(Note: Links to PDF documents can be found within this article.)

This photo, entered into evidence by the Scott County assistant attorney in the jury trial of Keith Meyer, shows Meyer on his property at 1012 Marquette Street in Davenport.

Last week, justice was served in Scott County when a jury of 12 level-headed Iowans found Keith Meyer, Davenport's former Ward 3 alderman, not guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor: "assault while displaying a weapon." In November, Meyer was accused by his neighbor, John Fahs - with whom he has a well-documented history of trouble - and arrested by Davenport police. If convicted, Meyer could have been sentenced for up to two years in prison.

Meyer chose to represent himself in this matter, which necessarily consumed his time and energy for four months. It is no small matter to represent yourself in the administrative code system, because the rules are stacked against regular folks without attorneys. But Meyer is not your typical go-along-to-get-along citizen, and he is clearly smarter than your average bear. In addition, he is nearly totally deaf. Yet he prevailed, albeit largely because the prosecutor's case was so weak.

The case against Meyer should never have been brought. There was no injured party. It was bogus from the jump. Back when courts made more sense, any charge that could potentially result in being jailed for more than 30 days required a grand-jury indictment. Today, however, under administrative procedural rules, county attorneys have effectively usurped the people's authority by removing grand juries from the process.

It is glaringly obvious that the tragedy surrounding the Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, shootings is being grossly objectified to achieve a political agenda of disarming Americans.

I am no lover of weapons. In fact, I abhor any violence, including the disgraceful warfare the United States is currently engaged in. I despise the weakness that characterizes our lack of civic will in the 21st Century to hold our governments accountable for perpetuating both warfare and welfare upon the people.

We are truly a pack of sheep when it comes to preserving our legacy as a republic governed by the rule of law. Let's be crystal clear, folks: America was not founded as a democracy. America was founded as a republic. There is a huge difference that needs clarification - again.

Americans have serious problems to sort out sooner than later. The problem with our problems is that they are so ill-defined by the mainstream media (TV, radio, print) upon which too many of us depend for our news diets. So the first order of business is to accept that the mainstream media is no longer a reliable source for relevant, need-to-know information. In fact, much news is deliberately manipulated, crafted, and often contrived to elicit a specific response from consumers, one designed to benefit the agenda(s) of an increasingly apparent goal - globalization.

In the 1940s and '50s, print and TV ads depicted, of all things, doctors and professional athletes enjoying the soothing benefits of smoking cigarettes. One TV spot stated, "In a repeated national survey, doctors of all branches of medicine, doctors in all parts of the country, were asked, 'What cigarette do you smoke, doctor?' More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette" (RCReader.com/y/cigs).

Of course, since then we've all wised up and realized the absurdity of the message that cigarettes are a healthy habit. Under the premise of healthful living, in 1952 the City of Davenport contracted with the Iowa Water Company to add fluoride to the public water supply (RCReader.com/y/agreement). Sixty years later, it's time to wise up and realize the absurdity of this practice ... or at a minimum, with the benefit of scientific research, have a public debate about medicating the populace through the public water supply.

In December 2010, the Reader published a cover story titled "Don't Drink the Water? Author Paul Connett Wants People to Take a Fresh (or First) Look at Fluoridation" (RCReader.com/y/fluoride). This article explored Connett's book The Case Against Fluoride and how he hoped it would get people to consider fluoridation "beyond the endorsements of professional societies and public-health officials."

Managing Editor Jeff Ignatius wrote in this article: "While the provocative subtitle is How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water & the Bad Science & Powerful Politics That Keep It There, the book's primary concern is science. ... The simplest way to state the ... premise is that until better scientific studies can be done on the effects of fluoridation, the risks of health problems far outweigh the proven benefits, which The Case Against Fluoride says are negligible."

Quad Citians concerned about the health and well-being of all who must rely on the public water supply are fortunate that environmental toxicologist Connett will be speaking at two free public events, January 14 at the Bettendorf Public Library and January 15 at the Moline Public Library. Both events will begin at 6:30 p.m. and together will launch a public-awareness campaign being positioned by opponents of fluoridation as "Have the Debate." Connett will give a presentation on the first evening, while the second evening will be a debate forum at which proponents of fluoridation will have the opportunity to publicly prove Connett wrong.

We are what we eat is an age-old adage that has more implications than ever in the context of modern-day science and biotechnological experimentation with the genetic makeup of the food we eat. Whether it is the highly processed corn- and soy-based products that permeate nearly everything we consume or the animals we eat that are fed the same corn-based products, the long-term effects of consuming genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified organism (GMO) food are yet to be fully documented. (This does not include the cross-breeding of cows and goats with spiders, for instance.) Of course, mankind has been cross-breeding plants for millennia, so some ask: "What is the controversy about?"

The controversy emerges when mega-corporations (also known as big agra) such as Monsanto produce seeds that are injected with the DNA of other species to produce specific effects such as resistance to chemicals and herbicides. Beyond the self-perpetuating - some might say monopolistic - marketplace this creates (Monsanto sells the herbicide Roundup that the seeds it sells are resistant to), critics are concerned about the long-term effects to human health by tinkering with Mother Nature so much.There's a Catch-22 at work here, too. The long-term studies that would allay consumer fears are not pursued by the purveyors of the GMO products, but those same purveyors fiercely defend their intellectual-property rights so that third parties cannot publish their own independent studies done with the GMO products. If the GMO products are so wonderful, then why not open the doors wide on independent research?

The media cartels, currently the public-relations arm of politicians (and their bureaucracies) and the corporate elite, lend their full cooperation in censoring ideas that inform political debate in America. Why? Because an informed populace is an anathema to the two-party system so critical to the current political power base. This self-perpetuating system enriches the global elite through strategic and privileged partnerships that confiscate and consolidate the world's wealth and resources.

There can be no question that America is now in an era of authoritarianism, and we, as a people, are on the brink of facing extreme tyranny in our lifetimes. (And your locally elected officials and officers stand idly by forsaking their oaths of office, under the pretense of violating your rights in the name of security and arrogantly determining that they are providing you a quality of life you deserve. But I digress ... .)

From the militant police state to the invasion of your privacy to the violation of your personal liberties, we have published articles for nearly 20 years documenting our circumstances that resemble what many have referred to as a slowly boiling frog: It does not know it's being cooked until it's too late.

Last week, U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) delivered his farewell speech on the House floor, putting a bookend on his 23-year career as arguably the most fervent, principled, and consistent defender of the Bill of Rights. Below are the text (from his House Web page) and video of Dr. Paul's speech, well worth noting for reminding us that the original intent of America's founding documents was to govern the government, not govern the people.

Pensions are among the most important investments American workers and employers make. We work for years so that when the time comes, we can retire with enough income to live comfortably, enjoy the much-deserved leisure time, and engage in activities of our own choosing.

This week's cover story examines Iowa's and Illinois' pensions, which, when coupled with health-care benefits, are in grave danger of insolvency, threatening to potentially bankrupt Illinois. This is due to the unsustainable "defined-benefit" pension plan that promises each employee a percentage of his or her annual income, regardless of the amount of contributions made by the employee, or on the employee's behalf by the employer (the state's taxpayers), over his/her years of service.

There are two Scott County Board of Supervisors seats up for grabs in this year's election. Voters who want a supervisor who actually supervises and reads the materials being presented prior to a vote would do well to give Jesse Anderson's candidacy some serious consideration, regardless of your political affiliation. With experience and age, wisdom and knowledge should logically follow. Not so with the Scott County Board of Supervisors and how it has conducted business over the past several years, especially relative to big issues that impact all taxpayers in Scott County.

A fascinating and foolproof strategy for political speechifying is to make mostly sweeping statements that are vague enough that listeners are forced to subconsciously fill in the blanks for themselves. Take this sweeping-but-vague statement: "We need to create good-paying jobs to bring this country back to its former greatness." To be truly meaningful for listeners, this statement needs more specific definitions of terms, such as an actual wage range in place of "good-paying." However, instead of providing specific details, politicians purposely allow each listener to mentally substitute his/her own version of "good-paying" with satisfactory wage ranges of their own.

What is meant by "former greatness" in the above statement? It doesn't matter because listeners will specify the meaning internally. Each of us will automatically plug in our own definitions, while simultaneously giving the politicians the credit for delivering speeches we can relate to, yet avoiding any accountability for their details.

This issue's cover story puts to rest any doubts Americans may have about the media cartel's deplorable performance in providing relevant, reliable, truthful information. The way the media cartel knowingly under-reports, hides, and sometimes outright manufactures data on critical topics (including many more not covered here) makes it public enemy number one.

Nothing is more detrimental to a free and open society than an uninformed populace. The media cartel has devolved into nothing more than an overt propaganda machine that systematically manipulates Americans' thought processes to keep the masses docile and compliant in an ever-increasing authoritarian regime. The advances in technology afforded to us have proven to be a double-edged sword that further enables something like the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell's prophetic novel 1984. The good news is that if the people avail themselves of truth that is out there, they can break free of this assault of lies, misinformation, and propaganda. And, while Project Censored is a very valuable place to start, even that project has missed some critical under-reported topics and events. And so we share some of those with you below as a supplement to this cover story.

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