(Editor's note: This is one of three articles on Ron Paul in the December 8 issue of the River Cities' Reader. The package also includes Kathleen McCarthy's "Ron Paul Personifies Iowa GOP Party Platform" editorial and Dave Trotter's "Electability: Ron Paul Soundly Defeats Obama for These 11 Reasons" cover story.)

Voters memories' are getting shorter and shorter, emboldening the mainstream media (MSM) to utterly fabricate information in order to manipulate public opinion regarding Ron Paul's popularity and electability.

At the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference - an annual multi-day event of speakers presented as quintessential conservatives (Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Donald Trump all spoke at this year's convention held in February in Washington, D.C.) - Fox News edited the footage it broadcast by inserting booing during the announcement that Ron Paul had won the straw poll (for second year in a row), when in reality he was getting loud cheers. Fox was called out quickly by direct observers and had to issue an apology, stating, "It was clearly a mistake; we used the wrong videotape." Said Fox's Bill Hemmer, "It's an honest mistake. We apologize for the error. We look forward to having representative Paul back on our program very soon." (RCReader.com/y/media1) How is deliberately altering footage, replacing fact with fiction, an "honest mistake"? What possible explanation could there be for altering any news footage in the first place? It begs the question: How much of this "editing" is going on in other parts of the news?

Emergency-response dispatching console, located inside the Scott Emergency Communications Center building at 1100 East 46th Street in Davenport.

Leaders in the consolidation of Scott County emergency dispatch and record-keeping claim a number of benefits: that it has been and will be a good deal for taxpayers; that it has resulted in better interdepartmental communications between emergency responders; and that it will eventually reduce the amount of time between when an emergency call is made and when appropriate personnel are dispatched.

But is it, as originally advertised, saving money?

The answer to that question depends on how you look at it, but for property owners in Scott County, the bottom line is that their tax rates are higher as a direct and indirect result of the consolidation.

The Scott County overall tax-levy rate rose by 90 cents per $1,000 of valuation in Fiscal Year 2011, as the levy for emergency management rose from 5 cents to $1.05 - nearly all of which is funding consolidated emergency dispatch. Scott County dropped its levy rate outside of emergency management, and Davenport and Bettendorf have also lowered their property-tax rates, but the net financial effect of consolidation has been property-tax rates that are anywhere from 65 cents to 90 cents higher depending on where one lives.

Connie Corcoran Wilson with granddaughters Ava and Elise WilsonSome grandmas, during the holiday season, will give toys as presents. Others will give clothes.

Connie Corcoran Wilson, though, is giving her granddaughters a book ... that she wrote and published herself.

"It's my Christmas gift to the girls," says Wilson of her new children's book Christmas Cats in Silly Hats, the second self-published work by the much-published local author. "I wrote it for them, and thought it would be a nice present.

"Of course," she says with a laugh, "marketing-wise, I didn't think it would be such a dumb thing, either. You might not rush out to buy it in July, but in December ... !"

Bo CaldwellGiven that her November 30 lecture at St. Ambrose University is titled "Finding Faith & Fiction in China," it seems odd that author Bo Caldwell has never actually been to the country.

Once you know her story, though, the title of the lecture (being presented as part of the school's academic-year-long China Project) makes more sense. Caldwell might not have found faith and fiction in the physical China, but she did in a China that has disappeared - the place where her grandparents and uncle lived and worked in the first half of the 20th Century.

"I was writing about a China that was long ago," Caldwell explained in an interview last month. "And the country and the city of Shanghai have changed so dramatically. ... I didn't feel like it would help me that much to go there."

She added that "China has a connection in a home-like way. That's where my grandparents spent much of their lives. It's where my mom and her siblings grew up. Chinese things when I was a kid felt like home in a weird way."

The Distant Land of My Father was published in 2001 and follows the outline of her uncle's life in Shanghai - how he lost his wealth and almost his life during a tumultuous time. Last year's City of Tranquil Light is based on the experiences of her missionary grandparents in China.

That makes clear how Caldwell found fiction in China. But faith was a function of breast cancer and its treatment, both of which changed the nature of the book that would become City of Tranquil Light.

(This is the first of two articles on the Scott Emergency Communications Center. This piece focuses on implementation problems with emergency-response consolidation. The second part will deal with the price tag and to what extent taxpayers have gotten what they were promised.)

Let's start with the metaphors.

We're roughly six months into the transition to a consolidated Scott County emergency-dispatch and -records system, said Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin on October 6. "This is the part of the movie where ... the anxiety is. Then there's the resolution at the end, and there's a happy ending. We're at that point where we're going to be focusing on what the issues are."

"In a crawl/walk/run category, we stood up and got wobbly," said Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn, also on October 6. "But we're still standing. But we're not walking yet. But we're pretty much not crawling, either. So we're working our way forward, and we hope to get to running. And I think we're going to get to running; we're not there yet."

The Scott Emergency Communications Center (SECC) brings under one roof - at 1100 East 46th Street in Davenport - what had been four dispatching centers, serving Scott County's 12 municipal and county law-enforcement agencies, 16 fire departments, and five ambulance services.

All those agencies are now using the same radio system, and law-enforcement agencies are also using a single record-keeping system - both of which allow for improved interdepartmental communication. Agencies went live with the system from early April through early May.

Still to come - probably early next year - is the consolidation of each organization's dispatchers into a single dispatching entity, and the separation of call-taking and dispatching functions. The latter of those is expected to shave 30 seconds off the time it takes to dispatch emergency responders.

And late next year, Medic EMS will decide whether to fold its dispatching operations into SECC or just continue to have its dispatchers working out of the SECC building.

By the standards of local government, the project is complicated. "It takes a good solid year to iron out" issues and difficulties, said SECC Director Brian Hitchcock, who previously oversaw consolidations in Ashland County, Wisconsin, and McHenry County, Illinois. "Every one of those has issues and bugs that have to be worked out. ... We all wish it could happen overnight." He noted that every consolidation takes a different amount of time to work through, but that the one-year estimate runs through next April.

The consolidation - recommended by a 2006 study and put into motion by a December 2007 intergovernmental agreement - is also expensive, with capital costs of roughly $28 million. The building itself cost $7.31 million. New portable radios for all agencies cost almost $7 million, purchased without a formal bidding process. Installing a "central electronics bank and associated communications gear into and around the 911 center" cost more than $1.6 million, Hitchcock said. And the dispatching and record-keeping software that has been so problematic cost $2.7 million.

Project Censored annually publishes its list of the year's top "censored" stories. "We define modern censorship as the subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in our mass-media outlets," its Web site states. "On a daily basis, censorship refers to the intentional non-inclusion of a news story - or piece of a news story - based on anything other than a desire to tell the truth. Such manipulation can take the form of political pressure (from government officials and powerful individuals), economic pressure (from advertisers and funders), and legal pressure (the threat of lawsuits from deep-pocket individuals, corporations, and institutions)."

Put differently, these 25 stories represent the most important news that Project Censored felt was under-reported over the past year.

Censored 2012: Sourcebook for the Media Revolution, by Mickey Huff and Project Censored with an introduction by Dr. Peter Phillips, is available (along with more detailed media analysis and sources for these summaries) at ProjectCensored.org. The book is published by Seven Stories Press.

(1) More U.S. Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat

In 2010, for the second year in a row, more U.S. soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat (462). "If you ... know the one thing that causes people to commit suicide, please let us know," General Peter Chiarelli told the Army Times, "because we don't know." Suicide is a tragic but predictable human reaction to being asked to kill - and watch your friends be killed.

(A sidebar about Christian Care's August 6 "Walk the Walk" event can be found here.)

Quad City Pheonix Festival organizer Emily JawoiszA celebration of survival in the face of seemingly unbearable hardship, August 7's Quad City Phoenix Festival - taking place in Rock Island's Schwiebert Riverfront Park - will find local performers, artists, self-defense instructors, and guest speakers raising funds for area shelters, halfway houses, and domestic-violence awareness programs. And as the phoenix is a mythological bird that famously rises from the ashes to become a newer and stronger version of its previous self, the festival's name, says organizer Emily Jawoisz, is perfectly apt.

Since the NuVal food-scoring system was introduced at all Hy-Vee stores in January 2009, my family - both consciously and subconsciously - has changed the way it buys and eats.

There are times when we've discussed whether to buy this yogurt or that yogurt, and the decision was based on nothing more than the higher NuVal score. (Sometimes, we look at the nutrition panel to try to figure out why a certain score was higher. Sometimes, we succeed.) And I'm certain there have been times when, without thinking about it, we've grabbed one food item instead of the lower-scoring version right next to it.

The funny thing is that until I began researching this article, we took it on faith that NuVal scores meaningfully and accurately reflected the nutritional content of the food we were buying.

Conceptually, the system is intuitively understood. It's a number from 1 to 100 (on top of NuVal's joined-hexagon logo) on the shelf tags of a vast majority of edible items in Hy-Vee. The higher the score, the better the food is nutritionally. Fresh blueberries get a 100, and nearly all fresh fruits and vegetables score in the 90s. Scores for hot dogs generally range from 6 to 16, while sugared sodas get a 1.

Of course, you already know that fresh fruits and vegetables are good for you, and hot dogs and sugared sodas aren't. Where NuVal is most instructive - and fascinating - is within a given food group. In its simplest form, NuVal is about deciding between two or three or 10 products jostling for your attention on the same supermarket shelf. As Dr. David L. Katz - the chief architect of NuVal and director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center - said in an interview last month: "Any aisle of the supermarket where you were already going to buy something, go ahead, but try to buy the most nutritious version that satisfies your wallet and your palate."

Zachary Michael Jack

Author Zachary Michael Jack is a seventh-generation Iowan - the son of a farmer - who lives in Jones County, and like many people with deep roots in the Hawkeye State, his identity is intertwined with his home.

"It's a state that we imprint very strongly on where we're from and [that] we consider a lifelong commitment," he said in a phone interview this week. "Each person manifests that advocacy in different ways. ...

"If you do love a place, part of that love ultimately evolves into advocacy for that place. ... Kind of put your weight behind things that are homegrown."

The 37-year-old Jack - who will speak and read from his creative-nonfiction book Native Soulmate (scheduled for September release) at the Bettendorf Public Library on July 21 - is throwing his weight around in writing. An associate professor of English at North Central College, he has edited Iowa: The Definitive Collection and Letters to a Young Iowan: Good Sense from the Good Folks of Iowa for Young People Everywhere.

But with last year's What Cheer, Jack started on a new path. It was his first novel, and a mystery wrapped around a love story - in the conventional man-and-woman sense, but also reflecting a love of the Midwest and of traditions and things nearly lost to time.

In Illinois, you could get a lighter sentence for killing a cop than recording one.

Section 14-4 of the Illinois criminal code reads: "The eavesdropping of an oral conversation ... between any law-enforcement officer ... while in the performance of his or her official duties ... is a Class 1 felony." Under Illinois law, a person is "eavesdropping" when he or she "knowingly and intentionally uses an eavesdropping device for the purpose of hearing or recording all or any part of any conversation" without the consent of all parties to the conversation.

A Class 1 felony is punishable by up to 15 years' imprisonment. My irreverent sense of the humor often gets me in trouble, but I just can't contain it here: You could get a lighter sentence for killing a cop than recording one. When Jonathan Posey was convicted of reckless homicide in the 2001 dragging death of Illinois State Police Master Sergeant Stanley Talbot in Rock Island, he only got a five-year sentence for that crime. Good for Mr. Posey, he wasn't videotaping.

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