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[ Editor’s Note:

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Trust in facts is a cornerstone of American democracy. Disinformation and distrust of the media have been major contributors to our socially, politically and economically polarized society. If we are going to bridge divides and collectively address major issues affecting our nation and the world, we must be able to work from a foundation of facts. Consumers rely on news and social media information more than ever—and they need to be able to trust it. Several promising initiatives are underway. Adobe, for example, has created a way to embed identifying data to content so photos and articles can be traced for manipulation and authenticated. Public-private partnerships to develop comprehensive media literacy education programs are a must. Providing learners at the earliest age with tools and knowledge to discern facts and truth, differentiate between news and opinion and check multiple sources are fundamental building blocks to combat the scourge of fake and misleading information online.

Success will require industry- driven initiatives and the cooperation of state and federal government agencies to help restore trust in and to protect online content. There is no easy fix.

What is clear is that we must act now. The future of our democracy depends upon it.

With a public who is programmed to distrust, the only thing more powerful than information is disinformation. What’s the old saying? “ A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth can even put its shoes on” or something like that. There’s also the quip, “ Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.” Let’s not pretend that disinformation is nothing new, especially in the world of politics. The problem now is that it has been weaponized, with people using the internet to spin whatever their agenda is to an unsuspecting public. Think of a topic. Now think about how you feel about that topic. Now think about why you feel that way. What influenced you to feel that way? Was it your parents? Was it your education? Was it your church? Was it something you saw on the news? Was it something you read on social media? Believe what you want to belive, but please, when you do, consider

*** Yet another example of a good idea gone bad is the use of some 'Buy Now Pay Later' services. Local upmarket restaurants are allowing people to 'have their cake and eat it' but pay later. It would appear that this is a bonus for the restaurants as they definitely get their money, people generally spend more, and people may be more willing to go out even if they are short of money at the time. This can also be used for the normal $5 hamburgers as well although that seems a bit silly to pay off in instalments. There was a time when people paid for whatever they bought at the time of purchase with the exception of houses or cars and lately university education but now anything is possible. A quick google check shows that you can even get IVF treatments using 'Buy Now Pay Later' and a check of what can't you get produces no refusals. Although their advertisements suggests it is easy, convenient and cheap to use there must be some potential profit. I might be old fashioned as I think if you can't afford it, don't buy it and go without although maybe not everyone has this simple, sensible approach. [ Editor’s Note: I’m all in on “ buy now pay later.” Just call me Wimpy, because I will indeed gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today ( do people still get that reference). Look, I get the concept and I understand that paying interest on something just so you can have it now means you’re paying more in the long run, but your idea of only buying what you can pay for all at once is simply not an option for many.

I don’t know if you’re so much “ old fashioned” as “ disconnected from reality” when it comes to how some people live. As someone who has in the past had to buy something as necessary as a refrigerator via “ easy monthly install-ments,” I totally understand it]

*** In 1918, the Influenza pandemic, that began in Kansas, declined during the summer but exploded in the fall. At present, the earlier COVID-19 has reemerged as the delta variant. Since many Arkansans prefer their individual freedoms to their lives or the lives of others, we need new stronger measures adopted. Since 2022 is an election year, we need new legislation to protect voters. Therefore, I urged our state senators and representatives to introduce a bill requiring proof of vaccination in order to vote. It is worthy of note that in 1918, medical professionals oversaw fighting the virus, and although Arkansas suffered many deaths, many often unreported, it would have been worse in our present political environment. Our high death and infection rates in 2020 and now 2021 are largely due to the fact that anti-science politicians win all our local elections. One would never guess that Arkansas has universities and medical schools.

Perhaps, as the delta variant spreads, will it become necessary for the un-vaccinated to have to wait at the bottom of the line for medical treatment? [ Editor’s Note: For real, the moment COVID- 19 became a political issue rather than a medical issue, we were all screwed. You can blame whichever side you want for that, but it’s true. I don’t think you’ll ever get government mandated vaccination voting cards ( nor should you) but if you really do want to make a difference, by all means vote.

The idea that politicians and not medical professionals are steering the pandemic boat is just mind boggling. I saw it best in a political cartoon the other day where a man was bent over a doctor’s table. The doctor and a man in a suit are standing behind him and his proctologist says to him, “ Since the politicians seem to know medicine better than the trained professionals,

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