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Archive for January 5th, 2011

Senator Kirk discusses New Congress, outlines importance of upcoming vote on the federal debt limit

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

 

Vote on the Debt Limit is a Key Opportunity for Fiscal Conservatives

Potential for Bipartisan Cooperation on Many Key Issues

 

Chicago, IL –  Illinois’s newest Senator, Mark Kirk, previewed the key issues before the new Congress which begins tomorrow.  Senator Kirk highlighted the importance of the upcoming vote on the federal debt limit as a “key opportunity for fiscal conservatives” to enact anti-spending reforms to lower deficits and taxes.

Senator Kirk took office November 29th as a result of a special election to fulfill the remaining month of former Senator Obama’s original six-year term.  Kirk will be sworn in again tomorrow for his own six-year term as the junior Senator for Illinois.

The outgoing Congress formally increased the federal allowable debt four times, from $11.3 to $14.3 trillion.   As of December 2, federal debt totaled $13.8 trillion.  The federal government is expected to reach the current limit on its debt at the end of the first quarter of 2011. If a slow economy yields poor tax receipts and current federal spending continues, the federal government will attempt to borrow another $3 trillion by 2013.

Senator Kirk outlined 15 anti-spending reforms that should be attached to any legislation regarding the debt of the United States.  “The most important reform will be to provide only short-term extensions of debt, giving economic conservatives many opportunities during the next Congress to cut back on spending and debt.  In addition, the remaining reforms will help end the practice of increasing the federal debt, returning the government to a pay-as-you-go, sustainable operation.”

The anti-spending reforms include:  

       Set An Example.  Reduce Congressional and White House budgets by 15 percent.

       Realign Public to Private Pay.  Freeze federal civilian pay and benefits.

       Stop Expanding Public Employment. Freeze federal civilian hiring. 

       Live With Last Year’s Budget. Cap discretionary spending.

       Empower the President to Cut Pork. Enact a reformed presidential line-item veto.

       Prevent One Generation from Burdening Another. Enact a balanced budget amendment to the constitution (similar to Senator Simon’s S. J. Res. 41).

       Create Bipartisan Consensus with Power.  Establish a new bipartisan “Grace Commission II” to propose anti-spending reforms, linked to authorities to submit reforms for up or down congressional votes.

       Rationalize Wasteful Federal Holdings Not Being Used.  Establish a Federal Real Estate Disposition Commission to identify properties that can be sold, with proceeds used to reduce federal debt.

       Eliminate Unused Buildings/Property.  Require the Government Services Administration (GSA) to lease or sell underutilized buildings (GAO reported 22,000 excess and surplus properties in 2007).

       Align Spending to National Income. Set an annual spending ceiling at 21 percent of GDP and require major asset sales to fund expenditures above that level – real estate, spectrum, direct federal loans or operating assets like the Tennessee Valley Authority.

       Lower Health Care Costs. Enact medical malpractice reform and reduce the cost of health care.

       Cut Losses of Big Losers.  By reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers may mitigate losses of at least $150 billion and climbing. 

       Create Pentagon Incentives to Rationalize Holdings. The Defense Department should be encouraged to sell outdated inventory and vacated properties, applying half the proceeds to military modernization and half to reduce federal debt.

       Reduce Spending in the Private Economy.  Eliminate half of the 53 corporate welfare programs listed by the CATO institute.

Senator Kirk also outlined at least six key issues where there was potential for bipartisan progress, including:

       Opening New Markets for American Exports: President Obama supports free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that will open key markets for Illinois exports

       High-Speed Rail for Illinois: Following Wisconsin’s decision to reject high-speed rail funding, Senators Durbin and Kirk support high-speed rail for Illinois.

       Banning Sewage Dumping in the Great Lakes. Senators Durbin and Kirk are working on legislation to ban all sewage dumping in the Great Lakes.

       End to Earmarks: President Obama supports ending the congressional practice of pork-barrel earmarking of federal appropriations.

       Line-item veto: There are indications that President Obama may put forward a line-item veto to cut federal spending.

       Law Enforcement Assistance to Mexico: There is strong bipartisan support to helping the Mexican government win its battle with drug cartels that dominate its border.

 

State of Illinois commemorates 60th Anniversary of the Korean War (1950-1953)

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2011 1 COMMENT
  
The State of Illinois is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War by supplying information each month about the state’s involvement in the conflict. 
 
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Illinois Korean Memorial Association, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum are sponsoring “Illinois Remembers the Forgotten War” along with media partners the Illinois Press Association and the Illinois Broadcasters Association.  
 
Key events during the Korean War
January 1951
 
January 1951 began with Chinese and North Korean forces pushing the retreating United Nations armies back onto South Korean soil.  The South Korean capital of Seoul was captured by Communist forces on January 4, the third time the city had changed hands in the seven-month-old war.  The port city of Inchon, the site of the highly successful U.S. invasion just four months ago, fell the following day.  The offensive was finally stalled by United Nations forces in mid-January after the Chinese and North Koreans had occupied about the northern third of South Korea.
General Matthew Ridgway, who had just been given command of the retreating and badly mauled U.S. 8th Army in late December, saw that the situation for American forces was perilous and troop morale had reached a new low.  There was even talk at the highest levels of the Truman administration about whether U.N. forces would be forced to evacuate.  But Ridgway thought otherwise and approached General Douglas MacArthur, commander of all United Nations forces in Korea.  “If I find the situation to my liking,” asked Ridgway, “would you have any objection to my attacking?”  MacArthur gave his permission.
Ridgway organized and rallied his 8th Army troops and launched a surprise counter-attack labeled “Operation Thunderbolt” on January 25, which pushed Communist forces back across the Han River just south of Seoul by the end of January.  This was the start of a drive toward the north that would be the next reversal of fortune in the see-saw war for Korea.                  
 
Illinois Korean War Memorial
 
The Illinois Korean War Memorial is located in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery, the same cemetery that contains the Lincoln Tomb.  Oak Ridge is the nation’s second most visited burial ground behind only Arlington National Cemetery.
        Dedicated on June 16, 1996, the memorial consists of a 12-foot-tall bronze bell mounted on a granite base.  At the circumference of the base are four niches, each with a larger-than-life figure representing a branch of the armed services.  Inscribed on the base are the 1,754 names of Illinoisans killed in Korea.
        The Illinois Korean War Memorial is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and may be visited daily free of charge. 
 
Korean War Veterans Oral History Project
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
 
        The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s Oral History Program offers “Veterans Remember,” a collection of interviews with Illinois residents about their wartime experiences, at the Library’s website,  www.alplm.org/oral_history/home.html.  The audio interviews concern the experiences of Illinois veterans who fought in several conflicts, including the Korean War, as well as the experiences of those on the home front.  Visitors to the website can listen to or watch the interviews in their entirety.  Several of the interviews have transcripts, and most have still images as well.
Website visitors will need a computer capable of playing MP3 audio files or MPG compressed video files in order to listen to the interviews.  The transcripts and still images are also accessible.  Volunteers conducted and edited many of the interviews and developed the transcripts that accompany them.   
 
Korean War National Museum
 
        The Korean War National Museum (KWNM) celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War with a new Board of Directors, new professional staff, and a renewed focus on getting a world-class museum built now, in the lifetime of the Korean War veterans.  Recent news media reports outlined a proposal of the KWNM to obtain 7,000 square feet of prime space on Navy Pier in Chicago for a state-of-the-art, world-class museum where visitors could come to honor and learn about the service and sacrifices of the Americans, South Koreans and their UN Allies in the “forgotten victory.”  Those plans are continuing to be developed, and the KWNM hopes to be able to share some exciting news soon.  Meanwhile, the Denis J. Healy Freedom Center, located at 9 South Old State Capitol Plaza in Springfield, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Admission is free, but donations are accepted.  The KWNM welcomes donations of photographs, documents, diaries, and artifacts of those who served in the Korean War. To learn more about the KWNM, or to volunteer or donate, please visit www.kwnm.org or look for the Museum Facebook.
 
Korean War Booklet
 
        The Illinois Korean Memorial Association, an all-volunteer organization, has published a booklet, A Brief History of the Korean War, copies of which have been provided free of charge to public libraries, high schools and junior high schools in Illinois.  Individuals may obtain a copy by sending a $10 check or money order to:  Illinois Korean Memorial Association, P.O. Box 8554, Springfield, IL  62791. 
        Tax deductible donations are welcome.  One hundred percent of all donations go to the book project and to the upkeep of the Illinois Korean War Memorial. 
 
For more information, visit www.Illinois-History.gov or www.veterans.illinois.gov.
          
 

Super Bowl XLV brings more than football to Dallas with the inception of the 2011 Ultimate Super Bowl Week

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

KR00334924 Feb 2004, Los Angeles, California, USA --- Vivica A. Fox --- Image by © Kurt Krieger/CorbisBlack Hollywood Comes To Dallas; Join the biggest names in the entertainment industry for a week of competition, entertainment, and education. 

Vivica Fox, one of the many confirmed guests for the Ultimate Super Bowl Week

 

 Dallas, TX (BlackNews.com) — According to Texan visionary, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Bruce Carter, founder of Dallas’ W.A.G. Program that services close to 80,000 teens state-wide, in order “to change our current generation we must mold our next generation.”

After Carter’s highly anticipated ULTIMATE SUPER BOWL WEEK, scheduled to take place from January 27- February 6, 2011, his words will spark the type of “change” that President Obama once implored.

Presenting 228 Consecutive Hours of invigorating, heart-pounding phenoms of entertainment, the ULTIMATE SUPER BOWL WEEK is a bricolage of events that include Crowning the Next Top Hair Stylist, Crowning the Next Top Barber, the World’s Largest Madden and Dominoes Tournament, Crowning the Next Top Designer, and Getting to the Stage (a search for the next top music superstar). Prizes for lucky winners include: a brand new barber shop or hair salon with a 12 month PAID lease, a paid year of barber school/hair stylist school, brand new cars, a complete clothing line produced, a feature in XXL Magazine, a feature in Essence Magazine, a trip to Pakistan, a music tour, a music video shoot, studio time, a 60 inch fat screen TV and over $75,000 in cash and prizes.

Furthermore, as if the prize packages weren’t enough, the ULTIMATE SUPER BOWL WEEK will lay host to the equivalent of a “Black Hollywood Walk of Stars” live in Dallas. With a confirmed guest list that includes celebrity A-listers such as: Vivica Fox (Kill Bill /Set It Off), Michael Jai White (Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married), Rockmond Dunbar (Hit TV Series Soul Food), Joe Torry (Comedian/Actor), Guy Torry (Comedian/Actor), Elise Neal (Hustle & Flow), John Henton (Living Single), Miguel Nunez (Juwanna Mann), Yolanda “Yo Yo” Whitaker (Musician/Actress), Guy Torry (Comedian/Actor), Shar Jackson (Moesha), Carl Payne (Martin), Regina King (Southland/Ray/Boondocks), Kym Whitley (Actress/Comedian), Omar Gooding (Actor), Yvette Wilson (Actress), Tommy Ford (Martin), Jill Marie Jones (Girlfriends), After 7 (Musicians), Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), Windstorm Band, Pieces of Dream, Legendary Former Cowboy Michael Downs and many more; the ULTIMATE SUPER BOWL WEEK will be a star-studded affair to actively compliment the rush and exhilaration of SUPER BOWL XLV. The ULTIMATE SUPER BOWL WEEK (228 HOURS OF CONTINUOUS ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES) will be hosted at Southwest Center Mall (3662 W Camp Wisdom Rd) which is conveniently located only 20 minutes from the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

Shirley Carter, Ultimate Super Bowl Spokeswoman, is available for questions and inquiries at (517) 749-7001. Tickets for the ULTIMATE SUPER BOWL WEEK will go on sale December 17, 2010; with attendance expected to be close to 200,000 fans. For more information or to buy tickets, please see: www.wagprogram.com or www.theultimatesuperbowlweek.com or visit The Ultimate Super Bowl Week Office at Southwest Center Mall located at 3662 W. Camp Wisdom Rd; Suite 2016; Dallas, TX 75237.

 
More on Ultimate Super Bowl Week:
 

The Ultimate Super Bowl Week is designed to raise funds for several non-profits while allowing everyone to experience this amazing event regardless of economic status. It is our goal to take this glorious occasion and form lifelong memories while creating life changing opportunities. We will accomplish our mission by having activities that will allow the everyday person to participate while filling the desires of the most sophisticated individual. Two of the more notable non-profits that will benefit from the Ultimate Super Bowl Week are Wag Program (We Are Graduating) and OSP (Overcomers Serving People). WAG serves tens of thousands of youths annually. For more info please visit www.wagprogram.com. OSP Fund serves the entire community .The entire community consist of single parents, veterans, senior citizens, homeless and any other need that needs to be met.

For more information, please visit www.ospfund.org. More on W.A.G. Program:
The Wag Program since its inception has always created its revenue versus waiting and hoping for grants and other federal funding. Wag now understands even more the need for Molding Our Next Generation. In order to address some issues at epidemic portion such as teenage and unplanned pregnancy, truancy and low graduation rates we must be financially sound. The three tournaments will allow us an opportunity to do so. These tournaments will also allow WAG to provide employment to deserving youth. For more information, please visit: www.wagprogram.com

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS TODAY
www.theultimatesuperbowlweek.com

Better Business Bureau identifies Top Ten List of scams in 2010

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

(From the Better Business Bureau)

 

Scam employment opportunities rip-offs at top of  list

 

Chicago, IL- Scammers in 2010 continued to prey on people’s difficult economic conditions and concerns about the general economy as well as follow the financial misfortunes of individuals, according to the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) summary of dishonest business dealings for the past year.

This listing is based on the number of times people requested information and inquiries through personal phone calls or the BBB website, as well as complaints.  These instances of service by the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, including inquiries and complaints about specific businesses.

“Scammers continue to follow the money trail and target the desperate emotions of people,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “This year the Top 3 scams were again related to personal finances.”

 The list of the Top 10 most common scams in 2010 include:

  1. Work-At-Home and Fraudulent Employment Opportunities
  2. Credit Repair and Debt Negotiations/Settlement Services
  3. Advance Fee Lenders
  4. Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue/Loan Modification Scams
  5. Timeshare Resellers
  6. Mystery/Secret Shoppers
  7. Grant & Government Job Finding Entities
  8. Not so “Free” Trials
  9. Phishing, Smishing, and Vishing
  10. Check Scams

“We believe the reason we hear more about these Top 3 scams is because people lose money and then complain, rather than being tempted by deals and checking them out before sending money,” explained Bernas. “This usually ends badly for people, who never get their money back.”

Explanations of these scams are:

1. Work-at-Home and Fraudulent Employment Opportunities – These scams offer big dollars for little work or effort. However, when an interested consumer “applies,” they almost always ask for money up-front to pay for materials, training kits, or investment money. After sending payment, most consumers either have their checks deposited and never hear anything again, or obtain something that is completely useless. Internet employment opportunities looking for “shipping”, “billing managers” or “payment processors” frequently turn out to be fraudulent listings that are looking for victims to commit money laundering by accepting and forwarding payments.

2. Credit Repair and Debt Negotiation/Settlement Services -Due to the continuing economic situation, many consumers seek credit repair or debt negotiation/settlement companies. However, everything a credit repair clinic can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost. Here are the important facts:

  • These services can not ask for money in advance, automatically get legitimate negative reports off your credit report or guarantee to cut your debt by a specific percentage.
  • Be extremely cautious about a service that recommends you not pay creditors so it can negotiate.  This could negatively affect your credit report.

3. Advance Fee Lenders – The victims are often contacted by phone or e-mail or respond to fake newspaper or online ads. They are offered quick and immediate loans despite past credit history and with little or no background check. The one requirement is the payment of advance fees. It is illegal for any business to request any fees to be paid up front prior to disbursing a loan. After the victim wires the money, he never sees his loan funds or advance fee payment again.

4. Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue/Loan Modification Scams – Because foreclosure information is publicly available, many scammer contact desperate homeowners and promise to save their homes while loan modification companies promise to renegotiate your loan and reduce your payments. It is unlawful for foreclosure consultants to collect money before (1) they give you a written contract describing the services they promise to provide and (2) they actually perform all the services described in the contract.

5. Timeshare Resellers – Consumers are generally contacted by phone or mail and told that their timeshare is in a “hot” market or they have a buyer willing to purchase their timeshare, but first they need to pay a hefty fee in advance or enter into contracts that same day. In a standard real estate transaction, fees are paid from the proceeds of the sale. In a timeshare scam, victims do not end up selling their timeshare and they generally do not hear from the company again.

6. Mystery/Secret Shoppers -Websites or newspaper ads often asks that you “register” and pay a fee in order to receive information about a certification program, a directory of mystery shopping companies, or baseless guarantees of obtaining mystery shopping positions. Most don’t exist, have already expired, or have nothing to do with legitimate secret shopping offers.

7. Grant & Government Job Finding Entities – Offers of “free” government grants or assistance with research, grant applications, or government employment should all be regarded with caution. The majority of these entities charge for services, applications, or information that can be easily obtained for free by doing online searches or visiting school financial aid offices.

8. Not so “Free” Trials – Online offers often do not disclose the billing terms and conditions or do not have such details prominently displayed online. Consumers often end up being repeatedly billed for products and services they didn’t want.

9. Phishing, Smishing, and Vishing – “Phishing” is a crime that uses spam e-mails to deceive consumers into disclosing their personal or financial information.

10. Check Scams – Consumers receive a check in the mail, allegedly for winning a sweepstake, lottery or promotion. They are urged to deposit the check, and then write another from their own account to cover alleged taxes or fees. The check that was deposited turns out to be worthless while the check sent by the consumer is good, and that money ends up being unrecoverable.

“Smishing” is the practice of sending a phishing message to steal credit card or identity information via cell phone text messaging.

The latest form of identity theft is “vishing” which uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to gain access to private and personal financial information. Recipients hear automated recordings that alert them to fraudulent or suspicious activity on their credit card or bank accounts which instructs them to call and input their personal information.

“Remember, before giving any company credit or debit card information, the BBB recommends reviewing the website fully to avoid potential billing nightmares,” said Bernas. “These scams and others are preventable with the right resources.”

For more information on these top 10 scams, visit www.bbb.org

Chicago Architecture Foundation to offer free insider tours

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

openhousechicago top cultural event in 2011

Chicago, IL – A new insiders’ look at Chicago’s architecture, culture, economy and history is planned for October 14-16, 2011. The first annual openhousechicago weekend, offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, is modeled after similar programs in New York, London and Toronto. www.openhousechicago.org

Known for their 85 tours, exhibitions, educational programs and a great retail shop, the Chicago Architecture Foundation is well poised to create an in-depth weekend of events. “openhousechicago is an excellent addition to our Foundation,” said Lynn Osmond, Chicago Architecture Foundation President and CEO. “We can illustrate past achievements, highlight current trends and suggest how each person can play a role in generating a city’s landscape.”

Participants in openhousechicago 2011 will enjoy free admission to more than 100 of the city’s more significant, but often restricted, places and spaces. Sites should appeal to all ages and families are urged to participate. The wide variety of locations include: factories, office towers, restaurants, sporting facilities, cultural institutions, schools, infrastructure installations, private businesses and other special places where invitations are required to enter. Local residents as well as out-of-town visitors will visit parts of the city with which they may not be familiar. It’s like a “backstage pass” to the city.

A major innovation of openhousechicago is the focus on the city’s very diverse neighborhoods because the weekend is being created in partnership with six community and economic development organizations: Quad Communities Development Corporation, the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, Enlace Chicago, the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, the Chicago Loop Alliance, and the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association.

Organized around five “hubs” (one each in the Loop and on the South, Southwest, West and North sides), openhousechicago will offer convenient locations from which participants can venture to explore the city.

The experiences will be self guided but supported by a widely distributed printed event directory as well as mobile enabled technology. The program should draw at least 100,000 participants in its first year but many openhousechicago events elsewhere attract twice that number, or more. It is anticipated that openhousechicago, located in America’s first city of architecture and design, will become one of the globe’s leading annual Open House events. Support for the openhousechicago weekend is provided by a generous grant from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, the lead foundation supporter of openhousechicago. The event is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a leading group of corporate sponsors.

Special efforts are being made to support travel to the city and arrangements are being confirmed with hotels and tour operators to facilitate participation by out-of-town visitors.


The Chicago Architecture Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public interest and education in architecture and design. The Chicago Architecture Foundation pursues this mission through architecture tours, exhibitions, panel discussions, and youth and adult education programs. A permanent exhibition, Chicago Model City, includes a highly detailed scale model of Chicago. The Chicago Architecture Foundation is located at 224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60604. For further information visit www.architecture.org or call 312.922.3432 or become a facebook fan: www.facebook.com/chicagoarchitecture or follow on twitter: www.twitter.com/chiarchitecture

 

Free family movies return to the Paramount Theatre on Sundays in January

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Aurora, IL – Continuing a Paramount Theatre tradition, free movies will begin in January 2011. The January events will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoons at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. Five family movie favorites are on the agenda, including Shrek on January 2, Madagascar on January 9, All Dogs go to Heaven on January 16, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on January 23, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on January 30. Each show is FREE. To complete the movie experience, popcorn as well as other favorite movie snacks will be available at the theatre’s cafe along with a full bar.

The 2010-11 Paramount Theatre season is sponsored by the Paramount Arts Centre Endowment, American Airlines and The Beacon News/Sun Publications. This season is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. The free movie series is sponsored by Waubonsee Community College.

All movies are free of charge. For more information, contact the Paramount Theatre Box Office by phone at (630) 896-6666. Visit the Paramount Theatre online at www.paramountaurora.com.

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