fresh voices from the front lines of change







Storms Batter Midwest Farmers

U.S. farmers face devastation following Midwest floods. Reuters: " Midwestern farmers have been gambling they could ride out the U.S.-China trade war by storing their corn and soybeans anywhere they could - in bins, plastic tubes, in barns or even outside. Now, the unthinkable has happened. Record floods have devastated a wide swath of the Farm Belt across Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and several other states. Early estimates of lost crops and livestock are approaching $1 billion in Nebraska alone. With more flooding expected, damages are expected to climb much higher for the region. As river levels rose, spilling over levees and swallowing up townships, farmers watched helplessly as the waters consumed not only their fields, but their stockpiles of grain, the one thing that can stand between them and financial ruin. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” said Tom Geisler, a farmer in Winslow, Nebraska, who said he lost two full storage bins of corn. 'We had been depending on the income from our livestock, but now all of our feed is gone, so that is going to be even more difficult. We haven’t been making any money from our grain farming because of trade issues and low prices.'"

Trump Diverts Disaster Relief To Border

Trump mulls deploying emergency disaster workers to detention centers. The Hill: "President Trump is considering deploying a 1,000-person force usually used for relief efforts after hurricanes and other natural disasters to help staff overcrowded detention centers for migrants, according to people briefed on the matter. The highly unusual move could diffuse the cost of sending additional personnel to assist with detention centers dealing with a wave of migrants who are being held after crossing the U.S. border. 'It frees up more resources,' said a source familiar with the discussions. But it also would put trained federal employees from other parts of the government -- who signed up to help disaster victims -- in a new and controversial role. The detention centers for migrants and asylum-seekers who crossed the border have become a flashpoint in the immigration debate. Democrats have excoriated the Trump administration for separating families, holding children for prolonged periods and treating migrants in ways that they say constitutes neglect. Two adults and two children have died while in custody. Trump is contemplating bolstering capacity by using the Surge Capacity Force — an entity created by Congress in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for times when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) needs extra staff on short notice."

Border Wall Money Taken From Military Kids

Trump's border wall money may come at expense of schools for military kids. Reuters: "The U.S. Department of Defense is proposing to pay for President Donald Trump’s much-debated border wall by shifting funds away from projects that include $1.2 billion for schools, childcare centers and other facilities for military children, according to a list it has provided to lawmakers. The Pentagon gave Congress a list on Monday that included $12.8 billion of construction projects for which it said funds could be redirected. Around 10 percent of the list relates to educational establishments and includes school buildings for the children of service members in places like Germany, Japan, Kentucky and Puerto Rico. The move comes as a surprise given the Trump administration’s oft-touted support for the sacrifices made by military families and suggests the White House’s desire to build a wall on the border with Mexico outstrips nearly all other issues."

Pence Woos GOP Megadonors

Pence woos 2016 anti-Trumpers to bankroll billion-dollar reelection. Politico: "When Vice President Mike Pence appeared before some of the GOP’s most powerful donors at the iconic Pebble Beach golf course on Monday evening, he did something that would’ve been unthinkable a few years ago. The private dinner provides a window into a behind-the-scenes, Pence-led mission: to ensure that Republican givers who never came around to Trump in 2016 are on board for 2020. With Democrats already raking in colossal amounts of cash, Republicans estimate they’ll need to raise around $1 billion — a figure that will require the party’s donor class to be all-in. Party officials also want to deprive any would-be Trump primary challengers of the financial oxygen they’d need to mount a campaign. While the smash-mouth president is certain to be the public face of his reelection campaign, Pence — long a favorite of conservatives — is undertaking a lower-profile but critical role of offering assurance to the deep-pocketed Republican elites who will be needed to finance Trump’s behemoth campaign apparatus."

New Zealand Bans Assault Weapons

New Zealand is showing America how to respond to mass shootings. WaPo: " There is a striking contrast betwen how New Zealand and the United States respond to mass shootings. Instead of asking questions or resolving to take action as politicians in New Zealand are doing, we have come to accept as inevitable that large numbers of people will be killed every year by madmen with guns. 'Routine' was the lament used by President Barack Obama as he addressed the country in 2015 after nine people were murdered at a community college in Oregon; it was his 15th address after a mass shooting. the ease with which the Christchurch gunman was able to obtain an arsenal that included semiautomatic weapons was enough to convince Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern of the need for better checks on guns. She announced her intent to tighten the country’s laws mere hours after Friday’s terrifying events. She announced Thursday — six days after the attack — that the country will ban semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. She said legislation is being drafted with urgency and hopes for implementation by April 11. 'The time to act is now,' she said this week. Meanwhile, in Washington, the modest push for universal background checks for gun purchases that passed the House faces an uphill struggle in the Senate and veto threats from the White House, even though it has the support of most Americans. Once again, the U.S. political system looks feckless compared with other democracies."

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