NPR Story: Justice is Not Blind for the Poor

This story is not specifically about the Quad Cities. It is a story about poverty and the Quad Cities have their fair share of poor people just like every other town in the U.S.

Joseph Shapiro reports – When the poor are arrested or ticketed and cannot pay their fines they are often incarcerated, and so in many states they are, in essence, punished twice. Wealthier people can pay their fines and go. The poor cannot. Most U.S. court systems operate in this manner.

Link to the story (12 min.)

State by State Court Fee Chart on NPR

Profiles of Criminals Who Were Forced to “Pay or Stay”  


Viewpoint: Professor Shares Her Experiences in Afghanistan

Professor Jordan Schneider shared news of her recent visit to Afghanistan with a supportive crowd at the Bettendorf Library. Schneider was an intern at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, D.C. in the 1990s. Part 1 of that presentation. Part 2. (Still photos in this video were obtained from Wikimedia Commons. Butte College logo and overhead shot came from and w w

Below is a slide show of some of the artifacts and memorabilia Professor Jordan Schneider brought with her for the February 25th presentation sponsored by the World Affairs Council of the Quad Cities.

President Obama Visits Galesburg

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Local Residents React to President’s Message – Click to Listen: Link to audio story

An ocean blue sky dotted with islands of clouds stretched over a crowd of about 400 well-wishers and protesters at Knox College as they greeted President Obama’s motorcade.
Once inside Memorial Gym the president started off reminding Galesburg residents of what they told him about the changing economy in 2005. That’s when the local Maytag factory closed, leaving 1,500 people without good paying jobs.
“So these were stories of families who had worked hard, believed in the American Dream, but they felt like the odds were increasingly stacked against them. And they were right. Things had changed.”
“We’ve had a lot of repercussions in the area and all you have to do is drive around and see. The housing is deteriorating and so on. And people just don’t have enough money to make those improvements. I’m one of those people.”
That’s Sallee Wade. She’s a semi-retired yoga teacher and writer and has lived in Galesburg for years. She’s seen the changes in town since Maytag left.
“I would love to make some improvements on my property but it has lost value.”
“You just don’t have the extra…”
“No, no. There’s no extra. There’s always enough for this day, enough for this day. But I know people who are a lot worse off than I am.”
The president outlined five familiar areas he wants to focus on to help the U.S. stay competitive. They are: modernizing our infrastructure to create jobs, addressing skyrocketing college costs, new home ownership initiatives, continuing to focus on health care, and helping the middle class retire securely.
He also said that, behind closed doors, some Republicans in Congress agree with this agenda. But Mary King said she thinks things in Washington are pretty hopeless.
“I agree with everything he says but I still don’t know how it’s ever going to get done. No, it’s not his fault, but how’s he going to get anything through Congress?”
But George Lane from Peoria thought he heard something a little different.
“Was there anything in particular he said that really kind of struck a chord with you?”
“Yes. That he will go ahead and use the power of his office and try to bypass Congress as much as he can. Congress has not given him any cooperation whatsoever.”
Emails and calls to Illinois GOP leaders to get their responses to Obama’s speech were not returned. But Congressman Aaron Shock’s office directed me to a press release published by the Illinois House GOP Delegation.The delegation says they have worked to repeal the Affordable Care Act, are working on a tax reform bill they say will stimulate the economy, have presented a bill to permanently fix the student loan crisis, and quote: “we stand ready to work toward real, bipartisan solutions, not listen to another stump speech”.
Naturally you would expect to find most people at an Obama speech agreeing with him, but several people who said their own personal economies were fine were worried about global competitiveness. And they’re worried about younger adults and what lies ahead for them.
Doc Patterson is a retired firefighter from Chicago and Monmouth.
“The state of Illinois has been a leader in a lot of things in the world, not only locally here in Galesburg but nationally. And to hear him say we’re going to bring that back, and his plan, those five bullet points, are so important for these younger generations because they’re giving up hope. And I hope this re-energizes the area.”

Link to the GOP press release: here.

Link to full text of the president’s speech: here.
(The audio quote from the speech was gathered from a podcast published on

Related News:

Quad City Physician Shares Insight About the Syrian Conflict

Click to Listen:Background on the Syrian Conflict as Explained by Dr. Kayali

 The World Affairs Council of the Quad Cities hosted three speakers at its April meeting, all of whom had first-hand experience with the political upheaval in their home countries.

QC residents Aussama Bazaraa, from Egypt, Dr. Adnan Ismail, from Yemen, and Dr. Kayali, from Syria, described how life at home has changed for them and their families.

Dr. Kayali completed his medical training in Des Moines. While living in Iowa he and his wife gave birth to their two children. They decided to return to Syria in 2006 so their children could grow up near other family members, but at the urging of his mother, Dr. Kayali brought his family back to the U.S. in 2012 until life returns to normal in Syria.

Due to current events in Syria his story is featured. What follows are parts of his presentation at the World Affairs Council meeting and some answers to questions asked a week later.

Transcription, Part 1:   I was born and raised in Syria. I went to medical school over there in my city called Aleppo, second largest city in Syria. I came to the states in 1990. I did my residency in pediatrics at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. My oldest was born there, my youngest was born here at Genesis. In 2006 my wife and I decided that we wanted to take our kids and go back to Syria and have them live with their cousins and uncles and grandparents and so on and we have been in Syria until the end of 2012. Because of everything going on in Syria, we decided to come back.

         In Syria first we have Assad the father. So the father, Hafez al-Assad, led a coup, he was an officer and led a coup, took over in 1970. In the year 2000 he died of natural causes and the son took over. The problem was that his son was only 36 years old and the constitution says that the president should be at least 40 years old. The constitution was changed within a half hour.

There is no freedom of speech. There is all of corruption. There is no equality when it comes to … job opportunities or education opportunities. The police state was run by the police, by the intelligence service.

The question is not really what led to the Arab Spring but what took it so long … to happen. Henry Ford one time said, ‘Whether you think you can or you cannot, you are.’ Most of the Arabs felt that they cannot. We were putting up with all that corruption…with all that injustice and all of the people were on the borders. If any unrest happens they are going to starve the following day. They are working per day and earting whatever they are making that day. They have no reserve. So any unrest, any problem, that might affect their living and their family might starve.

So people put up with that until we saw what happened in Tunisia first, and people start to feel that yes, this can be done. And then Egypt; and we felt more empowered because Egypt is like a key country in the Middle East.

So because of everything going on, and because they felt that yes, we can do something about it and, the age of information when you can go to the Internet and see what’s going on in other parts of the world.

Q & A with Dr. Kayali

(This conversation occurred on April 30, 2013 but I have dated this 4-22-13 on this blog so it will show up in the right story order.)
Click to Listen: Dr. Kayali
4/30/13 Part 4: Questions and Answers
Q: I wanted to ask your opinion as to whether or not you believe the reports of chemical weapons are true. 
A: I do believe that is true. I do believe it was used on, like, small scale. But I really do believe it was used more than once. The reason for that…I did see some videos or tapes, and so on, from areas that I know. And what I saw did point toward use of chemical weapons. Now, I’m not the expert, I did not go and investigate, but the videos I saw, and being a physician, I really believe that it was used.
Q: Where did you see these videos? Are they on…are they being shared on Facebook?
A: Mostly on Facebook. It is videotapes that you can also get from YouTube.
Q: Okay, so these are Syrian people who … posted these on YouTube and Facebook.
A: Right. There are, like, Facebook pages that, they usually don’t take sides. They just bring the news so that people respond to it negatively or positively, you know, so they are kind of trying to be reporters. And they just say, “So-and-so said this and here are the videos” so it wasn’t from, like, this side or that side.
Some of the websites that are created with the government said that the opposition are the ones that used the chemical weapons that the guards hauled off from Turkey which doesn’t make sense at all. Turkey, there is no way for Turkey to get through…chemical weapons to the armed rebels. So even they themselves think that, yeah, there was some chemicals used, chemical weapons used, but it was the other side that used it. So, I mean, both sides are saying there has been some chemical weapons used and we don’t both have no chemical weapons so that’s left one party to be using it.
Q: And these videos that people take, do they just capture them with their cellphones usually?
A: Mostly yes. It’s like one of the videos was in a military hospital that belongs to the rebels. And there was multiple people on beds with a lot of foam and mucus and so on coming out of their noses and mouths, and the video did show them having difficulty breathing. And, you know, as I said I’m not the one who can analyze videos but to me, it looked real.
Q: Do you think it’s likely that the government would actually go this far, that they would actually take this next step? 
A: I have no doubt. I think what is holding them back is the international community otherwise they would have used it on a much larger scale.
Q: What do you think other nations and the United States could or should do to help the rebels?
A: I think they can have like, safe areas, where no-fly-zone type, so there will be no airplanes that will be allowed to fly over that area and the Patriot missiles will block any Scud missiles that might be carrying….It’s mind boggling that we are just worried about chemical. What about other weapons against civilians? Is that okay? So I really think there should be areas where it will be safe for the refugees. I’m not saying the rebels with arms. I’m not saying go fight for us. No – we don’t want that. We…most civilians are against the fight. But there should be areas where it’s safe for people who, forced to leave the fighting, our hot areas, to be able to move from these areas and make sure that they are safe because most of the killing is happening to civilians, not fighters. So I would really encourage all the international community not to lay a foot inside Syria, not to arm anyone, just, you know, stop the arming of the government by Russia and Iran and have a no-fly-zone in north and south Syria.
Q: Okay so you would like to see the United Nations step in and set up, to set up perimeters with peacekeeping forces so that the civilians could be safe.
A: Exactly. It’s like what they did with Iraq, no-fly-zone, north and south of Iraq in the past before the invasion of Iraq.
Q: Once they set up these zones, do you think the rebels will continue to fight it out, or do you think negotiations are possible? 
A: I don’t think negotiations will…people are still trying to negotiate. The opposition, you know, there are all of the extremes. There are people who want to fight to the last drop, but most of the free army and the political opposition, they all are willing to….I mean he’s not going to stay. There is 100 thousand victims of this war and the vast majority were killed by the government so this government has no legitimacy. But we can discuss safe exit, we can discuss protection of, you know, the minorities, we can discuss all that, can be discussed, and no one will have any problem with it.
Q: Is there leadership for the opposition? Have they established any sort of governing body or anything? Are there any names I should know of who’s their…?
A: They did…the Syrian Council I think it’s called and it does not represent 100 percent but I would say it represents at least 60 percent. Remember, dictators do not let any prominent figures in the community. They get rid of them. And that’s why the Arab Spring had a very hard time starting because there was no one to lead. And all that’s happened has happened with no leader which is really hard to imagine. So we will still have to work that out but all the people have good intentions. They formed the Syrian Council. They are trying to expand it to engulf everybody in it and already, like right now, the head of the council, the temporary head of the council is a Christian. So they are trying to get everybody involved.

(Dr. Kayali added that he thinks the Al Jazeera network and website is providing the most thorough coverage of Syria right now.)

Before he Became President, He Visited Iowa Too

Feb. 15, 2012 :

Xi Jinping, Vice President of China in 2012, went to Muscatine, Iowa to visit the family he stayed with when he was a university student in 1985. Protestors and supporters gathered in the neighborhood. Created with an Aiptek HD camcorder.