All posts by Wolf von Baumgart

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 Read more

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 Read more

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/ Read more

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 Read more

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 Read more

“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). 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 Read more

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 Read more

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 Read more

Delaware’s “Well-Being” Index Drops

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer. Delaware's "Well-Being" Index has dropped for 2014, according to the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The study, conducted via telephone survey, asked about 2.1 million people nationwide on their perceptions of purpose as well as social, financial, community and physical factors. Healthways company officials claim that levels of "well-being" correlate with health care utilization and cost and productivity measures that, in turn, affect economic competitiveness. Delaware's well-being score now ranks 38th among the 50 states. This translates to a drop of 10 places from the previous 2013 study. In comparison, the surrounding states in the Mid-Atlantic Region ranked as follows: Pennsylvania (35th), New Jersey (34th), and Maryland (29th). The First State's rankings in the survey's ranged from 11th in the social to 47th in the community Read more

Delaware Animal Control Reform Petition Available On-line

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer A Petition to Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Attorney General Matt Denn et.al. to "Immediately investigate violations by and clarify authority of the contracted dog control agency, known as Kent County SPCA, First State Animal Center & SPCA, Camden SPCA and Delaware Animal Care & Control" is available on-line at: https://www.change.org/p/governor-jack-markell-attorney-general-matt-denn-delaware-governor-jack-markell-delaware-attorney-general-matt-denn-delaware-office-of-animal-welfare-delaware-s-148th-general-assembly-immediately-investigate-violations-by-and-clarify-authority-of-t . NOTE: This information was contributed by D. Meier in a comment regarding a previous article: “Talk Show Host Legally Challenges SPCA”. Read more

Saga of “Millie” Continues

by: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The Dog Panel hearing in the Jake and Nancy Smith case, involving their pet, "Millie" is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, April 13 in the Sussex County Council Chambers, located on 2 The Circle in Georgetown, DE according to a 4/7/15 article in the Cape Gazette. "Millie", a white and brown Jack Russell Terrier mix, alleged to be a dangerous animal by a few of Smith's neighbors, is reportedly being held incommunicado at the First State Animal Shelter, located on 32 Shelter Circle, Camden, DE 19934. We are unable to confirm this due to a judicial gag order, issued in this case. The panel is charged with determining the dog's ultimate fate, up to and including possible euthanasia. Read more

Latest START ICBM Numbers

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer A recent report in the FAS Roundup states that the Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) level has actually dipped below that of the US. Russia currently has 1,582 warheads on 515 strategic launchers deployed and the United States has 1,597 warheads on 785 launchers, according to US State Department data. Both sides are very gradually reducing their ICBM force levels to meet limits set by the Strategic Arms Limitation (START) treaty by February 2018. The entire report, New START Treaty Count: Russia Dips Below U.S. Again, written by Hans M. Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, is available at: http://fas.org/blogs/security/2015/04/newstart2015/ . Read more

** UPDATE ** Smith v. SPCA

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer A judicial gag order has been issued on all parties concerned in the case of litigation of John "Jake" and Nancy Smith (plaintiffs) against Delaware Animal Care and Control, filed in Delaware Superior Court over possible illegal impoundment of their dog, "Millie" under guise of authority. Attorney John Brady, representing the Smiths contends that the 1981 state statute that excluded Sheriffs and Sheriff's Deputies from certification as police offices by the Delaware Council on Police Training also did not include animal control officers as police officers. The litigation essentially argues that only sworn and certified police officers can legally execute arrest and search and seizure warrants under the present Delaware Code, Title 11, Chapter 19. Both Kent and Sussex Counties have contracted animal control services with the First State Animal Read more

Talk Show Host Legally Challenges SPCA

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer In a legal effort to assert citizens constitutional rights against unlawful search and seizure, well-known Delmarva radio personality and Milton area resident, Jake Smith has filed a legal challenge against Delaware Animal Care and Control. The action centers around the organization’s recent impoundment of his Jack Russell Terrier mixed dog, “Millie” after incidents with neighbor’s dogs. On 7/5/2012 in the first incident, Millie was attacked by one neighbor’s Yorkshire Terrier. A separate incident occurred involving another neighbor’s Yorkshire Terrier on 3/16/2015 in which he paid her resulting veterinary and medical bills, according to Smith, who was interviewed by Dan Gaffney on WXDE 105.9 FM, yesterday morning Subsequently, animal control officers continually visited Smith’s neighbor (involved in the first incident) on numerous Read more

Delaware to Distribute KI Tablets

by: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and Delaware Division of Public Health will distribute free Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets to Delaware residents living within a precautionary ten-mile radius of the Salem/Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Stations. Distribution will take place on Thursday, April 9, 2015, between 12 noon and 7:00PM EDT at the Townsend Fire Station, located on 107 Main Street in Townsend, DE. Businesses located within the zone are also eligible to receive tablets. KI tablets are intended to specifically protect thyroid glands from damage associated with exposure to radioactive isotopes of Iodine formed during nuclear reactor malfunctions and related incidents by creating a positive (outward) flow of nonradioactive Iodine ions from the thyroids. Further information can be obtained at:http://news.delaware.gov/2015/04/01/delaware-to-distribute-potassium-iodide-ki-tablets-3/ or Read more