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As U.S. Marks 80th Anniversaries, Family’s Story of Good and Evil is Retold PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 07:37
Son of German-Jewish Family Uncovers Diaries from pre-War Nazi Germany

Eighty years ago, those who were part of America’s “Greatest Generation” were beginning to define events that would prove to be some of the country’s finest moments. In stark contrast, Germany was entering its darkest period.

The two countries powered ahead on a collision course that would lead to vastly different fortunes for its people, notes Torkel S Wächter, the son of German-Jewish parents who uncovered fascinating family documents written during the ascendancy of Nazism in Europe.

On his website, www.onthisday80yearsago.com, he replays history in diary fashion with posts appearing on the anniversary of events 80 years ago in Germany. It’s an artistic/literary project called “simulated real time,” a way of commemorating history so that it’s not forgotten, he says.

“These anniversaries make for an excellent study in contrast in history for the two countries,” Wächter says; he cites the following examples:

• United States: Eighty years ago, the country was beginning a relationship with one of the most beloved presidents in U.S. history, Franklin D. Roosevelt. On May 7, the 32nd commander-in-chief outlined his economic plan, the New Deal, in one of his famous fireside chats.

• Germany: In stark contrast, just three days later in Germany, literature deemed “un-German” was destroyed in the infamous Nazi book burning. Earlier in 1933, Adolf Hitler had attained power, and on April 1, Jewish businesses were boycotted.

• Post-war legacy: While WWII was the beginning of the end for the Nazi party, the war marked the end of America’s Great Depression. For the past 80 years, the United States has remained the preeminent world superpower. In contrast, the reconstruction of Germany after the war was a long process; 7.5 million – 11 percent – of Germans had been killed; the country’s cities were largely destroyed; and agricultural production had declined by two-thirds. A psychological shame has hovered over Germans since the discovery of genocidal death camps.

“I used to hate Germany; while growing up, my father never discussed his German upbringing, even though he was obsessed with the country,” says Wächter, who was raised in Sweden. “We were never allowed to talk about it because the pain from the past was still alive in him.”

After his father died, Wächter finally opened the boxes he’d left behind. They were filled with diaries, letters, articles and other documents. From these, he wrote “The Investigation,” which highlights questions about personal responsibility and evil during pre-war Nazi Germany.

These are lessons, he says, from which we can all learn today.

“It’s much more difficult to hate something that you come to understand,” he says. “I no longer hate Germany. I’ve realized that my father actually loved the country – he had a great upbringing there, and Jews in Germany had been a success story. But because of what occurred under Hitler, he felt such betrayal and pain, he could never bring himself to talk about it.”

About Torkel S Wächter

Torkel S Wächter is the descendant of German-Jewish civil servants who suffered under the Nazi regime. His book, “The Investigation,” outlines the experience as recorded by his paternal grandfather and father. He studied economic history, development theory and languages at the universities of Lund, Melbourne and Barcelona, as well as Jewish studies at Paideia, the European Institute for Jewish Studies, and architectural restoration at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm. After a stint as a fashion model in Paris and Barcelona, Wächter trained as a diver in the Royal Swedish Navy and then went on to an aviation career. During the 1990s Wächter served as a first officer with Schandinavian Airlines. In 1997 Wächter published his first novel, “Samson,” and in 1999 he published the first Swedish e-book. Wächter lives in Stockholm and Barcelona with his architect wife; together they have four children.

 
Iowan Jane Kelly Clears Senate PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 07:34

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee

On the Nomination of

Jane Kelly, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mr. President,

I rise today in support of the nomination of Jane Kelly to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eight Circuit.

The nominee before us today, Ms. Kelly, presently serves as an assistant public defender in the Federal Public Defender’s office for the Northern District of Iowa in the Cedar Rapids office.

She is well regarded in my home state of Iowa and so I’m pleased to support Senator Harkin’s recommendation that he made to the President and subsequently the President’s nomination of Ms. Kelly.

She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Duke University in 1987.    After spending a few months in New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar, she went on to Harvard Law School.  She graduated cum laude, earning her J.D. degree in 1991.

Upon graduation, she served as a law clerk – first for Judge Donald J. Porter, United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, then for Judge David R. Hansen of the Eighth Circuit.

Judge Hansen has sent us a letter in support for Ms. Kelly.  He was a person that I have suggested to Republican Presidents for both district judge and then for his long tenure on the Eighth Circuit.  He has been a friend of mine as well.  This is what now-retired Judge Hansen said in support of Ms. Kelly.   “She is a forthright woman of high integrity and honest character” and that she has an “exceptionally keen intellect”.  Judge Hansen concludes that “she will be a welcomed addition to the Court if confirmed.”   I would add that I have no doubt that she will be confirmed.

Beginning in 1994, she has served as an assistant federal public defender in the Northern District of Iowa in the Cedar Rapids office. She handles criminal matters for indigent defendants and has been responsible for trying a wide range of crimes.  She became the supervising attorney for the Cedar Rapids office in 1999.

Ms. Kelly is active in the bar and in district court matters.  She presently serves on the Criminal Justice Act Panel Selection Committee, the blue-ribbon panel for criminal cases, and the Facilities Security Committee of the district court.

In 2004, her peers honored her with the John Adams Award from the Iowa Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Drake University Law School.  She was unanimously chosen for this award, which recognizes individuals who show a commitment to the constitutional rights of criminal defense.

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave her a Unanimous “Qualified” rating.

I congratulate Ms. Kelly on her accomplishments and wish her well in her new duties.  I am pleased to support her confirmation and urge my colleagues to join me.

Now I would like to spend a couple minutes to update my colleagues on the progress we are making with respect to judicial nominations.

With this confirmation, the Senate will have confirmed 185 judicial nominations to the District and Circuit Courts.  Only two of President Obama’s nominees failed confirmation.

That’s a record of 185 to 2.

As I stated last week, a .989 batting average is a record any President would be thrilled with.  Yet this President, without justification, complains about obstruction and delay.

Today’s confirmation is the 14th so far this year – including 5 circuit judges and 9 district judges.

Let me put that in perspective for my colleagues.  At this point in the second term of the Bush presidency, only one judicial nomination had been confirmed.   A comparative record of 14 – 1 is nothing to cry about.

As I said, this is the fifth nominee to be confirmed as a circuit judge this year, and the 35th overall.   Over 76 percent of his circuit nominees have been confirmed.  President Clinton ended up at 73 percent; President Bush at 71 percent.  So President Obama is doing better than the previous two Presidents.

So again, this President and Senate Democrats should have no complaints on the judicial confirmation process.  The fact of the matter is that President Obama is doing quite well.  I yield the floor.


 
Governor Quinn Announces Tax Relief for Businesses and Families Impacted by Flooding PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Erin Wilson   
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 14:32

Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines Pushed to October 31, 2013

PEORIA – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois businesses and individuals who file monthly, quarterly or annual returns and have been impacted by the flooding will have until Oct. 31 to file tax returns that were due on or after April 19. The extended deadline will provide much-needed relief for individuals and local businesses trying to file their returns or payments on time while recovering from the flood.

“Families and businesses across Illinois need time to focus on rebuilding their businesses, homes and lives,” Governor Quinn said. “Once families have recovered, they can pull together the necessary paperwork to file and pay their taxes.”

Taxpayers who opt to mail their deferred returns and payments should write Flood – April 2013 on the outside of the envelope in red ink and on the top of each page of the tax filing, so the account can be updated and handled appropriately. Filers using My Tax Illinois or WebFile will be provided instructions when they file their returns so that no late fees or penalties will be billed to their accounts.  For questions, the Illinois Department of Revenue has set up a mailbox dedicated to the flood issue: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

“While we encourage individuals and businesses to bring their tax filings up to date as soon as their lives return to normal, we hope this deferred payment option is helpful to Illinois families and businesses,” Revenue Director Brian Hamer said.

The tax relief will help individuals and local businesses, such as hardware stores struggling to meet customer needs while cleaning up after the flood; they will be able to focus on their customers and will have extra time to file and pay the sales taxes they collect. Individuals and businesses who normally file quarterly returns won’t have the pressure to file those returns or payments while trying to recover from the flood. Distributors driving through flooded streets to get motor fuel to gas stations will have extra time to pay the taxes they owe.

Since Thursday, Governor Quinn has surveyed damage on the ground and from the air and met with local officials in some of the hardest hit communities, including Elmhurst, Des Plaines, River Forest, Bellwood, Riverside, Moline, Quincy, Bartonville, North Aurora, Marseilles, Ottawa, North Utica, Morris and Meredosia.

Personnel from FEMA, IEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration and local emergency management agencies will begin assessing damage to homes and businesses in Cook, DuPage and Lake Counties on April 29. The teams will move to other affected counties as floodwaters recede so they are able to accurately assess the damage. Governor Quinn has declared a total of 44 counties state disaster areas.

Counties included in the state disaster declaration are Adams, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Cook, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Fulton, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Stark, Tazewell, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago and Woodford.

The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from flooding. It came after assessments by emergency officials and the governor, and begins the process of securing federal relief.

As of today, the state has fulfilled more than 140 requests for assistance from counties including:

Department of Transportation

  • More than 240 IDOT personnel and 160 trucks and equipment have been deployed to deliver sandbags, plastic, pumps, hoses, trucks and drivers to communities and assist with debris removal.
  • Conducting flyovers of flooded areas for situational awareness.
  • Providing guidance to communities on pumping equipment needs.

Department of Corrections

  • Nearly 570 offenders have filled and placed sandbags in several communities, logging more than 5,700 hours.
  • More than 1,140 offenders at IDOC correctional facilities have worked around the clock to fill more than 140,000 sandbags since April 19.

Department of Natural Resources

  • DNR boats and conservation police officers have assisted with home and medical evacuations, transportation, river rescues, missing person searches and other flood-related responses.

Illinois Emergency Management Agency

  • Provided 40 StarCom radios to the Algonquin Police Department for emergency communications.
  • Deployed liaison teams to coordinate response efforts along the Mississippi River.
  • Coordinating requests for assistance from affected counties with state resources.

Illinois National Guard

  • UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and two crew members assisted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with overflight of the Des Plaines and Little Calumet Rivers to survey integrity of flood control systems and infrastructure.

Illinois State Police

  • Continue to assist motorists and local public safety agencies with flood-related issues.

Department of Public Health

  • Provided information on tetanus shots to local public health departments, hospitals and medical offices.
  • Arranged for the delivery of seven port-a-potties to support workers at two sandbagging sites.
  • Monitoring situations at nursing homes and long-term care facilities affected by flooding.

Department of Central Management Services

  • Procured sandbags, plastic and work gloves to support local sandbagging operations.

Governor Quinn activated the State Incident Response Center on Thursday to coordinate the deployment of state personnel and assets to assist local governments in the affected areas. The state’s flood response is coordinated by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

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Dog and Cat Food, Treats Recalled Nationwide as Salmonella Discovered PDF Print E-mail
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Written by James Judge   
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 15:31
MINNEAPOLIS – Doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are urging people to stop using and return or discard certain Natura Pet Products food and treats after the company issued a recall due to potential salmonella contamination Friday.

According to a press release issued by Natura Pet Products, the company is expanding its original recall after sampling conducted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of salmonella in additional dry pet food and a cat pet treat.

The brands affected are California Natural, Evo, Healthwise, Innova and Karma with expiration dates prior to and including March 24, 2014(See table below for additional details).

The affected products are sold through veterinary clinics and select pet specialty retailers nationwide and in Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and Costa Rica, as well as online, the release said.

People who have the potentially contaminated product should discard it immediately and stop handling it as it poses a risk to humans as well.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Common symptoms of salmonella in pets include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, fever and abdominal discomfort.

“Any time you notice your pet is not acting right, you should take him or her to your family veterinarian as soon as possible,” said Dr. Neil Shaw, chief medical officer of BluePearl. “If it is an after-hours emergency, we would be glad to help at any one of our locations.”

The affected products are:
Brand   Size    Description     UPC     Lot Codes(s)    EXPIRATION DATE
California Natural      All
Sizes   All dry dog and dry cat
food and treat varieties        All
UPCs    All Lot Codes   All expiration dates prior to and
including MARCH 24, 2014
EVO     All
Sizes   All dry dog and dry cat
food and treat varieties
All ferret food varieties       All
UPCs    All Lot Codes   All expiration dates prior to and
including MARCH 24, 2014
Healthwise      All
Sizes   All dry dog and dry cat
food and treat varieties        All
UPCs    All Lot Codes   All expiration dates prior to and
including MARCH 24, 2014
Innova  All
Sizes   All dry dog and dry cat
food and treat varieties        All
UPCs    All Lot Codes   All expiration dates prior to and
including MARCH 24, 2014
Karma   All
Sizes   All dry dog food varieties      All
UPCs    All Lot Codes   All expiration dates prior to and
including MARCH 24, 2014
Natura Pet Products also recommended for consumers to visit www.naturapet.com for additional information. For a product replacement or refund call Natura toll-free at 800-224-6123. (Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM CST).

About BluePearl Veterinary Partners
Formed in 2008, BluePearl Veterinary Partners is headquartered in Tampa, Fla., and employs more than 1,200 people including approximately 250 veterinarians. BluePearl hospitals are referral-only and don’t provide primary care. Most BluePearl hospitals offer 24-hour emergency care services. BluePearl is one of the world’s principal providers of approved veterinary residency and internship educational programs. BluePearl also participates in and conducts clinical trials to study the effectiveness of new drugs and treatments, which give clients access to cutting-edge medicine not yet commercially available and improves the quality of care delivered to our patients.
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Medicare Advantage/stock incident, Tavenner nomination PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 09:52
Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today released details of a timeline on a key Medicare policy decision earlier this month that reportedly moved stock prices when correctly described  by an outside firm prior to public release.  Grassley received information about the timeline from Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in response to his inquiry.  Grassley’s office has calculated that the Medicare Advantage policy decision was worth about $8 billion to the health care companies participating in Medicare Advantage.  He made the following comment on the new timeline details and the nomination of Tavenner to serve as permanent administrator.

“This timeline suggests CMS knew it was going to assume a sustainable growth rate fix in the Medicare Advantage rates on March 15.  I don’t think anyone who understands the background believes CMS made the decision on its own or that the first time it was known outside of CMS was May 22.  This was a decision not only with a high price tag, but also with political implications for the White House.  A policy decision benefiting the big insurance companies by $8 billion is not a routine undertaking for this Administration.  Given the high probability that the White House, National Economic Council, and Domestic Policy Council were involved in the $8 billion decision before March 15, a significant number of people likely knew what the outcome would be long before the decision was announced.  It seems unlikely that none of them hinted at it to anyone else for more than two weeks.  That’s especially true with the efforts from lobbyists and at least one political intelligence firm to get early insight into the decision.  Acting Administrator Tavenner has been responsive to my inquiries on this issue, in a letter last Friday and on a phone call this morning.  I intend to support her nomination and continue to work with her to get to the bottom of what led to the early release of information about the Medicare Advantage decision.”

Grassley’s April 4 letter to Tavenner is available here.  Tavenner’s April 19 response to Grassley is available here.

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