Chet Culver to return to federal board

President Joe Biden appointed former Iowa Governor Chet Culver to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation’s board of directors this week. Assuming Culver is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, it will be his second term on the Farmer Mac board. President Barack Obama named Culver to the board in 2011, and the Senate confirmed him by voice vote in March 2012. President Donald Trump removed Culver from the position in December 2019, replacing him with LaJuana Wilcher, the current board chair.

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Our failure of federalism

Ira Lacher: Federalism leaves the U.S. with an inability to centralize a means of combating a disease that has killed 607,000 in America. And counting.

“The country is facing a strong resumption of the epidemic touching all our territory. The equation is simple. The more we vaccinate, the less space we leave this virus to circulate.”

Way to go, President Biden! That’s what . . . huh? Oh. That wasn’t President Joe Biden. It was French President Emmanuel Macron in a televised address Monday, explaining why all health care workers in that country are being ordered to vaccinate against COVID-19, and why everyone in France will need proof of vaccination to shop in a mall, eat in a restaurant, or travel by air or rail.

Instead, this was Biden, speaking to reporters in the White House’s South Court Auditorium on July 6:

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Where Iowans in Congress stand on COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers

The battle to contain COVID-19 “is in many ways a race between vaccines and variants,” in the words of Canadian Dr. Christopher Labos. Every infected person gives the coronavirus another opportunity to mutate, and some of those mutations are especially dangerous, either because they spread more easily or cause more severe illness.

In the United States, where vaccine supplies are plentiful, low vaccination rates are increasingly linked to hesitancy rather than access problems. But COVID-19 vaccines are in short supply across much of the world. While the U.S. and some other wealthy countries are donating vaccines to poorer countries, the donation program will cover shots for at most 20 percent of the population in recipient countries.

The highly transmissible Delta variant, which is becoming dominant in the U.S. and Iowa and prompted Israel to reintroduce some mask mandates, was first identified in India, where vaccines are not widely available. Uncontrolled outbreaks anywhere will cause preventable loss of life and increase the risk of a variant emerging that can defeat current vaccines.

For that reason, more than 100 developing countries have asked the World Trade Organization to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for “health products and technologies” related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccines. The Trump administration opposed the waiver, but the Biden administration endorsed the proposal in early May. The pharmaceutical industry has been running an advertising campaign against the policy.

Iowa’s members of Congress have split along party lines.

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Celebrating democracy in an age of backsliding

“What would you say if you saw it in another country?”

Dartmouth political science professor Brendan Nyhan used that catch phrase throughout Donald Trump’s presidency (up to its very last day) to highlight the president’s public comments or official acts that in any other country would be seen as warning signs of a slide toward authoritarian rule.

The thought experiment always resonated with me, because I saw it in another country.

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Update on efforts to obtain a federal cannabis exemption for Iowa

Carl Olsen is the founder of Iowans for Medical Marijuana. promoted by Laura Belin

In February 2019, I asked the Iowa Medical Cannabidiol Board, which regulates our state’s medical cannabis program, if there was anything we could be doing about federal drug law, such as obtaining a federal exemption (21 C.F.R. § 1307.03) like the one that currently exists for another federal Schedule I controlled substance, peyote (21 C.F.R. § 1307.31).

In August 2019, at my request, the board recommended that the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) obtain a federal exemption for cannabis. However, the department refused, saying none of the other 46 states that have enacted medical cannabis laws have requested federal exemptions, and that Iowans were not being injured by the federal criminalization of cannabis.

Keep in mind that patients had been testifying before the board about discrimination in schools and health care facilities because of the federal criminalization of cannabis. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller signed a September 2019 bipartisan letter from attorneys general saying the current federal policy “poses a serious threat to public safety.”

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