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Governor Pat Quinn Takes Clemency Action Mar 30, 2013 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Erin Wilson   
Monday, 01 April 2013 11:47

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today granted 87 and denied 135 clemency petitions. This action marks another step in a series of clemency decisions aimed at eliminating a backlog of more than 2,500 cases that built up during the previous administration.

The 222 clemency petitions acted upon by Governor Quinn are part of dockets ranging from 2005 through 2012. Each person granted clemency has recently undergone a criminal background check through the Illinois State Police’s Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS).

A granted clemency request for a pardon with expungement allows the petitioner to seek expungement of their conviction through the court system.

Since taking office, Governor Quinn has acted on 2,459 clemency petitions. Governor Quinn has granted 929 and denied 1,530 petitions. Those actions include granting 909 pardons and authorizing 20 people who had previously received pardons to seek expungement of their convictions.

For additional information on the granted clemency cases, please contact Ken Tupy at the Prisoner Review Board at (217) 782-7274 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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What ‘Argo’ Fails to Tell Us About the Lives of American Diplomats PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 01 April 2013 11:39
3 Surprising Facts About the Men & Women
in the Foreign Service

The Academy Awards’ “Best Picture” tells the story of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-80.

But, for all that it’s a movie about diplomats, it tells nothing of the men and women who represent the United States abroad, the challenges they face and how prepared – or ill prepared – they are to face those challenges, says Nicholas Kralev, an expert on international affairs and diplomacy and author of a new book, “America’s Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy,” www.americasotherarmy.com.

Why should Americans care?

Because the work of U.S. diplomats affects every American’s safety and security, Kralev says.

“Their success – or lack of it – affects our ability to travel; our employment opportunities; our prosperity.”

The U.S. Foreign Service is much less visible than the U.S. military – in spite of the attention it has received in recent months. The 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died, raised greater awareness of our Foreign Service workers. Additionally, media attention on the globetrotting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who oversaw the department, captured the public’s imagination.

Kralev, a former Financial Times and Washington Times correspondent covered the State Department for 10 years under four secretaries of state. He visited more than 50 embassies and interviewed 600 American diplomats to learn about who they are, what their daily lives are like, and what they do. He says Americans would be surprised by what we don’t know about the Foreign Service.

• Parties are the last thing on a diplomat’s mind. Their multiple missions range from helping lift people out of poverty to influencing public opinion in the countries where they’re posted to watching out for threats to U.S. interests. For the past 10 years, the goal of U.S. diplomacy has been to ensure security and prosperity by removing the conditions that foster conflict. That means a diplomat must be a jack of all trades. They roll up their sleeves to provide hands-on help building schools and hospitals; aid victims of natural disasters; work with refugees. Diplomats also intercede on behalf of Americans who run into problems while traveling abroad; seek grants for local projects, and build relationships among the local populace and leaders.

• American diplomats risk their lives every day. Chris Stevens was not the first diplomat to die in the line of duty. Violent crimes including kidnapping, carjackings and robberies are ever-present threats. In 2008, a 33-year-old embassy employee was killed in Sudan while returning home from a party at the British Embassy. In 2002, a 60-year-old diplomat was killed in Jordan. In 1983, a car bomb killed 63 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
“Our Foreign Service workers tell harrowing stories of near misses,” Kralev says. “But they also understand that the adventure that makes that lives so appealing to them is not without risks.”

• Foreign Service workers have surprisingly little training. To be eligible for the service, applicants must by U.S. citizens at least 21 years old and no older than 60 on the day you are appointed, and available for worldwide assignments. They also must pass a Foreign Service Officer exam. “They are ordinary Americans -- former lawyers, nurses, restaurant managers, teachers and journalists. They come from every walk of life,” Kralev says. “Much of what they do is based on intuition, luck and gut. Officers learn on the job almost everything they need to know.”

The work of the Foreign Service is too important to remain a mystery, says Kralev, who details countless individual stories in “America’s Other Army.”

“Strong and effective U.S. diplomacy is essential to our security, prosperity, even our freedom. Americans should pay attention to whether we’re providing them with all of the tools they need.”

About Nicholas Kralev

Nicholas Kralev is an author, journalist and lecturer on international affairs, diplomacy and global travel. A former Financial Times and Washington Times correspondent, he has traveled around the world with four U.S. secretaries of state, including Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, and visited more than 80 countries. He is the author of “America’s Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy” and "Decoding Air Travel: A Guide to Saving on Airfare and Flying in Luxury." He is also the founder and CEO of Kralev International LLC, an air travel consulting and training company. He holds a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

 
Governor Quinn Statement on Passing of Illinois State Trooper James Sauter PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Erin Wilson   
Friday, 29 March 2013 09:37

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today released the following statement regarding the crash last night that claimed the life of Illinois State Police Trooper James Sauter.

“Today the entire state of Illinois mourns the loss of Trooper James Sauter, who worked tirelessly to protect the people of our state. Illinois is a safer and better place thanks to his bravery and commitment to public safety.

"Trooper Sauter’s untimely passing is a tragic reminder of the dangers our sworn officers face every day in the line of duty.

“I send my condolences to the family and friends of Trooper James Sauter. They are in our thoughts and prayers during these most difficult of times.”

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REP. SMIDDY-SPONSORED BILL TO PREVENT CHILD SEX OFFENDERS FROM ESCAPING PROSECUTION WINS HOUSE APPROVAL PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rep. Mike Smiddy   
Friday, 29 March 2013 09:36
PORT BYRON, IL – A measure co-sponsored by state Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale) to prevent child sex offenders from escaping prosecution won the approval of the Illinois House last week, in time for the recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness month in April.

“People who commit these terrible crimes against children should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law – not allowed to slide by because a few years have passed,” said Smiddy. “This is especially important when you consider how many child victims are scared to report the crimes, unsure if a crime has occurred, or simply afraid to report someone they know and should trust. This legislation gives child victims of the worst kind of sexual crimes the ability to seek justice when they are ready to face their abuser.”

In general, current law requires crimes to be prosecuted within three years for felony charges and within 1.5 years for misdemeanor charges, although some extensions already exist for sex crimes against minors. House Bill 1063 would eliminate the statute of limitations for certain sex crimes committed against a minor, including criminal sexual assault, aggravated sexual abuse, and predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.

“We are committed to ending the suffering of sexual assault victims and holding sex offenders accountable for their crimes,” said Lyn Schollett, general counsel for the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “Children who have been victimized by sexual violence experience unimaginable trauma. Sex offenders often prevent child victims from reporting the crime by blaming or threatening the child. This bill will ensure that when a survivor of childhood sexual abuse is safe enough to report the crime, prosecutors can stand ready to charge the offender.”

House Bill 1063 will move to the Senate for consideration. For more information, contact Smiddy’s constituent services office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , (309) 848-9098, or toll-free at (855) 243-4988.

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Exclusive UCI Video Exposes the Turkish "Flotilla of Horrors PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Unity Coalition for Israel   
Friday, 29 March 2013 09:26

The Unity Coalition for Israel (UCI) has re-issued a video that was uploaded days after the May 31, 2010 Turkish Flotilla incident just off the coast of Gaza. The video (linked below) is relevant to the March 22, 2013 apology given to Turkey by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

- click to view the video -

As it is made abundantly clear in our video, the Israelis did everything they could to avoid an incident and the well-prepared terrorists aboard the Mavi Marmara did all they could to provoke a fight. This leads UCI to ask the question, "who should be apologizing to whom?"

Amidst an atrocious distortion of facts in which Turkey is demanding $9 million in reparations for the deaths of terrorists aboard the Mavi Marmara, UCI reminds us of the vicious attacks on board the IHH-sponsored vessel (The IHH, Insani Yardim Vakfi, is a Turkish Government-subsidized NGO).

The revealing video report was first released by UCI 4 days after the Mavi Marmara incident. Today's re-release provides a sober reminder of the chilling events. After being attacked at sea and with no other recourse, the Israelis were clearly defending their very lives. At least 50 trained, military-style terrorists were intent on either killing or being killed as martyrs. The stage was set by the terrorists for the Mavi Marmara to become a "ship of horrors."

The Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of 6, ambushed the Israeli Navy that was seeking to peacefully re-route the May 31, 2010 flotilla from its destination to Gaza. The fact that the IHH hid many weapons on board amidst relief supplies and used unarmed civilian passengers as human shields should be considered war crimes.

The video speaks for itself. It clearly shows, as Israeli commandos landed on the ship's deck, they were beaten by men wielding pipes, knives and other weapons. Israeli officials say the initial plan was to use paintball guns to gain control of the ship and handguns for use only if their lives were threatened.

On May 28, 2010, just before the flotilla entered Israeli waters, an Al-Aqsa TV broadcast featured Dr. Abd Al-Fatah Nu’man, a Gaza-based Yemeni professor of Islamic law who stated, "The commander of the (flotilla) fleet said: 'We will not allow the Zionists to come near us, and we will wage resistance against them.' With what will they wage resistance? With their fingernails. These are people who wish to be martyred for the sake of Allah. As much as they want to reach Gaza, the other option (martyrdom) is more desirable to them."

In fact the Mavi Marmara passengers were recorded chanting, "Khaibar, Khaibar ya Yahud Jaysh Muhammed Safayood" ("...Oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!"), a taunt threatening a massacre of Jews. The message was clear. The "other option," martyrdom, was the goal of the flotilla.

UCI hopes Israeli leadership will use the abundant video evidence proving their innocence and heed Winston Churchill's words: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."

Exclusive UCI Video Exposes the Turkish "Flotilla of Horrors" - click to view the video.

 
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