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Archive for September 11th, 2013

President Obama’s address to the nation on Syria: “If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons”

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force “while we pursue this diplomatic path”

East Room (Speech in its entirety)

9:01 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to talk to you about Syria — why it matters, and where we go from here.

Over the past two years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war.  Over 100,000 people have been killed.  Millions have fled the country.  In that time, America has worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition, and to shape a political settlement.  But I have resisted calls for military action, because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children.  The images from this massacre are sickening:  Men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas.  Others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath.  A father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk.  On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons, and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off-limits — a crime against humanity, and a violation of the laws of war.

This was not always the case.  In World War I, American GIs were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of Europe.  In World War II, the Nazis used gas to inflict the horror of the Holocaust.  Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them.  And in 1997, the United States Senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 189 governments that represent 98 percent of humanity.

On August 21st, these basic rules were violated, along with our sense of common humanity.  No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria.  The world saw thousands of videos, cell phone pictures, and social media accounts from the attack, and humanitarian organizations told stories of hospitals packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas.

Moreover, we know the Assad regime was responsible.  In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas.  They distributed gasmasks to their troops.  Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.  Shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and the wounded.  We know senior figures in Assad’s military machine reviewed the results of the attack, and the regime increased their shelling of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed.  We’ve also studied samples of blood and hair from people at the site that tested positive for sarin.

When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory.  But these things happened.  The facts cannot be denied. The question now is what the United States of America, and the international community, is prepared to do about it.  Because what happened to those people — to those children — is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security.

Let me explain why.  If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons.  As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas, and using them.  Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield.  And it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons, and to use them to attack civilians.

If fighting spills beyond Syria’s borders, these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan, and Israel.  And a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction, and embolden Assad’s ally, Iran — which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon, or to take a more peaceful path.

This is not a world we should accept.  This is what’s at stake.  And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.  The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use.

That’s my judgment as Commander-in-Chief.  But I’m also the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.  So even though I possess the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress.  I believe our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress.  And I believe that America acts more effectively abroad when we stand together.

This is especially true after a decade that put more and more war-making power in the hands of the President, and more and more burdens on the shoulders of our troops, while sidelining the people’s representatives from the critical decisions about when we use force.

Now, I know that after the terrible toll of Iraq and Afghanistan, the idea of any military action, no matter how limited, is not going to be popular.  After all, I’ve spent four and a half years working to end wars, not to start them.  Our troops are out of Iraq.  Our troops are coming home from Afghanistan.  And I know Americans want all of us in Washington — especially me — to concentrate on the task of building our nation here at home:  putting people back to work, educating our kids, growing our middle class.

It’s no wonder, then, that you’re asking hard questions.  So let me answer some of the most important questions that I’ve heard from members of Congress, and that I’ve read in letters that you’ve sent to me.

First, many of you have asked, won’t this put us on a slippery slope to another war?  One man wrote to me that we are “still recovering from our involvement in Iraq.”  A veteran put it more bluntly:  “This nation is sick and tired of war.”

My answer is simple:  I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria.  I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan.  I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo.  This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective:  deterring the use of chemical weapons, and degrading Assad’s capabilities.

Others have asked whether it’s worth acting if we don’t take out Assad.  As some members of Congress have said, there’s no point in simply doing a “pinprick” strike in Syria.

Let me make something clear:  The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks.  Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver.  I don’t think we should remove another dictator with force — we learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next.  But a targeted strike can make Assad, or any other dictator, think twice before using chemical weapons.

Other questions involve the dangers of retaliation.  We don’t dismiss any threats, but the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military.  Any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats that we face every day.  Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise.  And our ally, Israel, can defend itself with overwhelming force, as well as the unshakeable support of the United States of America.

Many of you have asked a broader question:  Why should we get involved at all in a place that’s so complicated, and where  — as one person wrote to me — “those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights?”

It’s true that some of Assad’s opponents are extremists.  But al Qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death.  The majority of the Syrian people — and the Syrian opposition we work with — just want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom.  And the day after any military action, we would redouble our efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism.

Finally, many of you have asked:  Why not leave this to other countries, or seek solutions short of force?  As several people wrote to me, “We should not be the world’s policeman.”

I agree, and I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions.  Over the last two years, my administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warning and negotiations — but chemical weapons were still used by the Assad regime.

However, over the last few days, we’ve seen some encouraging signs.  In part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action, as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin, the Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons.  The Assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons, and even said they’d join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits their use.

It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments.  But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.

I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.  I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin.  I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom, and we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control.  We’ll also give U.N. inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on August 21st.  And we will continue to rally support from allies from Europe to the Americas — from Asia to the Middle East — who agree on the need for action.

Meanwhile, I’ve ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails.  And tonight, I give thanks again to our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices.

My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security.  This has meant doing more than forging international agreements — it has meant enforcing them.  The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them.

And so, to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just.  To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor.  For sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.

Indeed, I’d ask every member of Congress, and those of you watching at home tonight, to view those videos of the attack, and then ask:  What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way?

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged.”  Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used.

America is not the world’s policeman.  Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong.  But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.  That’s what makes America different.  That’s what makes us exceptional.  With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.

History Can Move in Two Directions at Once

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
By Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO of the national NAACP

In my time as an organizer, I have been guided by the words of many people – activists and authors, colleagues and friends. But the most powerful lesson I ever received about the struggle for civil and human rights came in 1993, when my grandmother taught me that history could move in two directions at once.

I was in college, celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday. A round of toasts went up. One friend raised his glass to honor the memory of all those we knew who had been killed or sent to prison before they reached the age of 21. Another friend lifted his cup to toast to the fact that one more of us had lived long enough to reach the quintessential age of adulthood.

I could not raise my glass on that last toast.  In fact, it felt as if the motion cut me like a knife.

The notion that a man of any race, of any age, in the world’s greatest and wealthiest democracy, could think it an accomplishment to simply breathe past the age of 21 – it cut me to the core.

After so many historic civil rights victories, how could it be that my generation had grown up just in time to find itself the most murdered generation in the country and the most incarcerated generation on the planet?

So I did what I always did when I am stuck. I went to my grandmother’s table and I laid my burdens down.

I said, “Grandma, you told me that my generation was supposed to be the first generation to be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. Not because of what we are or where we come from – but because of who we are and where we are headed. What happened?”

My grandma got real quiet. She looked at me with sad eyes and then she said, “Son, it’s sad but it’s simple.  We got what we fought for, but we lost what we had.”

Those are wise words to remember in times like this.

We got the right to be police officers, but we lost the right to live in safe communities. In Chicago, a culture of poverty-fueled gang violence has reinforced the notion that living until 21 is an accomplishment.

We got the right to send our children to any school, but we lost the right to assume that they would receive a good education at whatever school they attend. In Philadelphia, the school system is facing a $300 million budget gap that already delayed the start of the school year and threatens to devastate support staff at schools in the most underserved communities.

We got the right to live in any community, but we lost the right to know that our children would be protected by the police – or the community watch volunteers – who are supposed to serve them. In 2011, before New York City passed a racial profiling ban with teeth, the New York Police Department made more stops of young black men between the ages of 14 and 24 than there were young Black men between 14 and 24 in the city.

In her simple way, my grandmother spoke volumes about our history and issued a subtle admonition for the path forward. She reminded us that we must be clear on both what we are fighting for, and how we will protect what we already have.

What are we fighting for? First and foremost, we are fighting for our children: for their futures to be robust, their equality to be affirmed and their lives to be protected. That is why the civil rights community lifts up education over incarceration, and economic liberation over discrimination.

What do we need to protect? If each of us has anything – even those of us who don’t have a house, or a car, or a family to feed, or any earthly possessions at all – as soon as we turn 18, we have the right to vote. This is the right that has been won and expanded through the American Revolution, Civil War, the women’s suffrage movement and the civil rights movement – because we have always understood that we are ultimately rendered defenseless when our access to the ballot box is diminished. So while voting rights may not be the most important issue to any one of us, it needs to be the most important fight for all of us.

My grandma’s words have guided me over the years, and they will continue to guide me throughout my career. We should heed her important reminder that history can, and often does, move in two directions at once.

Benjamin Todd Jealous is the President and CEO of the national NAACP.

This column was first published in USA TODAY. Contact: Ben Wrobel 917-846-0658 bwrobel@naacpnet.org @NAACPPress

Atty. General Madigan files suit over illegal eviction practices

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 1 COMMENT

Madigan sues Safeguard Properties LLC for breaking into legally occupied homes,

changing locks & shutting off utilities

CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced she has filed a lawsuit against Safeguard Properties LLC for illegally evicting struggling Illinois homeowners by breaking into their homes, changing locks to bar residents from re-entry, and shutting off utilities well before a foreclosure is finalized.

Madigan filed her lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Safeguard, a Delaware corporation based in Ohio. It is the largest privately held company in the country hired by mortgage lenders to determine whether a home in default or foreclosure is still occupied. If a home is deemed vacant, Safeguard is charged with securing and maintaining the property to ensure it does not lose value during the foreclosure process.

Madigan alleges that Safeguard routinely deemed occupied properties in Illinois as vacant, instructing its contractors to winterize and secure homes that occupants still had a legal right to live in. In many cases, Safeguard’s contractors broke into homes, changed the locks, turned off the utilities and removed occupants’ personal possessions in spite of clear evidence that the homes were still occupied.

“This case shows the lengths that banks and their service providers will go to abuse and intimidate borrowers in foreclosure,” Madigan said. “This company was illegally breaking in to people’s homes, removing all their possessions and locking them out. It is a homeowner’s worst nightmare.”

As the number of foreclosures has climbed in recent years, mortgage lenders have increasingly relied on third-party companies like Safeguard to ensure that properties do not lose value after their owners default on the mortgage. The vendors manage the properties throughout the foreclosure process and, most times, after the foreclosing lender buys a property at a foreclosure auction. However, homeowners and tenants have a legal right to occupy a home until the completion of the foreclosure process.

Among the most egregious examples cited in Madigan’s lawsuit, an Illinois homeowner on at least a dozen occasions told Safeguard he was still living in his home yet returned home one day to find his front and back doors broken into with a sledgehammer. Another homeowner, a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who was in the process of a short sale on his property, returned home from out-of-state training to find it had been broken into, the locks changed and utilities shut off. Another homeowner, who had fallen behind on her payments but had not entered default, returned home to find it had been broke into, the locks changed, her water shut off and anti-freeze poured into her pipes to winterize the property.

Read Madigan’s lawsuit here.

Assistant Attorneys General Eric Sirota and Andrew Dougherty are handling the case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.

State’s Attorney Alvarez announces dismissal of charges following Conviction Integrity Investigations

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has dismissed felony convictions against two men who were charged and convicted of murder and sexual assault in separate cases following comprehensive re-investigations of the cases by the State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.

Prosecutors from the Conviction Integrity Unit have dismissed the convictions of Latherial Boyd, 47, of Chicago, and Carl Chatman, 58, also of Chicago. Both men have been in prison since their convictions and are expected to be released later today.

The Boyd and Chatman cases bring to five the total number of convictions that have been dismissed since Alvarez created the Conviction Integrity Unit last year.

“We remain committed to proactively re-investigating cases that involve wrongful or questionable convictions such as those that were delivered in the cases against Mr. Boyd and Mr. Chatman,” Alvarez said. “Above all else, our work as prosecutors is about seeking justice, even if that measure of justice means that we must acknowledge failures of the past.”

Boyd was charged in connection with a street shooting that occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 24, 1990 near 3505 N. Clark Street in Chicago. A single gunman approached Michael Fleming and Ricky Warner, who were selling drugs on the street, and fired several times, killing Fleming instantly and wounding Warner, who was shot in the neck and paralyzed. Three other individuals who were standing or walking by were also shot, but not seriously injured.

Boyd was convicted of First Degree Murder and Attempted First Degree Murder on Oct. 24, 1990 and eventually sentenced to 82 years in prison, where he has remained since that time.

Page 2/Conviction Integrity

According to Alvarez, the Boyd conviction was dismissed based upon a number of factors, including:

n When he learned he was a suspect in the case, Boyd voluntarily went to the police station without an attorney and participated in a line-up. Nine eyewitnesses to the shooting viewed the line-up and not one of them identified Boyd as the shooter. However, this evidence was never introduced or raised in Boyd’s defense at trial.

n The second shooting victim, who was the only witness who claimed to positively identify Boyd, provided inconsistent statements regarding his ability and to see and identify the shooter when questioned by police and in testimony at trial.

Carl Chatman was charged with Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault in connection with an alleged attack on a Cook County employee in the Richard J. Daley Center on the morning of May 24, 2002 in a courtroom office on the 21st floor. Chatman was convicted of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault on March 4, 2004 and subsequently sentenced to 30 years in prison, where he has remained since that time.

According to Alvarez, the Chatman conviction was also dismissed based upon a number of factors, including:

n The Conviction Integrity Review led to the discovery of a potential witness that had not previously been contacted by police or prosecutors. This person was a Cook County Deputy Sheriff who had arrived at work early and was sleeping in a nearby room a very short distance from where the alleged attack occurred. Although the complaining witness testified that she had cried out for help and fought loudly with Chapman during the attack, the Deputy Sheriff heard no noise whatsoever. The Deputy Sheriff was never interviewed in the criminal investigation and the information he provided was apparently unknown and never introduced at Chatman’s trial.

Throughout the course of their incarceration, both Boyd and Chatman had filed appeals and post conviction petitions that were ultimately denied by the courts. Neither had any litigation pending and they had essentially exhausted their legal appeal options when the cases were undertaken and reviewed by the State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit.

The following cases have been reviewed and dismissed by the State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit since it was created in February, 2012.

James Kluppelberg

1984 First Degree Murder

Dismissed: May 2012

Victims: Elva Luperico, Santos Jr., Sonia, Cristabel, Yadira and Anabel

Alprentiss Nash

1995 First Degree Murder

Dismissed: August 2012

Victim: Leon Stroud

Daniel Taylor

1995 First Degree Murder

Dismissed: June 2013

Victims: Sharon Haugabook, Jeffrey Lassiter

Latherial Boyd

1990 First Degree Murder

Dismissed: September 2013

Victims: Michael Fleming, Ricky Warner

Carl Chatman

2004 Sexual Assault

Dismissed: September 2013

Out of a job? Don’t bet your life savings on a scam warns Better Business Bureau

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – If you don’t have a job, it is easy to be enticed by postings offering new business deals that claim you can be your own boss and make over $100,000 a year. Before even considering a new business opportunity, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that it is critical that you read all documents closely before signing to make sure the new business deal isn’t a scam.

“It is easy to immediately want to sign something that promises you a lot of fast money, especially in today’s economy,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “However, when sellers promise consumers a significant amount of money, it is often a scam.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Business Opportunity Law, salespeople asking you to sign on the dotted line or send money for a business opportunity must provide a disclosure statement and an earnings claims statement.

The BBB urges people to carefully read the disclosure document because it must identify the seller, mention the new business refund or cancellation policy, say whether the seller is making an earnings claim, mention lawsuits against the seller and must provide a list of references. The earnings claim statement must tell how much money a person could earn. The statement must include name of person making the claim, the specifics of the claim, start and end dates earnings were achieved and the numbers and percentages of people who got the results the seller claimed are true.

Thomas Cicerchia of Mount Prospect was recently a victim of a new business opportunity scam from Zaken Corporation. “They sent me a mailing about an opportunity and I was out of work and desperate to try something. I sent them my last $100,” said Cicerchia. “After reading the documents I called to cancel within the allowed time period and had trouble reaching them. Then they refused to refund the money because I had gone past the allowed time.”

The BBB offers the following tips:

  • Study all documents before signing or sending money. Take a careful look at the disclosure document, earnings claim and contract. Make sure each document is specific and is clearly laid out.

  • Interview current owners of the seller’s business opportunity. Ask these people all the tough questions you have. For example, ask if the disclosure document matches with their actual experience.

  • Require proof from the earnings claims’ statements. For statements such as “Earn up to $10,000,” it is your right to ask for proof.

  • Listen to sales presentations closely. Make sure you understand every aspect of the new business opportunity. Pay attention to what the seller is trying to sell to you.

  • Consider getting professional advice. In these kinds of situations, lawyers, accountants or business advisors are always willing to look over the paperwork before you sign.

  • Do internet searches for the seller. Check for any complaints or scams associated with the company by looking at websites such as Better Business Bureau and State Attorney General’s office. Remember, having zero complaints doesn’t necessarily make a company legitimate.

For more tips and information about scams, visit www.bbb.org

Kirk and Simon reflect on September 11th Anniversary

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Senator Kirk said “We will never forget the pain and suffering that day brought,” and Simon called it a “tragedy that changed our nation forever”

Senator Kirk Statement on September 11th Anniversary

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) released the following statement today on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks:

“Twelve years ago today, thousands of American lives were cut short by the September 11th terrorist attacks.

“We will never forget the pain and suffering that day brought, nor shall we forget the heroism demonstrated by our first responders. We lost together, we mourned together and we healed together — together, as Americans.

“Out of the despair, a new generation of patriots was born — courageous young men and women willing to sacrifice everything to keep our nation safe. I am grateful for their service and comforted to know these young American heroes will one day rise to lead our country.

“On September 11th, our enemies sought to break our will as Americans; they failed and today we stand shoulder to shoulder, reaffirming our commitment to the core values that continue to make our nation a beacon of freedom throughout the world.”

Simon statement on September 11th tragedy: Remember September 11 tragedy by helping others

Sept. 11 is National Day of Service and Remembrance

CARBONDALE, IL – On the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is encouraging Illinois residents to participate in the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.

“As we pause to remember the tragedy that changed our nation forever, let us remember the extraordinary acts of courage and selflessness demonstrated by first responders,” said Simon. “It is fitting that we honor these fire fighters, law enforcement officers and medical personnel who risked their own lives to save strangers, by taking time to serve others.”

Simon is urging residents throughout Illinois to participate in the September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, which was started in 2002. The service day is a means of honoring the men and women who responded to the attacks with sacrifice and compassion. Sept. 11 was officially designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act signed by President Obama.

“Today is a day to reflect and dedicate ourselves to helping others,” said Simon. “By remembering the victims and honoring survivors through service in our communities, we are building a stronger tomorrow.”

To learn more about Sept. 11 volunteer opportunities, or to learn about the more than 250,000 service projects available throughout the year, visit www.Serve.gov.

State Public Health Department urges awareness, education during National Suicide Prevention Week

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL –Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and fluctuates between the second and third leading cause of deaths among adolescents in Illinois, but Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck says that suicide is a preventable public health threat, and that greater understanding and assistance for those in crisis is needed.

September 8-14 marks the 39th annual National Suicide Prevention Week, and today, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day. Globally, almost one million die from suicide each year –about one death every 40 seconds. An estimated 5 million living Americans have attempted suicide. In Illinois, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death overall, and the estimated cost of suicide and medically treated youth suicide attempts in Illinois is $539 million.

“It is essential to bring awareness to the public health threat of suicide. Suicide is preventable. It is critical to let those who are in crisis know that they are not alone, and that help is available,” Dr. Hasbrouck said. “If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, there are resources available to help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK.”

Other Illinois suicide statistics include:

· More than 1,000 die by suicide each year—exceeding the number of deaths by homicide or HIV.

· Thirteen percent of suicide deaths occur among youth ages 15-24.

· Suicide rates are four times higher for males than females.

· Firearm suicide deaths account for 39 percent of suicides.

· In 2007, IDPH released the first Illinois Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan which included key recommendations to reduce suicide and its stigma through awareness, education and collaborative support efforts with organizations statewide. Since then, IDPH launched the “It Only Takes One” suicide prevention public awareness campaign, and last year received a federal youth suicide prevention grant to administer training to middle schools, high schools and institutions of higher education on how to identify, approach and refer students showing signs of psychological distress.

Experts agree that being aware of warning signs and listening to those in distress can be helpful in mitigating suicide. While some suicides occur without warning signs, 8 out of 10 suicidal individuals give some sign of their intentions. An easy-to-remember mnemonic for suicide warning signs: IS PATH WARM?

I

Ideation

• Expressed or communicated ideation

â—‹Threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and/or

â—‹ Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or

â—‹Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary

S

Substance Abuse

• Increased substance (alcohol or drug) use

P

Purposelessness

• No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life

A

Anxiety

• Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time

T

Trapped

• Feeling trapped (like there’s no way out)

H

Hopelessness

• Hopelessness

W

Withdrawal

• Withdrawal from friends, family and society

A

Anger

• Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge

R

Recklessness

• Acting reckless or engaging in risk activities, seemingly without thinking

M

Mood Change

• Dramatic mood changes

If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit the “It Only Takes One” website at http://www.itonlytakesone.org/ for more information.

AmeriCorps funds now available

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Grants designed to improve, strengthen Illinois communities

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Serve Illinois Commission announced that funding is available for agencies interested in administering AmeriCorps programs in the state. AmeriCorps members serve their communities by improving education and healthcare, protecting public safety, safeguarding the environment, providing disaster relief and promoting civic engagement.

“AmeriCorps is an excellent opportunity for people to commit their time and talents and give something back to their communities,” said Brandon Bodor, Executive Director of the Serve Illinois Commission. “Illinois has a strong tradition of supporting national service programs, and AmeriCorps members make a real and lasting difference in the communities in which they serve.”

The Serve Illinois Commission, part of IDHS and the office of the Governor, administers the AmeriCorps state programs in Illinois, and is charged with enhancing and supporting community volunteerism. Serve Illinois is funded by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service and currently supports nearly 30 AmeriCorps programs throughout the state.

Serve Illinois will host mandatory meetings for interested parties in Belleville, Chicago, Dixon and Springfield. Proposals are due by November 22, 2013. Funded programs will begin their work in July, 2014. Meeting details and information about the application process can be found at www.Serve.Illinois.gov.

AmeriCorps members dedicate a year to helping communities meet their unmet human service, education, public safety or environmental needs. They receive a modest living allowance, student loan deferment and training. Full-time members are also eligible to receive health insurance. Members who successfully complete their service receive an educational award of up to $5,645 to help pay for college, graduate school, vocational training or to pay off student loans.

For more information about AmeriCorps or Serve Illinois, please visit www.Serve.Illinois.gov or call 800-592-9896. The website is a valuable resource for Illinoisans seeking information about volunteer agencies, trainings, nonprofit resources and national service programs, including AmeriCorps. The website includes a user-friendly volunteer matching portal where you can search for a volunteer opportunity in your area.

Compelling non-fiction story encourages children to know and understand God’s everlasting love for them

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

“God Loves You and You Love Yourself – To God You Are Special”

by Barbara Maxine Smith

Barbara Smith’s fascinating new children’s book is certain to instill feelings of love, hope, and kindness, while planting the imperative seed of compassion that children and youth so desperately need to grow to be happy, kind and considerate individuals, with loving and giving spirits.

NATIONWIDE: San Francisco Bay Area author Barbara Maxine Smith is excited to announce the publication of her inaugural children’s book “God Loves You and You Love Yourself – To God You Are Special.” It is a touching story about a little girl named Maxine (the author), who had an amazing encounter with an angel.  Readers will learn how her life was changed when an ordinary day became extraordinary.


Maxine teaches children about God’s love for them and how important it is to allow the love of God to help them love themselves and others. Smith believes deeply that when children feel loved and comforted, and realize they are

special, they can easily understand and express compassion, patience,

selflessness, courage, wisdom and kindness, instead of anger, bullying, jealousy or sadness.

Smith said, “Both children and adults will experience Maxine’s adventures with family, neighbors and friends, and learn valuable life lessons that will carry them throughout their respective lives. Maxine will warm your heart and make you smile.”


This tender story that shares experiences of Maxine’s adventurous life encounters will help promote feelings of love, hope and kindness, while planting the imperative seed of compassion that children and youth so desperately need to grow to be happy, kind and considerate individuals—to help them learn the importance of showing gratitude and reciprocating acts of kindness.  Smith’s hope is that readers will enjoy Maxine’s stories, and share in her expressions of love for people, both young and old.

Short, easy-to-memorize bible verses—Deuteronomy 6:5 and John 3:16—are included to help child
ren to learn and understand the scriptures’ important meanings. They will become convinced that God loves them unconditionally, and learn how and why they should love God.

Barbara Maxine Smith

Maxine’s story teaches children that God has blessed everyone with a unique talent or gift that makes them each special in their own way.  Readers are encouraged to be the best they can be; to never give up; to have faith in God; and to always believe in themselves and their abilities. Ultimately, the book’s messages teach readers that God delivers blessings through prayer, as well as being respectful and obedient to parents, teachers, mentors, authority figures, and even school friends.

Consider this loving book for holiday gift-giving.

God Loves You and You Love Yourself – To God You Are Special

by Barbara Maxine Smith

Pub: Barbara Maxine Smith, May 2013
ISBN: 978-0578119397, 38 pp, paperback, kindle | Amazon.com

BOOK SIGNING:
Northern California Neighborhood Association presents “Authors for Literacy”
Saturday, September 21, 2013 | 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Martin Luther King Center

725 Mt. Diablo Ave., San Mateo, CA | 680.347.2448

Barbara Maxine Smith will join several other Bay Area authors for this book fair & signing, representing multiple literary genres.

WHAT READERS SAY:

“I wish I would have had this book when I was a child.  All of the little people in my life keep asking me to read the story, to them.  God has really used this book to share Christ with our little ones.”

“I love reading about little Maxine and her adventures!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Barbara Maxine Smith grew up in Akron, Ohio. She enjoys writing about her adventures as a child and the life altering lessons she’s learned. In her spare time, Smith enjoys traveling, music and art. A registered nurse, she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from San Francisco State University, as well as a Master of Arts Degree in Urban Studies from the University of Akron. Smith resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has two wonderful adult daughters.

Law to fight fraud, protect workers identifies $33 Million

Posted by Admin On September - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Misclassification, Personal Liability Laws Also Help Taxpayers

CHICAGO, IL – A new law to fight fraud and protect workers and taxpayers from businesses that cheat on their taxes and rob the state of money used to pay unemployment insurance benefits has led to a significant increase in the amount of money voluntarily paid to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

Dubbed the personal liability legislation, lawmakers in strong bi-partisan fashion enabled IDES to hold personally liable the owners of businesses who knowingly cheat their payroll taxes. The shift from penalizing a business to personal liability led to the increased compliance and is part of Gov. Pat Quinn’s agenda to protect workers and make Illinois one of the top states for business.

“This issue touches every taxpayer. Employers who cheat on their taxes push those costs onto honest workers, honest businesses owners and honest taxpayers,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “Shirking these responsibilities and misclassifying workers to pay them less cheats our unemployment insurance program, hurts our economy and undermines legitimate businesses owners.”

Twenty-nine employers who previously did not pay unemployment insurance have paid $14.9 million and 21 employers committed to paying $18.7 million. The dollars reflect a 30 percent increase in collections since the law began in 2012. Additionally, IDES so far this year identified 1,300 businesses that misclassified nearly 9,000 workers to avoid paying taxes on $2.3 million in wages.

Misclassified workers often are denied protection such as minimum wage, overtime pay, and family and medical leave. Misclassifying workers artificially lowers a business’ cost because employers do not pay workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance for those individuals. Hiding these costs allows businesses to underbid competitors by 30 percent and robs state coffers of other taxes, increasing the financial burden on residents and contributing to the state’s financial pressures.

Generally, to be considered an independent contractor, a worker must be free from direction or control. A worker is not an independent contractor just because an employer designates him or her as such – even if the worker agrees to the designation. Employers breaking the law could face fines of at least $10,000 and up to 24 percent interest on failed payments.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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