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Lt. Governor Simon to speak at Civil Union Symposium PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kara Beach   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 08:05

CARBONDALE – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will kick off the Southern Illinois University School of Law Civil Union Symposium on Tuesday. The event will explore the first year of civil unions in Illinois, and what steps might be taken in the future to bring full marriage equality to Illinois.


DATE: Tuesday, April 3

TIME: 5:30 p.m.

PLACE: Hiram H. Lesar Law Building Auditorium, 1150 Douglas Drive, Carbondale



Smoking-materials fire deaths drop to 30 year low PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Lorraine Carli   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 07:45
Fire-safe cigarette laws show early signs of success


April 2, 2012- According to a recent report released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 610 civilian deaths in the United States were attributed to smoking material fires in 2010, a number at or near the all-time-low and well down from the 1980 levels. During 2010 there were an estimated 90,800 smoking material fires resulting in $663 million in direct property damage.


Several factors, including a decline in smoking and stricter fire resistant standards on mattresses and upholstered furniture have been credited with the decrease in smoking material fire deaths over the last 30 years. The most recent drops in fatalities and injuries, though, owe much to the “fire-safe” cigarette legislation.


In 2003, U.S. states began requiring that all cigarettes sold must be “fire-safe,” that is, have sharply reduced ignition strength (ability to start fires), as determined by ASTM Standards. By 2010, fire-safe cigarette legislation was in effect in 47 states. From 2003 to 2010, the number of civilian deaths in smoking-material fires fell by an average of 21 percent.


2012 is the first year all 50 state laws are effective, and all inventories of pre-standard cigarettes should have sold out. A projection linking the percentage decline in fire deaths to the percentage of smokers covered suggests that when smoking material fire death numbers are analyzed for the year 2012, the reduction in civilian deaths will reach roughly 30 percent.


According to Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Communications, “The adoption of fire-safe cigarette legislation is proving to be a giant step forward in reducing the leading cause of home fire deaths.”


“NFPA is very encouraged by these numbers, which show the requirements are having the intended consequences,” said Carli. “It is clear that our efforts have already made an impact on public safety and will continue to provide further progress in the years to come.”


Other key findings in this report show:

  • Older adults are at the highest risk of death or injury from home smoking-material fires, even though they are less likely to smoke than younger adults.
  • One fatal victim in four (24 percent) of home smoking-material fires was not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire.
  • Sleeping is the primary human factor contributing to ignition cited for one-third (32 percent) of home smoking-material fire deaths.


As with virtually all types of fires, there are many steps that people can take to prevent smoking-material fires. NFPA has developed the following safety tips focusing on safe storage and disposal of cigarettes:


  • Whenever you smoke, use deep, wide, sturdy ashtrays.
  • Ashtrays should be set on something sturdy and hard to ignite, like an end table.
  • Before you throw out butts and ashes, make sure they are out. Dowsing them in water or sand is the best way to do this.
  • Check under furniture cushions and other places people smoke for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight.


About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s website at for more information.

Governor Quinn Honors Uniting America Volunteers in Memory of Cesar Chavez PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nafia Khan   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 07:16

Calls for All to Honor Hispanic Civil Rights Leader's
Legacy Through Service


CHICAGO – April 2, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today joined leaders from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) to commemorate the birth of America’s greatest Hispanic civil rights leader by honoring the volunteers of the Uniting America service initiative. Volunteers performed thousands of hours of community service since the program's launch last summer. Today Governor Quinn called for all residents to honor the legacy of Cesar Chavez by recommitting themselves to community service.


“Service to others is the rent we pay for our place on Earth,” Governor Quinn said. “We are all called to serve. Cesar Chavez spent his life working to improve the lives of others and our Uniting America volunteers live his legacy every day by going out into their communities to make a difference."


Uniting America is a volunteer program made possible through a strong partnership between the Governor’s Office of New Americans (GONA) and ICIRR. It places Americorps volunteers within communities throughout the state to work on a wide variety of service projects that include park and school clean-ups, fundraising drives and citizenship workshops in immigrant communities.


"Having served in the Peace Corps after college, I understand how vital volunteerism is to bridging and creating healthy communities," said Lawrence Benito, executive director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "Through our Uniting America program, our fellows are immersed in communities working to build bridges and create healthy dialogues between immigrant and native born communities."


Uniting America has embarked on an ambitious 2012 agenda, with more than 100 community service and unity events planned. It hopes to recruit and train more than 8,000 additional volunteers to work on programs and activities that unite immigrants like citizenship workshops, immigrant civic engagement and community building. ICIRR has hosted nearly 1,200 volunteer-driven citizenship workshops in the past seven years, with volunteers performing more than 100,000 hours of outreach, legal assistance and tutoring.


In 2010, Governor Quinn signed an executive order reestablishing the Governor’s Office of New Americans (GONA). The office builds upon the strength of immigrants, their families and their institutions and assists them in their journey towards self-sufficiency. About 20 percent of Illinois’ population are immigrants or the children of immigrants. For more information about the Governor’s Office of New Americans and the Uniting America initiative, visit and or contact GONA Director Denise Martinez at 312-814-6686.




Bryan Lohmar Named U.S. Grains Council China Director PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Marri Carrow   
Monday, 02 April 2012 12:52

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2, 2012 – The U.S. Grains Council is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Bryan Lohmar as its new director in China. In this capacity, Lohmar will oversee the Council’s programs in the country while maintaining and fostering key relationships with Chinese policy officials. Lohmar comes with a wealth of industry knowledge and experience having most recently served a three-year stint as the director of economic research for Bunge CHINA in Shanghai. Prior to that, he was an economist for USDA’s Economic Research Service, where he focused on a wide range of agricultural production and trade topics, many pertaining to China.

“Mr. Lohmar’s background will be a tremendous benefit to the Council’s work in China,” said Dr. Wendell Shauman, USGC chairman. “We are happy to have him with us as his business leadership and trade promotion experience will be incredibly valuable to the Council’s work in this important market.”

Lohmar is graduate of the University of California, Davis, holding a Ph.D. in agricultural economics. He has authored numerous papers on China commodity supply and demand trends, and China’s own natural resource challenges and future needs.

“The Council has been active in the China market since 1982. Persistent, on-ground engagement in China created a foundation of credibility and trust that enables the Council to engage with the highest levels of Chinese ministries, research institutes and end-users on the value of trade as a solution to food security,” said Thomas C. Dorr, USGC president and CEO. “This level of engagement, combined with China’s growing middle-class economy has made this market into one of the newest demand drivers for U.S. corn and co-products. Lohmar’s direction and leadership will be essential to continuing our market presence in China.”

Lohmar will begin working for the Council in late April.


Three cases of bat disease discovered in Missouri PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Georgia Parham   
Monday, 02 April 2012 12:46
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will host a conference call on White-Nose Syndrome for media inquiries today, Monday, April 2, from 1-2 p.m. CST that will include representatives from USFWS, MDC and USGS National Wildlife Health Center. Media representative can access the call at 877-531-0156 using passcode 802583.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently received confirmation that a deadly disease in bats called “White-Nose Syndrome” (WNS) has been found in three bats from two caves in Lincoln County. The name describes a white fungus, Geomyces destructans, typically found on the faces and wings of infected bats. WNS spreads mainly through bat-to-bat contact and has not been found to infect humans or other animals.

WNS was confirmed in a little brown bat from one public cave and in two tri-colored bats from a second public cave north of St. Louis by the U. S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. The specific names and locations of the caves are not being disclosed to help prevent human disturbance of remaining bats in the caves. The two caves are closed to public access.

“Disturbing bats in caves while they roost or hibernate can increase their stress and further weaken their health,” said MDC Bat Biologist Tony Elliott.

Evidence of the fungus that causes WNS was first detected in Missouri in April 2010 on a little brown bat found in a privately owned cave in Pike County. In May 2010, evidence of the fungus was detected on five federally endangered gray bats and on a northern long-eared bat netted outside a public cave in Shannon County. The three bats with WNS in Lincoln County are the first confirmed cases in Missouri of the actual disease.

Elliot explained that the earlier detected cases of the fungus means the bats had contact with the fungus that causes WNS, but may or may not have been infected with the WNS disease. He added that these first confirmed cases of the disease mean the bats have WNS and the disease is present in Missouri and likely to spread.

“We have worked closely with the Missouri Department of Conservation to prepare for the arrival of White-Nose Syndrome in Missouri,” said U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region Regional WNS Coordinator Rich Geboy. “Now that we have confirmed it is here, we will continue to work with MDC and our other partners in Missouri to research and manage the disease.”

MDC has been working with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR), U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and USFWS, along with conservation groups and private cave owners to address the threat of WNS. Efforts include restricting access to most publicly-owned caves that contain bats and educating the public about the value of bats and the threat of WNS.

“While many caves on public lands that house bats have been closed to public access in response to the threat of White-Nose Syndrome, Missouri’s numerous show caves remain open as great places for people to discover nature by learning about the value of bats and the unique ecosystems of cave environments,” Elliott said.

Approximately 74 percent of the more than 6,300 caves in Missouri are privately owned. Visitors to private caves are asked to check with landowners before entering caves, and to use USFWS decontamination protocols before and after visits to reduce the risk for accidental spread of the fungus. Information on these protocols is available at

The WNS fungus thrives in cool, damp conditions found in many caves, which are also ideal hibernation and roosting sites for many bat species. Bats with WNS exhibit unusual behavior such as flying outside and clustering near entrances of caves and mines during the day in cold winter months when they should be hibernating. This activity uses up stored fat reserves needed to get them through the winter, and they may freeze or starve to death.

USFWS biologists and partners estimate that at least 5.5 million bats have now died from the disease, which continues to spread. WNS is decimating bat populations across eastern North America, with mortality reaching up to 100 percent at many sites. First documented in New York in 2007, the disease has spread quickly into 19 states and four Canadian provinces.

Bats provide tremendous value as natural pest control for farms and forests, and also play an essential role in helping to control insects that can spread disease to people.

“Missouri is home to at least 12 species of bats,” Elliott explained. “They are our front-line defense against many insect pests including some moths, certain beetles and mosquitoes. Missouri’s 775,000 gray bats alone eat more than 223 billion bugs a year, or about 540 tons.”

He added that bats are long-lived but slow-reproducing animals with most species having an average lifespan of about 15 years and giving birth usually to only one pup each year.

“Bats also play a vital role in cave ecosystems by providing nutrients for other cave life through their droppings, or guano,” Elliott said. “Bats are also food for other animals such as snakes and owls.”

Elliott cautioned that people should not handle any bats, and should contact their local MDC office or conservation agent if they find dead bats or see bats flying outside during the day during cold winter months when they typically would be roosting or hibernating.

More information on WNS is available at:


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