From the beginning of the Social Security system in America, there was a clear mandate from taxpayers: Take care of our disabled, whether because of birth defect, illness, accident, or warfare. Americans have insisted, and been more than willing to fund, the care of our developmentally and intellectually disabled people.

Once again, however, Illinois' developmentally disabled community is taking an undeserved hit with $76 million in cuts in the governor's proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget that translates into $540,000 in cuts for Rock Island County, alone. The $76 million represents approximately 6 percent of a $1.2-billion budget for services for 40,000 developmentally disabled individuals in Illinois, leaving a waiting list of 21,000 that includes adults, children, and infants.

Other sources of funding, such as grants from United Way and other not-for-profit organizations, work to fill some of the funding gaps, but these organizations are also struggling, resulting in less available resources each year.

Kyle Rick, executive director of the Arc of Rock Island County, explains: "This community of individuals, including the severely developmentally and intellectually disabled, through no fault of their own, needs the most support, but is least able to ask for it, or defend itself against any decrease in resources."

Across the state, calls are being made and letters and petitions are being sent to lobby Illinois legislators to recalculate the cuts to the developmentally disabled community, because cuts will mean job reductions and the loss of critical services that are often the only lifeline these individuals possess.

As Rick wrote in a letter to State Representative Patrick Verschoore: "From Fiscal Year 2002 through the proposed Fiscal Year 2012 [budget], an 11-year period, we will have had only three increases to keep up with inflation, four years with nothing, and four years of cuts. ... The cuts in Fiscal Year 2012 will be the most severe yet."

Skies above Iowa, north of Waterloo, March 1, 2011.

Take a second look the next time you see jet-streams way up in the atmosphere. Are they lingering for a long time? Do you see a pattern or grids forming? These are not commercial airlines creating these trails in the sky.

Geo-engineering programs that claim to prevent global warming by spraying toxins into our atmosphere are commonly referred to as "chemtrails." Most people assume the white, fluffy trails being emitted from some jets as they fly across the sky are condensation trails from exhaust, or "contrails." But common sense informs us that contrails do not occur in crisscross grids across the sky, remain overhead long after the plane(s) have left the sky, or continue to expand throughout the day, culminating in a veil of fog that eventually falls to the earth.

Chemtrails have become a common occurrence both nationwide and around the world, delivering massive doses of toxic materials over not just our farmlands and homesteads but also over some of the planet's most pristine environments, including Mount Shasta in California and remote areas of the Hawaiian islands.

What are you willing to do to stop Congress permitting the largest energy companies, such as Exxon and BP, from purchasing excessive numbers of oil-drilling leases from the federal Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management in areas designated for oil extraction? The oil giants then allow the leases to remain dormant for the entire length of the contracts. Why? Because these drilling leases are bought specifically to prevent medium-to-small drillers from competitively extracting the oil, thereby shrinking the oil supply, especially domestically.

Controlling the leases but letting them sit idle gives the oil giants even greater monopolistic control of the supply of oil, guaranteeing maximum profits while eliminating thousands of American jobs. Congress and the Bureau of Land Management are perpetuating America dependence on, and further enriching, foreign countries, as well as protecting big oil's own considerable investments in drilling sites abroad.

To top off this perfectly loathsome economic policy, these same big-oil giants receive huge annual taxpayer subsidies in the billions of dollars, even though they enjoy obscene profits but pay less than 5 percent in taxes - and, more often than not, no taxes at all!

"Men who destroyed their own companies and plunged the world into financial crisis walked away from the wreckage with their fortunes intact." - Inside Job

The Academy Award-winning documentary Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson, is now out on DVD. The film, narrated by Matt Damon, documents the origins of the financial meltdown that defined the end of George W. Bush's second term, and the fallout that is defining Barack Obama's presidency.

Inside Job is well-crafted, pulls no punches, and is a must-rent DVD for anyone who wants to understand in layman's terms who and what caused the financial "Armageddon" that continues to plague global and domestic markets. Most importantly, Inside Job showcases how nothing has changed - and it's about to happen all over again if we don't wise up.

How's this for a conspiracy theory? A global agenda, unveiled in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment & Development (UNCED, also known as the Rio Earth Summit), that is being progressively implemented in every level of government in America through a United Nations (UN) initiative called Sustainable Development Agenda 21. Agenda 21, as it is referred to in the UN's own documentation (UN.org/esa/sustdev/documents/agenda21), is "a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts [sic] on the environment."

Its purpose: to centrally own and control the planet's resources under the guise of "smart planning" and "sustainable development." In fact, for most UN-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Agenda 21 is synonymous with sustainable development.

The two primary goals of Agenda 21 are to (1) decrease the world population to "sustainable" levels as a means to effectively control labor, the planet's number-one resource, and (2) eradicate individual property rights via comprehensive land-use planning that dictates land use according to a global master plan that includes control of everything from food to health to energy to security, and the list goes on.

Locally, in Scott County, the slow incremental steps of this globalist agenda are wide open for all to see. On February 3, the Scott County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to adopt the state of Iowa's "Smart Planning Principles" as part of its Comprehensive Plan. The language of such principles sounds laudable on the surface: collaboration, efficiency, diversity, revitalization. Who could not be for these principles?

SECC911For the past decade, taxpayers have felt helpless while Congress, along with the host of bureaucrats behind the scenes, spends our tax dollars like drunken sailors. Well, we may not be able to effect the change we desire at the federal level, but we absolutely can create such change here at home, at the city and county levels.

Since 2007, the creation, via Iowa Code 28E (new legislation that allows the formation of intergovernmental agreements to include emergency-management projects that cede jurisdictional authority to a newly created body), of the Scott Emergency Communications Center (SECC) has ballooned into a massive new expenditure on the backs of Scott County taxpayers.

Through a series of ever-intrusive policies, including burgeoning agency authority in the newly established SECC board that is autonomous of county supervisory oversight, and a "no-cap tax levy" as an ongoing and mandatory means to pay for the facility, including its building and operations, the SECC is scheduled to open for business in late March 2011.

Thomas E. Woods Jr.'s recent Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century is a must-read book to understand what is at stake for each of us in the states, and what we the people can do to restore our constitutionally protected liberties.

But before we can restore anything, we must first be clear about what is lost, and how we lost it. In Chapter 4, "What Is (or Are) the United States, Anyway?" Woods opens with a fascinating inquiry: "Was the United States created by a group of independent political societies that established a federal government as their agent, reserving all undelegated powers to themselves? Or was the United States the creation of a single, undifferentiated American people?"

Woods asserts that the federal government was created by America's original 13 colonies, operating as separate and distinct states, which established a compact, known as the Constitution for the United States of America, for dealing with foreign nations, common defense when necessary, and commerce between the 13 chartered states.

History, when studied in earnest, reveals that the various states' ratification documents accepting the Constitution emphasized one dominant, overarching principle: Powers not specifically enumerated to the federal government in the Constitution are automatically retained by the individual states. No exceptions.

William M. Johnson

William M. Johnson was my maternal uncle, who joined his wife of 62 years, Carm, when he passed quietly on December 30, 2010. He was 88 years old, and a treasure to me who, over these past four years, shared a rich and detailed view into my family's history. His perspectives and memories of his generation's era are invaluable.

Bill led a charmed life. He was a Depression-era child in Rock Island and fondly recalled how he used to join dozens of neighbors hunting worms at night in Longview Park so they could fish for their suppers from the Mississippi. Decades later he retired from Deere & Company, having served for 36 years as executive pilot, coming on board at the genesis of Deere's aviation department after World War II. Bill is survived by two sons and daughters-in-laws - Bill and Neva, and Tom and Kathy - 16 grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. And me and my husband, Todd. We could not have loved him more.

If there were any doubt that America has just one major political party with two branches, Democrat and Republican, it was permanently dispelled once the nation's primaries ended. I would call it the Progressive Party, with Progressive Democrats on one branch and Progressive Republicans on the other. My definition of a "progressive" is one that believes in political change and social improvement by coercive governmental action. Under a true "republican" form of government, which our founding compact dictates, societal improvement comes from self-determination and mutual respect of each other's property. The only thing that has progressed, under both major parties, is the size and burden of the welfare and warfare state, for this and future generations of Americans.

The evidence of the charade that the two major parties are not one and the same - and that the establishment media is complicit in maintaining this myth that there is a difference and you actually have choices - is this issue's cover story on ballot access in Illinois. Further evidence is the Progressive Party's vitriolic response to the Tea Party movement. Rather than engage Tea Party participants (an obviously growing and organized voting bloc) about their concerns, no matter which party their voter-registration card reads, the Progressive Party demonized them.

It has been discovered by real-estate professionals at Think Big Work Small Daily (ThinkBigWorkSmall.com) that banks are refusing to modify mortgage loans because it is far more profitable to let mortgages default so that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), using taxpayer money, can reimburse the banks and financial institutions for their losses under special agreements struck during the "financial crisis."

A recent analysis of IndyMac's new owner, One West Bank, exposed the financial benefit to One West in letting mortgages go all the way to foreclosure rather than modifying the loans or allowing short sales of the properties -- selling the property for less than the amount owed on the loan.

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