Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hunger in the Heartland

"Small Iowa town a window into hunger problem in rural US" by Scott McFetridge Associated Press  October 13, 2016

STORM LAKE, Iowa — A growing problem familiar to rural areas around the country: Thousands of working families and elderly residents don’t have enough money to feed themselves or their children. The issue persists even as national poverty rates have declined in the past year and prices for many food staples have dropped slightly.

Well, we’re mostly the same in Massachusetts, and so what if factory jobs have disappeared from small towns?

Storm Lake has responded strongly with a large, mostly volunteer effort to hand out free food — eggs, cereal, vegetables, juice — at a half-dozen pantries, along a city street and in an empty building on the edge of town.

Tyson Foods’ turkey and pork processing plants are Storm Lake’s biggest employers — more than 2,700, many of whom are immigrants attracted by wages of $15 an hour or more. But many also have large families, and paychecks are eaten up by big grocery bills, heating and cooling costs, and higher-than-expected rent due to increased housing demand.

I've lost my appetite for the Globe. I thought they were talking about hungry, homeless people without jobs.

Not having access to enough food is more severe in isolated counties than urban, metropolitan areas — 64 percent of the counties with the highest rate of food insecurity for children are rural, according to data from national anti-hunger group Feeding America.

While federal statistics show incomes among the poorest 10 percent of U.S. households increased 7.9 percent last year and the proportion of Americans in poverty dropped from 14.8 percent to 13.5 percent, small towns typically lag urban areas in job and income growth, especially in the Upper Midwest, said Gary Green, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who studies rural issues.

Their version of eat sh**.

It’s especially hard for immigrants, he said, because the communities often lack a support network found in large cities, and if there’s an unexpected expense or reduction in work hours, there usually aren’t relatives nearby to help.

We all ‘‘struggle to live one day at a time and stretch a budget.’’ 

Maybe one day I don't, you know....


Looks like Obummer's AmeriKa to me!

"Iowa man charged after 4-year-old boy kills self with gun" by RYAN J. FOLEY Associated Press  April 13, 2017

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The owner of a handgun that a 4-year-old boy used to kill himself last summer in Iowa was charged Wednesday with illegally owning the firearm after telling police that he regularly used marijuana.

Gotta recriminalize!

Daniel Henriksen, 29, was charged in federal court with being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm, which carries up to 10 years in prison. He wasn’t present during the self-inflicted shooting of 4-year-old Jayden Choate on June 17 at Henriksen’s trailer in Elgin, a small town in northern Iowa. 

Oh, it already was.

Henriksen pleaded not guilty during a brief court hearing Wednesday afternoon in Cedar Rapids and was released on bond.

An affidavit signed by Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent Scott Reger says the boy and his younger brother and baby sister were trying to nap inside the trailer while their mother and another individual were sitting outside on the deck. Jayden found Henriksen’s loaded handgun near where he was trying to nap that afternoon and unintentionally shot himself in the head, Reger wrote.

This is tragic.

The affidavit says Henriksen had given the boy’s mother, Nikita Choate, and the other, unidentified person access to his trailer on that day and on prior occasions when Henriksen wasn’t home.

911 calls showed that Nikita Choate ran to a bar across the street from the trailer after the shooting. A bartender called 911, then went to try to perform CPR on the boy until an ambulance arrived.

I was going to make some snide comment about the double standard, but it's obvious: weed kills, booze saves.

Fayette County Sheriff Marty Fisher has said the ambulance took several minutes longer than normal because of a road closure.

Jayden Choate was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Henriksen isn’t a felon, but is charged under a federal law that prohibits unlawful drug users from owning guns even if they don’t have a record. He wasn’t charged under an Iowa law that makes it a misdemeanor when gun owners leave unsecured weapons around children.



"Parents of teenager sue prosecutor to stall sexting charges" by Associated Press  November 12, 2016

DES MOINES — The parents of a 14-year-old Knoxville girl are suing a county prosecutor to try to stop him from filing criminal charges against the teen after she sent suggestive photos of herself to a boy.

Marion County Attorney Ed Bull has threatened to charge the girl with sexual exploitation of a minor or child pornography. Bull has said she can avoid the charge if she signs an admission of guilt, performs community service, and temporarily gives up her laptop and cellphone.

The lawsuit was filed in September and amended Thursday to add new arguments and to add the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa as attorneys for the girl. The ACLU says it is seeking to protect the girl’s rights to free speech.