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Hagel Worries about Next 9/11: Islamic State ‘Beyond Anything that We’ve Seen’



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The Islamic State could well pose a more serious threat than al-Qaeda did leading up to the September 11, 2001 attacks, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel says.

“ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen,” he said at a Pentagon press briefing on Thursday. “They are beyond just a terrorist group. . . . This is beyond anything that we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything.”

Hagel invoked the potential of a 9/11-level attack, and warned that the group posed “an imminent threat to every interest we have.” Protecting those interests and combating the Islamic State, which has taken over significant parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months and beheaded American journalist James Foley, will be a long-term commitment, he said.

Hagel: Failed Rescue Attempt ‘Flawless’ Except That the Hostages Weren’t There



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Secretary of defense Chuck Hagel denied that American intelligence failed in a major rescue mission to save slain American journalist James Foley and other hostages from the Islamic State, but also argued that the operation was “flawless.” The Obama administration said on Wednesday that the U.S. had launched a mission to rescue Foley this summer.

“Was this a failure of intelligence? No,” he told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing. “This operation, by the way, was a flawless operation, but hostages were not there.”

The administration decided to publicly acknowledge the secret mission after learning several news organizations caught wind of the mission and were likely to report on it, the Obama administration said. Hagel said it was important to note that the administration addressed the mission without revealing specifics.

The U.S. will continue to do everything it can to rescue and bring home American hostages in the future, Hagel said.

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CNN’s Don Lemon, Rapper Talib Kweli Bicker Over Interview Etiquette, in Interview



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CNN anchor Don Lemon and rapper Talib Kweli spent much of an interview today arguing about interview courtesy​ and their (lack of) interaction before they went on air. It got so heated that Kweli threatened to walk out multiple times.

Kweli, who has taken part in the demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., following the death of Michael Brown, started off explaining that he came to the city to help shape the media’s “horrible” coverage of the protests. Lemon argued that CNN has been an exception, but Kweli took particular issue with a recent article on the network’s website about unrest from the night before.

The interview soon descended into a yelling match between the two over who interrupted who and who should be talking. Kweli repeatedly threatened he would walk off the set.

Above all, Kweli appeared most offended that Lemon didn’t respectfully introduce himself before they went on the air.

“I would listen to you if you had the decency to greet me,” Kweli said. “You came up, you didn’t even say nothing to me — you were on your phone the whole time, you asked how to pronounce my name, you have no respect for who I am.”

Lemon explained that he’s very busy and had been prepping for his broadcast and meant no disrespect.

The two continued to bicker, even as Lemon made it clear that his producers wanted to cut to commercial. They eventually made up with a handshake.

Web Briefing: August 29, 2014

Feds: Obama Broke Law with Bergdahl Swap



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President Obama violated a “clear and unambiguous” law when he released five Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the Government Accountability Office reported Thursday.

“[The Department of Defense] violated section 8111 because it did not notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the transfer,” the GAO report said. “In addition, because DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act. The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations exceeding an amount available in an appropriation.”

The GAO rejected the idea that the action was legal and sidestepped the Obama team’s suggestion that the law is unconstitutional.

“It is not our role or our practice to determine the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes,” the report says. “In our view, where legislation has been passed by Congress and signed by the President, thereby satisfying the bicameralism and presentment requirements in the Constitution, that legislation is entitled to a heavy presumption in favor of constitutionality.”

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‘Against the Ferguson Mob’



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I wrote for Politico today on Ferguson:

The chant “no justice, no peace” is an apt rallying cry for Ferguson, Missouri, where protesters don’t truly want justice and there has been no peace.

What justice demands in the case of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in disputed circumstances is a full and fair deliberative process that goes wherever the evidence leads. But is anyone marching so that Wilson can go free if the facts don’t support charging him?

No, the demand is for him to be arrested immediately and to be prosecuted no matter what. MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes, relaying the mood in Ferguson, has said that the security problem there isn’t solvable absent an indictment of Wilson. As if a grand jury should be beholden to looters.

N.Y. Farm Owners Must Pay $13K Fine for Declining Lesbian Wedding



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A New York State Division of Human Rights fined Cynthia and Robert Giffords $13,000 earlier this month for refusing to let a lesbian couple use their farm for their same-sex wedding.

In 2012, fiancées​ Melisa Erwin and Jennie McCarthy expressed interest about using the Giffords’s Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke, N.Y., for their upcoming ceremony, which hosts various events. According to McCarthy’s own account, it appears the Giffords politely declined the request and apologized for the inconvenience.

“When we asked why it was just, ‘That’s what my husband and I decided. We’ve been married a long time and it’s great you’re getting married and all, but you can’t do it here,’” McCarthy told WNYT at the time. The Daily Signal notes that the Giffords, who are heavily involved in the planning, live on the second and third floor of the barn used for events, and use the second floor as a bridal suite on wedding days.

But a New York State administrative-law judge ruled that even though the Giffords live at the farm, it is also a place of public accommodation and must abide by the state’s anti-discrimination laws, according to the Washington Times. ​“The fact that the Giffords also reside at Gifford Barn does not render it private,” the decision reads.​

As a result, the Giffords must pay $13,000 in fines: $10,000 in civil damage penalties to the state and a $1,500 mental-anguish fine to each of the women.​

The couple’s attorney said they are considering taking further legal action or appealing the ruling.

The Gifford are just the latest individuals to face penalties for refusing to violate their faith and take part in a same-sex wedding — others include a Colorado baker and a New Mexico photographer.

Rick Perry Warns ISIS May Already Be in the United States



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ISIS terrorists may already be in the country, Governor Rick Perry (R., Texas) warned, saying that the terrorists’ own version of “mission creep” will draw them from Iraq to the United States.

“I think there is the obvious great concern that because of the condition of the border, from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across, that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be [entering the country],” Perry said during an event hosted by National Review and the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“And I think it is a very real possibility that they may have already used that [entry point],” Perry continued. “We have no clear evidence of that, but your common sense tells you, when we see the number of criminal activities that have occurred — I’m talking about the assaults, the rapes, the murders — by individuals who have come into this country illegally over the last five years, the idea that they would not be looking at and managing any of those types of attacks from that region is not a good place to be.”

The number of individuals coming from countries known as terrorist risks has spiked recently, Perry said, though he emphasized that we don’t know if any of those individuals have terrorist connections themselves.

“We know that there are individuals from countries that have terrorist ties that are being apprehended and we had reports of record high numbers of those individuals who were coming in back in the summer,” Perry tells National Review Online.

Perry noted during his speech that the American photojournalist James Foley was murdered by a British radical who has joined ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, a fact that raises the specter of other Islamic State radicals who have the Western passports necessary to get into the United States.

The Texas governor said that President Obama should not rule out the idea of sending a traditional ground force into Iraq if that’s what is necessary to stop the Islamic State. That said, his own solution involved sending more special-forces operators into the country and providing more support to Kurdish security forces.

“I think all your options have to be open from the standpoint of dealing with this terror, this force in that country,” he said during a brief Q-and-A after the speech. “I think signaling to your enemies what you are not going to put on the table is very very bad, both strategical and tactical errors by this administration. We need to have all of our options open. It is too important to Jordan, it is too important to Israel, it is too important to the interests of the West in that part of the world to not stop ISIS. They are not going to stop in that region of the world. They need to be eliminated; they need to be eliminated now.”

Suckers



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A small-time school superintendent’s $750,000/year payday. High-living union goons pillaging their members’ dues. Cecile Richards’s half-million-a-year payday for lending her name to the abortion trade. Al Gore renting his scanty charms for $200 million over the course of a few years. Equality crusader Elizabeth Warren, a multimillionaire “public servant” holding forth in her Cambridge mansion. Paul Krugman’s $25,000-a-month proffer from an income-inequality think tank.

And, now: Bill Clinton’s $1,000 cigars.

Mitt Romney flies coach.

At what point do you so-called progressives start feeling like suckers?

Minnesota State Representative Allegedly Threatens to Shoot Second Amendment Advocate



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A bizarre story out of Minnesota. Per City Pages:

Each election cycle, the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance contacts the 280-plus candidates running for the Minnesota House in hopes of surveying them about their views on gun rights.

As you’d probably expect, some candidates choose not to respond to GOCRA’s questionnaire. No biggie. But the organization is recommending Rep. Ron Erhardt (D-Edina) receive anger management therapy after he allegedly threatened to kill GOCRA President Andrew Rothman when he was contacted about the survey.

Rothman has signed an affidavit, in which he claims that:

When contacted, the individual answering the phone identified himself as Ron Erhardt. Your affiant identified himself and reminded Rep. Erhardt of the approaching questionnaire deadline. Rep. Erhardt indicated that he did not intend to complete the survey. Your affiant, following the procedure used with each candidate, reminded Mr. Erhardt that GOCRA’s policy was to give a special “F*” grade to candidates with no voting record or survey, as set out in the “How will this information be used?” section of the introduction…

Rep. Erhardt responded, yelling, “Give me a double F! No more surveys! You come near me, and I’ll blow your head off!” Rep. Erhardt then disconnected the phone call. The call’s duration was 78 seconds.

I get these occasionally, too. It’s an interesting genre: “Because of your view on firearms, which I hate, I am going to shoot you dead.”

Union Goons



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Jillian’s observations below are no surprise. Of course the Teamsters told Padma Lakshmi “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you f****** whore!” That’s what they do. (If you haven’t been reading Jillian’s reporting on Johnny Doc et al. you really should.)

Philadelphia Teamsters insisted, vigorously, that my newspaper sign a contract with them — in spite of the fact that we neither employed drivers nor owned vehicles, raising the question of what, exactly, we’d be paying them to do. I suppose it’s like Dashiell Hammett’s take on prostitutes: You don’t pay them for their services, you pay them to go away afterwards.

We declined, and they picketed us, and our advertisers, with the same energy they brought to Top Chef.

But there is an upside to being picketed by these particular thugs: I generally work late, but they knock off at 4:15 p.m. Even the bums they hire to do their picketing for them — you think Teamsters are going to pay Teamster rates? — go home early. 

Ebola Doctors Okay, Released From Emory



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Contrary to the dire warnings of hysterics like Michael Savage and Donald Trump, bringing the Christian doctors who contracted Ebola trying to save lives in Africa did not spark an epidemic here. They have been released from the hospital and are no longer infectious. Good for them. Shame on the hysterics. 

Did the U.N. Commit War Crimes in Gaza?



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Yesterday I urged conservatives to challenge jihadists and their enablers in international tribunals, including the U.N. Our ACLJ international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice, sent a letter to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights detailing Hamas’s war crimes and describing exactly how her accusations against Israel lead to further use of human shields and further abuse of civilian facilities. 

Today, we escalated our efforts, sending a letter to the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, demanding an investigation into potential U.N. complicity in Hamas war crimes:

In light of our commitment to the rule of law in international affairs, we were distressed to learn of the intentional misuse of UNRWA facilities in the Gaza Strip in support of Hamas operatives in their attacks on Israel, a UN member state in good standing, in obvious violation of principles enunciated in the UN Charter, a number of UN Security Council resolutions, and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) . The very reputation and legitimacy of the UN and its various arms and agencies are at stake, especially since Hamas is widely recognised as a terrorist organisation. Further, the return to Hamas of the rockets unlawfully stored in UNRWA facilities strongly suggests that UNRWA employees may be acting in concert and/or co-operating with Hamas operatives in unlawfully attacking a UN member state. That cannot be tolerated and may, in fact, constitute a war crime . At a minimum, it places in question the legitimacy and impartiality of all UNRWA operations in Gaza.

In fact, there’s evidence that the U.N.’s cooperation with Hamas went beyond storing rockets at UNRWA facilities. A U.N. facility actually contained a booby-trapped terror tunnel opening that detonated, collapsing a UNWRA health clinic and killing three IDF soldiers:

An Israeli elite squad searching for tunnels near Khan Younis uncovers a booby-trapped opening in a small UNRWA health clinic.

The troops send in sniffing dogs and a small robot to minimize damage to the structure, but despite the precautionary measures, the explosives rigged to the tunnel are detonated, demolishing the building on top of the soldiers.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Because each Hamas rocket is launched indiscriminately at Israeli civilians, from civilian areas, by fighters wearing civilian clothes, each Hamas rocket launch is a war crime. Each Hamas rocket launch from a civilian structure (or other military use of a civilian structure) converts that structure into a military target. If and when the U.N. participates in any piece of that illegal and deadly puzzle, then it is not only a co-conspirator in Hamas war crimes, its facilities are exposed to lawful military attack. 

Our letter calls for a Commission of Inquiry to thoroughly investigate UNRWA’s activities in Gaza:

We believe that time is of the essence in this matter. We strongly urge you to act without delay in establishing such a commission. Until such an investigation takes place and effective measures are put in place to preclude future violations of UNRWA’s protected status, the impartiality of UNRWA will remain in question, and Israeli doubts about the sanctity of UNRWA facilities will be fully justified. It is, therefore, in everyone’s interest that an unbiased commission composed of otherwise disinterested persons of unquestioned integrity be appointed forthwith. If UN facilities wish to enjoy the protection of international law, they must comply fully with the requirements of international law and be used solely for non-military purposes.

It is not sufficient, by the way, to respond to this inquiry like former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, excusing war crimes by saying, “Hamas puts its missiles, its rockets in civilian areas; part of it is because Gaza is pretty small and it’s densely populated.” Hamas’s inconvenience is not an excuse for the use of human shields.

Don Lemon, Automatic Weapons, and the Integrity of Language



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Last night, on national television, CNN host Don Lemon attempted to alter physical reality through the sheer force of his will:

Lemon’s central claim was that, after the shooting in Colorado in 2012, he was able to go out and, in “20 minutes” or less, buy a machine gun. “I think,” he added, “most people can go out and buy an automatic weapon.”

Reasonably enough, this mistake prompted one of his guests to note that Lemon had done no such thing, and that nor could anybody else. “A semi-automatic weapon,” radio host Ben Ferguson explained, “is a gun that you and I are allowed to own, and in different places they have different rules. But to imply that anyone can walk out and buy an automatic weapon is just not true, Don.”

Ferguson is correct, and Lemon is wrong. Under the law, “automatic” is the word we use to describe weapons that continue to fire for as long as the trigger is depressed. “Semi-automatic,” by contrast, is the word we use to describe weapons that will fire once with each trigger pull. In some states, one can indeed walk into a gun store and, having undergone a background check and filled in some federal forms, walk out with a semi-automatic rifle. One cannot, however, do this for automatics, which are regulated heavily under the 1934 Firearms Act and which cannot be purchased without special permission from the ATF. What Lemon is talking about having bought is a standard semi-automatic weapon — an AR-15 or somesuch. It is not an automatic weapon.

Having been corrected, what Lemon should have said was, “you’re right, I meant ‘semi-automatic.’” But he didn’t. Instead, he said:

“For me, an automatic weapon is anything that you can shoot off a number of rounds very quickly.”

What?

It does not especially matter that Don Lemon doesn’t know the difference between ”automatic” and “semi-automatic” rifles. Lots of people don’t. But it really does matter that, having been told he was wrong on national television, Lemon contended that his prior ignorance — and not objective physical and legal reality — should prevail. Legally and functionally, the item that the panel is discussing was a semi-automatic weapon. There is no “dispute” over this. This is not an ongoing “debate.” It’s not a matter of “opinion.” It’s not an issue on which we can “agree to disagree.” It’s not an “altercation” that can give way to “compromise.” It’s a fact. An undisputed fact. And yet, for some reason, Lemon seemed to believe that he could talk his way out of his mistake. 

Worse, perhaps, he went on to pretend that the issue was one of “semantics.” Well, Don, here are some “semantics” for you:

One wonders in which other areas Lemon intends to subordinate engineering to linguistic expedience. After all, if “for me” is sufficient, we can start turning water into wine all over the place. “For me,” we might say, “that propeller is a jet engine.” “For me, that bicycle is an SUV.” “For me, that landline is a cell phone.” “For me, this manual car is an auto.” 

Given the manner in which the advocates of gun control usually talk, this indifference to imprecision is peculiar. Typically, the tiniest cosmetic differences are held to be of considerable import. In my home state of Connecticut, it is illegal to buy certain rifles if they feature mechanisms that allow their owners to adjust the length of the stock. Why? Because being comfortable when shooting is apparently dangerous. Also often outlawed are barrel shrouds, which are designed to prevent users from burning themselves, and pistol grips, which are designed to make longer firearms easier to shoot. None of these have any bearing on the lethality of the weapon, of course. They don’t affect its caliber or its potency. They don’t add to its effectiveness. They are purely cosmetic and ergonomic. And yet, for “safety,” they need to be banned. Last night, on CNN, by contrast, an anchor explained that an actual functional distinction — possibly the most important functional distinction — is just “semantics.”

And they wonder why they lose.

In the Wrong Business, Part 247



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The school board of Centinela Valley Union High School District in Los Angeles County is firing its superintendent, Jose Fernandez.

He was paid $750,000 a year

That’s three-quarters of a million dollars a year — not to manage some sprawling big-city school system (which would be questionable enough) but to oversee five schools and an independent-study program in the suburbs. 

But not to worry: He was previously paid only about a half-million a year. As the Los Angeles Times reports, “Fernandez’s unusually high compensation was in part the result of a one-time payout of $230,000 he used to increase his pension credits, which would give him a higher annual pension upon his retirement.”

So they were paying him an outrageous sum of money today in order to pay him an even more outrageous sum in the future.

These thieves are why we’re broke. 

Huge Palestinian Flag Supporting BDS Hung from Manhattan Bridge



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Pro-Gaza and anti-Israel activists dropped a massive Palestinian flag from the Manhattan Bridge during a march on Wednesday.

The flag called for support of the BDS movement against Israel, and bore writing reading “Gaza In Our Hearts.”

The Gothamist reports the flag hung for about 30 minutes before police took it down. Demonstrators in the march said they did not know who hung the flag, according to the New York Daily News.

This marks the second security breach involving a flag on one of New York City’s bridges in the past month. In July, an apparent prankster replaced the American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with large, white flags.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been amended since its original posting.

An NR Livestream Event: Rick Perry on the Border Crisis



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Watch Texas governor Rick Perry discuss the border crisis at a special National Review / Heritage Foundation event, “The Border Crisis and the New Politics of Immigration.” The governor’s remarks are viewable here via livestream following a panel discussion about illegal immigration featuring NR’s Rich Lowry, the Heritage Foundation’s James Jay Carafano, and Temple University law professor Jan C. Ting. The event begins at 11 a.m. EST.

Tags: Immigration

HS Freshman Arrested for Shooting ‘Neighbor’s Pet Dinosaur’ in Classroom Assignment



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“I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur,” Alex Stone wrote in a classroom assignment earlier this week. That fictional slaying led to real-life handcuffs.

On the first day of the new school year, the 16-year-old freshman at Summerville High School in Summerville, S.C., was directed by a teacher to pen a few sentences about himself and a Facebook-style “status” as part of an in-class assignment. Stone wrote about killing his neighbor’s pet dino, using a gun to “take care of the business.” His teacher notified school officials, who contacted the police.

On Tuesday Stone’s locker and bookbag were searched, and no gun was found. But Stone was still arrested and charged with disorderly contact, and school officials suspended him through the end of the week. Stone’s mother, Karen Gray, told local outlet WWBT-TV that school officials never contacted her about the incident.

Stone’s suspension caused him to miss most of the first week of classes, and he now has an arrest record. He is scheduled to return to Summerville H.S. on Monday, but he says he wishes he had the option to attend a different school.

Dizzying Vistas



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I have had a lifelong fear of heights (though, strangely enough, not a fear of flying in planes). But I take great pleasure in vicarious experiences of the same — and a new documentary about a mountain-climbing expedition up K2 genuinely fills the bill. K2, on the border between Pakistan and China, is not quite as high as Mount Everest, but it is said to be much more difficult to climb. The documentary, K2: Siren of the Himalayas, doesn’t really explore the personalities of the climbers in any great depth, and only hints at why anyone would expend such great effort, at such great risk (many more people have died climbing it than have died on Everest), to reach the summit of this mountain; but an answer may lie in the sheer devastating beauty of the visuals in this film. The climbers viewed amazing sights, and they brought back something worthwhile — something worth seeing on as big a screen as possible.

K2: Siren of the Himalayas opens in New York City tomorrow.

Government-Required Affirmative Action Is Costly



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The always informative Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has a good discussion of the economic costs of one of the Obama administration’s new affirmative-action regulations for government contracting, here.

Teamsters Slash Tires, Threaten Top Chef Host



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After Bravo declined to hire workers from Teamsters Local 25, several members showed up to protest a June Top Chef filming at a restaurant in Milton, Massachusetts, screaming racist, sexist and homophobic threats at host Padma Lakshmi and her team, Deadline.com reports.

By the time Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi’s car pulled up to the Steel & Rye restaurant in the picturesque New England town of Milton just outside Boston, one of them ran up to her car and screamed, “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you f[*]cking whore!”

… Jenn Levy, Bravo’s SVP Production, wasn’t spared. Arriving at the restaurant in her black SUV, she soon found herself running a gauntlet of vitriol. “She got of her car in front of the location and quickly ran through the picket line,” a source said. “They were yelling, ‘You b[*]tch! You slut! We’re gonna get you!’ It went on like that all day.”

John King, Milton’s Deputy Police Chief, said the Teamsters were “threatening, heckling and harassing.” The first officer on the scene, he said, had to call for back-up after the Teamsters “gave the officer trouble.” Reading from the police report, he said the Teamsters were “hostile, swearing, and refusing to let people come in and out. Officers repeatedly tried to de-escalate the situation.”

When more police arrived, the Teamsters went to the show’s hospitality tent and “harassed the crew there.” When the officers went there, King said, “A group of them slashed the tires on 14 different cars owned by the crew.”

A Boston Herald article today confirmed the incident:

Milton police confirmed that the union members were “threatening, heckling and harassing” but said no arrests were made. The union protest was confined to just that one day during “Top Chef’s” two-month shoot.

Local 25 president Sean O’Brien was out of town and unavailable for comment yesterday, according to spokeswoman Melissa Hurley.

“As far as we’re concerned, nothing happened,” Hurley said. “This is typical of nonunion companies who often make excuses for why they won’t hire union labor.”

This isn’t the first time Massachusetts Teamsters have tangled with Hollywood, the Boston Globe reports:

Historically, the relationship between Hollywood and the Charlestown-based Teamsters Local 25 has been volatile. Following the 1978 filming in Boston of “The Brink’s Job,” directed by William Friedkin and produced by Dino DeLaurentiis, two members of the Teamsters were convicted on racketeering charges. At the time, DeLaurentiis said hiring pressure from the Teamsters added $1 million to production costs. For many years, that and similar incidents had a chilling effect on the state’s efforts to lure Hollywood to the Hub.

Read the rest here.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Tags: Unions

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