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After five years, World War II in Europe ended on May 7, 1945, when Colonel General Alfred Jodl, the last chief of staff of the German Army, signed the unconditional surrender at General Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s headquarters at Rheims, France. The next morning, President Harry S. Truman‘s radio announcement of V-E Day touched off celebrations in Allied areas throughout the world. Happy Stars and Stripes staffers in London are shown here reading copies of the surrender announcement as they roll off the presses. – See more at: http://www.historynet.com/picture-of-the-day#sthash.gX5PNcj2.dpuf
An injured worker featured in a ProPublica and NPR investigation into the rollback of workers’ compensation nationwide warned Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday not to make the same drastic cuts that his state has made in recent years.
John Coffell, who lost his home after hurting his back at an Oklahoma tire plant, testified as part of an eight-hour hearing on workers’ comp before the entire Illinois state assembly. The rare hearing of “the committee as a whole” was called by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan as a preemptive strike of sorts as newly elected Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner prepares a number of changes to reduce costs for employers.
As part of his “turnaround agenda,” Rauner has proposed:
Toughening standards so that employees must prove that work caused more than 50 percent of their injuries rather than just aggravating an existing condition
Relying more heavily on disability rating guides that reduce compensation for workers who suffer permanent injuries
Allowing workers’ comp judges to give equal weight to opinions of doctors hired by insurance companies rather than giving deference to workers’ physicians
Reducing the maximum medical fees that doctors and hospitals can charge by 30 percent
ProPublica and NPR reported earlier this year that more than 30 states have changed their workers’ comp laws since 2003, largely to appeal more to business. Those changes — which mirror some proposed in Illinois — have reduced benefits for injured workers, created hurdles to medical care, or made it more difficult for workers to qualify.
As in many states, workers’ comp in Illinois has become a bargaining chip. Rauner has insisted that changes to the laws must be made in exchange for any increase in the state’s minimum wage.
During the hearing, Rep. Jay Hoffman, a Democrat from southwestern Illinois, said the assembly should learn from the experiences of workers like Coffell, who were victims of both tragic accidents and “short-sighted policies” enacted by their legislatures.
“Their representatives may have called these actions ‘reforms.’ They may have talked about the business climate. They may have talked about the need to root out fraud. But what they really did is they denied hard-working, middle-class families the care they need and the support they deserve,” Hoffman said. “This side of the aisle will not join other states in a race to the bottom.”
The ProPublica and NPR series has led to bills to raise benefits in Alabama and prevent medical care from being cut off in California. Officials have also warned insurers in California not to abuse the process and have launched an audit of how one insurer handled a claim in which a paraplegic’s home health care was terminated. In Illinois, Coffell’s testimony appears to have been used to try to douse the governor’s proposals.
Coffell told the legislators that after injuring a disc in his back last summer, his pay dropped dramatically because Oklahoma had reduced the maximum wage-replacement benefits injured workers could receive from $801 a week to $561 a week.
Almost immediately, he said, his utilities were cut off, his truck was repossessed and his family was evicted from their rental home. Because no relative could accommodate all of them, Coffell sent his three children, aged 5 to 9, to live with grandparents. He and his wife only had enough gas money to see them on weekends. They’ve had to rely on food stamps to get by.
Asked by a legislator how it felt to not be able to support his family, Coffell said, “It’s indescribable, really. Pretty much if I was to give a crazy example, if you were to see your husband or child drowning in a pool, but not being able to get them out of it. Kind of the same feeling.”
The hearing repeatedly drew comparisons between Illinois, which has relatively high benefits and costs, and Indiana, which has relatively low benefits and the second cheapest insurance rates for employers in the country.
Workers and their families praised Illinois’ law. Christine Fuller — who lived in Indiana, but whose father died from falling off a roof on a job in Illinois — said the survivor benefits she received from workers’ comp helped pay the mortgage and put her through college and graduate school.
|Definition:||(noun) Crudely or irregularly fashioned verse, often of a humorous or burlesque nature.|
|Usage:||I want the man I love and honor to be something finer and higher than a perpetrator of jokes and doggerel. Discuss.|
Ratified during the post-Civil War Reconstruction Period, the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution was intended primarily to enfranchise former slaves. It states: “The right of citizens…to vote shall not be denied or abridged…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Though the amendment’s purpose was not fully achieved until 1965, the first African American to exercise this right did so the day after the amendment was ratified by participating in what election? More… Discuss
A filibuster is an obstructionist tactic used in legislative assemblies. It is particularly associated with the US Senate, where the tradition of unlimited debate is strong, and it has been used by conservatives and liberals for very different purposes. It was not until 1917 that the Senate provided for cloture—or ending of the debate—by a vote of two-thirds of the Senators present. Yet, despite many attempts, cloture has been applied only rarely. What is the etymology of the term “filibuster”? More… Discuss
The Disappearance of the Grimes Sisters
They should have been home before midnight.
On December 28, 1956, 15-year-old Barbara Grimes and her 13-year-old sister Patricia went to a nearby Chicago movie theater to see the Elvis Presley movie “Love Me Tender.”
Several reliable sightings at the theater determined the fact that the two did arrive safely at the movie. A friend sat behind them during the film and this same friend saw them later in the line to purchase snacks.
The two sisters apparently stayed for the second show of a double-feature.
Then they vanished.
When the Grimes sisters did not arrive home by midnight, their worried mother sent out two of her other children to the bus stop closest to their house to wait for the two girls. Several buses passed by, but the sisters were not on any of them. At a little after 2am on the morning of the 29th, their mother called the police. It was quickly determined that it was unlikely that the two girls had run away on their own.
In the subsequent days, police fanned out across the Chicago areas and found people who eagerly reported having seen the two girls. It became a headache for the police to keep up with all of the alleged sightings:
- Several people claimed that they witnessed two young girls matching a description of the Grimes sisters get on a bus heading east into the heart of Chicago. Nobody saw these two girls get off the bus at any stop on the route, however. Similarly, a train conductor would claim to have seen them on a train near the Chicago suburb of Glenview.
- A night security guard claimed that he was asked for directions by two young girls the night of their disappearance.
- On the following evening, the evening of the 29th, a fellow student of Patricia’s reportedly saw her walking past a restaurant in the company of two other girls — neither of which was Barbara.
- A restaurant worker reported a sighting early in the morning of the 30th. He said they were in the company of a man at this point, and that one of the girls acted sickly or drunk and had to be assisted when walking.
- A hotel clerk stated the girls briefly stayed at his hotel. A clerk at another hotel claimed that he had refused them a room due to their young age.
- Several days later, employees of a department store reported seeing the Grimes sisters in their store, listening to Elvis Presley records.
- Most mysteriously, roughly two weeks after the girls’ disappearance, a classmate of Patricia’s got two puzzling phone calls near midnight. During the first call, there was nothing but silence on the line. During the next call, a voice the mother was sure was Patricia’s said: “Is that you, Sandra? Is Sandra there?” The caller then hung up.
The fate of the Grimes sisters would become known before the month was up. On January 22, 1957, a day laborer found their bodies near a road. They appeared to have been dumped or thrown there by someone in a passing car.
The search for the killers became complicated when the autopsy pathologists and the chief investigator of the county coroner’s office could not agree on a time of death. Similarly, the wounds on the bodies were puzzling enough that no clear cause of death could be agreed upon.
The police conducted a massive search for possible culprits and finally focused on three likely suspects:
- A homeless man from Tennessee. He originally admitted to killing the Grimes sisters, but later recanted, saying that the police had forced him to issue a false confession.
- A young man in his teens who offered to take a lie detector test, which he failed. The police began to focus on him as a prime suspect until they were told that it was illegal to polygraph someone underage. The police released him, many of the authorities thinking he was their man. He was later imprisoned for the unrelated murder of a young woman.
- A man in his early 50s called the police before the bodies were found to say that he dreamed a location of the bodies which proved, in the end, to be remarkably accurate. Police grilled the man but were unable to come up with enough evidence to proceed.
Despite a long investigation, the crime has never been solved.
“Murder of the Grimes sisters,” Wikipedia, pulled 10-29-14.
“10 Strange Mysteries Involving Anonymous Letters,” Listverse website, pulled 10-29-14.
|Definition:||(noun) A feud between two families or clans that arises out of a slaying and is perpetuated by retaliatory acts of revenge.|
|Usage:||No one remembers how the vendetta between the families began, but it will only end when the desire for revenge is not heeded. Discuss.|
The state of New York has passed a law targeting the controversial practices of pet tattooing and piercing that will leave offenders with up to $250 in fines and up to 15 days imprisonment. Although the bill was introduced in 2011—after an online entrepreneur began selling “gothic kittens” with piercings down their spines—it gained traction this year when a Brooklyn man publicized tattooing his pit bull while it was anaesthetized for spleen surgery. The law applies to all types of pets and goes into effect in 2015. More… Discuss
A child prodigy, Wiener graduated college at age 14 and earned his PhD at 18. Several years later, he joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became a professor of mathematics. He made significant contributions to a number of areas in the field, but he is best known for his theory of cybernetics—the comparative study of control and communication in humans and machines. In an article titled “A Scientist Rebels,” Wiener urged his fellow scientists to do what? More… Discuss
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama shrugged off criticism of his executive action on immigration with a challenge to House of Representatives Republicans: if you don’t like it, do something.
Obama was asked in an interview broadcast on Sunday about House Speaker John Boehner‘s assertion that he was acting like an emperor in using executive powers to tackle the issue of the 11 million immigrants living in America without documents.
“Well, my response is pass a bill,” Obama said in the interview with ABC’s “This Week,” which was taped on Friday. “Congress has a responsibility to deal with these issues and there are some things that I can’t do on my own.”
Obama announced on Thursday he was easing the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants. His measures include allowing some 4.4 million people who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents and who have been in the country for five years to remain in the country temporarily, with the right to work.
In the ABC interview, Obama, who has long said he preferred legislation to unilateral action, cited a bipartisan immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate last year and urged the House to take it up.
this pressed for your right to know: Obama’s Immigration Action Has Precedents, but May Set a New One – NYTimes.com
Obama’s Immigration Action Has Precedents, but May Set a New One
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVISNOV. 20, 2014
President Obama’s action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and grant them work permits opens a new front in the decades-long debate over the scope of presidential authority.
Although Mr. Obama is not breaking new ground by using executive powers to carve out a quasi-legal status for certain categories of unauthorized immigrants — the Republican Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush all did so — his decision will affect as many as five million immigrants, far more than the actions of those presidents.
Mr. Obama’s action is also a far more extensive reshaping of the nation’s immigration system.
“The magnitude and the formality of it is arguably unprecedented,” said Peter J. Spiro, a Temple University law professor. “It’s fair to say that we have never seen anything quite like this before in terms of the scale.”
this pressed…So that you know: Senate Keystone “Yea” Votes Took In Six Times More Oil & Gas Money Than Opponents | OpenSecrets Blog
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Senate Keystone “Yea” Votes Took In Six Times More Oil & Gas Money Than Opponents
by Sarah Bryner on November 19, 2014
Senate Democrats successfully blocked a bill Tuesday that would have approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The controversial measure fell one vote shy of overcoming a filibuster, with 59 senators supporting it and 41 opposing. The vote followed the bill’s approval in the House by a much wider margin, with 252 lawmakers voting to advance the pipeline.
The vote largely fell along party lines. All Senate Republicans supported construction of the pipeline but they were joined by 14 Democrats, including three of the four Democrat incumbents who lost their re-election bids earlier this month. For Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the bill’s main sponsor, the vote was considered an important test of her effectiveness in advance of a Dec. 6 runoff that will determine whether she keeps her seat. In the House, 31 Democrats crossed the aisle to side with the Republican majority.
via Senate Keystone “Yea” Votes Took In Six Times More Oil & Gas Money Than Opponents | OpenSecrets Blog.
this pressed for your right to know: Pelosi claims not to know ‘stupid voter’ ObamaCare architect she cited
Nancy Pelosi claimed Thursday she didn’t know who ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber is, after several tapes surfaced showing him gloating about how the law was written to take advantage of the stupidity of the American voter.
Problem is, Gruber’s analysis of the law was cited extensively by her office back in 2009.
Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, tried to downplay Gruber’s role during a press conference on Thursday.
This pressed: Read Queen Elizabeth’s historic first tweet: (Chris Jackson/AFP/Getty) — msnbc (@msnbc)
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