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Grassley Questions Assistant Attorney General on Fast and Furious PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 08 November 2011 08:47

Click Here for the video of Senator Grassley questioning Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer regarding his knowledge of gunwalking being allowed by the ATF at the hearing.

Click Here for the Documents Senator Grassley Provided at the Hearing.

Prepared Statement of Ranking Member Chuck Grassley

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism

“Combating International Organized Crime: Evaluating Current

Authorities, Tools and Resources”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Yesterday Assistant Attorney General Breuer made a public statement regarding an ATF case known as Operation Wide Receiver.  In the statement, he said:

“When the allegations related to Operation Fast and Furious became public earlier this year, the leadership of ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona repeatedly assured individuals in the Criminal Division and the leadership of the Department of Justice that those allegations were not true.”

The Justice Department officially assured me that the allegations were not true.  On February 4, 2011, the Department sent me a letter that read: “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”  However, as Mr. Breuer’s admissions in yesterday’s statement made clear, the Department’s claim was not true.

According to documents received last night, Mr. Breuer's deputy asked the most basic question of Wide Receiver that anyone should have known to ask of Fast and Furious upon becoming aware of the number of guns involved: “[D]id ATF allow the guns to walk, or did ATF learn about the volume of guns after the FFL began cooperating?”  In Operation Wide Receiver, around 300 guns were walked by ATF.  In Fast and Furious, just 5 of the straw buyers were allowed to purchase nearly 1000 guns while an FFL was cooperating, while being watched by ATF, while their phone calls were being monitored by a wiretap approved by Justice Department headquarters, and while a prosecutor from headquarters was assigned to the case.

The headquarters prosecutor was assigned to Fast and Furious because of an email that ATF Director Ken Melson sent Mr. Breuer in December 2009.  Director Melson requested an attorney to work with ATF Phoenix Field Office on a case.  Mr. Breuer said it was a “terrific idea” and assigned someone from the Gang Unit by March 2010.

That same month, Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler—now the Attorney General’s Chief of Staff—was being briefed in person on investigative details of Fast and Furious.  The briefing included a very detailed PowerPoint presentation from ATF, and Mr. Grindler made a number of hand-written notes on a print-out of the PowerPoint.  The PowerPoint included such details as the fact that by March 12, one straw buyer had already bought as many guns as were ever walked in Wide Receiver.  The PowerPoint also included a map of where in Mexico guns were being recovered and the amount of money each straw buyer had spent on the gun purchases, most in the tens of thousands of dollars, along with a note from Mr. Grindler saying “all cash.”

The American people—and especially the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry—deserve answers from the Justice Department about why they claim they didn’t know gunwalking was occurring in Operation Fast and Furious when the department’s fingerprints are all over it.

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Niabi Zoo Giraffe Baby Named PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Marc Heinzman, Assistant Director   
Thursday, 03 November 2011 15:16
Coal Valley, IL – November 1, 2011 - Niabi Zoo has announced the name for their female baby giraffe which was born on September 9th, 2011.

After hosting a naming contest for the month of October, the name Miya (mee-yah) emerged as the winner. Miya was originally suggested as a finalist choice by Niabi Zoo zookeeper Lisa Murphy, who came up with the name by combining parts of both parents’ names, Mimi and Kenya. The name also means “increasingly beautiful” in Japanese.

In a change of pace from the naming contests held by Niabi Zoo in the past, three finalist names were chosen by zoo staff, and then voted on by zoo guests with their pocket change. The name which collected the greatest dollar amount would be declared the winner.

Overall, the contest earned over $1,000, with the name Miya winning by a landslide, according to Assistant Zoo Director Marc Heinzman. “Miya earned 53% of the vote,” said Heinzman. “The other two names were very close to each other in amount of money earned, but Miya actually earned more money than those two combined. Miya was clearly the community favorite, and we’re very happy to be able to have the Quad Cities community help us name our newest addition.”

The other two finalist name choices and their meanings were Nyah (Purpose) and Victoria (Victoria Falls, the tallest waterfall in the world and located in Africa). All the proceeds from the naming contest will go toward the construction of a planned new elephant exhibit at Niabi Zoo.

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Senators Express Disappointment Over CMS Response on Sunshine Act PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 03 November 2011 15:15

WASHINGTON -- On Oct. 3, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) wrote to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), seeking an explanation for the agency’s missed deadline for drafting the implementing details of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (Sunshine Act), a new law requiring public disclosure of the financial relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical, medical device and biologics industries.  The administrator responded.  The senators made the following comments on the response.

Sen. Grassley comment: “The administrator’s response doesn’t tell us anything new.  There’s no explanation for the delay and no indication of when to expect completion.   It’s an inadequate response any way you look at it.  Meanwhile, the U.S. government just settled with a medical device maker for $2.4 million over allegations of kickbacks to doctors to use the company’s products.  The payments to doctors are the kind that might be prevented through disclosure as soon as the Sunshine Act is in place.  The longer we wait, the more taxpayers miss out on the benefits.   I’ll continue to press for answers from CMS.”

Sen. Kohl comment: “Given how straightforward and detailed the Sunshine Act provisions were, it’s troubling that the response to our letter would come a month late without any indication on progress, a timeline or what caused the delay.  With medical device and pharmaceutical companies facing the January 1, 2012 deadline to begin collecting information about all payments to physicians, the lack of guidance leaves a great deal of uncertainty and I’m sure that’s why many of the affected companies have joined us in calling for swift implementation.” 

Here’s an article describing the settlement referred to in Sen. Grassley’s comment.

Fraud and Abuse

California Medical Device Maker to Pay $2.4 Million to Settle Kickback Charges

By Tom Gilroy

LOS ANGELES—A San Jose, Calif., maker of devices to treat spinal fractures has agreed to pay the United States $2.4 million to settle Department of Justice allegations that the company paid kickbacks to induce physicians to use its products, DOJ said in an Oct. 26 announcement (United States ex rel. Eberhard v. DFine Inc., W.D. Tenn., No. 10-CV-2474, settlement announced 10/26/11).

The settlement, which came as a result of a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act, resolves the government's contention that DFine Inc. used customer surveys, known as User Preference Evaluations (UPEs), to pay participating doctors illegal kickbacks to induce them to use DFine's vertebral augmentation devices.

“Although DFine ostensibly collected product information from participating physicians, each UPE survey required use of a new DFine device in a patient, the majority of which were Medicare beneficiaries,” DOJ noted.

$500 Payment to Fill Out Survey

In each case, DFine paid the physicians $500 per patient to participate in the survey, DOJ added. The government also alleged that DFine provided improper remuneration in the form of travel expenses, lavish dinners, entertainment, and promotional speaker fees to doctors located in Chicago and Little Rock, Ark. DFine also solicited doctors to convert their business from a competitor's product and/or persuaded the physicians to continue to use DFine products, DOJ alleged.DOJ charged that DFine's alleged conduct violated the anti-kickback statute, which prohibits offering or paying remuneration to induce referrals or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or other federally funded programs. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The investigation of the case was handled by the DOJ's Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee, and the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Company Admits No Wrongdoing

In a statement, DFine said it fully cooperated with the investigation and “continues to deny all of DOJ's unproven allegations.“The terms of the agreement specifically state that DFINE and its employees admit no wrongdoing, liability or illegal activity,” the statement said. “The decision to settle prior to completing the full investigation was a very difficult one, but one we felt was best for the company based upon the significant disruption and associated costs to continue the investigation, as well as the uncertainty regarding its duration.”According to the settlement, the company was represented by Leo Cunningham and Lee-Anne V. Mulholland of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. The settlement is at http://op.bna.com/hl.nsf/r?Open=bbrk-8n3rv2.

 

 
Governor Quinn Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Starved Rock State Park PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Andrew Mason   
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 10:42

Proclaims “Starved Rock State Park Day” at Popular Illinois Destination

UTICA – October 30, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn celebrated the 100th anniversary of Starved Rock State Park in Utica and proclaimed today “Starved Rock State Park Day” in Illinois. The state purchased 280 acres and created Starved Rock State Park in 1911. Today the park includes more than 2,800 acres along the Illinois River in La Salle County, and is one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations.

“Our state parks are valuable resources, allowing families to enjoy Illinois’ natural, undisturbed habitat,” said Governor Quinn. “Starved Rock State Park has been an important part of our history for 100 years, and I want to encourage everyone to see its spectacular rock formations in person.”

Starved Rock State Park is home to 18 canyons formed by glacial melt water and stream erosion. The park is best known for its rock formations, primarily sandstone, laid down in a huge shallow inland sea more than 425 million years ago and later brought to the surface. Today, Starved Rock State Park is one of the most visited state parks in Illinois, welcoming more than 2 million visitors each year. The park’s visitors provide tens of millions of dollars of direct economic activity and support hundreds of jobs throughout La Salle County and north-central Illinois.

“The topography of Starved Rock State Park is so unique, it almost looks as though it was carved out of different landscape and set here for all to enjoy,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources director Marc Miller said. “It is one of the great wonders of our state.”

French explorers built Fort St. Louis at Starved Rock in the winter of 1682-83 to take advantage of its commanding strategic position. They abandoned the area in the early 1700s after conflicts with Iroquois during the French and Indian War (Seven Years War). According to legend, in the 1760s a group of Illiniwek warriors were trapped on top of the 125-foot sandstone butte by opposing Potawatomi and Ottawa fighters. Surrounded and unable to flee, the Illiniwek starved to death, giving rise to the park’s name. The butte area was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1960.

The park is also among the state’s most popular destinations for bald eagle watching. Starved Rock State Park, and adjacent Plum Island Eagle Sanctuary, provide ideal winter roosting habitat for bald eagles. In 2004, then Lt. Governor Quinn spearheaded an effort with the Illinois Audubon Society and other environmental groups to save the 55-acre island from development.

Governor Quinn has continued his efforts to support state parks since becoming Governor. Within the first two weeks of becoming Governor in 2008, Quinn reopened 11 state parks that had been closed.

To learn more about Starved Rock State Park or other state parks, please visit www.dnr.illinois.gov.

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CHIROPRACTIC STUDENTS HELP THE NEEDY BY ‘TAKING IT TO THE STREETS’ PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maximized Living   
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 10:06
Davenport, Iowa – Local Chiropractic students volunteer time and find an effective way to raise money for local charities and food shelters in what seem the least likely places – the streets!

Every November for the last two years, as part of their local Chiropractic club (Maximized Living), students have spent Friday nights and Saturday mornings near the corner of 14th and Brady. They are asking for selfless donations of change and spare blankets from drivers at stoplights, as part of their annual blanket drive.

“I grew up in a home where there was always food on the table and a blanket to cover up with when it was cold” says club Co-President Cassie Kelley. “ Being involved with the blanket drive for 3 years now has taught me to be more thankful for what I have.”

Last year the student’s collected over $2,000 which was donated to a local church, The Center, to help fund their food drive program for the homeless and needy.

“Children under the age of 18 accounted for 39% of the homeless population and 42% of these children were under the age of five. The Blanket Drive is not ultimately a cause to raise money and blankets, but this event is about human beings who need our help,” says Kelley.

As part of their Chiropractic training, the Maximized Living club has focused on helping and giving back to their community. They have demonstrated the importance of giving not only their money, but their time through various activities. The club mentors students at the Lydia Home, works with Kids Against Hunger, volunteers to help at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, and makes donations to various organizations and individuals.

“As humans, we take many things for granted. I believe in not only giving money and material things, but giving of myself and my time,” says Kelley. “As a club, we are excited to have the opportunity to serve our community and those in need to a much greater capacity. It's a great example of how a group of students working together within the community can make a substantial difference in the lives of many.”

The blanket drive will begin Friday, November 11th at 4pm and continue through that Saturday at noon. Donations of blankets and spare change will be collected at the stoplights of 14th and Brady.

The club is part of a larger organization called Maximized Living which consists of hundreds of Doctors of Chiropractic worldwide that seek to change the way people view and manage their health through the inside-out. They do this by educating and delivering the Five Essentials of Health: Mindset, Nervous System, Nutrition, Exercise, and Detoxification.

For more information, visit www.MaximizedLiving.com.

 
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