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The Pension Time Bomb: Why Public-Sector Retiree Benefits Need to Change, and the Barriers to Meaningful Reform PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 08 November 2012 05:00

[Note: Commentary from the Reader's editor, published on this topic, can be found here.]

A riddle: What do you get if you add $209 billion to $54 billion to $15 billion?

If you answered “a lot,” you’re correct and not particularly inclined toward math.

If you answered $278 billion, you’re adept at arithmetic and correct, if literal-minded.

If you answered the respective unfunded liabilities for Illinois’ state-run pension funds, its retiree health-care system, and its pension bonds, you’re correct and probably cheating.

And if you answered “a time bomb,” you’re probably most correct. Because while the numbers are important, they’re constantly changing and open to interpretation, and the most important aspect of them is their magnitude. Whether it’s cast as an $83-billion pension problem or a $278-billion benefits issue, the sheer size of it shows that it can’t be solved with tinkering.

 
Quad-City Water Lore: Contest Winners from the Bettendorf Public Library; Event November 5 PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 12:04

As part of its yearlong “Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility, & Compassion” program, the Bettendorf Public Library held a water-themed essay, poetry, photography, and songwriting contest. Several winners will perform their entries at the “Quad-City Water Lore” event on Monday, November 5, at 7 p.m. in the Bettendorf Room at the library (2950 Learning Campus Drive). A reception begins at 6:30 p.m.

They will be joined by Bucktown Revue emcee Scott Tunnicliff, Rock Island Lines creator Roald Tweet with Chris Dunn, former Quad Cities poet laureate Dick Stahl, turtle expert Mik Holgersson, riverboat pilot Harry “Duke” Pelton, and Quad-City Times columnist Alma Gaul. Musical entertainment will include the St. Ambrose Bee Sharp men’s a cappella ensemble, the Quad-City Ukelele Club, Dwayne Hodges, and Jon Eric.

Thanks to the Bettendorf Public Library for its permission to allow us to publish the winners below.

 
Censored: The Top Under-Reported News from the Past Year PDF Print E-mail
Media
Written by Project Censored   
Thursday, 11 October 2012 05:22

Read about additional censored stories in Kathleen McCarthy’s editorial here.

Each year, Project Censored compiles a list of important news stories that go unreported, under-reported, or misreported by mainstream news outlets. These top-25 “censored” stories from the past year follow, and collectively they paint a much different picture of the world from what you’ll find in daily newspapers and news broadcasts.

As Andy Lee Roth and Mickey Huff write in their introduction to the forthcoming Censored 2013: Dispatches From the Media Revolution – The Top 25 Censored Stories & Media Analysis of 2011-12, Project Censored “holds to account the corporate media who, all too often it seems, would rather be let alone than bothered when it comes to real, important news; and it celebrates the efforts of independent journalists who in 2011-2012 brought forward crucial news stories to stir us from complacency.”

Censored 2013: Dispatches From the Media Revolution will be released October 30. In addition to the stories below, it includes expanded discussions of them in the context of five thematic “clusters”; a section exploring “narratives of power”; and international “censored” stories.

For more information on the book and Project Censored, visit ProjectCensored.org.

 
Winners and Favorites from the 2012 Short-Fiction Contest PDF Print E-mail
Literature
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:51

We received 69 entries in our fiction contest, and prize-winners and a selection of other favorites are published here.

To refresh your memory, we set a limit of 250 words per entry. (For future contests, a bit of advice: Count by hand – at least twice.) We also required each entry to conform to one of five prompts in genre (ghost story, romance, tall tale, noir, or biography), point-of-view character (inanimate object, child, polygamist, criminal, or nun), and conflict/action (betrayal, reunion, shame, obsolescence, or unrequited love). And for the brave and/or foolish, we offered the elective option of writing in the style of Dr. Seuss, Ernest Hemingway, William Shakespeare, William S. Burroughs, or Twitter. Who knew there were so many stories waiting to be told about longing objects, sensual nuns, and Seussian polygamists?

 
An Act Built for Misery: Comedian Doug Stanhope Performs His Lacerating Stand-Up at RIBCO on September 28 PDF Print E-mail
Comedy
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 14 September 2012 06:00

Doug Stanhope

(Author's warning: You know that label that gets slapped on certain CDs boasting raunchy language? The one that reads "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content"? Please imagine that label getting slapped on this interview, too.)

 

If you read the praise bestowed on him by critics and contemporaries in Great Britain, you might imagine that Doug Stanhope is less a stand-up comedian than a stand-up deity.

The UK’s daily newspaper the Guardian, for example, had this to say: “Stanhope shocks you with the virulence of his lucidity; he shocks you into realizing how transparent the confidence trick of Western propaganda can be made to seem. What he has in abundance is the charm, don’t-give-a-damn swagger, and aggressive intelligence that make for important, exciting comedy.”

Iconic British comedian Ricky Gervais, meanwhile, offered this tweet to the world: “Doug Stanhope might be the most important stand-up working today.”

So how does the American Stanhope, who makes frequent tour stops in England and Scotland, feel about spending time abroad?

“I hate it,” says the 45-year-old comedian during a recent phone interview. “It’s not good at all. I mean, I have a great fan base over there, but I just hate the day-to-day of being there. It’s so ... depressing. Like, I get seriously depressed, and I don’t want to do comedy ever again, anywhere.

 
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