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Archive for February 7th, 2014

Record-setting $16 million verdict in Carroll County obtained by Clifford Law Offices

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on Record-setting $16 million verdict in Carroll County obtained by Clifford Law Offices

Kevin P. Durkin and Sean P. Driscoll, attorneys at Clifford Law Offices, obtained a record $16 million verdict on behalf of two families whose sons were killed in a grain bin entrapment incident in northwestern Illinois.

Following a two-and-a-half-week trial, the Carroll County jury deliberated just eight hours before granting $8 million to each of the two plaintiffs’ families who were working at Haasbach at a Consolidated Grain and Barge Company grain elevator.  The previous record in Carroll County was a $220,000 verdict in 1989 and a $1.1 million settlement in 2005, according to John Kirkton of the Jury Verdict Reporter.

The incident involved the July, 2010 deaths of Wyatt Whitebread, 14, and Alejandro Pacas, 19, who were standing on the grain in the bin, pushing the grain down to go to a conveyor.  According to a third worker, Will Piper, he and Pacas jumped in to save Whitebread who was crying for help as he was being buried like quicksand.  Pacas jumped into what became a sinkhole trying to pull out Whitebread and they both suffocated.  Piper was partially engulfed to his neck for approximately six hours before rescuers were able to save him.  The jury awarded him $875,000.  He was represented by Loren Golden of Golden Law Office in Elgin.

“These boys should not have been working in the bin in the first place,” Durkin said following the record verdict.  “Consolidated Grain and Barge had ultimate responsibility for what went on in that bin and the company failed these families.”

The Chicago Tribune was allowed to tape the closing arguments yesterday of the attorneys, marking the first time that occurred in this county near the Mississippi River.

Just last year partner Durkin, senior partner Robert Clifford and partner Colin Dunn obtained a record $112 million verdict in federal court in St. Louis on behalf of two men who were burned in a grain bin explosion owned by Con Agra Foods.

This most recent trial was presided over by Judge Val Gunnarsson of the 15th Judicial Circuit before the nine-men-three-women jury.

For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909.


President Barack Obama’s Remarks at National Prayer Breakfast

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on President Barack Obama’s Remarks at National Prayer Breakfast

The President: “…Giving all praise and honor to God, who brought us here this morning.

Thank you so much for our two outstanding co-chairs, Louie and Jan.  And I have to say, I would have enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at the two of these folks getting this breakfast organized this morning. But there does seem to be that sibling thing a little bit, Louie. They love each other, but they’ve got to go at each other a little bit.  I, by the way, have always found Louie to be unbelievably gracious every time I’ve seen him.  Now, I don’t watch TV, I’ve got to admit. But he is a good man and a great storyteller, and Janice was just reminding me the first time we saw each other was at one of my first events when I first ran for office.

It’s wonderful to see all of the dignitaries and friends who are here today.  To the Presidents, and Prime Ministers, the leaders of business and the nonprofit community; to my incredible friend and Vice President, Joe Biden; to my Cabinet members who are here and members of the administration who do such great work every single day; to my fellow Hawaiian, it is wonderful to see you.  I should tell you that my surfing is not that good. I just want to be clear.  But my bodysurfing is pretty good.

Senator Hirono: Bodysurfing is fun.

The President:  It is. And to Raj Shah, who is just such an incredible young leader and is out there every single day, I could not be more proud of his outstanding leadership at USAID.  And it’s a good reminder — it’s a good reminder of the dedicated public servants that I have the chance to interact with every single day.  And they do great work, don’t always get a lot of credit, sometimes get subject to the sort of criticism that you do when you’re in public life, but Raj is single-minded in terms of trying to help as many people as possible all around the world and is an extraordinary representative for our country.  So I’m very, very proud of him — although he does always make me feel like an underachiever whenever I listen to him.  I’m thinking, I should have been working harder and not slouching.

Dale Jones and everyone else who worked on this breakfast this morning, thank you, and obviously I’m thrilled to be joined by my extraordinary wife and she does a great job every single day keeping me in line.

Just two other thank-yous.  To our men and women in uniform all around the world, we pray for them. Many of them doing such great work to keep us safe.  And then there is one colleague of mine who is missing today.  A great friend of mine who I came into the Senate with, Senator Tom Coburn.  Tom is going through some tough times right now but I love him dearly even though we’re from different parties.  He’s a little closer to Louie’s political perspective than mine but he is a good man and I’m keeping him and his family in my prayers all the time. So just a shout-out to my good friend, Tom Coburn.

So each time we gather, it’s a chance to set aside the rush of our daily lives; to pause with humility before an Almighty God; to seek His grace; and, mindful of our own imperfections, to remember the admonition from the Book of Romans, which is especially fitting for those of us in Washington:  “Do not claim to be wiser than you are.”

So here we put aside labels of party and ideology, and recall what we are first:  all children of a loving God; brothers and sisters called to make His work our own.  But in this work, as Lincoln said, our concern should not be whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God’s side.

And here we give thanks for His guidance in our own individual faith journeys.  In my life, He directed my path to Chicago and my work with churches who were intent on breaking the cycle of poverty in hard-hit communities there.  And I’m grateful not only because I was broke and the church fed me, but because it led to everything else.  It led me to embrace Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  It led me to Michelle — the love of my life — and it blessed us with two extraordinary daughters.  It led me to public service.  And the longer I serve, especially in moments of trial or doubt, the more thankful I am of God’s guiding hand.

Now, here, as Americans, we affirm the freedoms endowed by our Creator, among them freedom of religion.  And, yes, this freedom safeguards religion, allowing us to flourish as one of the most religious countries on Earth, but it works the other way, too — because religion strengthens America.  Brave men and women of faith have challenged our conscience and brought us closer to our founding ideals, from the abolition of slavery to civil rights, workers’ rights.

So many of you carry on this good work today — for the child who deserves a school worthy of his dreams; for the parents working overtime to pull themselves out of poverty; for the immigrants who want to step out of the shadows and become a full member of our American family; for the young girl who prays for rescue from the modern slavery of human trafficking, an outrage that we must all join together to end.

Through our Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, led by Melissa Rogers, we’re proud to work with you on this and many other issues.  And I invite you to join us in a new initiative that I announced in my State of the Union address — an effort to help more young men of color overcome the odds, because so many boys in this country need that mentor to help them become a man and a good father.

I’ve felt the love that faith can instill in our lives during my visits to the Holy Land and Jerusalem — sacred to Jews and Christians and Muslims.  I’ve felt it in houses of worship — whether paying my respects at the tomb of Archbishop Romero in San Salvador, or visiting a synagogue on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or a Buddhist temple in Bangkok.  And I’ve felt the compassion of so many faith leaders around the world, and I am especially looking forward to returning to the Vatican next month to meet His Holiness, Pope Francis, whose message about caring for the “least of these” is one that I hope all of us heed.  Like Matthew, he has answered the call of Jesus, who said “follow me,” and he inspires us with his words and deeds, his humility, his mercy and his missionary impulse to serve the cause of social justice.

Yet even as our faith sustains us, it’s also clear that around the world freedom of religion is under threat.  And that is what I want to reflect on this morning.  We see governments engaging in discrimination and violence against the faithful.  We sometimes see religion twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, or how they pray or who they love.  Old tensions are stoked, fueling conflicts along religious lines, as we’ve seen in the Central African Republic recently, even though to harm anyone in the name of faith is to diminish our own relationship with God.  Extremists succumb to an ignorant nihilism that shows they don’t understand the faiths they claim to profess — for the killing of the innocent is never fulfilling God’s will; in fact, it’s the ultimate betrayal of God’s will.

Today, we profess the principles we know to be true.  We believe that each of us is “wonderfully made” in the image of God.  We, therefore, believe in the inherent dignity of every human being — dignity that no earthly power can take away.  And central to that dignity is freedom of religion — the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do this free from persecution and fear.

Our faith teaches us that in the face of suffering, we can’t stand idly by and that we must be that Good Samaritan.  In Isaiah, we’re told “to do right.  Seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.”  The Torah commands:  “Know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” The Koran instructs:  “Stand out firmly for justice.”   So history shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people — including the freedom of religion — are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful.  Nations that do not uphold these rights sow the bitter seeds of instability and violence and extremism.  So freedom of religion matters to our national security.

As I’ve said before, there are times when we work with governments that don’t always meet our highest standards, but they’re working with us on core interests such as the security of the American people.  At the same time, we also deeply believe that it’s in our interest, even with our partners, sometimes with our friends, to stand up for universal human rights.  So promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.  And I’m proud that no nation on Earth does more to stand up for the freedom of religion around the world than the United States of America.

It is not always comfortable to do, but it is right.  When I meet with Chinese leaders — and we do a lot of business with the Chinese, and that relationship is extraordinarily important not just to our two countries but to the world — but I stress that realizing China’s potential rests on upholding universal rights, including for Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims.

When I meet with the President of Burma, a country that is trying to emerge out of a long darkness into the light of a representative government, I’ve said that Burma’s return to the international community depends on respecting basic freedoms, including for Christians and Muslims.  I’ve pledged our support to the people of Nigeria, who deserve to worship in their churches and mosques in peace, free from terror.  I’ve put the weight of my office behind the efforts to protect the people of Sudan and South Sudan, including religious minorities.

As we support Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in direct talks, we’ve made clear that lasting peace will require freedom of worship and access to holy sites for all faiths.  I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Kerry for his extraordinary passion and principled diplomacy that he’s brought to the cause of peace in the Middle East.  Thank you, John.

More broadly, I’ve made the case that no society can truly succeed unless it guarantees the rights of all its peoples, including religious minorities, whether they’re Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, or Baha’i in Iran, or Coptic Christians in Egypt.  And in Syria, it means ensuring a place for all people — Alawites and Sunni, Shia and Christian.

Going forward, we will keep standing for religious freedom around the world.  And that includes, by the way, opposing blasphemy and defamation of religion measures, which are promoted sometimes as an expression of religion, but, in fact, all too often can be used to suppress religious minorities. We continue to stand for the rights of all people to practice their faiths in peace and in freedom.  And we will continue to stand against the ugly tide of anti-Semitism that rears its ugly head all too often.

I look forward to nominating our next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom to help lead these efforts.  And we’re moving ahead with our new strategy to partner more closely with religious leaders and faith communities as we carry out our foreign policy.  And I want to thank Shaun Casey, from the Wesley Theological Seminary, for leading this work at the State Department.  Shaun I think is here today and we want to thank him for the outstanding work that he’s doing. Thank you, Shaun.

So around the world we’re elevating our engagement with faith leaders and making it a regular part of our diplomacy.  And today, I invite you to join us in focusing on several pressing challenges.  Let’s do more together to advance human rights, including religious freedom.  Let’s do more to promote the development that Raj describes — from ending extreme poverty to saving lives, from HIV/AIDS to combating climate change so that we can preserve God’s incredible creation.  On all these issues, faith leaders and faith organizations here in the United States and around the world are incredible partners, and we’re grateful to them.

And in contrast to those who wield religion to divide us, let’s do more to nurture the dialogue between faiths that can break cycles of conflict and build true peace, including in the Holy Land.

And finally, as we build the future we seek, let us never forget those who are persecuted today, among them Americans of faith.  We pray for Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who’s been held in North Korea for 15 months, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.  His family wants him home.  And the United States will continue to do everything in our power to secure his release because Kenneth Bae deserves to be free.

We pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini.  He’s been held in Iran for more than 18 months, sentenced to eight years in prison on charges relating to his Christian beliefs.  And as we continue to work for his freedom, today, again, we call on the Iranian government to release Pastor Abedini so he can return to the loving arms of his wife and children in Idaho.

And as we pray for all prisoners of conscience, whatever their faiths, wherever they’re held, let’s imagine what it must be like for them.  We may not know their names, but all around the world there are people who are waking up in cold cells, facing another day of confinement, another day of unspeakable treatment, simply because they are affirming God.  Despite all they’ve endured, despite all the awful punishments if caught, they will wait for that moment when the guards aren’t looking, and when they can close their eyes and bring their hands together and pray.

In those moments of peace, of grace, those moments when their faith is tested in ways that those of us who are more comfortable never experience; in those far-away cells, I believe their unbroken souls are made stronger.  And I hope that somehow they hear our prayers for them, that they know that, along with the spirit of God, they have our spirit with them as well, and that they are not alone.

Today we give humble thanks for the freedoms we cherish in this country.  And I join you in seeking God’s grace in all of our lives.  I pray that His wisdom will give us the capacity to do right and to seek justice, and defend the oppressed wherever they may dwell.

I want to thank all of you for the extraordinary privilege of being here this morning.  I want to ask you for your prayers as I continue in this awesome privilege and responsibility as President of the United States.  May God bless the United States of America, and God bless all those who seek peace and justice.  Thank you very much.

It’s All in the Game!: Global Game Jam Chicago Participants Create Five New Video Games During First Ever Free Game Jam in Chicago

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on It’s All in the Game!: Global Game Jam Chicago Participants Create Five New Video Games During First Ever Free Game Jam in Chicago
They came. They learned. They participated. They created. And before PETAL et al.’s three-day Game Jam was over, participants had conquered the challenge of creating video games – five in all – which are now ready for public viewing and enjoyment.

There were some excellent moments of triumphs and excitement, filled with innovation, collaboration and experimentation during Global Game Jam Chicago @Petal et al. Five teams and 48 hours later, all teams had posted a game on time. Games created were “Anti-Hero”, “First Glance”, “iCarl”, “Tintalating” and “When Pigs Fly!” Games can be downloaded or played from the Global Game Jam Chicago @PETAL et al. site. http://www.globalgamejam.org/2014/jam-sites/petal-et-al

Many braved the arctic cold to show up daily during the weekend to complete their mission of creating a video game with team members.
Global Game Jam Chicago @PETAL et al. set a historical precedent – holding the first all inclusive and free game jam in the city of Chicago. PETAL et al. hopes other organizations will consider hosting school neutral locations of this event in the city, which would give more people the opportunity to participate.
The three-day event was held January 24 – 26 at Next Door Chi located at 659 W. Diversey Parkway, in Chicago.

PETAL et al. opened the event with a 2-hour game jam strategy workshop.
Pamela McMillan, CEO of PETAL et al., in giving the Global Game Jam keynote address and theme announcement, told participants: “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” For a second, there was a look of bewilderment on the faces of people in the audience. Six pitches were made, and four were chosen by the participants. After that, they broke off into teams and immediately started brainstorming…the game was on!

One of PETAL et al’s main goals is to level the field for everyone interested in the entertainment technology arts field. PETAL et al.’s training program is designed to prepare clients to reach their goals in making video games regardless of their educational background.

“It is important to help others no matter what their educational background. We want everyone to enjoy themselves as well; to make a game whether they show up with a team or not. No one will be left out or work alone while creating a game during the jam unless they want to go it alone,” McMillan pointed out.
Clarence McMillan, PETAL et al.’s CTO, said “It’s important that people with the same aspirations and goals in mind not work in a silo.  If the game development community wants to have Chicago stand out, they should work together. There is strength in numbers.”

PETAL et al. held the event in conjunction with support from three local game development groups – CEGD, Chicago Game Developers Commonwealth and the Indie Video Game Developers Association. Ignite Network and Gaming Lounge dropped by and donated free hours of game play to all participants.

Moraine Valley Community College Receives Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on Moraine Valley Community College Receives Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education

CHICAGO, IL – With a tradition of proven support for veterans, military students and their families, Moraine Valley Community College was presented with the Fall 2013 Governor’s Award for Excellence inVeteran Education, at a ceremony Wednesday, February 5, at the main campus in Palos Hills.

“We salute Moraine Valley Community College for their consistent efforts to support their student veterans,” said IDVA Director Erica Borggren.

“Moraine Valley has created programs and policies to assist veterans entering or returning to higher education. Supporting veterans is one of Governor Pat Quinn’s top priorities, and we thank Moraine for their shared commitment to this community of heroes.”

Among many outstanding attributes, the college was recognized for its:

• leadership in a multi-agency state-wide effort,
dedicating resources and coordinating military
articulation efforts that ensure that student
veterans are granted appropriate academic credit for
the training and education earned during their
military service;

• Veterans Resource Center, an invaluable resource to
student veterans providing dedicated staff support
and a host of specialized services to service
members, veterans and their families that address
critical needs in the veteran community;

• Priority Registration for student veterans,
ensuring that they can get the courses needed to
complete degree requirements before their benefits
eligibility end;

• innovative Veterans Orientation Program, which
assists veterans in their transition to the student
community by providing an overview of college
programs and activities; introducing them to college
staff who oversee veteran support services; assisting
them with scheduling, registration and academic
advising; and fostering camaraderie and
relationship-building through social activities and
small group discussions.

Director Borggren presented the award during Wednesday’s ceremony to Sylvia Jenkins, college
president. Faculty, staff, student veterans, and local community leaders attended the event that
included a tour of the college’s new veterans center.

“We are proud to receive this award and extremely pleased to have our efforts recognized statewide,” President Jenkins said. “Moraine Valley is committed to serving our veterans and offering them educational opportunities to be successful whether they transfer to a four-year school or enter the workforce after they complete their degree or certificate work with us. I also want to thank the Veterans’ Affairs department for their support of Moraine Valley and our work with our veterans.”

Previous winners include Eastern Illinois University, College of DuPage, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, and Southwestern Illinois College.

The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education is presented in the spring and fall of each school year. Nominations are now being accepted for the Spring 2014 term. Illinois colleges or universities that contribute to the betterment of our student veterans and their families are eligible. The nominated school must be a licensed, degree-granting school in the state of Illinois. For more information, please visit the Governor’s Award homepage at www.veterans.illinois.gov.

IEMA Appeals FEMA Denial of Tornado Assistance for Local Governments

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on IEMA Appeals FEMA Denial of Tornado Assistance for Local Governments

Appeal Includes $21.4 Million in Disaster-Related Expenses

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) today appealed FEMA’s denial of the state’s request for federal assistance that would help tornado-ravaged communities in nine counties recover from the Nov. 17 deadly tornado outbreak. The appeal includes more than $21.4 million in disaster-related expenses for local governments in Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Massac, Tazewell, Vermilion, Washington, Wayne and Woodford.

If the appeal is approved, local governments could receive reimbursement for 75 percent of eligible disaster-related costs such as overtime, debris removal and repair and replacement of damaged public property.

“Nearly three months after that devastating day, several communities are faced with staggering expenses directly related to the historic tornado outbreak,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “Federal assistance is critical for towns like Washington, Brookport and Gifford to clear debris that threatens public safety and rebuild their communities.”

On Dec. 19, 2013, the state requested federal Public Assistance for local governments in nine counties as an add-on to a major disaster declaration issued on Nov. 26, which made federal grants and low-interest loans available to people in 15 counties affected by the storms. The state was notified on Jan 9 that the request for Public Assistance had been denied.

The appeal includes new local government expenses for Champaign, Massac and Tazewell counties that were collected during joint Preliminary Damage Assessments conducted last week. These costs were not identified during the original round of PDAs conducted just two weeks after 25 tornadoes swept across the state.

The state’s original request included $6.1 million in local government and electrical cooperative expenses. Today’s appeal includes more than $21,450,443 in costs the state believes should be considered eligible for federal assistance. The increase from the initial request is due primarily to the identification of additional costs for debris removal and damage to infrastructure.

Assistance to people and businesses affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes has already topped $23.5 million, including FEMA grants of more than $2.5 million and $21 million in low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Top 10 Black History Month Scholarships for February 2014

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on Top 10 Black History Month Scholarships for February 2014

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — February is here again, and Black History month is being celebrated all around the world. Many television channels have launched special programming for the month, companies have launched special advertising campaigns, and many of their foundations have launched scholarship programs.

Below are the top 10 Black history month scholarships with deadlines in February 2014:

#1 – The Frito-Lay “Create to Celebrate” Black History Month Art Contest encourages applicants to submit online an original piece of art created in any medium (video, song, photo, sculpture, painting, etc) that celebrates African American achievement.
Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2014/01/frito-lay-create-to-celebrate-black-history-month-art-contest.html

#2 – The Coca-Cola Pay It Forward Scholarship Program offers scholarship awards and once-in-a-lifetime apprenticeship experiences to African American youth looking to pave the way for their futures.
Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2014/01/coca-cola-pay-it-forward-scholarship-program.html

#3 – The RBC Black History Month Student Essay Competition is offered by the Royal Bank of Canada for Canadian students. The essay consists of writing in 750 words or less on how black Canadians have contributed toward the heritage of Canada.
Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2014/01/rbc-black-history-month-student-essay.html

#4 – The 100 Black Men of America Future Leader Scholarship Program is open to high school seniors as well as college freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. The scholarship is based on academic achievement and community service.
Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2013/12/100-black-men-of-america-future-leader.html

#5 – The Jerry Bartow Scholarship Fund, offered by the Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP), awards three scholarships each year for undergraduate students who are attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). Students must major in business, engineering, technology, or education.
Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2013/02/black-executive-exchange-program-jerry.html

#6 – The Kroger “I Can Make History” Contest will award more than $71,000 in prizes in the categories of art, essay, music and poetry. Celebrating Black History month, Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the country, is using the contest to recognize the contributions of African Americans in the past and in the future.
Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2014/01/kroger-i-can-make-history-contest.html

#7 – The GEICO Achievement Award Program helps current college students who are sophomores and juniors earn scholarship money to complete their education. Eligible students must be enrolled in a business, computer science, or mathematics program.
Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2013/01/geico-achievement-award-program.html

#8 – The Regions Riding Forward Black History Month Scholarship is awarded each year to high school students and college students. Interested students may apply by writing an essay about African-Americans who have inspired them.
Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2014/01/regions-riding-forward-black-history.html

#9 – LAGRANT Foundation Scholarships are targeted toward minority undergraduate and graduate students, offering scholarships for students interested in careers in advertising, marketing or public relations. Students must be American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black (non-Hispanic) or Hispanic.
Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2013/02/lagrant-foundation-scholarships.html

#10 – The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation General Mills Health Scholarship Program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students who plan to major in health-related studies. Academic achievement, leadership qualities and service to the community are required.

Learn more at www.scholarshipsonline.org/2013/02/congressional-black-caucus-general-mills-health-scholarship.html

To search hundreds of more 2014 scholarships, visit www.ScholarshipsOnline.org

Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to use care when vacation planning

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to use care when vacation planning

CHICAGO, IL – As freezing temperatures continue, many people are looking for relief by planning vacations. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) advises consumers use care when making plans through travel agencies, as you should whenever pre-paying any business for a service or product.

Written complaints about travel agencies remain steady. However, the BBB reports that consumer inquiries about travel agencies were significantly higher in 2013 than they were in 2012. Inquiries for 2013 totaled to 3685 compared to 2324 from 2012, or an increase of 59 percent.

“Making travel arrangements through an agency can make planning a vacation less stressful but that also depends on who you use,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Checking out different agencies and making sure they are reputable is very important. This way you can have confidence in securing the plans and bookings, and getting what you pay for.”

The Better Business Bureau offers these tips when booking with a travel agency:

  • Compare services and do not feel pressured. Be wary if you feel pressured to make an immediate decision or if there is a statement that an offer is good “only if you act now.” Compare the services, fees and travel costs from a number of travel agencies before selecting the most attractive package.
  • Be cautious about telephone, letter or postcard solicitations. Be careful of travel solicitations claiming you’ve won a “free” trip, or can get “special discounts” on hotels and airfares.
  • Pay with a credit card. You can get some protection when using a credit card to purchase travel services. If you don’t get what you paid for, contact the credit card company and attempt to get the charges cancelled.
  • Consider investing in travel insurance. Travel insurance can provide protection in the event of an accident, an illness, lost luggage, or a cancelled or interrupted trip. Read the insurance contract to understand coverage and exclusions. Investigate trip cancellation policies and determine what they cover to see if they would be worthwhile to purchase the insurance.
  • Always check the business first. Check out the reputation of the travel agency before doing business with them. Check out free BBB Business Reviews for valuable information.
  • Get it in writing. Don’t rely on verbal promises from a travel service. Request copies of any brochures and contracts before purchasing your trip package, or making any reservations.

For more information on consumer and travel tips, visit www.bbb.org

Jobs Rebuild America: More Than a Slogan

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on Jobs Rebuild America: More Than a Slogan
Opening ReMARCs
By Marc Morial

President & CEO, National Urban League

“Jobs Rebuild America” is more than a campaign slogan.  It is a declaration that is at the heart of the everyday work of the Urban League Movement and what we believe is the key to successfully addressing the expanding challenge of economic and income inequality in our nation.

When we launched our Jobs Rebuild America initiative in May 2013, we included a robust portfolio of our Workforce programs among the components, including several National Urban League signature programs such as our Urban Youth Empowerment Program (UYEP), College Bound, Adult Re-entry, and Mature Workers.  Since then, we have launched two new federal employment and training programs, as well as privately funded employer-driven training, and have continued to enroll participants from cities across the country in the employment programs.

In addition, last July, we launched a new program called “Adult Re-entry: Training to Work,” which targets adults with felony convictions who are currently in a local work release program.  The primary goal of Training to Work is to connect ex-offenders to GEDs and industry-recognized certifications in high-growth industry sectors.  While employment is the ultimate goal of this program, the model clearly emphasizes the importance of connecting this constituency with credentials as a pathway to longer-term and higher-waged career goals.

Jobs that pay living wages – for all Americans – are critical to shift our economic recovery from one of fragility to fortitude.  We launched Jobs Rebuild America last year as a public-private-nonprofit, $100 million, 50-community, five-year effort.  But we are committed to whatever it takes – however long it takes – to bridge the great divide of economic inequality in America.

Read more Jobs Rebuild America updates from our Workforce department by clicking the link below.

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Making Graffiti Art: Workshop with Hip-Hop/Graffiti Artist and Marine Corps Veteran Mel L. Da Misfit February 8th

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on Making Graffiti Art: Workshop with Hip-Hop/Graffiti Artist and Marine Corps Veteran Mel L. Da Misfit February 8th

National Veterans Art Museum features family friendly event to explore identity and representation through graffiti art

The National Veterans Art Museum will hold a two-hour graffiti making workshop with Hip-Hop/ Graffiti Artist and Marine Corps Veteran Mel L. Da Misfit.

Everyone is an artist designing and painting their own canvas using stencils, spray paint, acrylics, and markers. Works created at this workshop will remain on display at NVAM for the remainder of the month and will be on permanent display in the on-line exhibit available at http://www.nvam.org

Guests are encouraged to bring hats, t-shirts or other items they would like to graffiti. Light refreshments (juice and snacks) will be provided.

The event will be held Saturday, February 8, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free for the graffiti making workshop. Museum suggested donation is $10.

The National Veterans Art Museum is located at 4041 N Milwaukee Avenue, just north of Irving Park Road

The National Veterans Art Museum is a unique site of military and artistic heritage, helping civilians and veterans alike make connections across diverse ranges of experience. In recognition of African American History Month,  this educational program focuses on Identity and Representation, a key issue for members of the military and civilians.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company hosts An Evening with Sting

Posted by Admin On February - 7 - 2014 Comments Off on Steppenwolf Theatre Company hosts An Evening with Sting

Benefit event features performances from his Broadway-Bound Musical, The Last Ship, to support Steppenwolf’s Artistic Development Fund on February 24, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

CHICAGO, IL – Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents an evening with 16-time Grammy Award-winner Sting on behalf of his forthcoming musical, The Last Ship, on February 24, 2014 at 7:30pm. For one night only, this benefit event features Sting in conversation with musician, BAFTA nominee and The Last Ship cast member, Jimmy Nail. The pair will also perform songs from the new musical, joined by Emmy Award-nominee Rob Mathes on piano. Funds raised at the event support Steppenwolf’s Artistic Development Fund, a special fund created by the theater to provide enhanced resources for large scale productions initiated by our artists and to mount new plays. A limited number of tickets ($250) go on sale to the public February 5 at 11am through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St) and at 312-335-1650.

With music and lyrics by Sting and book by Tony Award-winner John Logan and Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winner Brian Yorkey, The Last Ship is set against the demise of the local shipbuilding industry in Sting and Nail’s hometown in the North East of England, and tells the story of a group of unemployed shipyard workers who are inspired to take back their shipyard and build one last ship—not for their former employer, not for the government, but for their own pride and humanity. Directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Joe Mantello and produced by Jeffrey Seller and Kathryn Schenker, The Last Ship is an epic yet intimate tale drawing upon Sting’s own childhood memories.

The Last Ship will have its pre-Broadway world premiere at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre, June 10 – July 13, 2014, followed by a Broadway debut in the fall of 2014. For more information, please visit thelastshipbroadway.com.

Composer, singer, author, actor and activist, Sting is one of music’s most renowned and distinctive artists. Throughout his enduring career, he has earned 16 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, three Oscar nominations, and is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His latest album, entitled The Last Ship, is inspired by the story of his forthcoming play of the same name and draws upon his memories of the shipbuilding community of Wallsend in the North East of England where he was born and raised. On February 21, Sting: The Last Ship will premiere on Thirteen’s Great Performances on PBS and features Sting performing songs from both the album and play captured live at The Public Theater in New York City. Also next month, Sting and Paul Simon will embark on a North American tour, playing on stage together throughout each concert, in addition to solo performances with their respective bands.  For more information, please visit sting.com.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is America’s longest standing, most distinguished ensemble theater, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces—the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat Garage Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 43 actors, writers and directors. Artistic programming at Steppenwolf includes a five-play Subscription Season, a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season and two repertory series: First Look Repertory of New Work and Garage Rep. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Off-Broadway, Broadway, London, Sydney and Dublin. Steppenwolf has the distinction of being the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to numerous other prestigious honors including an Illinois Arts Legend Award and 12 Tony Awards. Martha Lavey is the Artistic Director and David Hawkanson is the Executive Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre and twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr.

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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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