Las Vegas gunmen put ‘Don’t tread on me’ flag and swastika on slain officer’s body

(CNN) A Las Vegas couple who gunned down two police officers and a civilian before killing themselves apparently looked at law enforcement as oppressors, a sheriff's department official said Monday.

Among the clues: a “Don't Tread on Me” flag and a Nazi swastika the couple placed on one of the police officers they ambushed Sunday at a pizza restaurant. They also pinned onto the officer's body a note saying something to the effect of “this is the beginning of the revolution,” Second Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill told reporters.

(Reuters) An armed man and woman shouting about a “revolution” opened fire and killed two Las Vegas policemen who were eating lunch in a pizza parlor on Sunday, then fatally shot a civilian in a nearby Wal-Mart store before killing themselves, police said.

The two uniformed patrol officers, later identified as Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31 – both family men – were ambushed without provocation shortly before 11:30 a.m. local time inside a CiCi's Pizza shop, authorities said.

One of the two officers managed to return gunfire before the suspects fled to an adjacent Wal-Mart, where they killed a bystander inside the front door, then exchanged gunfire with police who pursued them further into the store, Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie said.

Moments later, the female suspect shot her accomplice to death, then took her own life, Gillespie told reporters at a late-afternoon news conference.

A city police spokeswoman, Laura Meltzer, earlier told Reuters the two suspects died after they “engaged in what is being described as a suicide pact.”

She also said the suspects had grabbed the fallen officers' weapons before fleeing to the Wal-Mart, which Gillespie confirmed.

Meltzer said preliminary information received by police at the scene, showed one or both of the suspects had yelled a statement, “This is a revolution” as they carried out the initial attack. Gillespie said in the statement this was unconfirmed.

He said investigators were also at a loss to explain the attack.

“What precipitated this event we do not know. My officers were simply having lunch when the shooting started,” he said.

He added: “It's a tragic day, a very difficult day. But we still have a community to police, and we still have a community to protect. We will be out there doing it with our heads held high but an emptiness in our hearts.”

He said no information was being released about the identity of the slain bystander, though the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the victim was a woman.

Gillespie said the two slain officers had been on routine patrol in the East Las Vegas area when they stopped for lunch.

The Review-Journal, citing an unnamed law enforcement official briefed on the incident, reported that the female suspect approached one policeman from behind and shot him in the head as he was refilling his soft drink, then shot the second several times as tried to draw his pistol.

Beck had been with the police department since August 2001 and was married, with three children. Soldo had been on the force since April 2006 and was married, with a baby.

Additional reporting by Karen Brooks from Austin, Texas, and Steve Gorman from Los Angeles; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Eric Walsh and Clarence Fernandez

Who really creates jobs?

There he goes again. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently told Fox News host Chris Wallace that “the government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does.” That’s a favorite mantra of Republicans. It may make a good sound bite, but there’s not a bit of truth in it.

For starters, Eric, government created your job and pays you $193,400 a year plus a very generous package of perks like health insurance, indoor parking, a lavish office, a large staff to massage your ego and image, all-expenses-paid world travel, and you’re currently on a five-week paid vacation, one of many you and your colleagues have given yourselves this year.

This is your seventh term in Congress, so you must have some idea of what’s going on. I know you’ve had trouble getting the House to pass spending bills this year, but surely you must know where that money goes.

A huge chunk of it goes to that famous five-sided building just across the river in your native state of Virginia. How many people work for the Department of Defense and for defense contractors — big and small — across Virginia? For that matter, how many besides you work for the legislative branch of government?

Eric, those are all government-created jobs. 

When you drive home to your district around Richmond, you use I-95. Guess who paid for that nice piece of highway. 

And if you go a little farther south, you’ll find the largest single employer in your state, the Newport News shipyard. If you don’t believe government creates jobs, just try canceling all the federal money going into the yard — you yourself have voted to send billions of tax dollars there — and see how the unemployment rolls explode. 

Right now, they’re building two nuclear aircraft carriers, the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS John F. Kennedy, at $9 billion each, not including what it costs to equip them with everything from toilet paper to advanced missiles and jets, and then the rest of the ships that make up each carrier task force. 

Each carrier alone will have a crew of 4,300 people. They get paid. They have families. They spend their government paychecks on food, housing, clothing and everything else — creating many thousands more jobs, most of them for those small businesses Republicans say they champion.

You’re not alone, Eric. All of your colleagues compete to spend federal tax dollars in their districts (even nice Jewish boys like you have a big appetite for that species of pork), citing the importance of creating jobs for constituents, all the while most of those on your side of the aisle are chanting their mantra about how government doesn’t create jobs. Who do you guys really think you’re kidding?

You’re not stupid, Eric, so don’t give us that anti-government bubbe meise, especially while you’re doing so well on the public payroll.

Government builds highways, bridges, airports, dams and other infrastructure that not only creates millions of jobs but also helps millions more people get to and from work, shopping, vacation and everywhere else.

Government workers fight our wars, protect our borders, provide security at airports and in the airways, maintain our marvelous national parks, protect the health and safety of our food and drug supply, teach our children, care for the poor.

And don’t forget everyone at the state and local levels as well. In all, about 22 million Americans work in the public sector.

You’re leading a congressional delegation to Israel this month, and you’re going to boast how the Jewish state is the largest single recipient of American foreign assistance. That $3.1 billion is a huge chunk of the minuscule proportion of every tax dollar that goes for foreign assistance — but most of that money is spent in this country and actually creates jobs right here at home as well as alliances abroad.

I’m not denigrating the private sector, just trying to dispel any thought that it is the great job creator and government just gets in its way. It’s time to stop using those 22 million public employees (except for yourselves, of course) as whipping boys and treat them with respect. 

Many who tell us the private sector is the real job creator like to point to Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the United States with about 1.4 million employees. It is second only to the Defense Department.

Wal-Mart — like Target, Gap and other giant retailers — is also a job creator in China and Bangladesh, where working conditions for the women and children who make the clothing and other goods for those stores are notoriously unsafe and hours unbelievably long. Wages can be as low as 3 cents an hour in China’s “Special Economic Zones” and often between 13 and 26 cents in other Asian sweatshops.

Next to those wages, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 must look very generous to you even though it is well below the poverty level; I guess that’s why you’ve consistently voted against raising it. You and Speaker John Boehner voted “no” the last time it was raised, in 2007 during the Bush administration, and now that you’re running things in the House, you’re still opposed. 

President Barack Obama wants to raise it to $9 an hour by 2015, which still isn’t a livable wage, and Democrats have a bill to make that $10.10. When they brought it to the floor, you and every other Republican voted “no.” You’re opposed because those job creators you say you represent complain that could cut into their profits.

Here’s a little math for you. A minimum-wage earner with a family of four who works 40 hours every week of the year makes $15,080, and probably gets no health coverage benefits; that’s $8,470 below the poverty level. And now you’re pushing for deep cuts in food stamps for the poor. Your salary, Eric, is nearly 13 times greater, not counting your very generous benefits package and pension.

Raising the minimum wage is not a profit thief but a job creator. The extra money will immediately be spent and percolate up through our ailing economy, helping those small businesses create more jobs. So, Eric, who’s the real job creator? Both the government and the private sector. It’s a symbiotic relationship too often obscured by demagogic politicians.

Douglas M. Bloomfield is the president of Bloomfield Associates Inc., a Washington lobbying and consulting firm. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.

Israeli candy firm makes sweet deal with Wal-Mart

An Israeli candy company has signed a contract with Wal-Mart to provide chocolate coins for Christmas.

Carmit Candy Industries Ltd. has received an order for Christmas 2010 for $500,000, the Israeli business daily Globes reported.

Carmit had sales of $8 million in the United States in 2009.

Lawsuit Filed in Granada Hills Jewish Community Center Shooting

Lawsuit Filed in Granada Hills Jewish Community Center Shooting

Families of the victims of the 1999 North Valley Jewish Community Center (JCC) shooting in Granada Hills are suing the state of Washington for allegedly failing to supervise the man who committed the crime. The $15 million lawsuit filed Aug. 18 says the state’s Department of Corrections failed to adequately monitor Buford Furrow Jr., an ex-convict on probation from a Washington state jail. On Aug. 10, 1999, Furrow burst into the North Valley JCC and opened fire. He wounded two small boys, a teenager and an adult receptionist, and later killed a Filipino-American letter carrier nearby. Furrow is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.

Young Quits After ‘Hurtful’ Remarks

Andrew Young resigned as a Wal-Mart advocate after disparaging Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners. A former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta, Young resigned as head of “Working Families for Wal-Mart,” and apologized. The Los Angeles Sentinel, a black newspaper, asked Young how he could advocate for an organization that displaces “mom and pop” outfits. Young said he was pleased when those stores were “run out” of his neighborhood. “Those are the people who have been overcharging us — selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables,” he said. “And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it’s Arabs, very few black people own these stores.”

Olmert Pressed on War Inquiry

Ehud Olmert is under pressure to establish a state commission of inquiry to investigate how officials handled Israel’s war with Hezbollah. The Israeli prime minister told the attorney general to see what alternatives exist for such an investigation, ranging from inquiries that would be made public to those that might remain confidential within the Cabinet. Meanwhile, criticism of how the war was conducted is mounting. Petitions have been circulating by reserve soldiers who have returned from fighting in Lebanon with long lists of complaints.

Diaspora Money Heads North

World Jewry is expected to contribute about $344 million to rehabilitating Israel’s northern towns and cities. The money, according to an Israeli government plan announced Sunday, would contribute to the overall cost of repairing damage and providing assistance to northern residents, estimated at about $1 billion. Money would go to financial aid for residents and businesses, repairs, psychological counseling, rebuilding schools and other projects run by a newly formed Israeli government committee. An emergency campaign in the United States has already raised $220 million for assistance to the North.

Israeli Officials Face Sexual-Harassment Charges

On Monday, police seized computers and documents from President Moshe Katsav’s Residence in Jerusalem, seeking possible evidence related to charges by a former employee who has claimed that Katsav coerced her into sexual relations. Katsav has denied any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Israel’s justice minister resigned in the wake of sexual-harassment charges. Haim Ramon announced his resignation Sunday. Israel’s attorney general said he plans to indict Ramon on charges that he forcibly kissed an 18-year-old soldier at an office party July 12, the day the war started between Israel and Hezbollah.

“I am sure that I will succeed in court,” Ramon said. “A kiss of two, three seconds, based on the version of the complainant, cannot be turned into a criminal act.”

Israeli Children Anxious After War

About 35 percent of Israeli schoolchildren who stayed in the North during the war with Hezbollah are suffering from anxiety, nightmares and other problems, a survey found. The 16,000 or so children also were found to have difficulty concentrating and are crying more often, the Tel Chai Academic College found in the survey. Problems are especially acute among preschoolers.

Major Israeli Writer Dies

Writer Yizhar Smilansky, an Israel Prize-winner better known by the pen name S. Yizhar, died Monday. One month shy of his 90th birthday, Yizhar died of heart failure. Known as a major innovator of Hebrew literature, he wrote prose, poetry and children’s literature. He also was well-known for his essays, which gained attention at the beginning of the war in Lebanon in 1982. His writing, which often challenged the Zionist narrative and the morality of the army, was the subject of intense controversy.

Israel: Hezbollah Used Russian Weapons

Israel complained to Russia that Russian-made anti-tank missiles reached Hezbollah fighters, who used them with devastating effect against Israeli troops. An Israeli delegation traveled to Moscow earlier this week to deliver the complaint, Ha’aretz reported. The anti-tank missiles proved to be one of Hezbollah’s most effective weapons in the monthlong war in Lebanon, responsible for the deaths of at least 50 of the 118 Israeli soldiers killed in the fighting. Israel protested in recent years when Russia sold advanced weapons to Syria, warning that they would be forwarded them to Hezbollah, but Russia dismissed the concerns. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was “impossible” that Russian weapons could have reached Hezbollah.

Jewish-Owned Market in Moscow Bombed

An explosion at a Jewish-owned market in Moscow killed at least 10 people and left 16 to 40 wounded. According to preliminary reports, no Jews were hurt in the blast at the Cherkizovsky market. The market is believed to be owned and operated by members of the “Mountain Jewish” community, which has its roots in Azerbaijan. At least two children died in the Monday morning blast in Moscow. Investigators say the explosion, which caused a two-story building to collapse, could have been a settling of scores among gangs, but officials are not ruling out that the blast was a terrorist attack.

Restaurant in India Named After Hitler

A new restaurant in India is named after Hitler and has swastikas on its walls. The owner of the Hitler’s Cross restaurant in Bombay told Reuters that he just wanted to stand out from the crowd. India’s Jewish community is protesting the name.

Annan Chides Iran on Holocaust Cartoons

Commenting on an exhibit of cartoons questioning the Holocaust, Kofi Annan’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said that the U.N. secretary-general has made clear in past conversations with Iranian officials that while he supports free speech, “people need to exercise that right responsibly and not use it as a pretext for incitement, hatred or for insulting beliefs of any community.”

A museum in Tehran opened the exhibit last week, in response to the publication in Denmark last year of cartoons that targeted Mohammed, the Muslim prophet.Exhibit organizers say they took their cue from Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called the Holocaust a “myth.” Annan is to visit Iran in coming weeks as part of a tour to follow up on the Lebanon-Israel cease-fire.

Briefs courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Wal-Mart as a Low-Price Villain

When asked how he differs from documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, Robert Greenwald deadpans, “He’s taller than me. He has a beard.”

For his part, Greenwald is not backed by major studios. His films receive next to no traditional advertising. And he resorts to no gimmicks or self-aggrandizing promotion. Also, unlike Moore, he doesn’t appear onscreen. Instead, Greenwald uses an unobtrusive camera to expose his version of the downside of Bush culture. In recent years, he has become one of the left’s most thoughtful documentary filmmakers.

Last year, he directed and produced “Uncovered,” a probe that supports allegations that the Bush administration lied to justify the Iraq war. Greenwald also helmed “Outfoxed,” an indictment of Rupert Murdoch’s foray into television journalism through the Fox network. This week, Brave New Films will release Greenwald’s latest picture, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” a searing look at the business practices of the world’s leading retail giant.

If Greenwald’s recent films reflect his love for the anti-Bush underdog, what distinguishes the new film is Greenwald’s sympathy for Red-State Republicans, in particular those who had to close down their mom-and-pop stores once the Bentonville, Ark.-based monolith came to town with its unbeatable prices.

The documentary begins with the story of Middlefield, Ohio’s Hunter family, who for three generations ran a successful hardware store. The camera reveals a Ronald Reagan calendar and a George W. Bush poster in H&H Hardware; the Hunters are proud gun owners who wear Army camouflage caps and unfurl the American flag outside their store. Yet as this tale unfolds, Wal-Mart receives huge tax abatements from state and local government to erect one of its super-sized stores locally. Greenwald films a bulldozer dumping a massive pile of dirt, an image that covers the entire screen, metaphorically burying and silencing the Hunters and us.

In the course of the 98-minute documentary, Greenwald presents a portrait of a corporation that provides inadequate health care, engages in anti-union tactics, abuses the environment and pays unconscionably low salaries.

Wal-Mart denies doing anything illegal. The company asserts that its stores improve the local economy by providing jobs and goods.

Wal-Mart’s in-house ads deploy Asians, women, Latinos and blacks touting the great opportunities at the company, yet a number of minorities and women testify on camera to alleged systemic racism and sexism.

Greenwald’s work is not merely compelling filmmaking. He’s also breaking ground in film production and distribution, using the Internet to drum up interest and sell DVDs. He even enlists a team of volunteers to shoot footage. Volunteers also host house parties and screenings at synagogues, churches, schools and other alternative outlets, which Greenwald says enables him “to reach people who don’t agree with you.”

Greenwald reports that he is $700,000 in debt since a major investor pulled out of the Wal-Mart project. He’s also being attacked by Wal-Mart, which has released a video denigrating him. But he remains upbeat about the film: “We’re having an effect already … Wal-Mart should be scared.”

Greenwald concludes his documentary with the tale of two cities, Chandler, Ariz., and Inglewood both of which recently defeated Wal-Mart’s bid to open stores in their communities. As gospel music plays on the soundtrack, a lily-white Arizona Republican and a Latina reverend from Inglewood marshal signatures for their petitions to prevent Wal-Mart from entering their towns.

Then, Greenwald composes a montage of citizens with placards and smiling faces, people who have resisted the encroachment of Wal-Mart all across the country. In a reverse of the bulldozer metaphor from earlier in the film, these images of victorious populists cover up a small photo of Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, as if to visually disprove his statement that only “a small group of people don’t want you in their community.”

Writers Bloc will host former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke in conversation with Robert Greenwald on Friday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m., at the Landmark Cecchi Gori Fine Arts Theatre, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 335-0917. For DVDs and screening information for “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” visit


Global Confusion

In what may be another case of an e-mail rumor run amok, the Anti-Defamation League is laying to rest allegations that Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club are selling globes nationwide that denote “Palestine” but not Israel.

E-mails spreading the rumor are circulating throughout the Jewish community, prompting numerous calls to ADL offices across the country, said ADL spokeswoman Myrna Shinbaum.

In fact, the Chinese-made “Semi-Precious Stone Mosaic Globe” — a decorative gift that sells in some stores for $249.99 — does indeed identify the state of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital.

But in a curious twist of the half-century threat against Israel, it is something called “Palestine” — and not the Jews living in Israel — that seems to have been pushed into the sea. Above “Israel” and below “Lebanon” to the north, the word “Palestine” inexplicably appears on the globe, “kind of floating in the Mediterranean, without dots or demarcation,” Shinbaum said.

“Should it say Palestine? Clearly there is not an entity today that is called Palestine. There is a Palestinian Authority. But more importantly, Israel and its capital are so indicated.”

That brought relief to Tom Williams, spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores, of which Sam’s Club is a division.
“We’re gratified to see that Israel is correctly on there,” Williams said in a telephone interview from Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

The glitzy globes are landing stateside through different importers. Only some of them say “Palestine,” Williams said, though none replace Israel with Palestine.

As for why the word Palestine is even on there, Williams said, “We don’t know. We’re looking into it, seeing what’s what. It’s a decorative piece more than a globe you would actually use.”
He said several calls from the media notified him of the situation and was unaware of if or how many customers complained.

The fact that so many in the Jewish community were worked up over it illuminates one pitfall of the Internet, Shinbaum said.

“Now you can instantaneously put out information, misinformation, rumor and innuendo, and it kind of becomes fact, because it’s out there,” she said. “And the person who initiates this usually calls for some kind of action.”

In August, CNN came under fire and eventually returned Jerusalem to its place beneath the “Israel” heading on its Web site’s weather map.

However, protests against McDonald’s earlier this month petered out when it was discovered that Israel’s outlets were excluded from the chain’s Web site due to a decision made by the Israeli franchise owners, not McDonald’s.

While the ADL relies on eagle-eyed activists to notify the organization of genuine slights, inaccuracies or injustices, Shinbaum said, “People who get e-mails should be careful before they act on the e-mail, to make sure that what they’re being asked to do is the right thing to do.” — Michael J. Jordan, Jewish Telegraphic Agency