Past President Edeth James led today’s meeting in President Charlie Longbella’s absence.
John Johnson outlined the plans for our Stockyard Days Parade Hot Dog Feed this Saturday.  This year’s parade route puts our Hot Dog serving location at the corner of 13th Ave. NW and 5th St NW.  Check your email for more details and an opportunity to sign up for specific time slots.
Cindy Carlson reported that the Board has approved a $750 contribution to a Stillwater Sunrise Rotary Global Grant to provide clean water for the town of El Corozo, Nicaragua.  The nearest water source for the community is 2.2 miles away and the only access to it is by foot.  This Global Grant will drill a 750 foot well which will provide clean, safe water for the entire community.
Geoff Hollimon reported that the CPY Golf Ball Drop went off without a hitch.  The lucky winner took home a cool $1,402 and CPY netted about $7,000 to help support their amazing work in the community.
Our Speaker today was Brent Hamoud, son of our own Jed Hamoud.  Brent and his family have lived in Lebanon for 13 years and he was here today to offer his assessment of the political and financial situation in Lebanon. 
Lebanon’s time as an independent nation state spans just 80 years.  Prior to the 1930’s, the area was under colonial rule.  A period of civil war from 1975-1990 ended with the warring religious factions just entrenching themselves in politics, so Lebanon’s current political system is built on religious affiliation, with key government positions assigned to leaders of the various religions.  The power distribution isn’t necessarily representative, however, as there hasn’t been a census taken since the 1930’s. What is clear is that politics and religion are inseparably intertwined and that those in power resist any change that might disturb the status quo.  It is also clear that the status quo is not working for the people of Lebanon.  Because of financial mismanagement and corruption, Lebanon is on the brink of experiencing one of the world’s ten worst financial meltdowns since 1850.  Inflation has devalued Lebanon’s currency by 90% and the end of government subsidies on essentials like wheat, fuel and medicine has had a devastating effect on the most vulnerable Lebanese people.  Brent said that 70% of the Lebanese population is below the poverty level.  Savings and retirement funds are being lost and crime and drug use are on the rise.  High rates of refugee influx (especially from neighboring Syria) have further complicated an already difficult situation.  Just when it seemed as though things couldn’t get worse, a huge explosion devastated Beirut and government leaders have failed to respond to the emergency.  Leaders have even suppressed efforts to investigate the tragedy.
Despite everything, Brent remains optimistic for a better future for Lebanon.  He believes that global networks, rooted in local organizations (i.e. Rotary) can bypass governmental red tape to get relief to the people who really need help.  He believes that the direct connection between local groups is the key to many of the problems facing the world today.