Thursday, June 26, 2014

What We Learned This Week - Bipartisanship Looks Awkward

Des Moines Art Center - The Scene of the Crime
Opinions continue to differ widely on the impact of the Obama Administration's proposed and contentious Clean Water Act clarification rule.  Many Republicans and some industry officials portray it as a federal government "land grab."  Other industry representatives think the rule is essential for economic success.  The Administration doesn't believe that the actions of the Army Corps of Engineers caused major Missouri River flooding in recent years. Scientists predict that the northern Gulf of Mexico's summer "dead zone" will end up being about average-sized this year. Speaking of average, May's global temperature was the most above-average "average" ever measured.  So farmland will likely continue to shift northward, as global warming impacts agriculture.  The silver lining is that the agricultural industry, while clearly affected by climate change, is also very well equipped to manage those risks.  Herbicide-resistant weeds are on the rise - first reported in the 1950s, soon after farmers began using major synthetic herbicides. Regulation of chemicals used, in part, to control those weeds, has failed to prevent the contamination of nearly every habitat worldwide. The first of the next generation of genetically modified crops has arrived - along with controversy.  Mothers exposed to farm pesticides during pregnancy are more likely to have children with autism-related disorders and developmental delays.  The widespread adverse ecological impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides are now "conclusive" and  "impossible to deny."  Many plants being marketed as beneficial to bees have been treated with neonicotinoids.  Vast stretches of Minnesota are under water from river and stream flooding. Recent summer storms flooded thousands of acres in northwestern Iowa - turning soy and corn fields into jet ski centers - as farmers consider replanting options.  In the longer term, weather conditions are expected to benefit crops.  After a long, sweltering Saturday session, an Iowa Republican convention chose the least popular candidate as their Congressional nominee. Tuesday night's primary vote results were generally good for the GOP establishment and great for incumbents, like Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran.   Congressional bipartisanship may not be totally dead after all, as Democratic and Republican Senators seek to find common ground in the climate change debate - but holding hands and singing certainly look awkward.  Want to be less-stressed?  Live in Minneapolis - not New Orleans.  And last but not least, the Des Moines, Iowa Police Department doesn't have enough tiny handcuffs.

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