News Releases -
Written by Stephen M. Gele
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 13:59
|Washington, DC, January 17, 2012-
Eight leaders of the Jewish and Anglican religious communities have released letters in partnership with the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA) endorsing the American Laws for American Courts
(ALAC) model bill and affirming that ALAC will not interfere with the religious freedom of any denomination.
The eight leaders are:
Rabbi Aryeh Spero
President, Caucus for America
Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, J.D.
Congregation Ahavath Torah
Bishop David C. Anderson
President and CEO, American Anglican Council
Reverend Canon J. Philip Ashey, Esq.
Chief Operating and Development Officer, American Anglican Council
Official legal and canonical adviser to churches
Member of the Governance Task Force which drafted the Constitution and Canons of the new Anglican Church in North America
Reverend Charles A.”Drew” Collins, Jr., S.B.R.
Vicar of St. Thomas Church
Moncks Corner, South Carolina
Reverend David Jones
Rector, Saint Paul’s Church
The Very Reverend Dr. Keith Roderick, D.D.
Secretary General of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights
Representative, Christian Solidarity International
Executive Director of the Sudan Campaign
Rector, St. Andrew's Episcopal (Anglican) Church
Father Richard Kim, Retired
Retired Episcopal priest
Former Green Beret
Grosse Point, MI
Rabbi Spero stated:
“The Constitution has been the greatest guarantor of our religious rights here in America since our founding. Any assertion that assigns “racism or bigotry” to those who wish the Constitution to be the sole arbiter of our laws is egregious and fundamentally skewed. We are here to reinforce the Constitution above any other system of law. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Father Keith Roderick agreed:
"When it is possible to strengthen the protections of our Constitution and First Amendment protections, it seems expeditious to do so. The temptation to defer to foreign laws to resolve matters that have both civil and religious implications within the culture of the litigants risks the erosion of basic civil rights and religious rights."
The letter from the interfaith leaders, which follows below, outlines the necessity and strengths of ALAC.
- The Act‘s sole objective is to protect all U.S. citizens and residents from the application of foreign laws when the application of a foreign law will result in the violation, in the specific matter at issue, of a liberty guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States or the public policies of the state in question.
- Often the parties litigating in those state courts are left to their own devices to understand that granting comity to a foreign judgment may be at odds with our state and federal constitutional principles in the specific matters at issue.
- The American Laws for American Courts Act is constitutional and “facially neutral”…and in the two years since its introduction into state legislatures, it has never been challenged in court.
- The Act is carefully defined so as not to interfere with the right of any individual or entity to the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by the constitutions of the states.
- Nothing in the Act prevents any person from freely exercising his or her right to freedom of religion and worship. American Laws for American Courts only applies to legal doctrines in our court systems. It does not discriminate in any way based on faith of any kind.
- The goal of the American Laws for American Courts Act is a clear and unequivocal application of what should be the goal of all state courts: No U.S. citizen or resident should be denied the liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed in our constitutional republic.
View the Full Text of the Letter from Religious Leaders to Legislators here.
For 235 years, Americans of all faiths, creeds, colors, and ethnic origins have enjoyed a system of liberties and laws protected by a Constitution that is unique to the world. The criminal and civil statutes that have emanated from this foundational document serve as the bedrock for American values. We are a nation of laws, presided over by an impartial judiciary and preserved by a Congress and state legislatures.
It is largely due to our constitutional principles that America has stood at the forefront of the nations of the world in terms of religious freedom and tolerance. Protecting our constitutional rights is our best defense of religious freedom and the right to worship as we please.
We therefore urge Americans of all faiths to join us in supporting passage of the American Laws for American Courts Act, which has been enacted in three states and is being introduced in many other legislatures.
The Act‘s sole objective is to protect all U.S. citizens and residents from the application of foreign laws when the application of a foreign law will result in the violation, in the specific matter at issue, of a liberty guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States or the public policies of the state in question. Such violations would include but not be limited to infringements on due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, equal protection, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of the state.
Unfortunately, because state legislatures have generally not been explicit about what their public policy is relative to foreign laws, often the parties litigating in those state courts are left to their own devices to understand that granting comity to a foreign judgment may be at odds with our state and federal constitutional principles in the specific matters at issue.
The American Laws for American Courts Act is constitutional and “facially neutral.” It does not mention any specific religion, creed or legal doctrine, and in the two years since its introduction into state legislatures, it has never been challenged in court.
The Act is carefully defined so as not to interfere with the right of any individual or entity to the free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by the constitution of the states. For example, it would not affect the decisions of Jewish, Christian, Muslim or other ecclesiastical courts, or their enforcement, as long as those decisions did not result in the violation of a right guaranteed by the state constitution or the Constitution of the United States.
American Laws for American Courts would not interfere with Jewish law because Jewish law has an inherent provision that instructs people of the Jewish faith to follow the law of the land in which they live. Moreover, ALAC only applies when the use of a foreign legal doctrine in a court would violate someone’s constitutional rights or state public policy. This is not the case with Jewish law. Nor would ALAC impact canon law.
Moreover, the model American Laws for American Courts language contains specific language in recognition of the fact that it cannot be applied in such a way that would interfere with a church, religious corporation, association, or society, with respect to the individuals of a particular religion regarding matters that are purely ecclesiastical, to include, but not be limited to, matters of calling a pastor, excluding members from a church, electing church officers, matters concerning church bylaws, constitution, and doctrinal regulations and the conduct of other routine church business, where 1) the jurisdiction of the church would be final; and 2) the jurisdiction of the courts of this State would be contrary to the First Amendment of the United States and the Constitution of this State.
Nothing in the Act prevents any person from freely exercising his or her right to freedom of religion and worship. American Laws for American Courts only applies to legal doctrines in our court systems. It does not discriminate in any way based on faith of any kind.
The goal of the American Laws for American Courts Act is a clear and unequivocal application of what should be the goal of all state courts: No U.S. citizen or resident should be denied the liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed in our constitutional republic. American Laws for American Courts is needed especially to protect women and children, identified by international human rights organizations as the primary victims of discriminatory foreign laws.
The United States has long been and continues to be a model of diversity and tolerance to the rest of the world. However, the demands of an increasingly multi-cultural society must never impede nor impair basic constitutional liberties such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the right to privacy and due process. Please join our fellow Americans from across the country who are working towards the prompt passage of American Laws for American Courts , the 21st century civil rights initiative to ensure constitutional protections for all Americans.
News Releases -
Written by Jessica Stauber
Monday, 16 January 2012 15:40
Duluth, Minn. – Today maurices launched its second annual Main Street Model Search. The young women’s retailer is looking for 12 real girls in all sizes to model maurices clothing in upcoming fall, holiday and spring campaigns. Models will be selected through maurices Main Street Model Search.
“Through last year’s Main Street Model Search, we were able to express maurices’ passion for embracing real girls from hometowns across America,” says Brad Hartmann, maurices vice president of marketing. “We’re excited to give another group of women the opportunity to live their dream of modeling while demonstrating what the maurices brand is all about: fashion, fun and giving back.”
Women ages 18 and older can enter maurices Main Street Model Search online. They’ll need to upload photos of themselves, write a short essay and provide other key details. Full model contest rules should be reviewed before entering.
Stylist and fashion designer Christopher Straub from Lifetime’s “Project Runway” will once again be part of the judging panel. Straub launched Christopher Straub for maurices—a line of clothing, accessories and a fragrance—in November 2011. His second line for maurices will be unveiled this spring.
Straub was thrilled when maurices invited him to be part of its second model search. “It was incredibly rewarding to be part of last year’s contest. I met so many wonderful people who were beautiful on the inside and out. I can’t wait to be part of selecting the next maurices Main Street Models.”
Judges will select models based on appearance and how well they represent the maurices image. The top 12 models will each receive a photo shoot in one of three iconic destinations in the U.S. and national exposure at maurices locations, www.maurices.com, mailers and social media; a $1,500 maurices gift card; and $7,500 for a charitable makeover to be awarded directly to a community or charitable organization in her hometown.
Women can enter online now through February 13. Online voting is open from February 27 through March 19, with people receiving a surprise coupon offer from maurices every time they vote, plus a chance to win as much as $1,000 in gift cards. Online voting will narrow the field of contestants to 100 who will be required to create a video as part of their submission. maurices will select 20 models for a final casting call in Minneapolis, Minn., the week of April 16. The top 12 models will be announced April 23.
For more information, visit maurices.com , facebook.com/maurices or mauricesmainstreetmodel.com.
maurices Main Street Model Search 2012 Timeline
Model submissions: January 16 – February 13
Women from across America enter online for the chance to model for maurices and win fabulous prizes, including a fashion shoot in an iconic destination in the U.S.
Online voting: February 27 – March 19
Voters help narrow the search to 100 contestants with each of their votes earning a surprise coupon offer from maurices, plus a chance to win as much as $1,000 in gift cards.
Meet the top 100 contestants: March 20
maurices reveals the voters’ top 100 choices online.
Video submission: March 20 – 27
The top 100 contestants create and submit a video that tells why they should be a maurices Main Street Model.
Introducing the top 20: April 2
Judging panel reveals the top 20 contestants.
Casting call: Week of April 16
Top 20 finalists are brought to Minneapolis, Minn., for a casting call with a panel of judges that includes Christopher Straub from Season Six of Lifetime’s “Project Runway.”
And the winners are: April 23
maurices will introduce the 12 winners of maurices Main Street Model Search 2012.
maurices, a division of Ascena Retail Group, Inc. (NASDAQ – ASNA), is the leading hometown specialty store and authority for the savvy, fashion-conscious girl with a twenty-something attitude. Today, maurices operates 800 stores in 44 states. maurices stands for fashion, quality, value and customer service. Offering sizes 1-26 in select stores and online, our styles are inspired by the girl in everyone, in every size. For store information and to shop online, visit maurices.com.
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News Releases -
Written by Mark McLaughlin
Monday, 16 January 2012 15:38
IA/IL QUAD-CITIES – Premier Bath & Kitchen Resurfacing specializes in updating home décor using a convenient, cost-effective technology. Based in Eldridge, Iowa, Premier can resurface any type of tub, shower, ceramic tile, or countertop to save the mess and expense of tear-out and replacement. According to owners Mike and Gayle Staples, Premier now offers a new green product that greatly reduces the toxins involved in the resurfacing process.
Premier Bath & Kitchen Resurfacing will feature the new product, EcoGlaze™ Waterborne from NAPCO, Ltd., at the 2012 Home Show Expo, Feb. 10 - 12, at the Quad City Conservation Alliance (QCCA) Expo Center, 2621 4th Ave., Rock Island, Illinois.
“EcoGlaze is so home- and environment-friendly, most people will find no trace of chemical odors after the work is done,” said Mike. “This is excellent for senior homes, health-care facilities, hospitality venues, and occupied homes. This product is especially useful for living spaces and workplaces used by individuals who are sensitive to toxins.”
Gayle noted that Premier is on the cutting edge with this product, since NAPCO released it in late fall of 2011. “We’re proud to be able to offer this product to the community,” she said.
A Green Innovation
The new green product was created by NAPCO, the North American Polymer Company of Skokie, Illinois. According to Dani Nichols, Vice President at NAPCO, the product is a waterborne polyurethane, similar to other polymers, but with 90 percent less petroleum-based solvents.
“Conventional tub and tile coatings were developed in the ‘50s – the same time as television,” Dani said. “Our new EcoGlaze coating is a water-based coating that is safer for the environment, homes and businesses. And, it’s made in the USA. Most solvents in old-fashioned coatings use foreign oil as a raw material. EcoGlaze uses only US-made raw materials.”
Dani noted that the EcoGlaze coating is low in VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. “VOCs deplete the ozone layer and are responsible for ground-level smog and air pollution,” she said. “With almost no solvents, VOCs are dramatically reduced. The less VOCs you use, the healthier you make your home and environment.”
NAPCO has been developing the product for five years, Dani added. “The product was field-tested on hundreds of tubs before it was released,” she said. “The first tub was resurfaced one and a half years ago, and it’s holding up great.”
Good for Your Health and Budget
With this product, Gayle stated, you are using a healthier product and keeping home materials out of landfills. “Resurfacing is a healthier redecorating choice than tub-liners,” she said. “If the caulk seals on liners break, they can harbor moisture, bacteria and mold.”
According to Mike, a resurfacing project can be done in less than a day. “With resurfacing, you don’t need multiple contractors,” he said. “If you want to make your tub look like new, you won’t need to hire a plumber, a tile setter, or a general contractor. In this economy, it is an excellent option for improving the value of a home.”
For more information on Premier Bath & Kitchen Resurfacing, call 563-386-3366
or visit Premier-Resurfacing.com.
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News Releases -
Written by Mary Neubauer
Monday, 16 January 2012 15:26
DES MOINES, Iowa – A Davenport graduate student is making plans to pay off her student loans and make investments for retirement all at the same time, now that she’s won a $1 million lottery prize.
“It said $40K for 25 years and I just hyperventilated, basically,” Ashley Smrcina said as she claimed her prize Thursday afternoon at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Des Moines. “I couldn’t breathe and I was crying at the same time. I was staring at it and crying.”
Smrcina, 22, who is working on her master’s degree in social work at St. Ambrose University, said she was doing research for a school paper Wednesday night when she decided to take a break and buy a lottery ticket. And that’s when her winning streak started.
She won a $20 prize on a $5 scratch ticket and decided to use some of her winnings to buy a $10 ticket. She won $300 that time and said the clerk at the store kidded her, saying she had no choice but to buy a $20 ticket. She chose the “Lifetime Riches” game and won its top prize.
“It feels surreal,” said Smrcina, who moved to Iowa from Michigan in July. “I can’t believe it. We’ve been here for such a short time. It still gives me goosebumps.”
Smrcina bought her winning tickets at Express Lane Gas & Food Mart, 1909 N. Harrison St. in Davenport.
She said that she especially looks forward to the fact that her lottery winnings will make her student loans “just disappear.”
“I’m really excited about that. It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders,” she said.
Lifetime Riches is a $20 scratch game. When players match any of “your numbers” to any “winning number” in the play area on each ticket, they win the prize shown for that play area. If they find a “star” symbol, they win the prize shown instantly, and if they find the “5X” symbol, they win five times the prize shown for that symbol.
Smrcina claimed the sixth top prize of $1 million in Lifetime Riches, leaving two $1 million prizes still up for grabs in the game. Players who win the top prize have the option of receiving it in annuitized payments over time or as a one-time, lump-sum payment.
Winners who choose the annuity option will receive $40,000 per year for a period of 25 years. If the winner chooses to receive the lump-sum payment, he/she will receive $650,000 before taxes. Smrcina chose to receive her winnings in a lump-sum payment.
“Last night, I just kept staring at it. The ticket was almost all rubbed off from my sweaty hands and my tears,” said Smrcina, who works at Big Brothers & Big Sisters. “I don’t think that this is real. I don’t know when it’s going to sink in.”
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.
Top Prize: $1 million
Chosen to receive as: $650,000 lump-sum payment
Federal withholding: $162,500 (25 percent)
State withholding: $32,500 (5 percent)
Net amount: $455,000