Iowa Archives:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — Real estate mogul and television personality Donald Trump on Tuesday afternoon announced he has decided not to host the Newsmax presidential debate because he is unwilling to give up his right to run himself.

Conservative website Newsmax announced earlier this month that Trump, who is the CEO of The Trump Organization which owns the Miss Universe and similar franchises, would host a presidential debate on December 27 in Des Moines, Iowa. The debate would have aired online and on broadcast network ION.

But, as Trump went on television networks to criticize presidential candidates about their policies and personalities, all but two of them decided not to take part in the Newsmax debate as many observers believed it would turn into a circus.

“The Republican Party candidates are very concerned that sometime after the final episode of The Apprentice, on May 20th, when the equal time provisions are no longer applicable to me, I will announce my candidacy for President of the United States as an Independent and that, unless I conclusively agree not to run as an Independent, they will not agree to attend or be a part of the Newsmax debate scheduled for December 27,” Trump said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Trump added: “It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate. Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate.”

The businessman made headlines earlier this year when he said he was considering to run for president himself, but he decided in mid-May to not do so amid polls in which a majority indicated they would not vote for him. It followed similar statements in 1988 and 1999 when he also said he would consider to run for the White House, but in both cases declined to do so at the last moment.

“The American people are embarrassed by the gridlock currently taking place in Washington,” Trump said in Tuesday’s statement, which keeps the door open for a presidential run as an independent. “I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again!”

Trump thanked presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, who is leading the polls, and Rick Santorum for having the ‘courage, conviction, and confidence’ to immediately accept being part of the Newsmax debate. “I believe this would not only have been the most watched debate, but also the most substantive and interesting debate,” he added.

It was not immediately clear if Newsmax would still go forward with the debate.

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LINN COUNTY, IOWA (BNO NEWS) — A delivery truck caught fire at the Duane Arnold nuclear power plant in Iowa on Tuesday afternoon, officials said, but there is no threat to the plant.

The incident started at around 1.30 p.m. local time when a truck carrying only the driver caught fire as it was making a delivery to the plant, which is located about eight miles (12.8 kilometers) from Cedar Rapids. The fire is being fueled by hydrogen from a tank on the truck.

The plant operator, NextEra Energy Duane Arnold, declared an Alert shortly after the fire began to monitor the incident. An Alert is the second lowest of four emergency levels for a nuclear power plant and represents a degradation in plant safety.

As a result, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has activated its Emergency Response Center at the Region 3 office in Lisle, Illinois, to monitor the incident. It said its primary concern is to make sure that the plant operator is taking appropriate actions.

Officials said the fire is in the vicinity of the utility’s pump house which houses plant equipment but is outside the protected area of the plant, meaning no plant safety related equipment has been affected by the fire.

According to the NRC, the truck driver has been transported to a local hospital with minor injuries. The local fire department continues to battle the fire, which is being fueled by hydrogen from the tank.

The plant continues to operate at 100 percent power, and there is no impact to public health.

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DES MOINES, IOWA (BNO NEWS) — Rumeal Robinson, a former U.S. professional basketball player, on Friday was sentenced to over six years in prison in a bank fraud case.

Robinson, 44, was convicted for the crimes of bank bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and making a false statement to a financial institution. He was found guilty of these charges by an Iowa court last September.

During trial, it was established that the former NBA player paid a $100,000 kickback to a Community State Bank loan officer in exchange for receiving a large loan as he attempted to become a property developer in his native Jamaica following his basketball retirement.

In addition, Robinson also submitted a fraudulent tax return to the bank in an attempt to qualify for loans, recruited straw borrowers to take out loans that were actually intended for him, and used “business” loan proceeds to fund his lavish personal lifestyle.

Overall, more than $1.3 million in loans were made from the bank to Robinson or for his benefit. Robinson never repaid the loans and spent a large amount of them on cars, motorcycles, strip clubs, clothes, a condominium, and other personal expenses.

As a result, Robinson caused substantial loss to the Community State Bank, forced two people to file for bankruptcy, and his mother lost the home she had lived in for over 30 years.

The judge also concluded that he had lied under oath during a 2007 civil deposition relating to the loans. Robinson was arrested on December 21, 2010, due to his failure to appear for sentencing hearings twice.

The former NBA player was sentenced to 78 months in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,184,615 and a special assessment of $1,100 to the Crime Victims Fund.

Robinson was born in Jamaica and is a U.S. citizen who grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was a professional basketball guard who initially played college basketball for the University of Michigan.

Then, he spent the next eight years playing in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for six teams including the Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers and his last team Los Angeles Lakers.

His last stint as a professional player was with the KK Zadar, a Croatian professional basketball team during the 2001-2002 European season. He retired after leading his team the playoffs of national championship.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

DAVENPORT, IOWA (BNO NEWS) – Two Iowa residents on Friday were sentenced to probation terms after illegally accessing President Barack Obama’s student loan records, prosecutors said.

Mercedes Costoyas, 53, of Iowa City, and John P. Phommivong, 30, of North Liberty were each sentenced to one year of probation for exceeding authorized computer access and to pay $25 to the Crime Victim’s Fund.

Both defendants were former Department of Education (DOE) contract employees. They were charged with accessing without authorization the student loan records of President Obama.

Phommivong committed his offense when Obama was a candidate to the presidency while in Costoyas’ case the offense took place after the U.S. President took office.

The defendants were discovered during an investigation of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General (DOE-OIG) targeting employers who inappropriately accessed the student loan information of certain celebrities, athletes or politicians.

The investigation’s results led to Vangent Corporation in Coralville, Iowa, a DOE contractor that assists with student loan inquiries through its call center and engages in debt collection.

Vangent employers (like Phommivong and Costoyeas) use the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) database which contains the private information of borrowers, including that of President Obama.

As a result, nine Vangent employers were charged for accessing Obama’s student loan records while he was a candidate, President-elect or U.S. President.

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DES MOINES, IOWA (BNO NEWS) – Sarah Palin on Friday rallied a rising schism within the Republican Party in Des Moines, Iowa after demanding that the party unite behind the candidates she has supported all over the country.

During the speech, Palin took the time to criticize former Bush adviser Karl Rove, who blasted Delaware GOP U.S. Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell for her lack of experience and alleged that she says “nutty things”, causing distress within the Republican Party. Sarah Palin defended her, saying that Karl “will see the light and realize that these are just the normal, hardworking, patriot Americans who are saying, ‘No. Enough is enough. We want to turn this around and we want to get right back to these time-tested truths that are right for America.’”

Politico reported Palin dismissing Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski who is attempting to revive her re-election bid using a write-in campaign after losing her primary, saying that Murkowski’s announcement to do so was a “futile effort.” Palin endorsed, after much speculation, Joe Miller, Morkowski’s challenger. He will go on to face Scott McAdams, a Democrat and mayor of Sitka, Alaska.

The Tea Party candidates, championed by Sarah Palin, are gaining headway in the primaries with two wins over mainstream Republicans. One election, O’Donnell in Delaware, was a big win with her winning over nine-term Republican U.S. House Representative Mike Castle in the GOP Senate primary. Despite the fact that she was not endorsed by the Republican Party, she won after being endorsed by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as well as $150,000 in late funding from the Tea Party Express. She will face Democrat Christopher Coons, the New Castle County Executive, for the Senate seat that was vacated by then Vice President-elect Joe Biden, who himself was a former member of the New Castle County council, in a tough election in November.

Palin’s audience members were skeptical but optimistic, as they were part of the Iowa’s Republican establishment, a key group to winning the Iowa caucuses and gaining momentum in the path to a 2012 presidential nomination. She spoke dismissively of the Republican elites, saying that she refuses to play a “political playbook to be handed to us from on high form the political elites”.

She joked about a presidential run before putting an extra focus on the midterm elections coming up, and she didn’t make any comment on her future plans, but she didn’t discourage any speculation. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs openly mused about her visit, saying that this is the time of year that potential candidates test the waters. “It’s normally around this time of year you go to tip your toe in the water, and my guess is, President Obama about this time in 2006 did I think what would be considered a somewhat analogous event,” Gibbs indicated in his Friday briefing. “My guess is, she’s going to dip that toe.”

Palin indicated that she would run if the “American people were to be ready for someone who is willing to shake it up, and willing to get back to time-tested truths,” but she wouldn’t confirm anything definite. If she does plan on running for the presidency, she needs to get the Republican Party behind her, and that’s most likely her first priority during these midterm elections.

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WASHINGTON D.C. (BNO NEWS) – The U.S. Committee on Energy and Commerce requested on Monday documents and information related to the salmonella outbreak and the recent egg recalls in Iowa.

Chairman Henry Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak sent letters to Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms of Iowa requesting the wanted information, including when government officials and customers of the affected egg products were first notified of the contamination.

The Committee also requested the inspection records for the companies’ facilities, the companies’ internal protocols and standards for monitoring and analyzing their product, and documents related to allegations of health, safety, environmental, or animal cruelty violations for the companies or any related companies.

On Friday, Hillandale Farms recalled eggs distributed to grocery distribution centers, retail grocery stores and foodservice companies which service or are located in fourteen states. The shell eggs have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

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WASHINGTON D.C. (BNO NEWS) – The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced on Monday a $737,608 award to assist 100 Iowa workers affected by layoffs.

The award was made through the National Emergency Grant program to aid workers involved in layoffs at Skyjack Inc. in Emmetsburg and Freudenberg NOK in Spencer, both in Iowa.

“Today’s grant will help workers gain the skills needed to compete for and find jobs. These Iowans will receive the services needed to enter careers in promising industries. After all, only a new, good job can truly replace a job lost,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

The grant will provide selected Iowa workers access to wraparound and supportive services such as dependent care and transportation assistance. All of the workers should be certified as eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance.

Skyjack laid off workers between August 2008, and December 1 2009. Freudenberg laid off workers beginning on January 2010, with more expected to occur through October 2010.

The grant was awarded to Iowa Workforce Development and will be operated by the Northwest Iowa Planning and Development Commission.

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NEW HAMPTON, IOWA (BNO NEWS) — Iowa egg producer Hillandale Farms on Friday announced that is voluntarily recalling shell eggs distributed in 14 states because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

The company said that eggs affected by the recall were distributed to grocery distribution centers, retail grocery stores and foodservice companies which service or are located in fourteen states, including Arkansas, California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

According to Hillandale Farms, there have been laboratory-confirmed Salmonella enteritidis illnesses associated with the shell eggs; the investigation is ongoing.

Eggs are distributed under the brand names of Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, and Sunny Meadow in 6-egg cartons, dozen-egg cartons, 18-egg cartons, 30-egg package, and 5-dozen cases.

Loose eggs are packaged under the brand names of Wholesome Farms and West Creek in 15 and 30-dozen tray packs. The loose eggs may also be repackaged by customers.

Egss affected have plant numbers P1860 (Julian dates ranging from 099 to 230) or P1663 (Julian dates ranging from 137 to 230). Julian dates and plant codes can be found stamped on the end of the egg carton or printed on the case label.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

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DES MOINES, IOWA (BNO NEWS) – President Barack Obama signed and authorized on Tuesday a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Des Moines and Lee, two counties struck by severe storms and flooding on May 12 and 13.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver received the notification of the declaration that will provide federal funding to the two counties under the Public Assistance Program. These funds will be available to rebuild damaged infrastructure like roads, bridges and other public facilities, or to cover costs of emergency efforts.

“I am pleased to see the Presidential Disaster Declaration for Des Moines and Lee counties come through. We have had great cooperation with the government when it comes to getting Iowans the resources we will need to recover from recent severe weather and floods,” Culver said.

The Disaster Declaration also includes funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities for the entire state. With this, Iowa will be able to minimize the impact of future disasters by strengthening the existing infrastructure.

Culver requested the disaster declaration for 35 counties impacted by flooding and storms on July 7. Additional counties may be added to the declaration after the conclusion of the damage assessments scheduled to be finished by August 1.

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DES MOINES (BNO NEWS) – Iowa Governor Chet Culver will hand-deliver a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy on Saturday outlining Iowa’s accomplishments in renewable energy and energy efficiency in an effort to ask for the Department of Energy’s support of recommendations for continued national leadership in renewable energy, Governor Culver’s office said on Friday.

Governor Culver, in the letter, asks the Department of Energy for movement on ethanol blends, biomass rules, and additional Department of Energy loan guarantees for Iowan businesses. “Our continued progress will depend upon direct, consistent funding for states to deploy new energy technologies and achieve excellence, in particular through the State Energy Program,” he said.

Iowa currently leads the nation in biofuels output, it ranks second nationally in wind energy production, and is one of the top ten states in investing in energy efficiency. Iowa is known for its controversial bioethanol, made from its large feedstocks of corn, however there’s considerable debate about how useful it is to replace gasoline and its role in increasing food prices and its contribution to pollution.

“We are committed to producing clean, alternative energy sources and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Iowa’s energy plan drives our energy success and focuses on reducing energy usage 30 percent in facilities by 2025, increasing Iowa’s wind energy consumption to 30 percent, and maximizing economically and environmentally low carbon fuels by increasing usage of Iowa produced biofuels,” Governor Culver said in the letter.

He requested, in the letter, robust funding from the Department of Energy for Biomass and Biorefinery Systems Research and Development Program and said that with the funding they can leverage the research to further develop biorefineries of the 21st century.

“I am proud of Iowa’s accomplishments in terms of renewable energy and energy efficiency. While we have made great strides, more must be done. […] I look forward to furthering our partnership with [the Department of Energy] to meet our national clean energy goals.”

The letter will be delivered to Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi, who is one of the speakers at the National Governors Association 2010 Annual Meeting in Boston, where Governor Culver is making the effort to expand Iowa job creation and renewable energy opportunities by meeting with the national leaders in both fields.

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