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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘federal’

Hearing on Motion to Dismiss Set in Hebrew National Class-Action Suit

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

A hearing on a motion to dismiss a consumer fraud case against the company that produces Hebrew National products has been scheduled for Nov. 30 in a federal court.

The hearing will be held at the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

ConAgra Foods Inc., which owns the Hebrew National brand, on July 26 filed the motion to dismiss a class-action suit that alleges that Hebrew National’s iconic hot dogs and other meats do not comport with the brand’s claim to be kosher “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law.” The ConAgra motion states that the case should be dismissed because, among other reasons, kosher is “exclusively a matter of Jewish religious doctrine.” It also states that under the First Amendment, “federal courts may not adjudicate disputes that turn on religious teachings, doctrine and practice.”

The suit, which was filed May 18 in a Minnesota state court, accuses ConAgra of consumer fraud. ConAgra has rejected the claims.

Triangle-K, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based supervising agency that certifies Hebrew National products as kosher, and AER, which provides the kosher slaughtering services at Hebrew National facilities in the Midwest, including in Minnesota, also rejected the allegations. Neither is named in the suit.

The suit is seeking monetary damages equal to the total amount of monies that consumers in the class paid for Hebrew National meat products.

Zimmerman Reed, an Arizona-based law firm with offices in Minnesota, solicited consumers through its website. The firm advertised a free case review for anyone who purchased Hebrew National hot dogs in the past two years or had information about the preparation of the products.

UC-Berkeley Jewish Students File Civil Rights Complaint

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Attorneys for two Jewish UC-Berkeley graduate students alleging verbal and physical assault by Muslim students have filed a federal civil rights complaint against the university.

The federal complaint alleged that “Jewish students have been subjected to a pervasive hostile environment and that the university has failed to take effective measure to cure the situation,” according to the Oakland Tribune.

The students dropped a lawsuit that alleged the same charges.

“We filed because once the plaintiffs in the lawsuit graduated, we lost the ability to affect changes to correct the hostile environment,” Neal Sher, one of the attorneys, told the newspaper.

He and lawyer Joel Siegal filed the complaint Monday with the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Department of Education against UC Berkeley on behalf of graduates Jessica Felber and Brian Maissy.

A university official disputed the harassment and abuse claims.

“The campus takes great pride in its vibrant Hillel chapter, the broad range of other Jewish student groups, our world-class Jewish studies program, and the recently created Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law at the Berkeley law school,” UC Berkeley Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard said in a statement to the newspaper.

The Emperor Obama?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

There certainly is wide enough room for thoughtful and well-meaning people to disagree about the appropriate approach to the presence in the United States of millions of people who have come here illegally. But those same thoughtful Americans should be very concerned with President Obama’s unilateral amendment of federal law in this regard. It is yet another indication that the president believes no federal asset is unavailable to him in his reelection bid and that he has a presumptive monopoly on knowing what is right for America.

Despite federal laws providing for the deportation of illegal immigrants, the president last week issued an executive order that generally will allow illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16 and are younger than 30 to remain here without fear of deportation. Yet Congress has repeatedly refused to amend the law to adopt such a policy. And last year Mr. Obama himself rejected the importuning of immigration activists in this regard, saying the matter was beyond his authority:

With respect to the notion that I could suspend deportations though executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed and…the executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws and then the judiciary has to interpret the law. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.

Not a few commentators have pointed out that while the president has the authority under certain circumstances to refuse to enforce what he believes to be an unconstitutional law and to prioritize prosecutions because of limited resources, nobody is arguing that the immigration laws are unconstitutional, nor can he unilaterally carve out an exemption from the coverage of a law for an arbitrarily configured category of people.

Particularly disturbing are the blatantly political motivations of the president and his obvious attitude that everything goes. Even The New York Times, usually supportive of Mr. Obama to a fault, noted the politics of the executive order: “In many ways, President Obama’s unilateral shift in immigration policy was a bluntly political move, a play for a key voting bloc in the states that will decide whether he gets another term.”

Most chilling, though, is the president’s rationale that his actions “were the right thing for the American people,” as if that is a one-dimensional proposition to be determined by him alone. Indeed, here is what a White House official said:

We work to achieve our policy goals in the most effective and appropriate way possible. Often times, Congress has blocked efforts and we look to pursue other appropriate means of achieving our policy goals. Sometimes this makes for less-than-ideal policy situations – such as the action we took on immigration – but the president isn’t going to be stonewalled by politics, he will pursue whatever means available to do business on behalf of the American people.

This all bears careful consideration as we approach the November election.

Extreme-Right Politicians Expelled for Neo-Nazi T-shirts

Friday, June 15th, 2012

EJP reports that eight extreme-right politicians on Wednesday were expelled from the Saxony, Germany, state parliament for wearing neo-Nazi T-shirts.

The lawmakers, from the controversial National Democratic Party (NDP), were forcibly removed by police after refusing to leave on their own.

The speaker of the assembly in Saxony, in formerly communist eastern Germany where NDP support is predominantly based, banned the seven men and one woman from the house after being alerted regarding their Thor Steinar brand shirts, which had been outlawed in 2007 for its “Viking” and “Nordic” style slogans which have become closely linked with the neo-Nazi movement in Germany.

Authentic Nazi clothing and memorabilia are illegal in Germany.

Last month, violence broke out at an NDP rally in Hamburg, when 4,000 counter protesters tried to block a 700-strong neo-Nazi contingent from demonstrating. Six neo-Nazis and 20 protestors were arrested, and 38 of the force of 4,000 police officers on hand at the rally were reportedly injured.

Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, appealed to the country’s federal courts to outlaw the BDP, which claims 7,000 members, but is thought to have a far wider unofficial following.

The party, described as “the most significant neo-Nazi party to emerge after 1945” in Germany is currently represented in two of Germany’s 16 state parliaments. The federal government previously tried to have the extremist party banned in 2001, but following the revelation that many high profile members were in fact undercover agents and informants for the German secret services, and the government’s subsequent unwillingness to reveal their identities and activities, the case was dismissed.

British clothing brand Lonsdale has also been widely claimed by neo-Nazi supporters, as the middle four letters of the its branded products spell “NSDA,” part of the German acronym for the Nazi party. The company has strongly disclaimed any links with neo-Nazi movements.

Congress Must Pursue Leakgate

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

On its face, it might seem that Attorney General Eric Holder’s appointment of two veteran federal prosecutors to mount a criminal investigation into the recent spate of national security leaks is a step in the right direction. Indeed, those appointments seem to have quieted congressional calls for the appointment of a special independent investigative counsel and holding congressional hearings into what will doubtless come to be known as Leakgate. Yet there are some issues that come to mind.

For one thing, while we have no reason to doubt the integrity or qualifications of the two attorneys, they will be working within the confines of and answerable to higher-ups in the Justice Department, which, after all, serves as the administration’s legal adjunct. And they will have to work with the ordinary powers prosecutors have at their disposal.

It will be recalled that it was the extraordinary powers granted to the special prosecutors in the Watergate episode – Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski – that engendered much litigation and conflict but also enabled them to develop and follow leads in order to make headway in the case.

But more significant is that while the leaks certainly require attention in terms of criminal law, they surely have an overriding political aspect, raising as they do the possibility of possible Obama administration involvement – something especially significant now, in the run up to the November presidential election.

Holding public officials politically responsible – or exonerating them – for leaking to journalists in advance of an election is primary. Yet the secretiveness attendant to a criminal investigation, which will feature the empanelling of grand juries, issuance of subpoenas and interviews of potential witnesses, will also tend to dry up the public flow of information.

Those with inside knowledge will doubtless be counseled by their attorneys to keep their silence outside of the criminal investigation. And this would be true of a criminal investigation by either regular or special prosecutors. So the chances are the public will hear nothing more about the leaks until after the election, when the Justice Department investigation is concluded.

A further lesson from Watergate also presents itself. A robust and very public set of Senate hearings chaired and co-chaired by Senators Sam Ervin and Howard Baker were conducted at the same time as the criminal investigation – which resulted in a number of convictions of senior Nixon administration figures – and which certainly did not hamper it in any way. More to the point, the process of gaining those convictions was not compromised by the public hearings.

Voters have a right to know how the leaks of such important secrets came about, particularly as they prepare to cast their ballots in November. Properly designed Watergate-type congressional hearings would seem eminently appropriate to the task at hand.

Rubin Reports: Hey, Kids! All Government Employees are Apparently Teachers, Police, or Firefighters

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
http://rubinreports.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/hey-kids-all-government-employees-are.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+Rubinreports+(RubinReports)
[Warning: sarcasm and irony are employed as devices in the following article.]
It is really wonderful how every day I learn something new. Now I’ve learned that all government employees can be divided into three professions: teachers, police, and firefighters. As to who busts people for drinking from excessively large cups in New York City or has the wrong sandwich in their school lunches of North Carolina; who protects the snail darters and makes sure that America doesn’t solve its problems of energy pricing and supply by new methods and pumping oil in the Gulf of Mexico; who enforces the 8000 or so pages of federal regulations; and who goes over all those forms people fill out and passes around all that paper and inhabits the EPA, departments of education, housing and human services, etc., etc., etc? Your guess is as good as mine.
There are thus two essential points to remember:
1. Government bureaucrats–be they on the federal, state, or local level–don’t exist.
2. If  they do exist they can never be laid off. Every single one of them is essential. Only teachers, firefighters, and police can be laid off if there isn’t enough government income. Get rid of the teachers and keep the bureaucrats who enforce increasingly more complex, restrictive, and intrusive regulations!
Oh, and remember that it’s better to run out of money and fire teachers than to ask them to contribute a percentage point or two of their salaries to their own pensions so that nobody need be fired (see: Wisconsin).
What nonsense and rubbish forms the basis for the way the currently dominant elite argues–and its tame mass media report–public issues nowadays!
And consider how the income of those Wisconsin state employees has dramatically risen now that they don’t have to pay union dues but can pocket the money themselves rather than donate it involuntarily to partisan political campaigns that are ultimately against their own interests.

Jewish Senator Wannabe in FBI Probe over Campaign Donations

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel is returning $105,000 in campaign contributions, because those contributions may have been given in a fraudulent manner. The FBI is investigating possible campaign finance violations.

The Cleveland Jewish News reports that the donations in question came from 21 employees of the Suarez Corporation Industries in North Canton and from their spouses.

On the company website, Benjamin and Nancy Suarez tout their own philanthropic efforts on behalf of women, particularly breast cancer research and women’s shelters, which “give hope to thousands in need and inspire their associates to do the same.”

But their employees’ contributions to Mandel’s campaign raised suspicions, because they were made by individuals who never before had made campaign donations, and whose income didn’t appear high enough to enable them to be this generous.

FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson confirmed on Wednesday to the Cleveland Jewish News that the Bureau had interviewed the SCI employees in question and have already requested documents from the company and the campaign.

The FBI is also probing the campaign of U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R., Wadsworth), who received similar-sized contributions from SCI personnel.

Mandel Campaign spokesman Travis Considine on Thursday said the money was returned on Tuesday to the 21 individuals. Mandel, who was sworn into office as state treasurer in January, 2011, is running against Democratic incumbent Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer got hold of a letter from Mandel’s campaign treasurer Kathryn Kessler, saying the campaign is giving back “any contributions that appear to be under investigation by federal authorities.”

“We believe we have no reason to be concerned with the contribution, but out of an abundance of caution and until the investigation is complete, we believe this course of action is most appropriate,” Ms. Kessler’s letter said.

Democrats were delighted Mandel had to give back the funds.

“Josh Mandel is a politician who can’t be trusted, and the fact he has been shamed into returning $105,000 in illegal contributions only after an FBI investigation became public goes right along with hiring unqualified political cronies and missing every single board of deposit meeting his first year in office,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman for Friends of Sherrod Brown.

Federal campaign finance law prohibits a donor from contributing in someone else’s name to get around the $5,000 limit. Election law also prohibits a corporation from reimbursing employees for their contributions.

Benjamin Suarez said his employees were not reimbursed by him or his company.

Josh Mandel is the 48th Treasurer of the State of Ohio, having been elected as the top vote-getter of all statewide executive candidates, winning 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Mandel enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in 2000, where he graduated first in his class from Marine Corps Boot Camp and first in his class from Marine Corps Intelligence School. His Marine Corps career spanned eight years, including two tours in Anbar Province, Iraq. During both tours he was awarded the Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal for “superior performance of his duties.”

Orthodox New Yorker On Hunger Strike After Months In Bolivian Prison

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Supporters say he’s an innocent man caught up in the tentacles of a corrupt Latin American regime.

Authorities in Bolivia allege he’s a shady businessman with ties to drug dealers and money launderers.

What’s certain is that Jacob Ostreicher, a 53-year-old chassidic Jew from New York, is in a state of limbo, sitting in a jail in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz waiting to be tried or released on bail.

Five weeks ago, in a bid to pressure authorities to expedite the handling of his case, Ostreicher began a hunger strike following 10 months of appeals to the U.S. State Department.

Ostreicher, a father of five from the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, belonged to a group of investors led by Andre Zolty of the Swiss firm Lexinter that sunk $25 million into growing rice in lush eastern Bolivia. He was arrested last June by Bolivian police. During his arraignment, the judge alleged that Ostreicher did business with “people wanted in their countries because of links with drug trafficking and money laundering.”

The judge also determined Ostreicher should not be allowed to post bail because “being free, the accused could destroy [or] change evidence that could lead the attorney general to discover the truth.”

Since then Ostreicher, who maintains his innocence, has been waiting. He has cycled through multiple court hearings, three judges, three prosecutors and four defense attorneys. One judge released him from jail in September, only to retract the order and send him back less than a week later. As of now the case is without a judge.

While the case has dragged on, some of the 40 million pounds of rice harvested from Ostreicher’s fields and later seized by the Bolivian government have begun to disappear.

The head of the Bolivian agency in charge of seized property, Moises Aguilera, told The Associated Press in December that the rice had to be sold because otherwise it would spoil. But Ostreicher’s partners accuse the Bolivian government of trying to profit from the confiscated rice.

Bolivian authorities have declined to discuss the details of the case publicly.

Ostreicher’s saga began when he joined Zolty’s partnership in June 2008 and traveled to Bolivia to see the rice business firsthand. Over the course of several trips from 2008 to 2010, Ostreicher says he was never able to inspect the books of the Bolivian rice fields because the manager, Claudia Liliana Rodriguez Espitia, was never around.

Eventually, Ostreicher said, he came to believe Rodriguez was stealing millions of dollars from the investors. He convinced Zolty to fire Rodriguez, and Ostreicher took over the business.

When Rodriguez disappeared soon after leaving the venture, Ostreicher took out a full-page ad in a major local newspaper offering a $25,000 reward to whoever could find her.

While police investigated Rodriguez for corruption, they discovered she had purchased a portion of the rice fields from the brother of her drug dealer boyfriend, Maximiliano Dorado.

Bolivian federal prosecutors began to question Ostreicher in March 2011. He continued to travel back and forth to the United States, and approached the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia; Ostreicher says U.S. officials told him not to worry.

“The embassy told me I should be honest with the investigation. That’s what I did,” Ostreicher said. “I wish the U.S. Embassy had told me to get the hell out of the country.”

An embassy official said he could not comment on private conversations.

On the eve of Shavuot last year, when Ostreicher was scheduled to fly home to New York, prosecutors called him in for another round of questioning. Anxious to get home for the holiday, Ostreicher asked if he could come to their office to finish the deposition as soon as possible. He arrived on June 3, responded to questions and thanked the prosecutor for adjusting his schedule.

Moments later, Ostreicher was arrested. The grandfather of 11 says he was shoved into a cell with no toilet or shower.

The next day at his arraignment, the judge charged Ostreicher with being “the representative of Andre Zolty” and having “commercial relations with Maximiliano Dorado, both people wanted in their countries because of links with drug trafficking and money laundering … proving the circle between Andre Zolty, Maxi Dorado … and Claudia Liliana Rodríguez Espitia.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/orthodox-new-yorker-on-hunger-strike-after-months-in-bolivian-prison/2012/05/16/

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