Wednesday, December 21, 2005

U.S. Conference of Mayors Report Shows Increased Demands For Food Assistance

CHICAGO, Dec. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors/Sodexho USA annual hunger and homelessness survey released yesterday reports increased need for emergency food and shelter in 24 U.S. cities, especially among the nation's working poor families. Requests for emergency food assistance increased by an average of 12 percent in the past year with 76 percent of the cities surveyed reporting an increase in demands.

"The report reinforces what many of our 210 food banks and food-rescue organizations are experiencing," said Robert Forney, president and CEO of America's Second Harvest – The Nation's Food Bank Network. "More people are in need of emergency food assistance while many of our Members are experiencing a decline in both food and funds."

Fifty-four percent of people requesting emergency food assistance were either children or their parents. Forty percent of the adults in need of food were employed. Additionally, requests for emergency food assistance by elderly persons increased by an average of 13 percent.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that more than 38 million Americans -- including nearly 14 million children -- are living on the brink of hunger.

"The Mayors' report provides a great snapshot of hunger in key cities nationwide," said Forney. "My hope is that news of this report will motivate people to join in the fight against hunger by making a donation to their local food bank or food-rescue organization this holiday season."

The causes of hunger most frequently identified by the survey were unemployment, and other employment-related problems, high housing costs, medical or health costs, poverty or lack of income, substance abuse, mental health problems, child care costs, utility costs, transportation costs and lack of education.

During the last year, the level of resources, such as food and volunteers, available to food assistance facilities increased in 39 percent of the cities, decreased in 35 percent and remained the same in 26 percent. Moreover, 52 percent of the cities said they are not able to provide an adequate quantity of food to people requesting assistance.

Officials reported that evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have not yet imposed significant strains on local resources.

"Not having enough food to meet demands it a real issue for many of our food banks," said Forney. "Our Network needs more food and funds to ensure that none of our neighbors go to bed hungry at night."


America's Second Harvest — The Nation's Food Bank Network is largest charitable hunger-relief organization in the country, with a Network of more than 200 Member food banks and food-rescue organizations serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Network secures and distributes more than two billion pounds of donated food and grocery products annually; and supports approximately 50,000 local charitable agencies operating more than 94,000 programs including after-school programs, emergency shelters, food pantries, Kids Cafes and soup kitchens. Last year, the Network provided food assistance to more than 23 million hungry people in the United States, including more than nine million children and nearly three million seniors. For more information on the America's Second Harvest Network, please visit .

Arrest in Baton Rouge, La. on Federal FEMA Fraud Charges

BATON ROUGE, La., Dec. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- United States Attorney David R. Dugas announced today that a Louisiana resident who applied for FEMA relief funds was arrested in Baton Rouge and charged with making false and fraudulent claims.

Reginald Johnson, age 25, a resident of Baton Rouge, La., was charged in a 14-count indictment with making false and fraudulent claims, making false and fraudulent statements to FEMA, and illegal use of social security numbers in connection with applications for FEMA disaster assistance.

The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General. This individual brings the total number of defendants who have been charged in the Middle District of Louisiana with violations related to FEMA relief funds to 21.

In September 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales created the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, designed to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft, procurement fraud and insurance fraud. The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force -- chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division -- includes members from the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the Postal Inspector's Office, and the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, among others.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine per count.

For further information, contact David R. Dugas, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, or Lyman Thornton, First Assistant U.S. Attorney, at 225-389-0443.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Community Leaders Form 'Working Families for Wal-Mart'; Says Wal-Mart Makes Positive Contributions to Communities Through Consumer Savings and Good Jo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A diverse group of community leaders today formed the steering committee of Working Families for Wal-Mart -- an organization dedicated to talking about Wal-Mart's positive contributions and making sure working families benefit from the consumer savings and job opportunities that the company offers in communities all across America.

"Wal-Mart will create a projected 100,000 jobs this year, pays its associates competitive wages, offers health insurance for as little as $11 per month, and donates nearly $200 million to charities annually - 90 percent of it at the local level," said steering committee member Suffragan Bishop Ira Combs. "Just like Sam Walton believed every consumer deserves the opportunity to benefit from discount shopping, every working family deserves to benefit from the savings and opportunity of a Wal-Mart in their community."

A recent Pew Research Center poll found that "81 percent of those with a Wal-Mart nearby say it is a good place to shop." The survey also found that "Wal-Mart's most faithful shoppers are . . . those with annual incomes below $30,000" and seven in ten who make between $30,000 and $49,999 think Wal-Mart is good for their area.

"Wal-Mart saves the average American household more than $2,300 per year - which would pay almost half the average tuition at a public-four year university," said steering committee member Courtney Lynch. "Working families can use the money they save at Wal-Mart to buy more of what they need every day or to invest in a better and more secure future."

Steering committee members come from a variety of backgrounds and communities. They are customers, business leaders, activists, civic leaders, educators and many others with first- hand knowledge of Wal-Mart's positive contributions. They make their homes throughout the country from Los Angeles, California to Jacksonville, Florida to Jackson, Michigan.

Suffragan Bishop Combs added: "I know Wal-Mart is good for working families, because I know men and women in my congregation who work at Wal-Mart, shop at Wal-Mart, and whose lives are touched by the compassion and commitment of this company every day. They support Wal-Mart, because in so many ways Wal-Mart supports them and, indeed, the American people too."

To learn more about Working Families for Wal-Mart -- including information about our national steering committee members -- and how the retailer benefits your community, please visit

U.S. Journalism Schools & Publishers Snubbed Refugees from Hitler, Scholar Reveals

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- America's journalism schools and newspaper publishers refused to aid Jewish refugee journalists who were fleeing Hitler, a leading Holocaust scholar revealed at a conference in Washington, D.C. this week.

Another speaker at the conference described how the leaders of elite American universities not only ignored the plight of Jews under Hitler in the 1930s, but actually engaged in actions that helped enhance the Hitler regime's image in the West.

The information was presented at a panel on "America and the Holocaust: New Research," sponsored by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, as part of the annual conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), the premier organization of Jewish scholars, at the Washington, D.C. Hilton hotel.

The panel was chaired by Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute.

Prof. Laurel Leff, of Northeastern University, revealed in her lecture:

-- While other university departments and disciplines added Jewish refugees to their faculties to help them escape Hitler, none of America's approximately forty journalism schools and departments took in Jewish refugee journalists, and no major newspaper hired refugee journalists.

-- In 1939, refugee advocates Prof. David Reisman (later a famous Harvard sociologist) and Prof. Carl Friedrich requested ten minutes to speak at the convention of the American Newspaper Publishers Association about the plight of Jewish refugee journalists. Their request was rejected.

-- Refusals to aid Jewish refugee journalists were often laced with antisemitic comments. For example, Lawrence Murphy, dean of the University of Illinois School of Journalism and one of the leading figures in journalism education, opposed aiding the refugees and rationalized it on the grounds that it was for their own good. "The minute that Jews show up in numbers they become a threat to the others ... they would occupy all the jobs there are (and) are quite likely to work together in filling the jobs," Murphy wrote. "We must hurt them to help them. We must keep them from becoming too prominent and assertive..."

Prof. Leff is the author of the critically-acclaimed new book about the New York Times and the Holocaust, 'Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper,' which was published by Cambridge University Press earlier this year.

Prof. Stephen Norwood, of the University of Oklahoma, said in his remarks at the conference:

-- Despite book-burnings and anti-Jewish violence in Nazi Germany, the leaders of elite American universities such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins refused to speak out against the Hitler regime during 1933-1937. Columbia president Nicholas Butler expelled a student for leading an anti-Hitler rally on campus. Harvard president James Conant warmly welcomed Ernst Hanfstangl, a Harvard alumnus who was Hitler's foreign press secretary, when he visited the campus in 1934. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology hosted a visit by Nazi Germany's ambassador to the United States, Hans Luther.

-- Even though German universities fired their Jewish professors and adopted a Nazi curriculum, prominent American universities continued to maintain relations with them. They exchanged students with German universities, and sent representatives to a celebration at the University of Heidelberg in 1936 (Williams College was one of the few that refused to participate). Harvard Law School dean Roscoe Pound accepted a honorary degree from the University of Berlin in 1934. Johns Hopkins president Isaiah Bowman, a famed geographer, accepted an honor from a Nazi geographical society.

-- Antisemitic comments that Prof. Norwood found in the private correspondence of some prominent American university officials suggest that bigotry was at least part of the motive for their positions regarding Hitler and German Jewry. Harvard president Conant urged the DuPont Corporation not to hire the famous German Jewish chemist Max Bergmann, because he was "very definitely of the Jewish type." Yale president James Rowland Angell asked his deans to examine whether Jewish students were engaged in cheating and financial wrongdoing. Johns Hopkins president Isaiah Bowman refused to sign a petition against anti- Jewish discrimination in Polish universities in 1937, and claimed the protest was the result of "pressure from Jews in New York."

ABOUT THE WYMAN INSTITUTE: The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located on the campus of Gratz College (near Philadelphia), is a research and education institute focusing on America's response to the Holocaust. It is named in honor of the eminent historian and author of the 1984 best-seller The Abandonment of the Jews, the most important and influential book concerning the U.S. response to the Nazi genocide.

The Institute's Advisory Committee includes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, Members of Congress, and other luminaries. Its Academic Council includes more than 50 leading professors of the Holocaust, American history, and Jewish history. The Institute's Arts & Letters Council, chaired by Cynthia Ozick, includes prominent artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers. For a complete list, please visit

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mississippian Indicted for Katrina Fraud

JACKSON, Miss., Dec. 19 /U.S. Newswire/ -- United States Attorney Dunn Lampton announced today the Indictment of Gary G. Graves of Hattiesburg, Miss., for making a false claim to FEMA for hurricane relief funds. According to the Indictment, Graves claimed as his primary residence, a property located in Taylorsville, Miss., when Graves had been evicted from the residence prior to August 29, 2005. The maximum penalty for Making a False Claim to FEMA is up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In September, 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales created the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, designed to deter, investigate and prosecute disaster-related federal crimes such as charity fraud, identity theft, procurement fraud and insurance fraud. The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force -- chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division -- includes members from the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the Postal Inspector's Office and the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, among others.

Pursuant to the Justice Department initiative, a local Katrina Fraud Task Force was formed. Recognizing the significance of this event, nineteen federal and state law enforcement agencies have come together to jointly pursue and prosecute individuals who file false and fraudulent claims. The joint task force has also been working with county and local law enforcement in this effort.

If anyone has information concerning possible fraud being committed during the post-Katrina recovery effort, call either the DHS-OIG Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or the FBI Fraud Hotline at 800-225-5324.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Grants of Nearly $14 Million to Train Workers for Careers in the Energy Industry

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 /U.S. Newswire/ -- U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today announced six grants to train workers in Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming for careers in the energy industry. The grants awarded today are part of a nearly $27 million investment in support of the nation's energy workforce under the president's High Growth Job Training Initiative, a strategic plan to prepare workers for jobs in expanding industries.

"Growing worldwide demand for energy is creating opportunities for workers who posses the skills energy producers need," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "These grants under President Bush's High Growth Job Training Initiative will help workers acquire advanced skills so they can succeed in America's vital energy sector."

Grants awarded in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will address training needs in the coal mining sector through the use of simulators, distance learning, mobile classrooms and traditional classroom instruction.

With its grant, the University of Missouri will establish a program to train workers in the nuclear energy sector. The program developed through this project will be disseminated to a network of community colleges throughout the country.

The College of Eastern Utah will train workers with transferable skills that can be used for careers in multiple sectors of the energy industry. Upon completion of the curriculum, participants will be offered additional training tailored to mining and power generation.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services will coordinate with the Wyoming Contractors Association to establish a basic safety training program for new workers in the oil and gas sector. The program will prepare individuals to meet industry safety standards and acquire skills through work on a 76-acre simulated oil and gas field.

"This package of grants builds on the President's plan to modernize this industry while reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. "The varied training approaches provided through these grants will target specific industry needs and provide workers with skills that contribute to America's energy future."

The president's High Growth Job Training Initiative is a strategic effort to better prepare workers to take advantage of new job opportunities in high growth sectors of the American economy. Through executive forums with leaders of expanding industries, critical workforce gaps and issues are identified. Solutions are then created in cooperation with employers, educational institutions and the public workforce system. For more information, please visit .

U.S. Labor Department (DOL) releases are accessible on the Internet at The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. DOL is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bono Joins Bill and Melinda Gates as TIME Magazine's Persons of the Year

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Bono, U2 lead singer and co-founder of DATA (debt AIDS trade Africa) joined philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates in being named Time Magazine's 'Persons of the Year' for 2005. In the special issue to hit newsstands on Monday, 19 December 2005, Time calls the trio "The Good Samaritans" and in bestowing the honor declares: "For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re- engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are TIME's Persons of the Year."


"I'm flattered, but it's the millions of campaigners across America, Europe, and, above all, Africa who really deserve this award. They have made this a great year of promise- making to the poor by political leaders, and it is they who, with back up vocals from the likes of Bill, Melinda and I, will ensure politicians keep their promises.

There's much more to do, but last year we had no promise of $25 billion in more effective aid for Africa, no commitments to get aids drugs to all who need them, to beat back malaria and put every child in school. The checks have been signed but to cash them it's going to take a worldwide movement of people who make a priority of the poor. Every generation has its defining struggle its shot at greatness. This is ours."


"It's the global campaigners, from the ONE campaign in America to Make Poverty History in the UK, to the millions across Africa, who we really want to recognize and honor today. It's their leadership and commitment which continues to inspire, and it is they who, with our help, will make sure politicians keep their 2005 promises to the poor, and more."