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Call for Entries: Decorate Your Own Concrete Ribbon for Display at the Iowa State Fair PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Lori Chappell   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:36

DES MOINES, IA (04/02/2013)(readMedia)-- The Iowa State Fair will celebrate its blue-ribbon winners with a limited number of 3 ½ foot tall painted concrete ribbons on display throughout the grounds during the 2013 Fair, August 8-18. Individuals, clubs and companies are invited to submit their own designs for these sculptures by May 15.

To enter, submit an entry form along with a written description and detailed drawing of the proposed paint design. Entry forms can be downloaded from the Iowa State Fair website: All entries must be received or e-mailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by May 15.

Selected applicants will be contacted by June 1. Pending selection, a $100 entry fee will be due at ribbon pick-up. Following the Fair, artists will get to keep their painted sculptures. A panel of judges will award prizes based on originality, creativeness and overall look in both the professional and novice divisions. Participants will be judged in the "professional" category if 25 percent or more of their income comes from graphic design or is artistry related.

Winners will receive a prize package including an Iowa State Fair plaque, Fair admission tickets, parking and Fair food tickets. The first, second and third place winners will also receive $150, $100 and $50 cash prizes, respectively. Artists' names will be displayed alongside their painted sculpture during the Fair.

Send entries to:

Tonya Cook, Special Events Director

Iowa State Fair

PO Box 57130

Des Moines, Iowa 50317-0003

Or e-mail all materials to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For questions about the contest, contact Tonya Cook at 515-262-3111, ext. 215 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

"Nothing Compares" to the 2013 Iowa State Fair, August 8-18. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visit

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Lt. Governor Simon, members of Firearms Working Group release concealed carry checklist PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kara Beach   
Monday, 01 April 2013 13:56

Legislators urged to consider 10 principles including constitutionality and local input, while evaluating legislation

SPARTA – April 1, 2013. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and members of her Firearms Working Group today urged the General Assembly to use their checklist of principles when evaluating concealed carry legislation. The checklist released today was derived from meetings the group held this spring with stakeholders on all sides of the gun debate.

“Rhetoric can get in the way of common sense law-making,” said Simon, a former Southern Illinois prosecutor. “This checklist cuts through the volatile language and gets at the heart of what we need to pass a concealed carry law that is constitutional and prevents needless deaths.”


Lt. Governor Simon’s Firearms Working Group met with gun owners and advocates, parents who lost children to gun violence, domestic violence prevention professionals, mental and public health experts, law enforcement officials and educators from urban, suburban and rural communities across the state. Recently the group talked with Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), the sponsor of House Bill 997, which allows for concealed carry of firearms in Illinois.

Simon said the voices reflected deeply-held beliefs on an issue that is not partisan, but regional in Illinois. Both gun rights and violence prevention advocates urged the freshmen senators and representatives who comprise the Firearms Working Group to pass reasonable restrictions that balance the constitutional right to keep and bear arms with the responsibility to prevent violence.

Currently Illinois is the only state in the nation with a law that completely bans carrying concealed firearms. The law was declared unconstitutional in December by a three-member panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Illinois now has until June to pass a law that permits people to carry concealed guns in public spaces.

Despite coming to the group with a wide variety of opinions, these members of the Firearms Working Group reached common ground on the checklist: Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Orland Hills), Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford), Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside), and Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison).

The 10 points on the checklist are:

Constitutionality: The concealed carry law must uphold the right to keep and bear arms, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution.

Basic Qualifications: Concealed carry permits should be issued only to adult residents of Illinois who hold valid Firearms Owner Identification Cards (FOID) and do not pose a danger to themselves or others.

Funding: The concealed carry law should also create a fund made up of user fees in order to finance the concealed carry permit application and renewal process.

Permitting Authority: The Illinois State Police (ISP) should be the permitting authority for concealed carry, and the ISP should maintain a database of permits issued.

Local Input: County sheriffs and local law enforcement authorities should be allowed to provide the ISP with information about whether an applicant poses a safety risk if the applicant were allowed to carry a concealed firearm.

Background Checks: Prior to issuing concealed carry permits, comprehensive criminal background checks should be conducted along with investigations into an applicant’s mental health history, record of substance abuse and history of domestic violence.

Firearm Training: Concealed carry permit applicants should be required to complete firearm safety and live fire training prior to receiving and renewing permits.

Permits: Lost, stolen or destroyed concealed carry permits should be reported to authorities in a timely manner.

Sensitive Places: Concealed firearms should be prohibited in certain public places, such as schools, which is consistent with U.S. Supreme Court guidance. Private property owners should also be able to prohibit concealed weapons on that property.

Violations: An applicant who violates the concealed carry law or makes material false statements on concealed carry permit applications should be subject to criminal penalties.

The checklist’s release comes on the same day Lt. Governor Simon visited the World Shooting & Recreational Complex in Sparta to learn firsthand about safe gun operation. Please visit for additional information about the Firearms Working Group.


Governor Pat Quinn Takes Clemency Action Mar 30, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Erin Wilson   
Monday, 01 April 2013 11:47

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today granted 87 and denied 135 clemency petitions. This action marks another step in a series of clemency decisions aimed at eliminating a backlog of more than 2,500 cases that built up during the previous administration.

The 222 clemency petitions acted upon by Governor Quinn are part of dockets ranging from 2005 through 2012. Each person granted clemency has recently undergone a criminal background check through the Illinois State Police’s Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS).

A granted clemency request for a pardon with expungement allows the petitioner to seek expungement of their conviction through the court system.

Since taking office, Governor Quinn has acted on 2,459 clemency petitions. Governor Quinn has granted 929 and denied 1,530 petitions. Those actions include granting 909 pardons and authorizing 20 people who had previously received pardons to seek expungement of their convictions.

For additional information on the granted clemency cases, please contact Ken Tupy at the Prisoner Review Board at (217) 782-7274 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


What ‘Argo’ Fails to Tell Us About the Lives of American Diplomats PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 01 April 2013 11:39
3 Surprising Facts About the Men & Women
in the Foreign Service

The Academy Awards’ “Best Picture” tells the story of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-80.

But, for all that it’s a movie about diplomats, it tells nothing of the men and women who represent the United States abroad, the challenges they face and how prepared – or ill prepared – they are to face those challenges, says Nicholas Kralev, an expert on international affairs and diplomacy and author of a new book, “America’s Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy,”

Why should Americans care?

Because the work of U.S. diplomats affects every American’s safety and security, Kralev says.

“Their success – or lack of it – affects our ability to travel; our employment opportunities; our prosperity.”

The U.S. Foreign Service is much less visible than the U.S. military – in spite of the attention it has received in recent months. The 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died, raised greater awareness of our Foreign Service workers. Additionally, media attention on the globetrotting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who oversaw the department, captured the public’s imagination.

Kralev, a former Financial Times and Washington Times correspondent covered the State Department for 10 years under four secretaries of state. He visited more than 50 embassies and interviewed 600 American diplomats to learn about who they are, what their daily lives are like, and what they do. He says Americans would be surprised by what we don’t know about the Foreign Service.

• Parties are the last thing on a diplomat’s mind. Their multiple missions range from helping lift people out of poverty to influencing public opinion in the countries where they’re posted to watching out for threats to U.S. interests. For the past 10 years, the goal of U.S. diplomacy has been to ensure security and prosperity by removing the conditions that foster conflict. That means a diplomat must be a jack of all trades. They roll up their sleeves to provide hands-on help building schools and hospitals; aid victims of natural disasters; work with refugees. Diplomats also intercede on behalf of Americans who run into problems while traveling abroad; seek grants for local projects, and build relationships among the local populace and leaders.

• American diplomats risk their lives every day. Chris Stevens was not the first diplomat to die in the line of duty. Violent crimes including kidnapping, carjackings and robberies are ever-present threats. In 2008, a 33-year-old embassy employee was killed in Sudan while returning home from a party at the British Embassy. In 2002, a 60-year-old diplomat was killed in Jordan. In 1983, a car bomb killed 63 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
“Our Foreign Service workers tell harrowing stories of near misses,” Kralev says. “But they also understand that the adventure that makes that lives so appealing to them is not without risks.”

• Foreign Service workers have surprisingly little training. To be eligible for the service, applicants must by U.S. citizens at least 21 years old and no older than 60 on the day you are appointed, and available for worldwide assignments. They also must pass a Foreign Service Officer exam. “They are ordinary Americans -- former lawyers, nurses, restaurant managers, teachers and journalists. They come from every walk of life,” Kralev says. “Much of what they do is based on intuition, luck and gut. Officers learn on the job almost everything they need to know.”

The work of the Foreign Service is too important to remain a mystery, says Kralev, who details countless individual stories in “America’s Other Army.”

“Strong and effective U.S. diplomacy is essential to our security, prosperity, even our freedom. Americans should pay attention to whether we’re providing them with all of the tools they need.”

About Nicholas Kralev

Nicholas Kralev is an author, journalist and lecturer on international affairs, diplomacy and global travel. A former Financial Times and Washington Times correspondent, he has traveled around the world with four U.S. secretaries of state, including Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, and visited more than 80 countries. He is the author of “America’s Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy” and "Decoding Air Travel: A Guide to Saving on Airfare and Flying in Luxury." He is also the founder and CEO of Kralev International LLC, an air travel consulting and training company. He holds a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Governor Quinn Statement on Passing of Illinois State Trooper James Sauter PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Erin Wilson   
Friday, 29 March 2013 09:37

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today released the following statement regarding the crash last night that claimed the life of Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter.

“Today the entire state of Illinois mourns the loss of Trooper James Sauter, who worked tirelessly to protect the people of our state. Illinois is a safer and better place thanks to his bravery and commitment to public safety.

"Trooper Sauter’s untimely passing is a tragic reminder of the dangers our sworn officers face every day in the line of duty.

“I send my condolences to the family and friends of Trooper James Sauter. They are in our thoughts and prayers during these most difficult of times.”


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