<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Philadelphia Political News and Philadelphia Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com en-us Thu, 24 Jul 2014 02:33:12 -0400 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 02:33:12 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Newark Police to Be Placed Under Monitor as Feds Find "Pattern of Unconstitutional Policing"]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:15:20 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/newark+police1.jpg

The Newark police department will be put under a monitor, the Justice Department announced Tuesday as it issued a report alleging that as many as 75 percent of police stops in New Jersey's largest city over the last several years were not legally justified.

The investigation began in 2011 and the Justice Department reviewed thousands of police documents and interviewed officers and commanders as well as residents in drafting the report.

In addition to the unconstitutional stops, investigators found use of force by Newark police officers was unreasonable in about 20 percent of all arrests where force was used. Only one excessive force complaint has been filed against Newark officers in the last six years.

The report concluded that "the black community bears the brunt of NPD's unconstitutional stop practices," according to a copy obtained by NBC 4 New York.

It found black residents were the subject of police stops at higher rates than whites considering the city's population as a whole. But the report also said more data was needed to make a race-based comparison of police stops to victims' descriptions of criminal suspects.

The Justice Department report also alleged Newark police under-reported their confrontations with citizens or inaccurately documented those stops. The report also documented property theft within the department's prisoner property unit, officials said.

The Justice Department said Newark police cooperated with the investigation and Newark's new mayor announced earlier this month that reforms were being implemented.

United States Attorney Paul Fishman said Newark's residents "need to know the police protecting them are doing that important -- and often dangerous -- work while respecting their constitutional rights."


Fishman said there is no evidence of racial profiling by Newark police; he said poor training is a leading factor for unjustified stops in higher crime neighborhoods.

The report calls for improved training and supervision of officers, more intense review of use of force cases, clear practices for police stops, improved data collection and more rigorous procedures for safekeeping personal property among other steps.

The city agrees in principle to the findings, documents show. There will be court-enforced independent monitoring of the reforms moving forward.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tensions in Middle East Spark Local Protest]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 18:44:07 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000007625191_1200x675_308110915928.jpg Jewish and Palestinian protesters gathered outside the Israeli Consulate today. NBC10's Harry Hairston has the story. ]]> <![CDATA[Workers Surprised, Wowed by Obama's "Pit" Stop]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 23:01:53 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/obama+charcoal+pit+secret+service+michelle+jablonska+pic.jpg

President Barack Obama made a special stop during his economic visit to Delaware on Thursday.

The president stopped by the Charcoal Pit in North Wilmington, Delaware, a favorite of Vice President Joe Biden's.

 

The restaurant's manager, Joseph Grabowski, said he and his employees only learned of the president's visit roughly 20 minutes before his arrival, but they were all very excited.

"It was incredible. All of the customers were amazed. It was pretty exciting," he said.

"I greeted him [Obama] at the door and I told him, 'My father shook hands with President Roosevelt when he was 12 years old, and now I'm shaking hands with you.'"

Grabowski said a father and son pair of cooks working at the restaurant prepared the president's food, and 22-year-old Sean Brown was chosen to be Obama's waiter.

"It was a complete shock," Brown said. "I was a little nervous, but it was really one of those 'Is this really happening?' kind of moments."

The restaurant, which is known for its burgers and shakes, has been a staple in the state for more than 50 years.

After shaking hands and greeting patrons, Obama ordered the Pit Special, a burger with fries.

But he wasn't really there for the grub.

White House officials say Obama went to the popular eatery to meet with a single mother from Wilmington named Tanei Benjamin.

Benjamin reportedly wrote to the president in July 2013 about her struggles as a single, working mother of a 6-year-old.

After reading Benjamin's story, the president sent her letter to his senior staff with a note at the bottom.

The note read, "This is the person we are working for..."

Delaware residents took to Twitter on Thursday to chat about the president's visit. Some felt the food stop was inappropriate when weighed in with news of a Malaysian Airlines jet crash in Ukraine.

Others, like Michelle Jablonska and her mom, were excited to hear Obama was in their home state.

Jablonska, a 17-year-old from Wilmington, had intended to make a run to Dunkin Donuts with her mom, but they were discouraged because of all the traffic.

When she went on social media and saw friends posting about the president's stop at Charcoal Pit, she and her mom decided it was worth the trip.

Jablonska's house is just across the street from the restaurant, which made it easy to join the crowd of onlookers hoping to get a glimpse of Obama.

People were not allowed to enter the restaurant after the president's arrival, and Secret Service agents used metal detector wands on the individuals watching outside.

"Secret Service frisked people to make sure if he [Obama] came out to say 'Hi' to people, nothing would happen," Jablonska said. "But he got in the car and left."

Though locals might not have gotten as close to the president as they had hoped, it did turn a regular Thursday afternoon in Wilmington, Delaware, into a brief social media frenzy.

"Nothing interesting happens here, so it's like once in a lifetime," Jablonska said.



Photo Credit: Michelle Jablonska]]>
<![CDATA[Bridgegate: Christie Under Fire]]> Sun, 26 Jan 2014 13:06:14 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/christie+gwb+scandal+inset.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[State Budget: What Wolf Would Do If Elected]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 21:32:33 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000007569926_1200x675_302481987765.jpg NBC10's Christine Maddela spoke with Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf about what he would do to tackle the state budget if elected and his thoughts on the proposed cigarette tax to help the education budget.]]> <![CDATA[Taxpayers Subsidize Defense of Palestinian Teen's Alleged Killers]]> Sat, 12 Jul 2014 06:57:36 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/palestinian+flag2.jpg

A controversial Israeli organization that's representing the six men recently arrested in the recent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager is receiving thousands of dollars in tax-deductible support from Americans. The group, called Honenu (which roughly translates to "pardon"), supports Israelis charged with or convicted of violence against Palestinians.

Honenu's work goes well goes beyond legal aid.

The group says it also provides "spiritual" and "financial" assistance to prisoners and their families. Among those Honenu has helped: Yigal Amir, assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; an Israeli convicted of murdering seven Palestinians at a bus stop; and an Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter and obstruction of justice after shooting a British photographer in Gaza.

The tax-exempt donations do not appear to run afoul of U.S. law. But they do put U.S. taxpayers in the position of subsidizing aid to Israelis convicted of politically motivated violence.

Asked about the group's work, Honenu spokesman Eran Schwartz said the organization "provides much help to Israeli police, soldiers and citizens who are entitled, as are all people, to legal defense." Schwartz declined to answer our other questions, including about the group's financial support that goes beyond legal defense. (See their full statement below.)

Honenu's latest filing to the Israeli government shows it overall budget for 2012 was nearly $600,000, about $120,000 of which went to legal aid, $34,000 to "financial assistance," and the rest to salaries and overhead. (Here is Honenu's filing, in Hebrew.)

The group, which was founded in 2001, uses an American nonprofit as conduit for donations. Honenu's website, which advertises that "your contribution is tax-deductible," says checks should be made out to "Central Fund of Israel," or CFI. As the New York Times detailed in 2010, the Central Fund of Israel serves as a "clearinghouse" for donations to hundreds of groups in Israel, some of them supporting settlements.

CFI has grown almost continuously since it was founded in 1979 by members of the Marcus family, who own a New York textile company.

Operating from Manhattan's garment district, CFI received about $16 million in 2012, according to the Fund's latest filing with the Internal Revenue Service. Jay Marcus, who now runs CFI, said donations in 2013 reached about $19 million.

In the Fund's filings with the IRS, it lists donations to Israeli groups as going to "social services, humanitarian aid, and aid to the poor."

Marcus confirmed in a phone call that his organization transfers donations to Honenu. "They are a legal aid society," he said.

Honenu's filing with the Israeli government shows the group received about $120,000 from CFI in 2012. The documents identify another $12,000 coming from "Honenu USA." A nonprofit organization with that name operated from Queens, New York and last filed a report to the Internal Revenue Service in 2010, stating it had received contributions of $33,000. It is not clear if Honenu USA is still active.

Marcus Owens, a lawyer who ran the IRS's nonprofit unit in the 1990s said such donations can fall into a tricky area: "While providing legal assistance to those accused of crimes is a long-standing charitable purpose (e.g. the American Civil Liberties Union), providing assistance to relatives of those convicted of crimes has been viewed by the US government as potentially encouraging further criminal action."

The State Department's recent annual report on terrorism included, for the first time, attacks by Israelis against Palestinians, citing a rise in "violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in retaliation for activity they deemed to be anti-settlement."

If you have experience with or information about American nonprofits supporting extremists in Israel, email Uri Blau or tweet him @uri_blau. Blau is an Israeli investigative journalist specialized in military and political affairs, corruption and transparency. He was a 2014 Nieman Fellow for Journalism at Harvard University.

Full response from Honenu

As our article details, Honenu is an Israeli group that received tax-deductible donations from the United States and supports Israelis charged with or convicted of violence against Palestinians. We asked Honenu for comment prior to our article. This is their full response: 

Honenu's response to article by Uri Blau. The reporter, Uri Blau was convicted of severe crimes of espionage against Israel which attests to his motives and his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic interests. To date, we have not heard him expressing regret for his criminal actions. Honenu provides much help to Israeli police, soldiers and citizens who are entitled, as are all people, to legal defense. We will not cooperate with a convicted criminal whose goal is to damage Israelis and Jews. 

The author of our article, freelancer Uri Blau, was convicted in 2012 in Israel of holding classified military documents he received as a reporter. The International Press Institute condemned the case against Blau as "undermining press freedom in general and investigative journalism in particular" in Israel. Here is more on Blau's case and press freedoms in Israel.


This story was published through a news content partnership between NBC10.com and ProPublica.org



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[State Rep Accused of Taking Bribes Speaks to NBC10]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:38:10 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000007540806_1200x675_300650051506.jpg NBC10 speaks to Ron Waters, one of the four Pennsylvania representatives under investigation for allegedly taking cash bribes. ]]> <![CDATA[Blogger Hired by Redskins Resigns After 2 Weeks]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:05:46 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/218*120/Screen+Shot+2014-06-16+at+8.46.51+AM2.png

Roughly two weeks ago, the Washington Redskins hired Ben Tribbett, a liberal blogger and "known progressive figure in Virginia," to held defend their moniker as immense pressure to change it continues to build.

Their partnership is already over.

Tribbett -- who had helped to organize the recent "Redskins Pride" caucus in the Virginia General Assembly, as NBC12.com reported -- announced his intention to resign late Monday.

Perhaps his decision to step down from the 'Skins has something to do with some inflammatory remarks regarding Native Americans that he tweeted several years ago. What we do know is that the Redskins' attempts to put a positive spin on their nickname continue to fall short.

Before accepting the position with the Redskins, Tribbett had maintained a blog known as "Not Larry Sabato" for several years, shutting it down around the time he briefly joined the organization. 

In 2006, as WTOP noted, Tribbett broke the story of former Virginia Sen. George Allen (brother of Redskins executive Bruce Allen) referring to a Jim Webb volunteer by a word that some claimed was a racial slur.

Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians executive director Jackie Pata released a joint statement after the announcement:

"The growing opposition to the team's name is about far more than any one person. It is a civil rights and human rights issue and it is time for the team and the NFL to stand on the right side of history and change the mascot."

In June, the U.S. Patent Office cancelled six Redskins trademarks, calling the team name "disparaging" to Native Americans. The team is currently appealing the decision.

And in April, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was time for the team to change its name. Reid called on owner Dan Snyder "to do what is morally right."


Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.



Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Biden to Speak at Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:00:08 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/451175416.jpg Vice President Joe Biden will be in Philadelphia Wednesday evening to speak at the Greek Othodox Archdiocese of America's banquet in Center City.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Senate Voting on Philly Cigarette Tax for Schools]]> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 06:57:53 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cigarette+tax+cms.jpg

The Pennsylvania Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday to allow Philadelphia to levy a hotly-debated cigarette tax to help fund the city's flailing school district.

Local lawmakers and city officials have been working to pass a bill that would add a $2 a pack tag to cigarettes sold in the Commonwealth's largest city.

The tax, first proposed in 2013 by Democratic State Sen. Anthony H. Williams, is expected to provide $45 million in additional funding this year and $83 million by this time next year for the School District of Philadelphia, state officials said.

School district officials are looking for an additional $93 million in funding to close a major budget gap. The district has been plagued by financial woes for several years and has been forced to resort to major cuts to staffing, programs and extracurricular activities.

Closing the gap would only keep funding levels flat at levels deemed draconian by educators and Superintendent Dr. William Hite. The district's leader has asked city and state leaders for another $224 million to improve the district.

After a back-and-forth fight between state lawmakers last week, the Pa. House of Representatives passed the bill 119-80 allowing the tax. The proposed law change is now making its way through state Senate where it is also expected to pass.

The law will then go to the desk of Gov. Tom Corbett. The governor's office has not commented on whether he plans to sign the bill into law.

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<![CDATA[Local Teens Help Foster Peace in N. Ireland]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 15:19:59 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Philadelphia-2014-cropped.jpg

18 American and 18 Northern Irish teenagers have been charged with pacifying generations of violence, prejudice, and hate. Delaware is the breeding ground for that peace mission.

A Google search for "The Troubles" results in a multitude of links with information regarding one subject: the political, religious, and economic-related conflicts in Northern Ireland.

The issues within the country came to a head in 1921 when the Republic of Ireland formed an independent nation and the province of Ulster in the north decided to remain with Britain.

But the divide affected more than just geography. Since the Republic of Ireland was mainly Catholic and the northern province was mainly Protestant, the new border lines effectively segregated the country over religious beliefs.

The split created tense interpersonal relations between the Catholics and the Protestants, and evolved into a series of violent interactions between extremist groups known as "The Troubles," which has led to the death of approximately 3,500 individuals since 1969.

The general perception is that the Troubles ended with paramilitary cease-fires in 1994 and the Belfast Good Friday Agreement of 1998, but religious and social segregation still exists in Northern Ireland.

Ulster Project Delaware (UPD) aims to end that.

Founded in 1976, it is the longest, continuously running Ulster Project in the United States. A project of Pacem in Terris (peace on Earth), its goal is to "promote reconciliation between Northern Irish Catholics and Protestants by fostering tolerance, understanding and friendship among future leaders," according to their website.

Every summer a group of Northern Irish teens and four adult leaders spend the month of July with host families in Wilmington, Delaware. The teens range from 14 to 16-years-old. Half are girls, half are boys.

One half is Catholic. The other half is Protestant.

The UPD 2014 group came together Saturday, June 28 when the 18 Northern Irish teens arrived and met their host families. They got off the bus and were greeted by the American teens and their families holding up posters welcoming them to Delaware. They went home to recover from jet lag and the next day they sat down with program leaders to learn what was in store for them over the next four weeks.

The entire month of July is filled with activities for the teens. They sight see in D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. They have days devoted to service in the community, as well as "Discovery Days," that allow the group to explore the nature of prejudice and ways to defeat it. The teens attends not only a Catholic Mass and a Protestant Service, but also visit a synagogue, a mosque, a Friends meeting house, and the Amish.

They also get to participate in social events (the meeting on Sunday was followed by a pool party) that help both Northern Irish and American teens “create enduring friendships and mutual understanding.”

Through their month of adventures, Northern Irish teens learn that there is more to a person than what kind of service they attend. And that is the message they take with them back to Northern Ireland.

According to the Ulster Project's website, at the end of the 2012 Project over 8,000 youth had participated. None of them have become involved in a paramilitary terrorist group.

For more information, visit their website.



Photo Credit: BudKeeganImages.com]]>
<![CDATA[Berkeley Set to Require Free Medical Pot for Poor]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:55:16 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/06-11-2014-medical-marijuana-generic.jpg

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley will likely soon be required to provide free pot to low-income members and homeless people, according to an ordinance approved by the city council on Tuesday.

The city is also looking to approve a fourth dispensary, raising the current limit of three locations.

The proposed ordinance, first reported by the East Bay Express, requires that Berkeley dispensaries give away two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each year low-income people. And the pot can't be poor quality either. The proposed city ordinance reads (PDF) that the "medical cannabis provided under this section shall be the same quality on average" as marijuana "dispensed to other members."

“It’s sort of a cruel thing that when you are really ill and you do have a serious illness... it can be hard to work, it can be hard to maintain a job and when that happens, your finances suffer and then you can’t buy the medicine you need,” said Sean Luce with the Berkeley Patients Group.

In order to be eligible, a person must qualify for exemption from local taxes and fees, an income level that's set every year by the city council. That equates to $32,000 a year for one person and $46,000 a year for a family of four.

The ordinance is awaiting final approval, but could become law in August.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ed Rendell on PA Budget Battle]]> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 21:38:12 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WEB+Ed+Rendell+new.jpg Former Governor Ed Rendell talks to Keith Jones about the PA Budget Battle.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>