FOCUS/midwest

Founded in 1962 by Charles L. Klotzer

Archive for June 2009

A Depression-era perspective on public welfare

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the farmerThose trying to understand the current economic crisis would do well to revisit the history of the Great Depression. Popular mainstream interpretations focus on the actions of the Roosevelt administration, but give short shrift to the significant grassroots pressure for government action.

In December 1933, Successful Farming published an analysis of Roosevelt’s New Deal by F.D. Farrell, then president of Kansas State College. Readers of the Des Moines, Iowa-based magazine were farmers, a group likely to look with suspicion on anything smacking of Big Government. Here, Farrell makes the case for “socialization,” arguing that it’s essentially an American imperative:

“In the recent difficult years the fact has come to be widely understood that the welfare of each unit of our society depends somewhat upon the welfare of all the other units. Particularly the public has come to understand that industrial and commercial prosperity requires agricultural well-being. Wall Street has become aware of the importance of Main Street [ . . . ] Read the rest of this entry »

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June 28, 2009 at 11:50 am

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Climate bill: “Largest corporate welfare program” in history?

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Some environmental groups and progressive Democrats are denouncing the American Clean Energy and Security Act as a massive subsidy for polluters and a meaningless response to climate change.

smokestacksA day before the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act by a vote of 219-212, seven liberal and environmental organizations mounted a campaign to defeat the bill. The legislation now moves to the U.S. Senate.

The numerous provisions of the bill “do not add up to the steps needed to avert catastrophic climate disruption. Moreover, the bill’s emissions trading provisions create vested interests that would block future reforms,” Tom Stokes, coordinator of the Climate Crisis Coalition, wrote to the coalition members the day before in urging them to lobby their congressional representatives to vote against the bill. Read the rest of this entry »

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June 28, 2009 at 7:28 am

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Perhaps the prophecy foretold a writer’s birth

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circle“Yesterday, I spent the entire morning reading. Early in the afternoon, for no clearly ascertainable reason, I experienced a sudden desire to read all of the letters sent to me by editors (12,000 rejection slips and four or five letters) in connection with my poetry. I ran across the first letter postmarked Feb. 9, 1962. In these five years, this was the first time I had paid any particular attention to the postmark on that letter. This, in turn, caused me to recollect that my first poem had been written on the spur of the moment, mailed, and that letter received in only four days. My first poem must have been written on the fifth of February 1962. Idle observation? I thought so at the time, but — well, let me not digress.

“Later that evening I was idling in front of my neighbor’s cell, and casually inquired about the titles of some of the paperbacks on his shelf. After rummaging around, he handed me A Gift of Prophecy. I accepted the book and ended up spending the rest of the night reading about the clairvoyant Jeane Dixon. It turns out that she has predicted all types of catastrophe which have later come to pass. Read the rest of this entry »

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June 23, 2009 at 12:18 pm

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Midwest grape growers note rising temperatures

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cabernet francTed Wichmann still remembers the brutal Super Bowl of 1984, but not for the pounding the Raiders gave the hapless Redskins.

Instead, what Wichmann recalls is the wicked deep freeze that destroyed dozens of grapevines that he and his business partners had planted high on a hill near the tiny town of Alto Pass, Ill.

All it took was one bitter cold snap, in January 1984, to kill every Chardonnay and Riesling vine, roots and all.

“In one day, they were all gone,” Wichmann says.

So for the next couple decades, Alto Vineyards and every other southern Illinois grower avoided the better-known but cold-sensitive Vitis vinifera grapes, and stuck with more durable, cold-hardy French-American hybrids and native varieties.

Now all that’s changing. Read the rest of this entry »

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June 15, 2009 at 5:34 pm

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A green economy without U.S. manufacturing?

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When Washington University in St. Louis set out to build the “greenest” building in North America, the people involved never expected that the toughest obstacle would be the disappearance of manufacturing from the United States.

“On one level, we’ve all heard about the loss of manufacturing, but when you try to reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating unnecessary shipping, it really brings up that we aren’t making anything anymore,” says Daniel Hellmuth, principal in Hellmuth + Bicknese and architect of the Living Learning Center at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center.1.1311529!Tyson-Research-Center

When staff of the Tyson Research Center — the centerpiece for environmental research and education at Washington University — began planning for their new building, called the Living Learning Center, they decided they had to try and meet the most demanding sustainable building code out there. They accepted the Living Building Challenge from the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, the toughest green building standard in North America. No building has met the challenge yet, but the Living Learning Center is in the running to be the first.

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June 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm

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