Two “Stop the Violence” organizers allegedly beat one of their colleagues so severely that he vomited blood and was left unconscious in critical condition.
Nikole Ardeno and Emanuel Velez, both 30, accused their former roommate of stealing their property, and allegedly punched and kicked him in the street until he had seizures. Arrested moments later, Ardeno was still wearing the same “Stop the Violence” T-shirt she had on the night before when she coordinated a march protesting two recent shootings, Washington Police Chief Chris Luppino said.
The victim, Joshua Magraff, also is a community organizer with the anti-violence group, and shared an apartment with the suspects until recently.
Online court records don’t list lawyers for the defendants, who face a preliminary hearing Nov. 10 on charges of aggravated assault, conspiracy, simple assault and disorderly conduct.
Local “Stop the Violence” leader Suzanne Kelley said she hopes to hear from Ardeno, and insisted that “we don’t promote violence at all.”
“I can’t believe this is going on. I don’t want the community to get a negative effect from this because they back us,” Kelley said.
Police believe Ardeno and Velez attacked Magraff on Tuesday because he had gone to the apartment they had shared to collect his belongings. Ardeno and Velez had come to a police station about 20 minutes earlier, accusing Magraff of burglary, but police said he appeared to be taking only items that belonged to him as he moved out, Luppino said.
Magraff was still unconscious and in critical condition Wednesday at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh, Luppino said. A hospital spokeswoman declined to provide an update Thursday, citing a policy against releasing information about crime victims.
Police in Middletown, Delaware, issued an arrest warrant for the husband of state Sen. Bethany Hall-Long on Wednesday after he was caught on video allegedly stealing campaign signs put up by Republicans.
The suspect, identified as Dana Armon Long, has been charged with a Class A misdemeanor for theft under $1,500. He faces up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,300.
On Wednesday, Republican campaign volunteers reportedly set up a camera at the location in Middletown where dozens of their political signs kept disappearing. Some of the signs apparently read, “Fix the Economy! Vote Republican.”
“We got you, brother! We got the license plate, your face, and everything,” one of the volunteers says in the video.
Watch the footage below:
Hall-Long confirmed that the man caught on video stealing the signs is her husband. She released the following statement on Wednesdsay:
“My husband is the man depicted in the video. The video shows him removing a handful of signs this morning. He turned them over to the Democratic Party and asked that they be returned to the Republican Party about six hours after they were taken up,” she said. “Sadly, this race has become tough and personal. My husband is my high school sweetheart and he loves me very much. I was not aware that he had allowed his frustration over the campaign attacks to get the better of him. Of course I’m disappointed and wish that it had not happened.”
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is escorted from the Senate Chamber by Sens. Catherine Clutier, left, and Bethany Hall-Long, right, after delivering his state of the state speech Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/The News Journal, Gary Emeigh)
Republicans in the state also seized on the incident to criticize Democrats.
John Fluharty, executive director of the Deleware GOP, said in a statement: “When you only have a track record of high taxes, unemployment and lower wages for private sector employees to stand on, the Democrats must resort to breaking the law to win elections because they are scared of being held accountable for their dismal performance.”
Long refused to make any comments on the case against him “at the advice of counsel,” according to Delware Online.
Enough is enough, and it’s “time for government to stop going after religious colleges and ministries and start respecting religious liberty,” according to a spokesman for a legal team that on Tuesday won yet another case against the Obama administration over its Obamacare contraception mandate.
The comment came from Eric Baxter, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has been a key part of the battle against the Obamacare requirement that employers pay for birth control, including abortion-causing drugs.
This time a federal judge in Florida has ruled that the government’s latest revisions to the mandate still “don’t do enough to protect people of faith.”
The ruling came from Judge James Moody Jr. in a suit by Ave Maria University, which charged the Obamacare requirement violates the faith on which it operates.
The university was facing millions of dollars in fines, but won an injunction “protecting its right to stay true to its beliefs,” Becket said.
It was the first order preventing the government from enforcing its demands against religious organizations since it tried to solve the dispute in August with an”augmented rule.”
The judge explained the university wanted a preliminary injunction until the case is resolved.
“Defendants do not dispute that Ave Maria is a nonprofit Catholic university purposed with ‘educat[ing] students in the principles and truths of the Catholic faith.’ … One such element of the Catholic faith that Ave Maria holds and professes concerns the sanctity of life. Ave Maria ‘believes that each human being bears the image and likeness of God, and therefore any abortion – including through post-conception contraception – ends a human life and is a grave sin. Ave Maria also believes that sterilization and the use of contraception are morally wrong.’”
As it provides health coverage for workers, the problem arose with the adoption in 2010 of Obamacare, which demands “minimum essential coverage,” which it defines as including contraceptives.
The judge noted the 2013 “rule” allowing insurance companies to directly provide the benefits is not a satisfactory solution to objectors such as Ave Maria.
The Becket Fund has reported some 90 percent of all courts making related decisions have protected religious ministries from the heavy hand of a government.
“After dozens of court rulings, the government still doesn’t seem to get that it can’t force faith institutions to violate their beliefs,” Baxter said. “Fortunately, the courts continue to see through the government’s attempts to disguise the mandate’s religious coercion.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been active beside Becket in the dozens of cases against Obamacare, said there’s a close watch on the dispute.
Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said: “Faith-based educational institutions should be free to live and operate according to the faith they teach and espouse. The court was right to uphold the religious freedom of institutions that value the sanctity of life. If the government can force Ave Maria School of Law to violate its faith in order to exist, then the government can do the same or worse to others.”
The Supreme Court has stepped in several times to suspend enforcement of the mandate provisions against a number of organizations.
WND reported on the summer’s 5-4 decision that a “closely held” for-profit business can opt out of Obamacare’s universal contraception requirement based on religious objections.
The case brought by Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based arts and crafts chain with about 13,000 employees, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania cabinet maker, challenged the Affordable Health Care Act requirement that employees provide free contraception coverage, including abortion-inducing drugs.
Hobby Lobby’s argument was based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which protects the individual beliefs of citizens.
The majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito dismissed the Department of Health and Human Services argument that the companies cannot sue because they are for-profit corporations and that the owners cannot sue because the regulations apply only to the companies. Alito said that “would leave merchants with a difficult choice: give up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits of operating as corporations.”
The opinion said the RFRA’s text “shows that Congress designed the statute to provide very broad protection for religious liberty and did not intend to put merchants to such a choice.”
Alito said “the purpose of extending rights to corporations is to protect the rights of people associated with the corporation, including shareholders, officers, and employees.”
“Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of humans who own and control them.”
The question presented in the case was whether any law, such as a nationwide health-care management system imposed by the government, can be so important that Washington can order people to violate their religious faith, in contradiction to the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The religious objections to the contraception mandate raised by the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, and the Hahn family, owners of Conestoga Wood, have been raised in nearly 90 other cases.
Obamacare’s demands align with Obama’s longstanding support for abortion under any circumstances. He even argued, while a state senator in Illinois, against requiring doctors to provide live-saving help to babies who survive abortions.
A number of other cases challenge Obamacare on additional allegations of unconstitutionality.
In one, attorneys for Matt Sissel – a small-business owner who wants to pay medical expenses on his own and has financial, philosophical and constitutional objections to being ordered to purchase a health plan he does not need or want – charge the Obamacare bill was unconstitutionally launched in the U.S. Senate and is therefore invalid.
They noted that the Constitution requires all tax bills in Congress to begin in the House of Representatives. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., they said, manipulated the legislation by taking the bill number for an innocuous veterans housing program that had been approved by the House, pasting it on the front of thousands of Obamacare pages and voting on it.
That means, they argued, that the entire law was adopted unconstitutionally and should be canceled, including its $800 billion in taxes.
The argument essentially makes the Constitution a silver bullet to kill Obamacare.
The case, brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation, is based on the Constitution’s Origination Clause.
The State Department has quietly made plans to bring Ebola-infected doctors and medical aides to the U.S. for treatment, according to an internal department document that argued the only way to get other countries to send medical teams to West Africa is to promise that the U.S. will be the world’s medical backstop.
Some countries “are implicitly or explicitly waiting for medevac assurances” before they will agree to send their own medical teams to join U.S. and U.N. aid workers on the ground, the State Department argues in the undated four-page memo, which was reviewed by The Washington Times.
“The United States needs to show leadership and act as we are asking others to act by admitting certain non-citizens into the country for medical treatment for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) during the Ebola crisis,” says the four-page memo, which lists as its author Robert Sorenson, deputy director of the office of international health and biodefense.
More than 10,000 people have become infected with Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and the U.S. has taken a lead role in arguing that the outbreak must be stopped in West Africa. President Obama has committed thousands of U.S. troops and has deployed American medical personnel, but other countries have been slow to follow.
In the memo, officials say their preference is for patients go to Europe, but there are some cases in which the U.S. is “the logical treatment destination for non-citizens.”
The document has been shared with Congress, where lawmakers already are nervous about the administration’s handling of the Ebola outbreak. The memo even details the expected price per patient, with transportation costs at $200,000 and treatment at $300,000.
A State Department official signaled Tuesday evening that the discussions had been shelved.
“There is no policy of the U.S. government to allow entry of non-U.S. citizen Ebola-infected to the United States. There is no consideration in the State Department of changing that policy,” the official said.
Another official said the department is considering using American aircraft equipped to handle Ebola cases to transport noncitizens to other countries.
“We have discussed allowing other countries to use our medevac capabilities to evacuate their own citizens to their home countries or third-countries, subject to reimbursement and availability,” the second department official said.
The internal State Department memo is described as “sensitive but unclassified.” A tracking sheet attached to it says it was cleared by offices of the deputy secretary, the deputy secretary for management, the office of Central African affairs and the medical services office.
A call to the number listed for Mr. Sorenson wasn’t returned Tuesday.
Mr. Obama has been clear about his desire to recruit medical and aid workers to fight Ebola in Africa.
“We know that the best way to protect Americans ultimately is going to stop this outbreak at the source,” the president said at the White House on Tuesday, praising U.S. aid workers who are already involved in the effort. “No other nation is doing as much to make sure that we contain and ultimately eliminate this outbreak than America.”
About half of the more than 10,000 cases in West Africa have been fatal.
Four cases have been diagnosed in the U.S., and three of those were health care workers treating infected patients. Two of those, both nurses at a Dallas hospital, have been cured.
Several American aid workers who contracted the disease overseas were flown to the U.S. for treatment.
The United Nations and World Health Organization are also heavily involved in deploying to the affected region, but other countries have been slower to provide resources to fight Ebola in West Africa or to agree to treat workers who contract the disease.
The State Department memo says only Germany has agreed to take non-German citizens who contract Ebola.
European nations are closer to West Africa, making transport easier, the State Department memo said.
Officials said the U.S. is the right place to treat some cases, notably those in which non-Americans are contracted to work in West Africa for U.S.-based charities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“So far all of the Ebola medevacs brought back to U.S. hospitals have been U.S. citizens. But there are many non-citizens working for U.S. government agencies and organizations in the Ebola-affected countries of West Africa,” the memo says. “Many of them are citizens of countries lacking adequate medical care, and if they contracted Ebola in the course of their work they would need to be evacuated to medical facilities in the United States or Europe.”
The memo says the State Department has a contract with Phoenix Aviation, which maintains an airplane capable of transporting an Ebola patient. The U.S. can transport noncitizens and have other countries or organizations pay the cost.
The U.S. has helped transport three health care workers to Germany and one to France.
In the U.S., the department memo lists three hospitals – the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta – that are willing to take Ebola patients.
According to the memo, Homeland Security Department officials would be required to waive legal restrictions to speed the transport of patients into the U.S.
“A pre-established framework would be essential to guarantee that only authorized individuals would be considered for travel authorization and that all necessary vetting would occur,” the memo says.
A Homeland Security spokeswoman didn’t return emails seeking comment.
Judicial Watch, a conservative-leaning public interest watchdog, revealed the existence of a State Department plan this month. When The Times described the document to Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch’s president, he said it is evidence of why the administration balked at adopting a travel ban on those from affected countries.
“Under this theory, there could be people moving here now, transporting people here now, and it could be done with no warning,” Mr. Fitton said. “If our borders mean anything, it is the ability to make sure that dire threats to the public health are kept out.”
After those initial reports surfaced, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, sent a letter asking for answers. On Tuesday, he said the document The Times obtained “raises more concerns and questions than answers.”
“President Obama should be forthcoming with the American people about the scope of his plan to bring non-U.S. citizens infected with Ebola to the United States for treatment,” Mr. Goodlatte said in a statement.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker received a surprise after her order to subpoena the sermons of pastors.
Bibles have been sent to her office from all over the country, according to Houston’s KHOU.
On Monday, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office told Houston’s KPRC “that somewhere between 500 and 1,000 Bibles” had been delivered.
As The Daily Signal previously reported, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee used his show on Fox News to call for Americans to send Parker Bibles.
“I would like to ask every pastor in America, send her your sermons,” said Huckabee. “Everybody watching the show ought to send her a Bible.”
Huckabee was joined in his call to send Parker Bibles by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Glenn Beck.
Parker admitted that she had received Bibles, telling KHOU that Huckabee was “doing what he can to pump ratings for Fox News.”
Parker told KPRC that she thought the protest was “a very productive way for folks who disagreed with our legal strategy to express that disagreement” and that she is “happy to share the Bibles with those who may want them.”
The city previously issued an ordinance that the sermons of pastors on “the topics of equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity,” be subpoenaed.
According to KPRC, “Parker has since instructed the city’s legal team to narrow the scope of the subpoenas and had earlier said she did not know about the sermon subpoenas before they were issued.”