For life in George Bush's America, follow me below the fold.
First item: Iowa is trying to attract jobs to the state. Governor Vilsack was campaigning in SE Iowa and discussing economic development in the state. This story should be considered in connection with the third item in the newscast (in fact, I am not quite sure why they separated them), which was about the Rubbermaid plant in Centerville, IA. The Rubbermaid plant is shutting down, and Centerville will be losing almost 500 jobs directly. Of course, when you lose 500 jobs in a relatively small town (5,924 in the 200 census)there are reverberations beyond just the immediate job loss. As Governor Vilsack noted when he visited there this week, other businesses in town will be impacted by this job loss. And then there is the cheery relationship between Rubbermaid and the workers they are laying off. A story on the local tv station's news website yesterday noted:
Workers were told that contact with the media is grounds for immediate terminationGreat... If you have happy workers they will be your best publicity.
The state of Iowa is asking the federal government for help to extend the unemployment benefits, as there is no way that all 500 people are going to get jobs before those benefits run out.
The second story is about a Marine who died in Iraq. A local Missouri boy, from our town of about 17,000. The first one to die who grew up here, although the university had one that was killed a couple of years ago. But this is different -- his family is local, he was 21, and very involved in Special Olympics. A lot of people around here knew him, know his family, and it has cast a pall over the community for the 4th of July. The big news other than the funeral itself (on Sunday) is that the Westboro Baptist Church people (Fred Phelps and his family) are planning on being here to celebrate his death and protest at his funeral. Yes, of course it is indecent. It was not mentioned tonight, but in the last few days someone felt it necessary to say that the soldier was not gay and did not support homosexuality, as if that would be relevant to the discussion at hand.
One other item that was on the 5 p.m. news before the weather forecast was the fact that deaths on the highways in Iowa have gone up since last July 1st when the speed limit went up to 70 m.p.h. Okay, but is this connected to the increase in the speed limit? The IA highway patrol says they aren't sure -- the actual speed on the highways seems to be the same as before the limit went up (still averaging 71+ m.p.h.). I would guess the increase in legal speed has encouraged younger drivers to speed up, but that is just me. Anyway, that was the story from the IA Highway Patrol.
Was there any good news? Well, yes, there has been a women's center opening at a county hospital in NE Missouri. That kind of thing is much needed in the area, and of course our local Republican congressman showed up for the opening. The funding was state, rather than national, though, and I am not sure if Kenny Hulshoff really deserves any credit for this kind of thing. But he showed up for the opening. He is up for re-election, of course.
And our pollen forecast is low -- that is great news for me!
Local advertisements included the lottery, county fair, and Shriners' hospital charity. As well as the Robert Trent Jones golf trail in Alabama -- do they advertise everywhere or just in this part of the country?
So life goes on in Missouri and Iowa. We need rain, but not desperately -- yet. We do need jobs, desperately. We need health care (single payer, please). We need to get out of Iraq. We need a world without bigots like Phelps and his ilk (if there was not a military funeral this weekend they would not be coming to town).
This weekend there is a gay pride event (Sunday, the same day as the funeral -- oh, that is going to be great...), and tonight on the square the local arts association is sponsoring a local Celtic band. I am off to that, and to get a drink with the group afterwards. And tomorrow morning to our small local farmers' market. I love the summer in my small town.