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Archive for October 2011

This Week On The Fallon Forum: Was 9-11 An Inside Job?

Monday – Thursday from 7:00-800 pm, join us for the fusion of politics and civility at 98.3 WOW-FM and on-line at 983wowfm.com.  Call (515) 312-0983 or (866) 908-TALK to participate in the conversation.  If you miss the show, you can hear it as a podcast and please help support local progressive talk radio with an online donation  or by check to PO Box 13421, Des Moines, IA 50310.   

Dear Friends,

Well, aren’t life’s ironies delicious? Oil tycoons Charles and David Koch drop $150,000 on a climate-change skeptic’s research and the guy concludes the world is warming after all! This should end the debate over whether climate change is real. But don’t count on it. Richard Muller, the scientist who conducted the research, says “greenhouse gases could have a disastrous impact on the world.” But somehow, I suspect the hard-core denier crowd will find a way to continue to keep the faith.

This week’s on-air conversation will include some discussion of Muller’s research, an update on the Occupy Wall Street movement, and . . .

Monday at 7:00, we talk with Fox News analyst Jim Pinkerton. Then at 7:30, Ying Sa of Community CPA gives us the lowdown on the upcoming Immigrant Entrepreneur Summit at Drake University.

Tuesday, we talk with state apiarist Andy Joseph about colony collapse and what’s buggin’ the bees. We also discuss the extent to which local taxpayers might be frisked to help Whole Foods expand in central Iowa, to the detriment not only of taxpayers but locally-owned natural foods stores as well.

Wednesday, we’re going to talk with Steve Stone about 9-11. It seems there are a growing number of architects and engineers – now over 1,600 – who feel the destruction of the World Trade Center was partially an inside job, destroyed by controlled demolition. What do you think?

Thursday, Jose del Valle joins us to discuss a development of interest to tea and coffee fans. The business he works with, Organo Gold, promotes a health-benefiting fungus called “ganoderma” that’s added to tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Yum and good for you. How cool is that?

So, tune in at 98.3 WOW-FM and online. You can download the Fallon Forum as a podcast, too.  And don’t forget to visit The Fallon Forum website at fallonforum.com.  Thanks!

Ed

Happy All Hallow’s Eve

by John Shumaker

Dear One,
Happy All Hallow’s Eve,
And tomorrow…
Happy Samhain,
The Celtic, Druidic, Wiccan, Old Religion, Craft New Year
This is the Night when the veils between the worlds are the thinnest,
This is the Night when all the things you wished for in a thousand nights happen in One Night,
a GOOD Tyme to focus your intentions, your meditations, your wishes, your affirmations, your (Madgickal) WELL Wishes
for the Coming Year with some intention and positive deepening vibrations aspirations and inspirations
to activate them, to nurture them, to incubate them as germinating Siddhe and help birth them into Planetary Reality,
Dear One, May All Your Good Wishes be Affirmed and Birthed in MIRTH on Earth,
Happy Samhain,
Joy to You Dear Friend,
Light Upon Aqua Terra,
All Hallows Eve Blessings
to You and Yours,
John

 

How You Can Protect Iowa’s Soil and Water in the Farm Bill

From Iowa Environmental Council – iaenvironment.org/

Protect Iowa’s Soil and Water in the Farm Bill

Restore the Conservation Compliance Covenant  

Take Action!

Calls and emails needed by Tuesday Nov. 1

US lawmakers are currently proposing major changes to the Farm Bill—the primary driver of U.S. farm policy—that will impact our state’s agricultural industry and natural resources for many years to come. Unlike in previous years, the Super Committee will be holding their meetings in private once they receive budget-cutting recommendations from the US Senate & House Agriculture Committees on November 1. Because the ultimate decision regarding farm policy could be made behind closed doors, there is only a small window of time for you to give your input to Ag Committee members who represent Iowa. Voice your opinion NOW to ensure that the Ag Committees submit recommendations to the Super Committee that promote basic conservation practices on farms.

What is at stake?

Congress must restore the covenant between famers and the public that link conservation compliance with taxpayer subsidized risk management programs (i.e. crop and revenue insurance). Risk management programs don’t just provide relief after weather disasters, but ensure farm profits do not fall below a set average due to commodity prices or other non-weather factors. Compliance provisions require taxpayer-subsidized farmers to agree to farm in a way that prevents excessive soil loss on highly erodible land, prevents destruction of wetlands on farmland, and protects other environmental resources.

The link between crop insurance and conservation was part of the 1985 Farm Bill but was removed in the 1996 Farm Bill to encourage farmers to switch from direct payments to crop insurance programs. Today, federal crop insurance covers over 80% of all commodity crops grown and is the primary manner in which ag producers receive subsidies, making up the second biggest portion of the entire Farm Bill budget.

In order to ensure that the agricultural safety net works in harmony with conservation programs, conservation compliance provisions should be strengthened – and enforced. Without the link between crop insurance and conservation compliance, subsidized insurance can provide an incentive for farmers to convert marginal lands to crops because they don’t shoulder the risk of failure.

Occupy Iowa City Walk To The Pentacrest

Occupy Iowa City held an action Saturday (see Saturday’s BFIA post), a march from College Green Park to the ped mall (Black Hawk Mini Park) where there were speeches and a presentation by four corporate pigs defending the 1%.  The group had it timed for someone to go close their Wells Fargo account,  then walked through downtown to the pentacrest on the UI campus for an open mic.  This video shows the walk from Black Hawk Mini Park down Washington and Clinton Streets and includes the pentacrest program.  You can watch here or on Youtube where we have posted five videos chronicling Saturday’s event.

Who Is Scaring The Bejezus Out Of Republicans?

Who said this?

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”  Thomas Edison in 1931 to his friends Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford.

Talk about terrified

Elizabeth Warren is scaring the bejezus out of Republicans. She has a platform and she is unafraid to tell the truth. Just imagine what a voice like hers could mean for the common person if she were in the senate. But getting there will be hard. The right wing owns the media and expect them to use every dirty trick and more to keep her voice quiet. She could start a real move toward government for the people.

Ghosts of Elections past

Alan Keyes, listen up. Your party needs you to be the voice of sanity and reason and run for President against Barack Obama. You softened him up before, now you can take him!

Gotta do what you gotta do

President Obama has gone on an executive order tear this week. Student loans and mortgage relief got most of the press. It looks like an order making federal contractors list their political contributions may be coming. This would help mute some of the effect of the Citizen’s United ruling. It is also in line with what many states already do. Can’t be having government become an open pit of no-bid contracts based on political contributions:

“On Wednesday it was reported that President Obama was drafting an executive order that would require companies pursuing federal contracts to disclose political contributions that have been secret under the Citizen’s United ruling. A senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Hans A. von Spakovsky, lambasted the proposed executive order saying that, “The draft order tries to interfere with the First Amendment rights of contractors.” Mr. von Spakovsky dutifully made all the right-wing, neo-con arguments including bringing Planned Parenthood and unions into the discussion. The draft order did not exempt any entity from disclosure rules and presents a reasonable requirement on contractors seeking government contracts. Several states have similar “pay to play” laws to prevent businesses from using unlimited donations to buy lucrative state contracts from slimy legislators.”

Is it okay to come out now?

I can’t understand why, if Republicans are so proud of their policies and they believe Americans love them also, that Eric Cantor can’t speak before an open meeting. Last week he skeedaddled from The Wharton School of Business when he heard some riff-raff might get in. Today he spoke at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business, but only to a hand-picked crowd.

Real scary

Sometime tomorrow Earth citizen #7,000,000,000 will be born. That is the total living humans. I know many have heard the statistics of how long it once took to raise that first billion and how quickly we do it now.
One recurring theme I hear to combat an ever expanding population is the education of women and their entry into the economic system. That more than anything else seems to greatly tamp down birth rates. Nothing says unrest and revolution more than a young unfed, unemployed population.

How the 1% lives

I found this story yesterday and it really made me mad. At the office of a major foreclosure lawyer, Halloween is for laughing at the down and out.

Happy Halloween (worth the click)

The Courtney Report

28 – October – 2011

Everyone welcome at education reform discussions

How can we help our students do even better? Which of Gov. Branstad’s education reform ideas will help our local schools—and which might hurt?

I want to know what you think. I’m organizing public meetings on these issues for parents, teachers, students and all interested citizens. Everyone is welcome to attend, regardless of where you live.

If you can’t make it, I still want to hear your ideas and concerns. Contact me at 319-759-5334 or tom.courtney@legis.iowa.gov. Thanks for taking the time to help me better serve you.

>> Danville: November 15 from 6 to 7 PM in the Danville High School chorus room, 419 South Main Street.

>> West Liberty: November 16 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM in the meeting room of the West Liberty Public Library, 400 North Spencer Street.

>> Muscatine: November 17 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM in Strahan Hall room 27 at Muscatine Community College, 152 Colorado Street.

Local schools named Safe & Supportive sites

Columbus Community, Burlington Community and Louisa-Muscatine have been chosen to participate in an effort to improve the learning environment at their schools. They will study issues such as bullying, school safety, attendance and student engagement over the next four years with support through the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe & Supportive Schools grant.

Iowa was one of 11 states to be awarded nearly $3.5 million in federal money this year, and nearly $14 million over the next four years, through the grant program. The money will be used for programs at Iowa schools that showed the greatest opportunity for improvement, according to a recent Safe & Supportive Schools survey.

Historic preservation grants for Des Moines County projects

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has awarded funding to two local projects. A $2,580 grant will go to the Prairie Grove Cemetery Board for masonry repairs at the Prairie Grove School. In addition, $13,414 will go to the Des Moines County Historical Society for improvements to the Phelps House Museum. Funding is through the Historical Resource Development Program, which provides grants to preserve, conserve, interpret and educate the public about historical resources.

A healthy state means a healthy economy

You may have heard about a new effort to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation within five years. Our state ranks #19 right now, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

While Iowa scores well in many areas, there is room for improvement. For example, obesity is on the rise in Iowa. Two-thirds of all Iowans are overweight or obese, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Our obesity rate was 28 percent in 2010, a big increase from the 14 percent obesity rate in 1990.

A new statewide effort aims to turn this and other unhealthy trends around. The Healthiest State Initiative focuses on improving our overall health and well being. If successful, it’ll mean a better quality of life for Iowans and a stronger economy for our state. Here’s why.

The World Economic Forum estimates that healthy lifestyle changes could mean an additional $16 billion over the next five years for job creation and economic growth in Iowa. That $16 billion results from savings in health care ($11 billion) and lost productivity ($5 billion) created by improved health. After all, about 75 percent of health care costs stem from preventable chronic conditions.

As we work toward making Iowa the healthiest state, I’ll be looking at what we can do in the Legislature to build on such past successes as ensuring that all Iowa kids can see a doctor when they are sick and establishing physical education and nutrition standards for schools. I hope we can move forward on making health insurance for small businesses more affordable, continuing successful anti-smoking efforts, and improving health care for all Iowans.

We can all help make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by making healthier choices. According to the Urban Institute, 70 percent of the factors influencing our health are within our control to improve.

Check out the Iowa Healthiest State Web site. It contains resources we can all use to improve our health and well being, such as a tool to calculate life expectancy and recommendations for improving eating habits.

Improving Iowa health and health care

This year, the Legislature approved several initiatives to improve the health and well being of Iowans:

>> Protecting seniors from abuse: Iowa is among the top states in the nation for the quality of care provided to its senior citizens, according to the AARP. We want to keep it that way. That’s why we re-established 10 long-term care inspectors, three inspectors for residential care facilities and an attorney with the Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals. The AARP applauded our efforts to give Iowans improved oversight of quality standards in nursing homes. Unfortunately, the Branstad Administration has failed so far to hire the necessary inspectors, meaning there’s more work to be done on this issue.

>> Preventing brain injuries: As a result of legislation approved this year, student athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion in a game will now be removed from competition until they’ve been examined by a licensed healthcare provider. In addition, guidelines and information about the risks, signs and symptoms of concussions and brain injuries will be provided to coaches, students and parents. The National Football League and the Brain Injury Association of Iowa encouraged us to take this step to better prevent permanent damage due to sports-related head injuries among our kids.

>> Enhancing services for Iowans with disabilities: We established a special committee to provide recommendations for improving mental health and disability services in Iowa. The goal is to reorganize our system to provide higher-quality, more accessible, efficient services to Iowans who need them. The committee is meeting this fall and will draft legislation for consideration during the 2012 session. To learn more about the committee’s work, visit the Department of Human Service’s Web site.

>> Improving treatment for Alzheimer’s and epilepsy: We created task forces to study the best ways to treat Iowans suffering from Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. They will report their results to the Legislature next spring.

Remember to vote Nov. 8

I’ll be voting in our local elections on Tuesday, November 8, and I hope you will too. Iowa has a tradition of fair, clean elections and good voter turn-out at the polls.

You can vote by mail, at your county courthouse, at a satellite voting stations, or at the polls on Election Day. If you need to register to vote or to update your address, you can do it when you cast your ballot. And we make sure every vote counts: all electronic voting machines create a paper trail in case of machine malfunction.

So this November 8th, exercise your right to vote. It’s one of the great things that make us Americans.

Become an Iowa Senate intern

Do you know a high school or college student who wants to learn communication skills and gain a behind-the-scenes look at how the Iowa Legislature works? Encourage them to consider an internship with the Senate Democratic Staff. Full-time and part-time intern positions are available year around.

Interns are an integral part of our office’s communications efforts, assisting with databases, e-mail lists, news releases, news conferences, Web updates, digital photography, and the production of audio and video clips.

For more information and to apply, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/democrats/internships. If you have questions, contact Rusty Martin at 515-281-5269 or rusty.martin@legis.iowa.gov.

Grants help school districts reduce diesel emissions

Through December 6, Iowa school districts can apply for a reimbursement match of $38,000 to replace a 1993 or older school bus that is still in regular use and wouldn’t otherwise be replaced with a new 2011 school bus with an EPA-certified bus engine.

In additional, school districts can get full reimbursement for the purchase and installation of up to 20 diesel oxidation catalysts and closed crankcase ventilation systems for their bus fleet.

The main goal of these efforts is to reduce childhood exposure to harmful diesel exhaust. More information is available at www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/AirQuality/BEEPSchoolBusEmissGrants.aspx.

Don’t get hooked by a phishing scam

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is reminding Iowans that crooks target us through our cell phones and computers.

These gadgets are a regular part of our daily lives, providing convenience and entertainment, but they can also make us vulnerable if we don’t take precautions.

Here are a few tips to protecting yourself from getting hooked by a telephone or e-mail scam:

>> Don’t reply to emails or phone messages that ask for personal information.

>> Never send personal information through e-mail. Use secure websites instead.

>> Watch your bank and credit card statements for unusual activity.

>> If you have disclosed sensitive information, alert your bank and the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center.

To learn more about avoiding identity theft, go to www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov.

Sunday Funday – Scary Questions Edition.

Of course I would do something on Halloween. Our family has always loved the stories and the lore of Halloween. We have great Christmas memories but we also have great Halloween memories. I once heard someone say that Halloween ushers in the season of ghosts and warm fires that continues through Christmas. With that let’s see what you know about Halloween and some of the characters and stories of Halloween.

1) Halloween gets its name from what?
a) the ancient Latin word for “Harvest”
b) the start of the autumn season in the British Isles.
c) the germanic holiday “hallaw oteen”
d) as the evening before All Saints day.

2) Many of the customs of Halloween come from a Celtic festival called
a) dia de los muertos
b) Saturnalia
c) Samuin
d) Bachanalia

3) The story of the headless horseman is the main event in what famous early American story?
a) “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
b) “The House of Seven Gables”
c) “The Mask of the Red Death”
d) “The Last of the Mohicans”

4) In 1962 (damn near 50 years ago) The country was taken by a record called “Monster Mash.” The singer on the record was imitating the voice of what famous horror film actor?
a) Bela Lugosi
b) Boris Karloff
c) Peter Lorre
d) Vincent Price

5) We always think of lit pumpkins on Halloween. However, long before the pumkins, Europeans were carving these to use as lanterns?
a) Watermelons
b) Cantaloupes
c) Gourds
d) Turnips

6) The novel character Dracula is believed to be based on a real life person. Who is that person?
a) Charlemagne
b) Caligula
c) Vlad Dragwylia
d) Eric the Red

7) Edgar Allan Poe could sure tell a scary tale. In what story does a man’s guilt cause him to hear sounds that do not exist?
a) “The Telltale Heart”
b) “Murders in The Rue Morgue”
c) “The Raven”
d) “The Fall of The House Of Usher”

8) Which of the following is NOT another name for the devil?
a) Magog
b) Diablo
c) Old Scratch
d) Beelzebub

9) How did those convicted in the Salem Witch Trials die?
a) Burning at the stake.
b) Drowning
c) Hanging
d) Stoning

10) While around somewhat in various forms for a long time, when did trick-or-treating became widespread in the US?
a) around 1920 or after WWI
b) around 1950 or after WWII
c) During the 1930s and the Great Depression
d) the 1970s.

Halloween is just about my favorite what with all the ghosties and ghoulies. My apologies to the Zombies union for not having a question about you. Maybe next year.
By the way – do Zombies eat popcorn with their fingers?
NO – fingers are eaten seperately. (I kill me!)

here we go:
1) d) “Halloween” is a contraction for “All hallowed’s evening” or the night before All Saint’s Day
2) c) Samuin – Samuin was a harvest festival that celebrated harvest and prepared for a long winter.
3) a) Who can forget the timid Ichabod Crane meeting the headless horseman on Halloween night in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
4) b) Boris Karloff was imitated by Bobby “Boris” Pickett.
5) d) Turnips of course
6) c) AKA “Vlad the Impaler.” The last name above could also be written “Dracul” meaning “little Dragon” of Romania
7) a) “The Telltale Heart”
8) a) Magog who was a son of Noah (I think)
9) c) despite stories of them being burned, 19 were hung and five died in prison.
10) b) Trick-or-treating became widespread @1948 – 1950 due in large part to media promotion of it.

Oops. I forgot to throw in a question about Iowa City’s world famous Halloween icon. Well, you are too smart of a crowd not to know what I am talking about. Make up your own question and make it hard. I have standards, you know.

Happy Halloween!

Today’s Occupy Iowa City Event: Video

Here’s the first of several videos of the Occupy Iowa City event today. This video shows the beginning of the march from College Green Park to the ped mall in downtown Iowa City.  At the ped mall there were speakers and a presentation by some greedy corporate pigs (not to malign actual pigs). You can also view it  and the other videos on YouTube.

Government Doesn’t Create Jobs?

“Government does not create jobs” is one of the latest and most often repeated mantras of the right wing. Or at least part of the mantra. The rest continues on to say that the only real jobs are jobs that are created by private industry.

I wonder how many who hear this mantra ever stop to analyze just what this simple little statement means. First is the implication is that government is not a “real” entity, as if government is some sort of a structure imposed on us from an outside force and not truly part of the fabric of the nation. Makes me wonder what kind of a person would believe this? Hopefully someplace in nearly everyone’s school career every American learned that the government is US. Government is a real entity that is populated by people just like you and I. We fought a very significant War so we could create a government that was not imposed on us from outsiders or even a small group of insiders such as the very rich.

We started with the concept that we are the government and throughout our history we have had at least one war and several movements to make the concept of who “WE” are to make those who share in the government more and more inclusive of those who live in this country.

As the government, we elect people to represent us. Hopefully these folks actually represent us. As part of their job of creating a representative government, our elected officials have had to set up various ways of regulating society and also create and build the infrastructure for commerce, health and social interaction. These include rules (laws) of fairness along with actual physical structures. Among other things our various governments have decided that educating future generations is a wise and valuable policy.

This was the first country organized such that the people who would be governed actually had the huge voice in how that would happen. To create the concept that this is not true is a true disservice to all those who have gone before us. And those who served in government before us have done their best to create a system that would function generations into the future.

In order to fulfill the functions of government, people must be hired to do the work which is required to make the society funtion. This means jobs must be created. So yes, government does and must create jobs. To say it doesn’t is akin to shouting at the top of your lings ” I am one dumb son-of-a-bitch.” I am not saying that every job created by government is thus a necessary job. But as the overseers of government we have the power to work in the system to correct errors. That is provided the system has not been corrupted.

The system has been deeply corrupted in the past few decades by letting one group of people – the very rich – have inordinate power. Hopefully the Occupy Wall Street movement is only the first step in re-balancing the government. Taking power away from those who have inordinate power is not easy, nor is it pretty. But it must be done or the consequences are losing the representative democracy we cherish.

As an illustration of government creating jobs, I offer Iowa City and the University of Iowa as an example. Our forefathers decided that institutions of higher learning were one of the most important work that the state should pursue. In that endeavor they secured land, built buildings, hired staff and administration, and went about the business of educationg future generations of Iowans. Throughout the years the state has continued to grow the university as the state grew. To do this, more buildings were built and staff hired.

What is happening here is that money is received from the general populace in the form of taxes and expended through their representative government to sustain growth in the state. All previous generations decided that this is a good idea. Because of this decision jobs are created by the state.

Ever wonder what would happen to Iowa City if the University were to simply close? Most of the jobs in Iowa City and much of the surrounding area depend either directly or indirectly on the University.

Is the university evil and insidious because it is a public run institution? I can’t imagine many would think so. For one reason, as a public institution you and I actually have some voice in how it is run through our representative government. Were the university private we would have little to no input on how it is run.

Those who are running against “big” government have little sense of the history that brought us here. While they espouse dismantling government, seldom do they tell you what the outcome of their replacement would be. Most of those looking to replace government functions today have scenarios in mind that enrich few and impose burdens on many. Big government is not the problem, effective government is. Representatives who claim government doesn’t work often do all they can to make sure it doesn’t. Electing folks like that is usually a huge mistake.

Occupy Iowa Halloween Weekend Events

Occupy Iowa City
ANTI-GREED MARCH AND RALLY. Saturday, October 29th, 11:30 AM College Green. Informative speakers giving examples of the shameless GREED displayed by Wall Street execs (Do you KNOW what AIG did with their bailout money?!) and what you can do to challenge their pig-like behavior. Halloween costumes encouraged.. expect theatrics and fun!

Occupied Cedarvalley
Candle Light Vigil for those who have suffered under corporate greed Friday, October 28 at 6:00pm

Occupy Cedar Rapids
http://occupycedarrapids.org/
Our general assembly is held every night at 6:30pm at 1029 3rd St. SE. Please feel free to come down and join us.

Occupy Quad Cities joins the Zombie Pride Parade!
Fight back against the Republican plan to end Medicare.
Sign up and stand with the DSCC!
Monday, October 31 · 3:00pm – 9:00pm
Bucktown Center For the Arts
225 East 2nd Street
Davenport, IA
Created By
Occupy Quad Cities
http://www.zwatch.org/Zombie-Pride-Parade.html
Bring fliers!  March starts at 5pm

Occupy IOWA/Des Moines

Big events and actions in Occupy Des Moines this weekend. Tonight, Friday, 9pm, Stewart Square, “We are all Scott Olson” vigil, march to state capitol, and rally/speakout to condemn state repression of nonviolent social change movement.

Tomorrow, Saturday, 9:30am, Sculpture Park across from corporate insurance giant Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, march to Terrace Hill to confront corporate governor Terry Branstad as part of the International “Robin Hood Tax” Day of Action.

Tomorrow, Saturday, 8-11pm – Party For Your Right to Fight dance party, People’s Park, state capitol. Funk the system.