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Statement from Governor Quinn on President Barack Obama’s Plan for Immigration Reform PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ryan C. Woods   
Thursday, 31 January 2013 14:11

CHICAGO – January 29, 2013. Governor Pat Quinn today welcomed the call by President Barack Obama to take immediate action on immigration reform in America:

“Immigration reform in our nation is long overdue, and I applaud President Obama for his comprehensive plan to fix our broken immigration system. This plan will strengthen border security while providing a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Most importantly, it will keep families together.

“I am proud that Illinois is leading the nation when it comes to welcoming all people. Just this week, I signed a bill to improve traffic safety and ensure that undocumented immigrants in Illinois will be able to be properly licensed to drive. I also fought for the Illinois Dream Act, a historic law that is opening up education opportunities that will help Illinois children pursue their dreams.

“We must always ensure that everybody is in and nobody is left out.”

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Statement from Governor Quinn on President Barack Obama’s Plan for Immigration Reform PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ryan C. Woods   
Thursday, 31 January 2013 14:11

CHICAGO – January 29, 2013. Governor Pat Quinn today welcomed the call by President Barack Obama to take immediate action on immigration reform in America:

“Immigration reform in our nation is long overdue, and I applaud President Obama for his comprehensive plan to fix our broken immigration system. This plan will strengthen border security while providing a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Most importantly, it will keep families together.

“I am proud that Illinois is leading the nation when it comes to welcoming all people. Just this week, I signed a bill to improve traffic safety and ensure that undocumented immigrants in Illinois will be able to be properly licensed to drive. I also fought for the Illinois Dream Act, a historic law that is opening up education opportunities that will help Illinois children pursue their dreams.

“We must always ensure that everybody is in and nobody is left out.”

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Is Someone You Know in a Cult? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 14:46
Survivor Shares 5 Warning Signs

The difference between “religion” and “cult” can often seem slight.

These days, many are apt to describe believers as one big community of faith, but the fact remains that there are very important differences among various belief systems, says Richard E. Kelly, a self-described “survivor” of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“On the spectrum of faiths, I put the Watchtower Society – Jehovah’s Witnesses – closer to the (Charles) Manson Family cult than I do, say, the Lutheran Church,” says Kelly, www.richardekelly.com, author of “Growing Up in Mama’s Club – A Childhood Perspective of Jehovah’s Witnesses” and “The Ghosts from Mama’s Club.” The books detail his experiences growing up in a Jehovah’s Witnesses household, the ensuing family disharmony and how the cultish legacy contributed to his sister’s murder.

The following beliefs should be considered cult constructs, he says.

• Certainty that the world will end in one’s lifetime: This is a crucial pill to swallow for a subsequent list of cult beliefs, which keep followers in a perpetual state of fear. If only one holds true enough to a strict set of rules – like avoiding pledges of allegiance at school, for example – then they may be spared at Armageddon.

• Social manipulation: For Jehovah’s Witnesses who are not observant of all rules, ostracism and shunning is used. How to handle someone who questions policy? Make sure their family ignores them!

• Cripple half of the members (women): For Jehovah’s Witnesses, women are seen as creatures trapped somewhere between men and animals in God’s hierarchy. No woman can have a position of authority, which means it's men only for preaching, teaching and praying. If there’s an official meeting and a woman prays she must cover her head out of respect for the angels who might be there.

• Scorning education: Who needs advanced learning when the world is sure to end in a few short years? Kelly’s sister, Marilyn, had very little education, so when she was finally able to leave home, she had few coping skills. She ultimately met an abusive third husband, who later murdered her.

• Sexually repressive: Jehovah’s Witnesses are thoroughly indoctrinated in how to harness the power of the sex drive to please God. It’s obsessive compulsive when it comes to creating rules about sexual do's and don’ts, from masturbation to the role of women; from conception to sexual pleasure. Sex before marriage is an onerous crime, punishable by shunning and death at Armageddon.

About Richard E. Kelly

Richard E. Kelly grew up as a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At 20, while working at the religion’s headquarters, he left the group to live with his wife, Helen, in New York City. Because Kelly’s family believed Armageddon was imminent, his education was limited to what was required by law, since there would be no future. However, he went on to earn a bachelor’s in accounting, a master’s in business and become president of a Michigan manufacturing company. He now enjoys retirement with his family and friends.

 
Simon launches Firearms Working Group, announces diverse, bipartisan membership PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kara Beach   
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 14:39

Group will meet with hunters, law enforcement, mental health experts and crime victims on concealed carry, gun issues

CHICAGO – January 29, 2013. As state leaders debate concealed carry legislation, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is convening a Firearms Working Group comprised of new members of the General Assembly to learn about different perspectives and bridge the geographical divide on gun ownership and use in Illinois.

The working group includes Republican and Democratic State Senators and Representatives elected to the General Assembly for the first time to represent urban, suburban and rural districts. They will meet with stakeholders on all sides of the gun control debate as the legislature considers a law that could allow Illinoisans to carry concealed firearms.

Currently Illinois is the only state in the nation with a law banning concealed carry. The law was declared unconstitutional in December by a three-member panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the state was ordered to pass a law allowing concealed carry within 180 days. Attorney General Madigan has asked the full 7th Circuit Court for review, but lawmakers are working on legislation in response to the court order and other high-profile gun control issues such as an assault weapons ban.

Simon’s Firearms Working Group intends to dialogue with stakeholders on all sides of the gun control debate and work toward consensus on components of the pending legislation. Meetings will be held in Springfield and communities around Illinois, where members will meet with gun owners, hunters, families impacted by gun violence, domestic violence prevention advocates, mental health experts, law enforcement officials, among others. Members will also learn to safely operate a firearm at the Sparta World Shooting Complex.

“State leaders need to engage in honest discussion about concealed carry, but it is difficult to have that honest discussion without fully understanding all the perspectives on gun issues,” said Lt. Governor Simon, a former Jackson County prosecutor and law professor. “By bringing together new members to learn about deeply held – often regional – perspectives, I believe we can set fair policies for the state and keep guns from falling into the wrong hands."

Simon’s Firearms Working Group includes:

·         Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake)

·         Sen. Thomas Cullerton (D-Villa Park)

·         Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago)

·         Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Orland Park)

·         Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

·         Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield)

·         Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford)

·         Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon)

·         Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood)

·         Rep. Charles Meier (R-Highland)

·         Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago)

·         Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale)

·         Rep. Emanuel Welch (D-Hillside)

·         Rep. Kathleen Willis (D-Addison)

·         Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach)

 

The Illinois State Rifle Association and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence plan to meet with the Firearms Working Group in the coming weeks to outline their priorities for concealed carry legislation.

“The Illinois State Rifle Association looks forward to participating in the Lt. Governor’s Firearms Working Group,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “The input of law-abiding firearm owners will help frame the debate by clearing up misconceptions about private firearm ownership.”

“The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence applauds Lieutenant Governor Simon for bringing people from all sides of the gun debate together to work on this complex issue,” said Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence. “As the General Assembly considers commonsense gun control measures in the coming session we think it is important for all legislators to understand all sides of this debate. We look forward to working with the task force and thank the Lieutenant Governor for her efforts."

For more information on Simon’s Firearms Working Group, please visit www.ltgov.illinois.gov.

 
SENS. BROWN, GRASSLEY PRESS JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ON “TOO BIG TO JAIL” PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 14:38

Senators Question Whether “Too Big to Fail” Status of Some Wall Street Megabanks Undermines Government’s Ability to Prosecute Large Financial Institutions, Impose Appropriate Penalties

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter today to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder questioning whether the “too big to fail” status of certain Wall Street megabanks undermines the ability of the federal government to prosecute wrongdoing and impose appropriate penalties.  They also requested that the Justice Department disclose the identities of parties with whom prosecutors consult about the appropriate level of penalties for financial institutions.

 

“Wall Street megabanks aren’t just too big to fail, they’re increasingly too big to jail,” Brown said. “Already, the nation’s six largest megabanks enjoy what amounts to taxpayer-funded guarantee by virtue of their size, making it harder for regional and community banks to compete. Now, these megabanks may also enjoy some impunity when they violate the law by laundering money or illegally foreclosing on homeowners. Wall Street should pay the full price of its wrongdoing, not pass the costs along to taxpayers.”

 

“The best deterrent to crime is to put people in prison,” Grassley said.  “That includes those at powerful banks and corporations.  Unfortunately, we’ve seen little willingness to charge these individuals criminally.  The public deserves an explanation of how the Justice Department arrives at these decisions.”

 

Brown, who chairs the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, is the author the Safe, Accountable, Fair & Efficient (SAFE) Banking Act, legislation that would prevent any one financial institution from becoming so large and overleveraged that its collapse could put our economy on the brink of collapse or trigger the need for a federal bailout. He also passed legislation with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) to requiring the Government Accountability Office to study how banks with assets of $500 billion or more benefit from the belief that the government would not let them fail in a crisis.

 

As Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Grassley has been critical of the Justice Department’s decisions against holding people criminally accountable in financial cases.  He called the Justice Department’s decision to forego any criminal prosecution of HSBC officials involved in that money laundering scandal inexcusable.  And he has questioned the Justice Department about the number of mortgage fraud cases brought forward, revealing a failure to bring significant criminal cases against any of the major banks or financial institutions that have faced civil actions for various frauds. Grassley is the author of the Fraud Enforcement Recovery Act, signed into law in 2009, that was designed to ramp up the government’s response to the crisis and ensure that prosecutors and investigators had the tools needed to combat fraud.

 

The full text of the letter from Brown and Grassley to Holder can be found below.

 

 

January 29, 2013

 

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.

United States Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20530

 

Dear Attorney General Holder:

 

The large number of private and government lawsuits since the global financial crisis continues to undermine public confidence in our financial markets.  This confidence can only be restored by demonstrating that there are consistent rules in place that provide accountability for wrongdoing and deter financial predators.

 

Unfortunately, many of the settlements between large financial institutions and the federal government involve penalties that are disproportionately low, both in relation to the profits which resulted from those wrongful actions as well as in relation to the costs imposed upon consumers, investors, and the market.

 

The nature of these settlements has fostered concerns that “too big to fail” Wall Street banks enjoy a favored status, in statute and in enforcement policy.  This perception undermines the public’s confidence in our institutions and in the principal that the law is applied equally in all cases.

 

On settling with Swiss Bank UBS for Libor manipulation, for example, you said, “[t]he impact on the stability of the financial markets around the world is something we take into consideration.  We reach out to experts outside of the Justice Department to talk about what are the consequences of actions that we might take, what would be the impact of those actions if we want to make particular prosecutive decisions or determinations with regard to a particular institution.”

 

In an interview with Frontline, outgoing Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer defended the Department of Justice’s inability to prosecute large financial institutions by saying, “but in any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution, and as a result of bringing that case, there’s some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it’s a factor we need to know and understand.”

 

These statements raise important questions about the Justice Department’s prosecutorial philosophy.  In order to explore the Justice Department’s treatment of potential criminal activity by large financial institutions, please answer the following questions and provide the following information:

 

1. Has the Justice Department designated certain institutions whose failure could jeopardize the stability of the financial markets and are thus, “too big to jail”?  If so, please name them.

 

2. Has the Justice Department ever failed to bring a prosecution against an institution due to concern that their failure could jeopardize financial markets?

 

3. Are there any entities the Justice Department has entered into settlements with, in which the amount of the settlement reflected a concern that markets could be impacted by such a settlement?  If so, for which entities?

 

4. Please provide the names of all outside experts consulted by the Justice Department in making prosecutorial decisions regarding financial institutions with over $1 billion in assets.

 

5. Please provide any compensation contracts for these individuals.

 

6. How did DOJ ensure that these experts provided unconflicted and unbiased advice to DOJ?

 

Our markets will only function efficiently if participants believe that all laws will be enforced consistently, and that violators will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  There should not be one set of rules that apply to Wall Street and another set for the rest of us.

 

Thank you for your cooperation and attention in this matter.  We would appreciate a response by February 8, 2013.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Graham Steele for Senator Brown at (202) 224-2315 or Chris Lucas for Ranking Member Grassley at (202) 224-5225.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Sherrod Brown                          Charles E. Grassley

Chairman                                     Ranking Member

Banking Committee,                     Judiciary Committee

Subcommittee on Financial Institutions

and Consumer Protection

 

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