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Another Fact today...Facts are STUBBORN Things...Whistleblower Retaliation Leak PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 09 December 2011 15:17

Senator Grassley: “Someone in the Justice Department leaked a document to the press along with talking points in an attempt to smear one of the ATF whistleblowers who have testified before the House.  This document was supposed to be so sensitive that you refused to provide it to Congress, but then someone provided it to the press.  The name of the criminal suspect in the document was deleted. But the name of the ATF agent was not.  This looks like a clear and intentional violation of the Privacy Act as well as an attempt at whistleblower retaliation. In a private phone conversation with me, you already told me that someone has been held accountable for this.  But your staff refused to provide my staff with any details.  Who was held accountable and how?”

Attorney General Holder: “You know, it – it’s – it – it almost pains me and please don’t take this away from Senator Grassley – pains me that as you said we had a private conversation.  You sent me a handwritten note that I took very seriously.  You and I have worked together on a variety of things, I think I have a good relationship with you. You sent me a handwritten note that I looked at, took serious, referred that letter to OPR, the I.G., I’m not sure which of the two, and asked them to try to find out what happened.  I called you to try to indicate to you that I had taken that matter seriously, that action had been taken.  You know, in a different time in Washington, I’m not sure that what you just said necessarily would have been shared with everyone here, but, you know, so be it, it’s a different time I suppose.”

FACT

A week and a half before the November 8th oversight hearing with the Attorney General, Senator Grassley was informed that the Attorney General wanted to speak with him.  Their discussion was a follow-up to a handwritten letter which Senator Grassley had sent to Attorney General Holder on June 30, 2011, but had never released or discussed publicly.  The letter raised concerns about the leak of a sensitive document to the press regarding a whistleblower who had come forward with allegations of gunwalking.

In the Attorney General’s call, he assured Senator Grassley that someone had been held accountable for the leak of the document.  However, Attorney General Holder would not identify who had been held accountable.  At that time, Senator Grassley informed Attorney General Holder that in order to refrain from raising the issue publicly, Senator Grassley’s staff would need more detailed information on the issue from Justice Department staff, such as who had been held accountable and how.  After the phone call, Justice Department staff contacted Senator Grassley’s staff, but refused to provide any further details.

 

The evening of the November 8th hearing, attorneys for former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke acknowledged that Mr. Burke had leaked the sensitive document to the press.  The Justice Department Inspector General confirmed that the office continues to investigate the leak, which means there are others who may be involved in drafting and distributing the talking points and document to the press.  In addition to the Inspector General investigation into the leak, the Justice Department has confirmed that its Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting a separate investigation of other leaks.  However, the department has refused to provide additional details.

 
Grassley hold on FCC nominees over LightSquared PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 09 December 2011 15:14
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011

Sen. Chuck Grassley made the comment below about his request for documents from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about its dealings with the firm, LightSquared.

Grassley has been seeking information from the agency as part of his effort to understand why the agency has allowed the company to move forward with its plans for a terrestrial 4G network, despite serious concerns of interference with the GPS systems used widely in military, aviation and emergency response venues.  The agency has refused to provide the public with insight into its approval process.

Months ago and subsequently, Grassley asked the FCC to provide documents regarding its interactions with LightSquared and LightSquared’s parent company, Harbinger Capital Partners.  The FCC has refused to comply with Grassley’s request.

Earlier this month, Grassley announced that he would place a hold on Senate action on two FCC nominees when the nominations are placed on the calendar for floor consideration until the FCC provides information, saying the public’s business ought to be public.

In October, Senator Grassley wrote separate letters to the top investor in and the chief executive of the company, seeking related information.

The Commerce Committee today is holding a hearing on the FCC nominees.

Grassley comment:

“There’s nothing new on whether the FCC will provide the information I requested.  The FCC hasn’t made any move to provide the information.  As a result, my intention to place a hold on the FCC nominees, should they reach the floor, stands.  The FCC needs to make itself accountable to Congress and the American people.  An agency with control over a major piece of the economy can’t be allowed to operate as a closed shop.”

 
Colder temperatures draw NFPA warning on fire hazards PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Lorraine Carli   
Friday, 09 December 2011 15:12

NFPA’s simple tips to stay safe and warm this winter

 November 30, 2011 – ‘Tis the season for rosy cheeks, button-down coats, and cranking up the heat. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), it’s also the time of year when home fires peak, many of which are caused by heating equipment.

“Half of all home heating fires occur during December, January, and February, when we are fully utilizing our heating systems” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “The public can reduce their risk of getting left out in the cold by following NFPA’s safe heating behaviors.”

Dan Doofus highlights the importance of home heating safety.

In NFPA’s report “Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment,” in 2009, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 58,900 reported home structure fires, 480 civilian deaths, 1,520 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct property damage. Stationary and portable space heaters accounted for one-third (32 percent) of reported home heating fires, but nearly 80 percent of the home heating fire deaths, two-thirds (66 percent) of associated civilian injuries, and half (52 percent) of associated direct property damage.

Overall, fires, injuries and damages from fires involving heating equipment were all lower than in 2008 and fit into a largely level trend over the past few years.  The number of deaths from heating equipment was virtually unchanged.

As temperatures begin to drop, here are some safe heating behaviors to follow:

●     All heaters need space.  Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.

●     Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.

●     Never use your oven to heat your home.

●     Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

●     Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

●     Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

●     Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel-burning space heaters.

●     Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

●     Test smoke alarms monthly.

In an effort to reduce winter fires, NFPA is partnering with the U.S. Fire Administration on a special campaign – Put a Freeze on Winter Fires. For more information, visit NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org/winter.

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 www.nfpa.org for more information.

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People, Politics, and Peace: Reflections from a Holy Land Pilgrimage PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sister Sallyann McCarthy   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 14:48

“Our visit to the Holy Land has changed everything,” said Carrie Delcourt, Rock Island, Ill., commenting on her recent trip to Israel-Palestine with a group led by Most Rev. Martin Amos, Bishop of Davenport, Ia.

On Thursday evening, December 8, Delcourt and one of her pilgrimage companions, Judith Herold SSND, Davenport, will present a program about their experiences in the Holy Land and the impact the trip has made on their lives and their deeper commitment to peace.

Sister Judy Herold is the Pastoral Associate at St. Anthony Church, Davenport, and Carrie Delcourt, wife and mother of two adult children, is an educator at Black Hawk College, Moline, Ill.

Shortly after returning from the Holy Land, Delcourt attended the Iowa Institute for Social Action in Iowa City, and met with Helene Paharik, Director of Development at the Beit Benedict Peace Academy at Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem. Later in October, she  participated in the Iowa workshop on “US Policy in Palestine-Israel: Engaging the Faith Communities in Pursuit of a Just Peace” in Ankeny.

“The two programs confirmed my desire to do all I can to aid in bringing peace to the Holy Land,” said Delcourt. “Listening to members of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities including Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, Rev. David Wildman of the Board of Global Ministries UMC, Lynne Pollack of Jewish Voices for Peace, Miryam Rashid of American Friends Service Committee, and Josh Ruebner of the US Campaign to End the Occupation enabled me to gain some understanding of the complex situation that now exists in this volatile region,” she said.

“Sister Judy and I hope that by sharing the fruit of our experiences we can help others to understand the situation in the land where Christ was born,” said Delcourt.

Both women emphasized how their visit has deepened their appreciation and understanding of the role of Mary, mother of Jesus. “Advent seems the perfect time to reflect on our pilgrimage,” added Herold.

Sponsored by Prince of Peace Pax Christi and the Clinton Franciscan Center for Active Nonviolence and peacemaking, the program is free and open to the public. Details available at www.clintonfranciscans.com or at http://jcpop.org/ or by calling Sisters of St. Francis,
563-242-7611.

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NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology Established at the Library of Congress PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Donna Urschel   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 14:39

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced today the establishment of the Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, housed within the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, to focus on an important area of human inquiry—the cultural, philosophical, ethical and societal implications of astrobiology.

Astrobiology addresses three fundamental questions: “How did life begin and evolve?” “Is there life beyond Earth?” and “What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?”  Before the advent of modern science, these questions were largely in the realm of philosophy, theology and ethics.  Today, the tools of science are increasingly being brought to bear to address these questions.  The NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology represents an opportunity for high-level collaboration in understanding the interface between astrobiology and human society.

This timely and auspicious collaboration between NASA and the Library of Congress owes a great deal to the vision of the late Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg, founding member of the Library’s Scholars Council, which advises the Librarian on scholarly matters.  Blumberg, known affectionately as Barry, shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1976 for discovering the hepatitis B virus and developing a powerful vaccine to fight it, saving countless lives.

Blumberg held a medical degree from Columbia University and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Oxford.  His curiosity and interests were wide-ranging.  In 1999 he added a new dimension to his career by becoming the founding director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute.  He also served as president of the American Philosophical Society from 2005 until his death earlier this year.

Billington said of Blumberg and the new chair, “For many years, Barry was a leading figure in the Scholars Council of the Kluge Center in the Library of Congress, who actively promoted research and dialogue between disciplines at a time when he was working so creatively.  This chair is a wonderful expression of his energy and vision in exploring new fields.  It will advance understanding of the implications of this intellectual frontier as well as honor Barry’s broader, enormous contributions.”

The Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology will be a distinguished senior research position in residence at the Kluge Center for a period of up to 12 months. Using research facilities and services at the Library, the holder of the chair is expected to engage in research at the intersection between the science of astrobiology and its humanistic aspects, particularly its societal implications.  Examples of research topics that might be addressed include, but are not limited to, the societal implications of discovering life beyond Earth or discovering that life is rare in the universe; the ways in which astrobiology influences and is influenced by culture; the role of astrobiology in promoting science and technological education and public literacy; ethical considerations arising from in-situ exploration for life on the planets and moons of our solar system; and the role of astrobiology in contributing to and shaping the future of life on Earth and beyond.

The Kluge Center will issue a call for nominations and applications.  Information about the NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology and an application form will be available online at www.loc.gov/loc/kluge/fellowships/NASA-astrobiology.html. The first chair holder is expected to take up residence in October of 2012.

NASA Astrobiology Institute Director Carl B. Pilcher said, “Public libraries have traditionally provided a public space for discourse on things that matter to a democratic society.  The Astrobiology chair will continue this great tradition, using the unparalleled stature of the Library of Congress as well as its vast resources to promote a dialogue about the significance of astrobiology to our society.”

The Astrobiology chair joins other distinguished chairs in the Kluge Center, including several chairs funded by the Kluge Endowment, the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History, and the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington.  For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds nearly 147 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats.  The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.  Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

The NASA Astrobiology Program supports research into the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.  The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), an element of that program, is a partnership among NASA, 14 U.S. teams, and eight international consortia.  NAI’s goals are to promote, conduct, and lead interdisciplinary astrobiology research, train a new generation of astrobiology researchers, and share the excitement of astrobiology with learners of all ages.

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