tax base with the STHSD’s aggressive expansion rate.

– According to a report issued in late 2013 by the Sussex Tech Tax Rate Review Committee, the annual growth of the county’s property valuations dropped from 7.7 percent in 2006 (the highest rate in more than 20 years) to an annual average of less than 1.6 percent from 2010 through 2013.

● The preceding factors led to a steep decline in the STHSD’s cash reserves from $ 5.17 M in FY 2011 to less than $ 1.25 M, expected by June 30, 2015 end of the current budgetary cycle.

● Sussex Tech’s expansion came after a 19 percent property tax increase that was phased-in over three years, from 19.71 cents per $100 of assessed property value in FY 2007 to 23.5 cents in FY 2010 — the highest allowed by current state law.

According to Speaker of the House, Pete Schwartzkopf (D – 14th District, Rehoboth Beach) the numbers speak for themselves. “The flagging economy, combined with the overly optimistic decisions made by Tech’s leadership, created a financial imbalance, requiring them to burn through about $1 million in reserve cash annually over the last four years. That is not sustainable and it needs to be fixed. Our bill will do that”, he said.

State House Minority Leader Danny Short (R- 39th District, Seaford) said that the school’s leadership was pursuing a goal of their own making. “There was no directive from the state. There was no plan approved by county residents. Sussex Tech officials set out on their own quest for their own reasons. They pressed ahead, even when the financial implications of their decisions made it clear they needed to take their foot off the gas,” he stated.

He also said the main focus of the Sussex delegation’s work on a bill was to ensure the continued, effective operation of the school and address several inequalities that have long drawn criticism from the county’s other public school districts.

The Sussex Tech HS District’s officially stated vision was for STHS to serve 20 percent of Sussex County’s high school-age students by 2020. That would have raised the student body total to 2120, based on population and demographic projections.

The response of Sussex Tech’s state-appointed District officials to the school’s intensifying fiscal complications was to press the General Assembly for authority to raise property taxes again by 114 percent over six years, ending with a new rate of 50.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The consensus legislation is intended to restructure the district’s finances and student enrollment and allow time to make further needed adjustments. It proposes reducing the student population in phases by 295 over the course of the next three academic years by cutting 100 students in 2015-16, 100 students in 2016-2017 and 95 students in 2017-2018. The property tax increases would then revert to the current 23.5 cents per $ 100 of assessed value on July 1, 2017 (in FY 2018).

A recent report commissioned by House Concurrent Resolution 2 indicated Sussex Tech’s growth would have required major construction of new facilities costing between $280 and $316 million. The report concluded that Sussex Tech’s expenses will exceed income by $2.53 million in the upcoming fiscal year and by more than $3.34 million the following year if no action is taken. This would have additionally burdened Sussex County property owners with further school tax increases (without a referendum) to finance the local share of the project, estimated to cost approximately $112 million to $126 million, according to a plan on file with the Delaware Department of Education.

Some of the bill’s proposed reforms would restructure how students are selected to attend Sussex Tech:

● A lottery would be held when applicants exceed the number of available slots for the new freshmen class. While the available openings would be filled in the order the applicants are drawn, existing state law is designed to ensure proportionate student body composition at Sussex Tech from all Sussex County school districts.

● Sussex Tech would be prohibited from excluding from consideration any freshman class applicant eligible for promotion to the 9th grade.

● Sussex Tech administrators would be prohibited from summarily returning a student to his or her original school district for disciplinary reasons without the consent of the student’s parents and officials in the home district.

● “Legacy” selections in which a sibling of any current or prior Sussex Tech student is given preference for admission would be restricted to cases wherein a sibling of an applicant is currently enrolled at the school.

A pre-existing labor contract has precluded the General assembly from considering modifications to Sussex Tech’s salary structure. In fact, STHS teachers are scheduled to receive a three percent raise next year. The state legislature could possibly take action after the contract expires at the end of next year.

While conceding the bill will not please everyone, Representatives Schwartzkopf and Short believe that it provides a reasonable path for returning the school to a firm financial footing.

“The combined steps we’ve proposed in our bill will make the school whole and temporarily stop it from incurring further deficits over the next two years,” Speaker Schwartzkopf said. “This will give Tech’s superintendent and school board the breathing room they need to make substantive changes so the school can avoid operating in the red when the temporary tax hikes vanish in two years.”

“This bill protects students’ futures while giving the superintendent and school board the time they need to consider carefully the difficult choices they will be weighing,” Representative Short said.

With reportedly more than 700 freshman applications pending for admission to next fall’s Sussex Tech class, the sponsors say they intend to work quickly to enact the proposal in order to resolve the school’s difficulties.

State Representative Earl Jaques, (D – 27th District, Glasgow) Chairman of the House Education Committee, said that a hearing on HB 100 is scheduled for Wednesday, April 29th.

—————————————————————————————————-

NOTE:

Citizens concerned with various aspects of Sussex Tech HS and the STHS District, including the fact that property tax increases are not subject to approval by referendum (as they are in local school districts) and that school board officials for state created countywide vocational/technical school districts are appointed rather than elected, etc. should contact their state legislators to change the law accordingly as the question of school district taxation without representation remains unresolved.

Furthermore, the entire situation raises fundamental questions regarding state centralization versus local control of education administration and policy-making.

Bodenweiser Sentenced

Eric Bodenweiser Sentenced According To A Plea Arrangement Between All Involved Parties

Superior Court Judge E. Scott bradley sentenced Eric Bodenweiser at 9:30am Friday morning, according to an arranged plea deal, on two counts “unlawful sexual contact.” The sentence included one year probation for each count, with one year probation suspended. If the defendant violates the probation, he will serve two years in prison.

Further conditions state Bodenweiser will have no contact with the victim in the case, and must submit to a mental health examination.

It is also stipulated in the sentence that Bodenweiser will register as a Tier 1 sex offender and will have no unsupervised contact with persons under the age of 18. What this means is, that another adult must be present. Bodenweiser may also have access to internet social media with the supervision of parole and probation staff.

This concludes a long process in which Bodenweiser was accused of multiple counts of unlawful sexual contact with a minor with varying degrees of severity. The trial ended in a hung jury and a change of venue was granted by Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley,for a re-trial in the Kent County Superior court. However, Just recently a “plea deal” was struck between all involved parties and a re-trial in the case was not necessary.

ISIS is not an Existential Threat to the U. S. Or Is It?

Update: I did an interview with Judicial Watch public relations officer, Jill Farrell, the report author is Christopher J. Farrell former Army Intelligence Officer specializing in Human intelligence. They are protecting the name of the source for reasons of the security of the names of the sources. Back in August another Homeland Security alert by Judicial watch was ignored for 8 weeks then basically adopted by Homeland Security. See that one here. The military had already increased security to deal with a possible threat.

Judicial Watch’s Report of ISIS camps in Mexico just 8 miles from one of the major bases used for Afghanistan deployment is unsettling (see quote below).

Analysis

How did we get here? Instead of taking the fight to their headquarters, they are scoping out us. Our borders are less than secured. The administration looks at the border problem as a political one not a national security problem. The administration does not comprehend that radical Jihad and the rising Islamic Caliphate is a movement that could define the struggle for freedom in the 21st Century, let alone have a strategy to win. They see it as fighting whatever organization emerges not as a movement in 20 plus countries. ISIS was junior varsity. Instead of heeding Iraqi pleas to deal with it when it was 600 guys with guns, we allowed it to metastasize into a cancer spreading across the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Some will be disturbed that now it is on our border, but the truth is it is within our country. Cyber attacks and cells in all 50 states testify to its reach, but the administration still claims it is not a threat to us. Our allies in Iraq have come here begging for support and so have Jordan and Egypt. It took personal pressure for the President to finally release last month arms approved for Egypt because he was protesting the overthrowing of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. As with Israel, the administration seems to hinder our friends and embrace our enemies.

The Gulf states who are fighting this radicalism must also fight against an embolden Iran. The administration refuses to even discuss Iran’s support for terrorists as a condition for some sanctions being lifted. While Prime Minister Netanyahu is the most outspoken ally, he is by no means alone. This may be the one thing the Arabs and the Israelis agree upon. The new pan Arab army is seen by the administration as a good thing because it frees the U. S. of responsibility so we can keep disarming and give more welfare. They ignore that when one existed, it lead to several wars and was a force for instability. The United States has been one of the few forces of stability in the Middle East. Without us, the forces of radicalism use it as a staging ground for global terror.

The fact that I believe we are too quick to jump into other people’s situation does not mean that we should not intervene when our interests are threatened. The Global Caliphate is an existential threat to freedom and the global order. We need to focus on defeating this threat. We cannot have a repeat of the 911 Commission refrain that “They were at war with us, but we were not at war with them”. That is a sure way to lose the struggle of our lifetime and waste the blood shed by our brave troops.

ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, according to Judicial Watch sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector.

The exact location where the terrorist group has established its base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources confirm.

During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.

Law enforcement and intelligence sources report the area around Anapra is dominated by the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Cartel (“Juárez Cartel”), La Línea (the enforcement arm of the cartel) and the Barrio Azteca (a gang originally formed in the jails of El Paso). Cartel control of the Anapra area make it an extremely dangerous and hostile operating environment for Mexican Army and Federal Police operations.

According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.

Mexican intelligence sources report that ISIS intends to exploit the railways and airport facilities in the vicinity of Santa Teresa, NM (a US port-of-entry). The sources also say that ISIS has “spotters” located in the East Potrillo Mountains of New Mexico (largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management) to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. ISIS is conducting reconnaissance of regional universities; the White Sands Missile Range; government facilities in Alamogordo, NM; Ft. Bliss; and the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM.

La Mar Gunn Has His Day before the Supreme Court

The video is here. The last race of the 2014 election is not over. The Delaware High Court heard La Mar Gunn’s appeal of the declared tie in the 2014 election Wednesday.

The toughest issue is the bar for malconduct being shown by the Board of Canvass. It seems everyone admits mistakes have been made, but the attitude of Democrats is tough luck to the people who voted for the winner of the Recorder of Deeds Race in Kent County last November. Will technical arguments carry the day? We will update you on the ruling when we receive one.

Dog Panel Hearing Raises Legal Issues

ANALYSIS by: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Major legal issues regarding the policies, operating procedures, standards, training and powers of Delaware Animal Control officers were raised at the 4/13/2015 Dog Panel Hearing held in Sussex County Council chambers in Georgetown, DE.

The attorney for Milton-area residents John and Nancy Smith, Michael Abram, vigorously cross examined a contingent of Delaware Animal Control officers during their testimony in the case of “Millie”, a brown and white mixed Jack Russell Terrier, recently quarantined by Delaware Animal Care and Control (DEACC), an instrumentality of the First State Animal Center and SPCA, a private nongovernmental organization located in Camden and incorporated in Delaware.

Contrary to their appearance, Delaware Animal Control officers are not state government employees, per se, but act instead as contract agents of the Delaware Department of Health (primarily) and /or Department of Agriculture (under specific circumstances). According to 11 Del. C. CH 84 sec. 8401 (5) (a) et. seq., they are not legally classified as sworn police officers and are not certified by the Council on Police Training (COPT). Instead, they are certified as animal control officers according to 16 Del. C. CH 1 sec. 139, under which the applying organization – not the state — conducts an “acceptable” training program [not defined in the statute].

This calls into question their assumed power of obtaining and executing search and seizure warrants and arrest. Essentially, there are questions of delegation of sovereign state powers to private agencies raising constitutional concerns of checks and balances and equal protection that remain unresolved. Currently, the Executive Director of the FCAC/SPCA (a private individual) makes final determinations on whether to impound animals and prosecute cases. Additionally, this raises further questions of potential legal liability on the part of Delaware counties and municipalities that contract DEACC/ FCAC/SPCA services to the extent that principal/agency relationships are legally established.

[ DEACC Captain Sherry Warburton Presents Exhibit at Dog Panel Hearing ]

Attorney Abram directly challenged DEACC Captain Sherry Warburton’s apparent assumption of the role of “advocate” for dog bite victims [beyond investigator] as evidenced by her recent quote published in the April edition of the Cape Gazette. : “I want to make sure I represent the victims,” she said. “They’ve gone through hell and back with this.” She further stated that “Dangerous dog law represents victims.” At one point during an hour-long recess in which the Dog Panel formulated its decision, Capt. Warburton spoke softly to Jacqueline Moody, owner of “MAX”, a Yorkshire Terrier that attacked “Millie” in a 2012 incident. She was overheard as saying, “Don’t worry… the panel will reach a decision soon. Hang in there”.

Attorney Michael Abram Cross Examines AC Officer Pepper.

[ Attorney Michael Abram Cross Examines DEACC Officer Pepper ]

During cross examination, Animal Control Officer Pepper, a uniformed agent since September of 2014, admitted that DEACC training is rather scant, consisting of a few days of classroom training and 3-6 months or so of “on the job training”. When asked to cite the specific statutory authority of the Delaware Code that enabled her to impound animals considered dangerous and act in official capacity, she answered vaguely, “Title 9”.

Apparently, Delaware ACOs receive no comprehensive legal instruction, but it was revealed that on-duty ACOs carry a “cheat sheet”, summarizing animal control statutes. Delaware animal-related statutes are scattered loosely in Titles 3, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 16 of the Delaware Code. [ Delaware laws, as structured, are often section and context-dependent and/or grouped in unrelated subjects. ] Additionally, Capt. Warburton alluded to applicable Delaware Department of Health requirements and regulations.

Attorney Abrams also challenged classifying “Millie” as a “dangerous dog” as the level and extent of human and canine injuries were not supported by expert medical and veterinary testimony. He further disputed the sole quarantine of the Smiths’ dog under 3 Del. C. , Ch 82, Subchapter I, sec. 8208, as her rabies vaccination was current and certified at the time of the 3/16/15 incident, while that of Michelle Keck’s Yorkshire Terrier, “Spike”, was not.

There is, as yet, no official word on whether pending misdemeanor charges of “hindering prosecution” and “harboring a dangerous animal” , filed by Delaware Animal Care and Control against John and Nancy Smith, respectively, will be dropped or prosecuted.

While the State of Delaware has sovereign immunity as a corporate and political entity, agents of the State (or other forms of government) who exceed their lawful or constitutional authority, are not individually protected by and through this doctrine and may be held legally liable for damages, according to a US Supreme Court decision: Hafer v. Melo,

Links to Delaware animal control and related laws and other sources of information on animal control issues are available at :https://hopefordelawaredogs.wordpress.com

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NOTE: Individuals with a desire to come forward to share their accounts of interaction with animal control agents may post comments. Citizens generally concerned with animal control reform should contact their state legislators and the Governor’s Office. Known or suspected civil rights violations in Delaware should be reported to the Delaware Office of the Attorney General, Civil rights Division. Persons affected should seek legal counsel.

Delaware PTA Disheartened by Smarter Balanced Assessment Announcement by 4 Colleges and Markell Administration

In a statement made today by Governor Markell, Delaware PTA learned that the four colleges; Wilmington University, University of Delaware, Delaware Technical and Community College and Delaware State University have all agreed that the outcomes of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessments is a good indicator of college readiness. In addition, these institutions have all agreed to accept the assessment in lieu of other placement exams.

At a time when there is so much turbulence in our public education system, we are disheartened to learn that the conversations that proceeded this major conclusion did not include input from any of our major stakeholders. The Delaware Department of Education and the Governor’s office have publicly committed to greater transparency and collaboration with the broader community, yet Delaware PTA, the Delaware State Education Association, state legislators and other community stakeholders were not only excluded from these conversations, but we only learned of this decision a few hours prior to the public announcement.

We believe the lack of a collaborative process has resulted in misguided decisions regarding the efficacy of the Smarter Balanced Assessments, further misleading parents and students.

While Delaware PTA supports the use of assessments with a growth model that will effectively and adequately measure student growth and college and career readiness, we stand by our previous statements, citing the following concerns with the Smarter Balanced Assessments:

1. In its current form, the SBAC does not provide a true growth model

2. In its current form, the SBAC is overly subjective and not an accurate assessment of student knowledge, skills and abilities

3. Our educators have not had sufficient time to teach and our students have not had sufficient time to learn.

4. In its current form, the SBAC does not provide parents or teachers with the individual diagnostic data necessary to work together to support student success.

Although we believe that this most recent development is a knee jerk reaction to HB 50 on the Parent Opt Out, Delaware PTA remains fully committed to engaging in collaborative and transparent discussions on developing a state assessment that provides meaningful data for parents, students and teachers.

Decisions made in a vacuum often lead to outcomes that are misaligned and unsuccessful. Delaware parents, students and teachers deserve better.

Dr. Terri L Hodges, State President Yvonne Johnson, VP of Advocacy

The Governor’s statement can be viewed here.

Note: The author is a regional Vice President of the Delaware PTA.

Sussex County GOP Fundraising Allegations, Much Ado About Nothing!

Committee Election Losers Raise False Allegations Over Fundraising Dinner

The Sussex County GOP war drags on, as local blogger Frank Knotts continues to pummel Chairman Vince Calabro’s administration with unfounded and unproved allegations of corruption and illegal fundraising. Knotts has written several posts on blogsite “Delaware Right, condemning the current GOP administration, and attacking with what seems to be a difference of opinion rather than presenting any proof of wrongdoing on the part of the current GOP administration.

Many State and local GOP organizations, as well as the local Delaware state and county organizations are split evenly in political ideology causing a rift in GOP unity. The current Sussex County GOP administration has taken a more conservative outlook, while the fragment that Knotts represents is decidedly “left of center.”

Knotts in a recent blog-post wrote, “This happens because the world is run by those who show up. And if more of the political terrorists show, then they run the committee,” Knotts wrote, insinuating that the current GOP Calabro administration are “political terrorists.”

While attending the Sussex GOP committee meeting Monday night, I found who the real political terrorists appear to be. All of the Hoopla within the Sussex County GOP, appears to stem from the fact that the “left of center” faction of the Sussex GOP warring factions lost in their bid to gain control of the executive committee by a wide margin. The only problem with that became apparent when a member of the losing team, a local blogger, Frank Knotts used his power of the pen express his OPINION as fact when presenting his side of the story on his blogsite.

Apparently, a fundraising dinner was scheduled to raise funds for the Sussex GOP, using the name “Western Sussex Republican Club,” and the dinner took place, raising money in the form of checks in the amount of $1297.00 made out to Western Sussex Republican Club. The fundraiser also took in cash donations which are not in dispute. Unknown to Sussex GOP Chairman Vincent Calabro, PAC had been formed a few days earlier by their opposing adversaries, a group supported by Frank Knotts, who immediately started writing posts accusing his opponents, the Conservative Christian faction of the GOP of malfeasance, in their fundraising activities. ( A note at this point) According to the Dept of Elections, NO ELECTION LAW WAS BROKEN BY MR. CALABRO OR THE PEOPLE DOING THE FUNDRAISING!

At Monday’s GOP meeting, Sussex County GOP Vice Chairman Fred Silva led the meeting while Mr. Calabro was on vacation and stated publicly at the meeting that there was no intent to deceive or steal. (the money) He went on to explain that an honest mistake was made.

Don Petitmermet, took the floor to further explain that although he was not involved in the “origins” of the dinner that they had kept the checks and not deposited them until this misunderstanding is cleared up. “We have kept your checks hostage until now because of bureaucracy,” said Petitmermet, “I was asked to straighten this out.” He went on to state they hadn’t cashed any of the checks and that if anyone still wanted to give to the fundraiser they could rewrite a check with the correct destination on it. Petitmermet apologized for “screwing up” the checkbook.

Judy Currie, a member of the the executive committee said, “I think this is much ado about nothing and I don’t have time for this henhouse crap.”

Laurene Purdy of the executive committee stated in an interview, “It’s time for people to grow up and move on. Nobody was trying to hurt anybody, swindle anybody or funnel any money somewhere else. It was just an honest mistake. The dinner was so much fun and I’ve never had so much fun and Vincent made all of the food himself and it was sooo good.?

I agree with these two ladies and Mr. Silva. An honest mistake was made and NO ELECTION LAWS WERE BROKEN, and their opponents the “left of center” GOP crowd attempted to force Mr. Calabro to resign so they could “rule the roost.” Although politics is a dirty business, with much happening behind the scenes, the behavior by local blogger Frank Knotts is “way out of line.” He should start checking his facts before stating unequivocally that someone broke the law. Yes, Mr. Knotts, we are a nation of laws and they apply to you also!

I’ve known and spoken with Mr. Calabro many times in the course of regular business and political meetings and have found him to be quite an amicable and honest person in all of his dealings.

“Millie” is Spared Execution

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

After a highly pitched two-hour hearing of the Delaware Dog Panel and an additional hour of decision, The life of “Millie”, a brown and white mixed Jack Russell Terrier, owned by Milton area residents, John and Nancy Smith was conditionally spared at meeting in Sussex County Council Chambers, last night.

While she potentially faced the canine “death penalty”, for having recently bitten a neighbor’s dog and its owner, animal control officers did not ultimately recommend euthanasia and the panel instead classified her as “potentially dangerous” dog, subject to yard confinement and strict leash control when off-premises, under 9 Del.C. sec.926 b (c).

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Both the dog, “Spike” ( a Yorkshire Terrier ) and owner, Michelle Keck have recovered from injuries sustained in a 3/16/2015 incident in the Woodgate development.

“Millie” should be reunited with her owners later today if no further complications emerge.

Submitted

Submitted

During the hearing, legal issues emerged that will be covered in a subsequent article.

Stolen Valor Act Introduced in the Delaware House of Representatives

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Delaware 41st District State Representative, Rich Collins (R-Millsboro) has proposed HB 80, the Stolen Valor Act. The bill, as written, would expand the legal definition of “criminal impersonation” to include those who falsely claim to be current or past members of the US military for the fraudulent purpose of “obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefit.” The proposed statute would treat this as a Class A misdemeanor and impose a minimum fine of $1,000 on persons convicted.

Representative Collins stated that his legislation differs considerably from a previously failed federal statute that was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 2012 in a six to three decision that held that the law infringed on an individual’s right to protected speech in reference to false claims of having been awarded military medals, awards or honors.

“I don’t think it’s clearly understood yet that my bill does not run afoul of the constitutional issues that doomed the federal law. As it moves through the legislative process, and lawmakers become more familiar with it, I’m confident that it will pick up steam and gather more sponsors.”, he elaborated.

Currently the bill has some bipartisan support, with a total of 13 legislators signing on as sponsors or co-sponsors. HB 80, modeled after legislation recently introduced in the New Jersey State Senate, is currently pending in the House Judiciary Committee. Further action is expected when the General Assembly reconvenes on April 21.

Read the entire text of HB 80 at:

http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/lis148.nsf/vwlegislation/60914C262DCAD16C85257E0B0063CA10?open

Delaware’s Shrinking Middle Class

by: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer

Believe it or NOT, according to a recent Pew Charitable Trusts report, the percentage of upper-income households increased in every state from 2000 through 2013. While this may sound good on the surface, the dataset, when adjusted for inflation, does not bode well for Delaware’s middle class.

The study notes that the minimum income threshold of the upper-income bracket dropped in Delaware by 11.4 percent over the period to $115,693 in 2013, resulting in a net decrease in purchasing power when calculated relative to median income. The overall national trend is that median income has not kept pace with inflation in 44 out of 50 states. That means that 88 percent US households can buy less goods and services at present and invest less for the future. [ This indication, in turn, raises questions of possible economic drag effects over time. ]

The higher-income bracket is defined as having more than twice the median (midpoint) level of annual household income, middle-class is defined as those with incomes between two-thirds and twice the median household income and low-income households are classified as those with incomes below two-thirds of the median for the purposes of the study.

The number of middle class households dropped by 4.3 percent over the period. Accordingly, less than half of Delaware households (47.9 percent) were in the middle class in 2013.

The number of lower income households in Delaware accounted for almost one-third (33.2 percent) of the total.

The interactive map of the report: State by State: Higher Income Class on the Rise can be accessed here: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/4/09/state-by-state-higher-income-class-on-the-rise

[ Writer’s Comment: Perhaps, the next logical step is to correlate inflation and its effects on American households with the National Debt. ]

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