Tuesday Reads — Scary Stuff

So, what’s scaring us today?

The Iowa National Guard, for one. Actually, the guard has been frightening right-wing radio patriots and their pals with plans to conduct urban warfare training in the tiny western Iowa town of Arcadia. Well, fear not, because guard officials have cancelled the exercises, according to The Des Moines Register.

Gun rights advocates were convinced that the exercise, with a fake door-to-door search for an arms dealer, was step one in the government’s plot to take guns from citizens:

Talk show host Alex Jones of Austin, Texas, whose syndicated radio program is carried on about 60 stations, said he had received phone calls on and off the air from people in Arcadia and nearby towns who objected to the plans.

He said he believes oil companies, in concert with central banks, are creating a worldwide economic crisis to set up a world government.

“This is part of an acclimation for martial law,” Jones said of the National Guard’s plans.

 Yeah. Arcadia city leaders are disappointed, saying they heard no complaints from local residents. Then they jumped into black helicopters and flew away.

Coyotes are another problem. One showed up in Cedar Falls at Hansen Elementary School, prompting school officials to keep kids inside. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier saysthe kids were allowed out in the afternoon, a local hunter released his lab to chase the coyote away and police are exploring options. Somewhere in the middle of all this, the Iowa DNR said the coyote is really not a threat to anyone. I bet the kids thought the whole thing was cool.

Shady investors. Iowa’s Public Employee Retirement System, or IPERS, is trying to terminate its contract with a California investment firm that’s being investigated by federal regulators. Westridge Capital Investment, according to The Gazette’s account by Rod Boshart, has $339 million of Iowa’s pension funds:

“I’m not putting any sugar on this one,” said State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald, a member of the IPERS Investment Board and fund custodian. “I’m very, very concerned. We have at least $300 million at risk here.”

School Consolidation. After state Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, dropped his A-bomb of a bill that would force any Iowa school district with less than 750 students to consolidate, his colleagues are pushing the caution button. Radio Iowa reports that the bill has sparked a discussion, but without words like “consolidation” and “reorganization.”

The Mason City Globe-Gazette fronts Boshart’s report on the consolidation debate, which notes that shrinking enrollments and budgets and new core curriculum standards will push consolidation with or without more legislative intervention.

OK, enough with the scary.

The Sioux City Journal fronts sad news that Iowa has lost its second-oldest resident. Letitia Lawson, 112, of Milford died Sunday. But her son says her “bucket list” was pretty much finished.

Letitia Lawson did calisthenics on her own until four days before her death. She was adamant about eating fresh fruits and vegetables and praying daily. She cherished the Bible given to her and husband John on Christmas Day, 1940.

The couple farmed for a half-century before retiring and moving to Milford in 1969. John died in 1981.

Letitia climbed into a combine on their farm at the age of 103 and traveled for one pass as the corn crop came in. “She said one pass in a combine amounted to a day’s work picking corn by hand,” Marshall Lawson said.

 She’s survived by 11 grandchildren, 28 great-grand children and five great-great grandchildren.

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