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USDA Challenges Employees to Donate 1.8 Million Pounds of Food for Feds Feed Families Food Drive PDF Print E-mail
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Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 27 July 2012 12:17
Food drive helps fill food bank shelves during tough economic times

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2012 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Chief Human Capital Officers, and other federal agencies in the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive. Feds Feed Families is a voluntary effort undertaken by Federal employees around the country to collect and donate perishable and non-perishable goods to food pantries and banks in their communities.

The challenge, which began in early June, encourages USDA employees to "beat our best" and donate more than 1.8 million pounds of food, topping last summer's donation by USDA of 1.79 million pounds of perishable and non-perishable food. Donations include fresh, healthy produce grown in People's Gardens across the country and collected from partnering with farmers and neighbors in local gleaning efforts.

"Across America - from our rural communities to our largest cities - we know there are families who are working hard but still need some help putting food on their plate," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The Feds Feed Families food drive leverages the spirit of service that's shared by every Federal employee to help our food banks deliver assistance."

In Washington, DC, the Capital Area Food Bank receives collections and distributes them through their network of over 700 partner agencies. Outside of the Washington area, agencies are encouraged to support local providers in their community. USDA field offices have already registered over 1400 food drives nationwide.

The food drive started in June 2009 to help fill food bank shelves during tough economic times. USDA estimates show that nearly 50 million Americans - including 16 million children - struggle to put food on the table at some point during the year. While USDA nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and school feeding programs touch the lives of one in four Americans, food banks, pantries, community centers, and houses of worship provide extra help. Many of these organizations report an increase in demand during the summer, when schools are out and children are at home with families. In addition, summer traditionally brings a decrease in donations. USDA employees are helping to fill this gap through the Feds Feed Families Food Drive. Learn more at www.fedsfeedfamilies.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


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U.S. Slow to Repatriate Abducted Children Among Hague Treaty Nations PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 27 July 2012 12:04
By: Steve Fenton

After my then-6-year-old son was abducted and taken to Mexico in December 1992, I traveled to Mexico City to plead for his return via the Hague Convention Treaty. The response from the Central Authority director surprised me.

“The U.S. has a very poor record of returning children to Mexico as well,” he said with a cold,   almost personal glare. I never forgot that.

Eventually, I realized the treaty would be of no help to me and I went on to privately recover my son in April 1993. It was a surreal rescue drama undertaken with the help of a specialized team, disguises, decoy car switches and a stealth flight in a small plane. My young son and I escaped under the noses of the Mexican military, flying 450 miles to Brownsville, Texas, through Mexican airspace.

In Brownsville, the FBI immediately detained and interrogated me, acting on frivolous allegations from Mexico City. Stunned, I was told that the U.S. agents intended to send my son back to Mexico with a Mexican consulate official.

I recount the whole nightmarish experience in Broken Treaty: The True Story of a Father’s Covert Recovery of his Missing Son from Mexico (www.brokentreaty.info).

My son is now an adult and I am still contacted for advice by left-behind parents; not only those of children taken to Mexico, but from parents who “hit a wall” trying to recover their children from the overwhelming complexities of the U.S. judicial system.

What should take weeks turns into months and in some cases years as parents in other countries attempt to retrieve children abducted to the United States. Petitions drag through delays and appeals. The State Department’s own statistics demonstrate what should be serious concerns if the United States wants to lead by example.

A 2010 Compliance Report drafted by the State Department shows that parents filed 324 Hague Convention Treaty applications involving 454 children abducted to the United States from other treaty partner countries. The United States accounts for a staggering 23 percent of all incoming and outgoing caseload petitions. The report showed that we have the poorest record in terms of treaty-specified case resolutions for applications under the accord. We also have the highest ratio of pending cases awaiting resolution.

Hague Treaty guidelines call for expeditious proceedings within six weeks of the date of commencement, but the United States has no clear domestic policy guidelines to even determine if the cases should be heard by federal, state or local courts. Between federal and local venues, there are potentially 31,500 judges who could hear a Hague case. The sobering reality is that most judges are not educated about the treaty. Many who do hear these cases deny the petition because they fear that returning the child will automatically result in custody being awarded to the left-behind parent.

They don’t realize that the treaty specifies children be returned to the state of “habitual residence,” where the proper forum by the requesting court country’s jurisdiction will make any final custody determination.

Several nations have taken steps to streamline the Hague petition quagmire by appointing specifically trained courts and judges within a limited number of courts. The United Kingdom, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Sweden are on the cutting edge of amending their procedures to limited jurisdiction and have greatly reduced the delays in restitution of abducted children.

I hope to see the United States consolidate Hague cases to appointed courts with treaty-educated judges, so we can rightfully enjoy reciprocity by the world community on the return of wrongfully detained children abroad. I know only too well the anguish of the left-behind parent who sees the Hague Treaty as the only hope to recover a child.

About The Author: Steve Fenton is a specialty building contractor. After his estranged wife spirited their son, an American, away to Xalapa, Mexico, the father decided he had to take action. With little to no help from the U.S. and Mexican governments after a year and a half, the determined father went on a clandestine recovery mission across the border. What ensued were life-changing events that have defined the lives of father and son.  His book was written with some technical assistance from Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who would later become a national hero after safely landing U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River.

 
Harkin Report Details Impact of Sequestration on Health, Education, and Labor Funding PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Friday, 27 July 2012 12:03
July 26, 2012

Yesterday, Senator Harkin, as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, and Related Agencies, released the first comprehensive report on the potential impact of sequestration on dozens of education, health and labor programs under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction.  The report provides national and state-by-state estimates of the number of jobs that could be lost and the number of individuals who could be affected by cuts in services if sequestration went into effect on Jan. 2, 2013.

Harkin’s report, “Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services,” can be found here.

“Some members of Congress warn that defense contracting firms will lay off employees if sequestration goes into effect.  They say nothing of the tens of thousands of teachers, police officers and other public servants in communities all across America who would also lose their jobs.  A laid-off teacher is just as unemployed as a laid-off defense contractor,” said Harkin. “This report proves why we need a balanced approach to deficit reduction that not only prevents sequestration, but protects America’s families.”

Among the highlights of the report:

·         States and local communities would lose $2.7 billion in federal funding for just three critical education programs alone – Title I, special education State grants, and Head Start – that serve a combined 30.7 million children.  Nationwide, these cuts would force roughly 46,000 employees to either lose their jobs or rely on cash-strapped states and localities to pick up their salaries instead.

Ø  In Iowa: 156 Head Start jobs would be lost and 747 fewer children served.

Ø  In Iowa: cuts to Title I Grants to local educational agencies would mean 105 education jobs lost, 8,991 fewer students served, and 58 fewer schools receiving grants.

Ø  In Iowa: cuts to Improving Teacher Quality State Grants would mean 1,470 fewer teachers receiving professional development.

·         In health, approximately 660,000 fewer people would be tested for HIV, 49,000 fewer women would be screened for cancer, and 212,000 fewer children would be vaccinated.

Ø  In Iowa: cuts to HIV Prevention and Testing would mean 2,386 fewer people tested for HIV.

Ø  In Iowa: 619 fewer women screened for cancer.

Ø  In Iowa: 2,055 fewer children would receive MMR, Tdap, flu and Hepatitis B vaccinations.

 

·         At a time when the unemployment rate is still above 8 percent, 1.6 million fewer adults, dislocated workers and at-risk youth would receive job training, education and employment services; and the families of 80,000 fewer children would receive child care subsidies, making it harder for parents to find work.

 

Ø  In Iowa: 11,257 fewer jobseekers receiving employment services.

Ø  In Iowa: 496 fewer veterans receiving job assistance.

For more information, please call Kate Frischmann in Senator Harkin’s press office at (202) 224-3254.

 
National crackdown on synthetic drugs PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 27 July 2012 08:46

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is the sponsor of legislation enacted earlier this month that bans the chemicals used to make a dangerous synthetic drug called K2 or spice.  Grassley’s measure is named for David Rozga, an 18-year-old Iowan who committed suicide shortly after trying the product, bought from a local store.  This week, the Drug Enforcement Administration is leading a national crackdown against the manufacturers, distributors and vendors of synthetic drugs.  Grassley made the following comment on the national crackdown.  The DEA’s press release is available here.

“The Drug Enforcement Administration is doing exactly what needs to be done.  These drugs are poison.  It’s a testament to the cynicism and greed of manufacturers, importers, and distributors that these products were ever put on store shelves.  But now that these drugs are illegal from Florida to Alaska, law enforcement is right to crack down and spare more kids the cruel fate of my constituent, David Rozga.  I realize drug manufacturers will continue to change formulas to skirt the law as fast as we can enact it.  If they have any conscience, they’ll find legitimate ways to make money instead of preying on 18-year-olds.  Congress will enact new laws as needed.”

 


 
DAVENPORT MAN WINS $10,000 LOTTERY PRIZE PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Amy Garringer   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 15:45

DES MOINES, Iowa – After using a combination of his own numbers and an easy pick on his Mega Millions® ticket, a Davenport man won $10,000 in the July 17 drawing.

Brian Dahl, 52, said he always chooses the Mega Ball number when he plays and lets the machine choose the rest of the numbers.

“I play all of our birthdays on the Mega Ball,” Dahl said. “I couldn’t believe I got the first three, then skipped one and got the last one.”

Dahl, who is a dealer representative for the Greater Quad Cities Auto Auction, called his wife to tell her the good news.

“She was excited,” he said. “I’ve been telling her I’m going to win for a long time.”

Dahl purchased his winning ticket at Kwik Shop, 3129 Rockingham in Davenport. He said he plans to share the big news with the store he’s been visiting for years.

Dahl used his son’s birthday for this particular Mega Millions play.

“He couldn’t believe it,” Dahl said.

Dahl checked his ticket July 18 while at home and claimed his prize shortly after at the Iowa Lottery’s regional office in Cedar Rapids.

“My youngest son is getting married in a month, so this is going to come in really handy,” he said.

The winning numbers in the $28 million Mega Millions drawing on July 17 were 1-13-21-49-55 and Mega Ball 17. The Megaplier® number that night was 4. Dahl’s ticket matched four of the five white balls and the Mega Ball to win a $10,000 prize. If he had added the multiplier to his ticket, he would have multiplied his $10,000 win by four to claim a $40,000 prize.

Players can multiply their prizes (except the jackpot) with the Megaplier up to four times. The cost is $1 per play.

Winning numbers may be checked at the lottery website at www.ialottery.com or through the winning numbers' hot line at (515) 323-4633. Winning numbers may also be checked with lottery retail outlets or by calling the lottery at (515) 725-7900 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Since the lottery’s start in 1985, its players have won more than $2.9 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.3 billion for the state programs that benefit all Iowans.

Today, lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans, help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund, and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.

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