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IBHS Provides Property Protection Guidance for Winter Weather PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joseph King   
Monday, 17 October 2011 13:17

(813) 442-2845 (c); (813) 675-1045 (o)
Twitter: disastersafety

Tampa, Fla.  (October 17, 2011) - If the last two years are any indication of what is in store for the upcoming season, this winter will be a serious threat to homes and businesses, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

During both 2010 and 2011, the U.S. received near record amounts of snowfall, including 2011’s Groundhog Day Blizzard, which caused $1.1 billion in insured losses and more than $2 billion in total losses, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

“Winter weather can inflict substantial damage to your home or business,” said Julie Rochman, president & CEO of IBHS. “Preparing now, while cooler weather setting in reminds us that winter is coming, but before freezing temperatures arrive, will help you avoid costly losses.”

IBHS’ Severe Winter Weather page on www.DisasterSafety.org provides guidance on how to protect your home or business against roof collapse and other winter weather-related perils.

Ice Dams

An ice dam is an accumulation of ice at the lower edge of a sloped roof, usually at the gutter. When interior heat melts the snow on the roof, the water will run down and refreeze at the roof's edge, where temperatures are much cooler. The ice builds up and blocks water from draining off of the roof, forcing the water under the roof covering and into the attic or down the inside walls of the house. Take the following steps to decrease the likelihood that ice dams will form:

  • Keep the attic well-ventilated. The colder the attic, the less melting and refreezing on the roof.
  • Keep the attic floor well-insulated to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
  • As an extra precaution against roof leaks in case ice dams do form, when re-roofing install an ice and water barrier under your roof covering that extends from the lowest edges of all roof surfaces to a point at least 24 inches inside the exterior wall line of the building.

Frozen  Pipes

Frozen water in pipes can cause water pressure buildup between the ice blockage and the closed faucet at the end of a pipe, which leads to pipes bursting at their weakest point. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to freezing in extremely cold weather. Frozen pipes can also occur when pipes are near openings in the outside wall of a building, including where television, cable or telephone lines enter the structure. To keep water in pipes from freezing, take the following steps:

  • Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow the heat transfer. The more insulation the better.
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.
  • Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes (particularly in the kitchen and bathroom).
  • Keep a slow drip of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space.
  • Drain the water system, especially if your building will be unattended during cold periods.

Is Your Roof Strong Enough?

Building age is a major factor in how much snow a roof can handle.  Newer building codes provide much better guidance for estimating snow loads, particularly the increased loads near changes in roof elevations where snow drifts and snow falling from an upper roof can build up on the lower roof near the step. For flat roofs, the step-down area between roof sections is particularly susceptible to snow overload because of the tendency for ice and snow collection, especially during periods of windy weather.

Older roofs can suffer from corrosion of members and connections which can reduce its ability to resist high snow loads. Buildings with lightweight roofs, such as metal buildings or built- up roofs on bar joists generally provide less protection from overload than heavy roofs.

Roof top equipment and roof projections, such as mechanical equipment that is over 2 feet tall, causes snow accumulation due to drift, creating the need for higher snow load consideration in these areas. A serious condition can be created when a taller building or a taller addition is built adjacent to shorter, existing building. Unless the shorter building is strengthened in the area next to the taller building or addition, snow accumulation on the lower roof near the step could produce much higher loads than those considered by the original designer for the existing building.

The best source for determining how much snow load a building can handle is the original design plan. Most roof designs can support at least 20 pounds per square foot. However, design loads can range from 10 pounds to 20 pounds per square foot in Mid-Atlantic states, and between 40 pounds and 70 pounds per square foot in New England.

Guidelines to Estimate Snow Weight

  • 10 inches to 12 inches of fresh/new snow equals about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space.
  • 3 inches to 5 inches of old/packed snow equals about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space.
  • Ice is much heavier, with 1 inch equaling about 1 foot of fresh snow.

Snow and Ice Removal from Roofs

IBHS recommends that property owners not attempt to climb on their roof to remove snow. A safer alternative is to use a snow rake while standing at ground level.

Visit the IBHS Severe Winter Weather page on disastersafety.org to learn more about how to protect your home or business against winter weather-related perils.

To arrange an interview with IBHS, contact Joseph King at 813-675-1045/813-442-2845, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or via direct message on Twitter @jsalking.

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Grassley Wins Support for Amendment to Protect Judicial Branch Whistleblowers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 17 October 2011 12:20

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley yesterday won approval of his amendment to give whistleblower protection to employees in the Judicial Branch.  The amendment was added to a federal judgeships bill that was being debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 While the underlying bill is riddled with problems, and Grassley did not support it, the whistleblower provision is a positive step in allowing employees to challenge reprisals and retaliation that they have suffered simply for reporting wrongdoing.

 “It’s a constitutional responsibility for members of Congress to conduct oversight on the laws we pass.  Whistleblowers are a key component to helping with that very important job.  It’s about holding each branch of government accountable,” Grassley said.

 A long-time advocate for whistleblowers, in addition to co-authoring the 1989 whistleblower law, Grassley sponsored changes made in 1986 to the President Lincoln-era federal False Claims Act to empower private sector whistleblowers.  Since the 1986 amendments were signed into law, the False Claims Act has brought back more than $27 billion to the federal treasury, and has deterred even more fraudulent activity. In 2009, in coordination with Senator Patrick Leahy, Grassley worked to pass legislation to shore up whistleblower protections in the False Claims Act that had been eroded by the courts after years of litigation by defense and healthcare contractors.

 Grassley is also the author of legislation that would give the same whistleblower protections to employees in the legislative branch as provided already to employees of the executive branch of government.

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Justice Department Silent on Pornography Found on Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Computer PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 17 October 2011 12:18

Friday, October 14, 2011

Justice Department Silent on Pornography Found on Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Computer

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today said that 100 days after he sent a letter to the Justice Department questioning why the department declined to prosecute an assistant United States attorney after the Inspector General found that the attorney had spent hours online  viewing adult content during work hours, he still has not received an official response.

According to the Inspector General, the Assistant U.S. Attorney acknowledged he had spent a significant amount of time each day viewing pornography, including one case of child pornography.  The report indicates that the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case.

Grassley said his staff has contacted the department several times since the letter was sent, but has yet to receive an official response from the Justice Department.

In a July 7, 2011 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Grassley questioned the department’s decision to not prosecute and delay disciplinary action against the attorney.  He also asked the types of cases the attorney worked on and the steps the department has taken to update its technology to keep pornography off its computers.  Grassley said he’s looking to be sure these types of activities are stopped in the future.

Last year, Grassley learned that 33 employees at the Securities and Exchange Commission who were found to have viewed pornography during work hours were not terminated and were given uneven and light disciplinary action.

Here is a copy of the text of Grassley’s July 7, 2011 letter to Holder.  Click here for a copy of the signed letter.

 July 7, 2011

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

On May 31, 2011 I received a report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) in response to a request Senator Coburn and I made to all Inspectors General to provide semiannual reports on closed investigations, evaluations, and audits that were not disclosed to the public.

This report contained what appears to be an inexcusable mishandling of serious allegations against an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) which calls into question the DOJ’s internal controls and prosecutorial discretion.  The report cites the following OIG investigation of an AUSA:

“The OIG conducted an investigation concerning allegations that an AUSA was using his government computer to view inappropriate material on his government computer.  The investigation determined that the AUSA routinely viewed adult content during official duty hours, and that there was at least one image of child pornography recovered on the AUSA’s government computer.  The AUSA acknowledged that he had spent a significant amount of time each day viewing pornography.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined prosecution.  Disciplinary action against the AUSA is pending.”

This report relates to OIG investigations from October 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011 and was submitted two months later.  As the case for disciplinary action is “pending” as of May 31, 2011, this means that, at the very least, the DOJ has allowed an admitted serial viewer of pornography – possibly child pornography – to serve as an AUSA for two months, if not longer, and has yet to take action.  This is simply unacceptable and compounds the questions raised by the fact that this AUSA was found to have “at least one image of child pornography” on his government computer and yet he was not charged with a crime.

Regarding the DOJ’s decisions in this case, I respectfully ask the following questions:

1.      Is this individual still employed by the Department of Justice?

a.       If so, in what capacity?

b.      If not, when did this individual leave employment with the Department of Justice?

i.      Was this departure voluntary or were they terminated?

2.      Is this individual eligible for a government pension?

a.       If so, has the DOJ made any efforts to strip this individual of his or her pension?

i.      If so, what efforts have been made?

ii.      If not, why not?

3.      What types of cases did this AUSA handle?

4.      Did the cases this AUSA was assigned to handle ever lead to any interaction with children?

5.      Was the decision not to prosecute this individual made by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in which he or she served?

a.       If so, did that raise any concerns regarding a conflict of interest?

b.      If not, what office made the decision not to prosecute this individual?

6.      How was this individual able to evade the DOJ’s pornography filters?

7.      Has the DOJ made efforts to upgrade its pornography filters as a result of this individual’s actions?

a.       If so, what efforts have been made?

b.      If not, why not?

Thank you for cooperation and attention in this matter.  I would appreciate a response by July 21, 2011.  If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact my office at (202) 224-5225.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary

 
Safe Use of Alternative Heating Sources During National Fire Prevention Week PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Joseph King   
Friday, 14 October 2011 10:20

Tampa, Fla.  (October 12, 2011) – In recognition of National Fire Prevention Week the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is providing home and business owners with guidance on the safe use of alternative heating sources.

“Each year, consumers seek ways to save on home heating costs by turning to things such as space heaters, fireplaces and wood or pellet stoves during colder months,” said Julie Rochman, president & CEO of IBHS. “While alternative heating sources can be affordable options, particularly for just one room at a time, if used incorrectly, they also can increase the risk of a house fire. Consumers should exercise great caution and follow all safety procedures when using any heat source.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fires involving heating equipment peak in December, January and February, as do deaths from these fires. Further, in 2009, heating equipment was the second leading cause of all reported home fires and home fire deaths. U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 64,100 heating-related home fires each year between 2005 and 2009, causing an average of 560 deaths, 1,620 injuries, and $904 million in direct property damage.

“Proper maintenance and use of alternative heating sources is a critical step to reducing fire risk,” Rochman said. “In addition, it is important to have your fireplace, wood or pellet stove professionally cleaned and inspected each year before it is used – and never, ever use kerosene heaters indoors.”

Prior to using any alternative heating devices, IBHS recommends installation of carbon monoxide detectors in several parts of the house. IBHS’ Alternative Heating Sources web page provides home and business owners with complete guidance on selecting and using alternative heating sources.

For example, IBHS notes that proper placement of an alternate heating source, such as stoves, is essential. Half of all fire deaths attributed to home heating systems resulted from the heating equipment being placed too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding, according to the NFPA. Stove placement should allow adequate space for installation, maintenance and replacement, flue or vent pipe routing and - most importantly - a safe location relative to combustible materials. Further, protection of the floor or combustible surface under a stove must be addressed.

To arrange an interview with IBHS, contact Joseph King at 813-675-1045/813-442-2845, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or via direct message on Twitter @jsalking.

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About IBHS

IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

 
Riverside Theatre Taking Orders for Holiday Wreaths PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sarah Burnett   
Friday, 14 October 2011 10:05

October 12, 2011, Iowa City, IA -

Decorate your home with beautiful balsam items this holiday season!

Riverside Theatre is once again selling holiday wreaths. This year's offerings include a teardrop swag, wreath, and a centerpiece. Prices range from $20-$26.

All proceeds benefit Riverside Theatre.

All orders must be placed by Tuesday, November 1.

Orders will be available for pickup after Wednesday, November 16. Those who order will be notified by email when the orders have arrived.

For more information or to print an order form go to http://www.riversidetheatre.org/holiday-wreath-sale. Those with questions may email development@riversidetheatre.org.

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