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● A bill to improve trade relations with Russia, H.R. 6156, was passed by the House of Representatives last Friday by a vote of 365-43. In the Pacific Northwest’s delegation, only one member voted no: the anti-World Trade Organization Peter DeFazio (D) of Oregon. The measure, supported by our tree fruit industry and most other agricultural and business groups, is now in the hands of the United States Senate.

● The identity of those who will join President Obama’s cabinet for the second term is a mystery that  will be revealed over the next few months. Some slots are certainly open, such as at State. Others are a question mark: for example, the Special Trade Representative, a position now held by Ron Kirk. If Ambassador Kirk does return home to Dallas, I would not be surprised to see the outgoing governor of Washington State, Christine Gregoire, approached about this job or some other high-level responsibility in Washington, D.C.

● The global nature and leadership of the Pacific Northwest’s tree fruit industry was recently underscored by two different announcements. First, the hiring by Washington State University of Dr. Stefano Musacchi from the University of Bologna (Italy) to be a research pomologist at WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee and, second, the purchase by two north central Washington orchard firms of a major ownership stake in four Chilean tree fruit companies.

● I recommend the film Lincoln to anyone interested in this country’s history. It is especially good at showing the practical, political side of President Lincoln as he shepherds controversial moral legislation (the 13th Amendment) near the end of the Civil War through a fractious House of Representatives. In Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis, appearing in the title role of our nation’s greatest president, gives the truest acting performance I have ever seen.

● Political Fruit:  “Then, there is James Spader, an actor too little used of late, plucking a peach of a part—W.N. Bilbo, one of a trio of enforcers, hired by Seward to bully wavering House voters…”  From a review of Lincoln by Anthony Lake in The New Yorker (November 19, 2012).