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Business Association Aids U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation

CHICAGO - December 20, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today thanked the Illinois Retail Merchant Association (IRMA) for its efforts in organizing Illinois businesses to help the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program deliver toys for thousands of needy children this holiday season.

"On behalf of the people of Illinois, I want offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, CVS, Dominick's, Macy's, McDonald's, Sears, Target, Walgreens and Walmart for helping Toys for Tots in its time of need," said Governor Quinn. "Thanks to their efforts, children all over the Chicagoland area will have a happy holiday. It is a great day in Illinois when we all work together to do good things."

Following today's reports of a Toys for Tots donor having financial difficulties, IRMA worked with representatives of some of Illinois' biggest retailers to make sure that Toys for Tots has the resources it needs to be able to serve thousands more children. All told, support from IRMA members to the U.S. Marine Toys for Tots Foundation of Chicago has exceeded $36,000.

"Our members are proud to help 'Toys for Tots' during this time of need to make sure children have a joyful Christmas. 'Toys for Tots' helps the needy and disadvantaged children, and we're happy our Members can help Santa deliver a few more gifts this year," said David Vite, President/CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

"On behalf of the Chicago Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, we would like to thank Governor Quinn and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association for their combined efforts in raising $36,000 for the Official Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. Thank you, and remember "Every Child Deserves a Christmas," said SSgt. Chad Falkos of the United States Marine Corps.

For more information about Toys for Tots and how to support their mission throughout the year, visit www.chicago-il.toysfortots.org.


CHICAGO - December 20, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today took action on the following bill:

Bill No.: SB 1750

An Act Concerning: State Government

Amends the Illinois Procurement Code to make exceptions for certain procurements made by public institutions of higher education.

Action: Signed

Effective Date: Immediately


CHICAGO - December 20, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today released the following statement regarding the settlement of the last of the Olmstead class action lawsuits.

"I have made community care a priority of my administration, and our long-term goal is to rebalance Illinois' approach towards older adults and persons with disabilities by expanding choices for those who want to live in the community.

"An important step in this process was settling the three Olmstead class action lawsuits, which had been pending for many years. I committed to resolving these lawsuits when I took office, and today's decree allows Illinois to move forward and increase opportunities and independence for our state's elders and residents with disabilities.

"With these settlements and our other rebalancing initiatives underway, Illinois is well on its way to assuring older adults and people with disabilities care and treatment in the most community-integrated settings appropriate for their conditions. We are moving in the right direction on community and home-based care, and I look forward to continuing this effort."


The Quad City Symphony Orchestra is announcing auditions for the Youth Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras on Saturday, January 7, and Sunday, January 8, in Bergendoff Hall at Augustana College. Auditions are for new members only and open to all students grades 6-12. Audition requirements and excerpts can be downloaded at www.qcsymphony.com.

All students who wish to audition should contact Rebecca Swartz, Education and Youth Ensemble Coordinator, to schedule an audition time. She can be reached at the Symphony office at 563-322-0931 or at rswartz@qcsymphony.com.

LINCOLN, RI   Dec. 20, 2011 - If you're traveling for the holidays, please drive safely. But if an accident occurs, remember Amica Insurance offers a handy accident checklist on Amica.com and on the Amica mobile app for most smartphones.

"We hope everyone makes it to their holiday parties safely," said Lisa St. Onge, an assistant vice president with Amica. "But accidents do happen, even on those last-minute trips to the mall, so it's important to be prepared. That's why we have an Auto Accident Checklist, with a list of what to do - and not do - if you're involved in an accident. We hope you never have to use it. But, just in case, you may want to print a copy to keep with your vehicle or download the Amica mobile app so you'll have it on your phone."

Amica Insurance Auto Accident Checklist

If you are involved in an accident

• Remain calm and clearheaded.
• Turn on your hazard lights.
• If safe to do so, move your vehicle away from traffic.
• Do not discuss who is at fault or your insurance limits.
• Do not leave the scene of the accident.

Contact emergency personnel

• If anyone is injured, call 911 for medical assistance.
• Do not move an injured person.
• Give police your version of what happened.
• Obtain the police officer's name, department and incident number.

Exchange information

• Vehicle owner's name, address, telephone and/or email address
• Insurance information (company and policy number)
• Other vehicle information (year, make, model and registration plate)
• Driver's name, address, telephone and/or email address (if different from the vehicle owner's information)
• Obtain contact information from passengers and/or witnesses.
• Note the accident location.

Take photos/video if safe to do so

• Accident scene
• Traffic controls
• Street names
• Road conditions
• Vehicles and other property damage

"Also, remember to buckle up, pay attention and stay fresh and alert when driving," St. Onge said. "And, if you're going to a party or event where alcohol will be served, make sure there is a designated driver."

With so many people on the roads and so many holiday parties, motorists need to be extra vigilant this time of year, St.Onge said. We hope everyone has a safe, happy holiday season.

About Amica Mutual Insurance
Amica Mutual Insurance Company, the nation's oldest mutual insurer of automobiles, was founded in 1907. The company, with corporate headquarters in Lincoln, RI, is a national writer of automobile, homeowners, marine and personal umbrella liability insurance. Life coverage is available through Amica Life Insurance Company, a wholly owned subsidiary. Amica employs more than 3,200 people in 40 offices across the country.

There is significant confusion surrounding the recent debate on the extension of the payroll tax cut, extension of unemployment insurance and preventing the pending cut to physician Medicare reimbursement rates.  These three issues are urgent. They will impact millions of middle class families, unemployed Americans and Medicare patients. The deadline for action on all three is January 2012.


The Details:


  • Extension of Payroll Tax Holiday


o   Currently, employees pay a payroll tax of 4.2% of their income to Social Security, on wages earned up to $106,800.

o   On January 1, 2012, if Congress does not pass an extension of the "Holiday," then the payroll tax will revert back to previous law, which is a 6.2% tax on those same wages

o   This equates to a 2% tax increase, if Congress fails to extend the Payroll Tax Holiday.

o   This tax impacts 160 million Americans nationwide.  For an Iowan making $50,000 per year, this equates to a $1,000 tax increase.


  • Unemployment Insurance


o   Congress must reauthorize provisions that maintain long-term unemployment benefits for laid-off workers.  These provisions will begin to expire on January 3, 2012 if Congress does not pass an extension.

o   Currently, states provide up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, so those who will be harmed by the expiration of the federal provisions are the long-term unemployed (ie, those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks).

o   Without Congressional action, approximately 6,600 Iowans will lose their long-term unemployment benefits.


  • Medicare Reimbursements to Doctors


o   If Congress does not act, a scheduled 27% cut in Medicare reimbursements will occur on January 1, 2012, due to the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) in the Medicare formula.  This means that every time a doctor sees a Medicare patient, the doctor would receive 27% less in his Medicare reimbursement.

o   This could harm Medicare patients' (seniors) access to care, if doctors no longer find it cost-effective to accept Medicare patients.



The Votes:


Ignoring the rhetoric and partisan positioning on both sides of the aisle, there have been two substantive votes in the House of Representatives to resolve these three urgent issues.


  • Vote "On Passage" of HR 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011 (called "the House GOP bill"), on Tuesday, December 13, 2011

o   Braley crosses party lines and supports.  Only 10 Democrats supported.

o   The Senate did not allow a vote on this bill.

o   This vote would do the following:

§  Extend for one year, until December 31, 2012, the Payroll Tax Holiday

§  Extend for 13 months, until January 31, 2013, the long-term unemployment benefits provisions

§  Prevents any reduction in the SGR for 2 years, through January 1, 2014.  Instead, gives a 1% increase in Medicare reimbursement rates.


  • Vote on "Motion that the House Disagree to the Senate Amendments" on HR 3630, the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 (called "the Senate bipartisan bill"), on Tuesday, December 20, 2011

o   Braley supports the Senate Bill, by voting "nay" on the Motion to Disagree.

o   The Senate bill died in the House when this Motion to Disagree passed 229-193.

o   This bill had earlier been Agreed to in the Senate by a vote of 89-10

o   This vote would do the following:

§  Extend for 2 months, through February 29, 2012, the Payroll Tax Holiday

§  Extend for 2 months, through March 6, 2012, the long-term unemployment benefits provisions

§  Prevents for 2 months, through February 29, 2012, the 27% cut to Medicare reimbursement rates.


Both of these votes would prevent the damage from occurring in January if passed into law:


  • Prevent a tax increase to 160 million Americans.
  • Prevent 6,600 Iowans from losing unemployment benefits.
  • Prevent Iowa doctors from seeing a cut of 27% in their Medicare reimbursement rates.


Rep. Braley is 1 of only 14 to support BOTH SOLUTIONS:


Of the 535 members of  both the House and the Senate, Rep. Braley was 1 of only 14 to vote at every opportunity to extend the middle class tax cut and stop the loss of unemployment benefits and the 27% reduction to Iowa doctors.  He supported BOTH the House GOP's 1-year extension, and the Senate bipartisan 2-month extension.


# # #

Weight Loss Expert Offers Slimming Tips to Last a Lifetime

Losing weight has become a matter of life or death and counting calories, Weight Watcher points and fat grams hasn't lessened the numbers of people affected. In 2010, more than 25 percent of Americans had pre-diabetes and another 1.9 million got a diabetes diagnosis, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The single most effective way for people to avoid the disease? Losing weight.

"The current obesity epidemic proves that the typical low-fat diet recommendations and low-calorie diets have not worked," says Don Ochs, inventor of Mobanu Integrated Weight Loss Solution (www.Mobanu.com), a physician-recommended system that tailors diet and exercise to an individual's fat-burning chemistry. "America is eating less fat per capita than we did 30 years ago, yet obesity, diabetes and heart disease are all up."

To drop the weight and keep it off, people need to get rid of their stored fat by eating fewer processed carbohydrates and the correct amount of protein, and by doing both high and low- intensity exercises, Ochs says.

Here are some of his suggestions for getting started:

  • Eat what your ancestors ate - if it wasn't available 10,000 years ago, you don't need it now. Our bodies haven't had time to adapt to the huge increase in processed carbohydrates over the past 100 years. These refined carbs kick up our blood sugar levels, which triggers insulin production, which results in fat storage. Avoid the regular no-no's such as candy and soft drinks, but also stay away from sneaky, sugary condiments like ketchup; dried fruits, which have more concentrated sugar than their hydrated counterparts, and anything with high fructose corn syrup.
  • Eat the right kind of fat - it's good for you! Bad fats include trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils. Look for these on labels. Trim excess fat from meats and stick with mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. Use olive oil for cooking, as salad dressing or on vegetables. Eat avocados, whole olives, nuts and seeds, and don't be afraid to jazz up meals with a little butter or cheese.
  • Eat the proper amount of lean protein to maintain muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Eggs, beef, chicken, pork, seafood and dairy in the right amounts are good protein sources. Remember, most of these contain fat, so it shouldn't be necessary to add more. Use the minimum amount needed to satisfy your taste buds. Also, anyone trying to lose weight should limit non-animal proteins, such as legumes, because they contribute to higher blood sugar levels and increased fat storage.
  • Vary your workouts to speed up fat loss. Both high-intensity and low-intensity exercises play a role in maximum fat loss. Low-intensity exercise, like walking, is effective for reducing insulin resistance so you store less fat. Alternate walking with high-intensity interval training to build lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Interval training can be cardio blasts such as running up stairs on some days and lifting weights on others. This type of exercise forces your body to burn up its glycogen - a readily accessible fuel for your muscles - faster than an equivalent amount of cardio exercise. When you're done, your body will replenish that fuel by converting stored fat back into glycogen and you'll lose weight.

"Healthy weight loss isn't about picking a popular diet and trying to stick to it," Ochs says. "It's about discovering the right diet for your unique body. For each person, the optimal amount of carbohydrates, proteins and exercise to burn the most stored body fat will be different. And that's why one-size-fits-all diets just don't work."

About Donald Ochs

Donald Ochs is a Colorado entrepreneur, the president and CEO of Ochs Development Co. and M4 Group, an inventor and sports enthusiast. He developed the Mobanu weight loss system based on research conducted at The Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health. The program is endorsed by physicians, nutritionists and exercise experts.

Justin Titus Wins Top Prize Playing "Merry Crossword" Holiday Scratch Game



DES MOINES, Iowa - A Davenport man won a top prize of $30,000 playing the lottery's "Merry Crossword" instant-scratch game.

Justin Titus claimed his prize Monday at the Iowa Lottery's regional office in Cedar Rapids. He purchased his winning ticket at Slagle Foods, 6723 Northwest Blvd. in Davenport.

Merry Crossword is a $3 scratch game. Players win a prize by uncovering at least three complete words in the ticket's puzzle. If a player uncovers 10 words, he/she wins $30,000. The overall odds of winning in the game are 1 in 3.82.

Four top prizes of $30,000 are still up for grabs in Merry Crossword as well as 10 prizes of $3,000, 138 prizes of $300 and more than 600 prizes of $100.

Players can "Super Tech" the Halls in the Iowa Lottery's Super Tech promotion this holiday season. All 10 holiday instant-scratch tickets can be entered online for a chance to win one of 250 Sony® tech prizes or one of six "Super Prizes" valued at more than $4,900 each. The eligible tickets are: "Holiday Countdown," "Holiday Bonus Crossword," "Merry Crossword," "Lucky Elves Bingo," "Holiday Wishes," "Sparkling Winnings," "Betty Boop™," "Snow Bank," "Santa Games Doubler" and "Winter Bucks." To participate in Super Tech, a player must register for a free Iowa Lottery VIP Club account at ialottery.com. Registration is a one-time process. All holiday tickets entered into Super Tech will also earn players "Points For Prizes™" points that can be used in the Iowa Lottery's online store.

Since the lottery's start in 1985, its players have won more than $2.8 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.3 billion for the state programs that benefit all Iowans.

Today, lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans, help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund, and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.


© 2011 Sony Electronics Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. 



Soybean Checkoff-Funded Initiatives Support Food Production for the Future

ST. LOUIS (December 20, 2011) - More than seven billion people inhabit planet Earth, and about two billion more will join within 40 years, according to the United Nations Population Division. While many decision makers express concern about sustaining the population, often they forget to ask an important Question: Are U.S. farmers ready to produce the food needed to feed the growing population?

The United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff has responded with a resounding 'yes,' by funding soybean production research designed to help U.S. farmers grow as much as possible with as few resources needed.

"Soybean farmers must stay in tune with what is going on in the United States in order to stay ahead of any problems, such as the growing population," said Jason Bean, a soybean farmer from Holcomb, Mo., and USB director. "Finding ways to figure out how to get everything out of our soybeans in order to have the best yield is crucial for success."

In order to stay ahead of the curve, much of the research USB funds focuses on creating new U.S. soybean varieties more resistant to the pressures from pests and diseases that decrease yield. "Every year, we do a major production research project in each region that allows us to figure out the No. 1 yield robber," says Bean. "Whether it is finding out how to resist pests, like aphids, stink bugs or soybean cyst nematodes, or determining drought tolerance, checkoff-funded research is intended to locate the problem, and then is shared with farmers across the United States."

To help get this research into farmers' hands, USB has established a program to help state soybean checkoff boards, land-grant universities and local extension service staff share checkoff-funded research results with those who need it most. To date, twelve states participate in the program.

But informing U.S. soybean farmers is only one part of the equation. Making sure consumers are informed about the process is important too, says Bean. 

USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org
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