Archive for January 25th, 2011

Spate of Police Shootings Raises Alarm

January 25, 2011

Officer Deaths in Florida Cap Deadly 24 Hours For Police Departments Across the United States

By TAMARA LUSH and MITCH STACY, Associated Press Writers

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The slaying of two police officers as they helped serve a warrant stunned a state already mourning police deaths in Miami and capped a bloody 24 hours nationwide that saw 11 officers shot in five states.

SWAT team members roll a stretcher after the suspect in the shooting of three law enforcement officers was found dead Monday, Jan. 24, 2011 in south S AP – SWAT team members roll a stretcher after the suspect in the shooting of three law enforcement officers

“That’s not normal,” said Steven Groeninger, a spokesman for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks police deaths. “It kind of seems like law enforcement, because of their uniform, have a target on their back.”

So far in January, 14 officers have been killed in the line of duty. Two of the 11 shot between Sunday and Monday have died.

Hydra Lacy Jr.  

This July 20, 2009 Pinellas County Jail booking photograph shows Hydra Lacy Jr. Lacy is said to be the gunman that shot and killed two St. Petersburg, Fla., police officers attempting to serve an arrest warrant early Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. He also shot and wounded a deputy with the U.S. Marshal’s service.

(AP Photo/Pinellas County Jail)

They were St. Petersburg Police Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, gunned down Monday while helping other officers serve a warrant on a man with a long criminal history.

Jeffrey Yaslowitz  K-9 officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz

This undated photo released by the St. Petersburg Police Dept. photo shows K-9 officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz. Yaslowitz and Sgt. Thomas Baitinger were killedduring a standoff while trying to serve an arrest warrant Monday, Jan. 24, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Fla. A third officer was injured.

(AP Photo/St. Petersburg Police Dept.)

Shortly before 7 a.m., a U.S. marshal, a Pinellas County deputy and an undercover St. Petersburg detective went to a home to arrest Hydra Lacy Jr., 39, on an aggravated battery charge. When they learned he was in the attic with a weapon, they summoned backup.

Officials said Yaslowitz, who was just getting off his night shift, and Baitinger responded.

Thomas J. Baitinger  

This undated photo released by the St. Petersburg Police Dept. shows Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger. Baitinger and K-9 officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz were killedduring a standoff while trying to serve an arrest warrant Monday, Jan. 24, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Fla. A third officer was injured.(AP Photo/St. Petersburg Police Dept)

Twenty-two minutes later, gunfire broke out.

When it was over, Baitinger and Yaslowitz were dead and Lacy — the brother of Jeff Lacy, former International Boxing Federation super middleweight champion — lay dead as well, either by his own hand or police bullets. A U.S. marshal whose name was not released was shot twice but was doing fine, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Tom Figmik said.

Armed St. Petersburg, Fla., police officers walk ... 

Armed St. Petersburg, Fla., police officers walk away from the area where three members of law enforcement were shot while trying to serve an arrest warrantMonday, Jan. 24, 2011 in south St. Petersburg, Fla.

(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Officials said Lacy had a long record, with convictions for armed robbery and sexual battery. He was listed with the state as a sex offender and had failed to register with authorities in December as required.

Deputies had been seeking him since.

“In my mind as a police officer, this crook, this criminal, this murderer, cop-killer, whatever you would like to call him, did a terrible injustice to two of my people today and two of the people that served this community,” Police Chief Chuck Harmon said during an afternoon news conference.

Police officials salute as the funeral procession carrying two Miami police officers passes. (AP/J Pat Carter)

 

The officers’ deaths came just four days after two Miami-Dade County detectives were killed by a murder suspect they were trying to arrest. That suspect was killed by another detective.

Those officers were remembered Monday at a funeral where news of the St. Petersburg shootings added to the grief already palpable among the thousands gathered at AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said the 14 January deaths came after a “devastating spike” in law enforcement deaths last year, when 162 officers were killed in the line of duty, up from 117 in 2009. Of the 162 officers, 61 were shot, an increase of 24 percent from 2009.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd said in a news release. “The violent events of the past 24 hours in Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Oregon and Washington have been detrimental to America’s peace officers, taking the lives of two and injuring several others. We must do everything in our power to stop these senseless and heinous crimes against our law enforcement personnel.”

On Sunday, a man opened fire inside a Detroit police precinct, wounding four officers including a commander before he was shot and killed by police. The officers’ injuries were not considered life-threatening, Police Chief Ralph Godbee said.

Also on Sunday, two sheriff’s deputies in Washington state were shot at a Walmart while responding to a call reporting a suspicious person, according to the memorial group. Police officers in both Indianapolis and Lincoln City, Ore., were critically injured in shootings during traffic stops.

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Foul-Mouthed Murderer Gets 107 Years In Jail For Shootout, Tells Judge ‘Suck My Dick’

January 25, 2011

BY Oren Yaniv / www.nydailynews.com

A foul-mouthed murderer who made a raunchy request to a Brooklyn judge before his sentencing on Monday received plenty of prison time to rethink his choice of words.

Zaire Paige, 24, was hit with 107 years to life for killing Lethania Garcia and wounding four others in a brazen October 2008 Fort Greene shootout.

Foul-mouthed killer tells judge: 'Suck my d---' 

But before getting the maximum possible sentence, Paige tried to get one last dig in at the judge, Vincent Del Giudice, telling him, “With all due respect and from the bottom of my heart, suck my dick.”

Without missing a beat, Del Diudice fired off a comeback and then tough justice.

“I respectfully decline your offer,” the judge dead-panned. “You are a danger to all civilized members of society.”

Paige was convicted of teaming up with Robert Crawford in a lunchtime attack on Garcia, 20.

The pair tracked him down as he left a state court, opened fire and continued to shoot inside a hair salon, killing their target and wounding four others, including off-duty cop Andrea Cox.

Crawford was sentenced to 53 years in prison last month.

Del Giudice and Paige had a prickly relationship.

The defendant named the judge in a rambling 128-page federal lawsuit that was dismissed. Del Giudice also barred Paige from the proceedings after he screamed at a testifying cop.

Woman Sentenced To Jail, Ordered To Write Anti-Alcohol Essay For Stabbing Man Over Smelly Foot Joke

January 25, 2011

BY Jaime Uribarri / www.nydailynews.com

Jail is going to stink for a Washington State woman convicted of stabbing a man in a drunken rage after he made fun of her smelly feet.

Dallas Smith, 18, will serve 15 months in prison for plunging a knife into the back of 19-year-old Willy Simpson, who made the near-fatal mistake of joking about Smith’s foot odor during a party, HeraldNet.com reported.

Not only that, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge David Kurtz also ordered Smith to write a minimum six-page essay on the negative effects of alcohol.

“Let me be absolutely clear: This case is not about smelly feet,” Kurtz said during sentencing last week. “It is about binge drinking and [the] criminal behavior that did flow from that.”

Smith’s transformation from binge drinker to criminal took place on the night of Sept. 7, 2010.

Fellow partygoers said a noticeably intoxicated Smith took off her shoes and socks and attempted to do a back flip off a table, only to crash clumsily to the ground.

To add insult to injury, Simpson started mocking Smith for having supposedly smelly feet. Smith reacted by wrestling with Simpson and punching him repeatedly. She then went to get her coat, picking up a kitchen knife along the way, and stabbed Simpson before leaving the party.

Simpson suffered a collapsed lung as a result of the attack and still had the knife’s blade more than 3 inches in his back when police arrived. It was eventually removed during surgery at a Seattle-area hospital.

During sentencing, Smith apologized for her “great error in judgment,” according to HeraldNet.com. 

While she may be released early from prison for good behavior, Smith won’t be able to get out of writing her anti-alcohol essay, which is due before May 2012.

Bronx, NY man Sues NYPD; Says He was Arrested For Stealing His Own Car

January 25, 2011

BY Rocco Parascandola and Kevin Deutsch / http://www.nydailynews.com

A Bronx man arrested in front of his kids for “stealing” his own car is suing the NYPD for $1 million.

Jamieson Prince, 43, says cops swarmed his 2007 GMC Yukon and cuffed him as he prepared to drive his daughters to school on Nov. 11 – even though he had papers proving ownership.

Jamieson Prince with papers proving car ownership. 

Jamieson Prince with papers proving car ownership. (Harbus for News)

“I told them it was a mixup and proved to them I owned the car, but they wouldn’t listen,” Prince, a Norwood resident, told the Daily News.

“My little girls saw me arrested over nothing. It was so painful and humiliating.”

Prince explained to the officers that his 23-year-old son had borrowed the SUV in July and fled from a crash in Harlem – leading to the son’s arrest.

Cops say he hit a pedestrian and they seized the Yukon as part of that investigation.

When the elder Prince went to the 28th Precinct stationhouse to retrieve his SUV, police couldn’t find it, according to court papers.

“They had absolutely no idea what happened to it,” said Prince, an MTA track worker. “It had disappeared.”

An NYPD spokesman confirmed Monday that the Yukon was stolen around 2 a.m. on July 7.

Four months later, Prince says, he found the Yukon, parked three blocks from the stationhouse.

He drove off, thinking everything was okay, but cops rolled up to his home and arrested him a week later – accusing him of removing police property without permission.

“How can the NYPD just confiscate property, lose it, then arrest you for possessing it?” said Prince. “It’s totally wrong. I want an apology.”

Prince’s lawyer Neil Wollerstein said a rogue police employee may have improperly used the SUV, leading to its disappearance.

“You can’t lose a 5-ton truck,” said Wollerstein. “Either they’re completely incompetent or someone was up to no good.”

The charges against Prince were dropped Jan. 12.

“I just want my daughters to know their father didn’t break the law,” he said.

“This turned my world upside down.”

NAACP Covers Statue Of George Washington During MLK Rally

January 25, 2011

Union Army Troops Serving Under General Sherman, A Savage War Criminal, Damaged Same Statue By Throwing Bricks At It While Occupying South Carolina State Capital During  Abraham Lincoln’s Unconstitutional War of Northern Aggression

Fox News on January 19, 2011 reported that the NAACP’s South Carolina office chose to cover a statue of George Washington during its annual rally honoring Martin Luther King Jr., drawing complaints from conservatives that the group was offending the legacy of the nation’s Founding Father. 

Shown here is the bronze statue of George Washington outside the State House in Columbia, S.C.

Shown here is the bronze statue of George Washington outside the State House in Columbia, S.C.  (www.SCStatehouse.gov)

The state chapter of the civil rights group claims it meant no disrespect and only covered up the statue to provide a more suitable backdrop for speakers at Monday’s event. Pictures taken at the event show the statue was completely covered on three sides by a wooden, box-like structure. 

But those pictures prompted an outcry on conservative blogs. Tea Party activist Lloyd Marcus was among those who quickly wrote a retort to the NAACP’s decision. 

“I thought, you know, this is just totally absurd, totally ridiculous,” Marcus told FoxNews.com. “I don’t know if George Washington had slaves or whatever but … George Washington was our first president.” 

Marcus, who is black, is a Florida-based activist who works with the Tea Party Express. He said the NAACP should stop putting its energy into apparently symbolic statements like this and start doing more to address problems like high-school dropout rates in the black community. 

“These are things the NAACP should be dealing with rather than running around covering up statues of dead white guys,” Marcus said. 

The King rally was held near the State House in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina NAACP director Dwight James told The State newspaper that his group was not trying to offend Washington’s legacy. He said the NAACP wanted to use the structure around the statue as a backdrop for speakers and a graphic, which incidentally was not finished in time to be displayed. 

The newspaper reported that most rallies in the capital use the statue of America’s first president as part of the natural backdrop — though the NAACP has tried to cover it up in the past. Marcus said he didn’t buy the state chapter’s explanation. 

But Joanne Jones, vice chairwoman of the Charleston Tea Party board, said she assumes the NAACP was not intentionally disrespecting a founding father. She said the decision was just “surprising,” considering how image-conscious the group is. “I would have thought they would have thought it through,” she said. “They must not have had any alternative.” 

Karen Martin, founder of the Spartanburg Tea Party in South Carolina, said many local Tea Party groups just aren’t paying attention to the flap in Columbia. 

“We really don’t care about what the NAACP did,” she said. “They lost their credibility to be any sort of reasonable voice for Americans.” 

The South Carolina NAACP did not return a request for comment.

The Columbia statue incident wasn’t the only controversy involving the NAACP on the Martin Luther King holiday. In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage drew criticism from the group after urging its members to “kiss my butt” over the fallout from his decision to skip the group’s MLK Day festivities. In the end, the GOP governor on Monday attended a breakfast in King’s honor, though it was not sponsored by the NAACP. 

Fresno County, CA Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton Throws Out Ban on Online Ammunition Sales

January 25, 2011

By Bob Sullivan / http://www.redtape.msnbc.com

Gun rights supporters won a major legal victory last week when a California judge struck down as unconstitutional a law that they say would have effectively banned online sales of handgun ammunition just days before it was to have taken effect.

Given the sheer size of the California market, the law would have had a major impact on national online ammunition sales, and some online ammo sites had already suspended sales to California.

While gun rights advocates cheered the decision, which came amid heightened focus on gun control issues in the wake of the Arizona shooting spree, supporters of the law say ammo sales are dangerously unregulated. And they say they have evidence that millions of rounds of ammunition are illegally sold to convicted felons every year.

The California Handgun Ammunition Registration Bill was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October 2009 and would have taken effect on Feb. 1. The law would have required that all ammunition sales in California involve a face-to-face transaction and fingerprint registration of the purchasers. Gun owners who wished to use online sites or catalogs would have been forced to have their ammunition shipped to a local gun dealer so the transaction could be performed in person, a requirement that opponents say would have effectively ended online sales.

Dealers who failed to obtain fingerprints during a purchase would have been guilty of a misdemeanor crime. While the law would have applied only to handgun ammunition, dealers said it would have effectively ended all online ammo sales in California, as rounds that can be used in handguns can often be used in rifles.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton struck down the law last Tuesday, saying the definition of handgun ammunition used in the legislation was so vague as to be unconstitutional.  California’s Attorney General Kamela Harris said she might appeal the ruling.

The lawsuit was filed by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, among other groups, and backed by the National Rifle Association, which quickly declared victory.

The ruling was “an important victory for California gun owners,” the NRA said in a statement on its Web site. “For now, at least, mail order ammunition sales to California residents can continue, and ammunition sales need not be registered under the law.” NRA officials did not immediately respond to msnbc.com’s request for comment.

Research: Felons can buy bullets now
The law’s sponsor, Democratic State Sen. Kevin De Leon of Los Angeles, said the decision was outrageous.

“I’m disappointed because the NRA went shopping for the right court and the right judge and it looks like they found him,” he said. “It was a politicized decision. … In light of what just took place in Tucson as well as a string of shootings that took place last week in Los Angeles … it’s disappointing. What we’re trying to do is to protect families and children, not trying to prevent anyone from lawfully getting ammunition.”

De Leon pointed to research that found 10,000 rounds of ammunition were purchased by felons during one three-month stretch in Los Angeles — 2.5 percent of all purchases — after that city passed a face-to-face requirement in 1998. A similar study in Sacramento conducted in 2008 after that city’s law was implemented found a 3 percent felony purchaser rate.  In each case, police discovered the felons during spot checks done after the purchases; the infrastructure is not yet in place to conduct real-time background checks on ammunition purchases.

Extrapolated nationwide, he said, millions of bullets have likely been purchased by convicted criminals.

“In Sacramento, they found 150 felons had purchased handgun ammunition. Three were murderers. They went to their homes and found thousands of rounds of ammunition, rifles, and automatic weapons,” De Leon said.  “Quite a few of them were on probation.”

Criminals soon wised up, he said, and began purchasing ammunition in other towns, leading De Leon to believe California needed a statewide law.

The technicality used to throw out the law — the vagueness of the definition of handgun ammunition — might impact other California regulations, De Leon said. The definition has been used in state laws for three decades, including laws banning so-called “Cop Killer” bullets that can pierce body armor and a ban on ammunition sales to minors, he said.

Gun advocates pointed out that alleged Tucson shooter Jared Loughner purchased his ammunition legally in a face-to-face transaction, and an online ban wouldn’t have hindered his shooting spree.

And the California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation said the new regulations would have been ineffective.

“This was just going to cost police and shell ammunition sellers’ money. It really wasn’t going to stop violent crime or criminals from getting ammunition,” the organization’s attorney, Chuck Michel, told the Associated Press. “All this was going to do was impose a tremendous and expensive burden on law enforcement.”

1 in 10 states restrict online sales
It’s unclear how much of an impact an online ammunition ban would have had on the sporting gun market. Major e-tailers like Amazon have shied away from online ammunition sales, and Walmart doesn’t sell bullets at Walmart.com. The National Shooting Sports Foundation suggests online sales are a small but significant market segment.  The organization estimated that California dealers would have lost about $35 million in online and mail-order sales annually if the law had taken effect. The advocacy group estimates that sporting firearms is roughly a $2.3 billion annual business, with about one-third of that revenue coming from ammunition sales.

Firearms cannot legally be purchased and delivered through mail-order services or websites. They can be purchased online, but must be shipped to a local gun dealer who can complete the transaction in person.  De Leon has argued that the new regulations merely extend gun-purchase rules to ammunition sales, complaining that currently, anyone can sell bullets – including gas stations, tackle stores and private sellers.

“In California right now, we have no idea who sells ammunition and who buys it,” De Leon said.

While the state ban in California has been struck down, municipal bans in cities like Sacramento and Los Angeles remain in effect.  A patchwork of laws nationwide have the practical impact of limiting online sales in many locations, according to Kevin Crane, who operates LuckyGunner.com, an online ammunitions sales site based on Knoxville, Tenn.

“Purchasing ammo online … in one out of every 10 states in the U.S. is somewhat restricted,” he said.

For example, licensing rules in Massachusetts essentially prevent online dealers outside the state from shipping to Massachusetts residents.  Cook County, Ill., specifically bans mail order and online purchases. Paperwork requirements in the rest of Illinois and in New Jersey create significant obstacles for online sales.   Meanwhile, added shipping expenses and restrictions involved in air-based shipping of ammunition make online sales to Hawaii and Alaska impractical, he said. (For more details, click here.)

Crane said he thought the California law was misguided and would have added an undue burden on local dealers to obtain and maintain copious records on purchasers.

“It would have criminalized something that is completely legal,” he said.

Californians were reacting dramatically to the impending Feb. 1 law, he said, with nearly half of his site’s revenue in January involving sales to California residents, he said, up from 20 percent normally. “We have a tremendous amount of visitors from California who did not want to be fingerprinted or have their IDs scanned by a local gun shop,” he said.

But De Leon argued that currently inconvenience is a small price to pay for measures that would make California safer.

“I don’t think it’s asking too much to be slightly inconvenienced to go pick up your handgun ammunition at the store as opposed to in your robe and slippers,” he said.

California Man Held Over Infamous Massacre During Guatemala’s 1982 Civil War

January 25, 2011

Martial arts instructor allegedly took part in killings of men, women and children

msnbc.com staff and news service reports

RIVERSIDE, California — A Southern California martial arts instructor suspected of being involved in a 1982 massacre during a civil war in Guatemala was arrested in Canada and is awaiting extradition to the U.S., it was reported Monday.

Suspect Jorge Sosa was arrested last week while visiting his parents in Alberta, Canada, the Riverside Press-Enterprise said.

Sosa, 52, was indicted in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana in September after authorities said he lied about his role in the civil war when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 2008.

Sosa was granted citizenship, but it was revoked after the grand jury indictment. He lives in Moreno Valley.

If convicted, Sosa could be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in federal prison and would then be deported, Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles told the Los Angeles Times.

In Guatemala, Sosa was a member of a special military unit called the “Kaibiles” and was the commanding officer of a unit assigned to find and arrest guerrillas who had stolen military weapons, according to court documents.

On Dec. 7, 1982, he and several dozen soldiers stormed the village of Dos Erres, near Las Cruces, and systematically killed the men, women and children, the government claims in the indictment.

The unit is accused of slaughtering villagers with sledgehammers and throwing people into a well.

“Members of the special patrol also forcibly raped many of the women and girls at Dos Erres before killing them,” according to an Orange County federal grand jury indictment.

Not safe in Guatemala
The court documents did not list an attorney for Sosa.

A man who answered the door at Sosa’s address in Moreno Valley declined to comment to the Press-Enterprise.

Sosa’s daughter, Christina Sosa, told the L.A. Times that the family fled Guatemala for California in the mid-1980s during the civil war, after threats by the government and other political parties.

“My family started speaking out. They did not like everything that was going on,” she said. “They did not support the government. My dad was in the military… It just wasn’t safe for us to be there.”

The civil war in Guatemala claimed at least 200,000 lives before it ended in 1996.

In 1982, the “Kaibiles” were tracking an armed insurgency by guerrillas opposed to the military government.

The killings cited in the indictment were investigated by the Guatemalan government 12 years later, when a judge ordered the excavation of the site and 162 skeletons were recovered.

Guatemalan authorities said the massacre qualified under the law as perverse brutality, and a judge in that country ordered the arrest of the Kaibiles in 2000.

In September, another former Guatemalan soldier who came to the U.S. was sentenced in Florida to 10 years in U.S. prison for lying on citizenship forms about his military service and role in the incident.

That same month, a Guatemalan judge ordered three men to stand trial for the Dos Erres massacre and arrest warrants were issued in that country for 14 other suspects.

The Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the legal arm of the Organization of American States, has condemned the Guatemalan government for failing to bring the soldiers involved in the massacre to justice.

The court ordered the Guatemalan government to pay $3.2 million in reparations to survivors and relatives of the victims, the L.A. Times said.

It also ordered the government to identify the officials who ordered the massacre.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

US Republican Lawmakers Taking Aim at UN

January 25, 2011

By DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Newly empowered Republican lawmakers are taking their first shots at the United Nations, depicting it as bloated and ineffective as they seek to cut U.S. funding for the world body.

On Tuesday, a House of Representatives panel aired criticisms of the U.N. at a briefing expected to prescribe congressional action.

Top US lawmaker targets civil nuclear pacts AFP/File – House Foreign Affairs Committee chair lleana Ros-Lehtinen, seen in 2010. The top US lawmaker condemned

Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, is seeking cuts and has introduced a bill intended to pressure the United Nations to change the way it operates and to make dues voluntary. She also is promising investigations into possible corruption and mismanagement.

“U.S. policy on the United Nations should be based on three fundamental questions: Are we advancing American interests? Are we upholding American values? Are we being responsible stewards of American taxpayer dollars?” she said in a statement that was read at the briefing, which she could not attend. “Unfortunately, right now, the answer to all three questions is `No.’ ”

Congress at various times has withheld funding from the world organization, but last year, under Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate, the United States paid its dues in full as well as some back dues.

The United States is the largest single contributor to the U.N. responsible for 22 percent of its regular budget and 27 percent of the funding for its peacekeeping operations.

Tuesday’s briefing comes as Republicans are pressing for broad spending cuts as they seek to reduce the U.S. budget deficit. Where those cuts should be made will be a major issue as President Barack Obama appears before Congress several hours later to deliver his annual State of the Union policy address.

The United Nations has long been a target for conservative U.S. lawmakers. Investigations by Republican-led congressional panels in the last decade helped spur an independent investigation into the U.N.-run oil-for-food program in Iraq.

Peter Yeo, executive director of the Better World Campaign, which advocates U.S. support for the United Nations, said he expected Tuesday’s briefing would mark the “beginning of a long examination” by congressional Republicans. But Yeo, who appeared before the panel, said he hoped to convince lawmakers that the United Nations is a good bargain for the United States.

“The U.N. serves our interest in a cost-effective way to promote global security,” he said.

He also pointed to U.N. changes already carried out, including creation of an ethics office in 2006.

Rep. Howard Berman, the ranking Democrat on the committee, also defended the world body. While offering a long list of criticisms, he outlined a list of ways that the United Nations operations serves U.S. interests and noted the recent reforms.

It is unclear whether the Republican critiques will lead to cuts in the U.S. contribution. Ros-Lehtinen’s bill probably would face resistance in the Democratic-controlled Senate and from the Obama administration.

U.N. dues must be financed through annual congressionally approved spending plans and are thus subject to approval by both the House and Senate.