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IG investigating concerns about ATF whistleblower retaliation PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 09 July 2012 13:50

Grassley, Issa concerns about whistleblower retaliation under investigation

Inspector General reviewing ATF placement of Fast and Furious whistleblowers

WASHINGTON –The Inspector General for the Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the situation described in a June 29 letter from Senator Chuck Grassley and Chairman Darrell Issa about two whistleblowers who testified before Congress about the Fast and Furious matter under the supervision of an individual who allegedly threatened to retaliate against them.

In a letter to Grassley and Issa, Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said, “This Office takes seriously any situation where a whistleblower may face possible retaliation, and it is important that the Department ensure that whistleblowers do not suffer retaliation.  We have carefully reviewed the materials you provided, and we have initiated an investigation into this matter.”

In a letter sent last month to Horowitz, Grassley and Issa detailed inflammatory comments made last year about these two high profile whistleblowers, according to a direct eyewitness account.  Grassley and Issa sent the letter after learning the whistleblowers had been placed under the supervision of the ATF official who reportedly made the comments, Scot Thomasson.

Grassley and Issa said the alleged comments by Thomasson had been in public documents since May, and they asked the Inspector General to investigate how the ATF official has been admonished, how the ATF official was elevated and given such supervisory duties, and what steps are being taken to protect the whistleblowers from the campaign of retaliation the ATF official expressed a desire to conduct in his comments.

“It’s stunning that the ATF would allow placement of whistleblowers under the supervision of an individual who made the derisive and hostile comments reportedly made in this case,” Grassley said.  “The Inspector General’s immediate review and response is very necessary and appreciated.”

“Congress and the IG must continue to stand up for these individuals, who acted bravely when they saw wrongdoing at the ATF,” Issa said.  “In doing so, they exposed the reckless tactics that led to the death of a federal agent.  Protecting whistleblowers is absolutely critical -- it is the right thing to do.  It also ensures that others will have the courage to come forward when they, too, see wrongdoing in federal agencies.”

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Governor Quinn Issues Executive Order to Strengthen Protections of Adults with Disabilities Around Illinois PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Monday, 09 July 2012 12:12

Governor's Action to Ensure Safety of Adults with Disabilities in Domestic Settings

CHICAGO - July 6, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today issued an executive order to strengthen protections for adults who have disabilities. The Governor’s action today will ensure that potential cases of abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities who live in domestic settings will be investigated and referred to the appropriate authorities.

“In Illinois we believe that every life deserves respect and dignity,” Governor Quinn said. “My action today will strengthen the protection of adults with disabilities and ensure the necessary steps are taken if abuse or neglect takes place.”

Under Governor Quinn’s executive order, the state will strengthen protections for adults with disabilities who are suspected victims of abuse and neglect. The order will ensure referrals to the appropriate authorities are made and follow-up occurs after any death of an adult with disabilities who is the subject of a pending complaint investigation by the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), regardless of the circumstances.

Starting immediately, such cases will be reported, in writing, to local law enforcement and local coroners or medical examiners, and referrals will be documented. The OIG will follow-up on the cases to determine and document what actions have been taken and what determinations have been made by the law enforcement agency. In the past, the Office of the Inspector General referred many of these cases to local law enforcement and/or the medical examiner/coroner. In some cases, contact was made but not documented by OIG staff or the receiving entity, which is unacceptable. The OIG has also swiftly taken steps to strengthen policies and procedures to ensure referrals/notifications are properly documented.

The EO also calls for a review of all deaths of an adult with disabilities who was the subject of a pending investigation by the OIG since 2003.  In such cases where documented referrals were made to law enforcement agencies, the OIG will follow up on the outcome.  For all other cases, the OIG will undertake a detailed review of each file to determine whether further DHS OIG action or referral is required.

In the future, all cases, regardless of allegations, will be referred to local law enforcement.

“We recognize the deficiencies within the program and are committed to improving it,” said DHS Secretary Michelle R. B. Saddler. “We support the Governor’s swift action, and we will work with the OIG to immediately implement the reforms outlined in his Executive Order.”

Full text of Governor Quinn’s executive order follows.

 

Executive Order Strengthening Reporting Requirements and  

Protective Services for Adults with Disabilities

WHEREAS, the State has an obligation to protect its most vulnerable citizens from abuse, neglect, and exploitation; and

WHEREAS, adults with disabilities living in domestic settings throughout Illinois communities must be protected from being the victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation by others; and

WHEREAS, in addition to being “created to investigate and report upon allegations of the abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of individuals receiving services within mental health facilities, developmental disabilities facilities, and community agencies operated, licensed, funded or certified by the Department of Human Services,” the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Human Services (DHS OIG) is also charged with investigating “alleged or suspected cases of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of adults with disabilities living in domestic settings in the community under the Abuse of Adults with Disabilities Intervention Act (AADIA), 20 ILCS 2435; and

WHEREAS, the DHS OIG must immediately report the death of an adult with disabilities to the coroner or medical examiner and cooperate fully with any subsequent investigation when it “has reason to believe that the death of the adult with disabilities may be the result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation;” and

WHEREAS, as part of the statutory Adults with Disabilities Abuse Project, if the DHS OIG “has reason to believe that a crime has been committed, the incident shall be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency;” and

WHEREAS, immediate improvements must be made in the DHS OIG’s referral of, documentation of, and follow-up on the deaths of adults with disabilities that may be the result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation; and

WHEREAS, the effort to provide protective services to adults with disabilities living in domestic settings requires an integrated network of resources from the DHS OIG and community service providers;

THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, pursuant to the supreme executive authority vested in me by Article V, Section 8 of the Illinois Constitution, do hereby order as follows:

I. Reporting of Deaths of Adults with Disabilities by the DHS OIG

In addition to its already-existing statutory obligations under the Abuse of Adults with Disabilities Intervention Act, the DHS OIG shall: 

A.    For any death of an adult with disabilities who is the subject of a pending complaint investigation by the DHS OIG, regardless of the circumstances, immediately report the matter to both the appropriate (1) law enforcement agency and (2) coroner or medical examiner.

Such reports shall be in writing and, at a minimum, shall contain information regarding (a) the incident(s), victim(s), and subject(s), (b) the reporting of the incident to the DHS OIG, (c) the DHS OIG personnel involved, and (d) as available and applicable, case numbers for the DHS OIG, law enforcement, and the coroner or medical examiner.  The DHS OIG shall also maintain a copy of the report and shall document subsequent action, if any, by the appropriate law enforcement agency.

B.    Between 30 and 45 days after reporting the death of an adult with disabilities who is the subject of a pending complaint investigation by the DHS OIG to the appropriate law enforcement agency, contact that law enforcement agency to determine whether any further action was taken.  If no further action was taken at the end of 45 days following the DHS OIG’s report, the DHS OIG shall notify the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, in writing.

C.    In evaluating past cases, contact the applicable law enforcement agency to follow up on all death referrals made by the DHS OIG to a law enforcement agency under the AADIA since 2003.  For all other deaths of an adult with disabilities who was the subject of a pending complaint investigation by the DHS OIG since 2003, the DHS OIG shall undertake a detailed review of each file to determine whether further DHS OIG action is required.

  1. Enhancing Protective Services for Adults with Disabilities

A. Developing an Integrated State and Local Network for Adults with Disabilities

To supplement the current investigatory work of the DHS OIG under the Abuse of Adults with Disabilities Intervention Act and to ensure enhanced protective services through an integrated State and local network, the DHS OIG shall utilize and develop relationships with and, as necessary, contract with, regional and local provider agencies to provide (a) regional and local intake, outreach, and investigatory resources to the DHS OIG and (b) additional regional and local options for protective services for adults with disabilities in domestic settings.

B. Leveraging the Already Existing Network and Resources

The DHS OIG shall consult with and, to the extent practicable, use the Department on Aging’s Protective Services for Seniors Unit as a model.  Likewise, to the extent permitted by law, in order to build an integrated State and local protective services network, the DHS OIG may initially utilize the existing contracts that the Department on Aging has with regional and local providers.

  1. Savings Clause
    Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to contravene any state or federal law.
  1. Severability
    If any provision of this Executive Order is found invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remaining provisions shall remain in full force and effect.
  1. Effective Date
    This Executive Order shall take effect immediately upon filing with the Secretary of State.
###

 
Statement from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the Codex Alimentarius Commission's Adoption of Standards for the Veterinary Drug Ractopamine PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 06 July 2012 13:45
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623
Statement from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the Codex Alimentarius Commission's Adoption of Standards for the Veterinary Drug Ractopamine

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2012-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today regarding the Codex Alimentarius Commission's adoption of standards for ractopamine on July 5th:

"After five years of hard work by the Codex Commission, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and our federal agency partners, the United States welcomes the Commission's adoption of standards for the veterinary drug ractopamine. This action by Codex affirms the pre-eminent role of science in setting international standards for food safety.

"Currently, American producers face trade restrictions due to unjustified bans on the use of ractopamine, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and used safely in the United States for 12 years as well as 25 other countries. These standards provide clear guidance to countries about safe use of ractopamine, which promotes lean meat production.

"Codex is an inter-governmental body created by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization of the United Nations, and is recognized as the international standards setting body for food safety by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Establishment of international standards for veterinary drugs like ractopamine are important since many countries rely on science-based food standards to ensure that the food they are importing is safe. U.S. agricultural exporters benefit and consumers worldwide benefit when countries adopt international standards.

"Consumers can rest assured that their food is safe, and exporters have greater certainty about the criteria they must meet in the international marketplace."

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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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Understanding Immigration PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 06 July 2012 10:22
Fact-Based Tale of 1700s Virginia Mirrors Contemporary Immigration Challenges
Debut Novelist Says History Remains the Greatest Teacher

Understanding America’s earliest immigration conflicts -- the collision of Native Americans and European explorers and settlers – is an excellent tool for examining some of the immigration challenges and perceptions facing us today.

The two groups, neither with the barest understanding of the other, traded, bartered, bargained and fought over land. By 1700, the settlers’ movement west was at a standstill. Their vulnerability to dangers of the wilderness and the unprotected western frontier made settlement west of the great river plantations too risky.

In researching Dangerous Differences (www.quailhigh.com), a fact-based novel of the time period, author Mac Laird of Williamsburg, VA., began to understand how the two groups both collaborated and sought to protect themselves. In some instances, their efforts were fruitful. In others, they failed miserably.

The cast of fictional characters in the book live through the dangerous differences:  the notion of profit, so dear to one and unknown to the other; and the concepts of private property, fences, and the accumulation of wealth, unknown and unneeded by the tribes, yet fundamental to the settlers. A strong work ethic, honored by the settlers, stood in puzzling contrast to the hunter and warrior fixation of the tribesmen. The English devotion to one all-powerful God faced a similar devotion by the tribes to their various deities.

There seemed to be no end to the differences defying peaceful coexistence. Raids, massacres and outright war inevitably became the solution for both sides until the overpowering numbers and relentless waves of new settlers forced most of the declining tribes and individuals into submission.

Laird illustrates the impact of these troublesome times on both settlers and tribesmen. In just a few years and like most of the Virginia tribes, the Saponi had lost half of their people. Unsure of how to meet these challenges, Laird’s fictional Chief Custoga sends his 13-year old son, Kadomico, to the grammar school at the new College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia, to learn the way of the English. The Virginia and North Carolina tribes are facing the loss of their hunting grounds, vicious raids and captivity by the mighty Iroquois and other strong northern tribes desperately trying to keep their own numbers strong.

“As always with history, understanding the perspectives of both the existing population and those seeking opportunity can be enlightening as Americans debate contemporary challenges,” Laird says.

About Mac Laird

After a career in telecommunications with the U.S. Navy, Mac Laird found his niche in America’s South Eastern Woodlands and began to build with the natural materials from the land in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. In time, he started writing about that land and the people. His first book, Quail High Above the Shenandoah (2007) gives a vivid account of building with logs. Dangerous Differences leads the reader through the wonders of the mountains, rivers, and forests of Virginia and North Carolina and introduces the troubling differences between the frontier Indians and settlers of the new world. The author and his wife, Johnnie, now live in Williamsburg, VA.

 
MUST SEE: How Our Troops Are Spending Their 4th of July! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Move America Forward   
Thursday, 05 July 2012 07:02
ENJOYING THE 4TH OF JULY? - DON'T FORGET OUR TROOPS!!
The 4th of July is meant to celebrate our freedom - freedom that we only have and maintain thanks to our brave troops who serve.

As Americans back home are enjoying fun in the sun, firing up the grill, and watching some fireworks, let’s not forget our troops in Afghanistan...ESPECIALLY ON INDEPENDENCE DAY.

Troopathon is only a week away, and we owe it to our troops to make it a success! Help us raise enough to send the largest shipment of packages we've ever sent to our troops overseas! Donate to Troopathon now!

Let's compare how our troops are spending their 4th of July with how we're spending our holiday.

BACK HOME IN THE USA

Fireworks are a national tradition on the 4th of July. Back home, we can enjoy these amazing displays of pyrotechnics at parks, air bases, or other public places.  Many cities allow families to light their own fireworks in the street.

Millions of Americans went to religious services this weekend at synagogues, churches, temples and other houses of worship. Across the nation people listened to sermons, and knelt to pray for wealth, their health, a promotion, more money, a new car, a chance to hit that lotto number.

Is there anything better than a nice barbeque in the backyard or a picnic at the park?

Thousands this weekend flocked to parks and hung out in the patio out back grilling up delicious hot dogs and hamburgers.
OUR TROOPS OVERSEAS

In Afghanistan our troops versions of fireworks today might look like this. It's called a "Controlled Detonation". An IED was luckily discovered and detonated from a safe distance before it kills or more of our troops.

But in Iraq and Afghanistan our troops were praying too, not in big beautiful churches, but huddled together outside their trucks ready to go out and meet the enemy. They are praying that they make it back alive and live to see the day when they can see their loved ones again.

Our troops in the field had to make due with M.R.E.s that come with a meager hot dish, and usually a piece of bread or cracker. Luckily the packages come with salt and pepper, but even that isn’t enough to make MREs more than barely edible.

This is the time to send our troops a care package with thick cuts of savory beef jerky in peppered, teriyaki and original flavors. Each of them also includes refreshing Gatorade, coffee and cookies to wake them up in the morning, and jelly beans and other delicious goodies give them some comfort during their difficult deployments.

They are completing their missions to keep us safe back home. Show your thanks and appreciation with a care package that will boost morale and give them what they need to keep fighting.


US

Don’t we all love to enjoy the outdoors? Back home we can enjoy a nice hike in the mountains and take the natural beauty of this magnificent land we live in.


In your leisure time, isn’t it nice to kick back and enjoy a day out on the lake fishing with your friends and family? There’s nothing better to do on a beautiful 4th of July afternoon but talk and wait for that fishing line to tug.
OUR TROOPS

Our troops spending their days climbing huge mountains in Afghanistan. In the oppressive heat, our troops have  only the supplies they can carry on their backs!


In Afghanistan, our troops don’t get to spend their free time hanging out or watching baseball, they spend their free time cleaning their weapons and making sure their equipment is in tip top shape. Their lives depend on it.

We depend on our troops to protect the freedoms and liberties that we're celebrating today. There are many terrorists out there who would destroy America and kill our families and fellow citizens if they had the chance. Our troops are the only thing standing in their way.

Think about how nice we have it here back home in America, the greatest country in the world because of the promise of freedom and liberty. That liberty is protected by our troops serving overseas right now. Don’t they deserve a little bit of thanks in recognition of what they go through and what they sacrifice for us back home?




 
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