• The audio alchemists of Negativland have done it again, challenging listeners with an electronic cacophony to accompany their latest "art damage" project, entitled Death Sentences of the Polished & Structurally Weak.

I am happy to report that the parents of students from Grant and Johnson elementary schools are appealing the Iowa Department of Education's administrative law judge's decision to uphold the closings of the two facilities.

When the Davenport City Council on Wednesday considers raising fares for the city's mass-transit service by 50 percent, it's doing so with the risk that the move could backfire. While the city has estimates on how much revenue the fare increase might generate, history and the size of the hike suggest that the benefit might not be enough to bring the service out of the red.

After seeing the Friday night performance of Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's latest murder mystery, Fatal Attraction, one line stood out: "The American public will accept anything except being bored." Audiences don't have to worry, because there's no room for boredom during Bernard Slade's two-and-a-half-hour thriller. The action is almost non-stop, the characters are engaging, and the technical elements give the show a nice finishing touch.

• According to a study published this month in the journal Health Education Research, the nation's three leading student drug-prevention programs are either ineffective or under-evaluated. Programs highlighted in the study include McGruff's Drug Prevention & Child Protection, Here's Looking at You 2000, and DARE.

A budding political dynasty is in deep trouble on Chicago's Southwest Side.

No, I'm not talking about the attorney- general candidacy of House Speaker Michael Madigan's daughter, Lisa. And I'm not referring to former Senate President Tom Hynes' son, Dan, whose re-election as state comptroller is all but assured.

The disturbing connection between Enron executives and the current administration becomes more apparent with each passing day. During the Florida presidential re-count, each party established a fund in support of its respective candidates.

Lately, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has been trying to put the best possible face on state-government ethics. But despite some positive press coverage, the group's spin falls way short, particularly when it comes to Illinois.

In this weather, I pity the actors in Genesius Guild's production of Macbeth. In addition to the fact they're on stage wearing three layers of clothing and toting swords, shows are performed at Rock Island's Lincoln Park outdoor theatre, which draws little breeze, lots of bugs, and, of course, heat. Though these aren't ideal conditions for actors, or for audience members, people willing to brave the heat for three hours and put on the bug spray will be more than pleased to see an incredibly well-done yet traditional version of one of Shakespeare's great tragedies.

The great thing about life is the chance to know and love unique, inspiring, and truly noble individuals who make a difference in the lives they touch. Albert ("Al") Stafne is just such an individual. Al quietly painted for years as part of his intellectual expression - a fact not widely known by many who know him.

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