U. S. Government

Tonight: Maximize Your Medicare

Jae Oh, author of Maximize Your Medicare, will discuss Medicare and its impact on the consumer. Learn what Medicare is, what to do with it, and how to save money when using it. Issues related to Medicare and the Affordable Care Act will be addressed. Books will be available for purchase following the program.

ABCs of Medicare | Jae W. Oh, MBA | Tuesday, July 9, 7-8:30 pm | Downtown Library

Michael Hastings, brilliant journalist who brought down a General, has died

Michael Hastings, author and award-winning journalist for Buzzfeed, died yesterday in Los Angeles.

In the June 22, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Hastings wrote a blistering piece on then-General Stanley McChrystal who was commander of American forces in Afghanistan. Quotes from McChrystal and his aides were so highly critical of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that the General resigned shortly thereafter. Hastings received a 2010 Polk Award for this article.

Hastings' early career as a driven, heat-seeking missile for the truth included writing for Gentleman's Quarterly and Newsweek. Then in 2007, Hastings' world was rocked. He and his fiancee, Andi Parhamovich were both stationed in Baghdad (he was writing for Newsweek; she was an aide worker for The National Democratic Institute. Andi died in an ambush on January 17th and Hastings returned to his parents' home in Vermont, where holed up in their attic for two months while he wrote I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story (2008), a keening, bitter, loved-filled tribute to Andi.

Hastings' last hard copy book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War on Afghanistan came out last year. His last book, published earlier this year in Kindle-only format, is
Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama's Final Campaign

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) from New Jersey, has died

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey, who was the last living World War II veteran serving in the U.S.Senate as well as its oldest member (he turned 89 in January), died early this morning at a New York Hospital.

Sen. Lautenberg was a first-generation American (his parents were Polish and Russian). He and two childhood friends founded the first automated payroll system in the U.S. (ADP -- Automated Data Processing) which became a worldwide company.

In 1982, Sen. Lautenberg won his first term in the U.S. Senate and retired at the end of 2000. Just two years later, he was drafted by NJ Democrats to save the 2002 Senate race from sinking due to the multi-scandal-ridden career of Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli. He won that election and the election of 2008 with wide margins.

Sen. Lautenberg was one of the most liberal members of the Senate and proud of it. He won successful legislative battles to ban smoking on airplanes and to prevent domestic abusers from owning guns. He tightened the drunk driving laws and was instrumental in getting the drinking age raised to 21. He was one of the most active Senators -- he cast his 9000th vote in in December of 2011.

As his health failed earlier this year, he announced that he would serve out this term and not seek re-election in 2014.

Sen. Lautenberg died of complications stemming from viral pneumonia.

Lincoln: The Man, the Legend

The historical drama Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, is based in part on the book Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Lincoln was produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, who immediately wanted rights to the film once he heard that Goodwin was planning to write the book.

The film focuses on Lincoln's last months of office in 1865, during a time of war and change, and his efforts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would abolish slavery. The film depicts the tension and conflict in the United States, while painting a revealing portrait of Abraham Lincoln during a momentous time in American history.

With an all-star cast that also includes Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the critically-acclaimed film was nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards and twelve Academy Awards. Daniel Day Lewis won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Actor for his phenomenal performance as the President. There are still grumbles that Lincoln should have won the Academy Award for Best Picture, but that honor went to another recommended historical drama, Argo.

Improved Benefits for Families of Emergency Workers Killed on Duty

A recent change in a federal act fixes coverage gaps and provides a better safety net for families of first responders killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. The action closes gaps in the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Act that had left some first responders without benefits. The program started more than 30 years ago to help families of federal, state and local firefighters, police and medics. The new legislation extends the program to private, nonprofit emergency medical services volunteers and personnel. A push for change came following the 2008 line-of-duty death of Cheryl Kiefer, who worked for Jackson Community Ambulance in Michigan, a private nonprofit service. To learn more, visit the website of Huron Valley Ambulance.

Ed "Hizzoner" Koch, former mayor of New York City, has died

Ed Koch, whose highest-profile job as three-term mayor of New York City made him a national figure, died early this morning at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Hospital.

After serving in the Army during WW II, Koch began his political career in 1952 campaigning for Adlai Stevenson who lost the run for president to Dwight Eisenhower. Koch was elected five times to the U.S. House of Representatives, beginning in 1969. During his fifth term, he ran for Mayor of New York City, beating in the primary such Democratic heavyweights as Bella Abzug, Mario Cuomo, and Abe Beame, New York City's first Jewish Mayor (1974-1978). Koch won his first of three mayoral terms in the 1977 general election against three opponents.

Koch's first two terms as mayor were very successful. His feisty personality, blunt talk, and political savvy brought NYC out of bankruptcy and made great strides in cleaning up the City, adding 200,000 housing units and drastically reducing the number of abandoned buildings. The start of his third term was marred by a stunning number of scandals involving key City leaders and the tanking of the stock market in 1987.

After his career as Mayor, Koch immediately launched himself into a dozen new directions. He wrote 17 books, including his 2000 I'm Not Done Yet: Keeping at It, Remaining Relevant, and Having the Time of My Life. He was a popular talk radio show contributor, a TV and silver screen actor (The Muppets Take Manhattan (2011) and The First Wives Club (1998)), a columnist and critic (film and restaurant) for several print venues, and lecturer.

Due to his failing health, he missed the Tuesday night premiere of Neil Barsky's documentary, Koch.

Mr. Koch, who died of congestive heart failure, was 88.

On This Day in History--January 31st: Congress passed the 13th Amendment in 1865, for the abolition of slavery

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, was finally passed through Congress on January 31, 1865. Throughout the 1860’s the number of proposals for legislation that abolished slavery began to grow, until finally the Senate Judiciary Committee combined three proposals made by Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri, Representative James Mitchell Ashley of Ohio, and Representative James F. Wilson of Iowa, and introduced the resulting amendment proposal to the Senate.

The Senate passed the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, but the House of Representatives took much longer to make a decision. Its passage was due in large part to President Lincoln, who made it part of his campaign platform for the 1864 presidential election. It was finally passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and then sent to the state legislatures to be ratified. On December 6th, when Georgia became the 27th of the then 36 states to ratify it, it was finally adopted into the constitution.

The 13th Amendment was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments to be adopted after the end of the American Civil War. The 14th Amendment gave African-Americans citizenship, equal rights, and equal protection, and the 15th Amendment gave them the right to vote. Follow the links to AADL’s collection for more about the Civil War and the 13th Amendment!

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Robert Bork, controversial legal scholar, Supreme Court nominee, and judge, has died

Robert Bork, an influential conservative legal presence in American history for many decades, has died.

Bork, a former Marine, segued from an attorney in private practice to a professor at Yale Law School. Some of his notable students were Bill and Hillary Clinton, Robert Reich, Anita Hill, and Gov. Jerry Brown.

Bork made first headlines on October, 20, 1973. Richard Nixon, embroiled in the Watergate scandal, demanded that Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox be fired, triggering the Saturday Night Massacre. Both U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than carry out this order. Bork then immediately became Acting Attorney General and complied with Nixon's order, which was found to be illegal in a lawsuit filed in November by Ralph Nader.

Fourteen years later, President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork (who by then was a Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.) for a seat on the Supreme Court. The pushback from Senate Democrats was fierce in light of Bork's support for the South's wish to impose poll taxes and for rolling back key aspects of civil rights. His nomination was rejected and Judge Anthony Kennedy won unanimous approval.

Bork then resigned from the Court of Appeals, accepting a position as senior fellow at the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

He was back in the news for endorsing Governor Mitt Romney for President on August 2, 2011 for the second time (he had also endorsed Romney on December 15, 2007).

Mr. Bork, who was 85, died of heart complications.

Veterans Day Program - Oscar Nominated Film: Hell And Back Again

Tuesday November 13, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

This Oscar-nominated documentary Hell and Back Again (not rated) expertly captures both the extraordinary drama of war and, for a generation of soldiers, the no-less-difficult experience of returning home to loved ones as a veteran.

The film covers a traumatic attack upon Sergeant Nathan Harris' unit and then follows his challenging return home. His agony deepens as he attempts to reconcile the gulf between his experience of war and the terrifying normalcy of life at home.

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