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Governor Quinn Opens First Chicago Ideas Week PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Katelyn Tye   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 13:49

Proclaims “Ideas Week” in Illinois to Support Innovation

CHICAGO – October 10, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today opened the first-ever Chicago Ideas Week conference and proclaimed this week “Ideas Week” in Illinois. Chicago Ideas Week is a seven-day celebration of ideas, innovation and community, that will focus on bringing the world’s best speakers together with the Midwest’s best thinkers. Today’s event follows Governor Quinn’s launch of a program last week to give Illinois entrepreneurs access to $78 million in capital for new and innovative business ideas.

“Illinois is proud to be home to some of the brightest minds in science, technology, business and education,” Governor Quinn said. “It only makes sense that the best minds in the world should come together here to develop innovative ideas and technologies that will help create the jobs of today and tomorrow to move our economy forward.”

Chicago Ideas Week was founded by Brad Keywell, chair of the Illinois Innovation Council introduced this year by Governor Quinn (, and co-founder of Groupon and Lightbank. The purpose of the conference is to bring the world’s leading visionaries together for collaboration and discussion that could lead to breakthroughs and new understanding of some of the world’s most important issues.

“This week provides a world-class platform that is designed to showcase our state as a center of innovation and entrepreneurship," said Keywell, creator of Chicago Ideas Week. ”We are thrilled by the support we've received from both the city of Chicago and Illinois state government leaders for this celebration."

The week-long celebration of ideas will take place at some of Chicago’s most prominent landmarks and will feature more than 150 key figures in business, science, health, technology, journalism, the arts, sports and government. Former President Bill Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and Kasim Reed of Atlanta are among the featured speakers. For a full list of speakers and more information about each session, visit

“Ideas Week” in Illinois is the latest step Governor Quinn has taken to solidify Illinois’ place as the leading state in the Midwest for entrepreneurship and innovation. Last week Governor Quinn launched the Advantage Illinois program to provide Illinois businesses and entrepreneurs with access to the capital they need to start new companies and expand existing business. Advantage Illinois will leverage $78 million in federal funding that will allow businesses to bring innovative ideas and new products to market and accelerate job creation and economic growth in Illinois. Earlier this year, the Governor created the Illinois Innovation Council with the goal of keeping Illinois on the cutting-edge of the global economy.

This year Governor Quinn’s leadership has been instrumental in expanding the availability of more than $150 million in investment capital through enactment of the Technology Development Account II, implementation of the Angel Investment Tax Credit and the Advantage Illinois program.

A copy of Governor Quinn’s proclamation is attached.

WHEREAS,                innovation has long been a hallmark of the Illinois economy, however success in today’s era requires an extensive network of support; and


WHEREAS                 the nature and pace of innovation have changed dramatically and our global economy is increasingly driven by our ability to find and nurture value though new products, improved processes or advanced scientific discoveries; and


WHEREAS,                American innovations in science and technology, fueled by public and private research investments and accelerated through entrepreneurial activity have created economic prosperity,  enhanced quality of life, and aided those who bravely provide our nation with safety and security; and


WHEREAS,                the Illinois Innovation Council is working to identify and advance strategies to foster and accelerate the innovation and economic growth that will create the jobs of today and tomorrow; and


WHEREAS,                the American Association for the Advancement of Science estimates that up to half of all economic growth in the Unites States over the past five decades is due to innovations in technology; and


WHEREAS,                the state’s economic growth is tied to its ability to successfully execute long-range research, development and innovation projects that address challenges facing our industries and that cultivate areas of likely scientific and technological advancement; and


WHEREAS,                to accelerate the innovation economy in the Midwest, the Illinois Innovation Council is advancing a common platform and fostering an ecosystem through which startups, innovation-driven enterprises, service providers, research institutions, colleges, universities and civic leaders can connect, share ideas, raise capital, and access the services and resources necessary to accelerate the growth of businesses, create new industries and generate jobs; and


WHEREAS,                from October 10-16, 2011, Chicago Ideas Week will bring the world’s top speaker together with Chicago’s best thinkers to create an ecosystem of innovation, exploration, and intellectual recreation.



THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby do hereby proclaim October 10-16, 2011 as CHICAGO IDEAS WEEK in Illinois, and encourage everyone in the Land of Lincoln to recognize, celebrate and support the vital role that innovation plays in the in the economic future of our state.

Grassley Office comments on Attorney General Holder's Response to Fast and Furious Controversy PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 13:28
Following is a comment from Beth Levine, spokesperson for Ranking Member Grassley, in response to the letter sent to Senators Grassley and Leahy and Congressmen Issa, Smith, Cummings and Conyers from Attorney General Holder.

“The goals of Senator Grassley’s investigation, from the first time whistleblowers brought him the allegations of wrongdoing, has been to find out who approved a stupid program and to make sure it never happened again.  He believed he owed those answers to the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, especially since the family wasn’t getting answers from the executive branch.  Instead of helping get to the bottom of the disastrous program, the Justice Department stonewalled Senator Grassley’s investigation and denied him access to documents and key personnel.  If the Attorney General had come clean with Congress from the beginning instead of having his staff send false and misleading responses to Senator Grassley’s letters (Jan. 27th letter and January 31st letter) , then the public discussion of these issues could have been more productive.

“Now, eight months after Senator Grassley personally raised the issue with him, Attorney General Holder has officially admitted that this case involved ‘weapons that should have been interdicted but were not.’  That’s quite a reversal from the Department’s initial denial, which claimed the whistleblower allegations were false and that ‘ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally.’

“Documents provided last week make clear that (1) senior officials discussed whether it would be wise for the head of the Department’s Criminal Division to attend press events given the number of guns that were walked, (2) the Attorney General’s current chief of staff took notes regarding operational details during a presentation on Operation Fast and Furious in March 2010, and (3) the connection between the guns found at Agent Terry’s murder scene and Operation Fast and Furious was immediately briefed up to the Attorney General’s current chief of staff just two days after Agent Terry’s death.

“These documents raise as many questions as they answer about which senior Department officials knew what about Operation Fast and Furious.  In addition to these documents, getting at the truth also requires taking testimony from the key officials involved.  The Attorney General’s denials of any personal knowledge will have to be tested against all the evidence as the investigation continues, just as the Department’s initial denials were.”

Q&A: The World Food Prize PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 13:04

Q:        How is The World Food Prize tied to Iowa?

A:        Two Iowans were behind creation of the World Food Prize, the international award recognizing individuals who improve the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world.  Dr. Norman Borlaug (1914-2009) -- an agronomist, humanitarian, Nobel laureate (the only recipient to receive this honor for working in agriculture), and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal -- grew up in rural Cresco.  He was the father of what’s called the Green Revolution when, from the 1940s to the 1970s, research, development and new technologies increased agricultural production around the world.  Dr. Borlaug was involved with the development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, and the distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to farmers.  Dramatically increasing crop yields saved hundreds of millions of people from starvation.  Dr. Borlaug’s leadership and tireless work gave the world’s poorest people access to food.  It’s said that he saved more lives than any other person in history.  Dr. Borlaug envisioned a prize as a means of recognizing and inspiring achievements in fighting world hunger.  His vision was realized in 1986, when The World Food Prize was created.  In 1990, the first sponsor of the prize withdrew, and Iowa businessman and leading philanthropist John Ruan (1914-2010) stepped forward to endow the prize, making it possible to continue Dr. Borlaug’s vision.  The World Food Prize organization is located in Des Moines.


Q:        Who is considered for the prize?

A:        Contributions by individuals in any field that’s involved in the world food supply – including food and agricultural science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership, and the social sciences – are recognized by The World Food Prize.  The prize values a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people.  Outstanding individuals from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States have received the prize.  It’s most fitting that this prestigious award is given each fall in Iowa.  Iowa farmers are blessed with some of the best soil in the world, and our state’s productivity and agricultural abundance have made significant contributions to global food security, humanitarian relief, economic growth, job creation and national security.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Weekly Video Address: Fast and Furious PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 12:57

Click here for audio.

Here is the text of the address:

Last weekend, my office received a new set of documents from the Justice Department related to my investigation of the ill-advised strategy known as Fast and Furious.

The documents were revealing.  Included were several memorandums to Attorney General Holder that reveal the Attorney General was briefed at least five times beginning in July 2010 in written memos about Fast and Furious.

What is concerning to many of us is the fact that the Attorney General told the House Judiciary Committee in May 2011 that he had just learned of Fast and Furious a few weeks before.  Yet, on January 31, in a previously scheduled meeting, I personally handed him two letters about Fast and Furious.

Now, to find out he knew some pretty detailed information about the operation back in the summer of 2010, is troubling.

The memo specifically says that the straw buyers, including the target of the investigation, were “responsible for the purchase of 1500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels.”  It seems the logical question for the Attorney General, and his staff, after reading the memo would be “why haven’t we stopped them?”

In addition, the documents we received show several other people very high up in the Justice Department knew a great deal of information about Fast and Furious, including that guns were being walked.

Congressman Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee who I’m working with, and I will continue working to get to the bottom of this.  We want to make sure a stupid program like this never happens again.


Attorney General Holder Received at Least Five Memos on Fast and Furious PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 11:39
WASHINGTON – October 7, 2011 - Senator Chuck Grassley and Congressman Darrell Issa today said that Attorney General Eric Holder received at least five weekly memos beginning in July 2010, including four weeks in a row, describing the ill-advised strategy known as Operation Fast and Furious.  The memos were to Holder from Michael Walther, the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center.

The Attorney General told Issa during a House Judiciary Committee in May 2011 that he had just learned of Fast and Furious a few weeks before.  Yet, on January 31, in a previously scheduled meeting, Grassley personally handed him two letters about Fast and Furious. Grassley and Issa said they find it very troubling that Holder actually knew of Operation Fast and Furious much earlier, and in greater detail than he ever let on.

The memos specifically said that the straw buyers were “responsible for the purchase of 1500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels.”

“With the fairly detailed information that the Attorney General read, it seems the logical question for the Attorney General after reading in the memo would be “why haven’t we stopped them?” Grassley said.  “And if he didn’t ask the questions, why didn’t he or somebody in his office?”

“Attorney General Holder has failed to give Congress and the American people an honest account of what he and other senior Justice Department officials knew about gunwalking and Operation Fast and Furious. The lack of candor and honesty from our nation’s chief law enforcement officials in this matter is deeply disturbing,” Issa said.

Grassley and Issa have been leading the investigation into who approved the strategy to allow guns to be purchased by known straw buyers who then often transferred the firearms to Mexican Drug Cartels.

The memos can be found here.

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