We deserve a break today. Two folks well worth "hooray"!

Herb Strentz profiles the most trusted figure of the COVID-19 pandemic and a Sister of Charity whose service to the targets of the Postville raid was legendary. -promoted by Laura Belin

Pardon the trifling with the McDonald’s jingle, but it catches the refreshing touch intended to recognize a couple of wonderful people — one you’re familiar with and one you’ll be delighted to meet.

They are Dr. Anthony Fauci, 79, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, and Mary McCauley, 81, a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Virginia stickseed

Today’s featured plant won’t win any popularity contests. In fact, I know people who rip Virginia stickseed (Hackelia virginiana) out of the ground as soon as they identify it anywhere on their property.

This common woodland species, sometimes just called stickseed, has unimpressive flowers that become irritating burs. The burs spawned the common names beggar’s lice or sticktight. I don’t pull up these plants like I do with garlic mustard, but I keep an eye out for them so my shoes, clothes, and dog don’t end up covered in burs.

Virginia stickseed is native to most of the U.S. and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. I frequently see it in the woods or near woodland edges. According to the Illinois Wildflowers site, “Stickseed prefers disturbed wooded areas and it is rather weedy.”

I took the pictures enclosed below in Windsor Heights, Clive, or Urbandale.

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Keep the lights on for our kids

Katie Rock is the Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Iowa. Beyond Coal is a national campaign led by the Sierra Club to retire the U.S. coal fleet by 2030. You can find her on Twitter @KatieRockIA. -promoted by Laura Belin

Our current unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. Now is the time when we need to think and act boldly as a community so we can all get through this together. We need our state, and our service and utility providers to step up for families. We need to ensure no one faces eviction or loses their essential services during this time.

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Exclusive: Iowa's state medical director received 45% pay raise

The base pay for Iowa’s medical director and state epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati increased by 45 percent as the current fiscal year began on July 1, records obtained by Bleeding Heartland show. The additional $3,144 that Pedati began receiving per two-week pay period would translate to an extra $81,744 in base salary over twelve months.

The doctor leading the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response also received more than $55,000 in overtime pay from March through early July, even though her job class would not normally be eligible for overtime compensation.

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Iowa Supreme Court rejected calls to stop in-person bar exam

Aspiring lawyers gathered in Des Moines on July 28 and July 29, for about eight hours each day, to take Iowa’s Uniform Bar Exam in person.

More than a dozen states, accounting for about two-thirds of exam takers, postponed or otherwise altered plans to administer the grueling two-day test that determines where attorneys can practice law.

However, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected calls to shift to an online exam or offer a limited “diploma privilege” so that graduates of the University of Iowa or Drake University law schools could practice in this state without passing the bar. Instead, the judicial branch’s Office of Professional Regulation took several steps to reduce the chance exam takers could spread COVID-19 to one another.

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