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Memorial Day open thread

by: desmoinesdem

Mon May 26, 2014 at 13:35:00 PM CDT

What's on your mind this Memorial Day, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

I've posted Memorial Day-related links in past years at this site, but I learned only last year that Memorial Day became an official federal holiday only recently, in 1971. That's surprising, given that the tradition of remembering American war dead on a special day in May goes back to the 1860s. The Iowa National Guard's website includes brief histories of Iowa soldiers' involvement in U.S. wars since the mid-19th century and a stunning photo of thousands of men standing in the shape of the Statue of Liberty.

The horrendous shooting rampage in Santa Barbara on Friday night has prompted a wave of new commentaries about mental health, violence against women, and gun violence generally. It's so upsetting to know that the authorities couldn't do a thing to disarm the perpetrator, even though his family had been trying to get him help and warned police weeks ago that he was posting YouTube videos about his murderous and misogynistic fantasies.

For many people, Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer, so I'm re-posting a link to a piece that's worth re-reading every year: Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Youth incarceration down in Iowa, nationally

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Feb 27, 2013 at 09:05:00 AM CST

A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that the youth incarceration rate in the U.S. "reached a new 35-year low" in 2010. Iowa was one of 44 states where fewer young people were locked up in 2010 than in 1997.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 610 words in story)

What will it take to get the gun show loophole closed?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 16, 2010 at 08:47:04 AM CDT

How many more tragedies need to happen before elected officials have the guts to close the gun show loophole? The latest high-profile beneficiary of this loophole was the mentally ill attacker in the recent shootings near the Pentagon.

Law enforcement officials say [John Patrick] Bedell, a man with a history of severe psychiatric problems, had been sent a letter by California authorities Jan. 10 telling him he was prohibited from buying a gun because of his mental history.

Nineteen days later, the officials say, Bedell bought the Ruger at a gun show in Las Vegas. Such a sale by a private individual does not require the kind of background check that would have stopped Bedell's purchase.

Republican politicians fall all over themselves trying to prove how loyal they are to the National Rifle Association. Some are against any kind of background checks for people who want to carry firearms in public. Too many Democrats are afraid to stand up to this NRA-approved extremism. Meanwhile, a Republican pollster's recent survey of gun owners shows that they understand the need for reasonable limits:

Mr. Luntz queried 832 gun owners, including 401 card-carrying N.R.A. members, in a survey commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the alliance of hundreds of executives seeking stronger gun laws. In flat rebuttal of N.R.A. propaganda, the findings showed that 69 percent of N.R.A. members supported closing the notorious gun-show loophole that invites laissez-faire arms dealing outside registration requirements.

Even more members, 82 percent, favored banning gun purchases to suspects on terrorist watch lists who are now free to arm. And 69 percent disagreed with Congressionally imposed rules against sharing federal gun-trace information with state and local police agencies.

Fortunately, it looks as if a proposal to make it easier for Iowans to carry concealed weapons is unlikely to advance during this year's legislative session. That bill's main advocate is Iowa House Republican Clel Baudler. He serves on the NRA's board and doesn't even support steps to remove guns from domestic abusers. (Last fall, Baudler suggested that murder victim Tereseann Lynch Moore might not have been killed by her estranged husband if she had been carrying her own gun.) Not that Baudler is an isolated case; a disturbing number of Iowa Republican legislators opposed a recent bill to get guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers and people subject to a restraining order.

CORRECTION: I spoke too soon above. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have idiotically revived the NRA's pet bill, which "would give Iowa one of the loosest gun-permit laws in the country." Bad for public safety, bad politics. No one who wants to increase the number of Iowans carrying concealed weapons is going to vote for Democrats.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Steve King has empathy after all (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 06:00:00 AM CST

Representative Steve King doesn't come across as the most compassionate guy in the world, bragging about opposing aid for Hurricane Katrina victims and questioning the need to stop deporting undocumented Haitian immigrants after last month's earthquake.

But if you thought King was incapable of feeling empathy, you're wrong. Over the weekend he spoke to a panel on immigration at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

During his closing remarks, King veered into a complaint about high taxes, and said he could "empathize" with the man who flew a plane into an IRS building last week.

During the question and answer session, the Media Matters staffer asked King to clarify his comment, reminding him of his sworn duty to protect the American people from all sworn enemies, foreign and domestic. In response, said the staffer, King gave a long and convoluted answer about having been personally audited by the IRS, and ended by saying he intended to hold a fundraiser to help people "implode" their local IRS office.

That's right, King feels empathy for a guy who crashed his plane into a federal building, intending to harm the IRS employees inside. In the process, the man killed a loving family man and longtime federal worker who served two terms in Vietnam.

Following King's remarks at the CPAC panel, a man with a video camera gave the congressman a chance to clarify his remarks. King dug deeper. (continues after the jump)

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 584 words in story)

Darth Vader made a lot of bad choices

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 06, 2009 at 21:39:47 PM CDT

That's me trying to explain the Star Wars storyline to my first-grader, who's never seen the movies but is curious about them.

He's heard other kids talking about Star Wars at school, so he checked out a book from the library introducing the series to beginner readers. He's mostly interested in light sabers and Yoda levitating objects, but he has a lot of questions, and I don't always know how to answer them.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 694 words in story)

Conservatives must stop demonizing the census

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 13:47:11 PM CDT

The U.S. Constitution requires that the government conduct a census every ten years. Population counts determine federal funding for various programs, as well as the number of Congressional districts allocated to each state, so the public interest in conducting a thorough census is obvious.

The next census will take place in 2010, but some right-wing loudmouths and Republican politicians have unfortunately demonized the effort as an intrusive government plot. Over at Think Progress, Faiz Shakir recaps some of the paranoid chatter from Representative Michele Bachmann (MN-06) and Glenn Beck of Fox News. Shakir also cites radio host Neal Boortz, who told his listeners, "Most of the rest of the [Census] information is designed to help the government steal from you in order to pass off your property to the moochers. They're looters."

Not long ago I discussed my worries about the rhetoric of armed resistance coming from the political right, and I've been reflecting on this problem since I heard about census-taker Bill Sparkman's murder. Sparkman was found naked and bound with "fed" written on his chest and his census ID taped to his neck. In rural Kentucky,

Sparkman's gruesome death has ignited a debate over whether it was a byproduct of harsh anti-government rhetoric on talk shows, blogs and protests. Residents of impoverished Clay County say most people harbor no resentment for agents of the federal government, and they're baffled by Sparkman's apparent killing.

Sheriff Kevin Johnson, a native, said most residents feel a measure of gratitude to the federal government.

"We've been a poverty-stricken area pretty much all our lives," he said. "The government's taking care of 70 percent of people here, through Social Security, SSI, food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid."

None of those programs could function without the demographic data the Census Bureau provides.

If conservative politicians and opinion leaders keep stoking fears about the government using census data to steal from or perhaps even round up law-abiding citizens, I am concerned that mentally unstable individuals will commit further acts of violence against census-takers next year. Republicans should condemn the hatemongers and make clear that the census is not only permitted, but required under the Constitution.

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Events coming up this week

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 00:00:00 AM CST

I haven't posted an event calendar for the last couple of weeks, because there was hardly anything going on. Things are picking up again this week, however.

As always, post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know if an event I've left out, which would be of interest to the Bleeding Heartland community.

Monday, December 8:

Learning from the Floods of 2008: Practical Strategies for Resilience
Join the conversation December 8, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m, at a flood workshop at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. This workshop will explore the potential ways to mitigate future flooding and offer insights from experts in agriculture, water and land use, urban planning and government, and representatives from state and federal agencies. Sessions are planned on Flood 2008 realities; farming systems; urban systems and river systems. Sponsors for the event are the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa. The workshop is free but registrations must be received by Monday, December 1 at the conference web site: http://www.flood.leopold.iasta...  For more information, contact Jeri Neal, wink@iastate.edu, or (515) 294-5610. (Note: It may be worth calling first thing on Monday to see if you can get in, even past the registration deadline.)

IowaPolitics.com is hosting a panel discussion featuring Iowa's legislative leaders and from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Confirmed panelists include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. It will be located at the Iowa Historical Building, third floor, Classroom A & B. (Doors open at 2 p.m.) In theory, you were supposed to RSVP by December 1 if you wanted to attend, but it may be worth contacting Julie Rutz at 515.226.8774 or email rutz@IowaPolitics.com to see if there is still seating available. Free parking will be available in a ramp located directly North of the Historical Building on Grand Avenue.

If anyone goes to this forum, you might want to ask ask why the legislative leadership isn't making local control (agricultural zoning) a priority, even though both parties' platforms endorse the principle. I think I know the answer to that question, but I would be curious to know how the leaders answer.

On Monday evening from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, join One Iowa for the public premiere of "Our Story", One Iowa's short film featuring Iowans speaking out in favor of marriage for gays and lesbians. The screening will be at Fleur Cinema and Cafe, 4545 Fleur Drive in Des Moines. Come celebrate with us and don't miss your chance to mingle with the stars! Light appetizers will be provided with a cash bar. Remarks by Senator Matt McCoy and Des Moines Register Columnist Rekha Basu.

RSVP here: http://eqfed.org/oneiowa/event...

For more information, contact One Iowa at (515) 288-4019 or organize@oneiowa.org

Tuesday, December 9:

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a marriage equality case (Varnum v. Brien):

Join One Iowa across the state to celebrate and learn more about this historic opportunity for equality. Given the interest in the case and limited capacity, we anticipate that there will not be enough seating for everyone in the Supreme Court chamber.  To accommodate growing interest from our supporters, One Iowa has planned several "watch parties" across the state!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 - 9:45 - 11:30 AM
Des Moines Watch Party - Des Moines Public Library, 1000 Grand Avenue
Ames Watch Party - ISU Memorial Union, Gallery Room (3rd Floor), 2229 Lincoln Way
Iowa City Watch Party - Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn

We are making every effort to ensure a live-feed at each of these locations; but due to technology limitations and previous experiences in other states, we cannot make any guarantees on the quality of the live-feed. Regardless, this will be a great way for our supporters to gather for a truly historic event!

If you can't watch the Supreme Court arguments live, One Iowa is organizing a "Making the Case" Des Moines Reception on Tuesday from 6:30-8:00 pm at the Pappajohn Center, 1200 Grand Avenue in Des Moines. Join us in the evening for a reception to discuss this historic event with remarks by Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal's senior attorney on the case. If the district court ruling is upheld, it will provide gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry; full marriage equality in Iowa. Wine and hors d'oeuvres provided.

Also on December 9, James Patchett, landscape architect, hydrologist and founder/president of the Conservation Design Forum in Chicago, will explore peoples' cultural relationships to land and water resources. His presentation will be from 4-5:30 p.m. at the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education in the Auditorium (Cedar Falls). It is free and open to the public. Patchett will present case studies that show how to apply sustainable development practices of green roof technologies, porous pavements, bio-retention systems, and integration of native landscapes. For more information, go to http://www.ceee.uni.edu.

From the Sierra Club e-mail list:

Conference to Assist Those Planning to Circumvent Disaster from Future Weather Events Will Be Held December 9-11 in Coralville
Learn from the experience of those impacted by natural disasters, their recovery, the regulatory issues involved, the rebuilding process, and an exploration of strategies to consider prior to reconstruction. Attend the Iowa Disaster Recovery Conference scheduled for December 9 and 10 at the Marriott Coralville Hotel & Conference Center. An optional community design workshop led by design professionals will be held December 11 at the same location.
Three concurrent breakout sessions tracks are offered for Natural Disaster Recovery, Regulatory Compliance, and Sustainability/Green Design. Keynote speakers are Bob Dixon of Greensburg, Kansas, and former Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening, President, Smart Growth Leadership Institute.
Conference agenda and registration are available at www.iowalifechanging.com/register .
This conference is sponsored by Department of Economic Development, Rebuild Iowa Office, Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Waste Reduction Center.

Wednesday, December 10:

Join One Iowa and Lambda Legal for a "Making the Case" townhall forum in Cedar Rapids to celebrate and discuss the oral arguments before the Iowa Supreme Court in the landmark Varnum v. Brien case. The event will take place from 6:30-7:30 pm at CSPS/Legion Arts, 1103 3rd St SE in Cedar Rapids.

Thursday, December 11:

One Iowa and Lambda Legal are holding a "Making the Case" townhall forum from 6:30-7:30 at  Davenport Unitarian, 3707 Eastern Ave in Davenport.

Friday, December 12:

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women is organizing a lunch and learn:

Bring your lunch and join the discussion regarding violence against college women. Presenters will be Annette Lynch with the Iowa Regent's Campus Violence Prevention Project and Karen Mitchell with the SAVE* Forum Actors, University of Northern Iowa . The panel will be moderated by Rachel Scott, ICSW division administrator.

Friday, December 12th
12 noon - 1 p.m.
Lucas State Office Building 6th Floor Cafeteria
321 East 12th Street, Des Moines

Free and open to the public

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled a meeting at 1:00 pm in the Wallace State Office Building (5th floor), 502 East 9th Street in Des Moines, to receive public comments about new Antidegradation rules for rivers, streams and lakes in Iowa. Background from the Iowa Environmental Council:

New Water Rules Proposed

Citizen Comments Important!

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has scheduled nine meetings in December and January to receive public comments about new Antidegradation rules for rivers, streams and lakes in Iowa. It is important that citizens attend the meetings or send written comments in support of these protective rules.

These new water rules, called Antidegradation, refer to regulations that significantly increase protections for all rivers, streams and lakes and keep water quality from worsening.  Under the federal Clean Water Act, each state must adopt antidegradation rules for their rivers, streams and lakes.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently in the process of proposing antidegradation rules for Iowa waters and is asking for public comments that will help determine how protective (or lax) these rules will be.  That is why it's important that concerned Iowans participate in this process.

In addition to strengthening protections for all rivers and lakes the proposed rules include an initial list of more than 50 waters with exceptional recreational or ecological significance to receive special designation and protection as Outstanding Iowa Waters, including West Lake Okoboji, Spirit lake, Wapsipinicon River, Maquoketa River, and French Creek.

How you can help

1)      Learn about antidegradation policy, frequently asked question, talking points and much more, by reading the documents posted on this section of our website (http://www.iaenvironment.org/Antidegradation1.htm).  Don't feel like you have to be an expert on antidegradation policy.  If you have questions after reading these documents, call or email Susan Heathcote, water program director for the Iowa Environmental Council.  515-244-1194, ext 205.  Heathcote@iaenvironment.org.

2)      Attend a public comment meeting and speak up in support of the antidegradation rules as proposed by the Iowa DNR.  Meetings will be held in December and January.  For a list of dates and locations, go to http://www.iaenvironment.org/w...

Antidegradation rules have been a required component of all state's Water Quality Standards since 1972 as part of the federal Clean Water Act and have never been fully implemented in Iowa. These rules are a top priority for the Iowa Environmental Council and we are glad the Iowa DNR has finally begun rule making on these important rules.

These rules will allow Iowa to grow sensibly and sustainably by ensuring that new pollution will be allowed into Iowa's rivers, lakes and streams only if it will not harm existing uses of those water bodies and is truly necessary to achieve important social and economic goals of the people of Iowa.

An especially critical part of these new rules are two new designations for Iowa's highest quality waters called Outstanding Iowa Waters (OIW) and Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRW). These new designations require stringent protections against permitting any new sources of pollution that would lower water quality. Currently the Iowa Great Lakes in Dickinson County (including West Lake Okoboji, Big Spirit Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Lower Gar, Upper Gar and Minnewashta) and Dalton Lake in Jackson County are proposed for OIW designation. Also proposed for OIW designation are 46 stream segments (mostly cold  water streams in Northeast Iowa), including portions of the Wapsipinicon River, Maquoketa River, French Creek, Sny Magill Creek, Trout Run, and Waterloo Creek.

Plains Justice is holding a holiday open house at its Cedar Rapids office from 4 to 6 p.m.:  

We have a lot to celebrate, including our second anniversary in November, the addition of several great new staffers, board and advisory board members this year, and getting back on our feet after the flood.  We're so grateful for the support of all our friends and colleagues.

Our office is at the corner of 1st Avenue and 1st Street SW, on the west side of the Cedar River next to I-380, on the second floor.  We'd love to see you.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Interfaith memorial service for Mumbai victims to be held tonight in Des Moines

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 06:00:00 AM CST

The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) and Temple B'nai Jeshurun are presenting an "Interfaith Memorial Service for Victims in Mumbai" on Tuesday, December 2, at 7:30 p.m. at Temple B'nai Jeshurun (5101 Grand Avenue in Des Moines).

All are welcome to attend the service. Donations to the DMARC Emergency Food Pantry will be collected. For more information, contact jcrc AT dmjfed.org.

If you know of other community events taking place in Iowa to mark the horrific violence in Mumbai, please post a comment here or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com).

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 22:00:04 PM CDT

You can find statistics about sexual assault and resources for survivors and those who wish to become counselors at the website of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault:

IowaCASA's mission is to unite people and organizations to promote a society free from sexual violence and to meet the diverse needs of survivors.

[...] Today, IowaCASA has 27 member sexual assault crisis centers serving survivors of sexual assault throughout Iowa. Eleven staff work on several initiatives including: technical assistance and training to member centers; civil legal assistance for survivors of sexual assault, including immigration assistance; improving responses to sexual assault within communities of color; a training initiative for assisting survivors with developmental disabilities; a national project providing peer-based assistance to other sexual assault coalitions; statewide sexual assault prevention; training for allied professionals; and public policy efforts at the state and national level.

If you or someone you care about is in danger because of an abusive situation, the site provides this advice:

Email is not a safe or confidential way to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. To discuss a confidential issue please call our office at 515-244-7424 or the statewide Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline at 1-800-284-7821 to be connected to a sexual assault counselor in your area.

I've put contact information for all member centers of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault after the jump.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1804 words in story)
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