There is nothing more satisfying than sharing inspiring stories. And few things meet that criteria like Iowa Miles of Smiles Team's (Iowa MOST's) annual medical mission to the Western Highlands of Guatemala to save children from lives without hope. Its 13th mission will commence February 24, 2018.

The standard operating procedure for minutes of the meetings is to only provide the public with the most stripped-down version of what happened. In Scott County, this means all that is recorded is the time the meeting started and ended, who made or seconded a motion, and how each supervisor voted on said motion. No inclusion of who was a guest speaker from the private sector or other governments, or which staff member spoke on which agenda item, or what any of the discussion around an agenda item consisted of.

How do Americans square their claim of a free and open people when we surrender our privacy and personal details of our lives for nothing more than convenience without question or the most rudimentary concern for the consequences?

In our Constitutional Republic, the citizenry still has the power and political tools to create whatever change we truly desire as a Republic. Alarmingly, however, we have lowered the bar for our participation so far that 'We the People”'s role in governance is almost obsolete. Coalescing now, to right our country's ship, is unachievable if we don't first acknowledge systematic displacement due to our willing abdication of our civic roles.

Talk to anyone over 40, and most will tell you they think and feel as if they are still in their thirties. This is borne out every time the Night People announce a reunion concert in the Quad Cities and droves of fans turn out for the event.

No matter what age we are when we lose our parents, we are always children in our grief. Letting go is a swirling confusion of acceptance, relief any suffering is over, and overwhelming sadness that such an important part of ourselves is missing, no longer accessible. This holds true for our beloved father, Paul McCarthy Jr., who passed on Mother's Day, May 14, at age 82, after several years of struggling with heart disease. And even though his passing was imminent, losing him brought a crushing emptiness.

Todd Martin Stafne

It is with a heavy heart that I write these words. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Todd Martin Stafne, passed unexpectedly at his home on April 11.

Todd was part of the circle of lifelong friends in Bettendorf (three of whom preceded him in death – Chuck High, Dave Glynn, and Dave Halverson) that cornered the market on being the most fun, the best looking, the most popular, and the most fiercely loyal. I have commented before that this special group of friends was a cut above in every respect, cool as hell and just as kind. All still are.

Describing Todd as another total Bettendorf original and force of nature (while entirely true) is putting it mildly. He had a thunderous presence. His joie de vivre was underpinned by a fabulous sense of humor and the ability to tell a story that none could rival. He rocked the house every time. Laughter is one of the things I most cherish about growing up with him.

If you are consuming your news from broadcast networks ABC, NBC, or CBS, or from cable channels Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN, you are arguably among the most misinformed, or under-informed, viewers in modern times. Not only is precious little of those outlets’ daily content composed of unbiased, need-to-know, evidence-based information; most of it is nothing more than guided speculation, therefore hardly reliable as relevant news.

I have warned readers many times that guided speculation is a sophisticated strategy to manipulate viewers and push us into predetermined conclusions. The Obama administration called it “nudging.” Cass Sunstein, the administrator of the White House Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (RCReader.com/y/nudge1) from 2009 to 2012, co-authored a book on the subject titled Nudge, and its precepts were implemented throughout the executive branch, via executive order, to effect greater acceptance by the public of President Barack Obama’s policies and programs (RCReader.com/y/nudge2). It is doubtful the new Trump administration will disband this inter-agency behavior-modification department. The question should be: Toward what desired outcomes is the public being nudged now?

If you haven’t heard the remarkable story of “Rescuing River,” it’s time you did. First, River is a beautiful, soulful dog. River was found in northern Clinton, Iowa, shot in the head three times and left for dead by his owner. It was during a particularly brutal time in Clinton when two other dogs were similarly shot and abandoned; one lost its life. River’s story is shared on Facebook (Facebook.com/rescuingriver) for those interested in learning more about this remarkable dog, his remarkable rescuers, and the fan base that has ensued in support of River. It is the most uplifting, wonderful story, and a joy to read.

Now the tables have turned, and River’s rescuer Maggie Stafford needs our help.

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard in 2013. Photo by the American Federation of Government Employees.

There were several noteworthy pieces of legislation passed in the 11th hour of President Barack Obama’s administration that flew almost entirely under the radar. The most alarming concerns controlling how information will be filtered then disseminated to the public.

Readers are urged to familiarize themselves with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 (NDAA), signed December 23, as it relates to your personal security (RCReader.com/y/radar1). It includes a most disturbing new provision with the Countering Foreign Propaganda & Disinformation Act of 2016 (RCReader.com/y/radar2) that was slipped into the NDAA bill as a matter of political convenience.

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