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    Blood centers in the U.S. are scrambling to track down hundreds of thousands of former donors turned away because of worries about mad cow disease in Europe more than two decades ago. The Food and Drug Administration lifted longtime rules that had barred blood donations from people, including current and former military members, who spent time in the U.K. and other countries during periods from 1980 to 2001.  The FDA determined there was little risk from blood donations of acquiring the rare and fatal brain infection tied to eating contaminated beef.

      DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — It’s common knowledge for central Iowans that it usually takes only about 30 minutes to get from the entrance doors to Des Moines International Airport’s departure gates.

        MOUNT VERNON, Iowa (AP) — Some Iowa beekeepers make extra money by taking their bees to California for the winter to pollinate almond trees, but that work is literally drying up with the drought on the West Coast.

          In a major action to address toxic wastewater from coal-fired power plants, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday ordered an Ohio utility to stop dumping dangerous coal ash into unlined storage ponds and speed cleanup of the site. The order to the Gen. James Gavin Power Plant in southern Ohio marks the first time the EPA has formally denied a utility’s request to continue disposing toxic coal ash after a deadline to stop such disposal has passed. The Gavin plant, located along the Ohio River in Cheshire, Ohio, is one of the largest coal-fired electricity plants in the U.S. At least five other plants face similar action by the EPA under a crackdown announced in January.

          A judge has set a hearing for January to consider whether to order prison for an 18-year-old sex-trafficking victim who killed her rapist in Iowa and pleaded guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury. Pieper Lewis was sentenced on Sept. 13 to probation for five years to be served at a Des Moines women's shelter, but less than two months later she walked away. She was arrested five days later and taken to jail. Judge David Porter had set a hearing for Friday to consider whether to revoke the probation, but after meeting briefly with lawyers, he scheduled a new hearing for Jan. 18. It wasn’t immediately clear why the hearing was postponed.

          Anne Discher, executive director of Common Good Iowa, was leaving a conference of early childhood advocates this week in Chicago when she said she kept getting stopped and asked the same question: What is Iowa thinking?

          Fire officials say a house fire that killed four children in northern Iowa was caused by an electrical power strip. The blaze was reported early Wednesday in Mason City. When firefighters arrived they found flames engulfing the first and second stories of the home, built in the 1880s. Fire officials said Thursday the blaze began at a power strip on the main floor of the three-story home. Officials did not specify how the strip caused the fire, however. The four children killed were identified as 12-year-old John Michael Mcluer, 10-year-old Odin Thor Mcluer; 6-year-old Drako Mcluer; and 3-year-old Phenix Mcluer.

          Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has been elected to lead the Republican Governors Association as she increases her national political profile days after she easily won a second term as governor. Reynolds’ election Wednesday as chairwoman of the group will put her in charge of raising money in 2023 for the Republican governors’ largest fundraising organization. Governor races next year include Kentucky and Louisiana, now held by Democrats, and Mississippi. Reynolds served as vice-chair of the association in 2022, and her new role will give her a larger national presence.


          A house fire left four children dead and two people injured in northern Iowa. Mason City firefighters were called to the fire about 5 a.m. Wednesday in an older home in a neighborhood near the city’s downtown. The Mason City Fire Department says crews who arrived could see flames in the first and second floors of the house. The four children killed were identified as 12-year-old John Michael Mcluer, 10-year-old Odin Thor Mcluer; 6-year-old Drako Mcluer; and 3-year-old Phenix Mcluer. The fire department said 55-year-old John Michael Mcluer and 11-year-old Ravan Dawn Mcluer suffered burns and were treated at a hospital. The cause of the fire hadn’t been determined.

          A class-action federal lawsuit is accusing 11 of the United States’ largest beef and pork producers of conspiring to depress wages and benefits for its workers. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Denver last week. It alleges that the producers have worked together since at least 2014 to keep workers’ compensation lower than the market would allow in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. It seeks to represent hundreds of thousands of other people who have worked in jobs from slaughtering to production at the companies’ collective 140 plants. The lawsuit says they produce about 80% of the red meat sold to U.S. consumers.

          Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has chosen a former Trump administration State Department official to serve as her chief of staff. Taryn Frideres, an Iowa native who has worked on Reynolds’ staff as chief operating officer for the past two years, will become the governor’s chief of staff beginning Dec. 1. Frideres previously worked for Sen. Joni Ernst and served under President Donald Trump as deputy to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as senior advisor to the deputy secretary of state. Frideres will replace Sara Craig Gongol, who headed Reynolds’ first campaign for governor then transitioned to become the governor’s chief of staff for the last four years.

          President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loan debt for millions of borrowers lost another battle in court on Monday when a federal appeals court panel agreed to a preliminary injunction halting the program while an appeal plays out. The ruling by the three-judge panel from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis came days after a federal judge in Texas blocked the program, saying it usurped Congress’ power to make laws. The Texas case was appealed and the administration is likely to appeal the 8th Circuit ruling as well.

          Three of this year's fiction finalists for the National Book Awards are first-time novelists, at least officially. But for Sarah Thankham Mathews, Tess Gunty and Alejandro Varela, the debuts that brought them recognition and acclaim are not at all their initial efforts. Like countless authors before them, the three nominees had been writing for years before the public was able to see their work. They attempted novels and stories that were eventually set aside, absorbed and discarded influences and styles as they searched for an elusive and precious literary grail: their own voice. The National Book Award winners will be announced Wednesday.

          DES MOINES — Republicans holding an outsized portion of Iowa’s top elected positions is nothing new: Even before last week’s elections, Republicans pulled all the levers in the state lawmaking process and occupied most of Iowa’s statewide offices and seats in Congress.

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