Go behind the scenes of ACORN's controversial voter registration drive, which did almost as much to hurt as it did to help Barack Obama win the 2008 presidential election, in the new memoir Ring of Fire 2008: My Wild Ride to the Bleeding Heart of ACORN's Last, Greatest, Voter Registration Drive by Miguel Esteban.

Way back in Election '08?which, like every presidential election, was the most important ever?the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now collected over 1.3 million voter registrations and joined forces with a broad coalition to spread the good news of "quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans" to nearly fifty million potential voters deemed least likely to cast a ballot because they were poor, minorities, or the youth.

Miguel Esteban was one of them. A young, Puerto Rican-American, starving artist who walked in the door of Orlando ACORN looking for a part-time job, he went from zero to hero after blowing the whistle on a conspiracy to commit voter registration fraud in early 2008. Because of his efforts, news of eleven Miami ACORN workers forging voter registrations did not make headlines until after Election Day, and Esteban went on to become an unlikely political operative upon his promotion to the national ranks of ACORN's "PolOps" division?Project Vote?where his official job title was, no joke, Quality Control Czar #2.

What really happened during ACORN's infamous 2008 campaign? How widespread were the electoral shenanigans that prompted the FBI to investigate ACORN in numerous swing states? In this era of SuperPACs, secret money and Web 2.0 "voter targeting" technology, how nonpartisan are the nonpartisan campaigns unleashed by groups such as ACORN each election cycle? Can the now defunct ACORN family of organizations best be described as AntiPoverty, Inc.? Is it true that ACORN not only perpetrated widespread voter registration fraud, but also helped cause the housing meltdown that precipitated the Great Recession, and if so, why wasn't the organization bailed out by Uncle Sam? Were ACORN's "redshirts" communists? Un-American? Neo-progressives struggling to save America from itself?

Explore the answers to such questions and more in Ring of Fire 2008: My Wild Ride to the Bleeding Heart of ACORN's Last, Greatest, Voter Registration Drive; which is scheduled for a three-part release: Part 1, which is 80,000 words in length, is available now; Part 2 is scheduled for release in early October; Part 3 is scheduled for release in late October. The full version, including hardcover, is scheduled for release during the holiday season.

eBook formats (with photographs) only $3.33:

Kindle: www.amazon.com/RING-FIRE-2008-Registration-ebook/dp/B009DU8QT0

Nook: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ring-of-fire-2008-miguel-esteban/1112939187

EPUB (compatible with most eReaders) & PDF: www.smashwords.com/books/view/237414

Apple iStore, Google Play, Sony, Kobo & more: COMING SOON


Paperback (170 pages w/out photos) only $7.99: www.createspace.com/3939225

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Now shooting exclusively with digital cinema cameras

Moline, Illinois - 24 September 2012

First in the Quad Cities to acquire this cutting-edge technology, Silver Oaks has just added two SONY 4K cameras to its RED digital cinema cameras. These are the same cameras used to shoot critically-acclaimed television series and big-budget Hollywood films such as The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man. "This technology has been enthusiastically embraced by major directors because it offers the best qualities of 35-millimeter motion picture film in a digital HD format. Digital cinema cameras have the resolution, color fidelity and focus control of 35-millimeter film," said Greg Scott, president of Silver Oaks.

RED cameras started the revolution in the motion picture industry when they were introduced in 2007. RED's creator, Jim Jannard, founded and ran Oakley before following his passion to invent the innovative digital cinema camera. The cameras give film and video producers a total digital HD format that rivals 35mm cinematography.

With a staggering 4,096 lines of horizontal resolution - or 4K - this technology offers unprecedented resolution quality, depth of detail and color saturation. In comparison, HDTVs and even digital IMAX movies are at about 1.2K. Silver Oaks' digital cinema cameras have four times the number of pixels as a high-end HD video camera, with data capture rates up to 300mb per second. "Images pop off the screen with stunning clarity," said Silver Oaks video director, Greg Marten. "And by recording in the REDCODE RAW data format, there's also greater flexibility in post-production to manipulate and enhance images, offering additional creative opportunities to our clients." "With our 4K digital cinema cameras, we can capture a truly dynamic video image equivalent to a theatrical 35mm film - a distinctive capability that no one else in this market can offer, and which is paramount to our national clients," said Scott.

Silver Oaks is a full-service media communications company providing single-source creative and production services. Expertise includes concept and development, production, writing and animation for print, broadcast and all eMedia. For over 29 years, Silver Oaks' talented designers, writers, web and interactive developers, video and audio producers, animators and support staff have been developing media solutions for the corporate, educational and retail industries.


Friday, September 21, 2012


Grassley: Justice Department Fails to Answer Questions about Alleged Threats to News Reporter


WASHINGTON -- Senator Chuck Grassley continues to press Attorney General Eric Holder for a complete accounting of a June incident in Louisiana where a senior civil rights lawyer for the department reportedly threatened a journalist.  Grassley initially asked the Attorney General about the incident in July.


Grassley said he was disappointed in the response from the department which failed to answer the vast majority of his questions and to produce the documents requested.  The alleged incident occurred at a meeting advertised as a public event to address the employment practices of a local fire department.


"I'm very concerned about what allegedly occurred in New Iberia.  If the news reports are accurate, the conduct by the Justice Department would strike at the very heart of a free press.  The department's failure to answer questions and to produce relevant documents is unacceptable on a subject so fundamental to this country's founding," Grassley said


Grassley said he expected complete answers to his letter by September 28.


Here's a copy of the text of the letter.  A signed copy can be found here.  Grassley's July 17 letter can be found here and the department's response can be found here.


September 20, 2012


Via Electronic Transmission

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.                           

Attorney General                       

U.S. Department of Justice                       

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.                          

Washington, DC 20530                         


Dear Attorney General Holder:


I write regarding the Department of Justice's letter dated September 4, 2012 from Acting Assistant Attorney General Judith Appelbaum.  Ms. Appelbaum was responding to my July 17, 2012 letter to you.


In my letter, I expressed my concern about reports of an incident at a public meeting in New Iberia, Louisiana involving a Senior Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division.[1] A letter from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press summarized the reports on the incident as follows:


It is our understanding that on [June 12, 2012], Ms. [Rachel] Hranitzky arrived at the meeting and immediately asked if any journalists were present. When a Daily Iberian reporter attending the meeting responded in the affirmative, she informed him that he could neither record the meeting nor quote her statements. According to other attendees, the meeting had been advertised as a public meeting intended to address concerns with the city fire department's hiring and promotion process.  However, citing 'special rules' of the Department of Justice for agency attorneys, Ms. Hranitzky instructed that her statements be neither recorded nor quoted. When the reporter questioned this instruction on the basis that Ms. Hranitzky was speaking at a public meeting, she apparently threatened him with the possibility that the DOJ could call his editors and publisher, and warned that he would not 'want to get on the Department of Justice's bad side.' Furthermore, it is our understanding that Ms. Hranitzky demanded the reporter leave the meeting, although?after making his objection known but agreeing not to quote her?he was ultimately allowed to remain.


The reports about the incident in New Iberia and the existence of a DOJ policy or "special rules" which were the cause of the incident are troubling.  Consequently, I wrote you and asked several direct questions and made requests for documents.


The September 4 response letter ignores the vast majority of my questions and does not provide all of the documents I requested.  Accordingly, I am attaching a copy my July 17 letter and ask that you directly answer all of my questions and produce all of the documents that I requested.

Also, the September 4 response letter raises a new question.  The letter states that "the [Civil Rights] Division has taken steps to ensure that its employees are fully aware of the Department's consistent policy that public meetings are open to the public, including the press."  Describe in detail each of the "steps" taken.


I ask that you provide written answers and documents by September 28, 2012.





Charles E. Grassley

Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee


Cc: Hon. Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee


[1]  Matthew Beaton, "'DOJ practice' slammed by politicos, group," The Daily Iberian  (July 8, 2012) (available at http://www.iberianet.com/news/doj-practice-slammed-by-politicos-group/article_32a8d028-c8b7-11e1-aa3d-0019bb2963f4.html).

MOLINE, ILLINOIS - WQPT's local public affairs program "The Cities with Jim Mertens" will be focusing on local political races in the coming weeks finishing with a 3 hour special that will air the Sunday before election-day.

In the coming weeks the following candidates will appear on The Cities, which airs each Thursday at 6:30 pm, Sunday at 5:30 pm on WQPT and on WVIK on Fridays at 7:00 pm.

Rep. Pat Verschoore (D) Illinois 72nd House District                         September 13, 2012

Neil Anderson (R)


John Archer (R) Iowa 2nd Congressional Candidate                           September 20, 2012

Cheri Bustos (D) 17th Illinois Congressional Candidate                     September 27, 2012

Rep. Rich Morthland (R) Illinois 71st House District                         October 4, 2012                           Mike Smiddy (D)

Sen. Shawn Hammerlink (R) Iowa 42nd Senate District                      October 11, 2012

Chris Brase (D)


Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) 17th Illinois Congressional Candidate       October 18, 2012

Sen. Mike Jacobs (D) Illinois 36th State Senate District                     October 25, 2012

Bill Albracht (R)


"We are happy to have a longer format to focus on the issues that impact our local communities," said host, Jim Mertens. "Our program guide and website will list the times that each candidate will appear during the 3 hours special so that our viewers can focus on the candidates that they are most interested in hearing from," said Jerry Myers, WQPT's Program Manager.

WQPT is a media service of Western Illinois University located in Moline, Illinois.

# # #

By: Debbie Burns

Patty Cockrell and I are sisters and best friends, and we wrote a children's book series, "Tukie Tales: A New Beginning for a Better Tomorrow,'' (www.tukietales.com), after seeing way too many sad things on the evening news.

The terrible things happening around the world distressed both of us. It was very sad to see the way people bullied each other and we realized it was harming so many people.

After a particularly tragic event -- the death of a small child in England at the hands of two boys not much older than him on Feb. 12, 1993 -- we were devastated. We knew we had to try to do something to change what we saw happening. We didn't know what to do or how; we just knew we had to do something.

We want all children to be safe, to have honest values, and care about the world we live in. We decided that we needed to start with very young children. Since we read to our children when they were young, we thought the best way we could help was to write stories for children with full, color illustrations so they can enjoy looking at the pictures while the story is being read to them.

We started to write our stories on Feb. 15, 1993. It has been a long journey to complete the books, get them illustrated, and published, but we're finally there! The first in the series, "Lost!", is available as a free e-book at TukieTales.com because we believe its message can save young lives. The second, "I Can Do It!", is available for purchase on the site, and the entire series of five will be available on or about Thanksgiving Day.

We wrote our stories in honor of all victims of violence. We wrote them with compassion and love in our hearts for all of our world's children in the hope of making a positive difference.

We created our characters knowing we first had to capture the young child's imagination. They needed to be fun and different. So, the Tukies are from another planet and they have special powers that humans don't have -- telepathy, telekinesis and invisibility. They use these to help others - well, most of the time! The youngest Tukie is very mischievous and likes to play little tricks on his friends, much to the delight of young children.

Each book is a complete story using positive reinforcement to teach children important life lessons. The stories give valuable insight that doing good makes us feel good, and they help enable children to build their life on a secure, solid foundation of safety, positive values and caring about nature. All the stories leave the child feeling empowered and eager to repeat the positive values.

We believe today's parents are ready for something different, and "Tukie Tales" is ready to deliver. Imagine a world where people treat each other with respect, kindness, and care about other living things. Some may say this ideal is not possible in today's world. We believe it is.

Humanity can achieve great things when we all strive to make it happen. Children hunger for knowledge and acceptance. We need to be proactive and uplift them to give them the tools they need to succeed. Having strong, positive values is so important. Together, we can all make a difference for our children's future. Join us on our mission to make a better world for them.

About Debbie Burns & Patty Cockrell

Debbie Burns and Patty Cockrell were determined to instill honest and wholesome values in their children after establishing their families. Deeply affected by the bad news of the world, they decided to promote a better experience for children. The "Tukie Tales: A New Beginning for a Better Tomorrow" series is written with compassion and love for all of the world's children in the hope of making a positive difference.

While recent protests over proposed legislation addressing media entertainment piracy were loud and widespread, a veteran TV executive says the public seems unaware of an even greater threat to our free speech and a free press.

"People voiced concern about whether SOPA and PIPA (the House and Senate piracy bills) would limit free speech on the Internet. But the resurrection of television's old Fairness Doctrine, so government could again edit and censor news is a far more ominous threat," says Corydon B. Dunham, former 25-year NBC-TV executive and author of Government Control of News: A Constitutional Challenge.

"The Federal Communications Commission has drafted a new policy for government control of news.  And even though a special study last year recommended that such a censorship policy be scrapped, it's still pending, with the potential for action. Frankly, I'm surprised there is no outcry or debate about this political threat to distort news and speech and suppress them."

The FCC's proposed new Localism, Balance and Diversity Doctrine mirrors many aspects of the long-dead Fairness Doctrine, he says. That doctrine was revoked in 1987 when the FCC and the courts found that it had suppressed news, chilled speech, imposed censorship, prevented criticism of the administration then in office, and created an atmosphere of "timidity and fear."

"The new localism doctrine is very similar." Dunham says. "It would force television stations to provide government 'localism' in news production and coverage - as well as revise news reports to comply with government dictates on news balance and viewpoint diversity. Failure to comply could mean loss of the station license to broadcast.

"It may sound good to some people, but in the past, government investigations and regulation enforcement deterred news broadcasts about public and political issues. to keep their broadcast licenses, stations had to conform their news and political reports to what they believed FCC commissioners would approve or revise news reports to what the commissioners did approve.

"The FCC itself finally revoked that doctrine as against the public interest. Since the FCC is planning to transfer to the internet the broadcast spectrum now used by local TV, news websites ultimately could fall under the new Internet rules."

Here are some highlights of the old doctrine and the new one:

• The Fairness Doctrine ruled TV news broadcasters from 1949 to 1987. Believing that the communication power of this, at the time, new medium concentrated great power in few hands, the government mandated that broadcast stations provide what the FCC would decide and dictate as  appropriate "contrasting view" coverage.

• Under the Localism Doctrine, enforcement would not only be the job of the FCC, but also of a local board added at each station to monitor programming, including news. the members of that board would be required to recommend against a station's license renewal if  they thought station programming news was not complying with this new FCC  policy on localism, balance and diversity.

• Under localism rules, a three-vote majority of five politically appointed FCC commissioners at a central government agency would make local news judgments. They would override independent, local TV reporters and editors to impose government agency views on what should be reported and how.

"This new policy, if activated, would directly target news and speech on television and enable an administration to use news coverage to manipulate and influence public opinion about important public and political issues," Dunham says. "The effect would inevitably be something quite different from independent news."

That isn't speculation, Dunham notes. It's history.

About Corydon B. Dunham

Corydon B. Dunham is a Harvard Law School graduate. His Government Control of News study was initiated at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Smithsonian Institute, and expanded and developed for the Corydon B. Dunham Fellowship for the First Amendment at Harvard Law School and the Dunham Open Forum for First Amendment Values at Bowdoin College. Dunham was an executive at NBC from 1965 to 1990. He oversaw legal and government matters and broadcast standards. He was on the board of directors of the National Television Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Corporate Counsel Association, and American Arbitration Association among other posts.

Award-Winning Director Gives Tips for Ambitious Amateurs

Because technology is moving so quickly, it's easy to miss out on gadgets that may impact one's life.

"Anyone with a cell phone knows how accessible taking pictures and shooting footage is nowadays, but with a minimum of investment, movie fans can tell their own stories with the same professional hardware that legends are using today," says seasoned filmmaker Kerstin Karlhuber.

She completed her latest project, "Tides of the Heart" (www.silentgiantproductions.com), in collaboration with partner and renowned songwriter Daniel Jay Paul.

"It's a feature-length music video - there's no dialogue. The story is told completely through the music and Kerstin's direction," says Paul, whose latest album, "Clean Getaway" (www.danieljaypaul.com), not only makes up much of the score for the film, but also structures the plot.

"With the technology available today, you can really afford to experiment and innovate. That's what keeps pushing the artistry to the next level," he says.

Karlhuber and Paul offer suggestions for creative-minded individuals who have been kicking around ideas, but haven't yet pulled the trigger on a project:

• The Canon EOS 5D Mark III: Canon v. Nikon ... who cares? The point is that the big dogs in the film business, from James Cameron to Neill Blomkamp of indie-film success story, "District 9," are using digital gear that can be purchased by the average movie fan. The sharpest, crispest picture in the history of images can tell your story for a few thousand dollars.

• Adobe, CyberLink, Final Cut Pro, etc.: Film editing software, more than ever, is cheap, user-friendly and easy to acquire. There are several tutorial demonstrations available online, and if you need to come up with ideas for a project brainstorm with friends or family. That's half the fun.

• Getting started: Sadly, most of the failure of creative projects - whether film, music, art or writing - involves work-ethic issues, or lack of confidence. Ask the following questions: How long have I been thinking about my idea? Is my vision doable? What's keeping me from pursuing it? ... And, perhaps the most insightful question - Why not?

• A little help from your friends: Chances are that if you're a creative person, you have a few creative buddies who can help you troubleshoot concepts and technical issues. Lean on your artistic friends for moral support - they understand the struggle of the creative process. The same people may be a good source for constructive criticism, too, when the project is nearing completion.

• Consider trends: Karlhuber's film has no dialogue and relies solely on Paul's songs for sound. The most recent Oscar winner for best picture, "The Artist," also features no dialogue, relying on old-school Hollywood visual drama. While this is a coincidence, Karlhuber says it has helped her film gain attention. "If your creative ideas happen to line up with a trending topic, there's no reason why you shouldn't take advantage of the public's zeitgeist," she says.

About Kerstin Karlhuber & Daniel Jay Paul

Kerstin Karlhuber is an award-winning filmmaker and director. Her work in the arts has been seen around the world, from off-Broadway to Cannes, the Arclight Theater in Los Angeles to a segment on "Good Morning America." She is the founder and director of the film production company Silent Giant Productions based in New York City.

Daniel Jay Paul is a songwriter who recently released "Clean Getaway" on the Sunlight Communication Arts label. His songs have been described by Music Express' Marcus Wright as "music you hear with your heart ...." Paul is the author of the novel "The Last Sunset."

2-hour documentary. Stop and restart as you have time to watch.


You Will Find Joy

The Greatest Book every written! It has something for everyone; humor, pathos, romance, treachery, history, tragedy, feats of daring do. The Bible is undeniably the widest read and published book in the world. But really, something for everyone?

Many years ago I began reading "The Upper Room" as a daily devotional. I soon found numerous Bible passages spoke to me, like a primer or a guide. For example, in Psalms 24:12-14 David asks 'Do you want long life and happiness? Then keep from speaking evil and do good; strive for peace with all your heart'. I began categorizing passages like this, so when someone said 'I just don't see how the Bible applies to my life' the gauntlet was unknowingly thrown down and I picked it up resolutely. Thus You Will Find Joy came to life. And a unique life it is. Not a dogmatic tome, more a self-help manual, a way anyone can open up their lives.

Joy is unique because of its categorized biblical treatment. It is organized so whatever your situation you can easily find a Bible verse to help you.

My aim in putting together Joy is to spread the word our lives can be filled with joy, no matter what life brings. For the Bible really is:


Contact Nancy Newton for further information. Email: sam_newton@q.com, phone 563-322-7456

Part of the proceeds from sale of the book will benefit disaster relief in the US.

Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many fine bookstores. Published through Inspiring Voice, a division of "Guideposts" magazine.

The 2012 David R. Collins Children's Literature Festival is set for October 2nd at the Davenport River Center and promises a day full of literary adventures. This year's festival features Cheryl Harness, author of historical fiction, Rick Eugene magician extraordinaire, and seven other enthusiastic authors. All third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders from schools or home schools in the Mississippi Valley area are invited to experience the magic of the written word from 8:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on October 2nd at a cost of $5 each. There must be one adult supervisor for every 10 students. Scholarships are available for schools or students who are unable to pay. The deadline for registrations is September 18th, but space is limited so register soon!

The featured presenter, Cheryl Harness, is an author and illustrator from central Missouri whose impressive repertoire of over 40 ghost stories and historical books have titillated young audiences for years. Funny and talented, she will demonstrate her process of researching, writing, and illustrating the ideas the pop into her head. All students will get to experience Harness' enthusiastic presentation as well as magician Rick Eugene's tricks and illusions.

Other presenters include Ryan Collins and Belinda Holbrook, both back by popular demand for their interactive presentations that encourage students to engage with literature as both readers and writers. A new group of presenters include non-fiction experts, poets, illustrators, and science aficionados and feature such names as Leone Castell Anderson, Eileen Boggess, Deb Bowen, Michael Graf, and Jill Esbaum. With such a wide array of professional interests, there will certainly be something for everyone.

In addition to the presentations, children will have the opportunity to shop for their favorite presenters' books as well as others. All children will receive a free book along with other giveaways.

Contact Joan Walton by phone at 563-391-2738 or by e-mail at djwalt4@msn.com for information and registration materials for your school. More information along with a registration form and Festival brochure are also available at www.midwestwritingcenter.org under the "Events and Opportunities" tab.

The 2012 David R. Collins Children's Literature Festival would not be possible without its partners, the Davenport Public Library, Bi-State Literacy Council, and the Midwest Writing Center; or it grantors, The Riverboat Development Authority, Scott County Regional Authority, and The Moline Foundation.