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Gov. Branstad announces parade details PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Iowa Governor's Office   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 13:38

“A Salute to Our Veterans and Service Members Parade” will take place Sat., June 30

(DES MOINES) – Today, Gov. Terry Branstad announced additional details regarding this Saturday’s “A Salute to Our Veterans and Service Members Parade.”

 

This year’s celebration is a salute to all veterans and service members and correlates with the official United States Department of Defense Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War and 60th Anniversary of the Korean War.

“It is important to honor our heroes here at home,” said Branstad. “As a former member of the Army, and now Commander in Chief of the Iowa National Guard, I am proud of the men and women who represent our state on the battlefields across the world and when disaster strikes here on the home front.”

The parade will kick off from the State Capitol and travel down Grand Ave. to disperse at Veteran’s Auditorium/Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. The parade route map can be viewed here.

Saturday’s parade will officially begin at 10 a.m. with a fly-over by the 132nd Fighter Wing down Grand Ave. City of Des Moines police vehicles and official colors are scheduled to start the parade on the ground. There is no grand marshal for the event, rather a riderless horse will lead the parade participants. A riderless horse is a traditional entry to represent fallen soldiers. The governor will walk in the parade wearing his military uniform.

Spectators are invited to watch the free parade and honor Iowans for their service. Observers can expect to see a variety of parade entries included, but not limited to:

  • Veterans and Service members
  • Various military groups, battalions, bands, and vehicles
  • Budweiser Clydesdales
  • Wells Fargo Stage Coach
  • The Iowa Veterans Home Eagle Bus
  • American Red Cross
  • Secretary of State’s Honor a Veteran
  • VFW Posts
  • Raccoon River Riders Equestrian Drill Team
  • Specially wrapped trucks from DMACC and Hy-Vee

The parade developed off a similar event that Gov. Branstad held in 1991 to welcome home soldiers from the first Iraq war. The Governor’s office has been working in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs and Iowa National Guard to coordinate the details of the parade.

 

 

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Governor Quinn Takes Bill Action Monday, June 25, 2012 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:21
CHICAGO – June 25, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today acted on the following bills.

 

Bill No.: HB 3443

An Act Concerning: Insurance

Exempts religious organizations and the organization's members or participants from state insurance laws under certain conditions.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: HB 4520

An Act Concerning: Regulation

Extends the sunset of the Professional Counselor and Clinical Licensed Professional Counselor Act by an additional 10 years. Raises the limit on fines for discipline under the act, and makes additional technical changes.

Action: Signed

Effective: Immediately

Bill No.: SB 2876

An Act Concerning: Insurance

Adds insurance consumer protections for individuals participating in arrangements between religious organizations and the organization’s members.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Jan. 1

 

Bill No.: SB 3249

An Act Concerning: Regulation

Exempts rental car, salvage auction and manufacturing companies from the Collateral Recovery Act.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: July 1

 

Bill No.: SB 3507

An Act Concerning: Revenue

Clarifies that state unemployment benefits are taxable by Illinois.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: July 1

 

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Key Fast and Furious Documents Posted PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:40

Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, has been investigating the government law enforcement strategy of allowing guns to “walk” across the Mexican border to drug traffickers for the past 18 months.  He and his staff have obtained several key documents through their investigation.  Links to key documents with a description of the importance of each follows here.

1.     October 27, 2009, Draft DOJ Strategy for Combating Mexican Drug Cartels: Provided the policy guidance to ATF that “merely seizing firearms through interdiction will not stop firearms trafficking to Mexico.”

2.    January 8, 2010, Briefing Paper: ATF briefing paper that explicitly states ATF’s strategy to “allow the transfer of firearms to continue to take place.”  It is unknown how high up in ATF and/or the Justice Department this briefing paper was provided.  A source other than the Justice Department provided it long after Senator Grassley started asking questions.  The Justice Department didn’t produce it until June 13, 2011.

3.    January 27, 2011, Letter from Senator Grassley to ATF (initial letter): Senator Grassley’s initial letter to DOJ asking if ATF was allowing gunwalking in any case, as whistleblowers had alleged.

4.    January 31, 2011, Letter from Senator Grassley to ATF: Senator Grassley’s letter making clear that ATF whistleblowers had the right to talk to Congress and not be retaliated against.

5.    February 3, 2011, ATF Special Agent Memo: A memo from an ATF agent in Dallas who had previously been a part of Group VII in Phoenix, the ATF group responsible for Operation Fast and Furious.  The agent had substantiated the claims of other whistleblowers to Senator Grassley’s staff, and the agent produced the memo to document what he had told staff.  It is known that some in ATF leadership received the memo but not known who else in ATF or the Justice Department received it.  The memo should have served as a red flag to the Justice Department not to send its February 4, 2011, letter the next day.  A source other than the Justice Department provided the memo to Senator Grassley long after he started asking questions.  The Justice Department has never produced this memo, only making it available to view in camera in November 2011.

6.    February 4, 2011, Letter from DOJ to Senator Grassley: Justice Department denied that ATF walked guns.

7.    March 9, 2011, Deputy Attorney General Cole reiteration of gunwalking policy: The Deputy Attorney General email represents the Justice Department’s policy change that supposedly ended gunwalking, but doesn’t necessarily address the problem of ATF’s failing to seize guns that agents have probable cause to interdict based on information from cooperating gun dealers providing ATF with contemporaneous notice of sales.

8.    April 13, 2011, Letter from Senator Grassley to DOJ regarding gun dealer emails: This letter quoted and attached emails from a gun dealer who expressed concerns to what ATF had been asking him to do and, because he had “some very close friends that are US Border Patrol agents in southern AZ,” wanted reassurances that the guns he had been encouraged by ATF to sell wouldn’t “ever end up south of the border or in the hands of bad guys.”  The emails show ATF assuring the gun dealer that ATF was monitoring the suspects, and organizing a visit of the Assistant U.S. Attorney to the gun dealer’s store to “put [him] at ease.”  This gun dealer was not the main gun dealer in Fast and Furious, but corroborated that gun dealer’s testimony.  Senator Grassley’s letter attaching these emails also asked, in light of these emails, if the Justice Department stood by its February 4, 2011, denial of gunwalking allegations.

9.    April 14, 2011, floor speech from Congressional Record with gun dealer emails: Introducing the above gun dealer emails into the Congressional Record.

10.    May 2, 2011, Letter from DOJ to Senator Grassley: The Justice Department’s response doubling down in its denials of ATF gunwalking.

11.    June 15, 2011, testimony to the House in front of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: Senator Grassley’s testimony of his investigation to that point.  Summarizes details about the underlying Fast and Furious case.

12.    PowerPoint presentation from June 15, 2011, House Testimony:   Detailing the amount of guns sold in Fast and Furious.

13.    December 2, 2011, DOJ Letter to Senator Grassley and Chairman Issa – Retraction of DOJ’s February 4, 2011 Letter: Letter finally withdrawing the Justice Department’s assertion that gunwalking had not taken place, ten months after its initial denial and seven months after its reiteration of the denial.

14.    List of documents not produced by DOJ: On June 21, 2012, White House press secretary Jay Carney stated, “[W]e have provided Congress every document that pertains to the operation itself.”  This list indicates just a sampling of documents that the Justice Department has never produced but that investigators are either aware exist or have confidentially obtained copies of from whistleblowers.

 
Kids Help Create Program to End Bullying PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:31

A new youth-driven campaign aims to end bullying where it begins: with kids and the choices they make.

“I Choose” (www.WhatDoYouChoose.org), available free to schools and communities, asks children and teens to adopt and embrace one of five words representing powerful social concepts: friendship, kindness, respect, compassion, love. In teacher-guided discussions, they analyze the meaning of their word and then strive to use it in daily interactions. When confronted with a choice involving peer relationships, they’re asked to choose their word to put into action.

A Lance Armstrong “Livestrong”-style bracelet imprinted with “I choose (their word)” serves as both a reminder and a message to others.

“‘I Choose’ was developed with the help of the youth community at Yoursphere.com (kids-only social networking site). We asked who they thought could end bullying and 98 percent of respondents said ‘kids can,’ ” says Mary Kay Hoal, the website’s founder and president. “When we asked about the choices they thought would be effective in helping them end bullying, they chose these five.”

The education initiative is the first for Yoursphere’s non-profit arm, The Yoursphere Media Foundation and Coalition for Internet Safety Education and Reform (FCISER).

“Bullying is a global issue and cyber-bullying is at an all-time high,” says Hoal, an Internet safety expert. “Unfortunately, a lack of funding and awareness has left many schools and communities without a solid bullying education program.”

School and community representatives can apply for a free Anti-Bullying Challenge Starter Kit at WhatDoYouChoose.org. They’ll receive an information packet, poster (“Bullying is a choice”) and the “I Choose” bracelets.

“After the initial implementation of the challenge, we tell teachers and youth group leaders to periodically follow up with their students to analyze the impact that the program is having in their life at school and at home”, Hoal says. “Have the students noticed a shift in the school or classroom culture? Did they stand up for someone they normally wouldn't have? This follow-through can be very empowering because it not only reinforces the fact that their choices matter, but it proves to the students that they can have a real impact."

The need is made painfully clear at the whatdoyouchoose website, where students can share stories and videos about their own experiences with bullying.

Maddie, 15, remembers bullies starting to leave nasty notes in her locker and binder when she was in seventh grade. They called her “fat,”“ugly,”“worthless.” It got worse the following year, she writes.

“I started to believe them. … So I stopped eating, not completely but to the point where I would eat so little a day, I was very very light-headed and sick by the end of the school day. …I started wearing more makeup than I already was wearing and I was just a mess,” she writes.

“To try to forget about the hurt and pain those people caused me, I turned to cutting myself. Not a good idea. I never told my parents because they were in the middle of getting divorced.”

Maddie’s doing better now, she writes, but the experience taught her how intensely painful and isolating life is for the victims of bullies.

Adults and children who’ve already chosen their words also have a place to share on the site. Nine-year-old Gladys chose kindness.

“I choose Kindness because it’s like Love. Love shows up when Kindness comes around. So Kindness is like niceness and Love merged together,” she writes.

“It’s also like Friendship. If you’re kind, people want to be your friend, right? … It’s also like Respect. … If you’re showing Respect, that is a sign of Kindness. And last, it’s Compassion. If you’re helping others, isn’t that showing Kindness? Friendship, Respect, Love, and Compassion, ALL started with Kindness.”

It’s that kind of critical thinking that helps children remember they have a choice – and that with their choices they have the power to change people, Hoal says.

“‘I Choose’ is an important reminder to children that their choices do matter,” Hoal says. “We want them to stop, think and remember.”

About Mary Kay Hoal

Mary Kay Hoal is a nationally recognized Internet safety expert who provides technology tools and tips for parents at www.YoursphereForParents.com. She’s the founder and president of www.Yoursphere.com, a social network site for ages up to 17 and social media outlet for youth-oriented organizations. Yoursphere Media Foundation and Coalition for Internet Safety Education and Reform is the website’s charity arm. The ‘I Choose’ Anti-Bullying Challenge is its first education initiative.

 
IRS whistleblower office fixes must continue; Grassley seeks further accounting of progress PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 25 June 2012 08:58
June 21, 2012

 

Grassley presses Treasury Department and IRS to effectively implement whistleblower program 

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is asking for a complete accounting from the Treasury Secretary and IRS Commissioner of questions he’s raised about the agencies’ flawed implementation of the IRS whistleblower program enacted in 2006.  Grassley has placed a hold on nominees for two high-level Treasury Department positions until satisfactory responses are provided.

“The way the IRS and Treasury Department have handled the whistleblower program enacted more than five years ago is inexcusable.  Any improvements have been made only under duress and in response holds I’ve put on administration nominees, and those changes are far less than what ought to be the standard,” Grassley said.  “The lack of progress is demoralizing valuable whistleblowers who often put their own livelihoods at risk to speak up about wrongdoing.”

Grassley, who authored the 2006 overhaul of the IRS whistleblower program, said the IRS continues to go out of its way to limit the applicability of the updated statute at a disservice to honest taxpayers and good government.

“The 2006 legislation was intended to obtain valuable information about major tax fraud and prevent the IRS from shortchanging whistleblowers.  So far, the IRS is using questionable tactics like the Justice Department did when the False Claims Act was updated 25 years ago to limit whistleblower awards, including now saying that collections of penalties under the Bank Secrecy Act aren’t eligible for whistleblower awards, for example,” Grassley said.

Grassley made his latest request for information today in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and IRS Commissioner Doug Schulman.  It follows a June 15 response from the IRS to an April letter from Grassley and the IRS’s release of several other documents, including a much delayed Whistleblower Annual Report to Congress and new timelines for processing whistleblower claims.  “Ironically, the sliver of good news is that the IRS admits it has trouble processing whistleblower claims in a timely manner.  Even so, the agency fails to establish accountability measures for its leaders and senior executives to pay out awards. Those checkpoints are clearly needed if the program is to work as Congress intended.”

Grassley said the Treasury Secretary and the IRS Commissioner have an obligation to effectively administer the IRS whistleblower program.  The 1986 qui tam amendments to the False Claims Act, which Grassley also sponsored in Congress and which served as a model for the 2006 IRS whistleblower legislation, have recovered $30 billion to the federal treasury which otherwise would be lost to fraud by government contractors.

Grassley is a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance.  He is currently ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He has pressed for effective implementation of the IRS whistleblower program during Senate hearings and through a series of oversight letters.  Click to read letters from April 2012, September 2011, and June 2010 and IRS responses from June 2012, November 2011, and November 2010.

Click here to read Grassley’s June 21, 2012, letter to Geithner and Shulman.

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