A Carny’s Life

A carny’s life is what I want, so easy and carefree.

You get up with the chickens and you shower where there’s pee.

Stale donuts for your breakfast and you stand for half the day,

and when the weekend rolls around you do not get your pay.

Bedbugs will not tolerate the place you have to sleep.

But if you mention anything the boss calls you a creep.

He says go back to Mexico if you are so darn triste,

then sticks you with the kettle corn upon the blazing midway.

Who doesn’t want to run away and join this happy throng

who need to be re-educated ala Mao Zedong?

from an article in the New York Times


Are You Prepared for a Water Emergency?


Let me tell you some of the places in North America that have really fine tap water:

  • Tioga, North Dakota. Since putting in new wells back in the late 1980’s, this little village’s tap water has acquired a fresh and invigorating bouquet that makes it a pleasure to use for lemonade, soups, and coffee.
  • New York City. You might think that the tap water in the Big Apple must be polluted and full of subway grit.  Not so.  It has a smooth taste with a light touch of organic chemicals, and comes from reservoirs far to the north of Manhattan.  It’s what makes their pizza dough so unique and delicious.
  • Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Their tap water comes from mountain glaciers, and is so cold and crisp you can almost feel it crunch in your mouth.  Natives of Whitehorse claim their tap water is so pure and strong that no one who drinks a glass of it each day ever has bad breath.

The reason for this little tap water tour is to remind us all that potable tap water is NOT a given in most of the world.

In Mexico the tap water must always be boiled, and then left for 24 hours, before it is considered safe to drink.  A large majority of men and women in Mexico find it more convenient, and safer, to simply drink beer.  For those who prefer not to include any alcohol in their diet, there are a large variety of Jarritos flavored mineral waters to choose from.  But a steady diet of those sweet drinks tends to cloy the taste buds, making it difficult to enjoy the superb cuisine of Mexico.  Should you happen to drink a glass of unboiled tap water, you can expect anything from a mild case of Montezuma’s Revenge to an infestation of parasites that will send you, clutching your stomach in agony, to the nearest hospital.  This happened to the author many years ago, and he has never been able to look at a faucet since without a shudder.

Or take Thailand, for another example, where the author has lived for many years.  Their municipal water works and purifying stations are just as up-to-date and effective as those here in the United States.  When the water leaves the plant it is perfectly good to drink.  The problem lies underground, where the water pipes have not been replaced in many a moon, and thus are cracked and porous, allowing all sorts of vicious characters from the surrounding soil to seep in and contaminate the water.  Not even boiling it will save you from some deeply distressing and embarrassing episodes if you happen to drink it.  Most foreigners in Thailand will not even brush their teeth with plain tap water.

With our mania for bottled water and reverse osmosis and other such fancy-schmancy trappings, we should remember, and be grateful, that we can step up to the kitchen faucet, or even the garden hose, anytime we please for a gulp of good old-fashioned tap water without fearing for the integrity of our gastro-intestinal system.

(While North America is currently a bastion of safe tap water, there’s no guarantee that this will last forever.  You should make plans to protect your family from tainted water during a local or national emergency by having on hand a reliable water filtration system, such as AquaPail.  This storable, fast-flowing, gravity –fed water filtration system is available from hikingware.com at a very reasonable price.)

Sex Trafficking and Hard Drugs Ignore Borders to Invade the United States.


MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is leading a delegation to Mexico with U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp to discuss joint efforts to fight sex trafficking and the growing heroin epidemic. Klobuchar and Heitkamp will be joined on their three-day trip by Cindy McCain, who co-chairs the Arizona Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking. They will meet with the Attorney General of Mexico, sex trafficking prosecutors and NGOS, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, and Mexican Senators involved in the issue to push for coordinated efforts to combat sex trafficking in Mexico and the United States. The Senators will also lead meetings with the Mexican National Security Commission, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other officials to discuss ways to combat the growing heroin epidemic.

“The United States needs to be a leader for the rest of the world in fighting crimes against women, including sex trafficking. This is an opportunity to focus on how we can work with Mexico to combat sex trafficking head-on in both of our countries and make sure these women and children are being treated as the victims that they really are,”Klobuchar said. “We also need to focus on strengthening our partnership in the fight against the growing heroin epidemic, which is taking lives and hurting communities across Minnesota.”

“Human trafficking – including sex and labor trafficking – is a grave problem both abroad and in our own backyard,” said Heitkamp. “This trip will enable us to learn about the actions Mexico is taking to stop these horrific crimes, and help us as we work to address them in North Dakota and around the nation. As a former Attorney General, I understand many of the actions that we can take on national and state levels, and I’m interested in learning about how Mexico is working on this issue. We will also discuss our continued efforts to combat the use of heroin, which has recently increased in North Dakota putting too many lives at risk.”

“As a border state, Arizona faces particular challenges with international trafficking.  I am pleased to join Senators Klobuchar and Heitkamp to meet with Mexican officials and look at additional ways we can work with those in Mexico who are committed to helping reduce the flow of both sex and labor trafficked victims from all over the world that are being trafficked through Mexico into the United States,” McCain said. “Arizona is on the cusp of passing legislation that will increase penalties for traffickers and give prosecutors more tools when going after those who traffic vulnerable minors. The legislation came out of recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, which I co-chair. It will improve the situation in Arizona, but there is so much more to be done. I look forward to continuing to work with Senators Klobuchar and Heitkamp on this critical issue both nationally and internationally.”

Klobuchar recently introduced bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Heitkamp that would give prosecutors tools to crack down on domestic minor sex trafficking and ensure victims of these horrific crimes receive the support they need. The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act is modeled after Minnesota’s “Safe Harbor” laws that help ensure minors sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as criminals but are instead treated as victims. The bill also allows victims of sex trafficking to participate in the Job Corps program to help them get back on their feet, and would create a National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking to encourage cooperation among all the federal, state, and local agencies that work on this problem. A full summary of the Senators’ legislation can be found here. Klobuchar has also partnered with Cindy McCain to combat sex trafficking at the Super Bowl, which is in Arizona next year. Klobuchar and McCain met with the National Football League (NFL) earlier this year to discuss their efforts.

To help address the growing heroin epidemic that is devastating communities all across the country, Klobuchar has urged the DEA to step up its interdiction efforts at the Mexican border and work with state and local law enforcement to combat the problem. Coming from Mexico up I-35 or through Chicago, Minnesota has some of the cheapest and purest heroin in the country that has led to a deadly spike in abuse. In 2013, there were 54 deaths caused by heroin overdoses in Hennepin County. Hospital emergency departments visits for heroin have nearly tripled from 2004 to 2011. In the 7,000-person community of St. Francis, three young people have died of opiate-related overdoses since May.

Since becoming a U.S. Senator, Heitkamp is continuing the work she started as North Dakota’s Attorney General to combat human and sex trafficking. In addition to helping lead the charge to pass the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act, Heitkamp has coordinated efforts with leaders in the field. In January, she met with Cindy McCain to strategize about efforts to combat sex and human trafficking. McCain has been at the forefront of working to reduce human trafficking in Arizona, throughout the United States, and around the world.

Last year, Heitkamp helped lead a Senate hearing to better understand the work being done on the federal, state, and local levels to combat human trafficking. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, which Heitkamp asked the Committee hold, brought together officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, and non-profit leaders who are on the frontlines of addressing human trafficking.


Honoring Norman Borlaug.




Statue Unveiling Highlights Events Honoring Iowan

Who Saved More than 1 Billion People from Starvation



WASHINGTON – The unveiling of a new statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection of one of the greatest humanitarians and scientists will highlight two days of events to honor Iowan Norman Borlaug, the Iowa congressional delegation said today.  The statue unveiling is on Tuesday, March 25, at11 a.m. (ET).


Borlaug is one of only five people to have been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Honor.  A renowned agricultural scientist, born and raised in Cresco, Iowa, Borlaug is often recognized for eradicating famine in Mexico, India and Pakistan during the mid-20th century with his development of a disease-resistant, high-yielding wheat.  He is known as the Father of the Green Revolution and credited with saving more than 1 billion people from starvation in developing countries.

“Dr. Borlaug’s efforts to advance biotechnology and agronomy vastly improved the levels of food security in nations around the world.  He was an extraordinary man, with a brilliant vision, and the common sense and commitment to turn his dreams into reality.  He inspired future generations of scientists and farmers to innovate and lift those mired in poverty, all while never forgetting his Iowa roots that started the journey,” Senator Chuck Grassley said.


“Dr. Borlaug surveyed a world where starvation and malnourishment were rampant. And he had a vision–a vision for a Green Revolution,” said Senator Tom Harkin.  “Dr. Borlaug’s mission to alleviate hunger and human suffering, improve quality of life around the globe, and foster peace will benefit people for generations to come.  The statue to be unveiled and dedicated this week will preserve that mission in the halls of the U.S. Capitol and serve as a reminder to all who pass by that one person really can make a difference.”


“To see the effort I started in 2009 to honor Dr. Borlaug come full circle is heartening. His lifetime of selfless contributions to mankind have earned him this honor in the nation’s Capitol Building. Dr. Borlaug’s work has saved billions of lives across the globe from starvation, and I can think of no better example of a great Iowan to the millions of people who visit the Capitol each year,” Congressman Tom Latham said.


“It was a privilege to get to know Dr. Borlaug personally. He was humble, engaged, and inspiring all at the same time. It is a memorable honor to help bring his statue to our Nation’s Capitol. Now millions of Americans can be part of celebrating a life so well lived. I look forward to the unveiling in the US Capitol and the continuing story of the greatness of Dr. Borlaug. He was an inspiration to me when I met him, and his story will soon serve as an inspiration to all who visit the Capitol,” Congressman Steve King said.


“Norman Borlaug had a combination of ingenuity, intelligence, and compassion that represents the very best of Iowa,” said Congressman Bruce Braley.  “He improved the lives of billions of people around the world and I’m proud his statue will be representing Iowa in the United States Capitol.”


“The world is a better place because of Norman Borlaug’s efforts to feed the hungry and promote peace. From growing up in a small agricultural town in Iowa boasting a one room schoolhouse to saving one billion lives by fathering the ‘Green Revolution,’ Norman Borlaug is a true American pioneer. I look forward to joining my fellow Iowans in honoring all of the work he has accomplished,” Congressman Dave Loebsack said.


The statue unveiling will be held in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol on March 25, which is also National Ag Day and the 100th anniversary of Borlaug’s birth.  Events on Monday, March 24, include a media availability with the sculptor and Iowa political leaders, a reception for any interested parties, and a dinner banquet.  Following the statue unveiling, which can be seen live on www.speaker.gov/live, a reception will be held in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.  More information about the events is atwww.iowaborlaugstatue.org


The statue of Borlaug will join others in the collection that honors men and women who are, according to the 1864 law creating the collection, “illustrious for their historic renown or for distinguished civic or military services such as each state may deem to be worthy.”  Each state was invited to contribute two statues to be housed in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.  The collection, now totaling 100 statues, is currently located throughout the U.S. Capitol and the Capitol Visitor Center.