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 californiacommunitycolleges.cccco.edu and w w w.dpr.com.)

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.

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The Annual Festival of Trees

Nov. 28, 2013 Deck the halls with boughs of everything because it’s that time of year again. Quad City Arts has kicked off the holiday season with its annual fundraiser, the Festival of Trees.

Since 1986 Quad City Arts has invited businesses, individuals, and charitable organizations to create all kinds of holiday décor available for purchase for eleven days at the start of the season. These gift baskets, holiday trees and decorations raise thousands of dollars to support local arts every year.

The creativity and whimsy of the decorations is new every year. But along with that, the 11 day event features performances from various schools, clubs, and other performing artists.

Officials say 99 percent of donations are purchased by the end of the festival. Those rare items that are not sold are donated to local non-profits.

Dec. 1 was the last day of the festival but here is a video to remember it by.

Be Sure to Watch CNN Heroes, Sunday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.

One of the Quad Cities own local heroes, Chad Pregracke, will receive a special honor Sunday night from CNN. His non-profit organization, Living Lands and Waters, has enlisted the help of tens of thousands of volunteers to help clean up the Mississippi and other rivers.  Over the years LLW has expanded its conservation efforts to include teacher workshops, field trip opportunities on the barge that serves as a floating classroom, and many other advocacy activities.

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Tornado Damage and Stories from Survivors in Washington, Illinois

Click to Listen: Don Keley, Washington, Illinois resident

Click to Listen: Katie Petravick describes how her family found out their house was destroyed.

Click to Listen: Eric and Tiffany Judd Siblings describe how their mom survived the tornado.

Follow this link to the slide show on You Tube. flag holder

Have you heard about “The Health Sherpa” site?

11.11.13     Love it or hate it, Americans now have the right to sign up for health insurance that cannot be denied or cancelled. But the government site, HealthCare.gov, which debuted at the start of October, has been buggy, unreliable and in a state of disrepair for weeks.
So three young code wizards from California decided to harvest the basic facts from the official site and build a helper site.  Their invention is called The Health Sherpa. It is a simple, bare presentation of arguably two of the most important questions health insurance seekers might ask: how much is my policy going to cost and will I qualify for a subsidy to help me pay for it?
I first heard of this site from CBS News.  Other stories about it can be found here and here.
The term “sherpa” refers to the Tibetan guides who lead climbers through the Himalayas with great skill. Happy climbing.

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 http://www.whitehouse.gov.)

Related News:

Iowa Public Radio reports that a popular insecticide might be killing honey bees

Do you remember way back in 2007 when 60 Minutes reported that honey bees, perhaps the farmer’s most valuable partner, were dying off at alarming rates? Here’s a link to that story. This week Iowa Public Radio and other news sources reported that a group of environmentalists and beekeepers are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over bee deaths. The plaintiffs want the EPA to ban the use of certain pesticides known as neonicotinoids or neonics for short. (A European blog also explored the idea that neonics might be killing the bees in 2012. There are many other websites devoted to this topic as well.)

Why do bees matter? Let’s go back to what we learned about the food chain in elementary school. Bees are the primary pollinators of many plants, fruits, and flowers we eat and enjoy. They also pollinate many plants animals need to survive. Without bees, who work for free, human beings would have to figure out a way to transport trillions of tiny bits of pollen from one plant to another. Every orange starts from an orange blossom that has to be pollinated. Every pumpkin for pumpkin pie starts as a pumpkin flower. That cup of coffee you might have had this morning? That beverage came from a coffee bean and that coffee bean started out as a coffee blossom which was probably pollinated by bees.

Thanks to Iowa Public Radio for the link to this document.  2013-03-21NeonicsBeesComplaint

4/30/13 Related article from the Los Angeles Times: Honey May Hold the Sticky Solution to Bee Colony Collapse