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Chat about Everything ‘Iowa’ – Holiday Gift Idea PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Bozena Luczak   
Monday, 12 November 2012 15:25

As you look for creative and new holiday gift ideas, you might consider the recently released Iowa Chat Pack– a box of easy-to-pull cards.  A perfect stocking stuffer, Iowa Chat Pack offers 150+ questions to get the conversations going at family parties, on road trips, and even in the classroom.  The questions range from factual to hypothetical and are always open-ended so the responses spark additional thoughts and ideas about Iowa’s distinctive cultural events, delicious food, remarkable history and many more.

Sample questions include:

If native Iowan and painter Grant Wood had made YOU the main character in his famous painting American Gothic, what would you be holding in your hand in this well-known work of art?

Which Iowa town do you think has the coolest-sounding name? (What Cheer has to be in the running, doesn’t it?)

What is the most fascinating piece of Iowa trivia that you know (besides the fact that there are roughly six hogs for every person in Iowa, and that Iowa is the only state whose name begins with two vowels)?

These are just a few examples of fun and thought-provoking questions designed to engage in entertaining and even enlightening conversations about the Hawkeye State.

Bret Nicholaus and Paul Lowrie, the creators and publishers of Iowa Chat Pack, have been writing creative, stimulating questions for 20 years. Affectionately known as The Question Guys™, the two business partners have written nearly 4,500 questions, but this year marks the first time they have generated state-themed questions.

For more information, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 708-434-5006.

 
Clinton Franciscans plan solidarity with SOA vigil PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sallyann McCarthy   
Monday, 12 November 2012 13:40

The Sisters of St. Francis, their Associates and Sojourners, and students from Ashford University are inviting the public to join in a prayer vigil in solidarity with the thousands of persons who will gather at the gates of the U.S. Army base at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, this month.  Fort Benning is home to the Army’s infamous “School of the Americas” (SOA).

The vigil will be held in the chapel at The Canticle, home of the Franciscan Sisters, 841-13th Ave. No., Clinton, and begins at 6 pm, Thursday evening, Nov. 15.

November 16 marks the 23rd anniversary of the 1989 massacre of 6 Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter at the University of San Salvador, El Salvador.  A U.S. Congressional Task Force reported that those responsible were trained at the SOA.  Since 1990, the organization SOA WATCH has been holding prayer vigils outside the gates of the base to draw attention to the evils perpetrated by SOA graduates and to lobby for an end to US funding for the program.

Clinton Franciscans have been participating in the vigil since 1996.  Over 20 Sisters plus Associates, friends and students have travelled to Georgia in the ensuing years to join the 10,000 + people from around the world who gather annually to pray and work for change through creative nonviolence.

The Pentagon has responded to the growing movement and Congress' near closure of the SOA with a PR campaign to give the SOA a new image. In an attempt to disassociate the school with its horrific past, the SOA was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in January of 2001

News reached the public earlier this month that one of the perpetrators of the 1989 massacre has been located in the U.S. and is being deported to Spain for trial on murder charges.

Thousands of other Latin Americans and North Americans including four American church women and two bishops have been killed by forces linked to the SOA.  Several bills have been introduced in Congress to halt funding for the SOA, only to be narrowly defeated,

“We hope many people will join us for this brief prayer vigil of solidarity,” said Anne Martin Phelan OSF, president of the Clinton Franciscans who has participated in the vigil at Fort Benning many times.  On one trip, she joined hundreds who “crossed the line” onto Army property in nonviolent civil disobedience.

“It is vital that we not participate in the training of those who are terrorizing their fellow citizens in Central American, Mexico, Peru and Columbia.  By holding a vigil in Clinton, we hope to involve more citizens in this form of prayerful, peaceful protest,” she said.

For more information, call Sisters of St. Francis, 563-242-7611 or visit www.clintonfranciscans.com.

 
ISU Scott County Extension to Discuss Methods to Brave the Holidays PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Amanda Heitz   
Monday, 12 November 2012 13:28
ISU Scott County Extension will sponsor Braving the Holidays: A Guide to Navigating the Most Wonderful Time of the Year with Your Sanity and Waistline Intact on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 from 6:00-7:30 PM at Eastern Avenue Public Library in Davenport.

Holiday festivities bring time with family and friends, delicious food, great music and decorations, and rituals that come but once a year. Unfortunately, holidays can also bring some undue stress with that cheer – not to mention a few extra pounds. We all know the mile-long list of to-do’s that seem necessary to make the perfect holiday season. Not to mention the temptation of cookies, candies and pie at every corner. This 90 minute presentation will offer clarity to the stress that comes with the holidays. We will discuss keeping your to-do list at a level that allows you to also enjoy the festivities, along with some practical suggestions for watching your
waistline during the busy holiday season.

This session is free, but please RSVP to ISU Scott County Extension at 563-359-7577.

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Grassley Presses for Answers on How Federal Judiciary will Handle Sequestration PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 12 November 2012 13:22
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is pressing for a comprehensive plan from the federal judiciary in light of possible budget cuts due to sequestration.

Grassley said he became concerned after reading an email alerting him to the drastic measures the governing body of the federal court system would take if sequestration occurs.  The email lacked any reference to actions the courts should already be taking to limit unnecessary spending, such as limiting conferences expenses and travel for judges and other employees.  Savings generated by cutting these unnecessary expenditures could help the courts avoid layoffs, continue juror compensation, and ensure that defender services are maintained.

Grassley’s concerns were presented today in a letter to Judge Thomas Hogan, the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts which is the operating body of the federal court system.

“The entire federal government is going to be absorbing some difficult cost saving measures.  But, it’s disappointing that the federal judiciary outlined draconian measures in a vague email instead of providing a comprehensive plan.  It seems to present a Chicken Little mentality without much effort and forethought into avoiding major disruptions.  The last thing we want is for people to be laid off or justice to be delayed,” Grassley said.  “The federal court system should have a detailed plan to ensure as little disruption as possible in case sequestration occurs.  I’ve outlined a great deal of questionable spending by the federal judiciary that could easily be curbed to give the cost saving a jump start.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the federal courts system.  Grassley has been conducting oversight of unchecked spending by the federal judiciary for several years.

Here’s a copy of the text of the letter to Hogan.  A signed copy can be found here.

 

November 8, 2012

Via Electronic Transmission

 

The Honorable Judge Thomas F. Hogan

Director

Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building

One Columbus Circle N.E.

Washington, D.C. 20544

 

Dear Judge Hogan:

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (A.O.) sent an email recently to staff members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary outlining the impact of the possible sequestration on the federal courts.  As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, I want to ensure the A.O. has a more comprehensive plan for sequestration than was outlined in the email.

The A.O. warned that “[a]n 8.2 percent cut could amount to a $555 million [funding] reduction” and would be “devastating.”   In addition, the A.O. intimated the federal courts could be forced to downsize its staff across the country by approximately one third as well as potentially require involuntary separations and/or up to five weeks of furlough for court employees.  Your office also cautioned that defender services would be severely impacted by the suspension of payments to private attorneys and their staffs.  And finally, the A.O. suggested court security would be cut by fifty percent, and jurors would not be paid for their services.

There is no question that the funding reductions would be difficult to absorb.  However, I find it surprising that while the A.O. has been quick to outline the number of employees who would be either involuntarily separated or furloughed, other operational expenses are not mentioned.

For a number of years, I have been raising concerns about the significant amount of court funding spent on non-case related travel.  Thus far, the spending documents I have seen do not appear to justify the travel expenses associated with several events sponsored by various components of the judiciary.  For instance, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held a weeklong conference in Maui, Hawaii, costing taxpayers well over $1 million.  In another example, five district courts requesting new judgeships spent over $635,000 and used at least 1362 paid work days for non-court related travel in 2010 alone.  Additionally, the Federal Public Defender’s Office (FPDO) for the Eastern District of California recently spent at least $25,000 for an employee spa weekend.  And in fact, the 62 FPDOs across the country have spent at least $17 million on travel expenses over the past two years alone.  While these only represent several examples, if spending on items of this nature were curtailed, the savings could go a long way towards filling the funding shortfalls your office identified.

According to the March 13, 2012 Report on the Proceeding of the Judicial Conference of the United States,[1] the Budget Committee “developed a report to the Executive Committee on the status of the judiciary’s cost-containment efforts.”  The report states that “given the current and expected worsening funding climate facing the judiciary, it is essential that the judiciary complete and implement, as soon as possible, as many of these initiatives as feasible.”

I agree wholeheartedly that the judiciary needs to seek out and implement cost-containment measures, but I strongly encourage the A.O. to review the judiciary budget as a whole to identify those measures.  For this reason, I am requesting the following additional information:

1)      The detailed plan for how the A.O. intends to meet effectively the demands of any potential sequestration, and the demands of the federal court system.

2)      The cost savings for each measure outlined in the plan provided in question (1) would generate.

3)      Details regarding the decision-making process for determining where funding cuts would be made, how deep those cuts would be, and what, if any, programs would not receive a funding reduction.

4)      Details about how funding for non-case related travel throughout the federal judiciary will be reduced.

5)      The results of the Federal Judicial Center survey of judges “to ascertain which resources they consider most (and least) essential to performing their official duties.”[2]

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.  I would appreciate receiving your response to this matter by December 4, 2012.  Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact my staff at (202) 224-5225.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley

Ranking Member

1.  Report of the Proceedings of the Judicial Conference of the United States, at 9 (March 13, 2012), available at  http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/JudicialConference/Proceedings/Proceedings.aspx?doc=/uscourts/FederalCourts/judconf/proceedings/2012-03.pdf

2 Id. at. 7.

 





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Making a Beautiful Difference in Iowa – Women of Worth PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Amanda Gluck   
Monday, 12 November 2012 09:25

I would like to introduce you to two women who are making a beautiful difference in Iowa…

Dr. Ida Johnson of Davenport, IA is the Founder of United Neighbors, Inc., an organization that helps others help themselves while building self-worth, and includes youth, education, housing, financial literacy and multicultural healthcare programs.  Sarah Cronk of Bettendorf, IA is the Founder of The Sparkle Effect, a student-run program that empowers teens nationwide to include students with disabilities in school-based cheerleading and dance programs.

Ida and Sarah are two of ten women chosen out of thousands of nominations to become Women of Worth honorees. The amazing Women of Worth program, which honors women making a difference in their communities, is launching their voting phase today to gain recognition for their incredibly inspiring honorees. This is the program’s 7th year, with each of the below 10 women being chosen out of thousands of nominations – they each get $10K for their organizations and whoever gets the most votes (starting today through the 21st) from the public gets an additional $25K and is named the Women of Worth National Honoree.

When Dr. Ida Johnson moved to Iowa 38 years ago as a newly divorced mother, leaving behind an abusive ex-husband in search of a better life for her five children, she found a home in a low-income, inner city neighborhood and employment in a kitchen at St. Ambrose University. Fighting to keep her family safe, intact and fed, Ida began bringing neighborhood children into her home for games and learning activities.

Now, nearly 40 years later, with the mission of helping others help themselves while building self-worth, United Neighbors has helped to take children off the streets and into a safe place, with an after-school program bringing in tutors to assist with homework and teach computer skills. Kids in the program receive a home-cooked meal and participate in creative activities, then are safely driven home each evening. Additional programs include first-time homebuyer education, down payment assistance, a minimum code home repair program in partnership with the City of Davenport and a multicultural health initiative to provide health education seminars to nearly 400 underserved people in the area each year.

Sarah Cronk grew up watching her older brother, Charlie, struggle to make friends due to his disability and noticed that it wasn't until the popular swim team captain invited Charlie to sit at his lunch table that things began to turn around. He encouraged Charlie to join the team and Sarah watched her brother's confidence soar.

In 2008, Sarah created and coached the nation's first inclusive cheerleading squad at her high school. A year later, she established her nonprofit, The Sparkle Effect (TSE), a student-run program that empowers teens nationwide to include students with disabilities in school-based cheerleading and dance programs.

More than five million students with disabilities attend public schools in the United States, yet most school sports and activities are not designed to accommodate these students. As a result, students with disabilities are left sidelined – excluded from high school sports and the social opportunities they offer. Students participating on TSE teams are breaking down social barriers, replacing insecurity with confidence and joy, and demonstrating that when we open our minds and our hearts to people of all abilities, everyone benefits. Within the past year, TSE has grown from 25 to over 70 teams nationwide, directly including more than 1,200 students.

 

WOMEN OF WORTH PROGRAM

The Women of Worth initiative, now in its seventh year, is inspired by L’Oréal Paris’ iconic brand philosophy, “Because You're Worth It.” Since its inception, the program has recognized 70 women for their outstanding devotion to their causes, with honorees embodying the spirit of the L’Oréal Paris brand through their commitment to their communities, their selflessness and their drive to make a difference in the world.

 

Now in its seventh year, the Women of Worth program has recognized 70 incredible women to date for their amazing accomplishments, and this year’s ten honorees continue to inspire through their dedication to philanthropy and their passion for improving the world. From young women who pioneered programs while still in high school to women who have been changing lives for decades, 2012’s Women of Worth honorees are making an extraordinary difference in their communities.

RECOGNITION

Each of the incredible honorees has received $10,000 for her charitable cause and will be recognized at an awards ceremony and dinner hosted by L'Oréal Paris and Hearst Magazines on December 6th in New York City. At the event, one National Honoree, chosen via a public online vote, will be announced, and she will receive an additional $25,000 for her charity.

 

VOTING

Public online voting for the Women of Worth National Honoree is open from today through November 21st on WomenofWorth.com. Visitors to the site can vote once per day for their favorite Woman of Worth, and the honoree with the most votes will be named National Honoree.

 

HONOREES

Setting the bar for extraordinary philanthropic efforts, this year’s honorees support a wealth of important causes, from healthcare to education and everything in between.

 

·         Amy Paterson – Portland, OR; Co-founder of My Little Waiting Room, an organization that promotes the health and well-being of families by bringing drop-in child care to hospitals so that children can thrive as families heal.

·         Catherine Meek – Los Angeles, CA; Executive Director of School on Wheels, an organization that enhances educational opportunities for homeless children by providing homeless students with one-on-one volunteer tutors.

·         Dr. Ida Johnson – Davenport, IA; Founder of United Neighbors, Inc., an organization that helps others help themselves while building self-worth, and includes youth, education, housing, financial literacy and multicultural healthcare programs.

·         Kate Bialo – Larchmont, NY; Founder and Executive Director of Furniture Sharehouse, an organization that empowers underprivileged families by providing basic furniture to turn their house into a home.

·         Lorraine Kerwood – Eugene, OR; Founder of NextStep, an organization that focuses on people, the planet and education by providing community members with disabilities the tools they need to succeed academically and in the workplace.

·         Olivia Stinson – Charlotte, NC; Founder of Pen Pals Book Club and Support Group, an organization that strives to promote literacy and provide cultural and social activities for children with incarcerated parents.

·         Risa Vetri Ferman – Abington, PA; Co-founder of Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center, a non-profit that gives child abuse victims a voice and helps them heal.

·         Sandy Puc’ – Littleton, CO; Co-founder of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, an organization that provides the gift of remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. 

·         Sarah Cronk – Bettendorf, IA; Founder of The Sparkle Effect, a student-run program that empowers teens nationwide to include students with disabilities in school-based cheerleading and dance programs.

·         Sue Runsvold – San Jose, CA; Founder of TurningWheels for Kids, an organization that provides a brand new bike to every low-income, at-risk child who needs or wants one.

 
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