Archive for November 16, 2011
Eleven survivors and family members of victims of the January 2011 shooting in Arizona that nearly killed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) are criticizing Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for what they say was a “dismissive and political response” to Tucson shooting survivor Patricia Maisch’s testimony in support of legislation which would close holes in the gun background check system.
In a letter sent to Grassley on Wednesday and obtained by TPM, [the eleven] write of their “profound disappointment” with Grassley’s “obvious disregard for the gun violence survivors in the room” as well as his “apparent ignorance of the deadly serious issue we came to discuss with you.”
They said that it was “inappropriate” for him to turn the hearing into a forum to ask questions about an unrelated inquiry.
“Rather than dealing with the subject of the hearing — how the background check system can be improved to spare other families the pain that we have suffered — you chose to employ a tactic of callous, cold and calculated distraction,” they continued.
“Senator, were you listening ….? Nothing you had to say indicated you were. The fact that you were focused on your Blackberry during much of Patricia’s testimony suggests you weren’t.”
The group ends the letter by asking Grassley to apologize to the members of the group who “lost loved ones in Tucson, and made the effort to come to Washington yesterday, but heard nothing of use from you.”
U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, won’t predict which programs will be affected when the 12-member congressional super committee recommends lopping up to $1.5 trillion off the federal budget by its Nov. 23 deadline.
But the Iowa City Democrat, during a telephone town hall meeting Tuesday night, said he has a megaphone his constituents can use to make their deficit-reducing suggestions known to the committee.
He calls his unofficial group the Citizens Super Committee.
“I know they’re feeling a lot of pressure from lobbyists,” Loebsack said of the real super committee, “but the only people they should be listening to is the American people.”
Loebsack invites residents of the Second District to call his office toll-free at 866-914-4692 or to visit his website, http://loebsack.house.gov, to “make sure as many Iowans as possible have a voice in their decision.”
He said he won’t venture a guess as to what the super committee will recommend to Congress, but hinted he believes the committee will reach bipartisan support in the coming week on some cuts.
“There are people demanding we get this done,” he said.
More town hall topics
On quieting the Capitol’s ideological warfare, Loebsack said he’s found an unlikely ally: Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., the congressman who yelled “You lie!” during President Obama’s 2009 address to Congress on healthcare reform.
After discovering each of their families has been touched by mental illness, Loebsack and Wilson inserted a requirement in a defense reauthorization bill to require that each National Guard and Reserve unit have a mental health professional included.
“We are going to have arguments, as we have throughout our history, on the proper roles of government and private enterprise,” Loebsack said. “We can do that in a civil, constructive way. I hear this every weekend when I am back in Iowa.”
n On a Department of Labor proposal to limit the amount of work children can do on farms, Loebsack called it “yet another example of Washington, D.C., proposing a solution for a problem that does not exist.”
He said he’s “weighed in” with Department of Labor officials, urging them to “slow down and let us comment on this.”
“We grew up in Iowa. We realize this kind of regulation won’t protect anybody.”
DES MOINES – Scientists from across Iowa issued a statement today re-affirming that climate change is real and urging candidates to acknowledge the science of climate change and present “appropriate” policy responses. The statement, signed by 31 scientists from 22 different colleges and universities in Iowa, is being delivered to Governor Terry Branstad’s office today and will be available for participants in the Iowa Energy Forum sponsored by Politico in Des Moines on Wednesday.
In the statement, the scientists point out that Iowa is already experiencing the effects of climate change, such as increased precipitation, and that those changes have “clear connections to changes in global climate.”
“All major scientific societies and the US National Academy of Science have affirmed that the recent rise in greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere has contributed to changes in our climate,” the scientists say. Additional climate changes will challenge farmers and planners “to maintain the prosperity of our state and its role in national and global food security.”
“I believe it is important for Iowans to know that scientists who live and work in communities across our state understand that climate change is real and has serious implications for our future,” said David Courard-Hauri, assistant professor of environmental science and policy at Drake University. “This is an issue that all candidates for elected office, from city council to President of the United States, should acknowledge and address through public policy.”
The statement was drafted by four climate science researchers at Iowa State University, including Prof. Gene Takle, Director, Climate Science Program, Iowa State University. Prof. Courard-Hauri organized the scientists from other colleges and universities who signed on to the statement.
The full text of the statement and the signatories to the statement are provided below.
* * * * *
Climate Science and Public Policy in Iowa
The productive soils and favorable climate of Iowa underpin the economy of our State. Over the last half-century our farmers have adapted to changing conditions to keep Iowa ranked as one of the leading agriculture states in the US. We take well-earned pride in our contributions to national and global food security.
Changes in rainfall patterns and other climate indicators have emerged as the latest and potentially the most serious challenge to Iowans’ lives and livelihoods. Subtle changes in climate can have large effects on agriculture, making it a sensitive indicator of climate change. Statewide data show changes in temperature, precipitation, and humidity over the last forty years affecting Iowa’s producers. In recent decades a longer growing season, more precipitation, and lack of extreme high daytime temperatures have contributed to improved crop yields in our State. But the accompanying increase in extreme rainfall events, higher humidity, and higher nighttime temperatures have required costly adaptations.
Like its farmers, Iowa’s cities and rural communities, which provide our infrastructure, educational opportunities, and cultural amenities, also have felt the effects of a changing climate. Over the last 40 years intense rainfall has occurred about five times more often than in our previous history. As a result our communities have faced enormous expense to recover from repeated “500-year” floods. Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Iowa City, and Ames all have suffered multi-million dollar losses from floods since 1993. In 2008 alone, 85 of Iowa’s 99 counties were declared federal disaster areas.
These changes in Iowa’s climate have clear connections to changes in global climate and to changes in how we use the land. As the global climate continues to evolve, our farmers and city planners will face new challenges to maintain the prosperity of our state and its role in national and global food security. All major scientific societies and the US National Academy of Science have affirmed that the recent rise in greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere has contributed to changes in our climate. We urge all candidates for public office at national, state, and local levels to acknowledge the overwhelming balance of evidence for the underpinning causes of climate change, to develop appropriate policy responses, and to develop local and statewide strategies to adapt to near-term changes in climate.
Chris Anderson, Climate Science Program, Iowa State University
Ray Arritt, Climate Science Program, Iowa State University
Bill Gutowski, Climate Science Program, Iowa State University
Gene Takle, Climate Science Program, Iowa State University
Mark Aronson, Department of Biology, Scott Community College
Neil Bernstein, Chair, Department of Natural and Applied Sciences, Mount Mercy University
Aaron Bunker, Department of Biology, Morningside College
David Campbell, Henry R. Luce Professor in Nations & the Global Environment and Professor of Biology, Grinnell College
David Courard-Hauri, Environmental Science and Policy Program, Drake University
Richard Cruse, Director, Iowa Water Center, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University
Gary Donnermeyer, Math/Science Department, Kirkwood Community College
Robert de Haan, Environmental Studies Department, Dordt College
Rhawn Denniston, Chair, Department of Geology, Cornell College
Jack Gittinger, Science Education, Simpson College
Brian Hazlett, Director, Environmental Science Program, Briar Cliff University
Laura Jackson, Professor of Biology, University of Northern Iowa
M. Patrick McAdams, Division of Health and Life Science, William Penn University
David McCullough, Professor of Biology, Coordinator, Environmental Studies, Wartburg College
Gilbert Nebgen, Associate Professor of Science and Math, Indian Hills Community College
Laura Peterson, Department of Chemistry, Environmental Studies Program, Luther College
Gary Phillips, Environmental Studies Department, Iowa Lakes Community College
Thomas Rosburg, Professor of Biology, Drake University
Melanie Hansen Sadeghpour, Chair, Environmental Science Program, Des Moines Area Community College
Paula Sanchini, Professor of Biology, Coe College
Jerald Schnoor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Co-Director, Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, University of Iowa
Keith Summerville, Environmental Science and Policy, Drake University
Kathryn Szramek, Environmental Science and Policy, Drake University
Martin St. Clair, Professor of Chemistry, Coe College
Tracy Todd, Associate Professor of Biology, Northwestern College
Paul Weihe, Biology & Environmental Science, Central College
Danielle Wirth, Environmental Science Department, Des Moines Area Community College
*The views expressed herein are those of the individual signatories, and do not necessarily represent the views of the institutions with which they are affiliated.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Prof. Gene Takle, Director, Climate Science Program, Iowa State University, (515) 294-9871
Prof. David Courard-Hauri, Environmental Science and Policy Program, Drake University, (515) 271-3812