North Coast Congressman-Elect Jared Huffman officially starts his new job this week, as U.S. representative to the recently redrawn 2nd District, which runs from Huffman’s hometown of San Rafael north to the Oregon border. The three-term California assemblyman and environmental lawyer is taking over, on the North Coast at least, from the veteran Thompson, who’s represented Humboldt County and surrounding counties in the U.S. House since 1999 after being reelected six times. Now, Thompson’s hometown of St. Helena has been drawn out of the district, and he will represent the newly drawn 5th District, encompassing Napa, parts of Santa Rosa and the San Francisco Bay Area.
When talking about the delay in getting a farm bill passed, Vilsack said, “We have to be strategic about the fights that we pick, because the fights we often pick are misinterpreted in some corners.”
Vilsack offered examples of how some rural advocates had picked the wrong fights in recent years and lost credibility for rural causes in the process: “I can’t tell you how frustrating it’s been to hear the conversation that we’ve had for the last couple of years about regulations, regulations that either didn’t exist, weren’t going to exist, or that were taken care of. I read a survey recently where people were still talking about the dust rule. Not going to happen, never going to happen. People are still concerned about the child labor issue. Not going to happen, never going to happen. We dealt with this, but yet we continue to talk about it.”
Climatologists are predicting that the drought that has parched more than half of the United States this year will last at least through the winter with compounding impacts on agriculture, water supplies, food prices and wildlife. Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and author of the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor, said this year’s drought is historically unusual in its intensity and size.
Despite the substantial financial losses associated with Hurricane Sandy, the cost of global natural and man-made disasters in 2012 is actually significantly lower than last year’s total. According to a report released Wednesday by reinsurer Swiss Re, total economic losses from disasters — naturally occurring or otherwise — is estimated to beat least $140 billion.
Even with the costs of the Sandy, the second-most expensive storm in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina, the total financial loss from disasters this year did not near 2011’s total of $380 billion — the highest in history — or 2010’s $218 billion.