After 9/11, we weren't all in this together

I spent much of Saturday reading or watching eyewitness accounts or reflections on the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

I was living in the UK, so the first half of my day passed routinely as I worked on my dissertation at home. Nothing unusual was on the BBC newscast I watched over my lunch break. The first plane struck the World Trade Center a little before 2:00 pm. I got a call soon after urging me to turn on the television and watched the horror unfold for the rest of the day and evening.

The attacks were a top news story in the UK for a long time. Most people don’t know 9/11 was the deadliest terrorist incident in British history. At least 67 UK citizens lost their lives, mostly in the World Trade Center or on the airplanes. No Irish Republican Army bombing had ever claimed nearly as many victims. For weeks afterward, I remember random strangers in London offering their condolences for what happened to my country as soon as they heard my American accent.

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Republicans send Trump's Afghanistan policy down memory hole

As the Taliban took full control of Afghanistan in recent days, every Iowa Republican in Congress condemned President Joe Biden’s decision to pull out the last remaining U.S. military personnel.

None acknowledged that former President Donald Trump committed to a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops when his administration signed a deal with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban, in February 2020. In fact, Baradar–the next leader of Afghanistan–was released from a jail in Pakistan in 2018 “at the request of the Trump administration as part of their ongoing negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar, on the understanding that he could help broker peace.”

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Lessons from a fight

Bruce Lear questions whether President Donald Trump has thought through his approach to Iran. -promoted by Laura Belin

It was an Iowa night thick with humidity and lightning bugs.  We’d gathered in a vacant lot to test our virgin manhood.  I was 13 years old, and I was standing in a circle of friends watching as each skinny armed boy tied on overweight boxing gloves and met his opponent in the center of the circle.

No referee.  No adult.  Just a whole lot of testosterone mingling with nervous adolescent sweat.

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In Iowa and beyond, voters must demand answers on nuclear weapons policy

Joan Rohlfing is President and Chief Operating Officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. -promoted by Laura Belin

By the time voters across the United States cast their ballots for president next November, it will have been 75 years since the first and only use of nuclear weapons. Since 1945, through the decades-long Cold War and its aftermath, a strategy of deterrence helped prevent nuclear war between the United States and Russia, the world’s nuclear superpowers. Does that strategy still keep us safe?

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Eleven times Chuck Grassley or Joni Ernst opposed reasonable gun limits

Two more horrific gun crimes devastated American cities this weekend. Hours after an attacker fueled by anti-immigrant hate killed 20 and wounded dozens at a shopping center in El Paso, Texas, a shooter using a high-capacity magazine in Dayton, Ohio killed nine people and injured 26 in less than a minute. Last weekend, a famous annual garlic festival in California joined the long list of venues where shooters have killed many people in minutes.

While no one law would would end all mass shootings in the United States, a few gun violence prevention policies could reduce the carnage that is almost unknown in countries with stricter limits on firearms ownership or access.

Iowa’s U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have consistently opposed those policies.

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Interview: What drives Senator Jeff Merkley

“We need to use every tool we have to reclaim our country,” U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley told me during his latest visit to Des Moines. “We are at the verge of a tipping point, and maybe we’re almost past it, in which the power of the mega-wealthy is so profound that we can’t tip the balance back in to we the people.”

The senator from Oregon spent much of Labor Day weekend in central Iowa supporting Democratic candidates for the state legislature. His fifth trip here since the 2016 election won’t be his last: he will be a featured speaker at the Polk County Steak Fry later this month. During our September 2 interview, I asked Merkley about the most important matters pending in the U.S. Senate, prospects for Democrats in November, and his possible presidential candidacy.

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