After the Fourth of July

Tyler Granger: Amateur fireworks displays cause many problems, from airborne toxins to worsening respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. -promoted by Laura Belin

A new annual tradition is taking shape for Des Moines metro residents after the Fourth of July. For the last three years, air quality alerts have been issued due to excessive use of amateur fireworks.

Iowa legalized the sale and purchase of fireworks in 2017. Since then, pet owners across the state–especially owners of hunting dogs–have frequently been upset this time of year. Hunting dogs that are trained to work with gunshots will display anxiety over fireworks will show signs of distress as the Fourth of July approaches.

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Iowans lose out to industrial ag in 2020 legislative session

Emma Schmit is an Iowa organizer for Food & Water Watch. -promoted by Laura Belin

While coronovirus disrupted the Iowa legislative session this year, it failed to hinder business as usual.

Once again, legislators across the state preferred to serve Big Ag instead of their constituents. It’s hardly a surprise given the hundreds of thousands of dollars that flow into the coffers of our elected officials from Farm Bureau, Bayer-Monsanto and fat cats of the factory farm industry, including the Hansen and Rastetter families. While the needs of everyday Iowans were ignored for yet another year, industrial agribusiness cemented its rule over our state.

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Kimberly Graham: Of the People, for the People, and by the People

Scott Roland is an activist from Cedar Rapids. -promoted by Laura Belin

Introduction

Whatever we think that we are doing, it is certainly not working. We are asked to embrace some variation of the status quo that offers us ruinous household debt, political corruption that has become normalized, stagnant growth rates, perilously insecure employment, a natural environment that is on a course to become barely inhabitable, and a health care system that leaves many just one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. As a society, we have fallen into a chasm, and have brought our diminished faith in American exceptionalism with us. 

These problems have been exacerbated by a complacent political class, but politicians like Kimberly Graham offer us a credible path forward. Absurdly, some have painted her as an unrealistic radical, but in much of the developed world, she would be a mainstream social democrat. Her desire is not a destructive revolution, but decency: universal publicly financed health care, wages that ensure that households live above the threshold of poverty, elections that can’t be bought by the highest bidder, a system that does not leave students shackled in debt, and a Green New Deal to address the trillions in negative externality costs related to climate change.

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Ignoring Iowa’s factory farm crisis is a big mistake

Emma Schmit is an Iowa organizer for Food & Water Watch. -promoted by Laura Belin

The rise of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has shown us a lot. We’ve seen communities banding together to protect our most vulnerable citizens. We’ve seen the courage of our frontline, essential workers as they continue to provide necessary services. We’ve seen the importance of clean water in safeguarding our public health. And we’ve seen citizens and local governments standing up to guarantee water as a human right.

Unfortunately, what we haven’t seen is Governor Kim Reynolds step up to be the leader we need. With more than 2,400 employees of Iowa slaughterhouses testing positive for COVID-19, our supply chain failing, and no meaningful action taken to address either, it’s clear we need new leadership.

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Exclusive: Iowa governor denied 35 AG requests to join national cases

Governor Kim Reynolds denied 35 requests to sign Iowa on to multi-state legal actions during the first year of an unusual arrangement in which Attorney General Tom Miller ceded some of his authority.

Reynolds refused to allow the state to weigh in on lawsuits related to federal or state policies on immigration, reproductive rights, environmental regulation, consumer protection, gun safety, LGBTQ rights, and access to President Donald Trump’s personal records.

During the same time frame, the governor approved eighteen requests from Miller to join cases involving a wide range of legal matters.

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Big Ag’s “Too big to fail” fails us all

John Aspray: “This pandemic was not the first sign of vulnerability in our food system. It just widened the cracks that have been there all along.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Every Iowan is familiar with the catchphrase “Iowa feeds the world.” But new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food & Water Watch shows the consolidation of corporate agriculture in the Hawkeye state is causing far more harm than good.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts a Census of Agriculture, asking every farm to provide detailed information on its operations. The 2017 Ag Census data was released last year, and tells a troubling story of consolidation in our agriculture system—a story that Iowa’s rural communities already know well. 

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