FERGUS FALLS, Minnesota — The U.S. soldiers called them “Caroline’s guys.” They transformed farms in a war zone - risking their lives for the program she built, sharing her belief that something as simple as apple trees could change the world. The university-educated Afghans helped turn land in an overgrazed, drought-stricken and impoverished region in eastern Afghanistan into verdant gardens and orchards that still feed local families today. In the process, the 12 agricultural specialists, all traditional Afghan men, formed a deep, unexpected bond with their boss, an American woman who worked as a U.S. Department of Agriculture adviser in the region for two years. Now Caroline Clarin is trying to save them one by one, doing it all from the 1910 Minnesota farmhouse she shares with her wife, drawing from retirement funds to help a group of men who share her love of farming. Clarin has helped get five of her former employees and their families into the U.S. since 2017, while her wife has helped them rebuild their lives in America.
LBJ tried jawboning. Richard Nixon issued a presidential edict. The Ford administration printed buttons exhorting Americans to “Whip Inflation Now.’’ Over the years, American presidents have tried, and mostly floundered, in their efforts to quell the economic and political menace of consumer inflation. Now, President Joe Biden is giving it a shot. Confronting a spike in gasoline and other consumer prices that's bedeviling American households, Biden on Tuesday ordered the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S strategic petroleum reserve. The move, done in coordination with several other major nations, is intended to contain energy costs. Oil markets, having anticipated the move, were unimpressed with the details: Oil prices actually rose on the news. It was just the latest step Biden has taken to show he is doing everything he can to combat inflation as gasoline and food prices, in particular, have imposed a growing burden on American households. On Monday, he announced that he would reappoint Jerome Powell as chair of the Federal Reserve, a move meant in part to reassure financial markets that Washington is serious about containing consumer prices. Last month, he announced a deal to ease supply backlogs at the Port of Los Angeles by extending operations there to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yet none of the president's actions is considered likely to make a meaningful dent in surging prices anytime soon.