Telling Stat: US Birth Rate Falling

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Hold the milk!

Amid all the crap about Dear Leader that dominates our news media day in and day out, there are sometimes some extremely important stories that slide almost unnoticed during the news cycle.

Such was the story last week when the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that the US birth rate had fallen to a 30 year low. 

This triggered a memory of mine from way back that I read or heard someplace: The sign of a very sick society is a falling birth rate. Can’t remember where I heard it or saw it, but that has stuck in my mind as an indicator to watch for as a measure of the countries health.

It only makes sense when you think about it. When young people are in their fertile years most evaluate whether they want to bring children into the world based on their perception of how things are going and what the prospects for the future are.

Right now, for those in their child bearing years, prospects are pretty iffy at best.  Amy Westervelt writing for The Guardian discusses some of the many reasons why the US birth rate would be falling:

“The reality is, for all its pro-family rhetoric, the US is a remarkably harsh place for families, and particularly for mothers. It’s a well-known fact, but one that bears repeating in this context, that the US is one of only four countries in the world with no government-subsidized maternity leave. The other three are Lesotho, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea, countries that the US doesn’t tend to view as its peer group.


Think millennials are our problem, shirking their breeding responsibilities because they’re too busy taking selfies? Show me your all-time low birth rate and I will raise you an all-time high student debt load (it hit $1.4tn this year). Millennials have an average of $37,172 in student loans when they graduate, a fact that has been blamed for their record-breakingly low home ownership. Generation Z won’t be much help either, given that about 40% of them are expected to default on their college loans when they can’t find jobs, according to Brookings.

Let’s see, what else is at an all-time high? Credit card debt. It hit $1tn in the US for the first time this year. Childcare costs are another record-breaker. According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 33 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition at public four-year institutions. The few companies that offer discounted, on-site daycare have found that it more than pays for itself in tax breaks and retention and recruitment boosts, but it’s still rare. In the Fortune 100, only 17 offer any sort of on-site daycare. The US has flirted with the idea of subsidized daycare a few times, but a longstanding cultural notion that there is something inherently shady about daycare has kept us from ever really doing it, except during the second world war when we needed women to work. Perhaps if the birth rate gets low enough, we can get over our collective daycare aversion. 

Guess what else is at an all-time low? Pay raises.Despite economic growth, since the 1970s, the hourly inflation-adjusted wages received by the typical American worker have grown only 0.2% per year. Which is basically nothing. Guess what though? Worker productivity hit a three-year high in 2017. 

In the midst of the harsh economic reality facing parents and would-be parents in America is a looming physical threat: climate change. As the president and his EPA head parrot talking points from the fossil fuel industry, pointing to volcanoes and natural temperature cycles as the culprits for warming temperatures, the global scientific community tells us that we have essentially run out of time to do anything about it. That any children we have will be at a higher risk of dying in a super storm or a massive fire. That because a small handful of men decided that their own profits and comfort were more important than the rest of the world’s safety, any new humans that join the world will face greater challenges than the generation that came before.”   (all bolding mine)

She pretty well nails the reasons why young folks are being very wary about having any children or possibly just one or two at most.  You may also want to put the gun culture and a fear of school shootings as another concern. 

The last time the  birth rate was this low in the US was during the reign of Ronald Reagan. That should not be a surprise. While the rich thought times were wonderful, the rest of us not so much.

When you make a long term commitment like children, you want to make sure that everything is good to give that child the best environment to grow up. Except for the very rich, this is not an environment for raising children.

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Memorial Day Message From Congress Member Dave Loebsack

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May 25, 2018   
Dear Friend,

Each year on Memorial Day, our communities come together to remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. We reflect on the sacrifices of America’s men and women in uniform and keep alive the memory of those who gave their lives in service to our nation. I am inspired every day to fight for those who have fought for us – their lives are a testament to the best our country has to offer.

As a military parent, I know that Memorial Day also means that military families across our nation are spending today thinking about their loved ones deployed overseas. I invite everyone to join me in also honoring our veterans and active duty servicemembers who have served and defended our nation both here at home and overseas. I strongly believe that we must serve those who have worn our country’s uniform with the same honor and dedication that they served our nation. As part of honoring our veterans’ service, sacrifice, and patriotism, we must do everything in our power to provide top quality care and benefits upon their return home and throughout their lives. My office stands ready to help any veteran or servicemember who is in need of assistance accessing their benefits.

So, as we look forward to gathering with family and friends over this holiday weekend, let us not forget the true reason for Memorial Day. On this most hallowed day, we gather to pay tribute to those who serve, honor the memory of those we have lost, renew our commitment to the values they fought to defend, and recognize the sacrifices made by their families.

To everyone who has served and to those serving today– thank you for your service. This Memorial Day, and every day, we keep those who made the ultimate sacrifice, their families, our veterans, and our servicemembers around the world in our thoughts.


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Dave Loebsack

Iowa’s Second District

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Conservative PAC Attacks Sinclair-Tribune

Citizens for the Republic joins coalition to block the Sinclair-Tribune merger

The PAC, founded by then candidate Ronald Reagan in 1977 to espouse conservative causes, has joined the Coalition to Save Local Media, whose goal is not to save the merger, which it argues would put corporate elites in charge of the news.

“Even in the most capable and responsible hands, Centralized power, in all its forms, breeds exploitation and is anti-conservative,” said Craig Shirley, chairman of Citizens for the Republic (CFTR). “Conservatives celebrate competition but this proposed merger would eliminate that. Local media news networks are some of the most trusted hard news sources in America. Permitting this merger would dramatically undermine this trust and fake news would spread like wildfire.”

Related: No Justice Signal Yet on Sinclair-Tribune

The coalition already comprises a strange bedfellows collection of liberal and conservative voices united in their opposition to the deal. Its membership includes the American Cable Association, Common Cause, the Competitive Carriers Association, the Computer and Communications Industry Association (Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix are all members), DISH Network, the Leased Access Programmers Association, NABET-CWA, NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, One America News Network, Parents Television Council, Public Knowledge, RIDE TV, the Sports Fans Coalition, TheBlaze, and the United Church of Christ.

Neither the FCC nor the Justice Department have yet ruled on the proposed merger as Sinclair works on combining the right number of TV station spinoffs and pro-social arguments to secure antitrust and public interest approvals. Sinclair has filed five versions of the deal so far, including spinning off more stations. Meanwhile, a federal court is considering whether to overturn the FCC’s restoration of the UHF discount, which made the proposed deal possible.

If the court does reverse the FCC UHF decision before Sinclair can get its deal closed, that may achieve the coalition’s goal for it.

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ALEC And The Destruction Of Net Neutrality

We shouldn’t be surprised that the biggest corporate advocates of destroying Net Neutrality — Verizon, Comcast and AT&T — are also deeply involved in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which provides “template” voter suppression legislation and other Republican-friendly bills for state legislatures. Could a cell phone users campaign to ditch these providers get them to back away from their big bucks opposition to net neutrality and support of voter suppression?

A bit of temporary good news for Democrats — and for everyone who doesn’t want to pay more for internet service, as reported in Cecilia Kang’s “Senate Democrats Win Vote on Net Neutrality, a Centerpiece of 2018 Strategy” in The New York Times: “The Senate passed a resolution in a 52-47 vote to overturn a decision last December by the Federal Communications Commission to dismantle Obama-era rules that prevented broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast from blocking or speeding up streams and downloads of web content in exchange for extra fees. The commission’s repeal of net neutrality is set to take effect in a few weeks.” However, “the rare victory for Democrats is sure to be short-lived, with a similar resolution expected to die in the House, where Republicans have a larger majority. Only three Republican senators voted in support of the resolution [Collins, Murkowski and Kennedy]. However, “The effort to stop the repeal of net neutrality rules is part of a broader political strategy by Democrats to rally young voters in the November elections.” Here’s a sharable link for contacting Senators who voted to raise internet fees.

Read more…

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Republicans Could Bring Back The Farm Bill

CCI Action Alert –

Late last week, after hearing from hundreds of Iowans and thousands across the country, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass its disastrous Farm Bill.

But we’re not out of the woods yet.

In the next couple of days, House Leadership could bring it back to the floor – with no real substantive changes. Instead of taking this opportunity to fix issues that CCI members raised, our Representatives are poised to put forward the same damaging piece of legislation as before.

Take Action: Tell your Representative to vote NO on the
Farm Bill. They should throw it out and start completely over!

Why is this House Farm Bill so bad? Because it…

  • Props up the factory farm industry.
    The bill creates new massive loopholes that benefit the largest mega farm operations and factory farm owners, allowing them to receive unlimited amounts of public subsidies.
  • Strips away local control.
    Iowa’s very own Representative Steve King was able to insert a “Right to Farm” amendment that would prevent local governments from having their own agricultural standards, significantly limiting their ability to protect citizens and support local farmers.
  • Takes food away from people in need.
    This bill increases the requirements that recipients of SNAP (food stamps) need to fulfill to receive basic food support. This bill will result in fewer people from being able to feed themselves and buy the food family farmers grow. These changes to SNAP will hurt our neighbors.
  • Eliminates conservation programs.
    The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a popular nationwide program designed to help farmers establish and be supported in a whole farm conservation plan. But, this Farm Bill eliminates CSP and attempts to replace it with vague “stewardship contracts.” Even worse, these contracts could be used by factory farms — meaning more public funds going toward expanding the factory farm industry.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This is unacceptable. Take two minutes right now to demand that our Representatives go back to the drawing board.

It’s clear that our Representatives are out-of-touch with their constituents. Instead of actually fixing problems, they are trying to give more power to corporations.

We deserve better. Take action today!

For a farm and food system that works for farmers, workers, eaters, and the environment,


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Cynicism More Dangerous Than Trump

Congressman Keith Ellison tells us that it is cynicism that is the greater threat to Democracy, even greater than Donald Trump.  “Democracy still does matter. We have to vote and get out there and be active. If you go sit on the sidelines because you think it all sucks then you have just helped the oligarchs.”

SUPPORT THE PROGRAM ► Join us on Patreon: where you can also watch a re-run of the three hour program at any time AUDIO PODCASTS ► Subscribe today: FOLLOW THOM ► AMAZON : ► BLOG : ► FACEBOOK :… ► INSTAGRAM : ► PATREON : ► TWITTER : ► WEBSITE : ► YOUTUBE :… ABOUT THE PROGRAM The Thom Hartmann Program is the leading progressive political talk radio show for political news and comment about Government politics

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Inequality Kim


Inequality Kim

In the year or so that Kim Reynolds has been in charge of the state government and for the 6+ years that she was Branstad’s top lieutenant one thing seems to stand out as her main focus: widening the inequality gap between the rich and the poor in Iowa. 

That is what she has accomplished. From the cutbacks forced by Medicaid privatization to the cutbacks in Iowa schools to the awarding of lucrative incentives to already fabulously wealthy corporations, the Reynolds administration has been there to make it happen.

Union busting? Reynolds and Branstad are on the job. Cut higher local minimum wages? This is a job for Reynolds. Raise tuitions at the regents universities way beyond middle class students ability to pay? You can count on Reynolds!

Republicans at all levels serve the rich only. Iowa is no different. The tax cut that gave the store away to wealthy Iowans while giving poor Iowans a small candy bar is a great example. Who was more than eager to sign the tax cut? 

At a time in the US when the inequality between the “haves” and the “have-nots” grows wider and wider, Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Republicans are right there to drive the wedge even deeper. Why shouldn’t they? The poor make few campaign contributions. If we have learned nothing from Republicans it is that they believe in pay to play.

According to Common Dreams last October half of Americans can not keep up with essential expenses such as rent, food, utilities, health insurance and transportation:

“In the past 20 years median household expenses increased by 25 to 30 percent, while wages have stagnated. As a result, 3 out of 5 Americans spend more than they earn, not on frivolous extras, but on essential needs.

Housing, in particular, is crushing Americans. Nearly HALF of renters are cost-burdened, paying 30 or more of their income to their landlords. Renters in the poorest third of American households spend nearly HALF OF THEIR INCOME on housing.

Child care is another essential but overwhelming cost. The median American household in most states would have to spend over 10 percent of its income just to send a 4-year-old to full-time preschool. Children bear the brunt of a breakdown in society. The Center for Children in Poverty confirms that nearly half of our nation’s children live “dangerously” close to the poverty line.

Numerous other expenses are conveniently overlooked by the poverty skeptics: taxes; medical emergencies; car repairs; plumbing problems; appliance breakdowns; phone costs; work expenses, especially for members of the gig economy. As economist Constantin Gurdgiev puts it: “Quite frankly, it is idiotic to assume that gross median income matters to anyone. What matters is after-tax income net of the cost of necessities required to earn that income.” 

So what do Republicans do for the common Iowans who are now struggling? Bust unions, cut wages, cut education, give Medicaid dollars to privatized management companies. That is just in Iowa. At a national level Republicans are more than eager to take away poor people’s food, triple their rent and take away access to health care. 

When we put state and national Republican policies together we have a literal war on the poor and middle class. 

So our Dear Leader loves to hang names on anyone who displeases him at the moment. Let me give it a try. Here is a name that I believe sums up Kim Reynolds time as lieutenant governor and governor: Inequality Kim.

“Inequality Kim” here to cut your education, your health care, your wages. Give her another chance and she will go after your retirement and cut the property tax backfill to Iowa’s cities and towns.

In contrast we have six good Democrats who are standing up to the Republicans and their government for the rich.

Democrats running for governor are to a person opposed to the policies that Republicans have passed over the loud resistance from Iowans. The contrast is stark. 

Vast inequality among our citizens is simply bad policy. This is the kind of policy that signifies a third world country.

Give Inequality Kim another chance? I think not!

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Sunday Funday: Saving Chinese Jobs Edition



Well shoot, if you are going to take a bribe maybe you shouldn’t do so in such a blatant fashion as our Dear Leader did last week. Taking to twitter to announce that he was so concerned about Chinese jobs at ZTE and he would have the government start buying ZTE equipment again. This despite ZTE being under sanctions for breaking sanctions imposed by the US on Iran. Plus the little matter of ZTE possibly using their phones to spy on our citizens.

This just a couple days after the Chinese government agreed to put half a billion dollars into an Indonesian project that our Dear Leader stands to make huge money from. What a coincidence! If our Dear Leader wasn’t such an honest man, one might think this was a bribe or something very much like it.    

Sure too bad that we maybe get an agreement to sell a few soybeans in return for helping bring jobs back to China.

One would almost think Dear Leader could openly take a bribe in Times Square and nobody would do anything.

Another week in the downward spiral:

  1. Here we go again. Another school shooting in what town in Texas?
  1. What former relation to Paul Manafort has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel?
  1. What world famous couple got married yesterday?
  1. Democracy can be hard. What US nemesis won Iraq’s national election last week?
  1. What Christian pastor who claims Jews will not be saved was picked to give the opening prayer at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem?
  1. As Palestinians were slaughtered a few miles away, what senior administration official declared them “part of the problem?”
  1. Seattle scaled back a tax to help the homeless under pressure from what huge corporation?
  1. The senate passed a bill to keep net neutrality this week. How many Republicans voted to keep net neutrality?
  1. “SAR”s were all over the news in connection with the Michael Cohen investigation last week. What is an SAR?
  1. On this date in 1893, Thomas Edison publicly displayed what invention that would create a huge industry that is still growing?
  1. In China, an airline co-pilot suffered what incredibly frightening experience after the plane’s windshield partially cracked?
  1. New York attorney Aaron Schlossberg gained internet notoriety when a video of him berating two female restaurant workers doing what went viral?
  1. In a bit of a surprise what bill with a section to cut SNAP benefits was defeated in the US House Friday?
  1. By a vote of 6 to 3 the Supreme Court ruled that what is legal in all states not just Nevada?
  1. Promising not to conduct torture again, who was confirmed by the Senate as CIA Director with the help of six Democrats?
  1. Who underwent a kidney procedure at Walter Reed Hospital last week?
  1. Seven Democratic women won primaries in what state that currently has an all male congressional delegation?
  1. Once again teachers were seen marching through a state capital for pay and education funding. What state this time?
  1. In what western state did Democrats nominate the first Native American to run for governor? (Also this state’s first woman to run for governor)
  1. Put a hold on that Nobel! Who threatened to withdraw from a much anticipated summit meeting last week?

John Fugelsang:  

“I’m not saying Trump is the anti-Christ, I’m saying Christ is the Anti-Trump.”


  1. Santa Fe, Texas
  1. Manafort’s ex-son in law
  1. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
  1. Muqtada al-Sadr
  1. Robert Jeffress
  1. Jared Kushner
  1. Amazon
  1. 3 – none named Grassley or Ernst
  1. In regard to Cohen it is Suspicious Activity Report
  1. His kinescope machine that evolved into the movie camera and projector
  1. He was sucked halfway out the windshield 
  1. Speaking in Spanish to each other.
  1. The Farm bill
  1. Sports betting. 
  1. Gina Haspel. I believe her, just as much as flying saucers.
  1. Melania 
  1. Pennsylvania
  1. North Carolina
  1. Idaho – Paulette Jordon
  1. Kim Jung Un 

John Fugelsang once more:

“Rex Tillerson, who misled Exxon investors on climate change & paid millions to professional climate science deniers before going to work for Donald Trump, is lecturing people on the importance of honesty ethics & integrity.”

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Losing Internet Neutrality: The Worst Is Yet To Come

Video @ 5 minutes

We are two weeks away from losing internet neutrality. Monday June 11th is the date that the reigns of the internet are handed over to the corporations in this country. Expect them to wring out every possible dollar out of the internet while severely limiting access and freedom of movement while online.

In short, within several years expect the internet to greatly resemble that bane of American culture, cable (or satellite) TV. Those of us who were around some 40 years or so ago were thrilled to finally break out of the “3 networks plus some often boring public” television box we were in to get the promises of spectacular television from far off vistas. Ball games day and night for some of us and for others maybe operas and lectures. The future looked bright.

But as is the usual course of American business, money stepped in and called the shots. So we went from what looked like a bright era that competition could bring to consolidation and corporate philosophy of control it all. We went from  a flickering of a renaissance to a dark ages in a couple of decades. 

The major networks basically own all the cable channels, including the news outlets. So the variety of opinion and entertainment went from a pallet of colors to shades of gray. Even the religious channels only give one option and that is Christianity.  

When the internet is handed over for corporate control you can bet that plans have been made to take the internet from the vivid pallet of voices and interests it is today to something that corporations can control. And of course one of the things that the corporations want to control most is any voices that dissent from their control. 

Controlling the internet adds the last piece in the fist that will hammer citizens into submission through controlling our communications. Up until June 11th, the internet has been pretty open.

The illustration I often use is the hand slowly rolling into a fist. Decades ago magazines consolidated under fewer and fewer owners. The vast majority of magazines were corporatized and controlled. The pinky finger went down to start the fist. Then newspapers were consolidated under the likes of Gannet and Tribune Company. The ring finger joined the pinky in starting the fist.

Once the newspapers were consolidated and Republicans had control of the FCC making new rules to allow even greater consolidation within markets acted like an accelerant to the fires of corporate consolidation. Radio was next and they went quickly to the likes of Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia). Within a short space of time America’s thousands of radio stations were speaking with about three voices. 

NPR was a strange case of this consolidation. A network of radio stations that while not corporately owned was soon shown to be a group that could be manipulated with political pressure and was. Thus radio was consolidated and the middle finger joined the pinky and ring finger in slowly forming the fist.

At the same time the elephant in the room, television, was being consolidated in a couple of different ways. At the cable level, networks bought up the cable stations thus greatly limiting competition. In a different vein corporations like Sinclair Broadcasting, Tribune Company and Nexstar bought up local stations across the country. This has led to a major demising of local news and involvement. The index finger joins the other three fingers in the fist. Even at this point the near fist can do great damage to citizens.

But the crown jewel in the corporate quest for control over America’s communications has been the internet. BINGO. As we warned prior to the 2016 election, if the Republican became president his party would control the FCC. Target #1 for the FCC would be to put corporate America in charge of the internet. June 11th the thumb curls in with the other four fingers to form the fist that will beat true freedom of the press and speech out of this country.

How convenient the internet should be corporatized at a time when we have a president who is constantly at war with media. While there seems to be some show of resistance in buckling to this president there are also lots of signs of the corporations delivering just what he wants. Controlling the internet will surely help.

It won’t happen day 1. In fact there will probably be lawsuits that will delay the real implementation for a few years. There is also a possibility that a Democratic congress and a Democratic president could drag us back before we go over the falls. Unfortunately the way it looks right now, especially with corporate money “contributing” to campaigns, I would plan for the worst. Let’s just say the wheels are in motion.

A sidelight to this is a strange meme that was going around on Wednesday. The meme was “Is Democratic media too focused on the Russian scandal?” I heard this question from two different online sources Wednesday and then later from an independent candidate for an Iowa House seat. 

My answer was “What “Democratic” media?” The reference was to MSNBC which as far as I know is far, far from being owned, operated or influenced by Democrats. Of course what it comes down to is the three evening shows and their over-focus on Russia while often ignoring more relevant issues. But MSNBC is owned by NBC which is owned by Comcast. Comcast is a very, very conservative company that could turn MSNBC into a FOX clone tomorrow. 

MSNBC is in no way run or influenced by Democrats. The current lineup of shows is there to do one thing: maximize profits. Being the only left wing shows in the vast bleak landscape of corporate cable TV you would expect they would garner some eyeballs.

Remember also that Comcast as one of the largest internet providers in the US will be one of the major winners when internet neutrality ends. They have a fiscal stake in electing Republicans. It helps their bottom lines. But just to illustrate that MSNBC is not run by or for Democrats think of this:

MSNBC owner Comcast will be one of the big winners when net neutrality ends. Trying to save net neutrality has been one of the major burning issues for the Democratic Party. How often has the pending loss of internet neutrality been covered on MSNBC’s supposed “Democratic” shows? I don’t know the answer, but I have never heard it covered. My bet is Comcast doesn’t want it covered so it won’t be.

Never forget that when a revolution or a coup happens the new regime immediately seizes control of the means of communication. Control the message.

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Statement In Response To Santa Fe High School Shooting

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For Immediate Release: May 18, 2018

Contact: Matt Sinovic, (515) 423-0133

Progress Iowa Issues Statement In Response To Santa Fe High School Shooting

Des Moines, Iowa — Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in reaction to the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School in Houston, Texas:

“How many shootings is it going to take before our elected officials wake up and take action? Our hearts go out to the victims and their families at Santa Fe High School, and we are left to wonder who will be next to lose a loved one because we have failed to act. No student should have to go to school afraid for their life and no parent should wonder whether their child will come home safely. Unfortunately we live in the only developed country in the world where instead of putting common sense gun laws on the books we force children to endure active shooter drills.”

Progress Iowa is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization with a network of nearly 70,000 progressives. Year-round, Progress Iowa advocates for a stronger middle class, first-class public education, and fairness for all Iowans under the law. For more information, visit



10 killed in shooting at Texas’ Santa Fe High School, official says

REPORT: The Cautionary Tale of Gun Violence in Iowa

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