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Grassley, Sessions Express Concern Over Cost of 9th Circuit Judicial Conference in Maui PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 07:44

Monday, May 21, 2012

 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, released a letter today to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski concerning a planned judicial conference in Maui, Hawaii.  In their letter, the senators note that the taxpayer-funded conference, scheduled for Aug. 13 to Aug. 16, features opportunities for numerous recreational activities not related to any official judicial business, and that the expense of travel and accommodations will be significant.  Grassley and Sessions requested a full reply to their questions no later than June 15.

To view the senators’ letter, please click here. Statements from Grassley and Sessions follow:

“Technology is so advanced that people are earning college degrees online and soldiers serving halfway across the world use Skype with their families at home,” Grassley said. “Likewise, a judicial circuit court should be capable of using technology to share information without requiring a trip to an island paradise.  It’s especially tone-deaf to plan a pricey conference after the GSA debacle. The taxpayers can’t sustain this kind of spending, and they shouldn’t have to.  The court should re-examine whether this is the best use of tax dollars.”

“This conference is further evidence the federal government is in a state of financial chaos,” Sessions said.  “How can anyone in Washington ask for more taxes when this culture of excess continues? Americans struggling to pay their bills are tired of watching the government throw lavish events on the taxpayer dime. They are tired of watching entire sectors of government behave in a fashion totally disconnected from the reality of our perilous financial state. At this time of fiscal crisis, America needs leadership that will restore accountability and ensure a disciplined budget is adopted at last.”

NOTE: As detailed in the senators’ letter, a previous Ninth Circuit conference, also held in Maui, cost taxpayers more than $1.1 million in travel and accommodation expenses alone. To view information about activities scheduled at this year’s conference, including yoga, surfing lessons, and a Catamaran snorkel trip, please click here.

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Polish President and Governor Quinn Visit Soldiers at Marseilles Training Center PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 07:37

Governor and Maj. Gen. Enyart receive Commander’s Cross award from President Bronislaw Komorowski

MARSEILLES– May 20, 2012.  Governor Pat Quinn and Major General William Enyart of the Illinois Army National Guard (ILARNG) welcomed President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski today at the Marseilles Training Center, where they visited with ILARNG soldiers and Polish officers in training. Governor Quinn and Maj. Gen. Enyart, of Belleville, Adjutant General for the ILARNG, were presented with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, which is bestowed upon foreigners for distinguished contribution to international cooperation with Poland. Thirteen of the soldiers were also presented with the cross.

“We welcome President Komorowski to Illinois and thank him for the continued economic and military partnership with our state and the Illinois Army National Guard," Governor Quinn said. "This visit is a show of solidarity and support for our troops, and a testament to the great friendship that we have with Poland. I am honored to accept the Commander's Cross with Illinois’ outstanding servicemembers.”

In addition to maintaining a strong military partnership with Poland, Illinois exports to the country totaled nearly $200 million in 2011, an 11% percent increase over 2010. Overall, Illinois ranks 5th among U.S. state in exports to Poland. Approximately 1 million Polish-Americans live in the Chicago-Area, the largest gathering of people of Polish Heritage outside of Warsaw.

The visit by Polish dignitaries coincides with the NATO Summit, taking place in Chicago May 20-21. In the past day, Governor Quinn also met with world leaders including the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Prime Minister of Belgium, Foreign Minister of Greece, President of Turkey, Prime Minister of Italy and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to strengthen economic partnerships and increase trade opportunities for Illinois.

“It was important for President Komorowski to see what training happens here in Illinois before his Soldiers deploy to a combat zone with Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers,” said Enyart. “We truly value the great relationships we have developed with Poland since 1993 and today’s visit only enhanced those relationships.”

The Soldiers honored with the Commander’s Cross included: Brig. Gen. Johnny Miller of Tamms, Col. Albert Cox of Newark, Lt. Col. Drew Dukett of Roodhouse, Lt. Col Joseph Schweickert of Peoria, Maj. Eric Davis of Mount Pulaski, Maj. Stanley Manes of Champaign, Capt. Andrew Adamczyk of Springfield, Capt. Douglas Coop of Jacksonville,, Master Sgt. Richard Schap of Sycamore, Master Sgt. Terry Martin of Dunlap, Master Sgt. David Ray of Millstadt, Sgt. 1st Class Ryanzo Perez of Springfield, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Markham of Glenarm.

Komorowski and other Polish dignitaries witnessed various training including firearms and vehicle rollover simulations, as well as assembling and dissembling of military equipment. ILARNG Soldiers have co-deployed with every Polish rotation to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. Prior to deployment, Polish Soldiers travel to Illinois to conduct training at MTC. Governor Quinn visited Afghanistan on a mission led by Polish troops and supported by the ILARNG in 2009. As governor, he serves as the commander-in-chief of the ILARNG.

The Illinois National Guard State Partnership Program with Poland is one of the oldest and largest of all the state partnerships in the nation. Poland has been a state partner with the Illinois National Guard since 1993. It was originally created to assist Poland with military transformation and acceptance into NATO.

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The Parents’ Legacy – In The Children’s Hands PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 18 May 2012 15:08
Son of Holocaust Survivors Cites Need to Preserve Older Generation’s Stories

As World War II ignited in Europe, the woman who would eventually bring Eli Nussbaum into the world was already a young mother with a husband and a little boy.

The family lived in Poland, part of the largest population of Jews in Europe before the war. As the Nazis invaded her country in 1939, Bella-Rachel Liebermench placed her toddler son in the protection of a monastery.

Eventually, she and her husband would be transported to a concentration camp, where he would die and she would survive torture and deprivation. She would never again find her first little boy.

That story is at the heart of a new novel, The Promise (www.elinussbaum.com), by Nussbaum, now one of the United States’ premiere pediatric pulmonologists.

“In writing a novel, I was able to truly immortalize my family’s stories because a novel is something that will be read by many more people than just my family,” Nussbaum says. “Having a record of a family, like a family tree or what a  genealogist might prepare, is important, but few strangers will want to curl up on a sofa with that and read.”

Nussbaum says adult children need to think creatively about how they preserve and pass along their parents’ stories. Documenting names, dates and milestones is fine, but the audience for that is limited. Recounting the events that shaped your parents’ lives, and their reactions to them, not only preserves their legacies, Nussbaum says, it can provide illustrative and cautionary tales for the world at large.

He suggests:

• Make a StoryCorps recording: StoryCorps is a non-profit organization that has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews since 2003. Anyone can share their story; it will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and participants receive a CD of their recording. Go to www.storycorps.org, find the location nearest you and make a reservation. Bring a friend or loved one – someone who will either appreciate your story or whose story you want to share – and think about the story you want to tell. Staff at the recording sight will help you; the process takes about 40 minutes.

• Create a digital slide show with soundtrack: Photos set to music are an entertaining and often emotional way to share a story. Don’t try to tell a whole life’s story in one slideshow – that’s more like watching someone’s old home movies. Instead, choose an interesting time, event or story to share. As you compile photos, music and narration, remember, you don’t want to create a photo album, you want to tell a story. So you should have a beginning, middle and end. Your finished product should be no more than two to three minutes long. Caption the photos with names, dates and places. There are numerous public sites online to share your show.

Nussbaum notes that he wrote his novel after his parents’ deaths; he knew the stories, so he didn’t have to rely on his parents to re-tell them. Those whose parents are still living should involve them in the process, if possible. With StoryCorps, for example, parents can share their stories in their own words.

“The older generations are beginning to pass away,” he notes. “For example, in Israel, where I am also a citizen, a study of Holocaust survivors found that by 2015, 66 percent of the survivors in that country will be over 80 years old, and their numbers will have shrunk from 240,000 to 144,000.

“It’s important to preserve their legacy now. If your parents are already gone, you need to do it before you can’t remember their stories.”

About Eliezer Nussbaum, M.D.

Eliezer Nussbaum, M.D., was born in Katowice, Poland; his father lost his first wife and four children in the Holocaust and his mother lost her first husband and son. He is a professor of Clinical Pediatrics Step VII at the University of California and Chief of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine and Medical Director of Pediatric Pulmonary and Cystic Fibrosis Center at Memorial Miller Children's Hospital of Long Beach. He has authored two novels, three non-fiction books and more than 150 scientific publications, and was named among the top U.S. doctors by US News and World Report in 2011-12.

 
Braley Launches Bipartisan Effort to Win Justice for Iran Hostages PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Friday, 18 May 2012 14:20

For 31 years, Waverly resident held during Iran Hostage Crisis has been blocked from seeking damages from Iranian government

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Republican Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) today launched a bipartisan legislative effort aimed at winning justice for 66 Americans held hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran, 31 years ago.  One of the hostages, Kathryn L. Koob, is a resident of Waverly, Iowa.

Since their release, the Americans have been barred by the US government from bringing suit against Iran and seeking justice for atrocities committed against them while in captivity for more than a year.

The “Justice for the American Diplomats Held Hostage in Tehran Act” would double fines and penalties levied against US companies that do business with Iran and redirect half of the amount to a newly established trust for the American hostages, the estates of deceased hostages, and their families.  Braley took up the cause after meeting several times with Koob.

“For more than three decades, justice has been denied to this group of American heroes,” Braley said.  “It’s time for the United States to stand behind the men and women who put their lives on the line for us, enduring torture and unimaginable terror during their long ordeal.  Our bill would finally bring compassion and closure to the hostages and their families, and close a dark chapter in our nation’s history.”

On November 4th, 1979, Iranian students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took a group of 66 American diplomats hostage.  52 Americans ended up being held captive for a total of 444 days.  The Algiers Accords, signed on January 19th, 1981, resolved the hostage crisis, but stipulated that the hostages could not bring claims against Iran for their captivity.

In April, the New York Times profiled the hostages and their ongoing effort to win damages from Iran.

The text of the “Justice for the American Diplomats Held Hostage in Tehran Act” can be downloaded at the following link:  http://go.usa.gov/p23

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Veterinarian Proposes Law Recognizing Pets’ True Value PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 18 May 2012 14:14

A veterinarian is asking anyone who will listen – legislators, judges, fellow pet owners – if the loss of a pet is akin to the loss of furniture, a computer or a car.

Kenneth Newman, a 33-year veterinarian and author of Meet Me at the Rainbow Bridge (www.meetmeattherainbowbridge.com), has proposed a law that answers his question. Gracie’s Law recognizes the emotional bond between pet and owner by entitling the owner of a pet killed through an act of malice or negligence to $25,000 in damages.

“It’s time we change the laws to more accurately reflect what pets mean to the average American,” says Newman.

Gracie’s Law would not supersede current laws, he says, which entitle owners to the property value of their pet. And it would not replace criminal prosecution for acts of malice. And owners who decline a recommended veterinarian procedure to save a pet would not be held accountable under the law, he says.

Newman’s dog Gracie was killed in April 2008 when a negligent driver backed up 25 yards without looking, crushing Newman and Gracie between two vehicles. The vet escaped with a broken leg; Gracie saved his life, he says.

“An attorney looked me in the eye and said that my dog was a piece of property, that I wasn’t entitled to anything for the dog, and that this was a simple broken-leg case,” he says.

In every state, he says, laws view pets as property. Owners are entitled to no more than replacement value; no law takes into consideration the loss of companionship, grief, or pain and suffering.

Newman says that doesn’t jibe with Americans’ attitude toward their pets. According to an American Animal Hospital Association survey, 90 percent of owners consider their animals part of the family. Other findings:

• 52 percent of Americans would rather be stranded on a deserted island with their pet than with another person.

• 83 percent call themselves “Mommy” or “Daddy” in reference to their pet.

• 59 percent celebrate their pet’s birthday.

Cases involving pet owners’ bonds are increasingly showing up in the courts, Newman points out:

• Matrimonial law: Attorneys have experienced a 23 percent increase in pet cases, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. This includes custody battles over pets, veterinarian bills and visitation rights. Harvard now has a course dedicated to pet law.

• The North Carolina Court of Appeals: While the plaintiff’s wrongful death lawsuit was denied, animal activists applaud a judge’s willingness to at least hear a case involving a Jack Russell terrier that died while undergoing tube feeding at a state facility.

• Texas justice: On Nov. 3, 2011, Fort Worth's 2nd Court of Appeals ruled that value can be attached to the love of a dog. That overruled a 120-year-old Texas Supreme Court case, which held that plaintiffs can only recoup the market value of their pets.

• Largest award: In April, a Denver judge awarded Robin Lohre $65,000 for the death of her dog, Ruthie. Lohre had accused Posh Maids cleaning service of negligence for allowing the dog to get outside, where it was hit by a car. Newman notes this sets a new precedent for pet value, but that such uncapped awards may threaten affordable veterinary care.

To read Gracie’s Law and copy it to share, visit meetmeattherainbowbridge.com, click “image gallery” and scroll down.

About Kenneth Newman DVM

Kenneth Newman graduated from Purdue University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1979, and has since been a practicing vet. He experienced a badly broken leg and the death of his Labrador retriever Gracie due to the negligence of a driver in April 2008. Since then, he has proposed and advocated Gracie’s Law, which recognizes that pets are more than common property. Newman lives with his wife and their son, as well as several pets.

 
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