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MADD Urges Iowa Lawmakers to Pass Lifesaving Interlock Law PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Becky Iannotta   
Monday, 23 February 2015 11:42

Des Moines, IA (February 18, 2015) — Mothers Against Drunk Driving will testify in support of HF 186 by Representative Sandy Salmon, which requires ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.  A House Judiciary Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on this legislation at noon on Thursday, February 19, at the State Capitol.

“As a drunk driving victim and MADD volunteer, I call on the House Judiciary Subcommittee members Jones, Branhagen, and Olson to advance HF 186,” said MADD Iowa Volunteer Linda Chapman. “My daughter and her friend were killed almost 11 years ago by a repeat offender drunk driver. If he had an interlock device on his 3/4 ton pickup truck, I firmly believe both of these young people would be alive today.”

Ignition interlock legislation is MADD’s number one legislative priority across the country and in Iowa. Due in part to similar laws passed in other states, drunk driving deaths have declined dramatically and at a better pace compared to the national average decline. New Mexico and Arizona have seen a 40 percent and 45 percent reduction, respectively, in drunk driving deaths since passing all-offender interlock laws. 

“Interlocks save lives. They allow convicted drunk drivers to continue with their daily lives as long as they don’t drive drunk,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church, a victim of drunk and drugged driving. “We urge Iowa to join the growing list of states that recognize the effectiveness of interlocks for all offenders.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent.  Since 1995 in Iowa, these devices have been required for all first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 or greater.  HF 186 would modify the requirement of ignition interlocks to include all first-time offenders with a BAC of .08 or greater who seek driving privileges following a DUI conviction.

Twenty-four states, including Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri, require these devices for all first-time convicted drunk drivers. New Jersey will become the 25th state if Governor Christie signs a bill that passed the legislature earlier this month.

HF 186 follows the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board and every major traffic safety organization, including AAA and the Governors Highway Safety Association. 

Frank Harris, MADD Director of State Government Affairs, will testify at the House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Thursday. 

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is celebrating its 35th anniversary by creating a future of NO MORE VICTIMSTM. MADD is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every ten minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end drunk driving through increased law enforcement, all offender ignition interlock laws and advanced vehicle technology. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their teens about alcohol, using Power of Parents®’ proven approach to reduce underage drinking. Learn more by visiting MADD’s new website at madd.org or calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.

 
Annual commemoration of Clarence Darrow's death takes place March 13 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tracy Baim   
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 09:09

CLARENCE DARROW SYMPOSIUM TO EXPLORE UNDOCUMENTED LABORERS AND IMMIGRATION

CHICAGO -  On the seventy-eighth anniversary of famed attorney Clarence Darrow's death, this year's annual Darrow symposium on Friday, March 13 explores contemporary activism on the issues of undocumented laborers and immigration. Darrow's attitude is summarized by a quote from a 1929 debate on "Is Immigration Beneficial?" in which he said, "I am a foreigner; my people didn't get here until about 1710. They got here, and now I am asked to close the doors to the people who came over on a later ship."

This year's symposium views the issues through the work of three passionate and outspoken advocates for the undocumented. Tania Unzueta Carrasco is an immigrant queer community organizer and writer who is known nationally for using direct action and civil disobedience to fight against deportations and harsh immigration enforcement practices and policy.  Catholic Sisters Patricia Murphy and JoAnn Persch founded the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants, which works in detention centers, a deportation center, the immigration court and the Post-Detention Accompaniment program.

The day begins with a brief ceremony and flower-tossing near the Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park at 10 a.m., where Darrow's ashes were scattered after his death and where, as a bet, he once agreed his spirit would return if it turned out communication was possible from the afterworld. The bridge is closed due to construction, so the ceremony will be just to the east of the Darrow tribute marker. For the past 58 years, through the annual commemoration ceremony and lecture, Darrow's spirit has returned-usually to remind us that his work is not yet done.

After the ritual outdoor flower-tossing, guests will move inside to the Museum of Science and Industry's Rosenwald Room (formerly the New Columbian Room) for light refreshments and presentations at 10:45 by the featured speakers. The program also includes an appearance by high school junior Marissa Howe, winner of the Clarence Darrow History Award (which is sponsored by the Clarence Darrow Commemorative Committee) at the 2014 Chicago Metro History Fair.

Darrow, who died March 13, 1938, is remembered for his crusading role as "attorney for the damned" in such controversial cases as the Scopes Monkey Trial, the Leopold and Loeb murder case, and the pardoning of the Haymarket anarchists.

DIRECTIONS: The Clarence Darrow Bridge is behind the Museum of Science and Industry. Since it is currently under construction, the flower-tossing ceremony will take place just east of the bridge. Drive south on Lake Shore Drive, pass the light at 57th Drive and turn right at the next light [Science Drive]. You will come almost immediately to Columbia Drive. If you turn left and follow Columbia Drive there is parking near the bridge. You may park near the OmniMax Theater and walk south to the bridge.

For more details see www.darrowbridge.org.

 

Media contacts: Tracy Baim, 773-387-2394

Nina Barrett, 224-999-7722, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
New FSBO Site for the Quad Cities PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Devin Hansen   
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 09:01

Rock Island, IL – After 16 months of development and testing, QCFindaHome.com has officially launched in the Quad Cities real estate market. QCFindahome is a For Sale by Owner (FSBO) site operated by Borderless SEO LLC, with an office located in downtown Rock Island.

QCFindaHome.com is an innovative website, that introduces new real estate tools to buyers and sellers in the area.

1) QCFAH is the first “responsive” FSBO website, which means it will work properly on any mobile device, without an app. It will adjust its layout and aesthetics, depending on the device a person is viewing it from, be it an iPhone, iPad, or other tablet or smartphone.

2) QCFindaHome.com also offers free yard signs, which have a unique number, so buyers can view a home’s information sheet, simply by typing that number into the site on their smartphone.

3) Perhaps the biggest innovation by QCFAH, is that they  also syndicates all of their listings to major real estate search engines, such as Zillow, Trulia, AOL, MSN Real Estate, HotPads.com and many more. This is the FIRST and only FSBO company in the area to do this.

The website was developed by Devin Hansen and his team at Borderless SEO LLC, as a result of a recent home search. Hansen found it difficult to view FSBO sites on his smartphone while searching for a home, so he developed it to be responsive, and easy to user for people driving around town looking for a house.

QCFindaHome.com currently employs two people, and hopes to expand to a team of five by the middle of this year.

 
Creepy, Calculating and Controlling: All the Ways Big Brother Is Watching You PDF Print E-mail
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Written by John W. Whitehead   
Tuesday, 17 February 2015 13:56

By John W. Whitehead
February 16, 2015

“You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”—George Orwell, 1984

None of us are perfect. All of us bend the rules occasionally. Even before the age of overcriminalization, when the most upstanding citizen could be counted on to break at least three laws a day without knowing it, most of us have knowingly flouted the law from time to time.

Indeed, there was a time when most Americans thought nothing of driving a few miles over the speed limit, pausing (rather than coming to a full stop) at a red light when making a right-hand turn if no one was around, jaywalking across the street, and letting their kid play hookie from school once in a while. Of course, that was before the era of speed cameras that ticket you for going even a mile over the posted limit, red light cameras that fine you for making safe “rolling stop” right-hand turns on red, surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition software mounted on street corners, and school truancy laws that fine parents for “unexcused” absences.

My, how times have changed.

Today, there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home. That’s because technology—specifically the technology employed by the government against the American citizenry—has upped the stakes dramatically so that there’s little we do that is not known by the government.

In such an environment, you’re either a paragon of virtue, or you’re a criminal.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re all criminals. This is the creepy, calculating yet diabolical genius of the American police state: the very technology we hailed as revolutionary and liberating has become our prison, jailer, probation officer, Big Brother and Father Knows Best all rolled into one.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. As I point out in my book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

For example, police have been using Stingray devices mounted on their cruisers to intercept cell phone calls and text messages without court-issued search warrants. Thwarting efforts to learn how and when these devices are being used against an unsuspecting populace, the FBI is insisting that any inquiries about the use of the technology be routed to the agency “in order to allow sufficient time for the FBI to intervene to protect the equipment/technology and information from disclosure and potential compromise.”

Doppler radar devices, which can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, are already being employed by the police to deliver arrest warrants and are being challenged in court. One case in particular, United States v Denson, examines how the Fourth Amendment interacts with the government’s use of radar technology to peer inside a suspect’s home. As Judge Neil Gorsuch recognizes in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling in the case, “New technologies bring with them not only new opportunities for law enforcement to catch criminals but also new risks for abuse and new ways to invade constitutional rights.”

License plate readers, yet another law enforcement spying device made possible through funding by the Department of Homeland Security, can record up to 1800 license plates per minute. However, it seems these surveillance cameras can also photograph those inside a moving car. Recent reports indicate that the Drug Enforcement Administration has been using the cameras in conjunction with facial recognition software to build a “vehicle surveillance database” of the nation’s cars, drivers and passengers.

Sidewalk and “public space” cameras, sold to gullible communities as a sure-fire means of fighting crime, is yet another DHS program that is blanketing small and large towns alike with government-funded and monitored surveillance cameras. It’s all part of a public-private partnership that gives government officials access to all manner of surveillance cameras, on sidewalks, on buildings, on buses, even those installed on private property.

Couple these surveillance cameras with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology and you have the makings of “pre-crime” cameras, which scan your mannerisms, compare you to pre-set parameters for “normal” behavior, and alert the police if you trigger any computerized alarms as being “suspicious.”

Capitalizing on a series of notorious abductions of college-aged students, several states are pushing to expand their biometric and DNA databases by requiring that anyone accused of a misdemeanor have their DNA collected and catalogued. However, technology is already available that allows the government to collect biometrics such as fingerprints from a distance, without a person’s cooperation or knowledge. One system can actually scan and identify a fingerprint from nearly 20 feet away.

Radar guns have long been the speed cop’s best friend, allowing him to hide out by the side of the road, identify speeding cars, and then radio ahead to a police car, which does the dirty work of pulling the driver over and issuing a ticket. Never mind that what this cop is really doing is using an electronic device to search your car without a search warrant, violating the Fourth Amendment and probable cause. Yet because it’s a cash cow for police and the governments they report to, it’s a practice that is not only allowed but encouraged. Indeed, developers are hard at work on a radar gun that can actually show if you or someone in your car is texting. No word yet on whether the technology will also be able to detect the contents of that text message.

It’s a sure bet that anything the government welcomes (and funds) too enthusiastically is bound to be a Trojan horse full of nasty surprises. Case in point: police body cameras. Hailed as the easy fix solution to police abuses, these body cameras—made possible by funding from the Department of Justice—will turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras. Of course, if you try to request access to that footage, you’ll find yourself being led a merry and costly chase through miles of red tape, bureaucratic footmen and unhelpful courts.

The “internet of things” refers to the growing number of “smart” appliances and electronic devices now connected to the internet and capable of interacting with each other and being controlled remotely. These range from thermostats and coffee makers to cars and TVs. Of course, there’s a price to pay for such easy control and access. That price amounts to relinquishing ultimate control of and access to your home to the government and its corporate partners. For example, while Samsung’s Smart TVs are capable of “listening” to what you say, thereby allow users to control the TV using voice commands, it also records everything you say and relays it to a third party.

Then again, the government doesn’t really need to spy on you using your smart TV when the FBI can remotely activate the microphone on your cellphone and record your conversations. The FBI can also do the same thing to laptop computers without the owner knowing any better.

Government surveillance of social media such as Twitter and Facebook is on the rise. Americans have become so accustomed to the government overstepping its limits that most don’t even seem all that bothered anymore about the fact that the government is spying on our emails and listening in on our phone calls.

Drones, which will begin to take to the skies en masse this year, will be the converging point for all of the weapons and technology already available to law enforcement agencies. This means drones that can listen in on your phone calls, see through the walls of your home, scan your biometrics, photograph you and track your movements, and even corral you with sophisticated weaponry.

And then there’s the Internet and cell phone kill switch, which enables the government to shut down Internet and cell phone communications without Americans being given any warning. It’s a practice that has been used before in the U.S., albeit in a limited fashion. In 2005, cell service was disabled in four major New York tunnels (reportedly to avert potential bomb detonations via cell phone). In 2009, those attending President Obama’s inauguration had their cell signals blocked (again, same rationale). And in 2011, San Francisco commuters had their cell phone signals shut down (this time, to thwart any possible protests over a police shooting of a homeless man).

It’s a given that the government’s tactics are always more advanced than we know, so there’s no knowing what new technologies are already being deployed against without our knowledge. Certainly, by the time we learn about a particular method of surveillance or new technological gadget, it’s a sure bet that the government has been using it covertly for years already. And if other governments are using a particular technology, you can bet that our government used it first. For instance, back in 2011, it was reported that the government of Tunisia was not only monitoring the emails of its citizens but was actually altering the contents of those emails in order to thwart dissidents. How much do you want to bet that government agents have already employed such tactics in the U.S.?

Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, we’re approaching a time in which we will be forced to choose between obeying the dictates of the government—i.e., the law, or whatever a government officials deems the law to be—and maintaining our individuality, integrity and independence.

When people talk about privacy, they mistakenly assume it protects only that which is hidden behind a wall or under one’s clothing. The courts have fostered this misunderstanding with their constantly shifting delineation of what constitutes an “expectation of privacy.” And technology has furthered muddied the waters.

However, privacy is so much more than what you do or say behind locked doors. It is a way of living one’s life firm in the belief that you are the master of your life, and barring any immediate danger to another person (which is far different from the carefully crafted threats to national security the government uses to justify its actions), it’s no one’s business what you read, what you say, where you go, whom you spend your time with, and how you spend your money.

Unfortunately, privacy as we once knew it is dead.

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

Thus, to be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government’s roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw. This is the message in almost every dystopian work of fiction, from classic writers such as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury to more contemporary voices such as Margaret Atwood, Lois Lowry and Suzanne Collins.

How do you survive in the American police state?

We’re running out of options. As Philip K. Dick, the visionary who gave us Minority Report and Blade Runner, advised:

“If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, free, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities.”

This commentary is also available at www.rutherford.org.

 
DATES ANNOUNCED FOR FREE FIRESIDE CHATS WITH GIRL SCOUTS PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Abigail Kreun   
Monday, 16 February 2015 16:21

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois is pleased to announce dates for free Fireside Chats – programs designed to provide girls and their families with information about outdoor opportunities.

Fireside Chats will explore three different types of camp opportunities offered through the Girl Scouts.

“Camps are a supportive, safe environment where girls can try new things, expand their horizons and make new friends,” said Stacy Conforti, Director of Outdoor Programs.

Through camp activities like horseback riding, swimming and archery, girls learn about teamwork, leadership, and self-confidence – skills they’ll use for a lifetime.

All girls and their families are invited to attend a Fireside Chat to learn more.

“There are no NON-Girl Scouts, just girls who haven’t become Girl Scouts yet,” said Conforti.

The dates for Fireside Chats are as follows:

Feb. 21 from 10 – 11 a.m.: Rock Island, IL – Program Center

Feb. 26 from 6 – 7 a.m.: Waterloo, IA – Hartman Reserve Lodge

Feb. 28 from 10-11 a.m.: Danville, IA – Camp L-Kee-Ta

March 2 from 6 – 7 a.m.: Cedar Rapids, IA – Human Services Conference Area

March 7 from 10 – 11 a.m.: Epworth, IA – Camp Little Cloud

Camp opportunities can also be viewed online: www.GirlScoutsToday.org

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About Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois: Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development program for girls where girls can have fun, make new friends and learn new things in a safe all-girl setting. Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois serves approximately 18,000 girls in 38 counties. For more information, visit GirlScoutsToday.com or call your local Girl Scout Leadership Center at 800-798-0833.

 
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