This year has seen tanking approval ratings for just about everybody in Washington, thanks to bungled policy initiatives, stalled legislation, and a government shutdown. But one player did have a good year.
In February, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization declared 2013 the international year of quinoa, not for the grain’s place in Western society as a healthy, even upscale ingredient that’s tough to pronounce, but for its impact on food security around the world.
Quinoa contains many essential amino acids and vitamins, and can grow in a variety of climates. Planting and cultivating quinoa in areas of extreme poverty eases hunger and malnutrition, the U.N. group explains, and could eventually give rise to a new crop industry.
The price of quinoa, often called “the miracle grain of the Andes” for its origins, has tripled since 2006, The Guardian reported early this year. Its popularity in nations where the crop is not indigenous, like the United States, has pushed costs up enough so that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia can no longer afford it. Still, Peru and Bolivia are among the list of South American nations funding this year’s promotional campaign of quinoa.
In the U.S., the concept of quinoa as a “super food” is at least a few years old. The grain’s versatility, as well as its recent recognition as a food craze, will keep it on the world stage for years to come.
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The "benchmark" Obamacare silver plan—"upon which federal subsidies are based—will cost an average of $296 a month next year," an increase of 22% over current averages. That figure, however, "masks wide variation among the states. In Arizona, the benchmark plan's average premium will increase 116% in 2017. Arizona had the lowest rates of any state this year, said Kathryn Martin, an acting assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In Indiana, the benchmark plan will be 3% cheaper."
Sources tell CNN that longtime Democratic operative Ron Klain, who has been Vice President Biden's chief of staff, is "high on the list of prospects" to be chief of staff in a Clinton White House. "John Podesta, the campaign chairman, has signaled his interest in joining the Cabinet, perhaps as Energy secretary."
"AT&T Inc.’s $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner Inc. sails toward two cresting waves of opposition: resurgent antitrust enforcement in Washington and politicians fired by a new bipartisan populist rage. It is too early to know how regulators will treat the AT&T-Time Warner deal. But after several quiet years, President Barack Obama’s antitrust team has switched into high gear in response to a recent spurt of deal-making," a trend that's likely to continue into the next administration. The Obama Justice Department has scuttled 43 mergers, "more than double the mergers blocked by the preceding Bush Justice Department."
Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 49%-44% in a new CNN/ORC poll out Monday afternoon. But it's Gary Johnson's performance, or lack thereof, that's the real story. Johnson, who had cleared 10% in some surveys earlier this fall, as he made a bid to qualify for the debates, is down to 3% support. He must hit 5% nationwide for the Libertarian Party to qualify for some federal matching funds in future elections.
The majority and minority leader of the House are both saying "California's veterans are not to blame for being mistakenly overpaid, after a Los Angeles Times story revealed that officials are trying to claw back millions in bonuses from California National Guardsmen. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the efforts to recoup the money 'disgraceful,' and asked for the Department of Defense to waive the repayments soldiers would be forced to make if they inappropriately received re-enlistment bonuses for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she's looking for a "legislative fix" in the lame-duck session.