Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Illinois’

Obama Library Gets Few Takers.


With barely three years to go in his final term, President Barack Obama’s presidential library still needs to find a home.

With Obama’s blessing, top supporters are launching a foundation to develop and build the library, which will house his presidential records and serve as a monument to his legacy.

The nonprofit Barack H. Obama Foundation will be led by Marty Nesbitt, a close Obama friend from Chicago, and Julianna Smoot, a former White House social secretary and top official in Obama’s re-election campaign.

A competition to host the library has already begun. Hawaii, where Obama was born, and Illinois, his longtime home, have been doing some lobbying.

In New York, Obama’s alma mater, Columbia University, also has hinted at interest.

“Columbia is proud to count President Obama among its alumni,” wrote Robert Hornsby, a university spokesman. “We look forward to learning more about the plans of the Barack H. Obama Foundation for the development of a library reflecting the president’s values and priorities.”

But some skeptical donors told The New York Times that the library doesn’t belong anywhere but Chicago. They wrote off Columbia’s statement as a way to create concern that the Windy City might lose out to Big Apple.

“They need this to be a bit of a bidding war,” one prominent Obama donor told the Times on the condition of anonymity.

Some prominent Obama donors have heard from people close to the president that he would rather live his post-presidential life in New York than Chicago, which they say feels “small for him,” the Times reports.

“No specific site, institution, city or state is advantaged over another at this point,” Nesbitt said. “The ultimate site will be chosen based on the merits.”

In February, the foundation will ask parties that want to host the library to make their interest known. That list will be culled and in May, the foundation will notify the groups that will be invited to submit formal, detailed proposals. The president and first lady Michelle Obama will make the decision, and the foundation will announce it in early 2015.

“He has asked us to lead the planning and development of a library in a way that reflects his values and priorities over the course of his career in public service,” Nesbitt said — values like expanding economic opportunity, promoting peace and dignity abroad, and inspiring the ethic of American citizenship.

The foundation plans to hire full-time staff later this year. Although it will start fund-raising right away to cover its own costs, most of the money to build the library won’t be raised until after Obama leaves the White House. While Obama is still in office, the foundation won’t take donations from foreigners, lobbyists or organizations that aren’t nonprofits. It also plans to disclose all donations over $200.

The president, Mrs. Obama and White House staffers won’t raise money for the foundation until Obama leaves office, the group said. Obama will be kept up to date but won’t be closely involved in the screening of the site proposals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Newsmax Wires

Bill and Melinda Gates Letter Debunks World Poverty Myths.


Image: Bill and Melinda Gates Letter Debunks World Poverty Myths

By Elliot Jager

Bill and Melinda Gates have released their foundation’s annual letter, which instead of sketching out their worldwide philanthropic agenda for the coming year aims to debunk three public policy myths about poverty.

The Gates Foundation letter argues that it is not true that “poor countries are doomed to stay poor,” that “foreign aid is a big waste,” or that “saving lives leads to overpopulation,” Forbes magazine reported Tuesday.

Bill Gates writes that most countries “we used to call poor now have thriving economies. And the percentage of very poor people has dropped by more than half since 1990.”

Gates is not saying poverty and inequality will disappear. Overall, though, he is optimistic for all countries except those “held back by war, politics (North Korea, barring a big change there), or geography (landlocked nations in central Africa).”

Regarding foreign aid, Gates says the belief that U.S. aid does not work “gives political leaders an excuse to try to cut back on it — and that would mean fewer lives are saved, and more time before countries can become self-sufficient.”

It also does not cost a lot, he notes. The U.S. spends less than one percent of its annual budget on foreign aid, he says, or about $30 billion. Gates breaks that down to $11 billion for public health and $19 billion for infrastructure.

While he acknowledges that aid is sometimes stolen by corrupt local government officials, he notes that corruption is just as bad if not worse in the United States.

“Four of the past seven governors of Illinois have gone to prison for corruption, and to my knowledge no one has demanded that Illinois schools be shut down or its highways closed,” he writes.

For her part, Melinda Gates tackles the myth that saving lives makes the planet unsustainable.

“Saving lives doesn’t lead to overpopulation. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Creating societies where people enjoy basic health, relative prosperity, fundamental equality, and access to contraceptives is the only way to secure a sustainable world,” she writes.

The Gates Foundation disbursed $3.4 billion in grants during 2012, and has given out more than $28.3 billion since 2006 for various programs around the globe.

Related Stories

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Unions Face High Court Test Over Home-Care Workers.


The Supreme Court is set to hear a case Tuesday that could weaken labor unions even further by overturning their efforts to organize home-care workers.

In what is being billed as a battle over First Amendment rights, the Harris V. Quinn case pits business leaders and conservative groups against unions and state governments, The Hill reports.

Businesses and conservatives argue the agreements between states and unions that taxpayer-funded home-care workers must pay union dues is a violation of their rights to free association under the Constitution.

But labor unions see the High Court challenge as the latest move to continue to destabilize the collective bargaining system, which could then affect the healthcare of the disabled and the elderly.

“This is what they are trying to do: weaken the union,” said Flora Johnson, executive chairwoman of Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois and Indiana. “Unions will survive but the people with disabilities and other medical disorders, they might never recover. That is why we are fighting.”

The test case stems from an executive order signed by Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in 2009 making the SEIU the monopoly bargaining representative for home-care workers, who are usually self-employed and do not have to report to state officials.

Pamela Harris, who looks after her severely disabled son at home, brought the case along with seven other home-care providers, with the help of the National Right to Work Foundation. She argues that the cost of paying union dues means that she does not have enough money to cover her son’s medical expenses, says The Hill.

The key part of the argument is that a Supreme Court precedent says government employees who work in union shops must pay union dues. But the justices may decide that home-care workers are independent contractors and not state employees, and therefore cannot be forced against their will to pay for collective bargaining representatives.

The High Court decision could decimate the power of unions in Illinois and impact labor movements in some 10 other states that have similar arrangements between unions and local government.

According to The Hill, public sector unions have become stronger in recent years while overall union membership has declined. There were 7.3 million public sector union-affiliated workers in 2012 compared to seven million union members in the private workforce.

“This has the potential to be a very big case,” said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. “If [the deals are] stopped, that’s big in terms of the growth and power of public sector unions.”

Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center, said, “It’s a violation of the First Amendment, your right to freedom of association. These people all don’t want to be in a union and just because they participate in a public program doesn’t mean that they have to be.”

The Cato Institute and NFIB have teamed up to file an amicus brief in the case, The Hill noted.

The Journal says that there were 1.9 million home-care workers in the United States in 2010, with 475,000 of them unionized. That figure is expected to climb to over three million by 2020.

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

Menendez Iran Sanctions Bill Stirs Democratic Unrest.


Image: Menendez Iran Sanctions Bill Stirs Democratic Unrest

By Melissa Clyne

A fight is brewing among Democrats and the White House over a bill proposed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez that would impose additional sanctions against Iran if the country fails to make good on its promises regarding its nuclear program.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the New Jersey Democrat’s bill has drawn criticism from the White House, which fears that saber rattling over more sanctions could upset efforts to reach a final agreement with Tehran aimed at effectively ending its nuclear program. In December, a large group of Democratic Senate chairman also raised the same concern about threatening new sanctions before talks have even gotten well underway.

The U.S., along with Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, struck a deal with Tehran to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the easing of international sanctions for six months. Menendez and other liberal Democratic heavyweights, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, have voiced skepticism over the interim deal, arguing that it has no “end game” and is not stringent enough.

Two dozen senators – 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans – are cosponsoring the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, introduced by Menendez and Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. Writing in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post last Thursday, Menendez argued that the U.S. needs to operate from a trust and verify stance with Iran, a historically untrustworthy nation.

“The American public supports diplomacy. So do I.” Menendez wrote. “The American public doesn’t trust the Iranian regime. Neither do I.”

The same day, the White House struck back with a statement from National Security Council Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, who accused Menendez and other critics of the deal of being stealth war hawks.

“If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action [against Iran’s nuclear development efforts], they should be up front with the American public and say so,” she said. “Otherwise, it’s not clear why any member of Congress would support a bill that possibly closes the door on diplomacy and makes it more likely that the United States will have to choose between military options or allowing Iran’s nuclear program to proceed.”

Meehan argued that the Menendez-Kirk bill would be counter-productive and “divide the international community . . . and possibly end negotiations.”

Also lining up against Menendez and his camp are 10 Senate committee chairmen, whopenned a Dec. 18 letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging him to reject additional sanctions unless Iran violates the current agreement.

“We believe that new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail,” the letter stated.

But Menendez wrote in his op-ed piece that Iran has already laid the groundwork for breaching terms of the deal reached in Geneva by doing things like firing a rocket into space and improving their ability to develop a long-range ballistic missile. Tehran has also proposed enriching uranium up to 60 percent, well beyond any potential use for peaceful purposes, according to Menendez.

His bill, he argues, “supports continued negotiations, gives the administration a year of flexibility to secure a comprehensive agreement, respects the sanctions relief Iran is set to receive and prevents any new sanctions from taking effect while good-faith negotiations are underway.”

He called measure a “diplomatic insurance policy” and “an act of reasonable pragmatism.”

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

States Buck Public Opinion, Offer Driver’s Licenses to Illegals.


Nevada has become the latest state to allow illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license — even as public opinion polls show that the great majority of Americans oppose such measures.
A national poll conducted in October by Rasmussen Reports found that 68 percent of likely U.S. voters think illegal immigrants should not be allowed to obtain state driver’s licenses. Just 22 percent favor licenses for illegals in their state.
Critics say the laws encourage illegal immigration by legitimizing the status of those who come to the United States illegally.

“It is a kind of amnesty. It doesn’t given them any legal status, but by giving them a government-issued ID, it helps them imbed in society,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.,  said in an interview with Newsmax.

“This is a way of protecting illegals from coming to the attention of immigration authorities,” Krikorian said. “It’s a way of documenting the undocumented.”
In Nevada, Democratic-led lawmakers approved a driver’s license law in 2013. It was signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, the state’s first Hispanic governor, who considers it a public safety measure, and went into effect at the beginning of this month.

“Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s privilege card will increase the number of drivers on Nevada’s roads that are insured and aware of traffic rules and regulations,” Sandoval said in a statement after signing the bill.

When Nevada began issuing licenses on Jan. 2, long lines formed at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Las Vegas, waiting for the 8 a.m. opening of the office. The Associated Press reported that “thousands of Nevada immigrants” sought to obtain licenses on the first day.

Those applying for the driving privilege cards must show some proof of their identity as well as evidence of Nevada residency and insurance. New drivers must pass a driving test, and pay to retake the test if they fail.

The information provided for the licenses, however, may not be used against them for purposes of enforcing immigration laws, a key provision in a state like Nevada where about a fourth of all residents are Latino.

Other states that have approved similar laws include Utah, Washington, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, California, New Mexico, and Illinois, along with the District of Columbia.
Said California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, in signing his state’s law last year: “No longer are undocumented people in the shadows. They are alive and well and respected in the State of California.”

The climate of permissiveness licenses for illegals follows a crackdown period after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacksthat came in response to widespread fears of foreign-born terrorists entering the country.

“After 9-11, things were tightening up. Now those states that are mainly run by Democrats are backtracking,” said Krikorian, noting that Congress has given leeway through the REAL ID law to states to issue immigrant driver’s cards, but those cannot be used for federal identification purposes like boarding planes.
New Mexico, with the nation’s largest Hispanic population, is one state attempting to buck the trend. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is hoping to convince the Democratic-led state legislature to repeal the state’s current law, which offers licenses to illegals.She has tried before and failed, but vows to continue.
Polling shows that Martinez has support for her position, said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., a New Mexico firm that has polled for the Albuquerque Journal twice on the issue.

“Both times, the polls that we did for the Journal showed approximately 70 percent of registered voters opposed granting licenses to undocumented workers,” Sanderoff told Newsmax.

“I think it’s a significant issue to the extent that the governor is once again latching onto it,” he said.

New Mexico differs from its heavily Hispanic neighbor Arizona, where its governor, Republican Jan Brewer, has taken an aggressive stance against illegals in her state. In New Mexico, most Hispanic residents are natives, tracing their lineage back to Spain, said Sanderoff.

“Most New Mexicans are Americans, born and raised here, more so than the average state,” he said, which likely explains why voters there oppose the law by a wide margin.

The trend could continue as Congress renews its debate on immigration reform this year and proponents continue to push for the measure in more states.

“The push for it is nationally coordinated,” Krikorian said. “There is a broader push by national groups to have more say in the issue. They see it in two ways. First, as a practical matter, it helps to imbed the illegal immigrants in the U.S., making it less likely they will leave. Also, it will be presented as evidence of nationwide momentum for immigration ‘reform.'”

Related stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Andrea Billups

Illinois Rep. Schock: Obamacare ‘Bad Product for Young People’.


Obamacare is “a bad product for young people,” says Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock.

In Saturday’s weekly Republican address, Schock said his state was spending $1 million this week on Obamacare television ads to reach young adults — on top of the $684 million already spent so far on national advertising.

“But no matter how many actors, and rappers, and rock stars the president rolls out, the best sales pitch in the world can’t sell a bad product,” he said.

Schock spoke from Eureka College, former President Ronald Reagan‘s alma mater in Eureka, Ill.

He cited reports showing that younger, healthier people will be paying overpriced premiums under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law to subsidize older, sicker ones.

“In other words, they are forced by law to shift the cost of older and sicker patients onto young people,” Schock said. “And the president needs a lot of young people, about 2.7 million, to enroll so he can shift the costs onto them and keep premiums from skyrocketing.

“In Washington, they call this ‘community rating,’ but where I come from, we call it a ripoff,” he added.

Schock chided that the winning song in a contest for pitching the Affordable Care Act to millennials included the line, “Don’t worry about the price tag.”

“It’s tough not to worry about the price tag when you’re racking up tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, doing work-study to make it by, and trying to save for your first apartment — all at a time when youth unemployment in this country is nearly 16 percent,” he said.

“Young people helped put the president in office, and with this healthcare law, he’s pushing them into years of less choice, fewer opportunities, and larger bills. This isn’t how it was supposed to be.”

Washington lawmakers can best connect with young Americans by giving them “the chance to build confidence, giving them an incentive to work, and save, and to invest, take risks, and rekindle that entrepreneurial spirit that sets this country apart,” Schock said.

“The president’s healthcare law does none of this — and it only sets us back and makes things more expensive,” he added. “I know, and you know, that we can do better.”

Related Stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Todd Beamon

Harry Reid in Hospital ‘As A Precaution’.


U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went to a hospital today after feeling ill, his office said. Tests showed that “everything is normal” though he will remain in the hospital for observation, his office said.

“Senator Reid called me thing morning,” second-ranking Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said on the Senate floor. “He sounded good, and we look forward to his speedy recovery.”

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a statement that the majority leader, 74, felt ill early this morning “and as a precaution decided to go to the hospital.”

“Tests have been conducted and everything is normal,” Jentleson said. “He is alert, resting and feeling better.”

Jentleson added, “Doctors have asked that he remain in the hospital for observation so he will not be working today.”

Durbin of Illinois said he will act in Reid’s place as the Senate conducts a number of votes today. Reid is a Nevada Democrat

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Tag Cloud