Fifth and sixth graders at Earl Hanson School are participating in the "National Lab Day" celebration this week by learning about water treatment programs. Area scientists and professors are going to spend part of the day educating 100 students about clean water, water conservation, third world water problems, etc.

The connection among the school and scientists was made by teacher, Kate Lievens, who signed up online through a relatively new nationwide program called "National Lab Day" ( At this site teachers sign up for projects they would like to see in their classrooms and are matched up with scientists who want to help educate area school children.

The media is invited to see National Lab Day in action Wednesday, May 12th beginning at 11:00 at Earl Hanson School (4000 9th Street). Available for interviews are Lievens, Dr. Kevin Geedey (Professor of Biology at Augustana College), Sandy O'Neill with the Rock Island Water Treatment Plant, Bob Bohannon a Moline Water lab Chemist and Greg Swanson, Moline's Utilities General Manager.

The National Lab Day site is one element in a White House initiative to encourage public-private partnerships in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. Lievens is one of the first teachers to participate in the program and has been featured in a national science magazine.


National Mediation Board decision will treat rail and aviation workers the same as other employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, praised today's National Mediation Board decision to provide fair labor elections for rail and aviation workers.  The updated regulations were published in this morning's Federal Register.

Current election procedures treat rail and aviation workers differently from workers in other industries and U.S. citizens voting for government officials.  In order to gain union representation, a majority of all eligible rail and aviation workers must cast a vote for the union to prevail.  Workers who do not vote are counted as "no" votes against unionization.  Non-voters in elections held outside the rail and aviation industries are counted as abstentions, meaning that a simple majority of votes cast is all that is required. 

The updated regulations will allow a majority of those voting to choose union representation, putting rail and aviation workers on par with other workers.

"These regulations will ensure that aviation and rail workers have the same right to join a union as other workers in our country," Senator Harkin said. "I applaud the NMB's decision to amend its election procedures and bring basic fairness to workers in these critical industries.  NMB's long overdue rule change ensures that all American workers will have a voice in the workplace and a right to fair wages and work conditions."

In December of 2009, Harkin, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WY), Chairman of the Commerce Committee were joined by Senators Akaka (D-HI), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Burris (D-IL), Byrd (D-WV), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Dodd (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Franken (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY), Johnson (D-SD), Kaufman (D-DE), Kerry (D-MA), Kirk (D-MA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Sanders (I-VT), Schumer (D-NY), Shaheen (D-NH), Specter (D-PA), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Whitehouse (D-RI) and Wyden (D-OR) in sending a letter to the National Mediation Board advocating for this change.  Click here to access the full text of the letter:

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) issued the following statement today after learning that President Obama had nominated Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Elena Kagan is extremely qualified.  She has the intellect and experience necessary to serve on our nation's highest Court and her stellar legal credentials have been recognized by liberal and conservative lawyers alike.  She clerked for two judges for whom I have enormous respect - Judge Abner Mikva and Justice Thurgood Marshall.  I am also encouraged that in this nomination, the President selected a candidate from outside of the Judiciary.  Elena Kagan is recognized as one of the leading legal educators in our country.

"I am confident that, if confirmed, she will be an important voice on our Court for the rule of law and constitutional rights and values.  She will ensure equality and give proper effect to our most important statutes, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Civil Rights Act, so our most vulnerable citizens receive the fullest protections of the law.

"Elena Kagan's nomination comes after a series of firsts in her career - first female Dean of Harvard Law School and first female Solicitor General - setting the stage for what may be only the fourth woman to serve on the Court in our history."

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made the following comment after the President nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the next Justice on the United States Supreme Court.  Grassley is a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will consider the nominee.

"A lifetime appointment requires a thorough vetting and I expect Elena Kagan to receive fair, respectful and deliberative consideration.  The Constitution gives the Senate a tremendous responsibility to carefully review the President's nominees to the Supreme Court.   The Judiciary Committee must take time to ensure that the nominee will be true to the Constitution and apply the law, not personal politics, feelings or preferences.  With no judicial experience, it becomes even more important that we ask thorough questions to determine that Ms. Kagan truly understands the constitutional role of a Supreme Court justice."

On Wednesday May 26th at 8:30am, some Jordan Catholic School eighth graders will receive the Presidential Academic Award. The invitation that went to parents is attached below. Criteria for the award:

Students must have a grade point average of 90% or a 3.5 GPA.

Along with one of the following 2 criterias:

  1. 85% or higher in math and/or reading on the Iowa Basic Skills test

  2. Teacher plus one other staff member's recommendation

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley today said he has introduced legislation with Senator Mark Begich of Alaska to waive copayments for telehealth and telemedicine visits for veterans.  Last year, thousands of Iowa veterans enrolled in Care Coordination Home Telehealth, Clinical Video Telehealth and Teleretinal Imaging telehealth programs in Iowa.

"Telehealth has been a blessing for thousands of our veterans, but we want to make sure that thousands more aren't missing quality health care because of a co-payment.  Telehealth has been shown to reduce costs for the VA, all while providing improved services.  It's a win-win," Grassley said.  "Our veterans deserve to know that they can get the health care they are entitled without breaking the bank."

The legislation would waive the required copayments - sometimes up to $50.00 per visit - associated with a telehealth visit.  Waiving the payments would lessen the burden on veterans and encourage more veterans to take advantage of telehealth programs.

The Telehealth program allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring health care closer to the veterans who need it.  Telehealth has been especially important to veterans in rural areas and older veterans who have difficulty getting to appropriate clinics to manage their health care.

The Veterans Health Administration Telehealth programs have demonstrated reduced hospital admissions and clinic and emergency room visits, and contributed to an improved quality of life for our veterans.


Q&A with Senator Chuck Grassley

Oversight of Government Bailout

Friday, May 7, 2010

Q: How exactly is the claim made that General Motors paid back a multi-billion dollar taxpayer-supported government bailout loan "in full, with interest, ahead of schedule, because more customers are buying vehicles."

A: Here's what's happened and, unfortunately, the reality doesn't match the rhetoric.  As part of the government bailout of the automakers, the taxpayers had loaned GM around $20 billion by May 2009.  After GM declared bankruptcy in June, the Treasury Department loaned GM another $30 billion.  Then, to help GM emerge from bankruptcy, the Treasury Department struck a deal with GM that contained three components -- a $7 billion loan, $2 billion in preferred stock and 61 percent of GM's common stock -- in exchange for the original $50 billion in loans.  The deal translated into the taxpayers paying roughly $41 billion for the GM common stock.  Today, when GM says it paid its loan "in full," it's talking only about the newer $7 billion loan, not the original $50 billion in taxpayer loans.  And, the repayment money came from a $17 billion escrow account that was created with the $41 billion in tax dollars used to buy GM common stock.  The escrow was for expenses, and GM needed permission from the Treasury Department to use the money.  The way that GM repaid the newer $7 billion loan was with the TARP money in that escrow account, not earnings.

The taxpayer bailout of GM still stands at around $40 billion.  Taxpayers won't get back that money unless GM's stock price goes up enough to repay the $40 billion.  Will that happen?  No one knows, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in March that, in the end, taxpayers will lose around $30 billion on GM.

Another question is why the Treasury Department allowed GM to repay the $7 billion, seven-percent loan out of escrow and gave permission to take the final $6.6 billion out of escrow free and clear, but did not require that a $2.5 billion, nine-percent loan that GM owes to the union health plan be repaid?  You'd think the higher interest rate loan would be paid first.  And, with $6.6 billion left over in the escrow, GM could have paid both loans.  When I asked the Treasury Secretary during a Senate hearing, he didn't have a good answer.

Q: What can be done about it?

A: I hope one lesson that's been learned by the Treasury Department is to tell it like it is.  Overall, the effort to collect the bailout funds is speculative at best.  So far, since coming out of bankruptcy, GM has lost billions.  Beyond that, the way the agreement was set up with the Treasury Department, GM now has access to the remaining $6.6 billion in the escrow account without any strings attached.  GM said publicly that it didn't need the escrow money.  If that's the case, then the extra $6.6 billion should be returned to the taxpayers right now.  The most important lesson from all of this is that it doesn't make sense for the federal government to own private businesses.

At the upcoming Davenport City Council Meeting at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, May 12, the Honorable Mayor Bill Gluba will announce the official Davenport Shriners Hospitals Appreciation Day on May 29, the day of our local mini-clinic here at the Masonic Center, 511 E 65th St, Davenport, Iowa.

Veteran Manager Joseph Klinger to Lead Public Safety Agency

SPRINGFIELD - May 6, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced the appointment of Joseph Klinger, assistant director at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), as interim director of the agency effective immediately.  Klinger replaces outgoing Director Andrew Velasquez III, who was recently appointed as regional administrator for FEMA Region V by President Barack Obama.

"Joseph Klinger is a professional and experienced manager, who will continue to keep this fine agency ready and able to handle any emergencies or problems that may arise anywhere in our state," said Governor Quinn.

Klinger is also Assistant Director at IEMA, a position he's held since 2007, and has worked for the state's nuclear safety program, which is housed within IEMA, for more than 20 years.  As IEMA Assistant Director, Klinger oversaw nearly two dozen programs to ensure public safety from the hazards of ionizing radiation. These include programs to monitor conditions at the six operating nuclear power stations in Illinois, plan for emergency response actions for incidents involving radiation and ensure the safe use of radiation-producing machines, such as x-rays

"IEMA has a critical mission, and I'm honored that Governor Quinn has asked me to lead the agency," Klinger said.

Klinger is also a Marine Corps Vietnam combat veteran and recently retired as a Captain in the U.S. Navy, Reserve Component, after serving 23 years commissioned service, which included a deployment to the Middle East in 2004-2005.

Velasquez has served as IEMA Director since March 2007.  During his tenure, he oversaw several state responses to major disasters, including the 2008 floods, the Northern Illinois University campus shooting and the 2009 derecho in southern Illinois.  As administrator for FEMA Region V in Chicago, Velasquez will direct FEMA activities for Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Illinois Emergency Management Agency is responsible for preparing the state of Illinois for response and recovery from any natural, manmade or technological disasters or acts of terrorism.  During disasters, IEMA coordinates with state and federal agencies on response efforts.  IEMA, through the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, develops and implements the state's homeland security strategy and administers federal preparedness funding.

For more information go to


May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

The Facts:

-Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. 1

-More than one million skin cancers are diagnosed annually - 11,590 of these cases will be fatal.1 -Non-melanoma skin cancer in the older population increased 77% from 1992-2006.2

-People under 30 years old that use tanning beds increase their risk of skin cancer by 75%.3

-Between 1973-2004, melanoma among women aged 15-39 has more than doubled. 4

-In an international study, melanoma has been linked to tanning bed usage. 4

Soderstrom Skin Institute will provide a FREE Skin Cancer Screening from 8 am to 12 pm, Saturday, May 15, at 1800 E. 54th Street, Davenport..  No appointment is necessary.

About 35 years ago, Soderstrom Skin Institute began FREE skin cancer screenings.  Today, more than 25,000 patients have been checked for atypical spots and changing moles, at Soderstrom Clinics.  Moles or spots that have changed in size, shape, or color, have irregular borders that vary in color, that bleed or itch, or are larger than a pencil eraser, should be examined.

Soderstrom Skin Institute encourages anyone with a changing mole or spot on their skin to have it evaluated for the possibility of skin cancer.  According to Soderstrom, one in 69 people will be diagnosed with a melanoma.  The earlier melanoma is detected and removed, the better a patient's chance for survival.

"If you can spot it, you can stop it," Dr. Soderstrom says.

Over the past 35 years, Soderstrom Skin Institute has grown into one of the most comprehensive skin care facilities in the country.  To learn more, visit

To schedule an appointment at the Davenport office, please call (563) 344-7546.

1 American Cancer Society

2 Archives of Dermatology

3 International Agency for Research of Cancer

4 Skin Cancer Foundation

ROCK ISLAND, IL (05/07/2010)(readMedia)-- More than 75 Augustana students, including several from the local area, will share their advanced research projects on Saturday, May 8 at Augustana's 14th annual Celebration of Learning. This unique on-campus research symposium gives students an opportunity to show off their academic accomplishments to their families and friends and members of the Augustana community.

Celebration participants can choose to present their research through a poster display or an oral presentation. Many students present the results of their senior inquiry project, a multiple-term research project required for most academic programs. Other students share Honors capstone projects or student-faculty research. Because of the advanced level of research involved, most of the presenters are upperclassmen.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Daniel Meden, a senior from Davenport, IA who is majoring in biology. Meden will be presenting his project " Which Birds Die from Striking Windows?" in the biology sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Sam Alvarado, a senior from Davenport, IA who is majoring in chemistry. Alvarado will be presenting her project " Synthesis of New Phosphine-Functionalized N-heterocyclic carbene Ligands" in the chemistry sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Michael Seevers, a senior from Cordova, IL who is majoring in geography. Seevers will be presenting his project " A Study to Determine the Highway Culverts in Upper Rock Island County, Illinois" in the geography sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Sara Michaletti, a senior from Rock Island, IL who is majoring in classics. Michaletti will be presenting her project " Latin Pedagogy" in the classics and theatre sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Luke Osborne, a senior from Moline, IL who is majoring in classics with a Latin emphasis. Osborne will be presenting his project " Plato's Republic and Symposium and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey" in the classics and theatre sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Steven Ash, a senior from Moline, IL who is majoring in physics. Ash will be presenting his project " A Study of Neutron-Rick Nuclei" in the poster sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Jacob McDowell, a senior from Rock Island, IL who is majoring in psychology. McDowell will be presenting his project " Morality and Patriotism: Predictors of Responses to Terrorism?" in the poster sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

James Sales, a junior from Rock Island, IL who is majoring in biology. Sales will be presenting his project " Differences in Health Perceptions of Students" in the poster sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Alex Sieg, a senior from Bettendorf, IA who is majoring in biochemistry. Sieg will be presenting his project " The Annotation of N-acetyl-ornithine/N-acetyl-lysine deacetylase, AbpE Family Lipoprotein and 4F-4S Iron Sulfur Binding Domain pProtein from Meiothermus ruber" in the poster sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Henry Stauffenberg, a senior from Bettendorf, IA who is majoring in geology. Stauffenberg will be presenting his project " Another Step toward Answering the Dolomite Question" in the poster sector of the symposium.

Students from the local area who are participating in Celebration of Learning include :

Sam Anderson, a junior from Rock Island, IL who is majoring in mathematics and computer science. Anderson will be presenting his project " Tournaments" in the mathematics sector of the symposium.

Anne Earel and Stefanie Bleumle, Augustana reference librarians and the event's co-directors, are glad that the Celebration of Learning provides an outlet for students to show off their accomplishments. "Not every student will be able to go to a conference somewhere off-campus," Earel said. "This provides an on-campus opportunity to be part of a professional scholarship community."

Leah Mortenson, a junior from Manhattan, KS, will present her analysis of the media used in a current environmental advocacy campaign. She believes the Celebration of Learning will give her the chance to show how she has grown, academically and personally, through her project. "Celebration of Learning opens up doors for sharing knowledge about various fields of study with peers who may have different perspectives and experiences than you," she said.

The event will begin with a keynote address by Caroline Skaggs Sallee '02. She double majored in economics and history at Augustana. Ms. Sallee is currently the director of Anderson Economic Group's Chicago Office, where she manages economic and public policy projects. Her address is entitled, "The Augustana Difference: How a Liberal Arts Education Prepared Me for the Real World."

For more information on the Celebration of Learning, please visit

About Augustana: Founded in 1860 and situated on a 115-acre campus near the Mississippi River, Augustana College is a private, liberal arts institution affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The college enrolls nearly 2,500 students from diverse geographic, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and offers more than 70 majors and related areas of study. Augustana employs 287 faculty and has a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Augustana continues to do what it has always done: challenge and prepare students for lives of leadership and service in our complex, ever-changing world.