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Fill Desks, Not Cells, Advocate Urges PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 14:34
Move to Privatize Prisons Threatens Genuine Inmate Reform, He Says

The statistics are overwhelming and irrefutable: The less education a person has, the more likely he or she will end up in jail or prison.

Once in prison, the more education an inmate receives, the greater the chance he or she will remain free once released.

“The correlation is so dramatic, I can’t understand why we as a nation are more interested in building and filling prisons than in educating people who haven’t finished high school or could benefit from post-secondary school,” says advocate Adam Young, citing a recent Huffington Post news story about Corrections Corporation of America. The business is attempting to buy prisons across the nation – with the stipulation that states agree to keep them 90 percent full.

Young, www.communityservicehelp.com, partners with charities to help people sentenced to community service get credit for taking classes like algebra and English instead of picking up trash. He says it just makes sense to take advantage of any opportunity to educate people who’ve already had a brush with the law.

“About 40 percent of all U.S. prison inmates never finished high school, and nearly 44 percent of jail inmates did not complete high school,” he says, quoting from a 2003 Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. “More current data shows that hasn’t changed. In Washington, D.C., for instance, 44 percent of Department of Corrections inmates are not high school graduates. Less than 2 percent had 16 years or more of schooling.

“Isn’t it better for all of us, for both economic and public safety reasons, if we help educate people so they can get jobs?” he asks.

The trend of budget-strapped states looking to economize by selling their prisons to Corrections Corporation worries Young. As the business cuts expenses to boost profits, prison-run GED and college degree programs will likely be among the first on the chopping block, he says.

“If states really want to save money, they should address recidivism through programs that include education,” Young says. “There’s a 2011 Pew Center study that found the 10 states with the highest recidivism rates could save $470 million a year, each, if they lower those numbers by just 10 percent.”

Those states are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.

A widely cited 2006 study of two groups of inmates in three states found that those who participated in education programs in prison were less likely to be arrested again within three years of their release, and more likely to be employed. Of the inmates tracked, 31 percent of those who did not take classes were back in prison within three years compared with 21 percent of those who did study.

Arizona, South Carolina and Nevada all have recently passed laws that allow inmates to cut their sentences or shorten their probation by doing things like taking classes, Young noted.

“In early February, there was an interesting conversation about education and crime on Real Time with Bill Maher,” he says. “Maher said, ‘If you spent the money you were spending to send people to prison on schools, those people wouldn't wind up going to prison.’

“He’s 100 percent correct on that.”

About Adam Young

Adam Young is a longtime internet marketing professional who launched his educational community service alternative in January 2011. He was inspired by a minor brush with the law when he was an 18-year-old; the community service hours he received cost him his job and nearly caused him to drop out of college. Through his website, offenders have logged more than 300,000 hours of self-scheduled schooling that allows them to remain employed while completing service hours. Young advocates education as the most cost-effective tool for rehabilitating offenders.

 
What's ISU Hiding? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ed Fallon   
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 14:29

Monday, Sheree Clark joins Sylvia DeWitt of The Juice Company for our continued conversation on developing a small business. Sheree’s business is called, Fork in The Road. She’s a nutritionist and raw food advocate who gave up her career in advertising to promote a lifestyle of healthy eating. And don't forget the business develop conference this Wednesday (see my events page for details).

Also Monday, I’m excited to have Adam Bolt join us for further conversation about the AgriSol-ISU-Tanzania triangle. Adam’s a producer and editor for Dan Rather Reports and also edited and co-wrote the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job. Dan Rather Reports airs every Tuesday on HDNet at 7:00 pm, available in Iowa via satellite on DIRECTV (channel 306) and DISH Network (Channel 362).

Tuesday, Charles Goldman and I talk politics. One question floating around in our fertile minds is whether or not the remaining Republican presidential candidates are, in fact, happy to see gas prices rise. Will they use it as a campaign wedge issue against Obama in the general election?

Also Tuesday, we talk with Anne Dietrich of Truth in Labeling Coalition about the genetic contamination of our food supply and the push to get Iowa’s U.S. Senators and Congressmen to sign-on to the Boxer-DeFazio Congressional Letter to the FDA, asking the agency to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food. For Congressional contact information, please visit my website, and I want to thank Campbell's Nutrition for helping to sponsor the show.

Wednesday, Stephen Toothman with Occupy Des Moines discusses the campaign to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its highly-partisan, right-wing  agenda.

Thursday, we talk with State Rep Dan Kelley (D-Newton) about the week’s activities at the Iowa Statehouse. We also talk with attorney Jonathan Wilson about the erosion of our civil liberties. Check out his excellent commentary on the subject here.

I’d like to thank some of our business supporters, including Community CPA at 3816 Ingersoll Ave in Des Moines. With tax season here, it’d be a good idea to give Ying Sa a call at (515) 288-3188.

So, join the conversation Monday - Thursday from 7:00-8:00 pm at 98.3 FM and online. Call-in at (515) 312-0983 or toll-free at (866) 908-TALK. You can download the Fallon Forum as a podcast, too.

Thanks! -- Ed


EVENTS

February 29 - Small Business: Start, Grow and Succeed (Des Moines)
At Lotus Moments and Events Center, 2134 E Grand Ave from 8:45 am - 1:30 pm. Presentations and one-on-one consultations by local experts for entrepreneurs seeking help getting their business idea off the ground. No charge, but please register by Monday, February 27th. For details, visit BizSourceIowa.com/calendar.

March 1 - Drinking Liberally (Des Moines)
You don't have to be a card-carrying liberal to enjoy political conversation and excellent libations at AJ's, 419 E Court starting at 8:00 pm every Thursday. If the revolution is going to start anyplace, this is probably it. Contact desmoines@drinkingliberally.org.

March 1-3 - Sufi Retreat and Introductory Talk (Des Moines)
Thursday: free informational talk at 7:00 pm at Plymouth Congregational Church, 42nd & Ingersoll. Friday and Saturday: retreat sessions with Sufi minister Mudita Sabato Friday at 7:30 pm and Saturday at 10:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 7:30 pm at Friends Meeting House, 4211 Grand Ave. Suggested donation per session of $10. Contact Munira at (515) 491-5489 or Angela at (515) 205-5494, or visit www.muditasabato.blogspot.com.

March 8 – Empowered Women Changing the Planet (Des Moines)
A free event in honor of International Women’s Day. Bring a dish to share at 5:00 pm at the Thoreau Center, 3500 Kingman Blvd. Organized by Oxfam America, Des Moines Area Sisters on the Planet Ambassadors, and League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Des Moines. Bian Li from the World Food Prize will speak about the power of investing in rural women entrepreneurs in developing countries by engaging them as business partners. Register here.

March 10 -  Civic Engagement at the Library (Des Moines)
Citizens have the opportunity to discuss public issues in a moderated forum. The topic for March is The New Challenges of American Immigration: What Should We Do? It's from 9:15 am - 12:00 noon at the Central Library Meeting Room One, 1000 Grand Avenue. To participate, please register at www.dmpl.org (Online Events Calendar), or call (515) 283-4957. Limited to 25 registrants.

March 20 - Irish Jam at Open Sesame (Des Moines)
Discover the fusion of Lebanese and Celtic culture every third Tuesday of the month: belly dancing to Irish gigs and reels, Lebanese cooking washed-down with a pint of Guinness. All musicians patrons welcome, at 313 E. Locust St from 8:30-10:30 pm.

Through March 23 - Environmental Impact Awards Applications (Iowa)
The Greater Des Moines Partnership, Center on Sustainable Communities and Metro Waste Authority established the Environmental Impact Awards to recognize organizations and leaders who exemplify environmentally sustainable practices. Awards will be given to individuals, businesses (large and small), non-profit or community organizations, and for the built environment (residential and commercial). Applications available at www.desmoinesmetro.com/events. Deadline is March 23 at 3:30 pm. Winners will be recognized in an awards ceremony luncheon on May 16 at the Botanical Center.

March 31 - Bishop Dingman Peace Award Dinner (Ankeny)
Join Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (featured in Michael Moore's latest documentary, Capitalism:  A Love Story) and Joshua Casteel, a US Soldier Interrogator at Abu Gharib who is now a conscientious objector and scholar. It’s at Our Ladies Immaculate Heart, 510 E. 1st St at 6:00 pm and is a fundraiser for Catholic Peace Ministry. Tickets are $35 or $280 for a table of eight. Contact Jeffrey Weiss at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (515) 255-8114.

May 12 - Asian Festival (Des Moines)
From 10:00 am - 5:00 pm on the east side of the Iowa State Capitol. Contact Swallow Yan at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
DAVENPORT WOMAN WINS $100,000 PRIZE PLAYING FAVORITE SCRATCH GAME PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Amy Garringer   
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 13:32

DES MOINES, Iowa – When a Davenport woman discovered she’d won the very last top prize of $100,000 playing the “Triple Platinum 777” game on her break at work, she couldn’t believe what she saw.

Jolene Ronek, 50, scratched the ticket during her evening break where she works as a machinist.

“I started shaking and I couldn’t believe what I saw,” Ronek said. “I took it to the break room to show all the other guys and I was in tears. They told me to sign it right away.”

Ronek said her head was fuzzy because she couldn’t believe the win was real.

“I kept looking at those zeros and going, ‘No, that isn’t right,’” she said.

Ronek told her family about her big win before claiming her prize Thursday at the Iowa Lottery’s regional office in Cedar Rapids. Ronek said it also put everyone at work in a great mood for the rest of the evening shift.

“One of the guys at work got on the radio and told everyone,” Ronek said with a laugh. “Everybody was just happy that someone they knew won.”

Ronek said she was really surprised to get the big winner, because it was the very first ticket in a new pack of Triple Platinum 777 tickets at the QC Mart, 1402 State St. in Bettendorf.

Ronek said she’s looking forward to using her winnings to become debt-free and also plans to use some to take a trip this summer.

“We travel all over riding motorcycles,” she said.

Triple Platinum 777 was a $10 scratch game. Players scratched the “dollar” symbols and the “bonus box.” If they revealed the “7” game symbol, they won the prize shown for that symbol. If they revealed the “77” game symbol, they won double the prize shown for that symbol. If they revealed the “777” game symbol, they won triple the prize shown for that symbol.  If they got two like symbols in “bonus box,” they won $50 instantly. The overall odds of winning a prize in the game were 1 in 3.11.

Players can enter eligible nonwinning scratch tickets online to earn “Points For Prizes™” points. The point value will be revealed to the player on the website upon successful submission of each eligible valid ticket. There is a limit of 30 ticket entries per day. To participate in Points For Prizes™, a player must register for a free account at ialottery.com. Registration is a one-time process. Merchandise that can be ordered by using points will be listed on the website in the Points For Prizes™ online store. Players can choose from items in categories such as apparel, automotive, jewelry, sporting, tools and more.

Since the lottery’s start in 1985, its players have won more than $2.8 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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USGC News Release: U.S. Grains Council Previews A Changing Vision of World Food Demands in 2040 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Marri Carrow   
Monday, 27 February 2012 16:35

Rapid Rise of Asian Middle Class Likely To Revamp Global Food Systems:
U.S. Grains Council Previews A Changing Vision of World Food Demands in 2040

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 24, 2012 — The sophisticated food demands of newly affluent consumers in China and other developing nations are likely to cause major change in U.S. farming and food production, Asian food policy and world trade, according to Food 2040, a new study of emerging food trends in Asia by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC).

USGC President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas C. Dorr presented a preview of Food 2040 today at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum.

“Growing affluence in China could change people’s diets and the global food system. Consumers will expect more choice, quality, convenience and safety in their food purchases,” Dorr said.

Food 2040 also reveals important implications for agricultural trade policy between the United States and Asian nations. “We are seeing China become more open to acceptance of new technology, such as agricultural biotechnology, which can help meet the needs of the Asian middle class in a sustainable manner through trade,” Dorr said.

U.S. attitudes about feeding the world are likely to change too. “Many of the agribusinesses and agricultural organizations that comprise the U.S. Grains Council are starting to review possibilities for meeting the needs and capturing the economic value that ascendency of the Asian middle class represents,” said USGC Chairman Dr. Wendell Shauman, an Illinois corn farmer and member of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. “Working together with trading partners around the world to understand emerging trends, we can use a convergence of science, technology and policy reform to meet changing food demands and capture the economic potential of new Asian consumers.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is assisting the Council with the launch of Food 2040 in Japan. “Japan and the United States are longstanding trading partners, and we understand each other well. Now, our two nations must learn more about China and develop an understanding of how this emerging mega-market will influence the global food system and our two nations’ participation in it,” said Geoffrey Wiggin, USDA’s FAS Minister-Counselor in Tokyo.

Food 2040 outlines the following possibilities for significant change in the global food system.

GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEMS RESTRUCTURED TO SUIT CHINA’S MIDDLE CLASS
China is the world’s fastest growing economy, and because of the sheer size of its population, Chinese demand will reshape the global food industry over the next 20 years. Although India is expected to surpass China in population numbers, China is likely to remain the dominant economy within the timeframe of Food 2040.

CHINA AS WORLD BIOSCIENCE LEADER
Agricultural biotechnology may no longer be dominated by U.S. technology. China is on a path to global bioscience leadership, driven by major central government investments to meet its own food needs and a desire to be an export leader.

NEW ASIAN SYSTEM OF FOOD SAFETY
Asia does not yet have a well-developed food safety and inspection system, but this could change through use of 21st-century nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and logistics systems.

FOOD AS A SERVICE
By 2040, 70 percent of consumer food expenditures in Japan will go toward foods prepared outside the home, and China is likely to adopt Japan’s rapid acceptance of foods prepared outside the home.

FOOD AS A SERVICE
Food 2040 envisions a proliferation of specialty markets and product differentiation in Asia. This is not a new concept for the United States, where the average U.S. supermarket carries almost 40,000 items, but when four billion people around the world with very different cultures and diets begin to enjoy that degree of consumer choice it will significantly affect global food production, processing and distribution systems.

The complete Food 2040 study is available at www.grains.org. The U.S. Grains Council is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to building export markets for barley, corn, sorghum and their products. The Council is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with 10 international offices and active market development programs in more than 50 countries. Financial support from the Council’s private industry members, including state checkoffs, agribusinesses, state entities and others, triggers federal matching funds from the government and support from cooperating groups in other countries, producing an annual market development program valued at more than $28.3 million.

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Letters Bring Alive the Mom She Never Knew PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 27 February 2012 14:48
Daughter’s Inheritance Proved More Valuable than Money

Actress and playwright Kim Russell was an adult when she finally got to know her mother, who died when Russell was just 2 months old.

Her father, Bernard Knighten, never spoke of his first wife, Luana.

“He never shared stories, never said I looked like her, unless prompted to by my aunts,” says Russell, author of Tuskegee Love Letters (www.tuskegeeloveletters.com).

Eventually, though, he shared with her some letters he and Luana exchanged as young newlyweds during World War II. Bernard had been a Tuskegee Airman, one of the first 15 pilots in the pioneering all-African American flying squadron based in Tuskegee, Ala. Before its creation in 1941, blacks were not allowed to fly in the military.

Bernard was 23. In letters to Luana and his mother-in-law, he’s cocky, funny and clearly smitten with his beautiful wife. Luana, 21, was a bright and educated stenotypist from St. Louis, discovering a completely foreign way of life in the Deep South.

“This Tuskegee is the dirtiest place in the country,” she wrote to her mother. “You have taught me that everything in the world was nice and clean, or at least being around you, you have made things seem so, and it really hurts to find out that life isn’t really like that.”

Mostly, though, Luana’s letters reveal a kind, brave young bride trying not to worry too much about her handsome husband flying over German artillery in Africa.

“It must be an awful shock to receive a brief telegram telling you the one person you love most is gone and that you will never see them again,” she wrote Bernard after learning a friend was missing in action. “Please honey, see that I won’t get one of those telegrams.”

For his part, Bernard worked to keep his letters light.

“My bed is quite uncomfortable and I can’t sleep, thus I dream of you all night long,” he wrote to Luana. “I miss the sleep but thinking of you is better than whiskey or vitamin pills. Hmmmm, I’d better change that to just vitamin pills.”

Russell compiled the letters her father had shared into a readers theater play. Her dad attended a performance.

“He was tickled,” Russell recalls. “He laughed at the right places.”

Four years later, after he died in 2000, he had another surprise for her: hundreds more letters he’d saved from his 13-year marriage. It was the best inheritance she could ever have hoped for, Russell says.

“Growing up, I had a wonderful, loving family, but I felt different, like an orphan or an adopted child, because I never knew my mother,” she says. “When you lose a parent at an early age, what does that make you?

“I am so grateful my father saved all of those letters and I encourage anyone who’s lost a loved one to write their story, save their diaries and letters, blogs or videos. I know my mother now – she was an actress, a photographer, a dreamer – and I absolutely adore her. I see so much of me in her.”

About Kim Russell

Kim Russell is an arts administrator, writer, and performance artist best known for her one-woman show, “Sojourner Truth.” She has a bachelor’s in theater and mass communications and a master’s in business. She’s currently working on a book incorporating many more of the letters she inherited. To see Bernard’s TV debut as a comedian on BET ComicView at about age 70, visit www.jaybernardcomedy.com.

 
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