Disenchantment with Obama Grows

Dear Friends,

If you think President Obama has been catching heat because of his indecisiveness on the Keystone XL Pipeline, his own supporters are about to turn-up the heat even further. Writes Peter Rothberg in The Nation:

“The {March 2nd} sit-in is expected to be the largest act of civil disobedience by young people in the recent history of the environmental movement and it will be led by just the demographic that helped propel Obama to the presidency. The protest, known as “XL Dissent,” is meant to send a clear signal to President Obama that the base that helped elect him sees Keystone XL as a decision that will define his entire legacy.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Great March for Climate Action kicks-off its 3,000-mile trek with a rally that thousands are expected to attend. With these two historic events and the many, many other key initiatives being led by Climate Reality Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, 350.org and others, the President has got to be thinking Keystone is not just a bad idea in terms of climate but in terms of politics as well.

For my central Iowa audience, here’s something fun you can do this week to help the Climate March. Sean Glenn will be marching the distance in silence. If you’d like to hear Sean speak and sing, your last chance for the next eight months may be this Wednesday (February 19th), 7:00-9:00 pm at the Historic Firehouse, 1041 8th Street (just west of the downtown Holiday Inn). I’ll be accompanying Sean on piano and guitar. Free-will donation suggested.

And while we’re offering the President constructive criticism, get this on your calendar: In an event sponsored by American Friends Service Committee called “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace,” activist and author Josh Ruebner speaks and signs his book on March 4 at 7:00 pm at Drake University’s Olmsted Center.

Monday on the Fallon Forum, we’ll talk about Keystone and other climate-change news.

Tuesday, State Senator Jack Hatch, Democratic candidate for Governor, joins me to discuss the latest developments at the Juvenile Home in Toledo, including the impact of a judge’s favorable ruling on the lawsuit filed by Jack and other state lawmakers alleging that the Governor’s decision to close the home was illegal.

Wednesday, Dr. Charles Goldman joins me. Writes Charles, “President Obama, other Democrats and some Tea Party Republicans have actually found an issue that is engendering bipartisan support: reforming the draconian federal mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses that costs us $7 billion yearly and leaves 10% of Florida’s population without the right to vote due to prior convictions. While they are at it, how about increasing the likelihood that white collar criminals spend some serious jail time for their myriad offenses?”

Thursday, State Representative Dan Kelley joins me. Among other legislative happenings, I want to get Dan’s take on the proposal to extend the sales tax exemption at the Newton racetrack and his thoughts on the proposal to expand funding for preschool.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

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Meet Brad Anderson

Dear Friends,

The office of Iowa Secretary of State used to be either (1) a job you applied for because you were passionate about elections (think former SOS Michael Mauro), or (2) a position you sought simply because you wanted to run for higher office (think everyone except Mauro who’s held the job since the 1970s). The current SOS, Matt Schultz, wasn’t even subtle about his ambitions for higher office, serving less than one term before announcing a run for Congress.

So, I’ve invited two candidates running for that office – Brad Anderson (a Democrat) and Paul Pate (a Republican) – to join me on the Forum to talk about what they’d like to accomplish as SOS. So far . . .

Monday, Brad Anderson joins us. Brad has worked in Iowa elections for over a decade. He and his wife, Lisa, own a speech therapy business in Des Moines. Brad shared with me his goal of modernizing the office and improving voter turnout. We’ll also get his take on Matt Schultz’ efforts to make voting more difficult for some Iowans – as critics have characterized his voter-id effort.

Tuesday, we talk with Carol Berry of Wolf-pac about efforts through the legislative process to get big money out of politics. Specifically, the group is working to pass a resolution calling for a states convention to propose a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution, to establish “free and fair elections and the reversal of Citizens United.”

Wednesday, Mandy Hilliman and Megan Day Suhr join me to discuss legislative efforts to help Iowa’s midwives.

Thursday, Channing Dutton and I talk climate change. In fact, I may just let Channing host the show and drill (pun intended) me on questions related to climate, sustainability, fossil fuels and the Climate March.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

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Now do you hear us, Mr. President?

Dear Friends,The most important game-related news this week will not be the Seattle Seahawks decimation of the Denver Broncos. The lead story in the “game” genre happens today: the massive nationwide response to the State Department’s report on the Keystone Pipeline – because as Bill McKibben with 350.org has said, if Keystone is approved, it’s “game over” for the climate.What’s really meant by “climate,” of course, is “humanity.” No one knows for sure what life will look like for our species one hundred years from now if we don’t successfully grapple with the climate conundrum. It may not be “game over,” but it probably won’t be pretty. President Obama talks the talk on climate. But what will he do on Keystone? Keystone is the pivotal climate moment. The President’s decision will show whether he truly understands the urgency of the situation or is merely paying lip service.

With last week’s State Department report, the Great March for Climate Action comes at a critical moment in the movement. The March travels through Nebraska in mid-July, crossing the path of the proposed Keystone Pipeline during the window of time when President Obama could make his big decision.

What’s it going to take for President Obama to do the right thing? Over 200 protests are planned today in response to the State Department report (see here). Twenty-two cities have signed on to the fossil fuel divestment campaign (see here). Over 76,000 people have committed to do civil disobedience to stop Keystone (see here). If this unprecedented level of citizen climate activism isn’t enough to convince the President to say ‘NO’ to Keystone, perhaps the Climate March will convince him.

Over 225 people have signed up to march all or part of the eight-month, 3,000-mile trek across America. Participants come from 37 states and six foreign countries. Hundreds of supporters have donated a total of over $200,000, and numerous businesses and organizations are providing equipment, endorsements, and other types of assistance.

Marchers themselves are making tremendous sacrifices. Giving up jobs and homes. Deferring college. Foregoing other commitments. We’re preparing physically and psychologically to walk 14-15 miles a day through heat, rain and all kinds of adversity. We’re gearing up to sleep in tents night after night, to leave behind our families, friends and modern conveniences. We know that immediate action on the climate crisis is needed and that stopping Keystone is pivotal. We’re willing to do our part. We’re eager to see if the President will do his.

Monday, we’ll talk Keystone and start the show at 5:30 to allow attendance at the 6:00 vigil at the Federal Building in downtown Des Moines. (See here for details about events in Des Moines and Davenport.)

Tuesday, we look at the latest developments in the controversy over sand-mining operations in northeast Iowa.

Wednesday, we’ll talk about the latest nursing home industry lawsuit, and the cozy relationship that Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds maintain with industry honchos.

Thursday, State Rep Dan Kelley and the Iowa Environmental Council’s Nathaniel Baer discuss the bright prospects for solar energy in Iowa.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

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The Inequality of Climate Change

Dear Friends,

It’s pretty certain that in the State of the Union address (Tuesday, January 28 at 7:30 pm CST), President Obama is likely to focus on income inequality. Sure, the issue polls well for him, and what politician can resist talking about an issue that polls well? Sure, the vast shift of wealth from most of us to the privileged few is a crisis that demands immediate action. After all, it’s what launched the Occupy movement in 2011 . . . if anyone still remembers.

But if Obama chooses to ignore – or merely pay lip service – to the even more pressing crisis of climate change, it will demonstrate a profound lack of wisdom and vision. If he wants to start off the conversation with income inequality, it isn’t difficult to move on to climate change and connect these two crises. Across the globe, it is the poorest populations who are being most adversely impacted by a warming world. And America’s poor aren’t immune from this reality either; consider the marginalized victims of Hurricane Katrina, or the farmers and ranchers in the path of the Keystone Pipeline.

Monday, Anita Payne of Perth, Ontario joins us for a Canadian perspective on the Keystone Pipeline. We’ll also get Anita’s take on the recent visit to the U.S. by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird to push President Obama to approve the Pipeline.

Tuesday we are joined by Tarah Heinzen, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project. We’ll talk about the DNR’s proposal to bring Iowa into compliance with EPA regulations to improve Iowa’s contaminated waterways. The long and short of it is the proposal hardly goes far enough.

Wednesday, Rob Hach with Anemometry Specialists joins me to debunk the oil-industry-financed anti-renewable propaganda espoused in a recent piece by Thomas Pyle.

Thursday, we’ll review the week at the Iowa State House, and see how well lawmakers did to fulfill their promise to accomplish as little as possible.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum Wednesdays on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) from 4:00-5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) from 7:00-8:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

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Hatch for Governor

Dear Friends,

For three decades, Jack Hatch has been a strong progressive voice fighting for a better Iowa. Jack is an independent thinker who’s not afraid to challenge his own Party. Whether the fight is about creating jobs, getting rid of tax breaks for big corporations, expanding health care coverage or defending civil rights, Jack puts Iowans first.

His work in the private sector is equally impressive, and Jack has overcome all kinds of obstacles to build affordable housing in neighborhoods where it’s desperately needed.

Today, I’m endorsing Jack Hatch for Governor because he’s a strong leader with a solid track record and the determination to move Iowa beyond the failures of Terry Branstad. And I’m convinced he can win, so I’m putting my money where my mouth is and donating $100 to his campaign. Please consider doing the same. Speaking as one who ran for Governor, I assure you that it will make a difference.

Monday, Dr. Charles Goldman joins me to discuss medical marijuana. Charles writes, “Evidently it is hard to get a seat on a plane heading to Denver, as marijuana tourism takes off in the Centennial State. Here in Iowa, it is unlikely that we will see marijuana emporiums any time soon, but isn’t it time Iowa joined 20 other states and Washington, DC in formulating a humane state-regulated medical cannabis program? In advance of tonight’s program, you might want to view the video of Dr. Steven Jenison, who ran the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, at http://youtu.be/qYtxwPoAzwM.

Tuesday, Ambassador Ken Quinn of the World Food Prize joins me to discuss Howard Buffet’s “40 Chances: Hope for a Hungry World” exhibit, now on display at the WFP headquarters in Des Moines.

Wednesday, Michael Dietrick with the NRDC discusses climate change and the upcoming Citizen Advocates meeting in Des Moines.

Thursday, State Rep. Dan Kelley shares what’s happening at the Iowa Statehouse.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) Wednesdays at 4:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) Wednesdays at 7:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

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Wrong questions on gas tax

Dear Friends,

We’ve seen a lot of talk recently about the proposed gas tax hike. In farm country, agribusiness is concerned about rural bridges in decay – bridges that might see a couple dozen cars a day. In suburbia, developers are worried that one of their main urban sprawl cash cows might dry up. And of course, the road construction lobby is just drooling to get more money to lay asphalt and concrete anywhere and everywhere.

Yet what about reality? Is a car-centric transportation system what’s needed for the 21st century? For one thing, more roads mean more cars, more greenhouse gas emissions, and more climate change. Furthermore, as people drive less, it makes sense for the public investment to shift. And even as Governor Branstad and his Iowa House buddies deep-six a paltry sum for passenger rail, I predict they’ll have no problem justifying truckloads of cash for highways.

And I would not be surprised to see the debate shift from a gas tax hike to a sales tax hike, thus making those of us who use the roads the least (i.e., low-income Iowans) pay for the desired “improvements.”

See my additional comments in today’s Register online, and tune-in tonight, Monday, for more talk on this topic. Your views welcome, too, at (855) 244-0077.

Tuesday, we talk with Scott Warner of Corazon Coffee Roasters about the debate over what it means to be “fair trade.”

Wednesday, we talk with Harold Hedelman about another tool for folks wanting to do more about the climate crisis. Harold talks about the Natural Resources Defense Council’s upcoming Citizens Advocate training in Des Moines. (See Events page for details.)

Thursday, State Rep. Dan Kelley is back on the hill – and back in the studio with us for an update on the first week of legislative action . . . or inaction, as some are predicting.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) Wednesdays at 4:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) Wednesdays at 7:00 pm.

Thanks! – Ed

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From Belfast to Palestine

Dear Friends,

Mairead Maguire, noted Irish human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, has endorsed the Great March for Climate Action. “When governments fail to do what is possible to protect the very livability of a territory, its ability to produce food and provide shelter, climate change becomes a human rights issue,” said Mairead. (Full text of endorsement and press release available here.)

I’ve invited Mairead to join us on the Fallon forum at her earliest convenience. Her work began in response to the violence in Northern Ireland. More recently, her activism on behalf of Palestinians landed her time in an Israeli jail (see here). She helped found Peace People and she won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize at age 33.

Thanks to Ben Allaway for inviting Mairead to endorse the Climate March. Writes Ben, “I was really struck with Maguire’s view of climate change as a human rights issue. Governments can turn things around on this issue, and if they don’t, it feels to me like a human rights violation.”

Monday, we are joined by Jonathan Narcisse, who just announced his candidacy for Governor on the Democratic ticket. Also, speaking of Palestine, Maria Filippone with Des Moines Onstage tells us about the upcoming production of My Name is Rachel Corrie. (See our Events Page for full details.)

Tuesday, we talk about how natural gas fracking has caused 100 cases of confirmed water pollution over the past five years – and how several states have been less than forthcoming with information about the problem. Also, dancer Elizabeth Adams joins me to discuss several angles on Des Moines’ blossoming cultural scene, including the question of when – and what – is appropriate for children.

Wednesday, Rob Hach with Anemometry Specialists joins me to discuss the growing market for small wind and solar energy systems. We also talk about some of the legal challenges facing wind energy, specifically lawsuits involving the death of eagles and eminent domain.

Thursday, Ken Quinn with the World Food Prize is my guest as we discuss “40 Chances,” a photography exhibit by Howard Buffet now available for viewing at the World Food Prize building in downtown Des Moines.

Join the conversation live Monday-Thursday from 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) Wednesdays at 4:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) Wednesdays at 7:00 pm. Thanks! – Ed

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Dem v Repub: Is there a difference?

Dear Friends,

So much of politics these days involves the utterance of tiresome clichés. “I’m leaving office to spend more time with my family,” for example. Or, “This campaign is about creating jobs and lowering taxes.” When I’m done laughing, my response to both is, “Yeah, right.”

The two political clichés that get under my skin the most aren’t spouted by candidates, but by voters:

1. “There’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans,” and

2. “I vote straight ticket because my Party’s candidates are good and the other Party’s are bad.”

The truth is, there IS a difference between Democrats and Republicans . . . usually. And there are plenty of Democratic leaders who don’t give a hoot about the average person’s plight, and some Republicans who do.

The clearest truth is this: America needs to move beyond the iron-fist grip the two major parties have on our political system. There are as many views on how to accomplish this as there are disgruntled voters. We’ll discuss it during a special one-hour edition of the Fallon Forum tonight from 4:15-5:15 with Dr. Charles Goldman, who adds this observation:

“Ever wonder where our democracy went? You need look no further than our election system. Let’s talk about voter suppression tactics, gerrymandering and the Iowa case making its way to the Supreme Court regarding donor disclosure that is being pushed by James Bopp Jr, one of the right-wing architects of the Citizens United decision.”

There’s no program Tuesday or Wednesday this week. But join Charles and I tonight, and me on Thursday at the usual time of 6:00-6:30 pm. Listen and watch online at www.fallonforum.com. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 to add your voice to the dialogue. Podcasts available after the program. And catch the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) Wednesdays at 4:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) Wednesdays at 7:00 pm. Thanks! – Ed

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Witch hunt or campaign strategy?

Dear Friends,

Secretary of State Matt Schultz knows better. He knows there is no voter fraud problem in Iowa. He knew this before he decided to spend half a million dollars to disgorge 16 people (out of over 2 million voters) who voted illegally. He knows that in the rare instance when someone votes illegally it is usually a mistake.

So, what is Matt Schultz’s witch hunt really about? His campaign for governor. No, not in 2014. Schultz is smart enough not to challenge Branstad in a Republican primary. (The only Republican silly enough to do that would be Bob Vander Plaats, who has found a new way to be silly and will probably announce his campaign for the U.S. Senate shortly after the first of the year. Vander Plaats will likely win that primary. Congratulations, U.S. Senate-elect Bruce Braley. But I digress.)

No, Schultz is smart enough to save his gubernatorial bid for 2018. The seat will be wide open, and Schultz would have spent eight years traversing the state, getting lots of press on a non-issue that, nonetheless, polls favorably. It’s exactly what Chet Culver did as Secretary of State for eight years en route to being elected Governor in 2006, although instead of stumping to suppress the vote, Culver at least talked about improving voter turnout.

We can’t know for sure how things will play out. But one thing is certain: the office of Secretary State is pretty much a stepping stone to higher office. The only SOS in recent memory who actually cared about the job itself was Mike Mauro. Pity he got beat.

Monday, from 4:15-5:15, Des Moines attorney Joseph Glazebrook is my guest as we discuss the Secretary of State’s voter-fraud witch hunt. And I see U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (a.k.a., presidential candidate Ted Cruz) now has a coloring book. Maybe Matt Schultz should crack down on this blatant attempt to lure under-age voters to the polls.

Tuesday, at the usual time of 6:00-6:30 pm, Dr. Charles Goldman joins me, and has this to say about our conversation: “Roe v Wade may still be the law of the land, but ‘pro-life’ advocates have found new ways around it via ‘fetal personhood’ laws enforced against mothers who do unhealthy things while pregnant. In one such case, a mother was brought to court but not allowed a defense lawyer, although her fetus did have legal representation. The legal precedent for this? The Dred Scott decision of 1857.”

Wednesday, 6:00-6:30, Mike Carberry joins me to discuss the divide in the climate-change movement over nuclear power.

Thursday, 6:00-6:30, Rob Hach with the Iowa Wind Energy Association joins us. Most of what’s happening in wind energy is extremely positive, and we’ll talk with Rob about some of the latest developments. But with any new initiative comes growing pains. Do recent lawsuits involving the death of eagles and condemnation of farmland for transmission lines throw significant wrinkles into wind energy’s forward momentum? Or are these small bumps in the road?

Join us live, Monday 4:15-5:15 pm and Tuesday-Thursday 6:00-6:30 pm on the Fallon Forum website. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 and add your voice to the dialogue. Video and audio-only podcasts available after the program. The Fallon Forum also can be heard on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) Wednesdays at 5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) Wednesdays at 7:00 pm. Thanks!

Ed

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Democrats’ Ugly Stepsister

Dear Friends,

I like all the candidates in the Democratic Primary for Governor. But I’m not supporting any of them. My support goes to . . . fairness!

And the way the media and the Iowa Democratic Party have marginalized candidate Bob Krause is blatantly unfair. Krause, like candidates Jack Hatch and Tyler Olson, served in the Iowa Legislature. Like Hatch, Krause ran unsuccessfully for higher office. Like Hatch and Olson, Krause is articulate and intelligent and focuses on important issues. (Ok, when it comes to focusing on issues, Hatch and Krause more so than Olson, whose campaign message is more about image than issues.)

So, why is The Des Moines Register treating Krause like the campaign’s ugly stepsister? And why did the Iowa Democratic Party prevent Krause from speaking at its big annual event this fall? The media and political establishment have no trouble covering a seven-way presidential primary. Why limit gubernatorial primaries to two candidates?

Well, if the Establishment wants a two-candidate-only primary, perhaps it will be Hatch vs Krause now that Olson’s campaign imploded last week with the announcement of his divorce. In a perfect world, voters would not judge Olson’s fitness for public office based on a divorce. And even though commentators and Olson’s supporters are spinning this as no big deal politically, it will indeed be a big deal to many voters in next June’s Democratic Primary. It would be an even bigger deal to General Election voters next November, should Olson win the primary.

My prediction? Olson is toast in this election, though if he handles his exit strategy with grace and begins to show some legislative accomplishments over the next few years, he could still have a promising political future. And keep an eye on AFSCME, the public employees union, which endorsed Olson last month. If AFSCME’s activity on Olson’s behalf is minimal or non-existent over the next few weeks, that’s a pretty good sign that Olson’s campaign is on the rocks. Finally, if Olson drops out sooner rather than later, don’t be surprised to see another prominent Democrat jump into the race, as there are plenty of Party insiders that can’t stand Hatch.

Monday, in a special hour-long broadcast (promoting KHOI 89.1 FM’s seasonal fund drive) from 4:15-5:15 p.m., Steffen Schmidt joins me to discuss how “a paralyzed federal government is leading to states and even cities taking matters into their own hands,” to quote from one of Steffen’s recent opinion pieces. Also on the docket for today, my thoughts on: (1) The Democratic Primary for Governor, (2) Rush Limbaugh calling Pope Francis a Marxist, (3) The shooting last week on Des Moines’ southside, and (4) Where Would Baby Jesus Shop? Amazon or Wal-mart? Answer: Neither.

Tuesday, at the usual time of 6:00 pm, Drake President David Maxwell joins me to discuss President Obama’s controversial proposal on higher education. I also talk with Shuji Mintzmyer of the Iowa Zen Center in northeast Iowa.

Wednesday at 6:00 pm, Climate Marcher John Jorgenson of Arizona is my guest. Other topics for Wednesday’s program to be announced.

Thursday at 6:00 pm, Madi Delk with Des Moines Onstage tells us about the upcoming performance of “I Have Before Me A Remarkable Document Given To Me By A Young Lady From Rwanda,” a student-led production happening this weekend. Other topics for Thursday’s program to be announced.

Join us live, Monday 4:15-5:15 pm and Tuesday-Thursday 6:00-6:30 pm on the Fallon Forum website. Call-in at (855) 244-0077 and add your voice to the dialogue. Video and audio-only podcasts available after the program. The Fallon Forum also can be heard on KHOI 89.1 (Ames) Wednesdays at 5:00 pm and KPVL 89.1 (Postville) Wednesdays at 7:00 pm. Thanks!

Ed

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