Focus

WILL - Focus - April 04, 2014

Going to college on the G.I. Bill today

Thousands of soldiers who’ve served in the military in the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan are using the G.I. Bill to finish a college degree, but it’s not easy. 

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(Duration: 40:06)

Colorado soldiers returning home from Afghanistan

Johnny Watts started school at the University of Illinois after serving in the Army for six years. He says returning to the life of a student after serving in the military was a little daunting. He worried he wouldn’t be classroom ready, that other students would be far ahead of him in terms of coursework. But once he found a community of veterans to hang out with, he says it got easier. “It was nice when I found other vets to talk to. You kind of have your own language after being in the service,” he said. “And, then I had someone else besides my wife to talk to about school.”

Watts graduates this spring from the University of Illinois with a degree in electrical engineering, and is moving to southern California with his wife. She’s also a veteran who has been attending the University of Illinois. And, according to a new study from the Student Veterans of America, the Watts’ are among a large group of veterans who’ve taken advantage of the education benefits in the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Categories: Government, Military

WILL - Focus - April 02, 2014

What to read to understand the fight for Crimea

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(Duration: 9:32)

If you’ve been following the crisis in Ukraine and the fight for Crimea, do you have unanswered questions about why Russia is so invested? We do, and we wanted to get a better understanding of the historical context of the conflict. Kathryn Stoner, a political scientist who is a Senior Fellow at the Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford, has prepared a reading list that she says go a long way in explaining the Russian perspective.

Continue reading to find her reading list and descriptions of the books and their authors.


WILL - Focus - March 28, 2014

Researching medical marijuana a challenge for scientists

The science behind medical marijuana is hazy, in part because its difficult for scientists to gain access to the drug for research.

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(Duration: 40:42)

Medical marijuana crap

Americans in 20 states, including Illinois once its new medicinal cannabis pilot program is fully functioning, can purchase medical marijuana to treat symptoms of diseases ranging from multiple sclerosis to glaucoma to HIV and AIDs, but the science behind why medical marijuana helps ease symptoms of some of those diseases is hazy. Because marijuana is a classified as a schedule 1 drug by the federal government, a category for drugs with no medical value and highly addictive properties, researchers have a very difficult time gaining access to marijuana plants in order to study them.

In this Focus interivew, Peter Hecht, author of the forthcoming book "Weedland," and clinical psychiatirst Suzanne Sisley, who works with veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at the University of Arizona, join host Scott Cameron. 

 
 

Categories: Government, Law

WILL - Focus - March 28, 2014

“Young Invincibles” sign up for Affordable Care Act last minute

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(Duration: 10:01)

Director of Outreach for Get Covered Illinois Brian Gorman says young people are signing up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act's health care marketplace in the final days for enrollment, something that Illinois officials has been concerned about. He talked with Scott Cameron during this Focus interview about how many people have signed up so far. He says its important that the "extension" for enrollment announced yesterday by the Obama administration doesn't give people more time to start the process of enrolling; it only gives you more time to finish an already exisiting application for insurance.

Categories: Government, Health

WILL - Focus - February 25, 2014

Republican Candidate for the 103rd District Kristin Williamson and primaries to keep an eye on

Democrats in the area are split about who to vote for in the March 19 primary election for the 103rd District race for State Representative, but on the republican side, Kristin Williamson is running unopposed. She joins Scott Cameron this hour on Focus. 

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(Duration: 51:38)

Naomi Jakobsson announced last fall that she would not be seeking reelection for her seat as state representative for the 103rd District in the Illinois House of Representatives. As the primary election draws closer, we’ve heard a lot from democratic candidates Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg. Kristin Williamson, the Republican vying for Jakobsson’s seat, will also be on the ballot and is running unopposed. She joins Scott Cameron for the first half of this hour on Focus.

Then, Tom Kacich, reporter for the News-Gazette, and Brian Mackey, statehouse reporter for Illinois Public Radio, join the show. We’ll talk about the race for the 103rd district and will find out about other primaries around the state that are worth paying attention to this spring.

Do you have questions for Kristin Williamson? Give us a call, tweet us @Focus580 or send us an email! 

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - February 11, 2014

Civil Unrest in Ukraine

Thousands of protestors have occupied Ukraine’s Maidan square in Kiev since November when President Viktor Yankovych refused to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the unrest in the country.

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(Duration: 52:01)

Protestors with demands of European values in Ukraine. November 26, 2013.

Anti-government protests in Ukraine have continued to escalate since November with tens of thousands of protestors gathering in Kiev’s Maidan Square throughout the winter. Crowds are now calling for President Viktor Yanukovich’s resignation.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Associate Professor of Political Science Carol Leff about the protests and about what’s ahead for the country. Iryna Sukhnatska, a law student at the University of Illinois who immigrated to the states from Ukraine in 1999, also joins the show. Some of her family has been protesting, and she says it is hard to watch the violence play out from afar.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - January 21, 2014

Study shows pension fix won’t restore fiscal health to Illinois

In December, lawmakers passed legislation to fix the state’s multi-billion dollar pension shortfall. According to the Institute for Government and Public Affairs, it helps restore the pension system but won’t fix the state’s overall budget deficit.

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(Duration: 51:54)

Tally of votes in the Illinois Senate Tuesday on the pension reform bill

In December, lawmakers passed legislation to fix the state’s multi-billion dollar pension shortfall. According to the Institute for Government and Public Affairs, it helps restore the pension system but won’t fix the state’s overall budget deficit.

Was it supposed to? This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Richard Dye, a Professor with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs about what the pension bill does and doesn’t do to help restore the state’s financial health.

Then, host Jim Meadows talks with Frank Shafroth, Director at the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University. Public pension problems in Illinois are a consequence of unmade payments, is that the case around the country where other public pension systems are also failing? We’ll find out and will hear what decision makers around the country are doing to triage public pension systems.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - December 05, 2013

Will the 2013 Farm Bill be approved in 2013?

The 2013 farm bill is at least a 900 billion dollar piece of legislation. It’s been stalled in Congress since the 2008 bill expired a year ago. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what the hold-up is and why it matters.

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(Duration: 51:50)

Farmers have been operating for more than a year now without a farm bill. Since the 2008 bill expired, there’s been an ideological debate surrounding the funding of certain programs in the farm bill, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. There are currently two versions of the farm bill stalled in Congress, one passed by the Senate and one passed by the House, and if legislators can’t come to a compromise by January 1, farm policy written in the 1940’s will take effect. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why there’s been such a fight over this year’s farm bill and how that differs from farm bills past.

Jonathan Coppess, a Clinical Professor of Law and Policy in the Department of Agriculture Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and former chief of staff to Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, (D) who worked on the Senate version of the bill and Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Director of Congressional Affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation join us.

Tags: farm bill, farm

WILL - Focus - December 04, 2013

What does Tuesday’s pension vote mean?

A bill to fix the state’s massively underfunded pension system is headed to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and former state senator Rick Winkel about what’s in the bill and what happens now.

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(Duration: 51:42)

Tally of votes in the Illinois Senate Tuesday on the pension reform bill

Tuesday, the Illinois Legislature approved a history plan to eliminate the state’s $100 billion pension shortfall, considered the worst in the nation. The House voted 62-53 in favor of the plan, and the Senate approved the measure minutes earlier. The bill, however, passed with little support from East Central Illinois lawmakers.

How will it help the state’s budgetary woes and what will it mean for state employees? Does it violate the state’s pension protections spelled out in the Illinois constitution?  This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Illinois Public Radio’s Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and former Illinois State Senator Rick Winkel about what’s in the bill and what it means.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - October 15, 2013

When to Grant Clemency?

Friday, Governor Pat Quinn granted 65 clemency requests while working through a backlog of cases left by Fmr. Gov. Rod Blagojevich. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why and when clemency requests are granted.

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(Duration: 51:31)

courtroom gavel and scales

So far in his time as Governor, Pat Quinn has granted nearly 1,000 clemency requests, reducing penalties for people convicted of certain crimes. In the batch he approved Friday, Southern Illinois University Former Board of Trustee Member Enoch Benson, former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Branden Jones, an armed robber and several former drug dealers were among those pardoned.

This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Urbana Attorney and University of Illinois Law Lecturer Steve Beckett about what’s taken into consideration when deciding to either approve or deny a clemency request and who applies for it. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Beckett about the reasons someone would request clemency, why the Governor has the power to grant it and why it’s an issue that Fmr. Gov. Rod Blagojevich left so many cases sitting.


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