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Rural News

New lawmaker hopes to improve technology infrastructure in rural Idaho

Capital Press | Posted on December 4, 2016

New Idaho lawmaker Megan Blanksma hopes to shine a spotlight on the lack of technology infrastructure in rural Idaho, which she says places farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage.  “I want to try to see what we can do to push out this technological infrastructure into rural areas and improve it,” said Blanksma, a Hammett farmer. “We have to have good, solid internet for us to compete.”Blanksma is one of four new farmers or ranchers that will serve in the Idaho Legislature when it convenes in January.She said improving internet access and other technology infrastructure in rural parts of the state will be her top priority.Farmers and ranchers rely on reliable internet access to do things like run irrigation pivots and soil moisture sensors and file reports required by USDA and industry, she said.

Ohio leads nation in overdose deaths

The Columbus Dispatch | Posted on December 1, 2016

n a grim statistic that surprises no one close to the problem, Ohio leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths, a new report shows. Along with the overall category, Ohio also had the country's most deaths related to heroin: One in 9 heroin deaths across the U.S. happened in Ohio. The Buckeye State also recorded the most deaths from synthetic opioids: About 1 in 14 U.S. deaths. In all the categories, Ohio easily surpassed states with larger populations.

Bass connection team finds untold stories of rural development | Posted on December 1, 2016

From shuttered textile mills and furniture factories to dormant tobacco fields, the traditional industries of North Carolina’s Appalachian region have drastically declined.  But new areas have emerged, says Lukas Brun of Duke’s Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness, who set out to show that the Appalachian economy is more than a tale of decline: “There are great stories that are not being told.” In 2015-16, a new Bass Connections team focused on using the value chain framework in one part of the state. “The framework hadn’t been applied to a region before,” Brun noted, “and we wanted to understand what industries were taking root in a disadvantaged rural area. We picked Appalachia because the traditional industries of North Carolina—furniture, tobacco, textiles—all had a historic presence in the region, but had largely gone away. And we had connections with people at the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina who were interested in better understanding the economy of that region.”

General Mills joins effort to support bee and butterfly habitats

Minneapolis Star Tribune | Posted on December 1, 2016

General Mills has made its largest contribution to help save pollinators, announcing a $2 million commitment that will add more than 100,000 acres of bee and butterfly habitat on or near existing crop lands.  The five-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Xerces Society, the world's oldest and largest pollinator conservation group, will focus its efforts in Minnesota, North Dakota, California, Nebraska, Iowa and Maine. The USDA and Xerces will match this donation with another $2 million toward the project.

Students have trouble judging the credibility of information online, researchers find

Science Daily | Posted on November 30, 2016

When it comes to evaluating information that flows across social channels or pops up in a Google search, young and otherwise digital-savvy students can easily be duped, finds a new report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education. The report, released by the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), shows a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the Internet, the authors said. Students, for example, had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where information came from. "Many people assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally perceptive about what they find there," said Professor Sam Wineburg, the lead author of the report and founder of SHEG. "Our work shows the opposite to be true."

Reconnecting Rural & Urban America

PR Newswire | Posted on November 30, 2016

As we've seen long before the election, there is a clear, and growing, wall being built between urban and rural America as a result of the recent and ongoing media consolidation that RFD-TV has been witnessing now for the past several years.  If it's not a drought, a disaster, or something bad happening in rural America, there is no longer national news coverage of any kind.  There is also a total disconnect by many executives in major cities who now really do view this as flyover country.  In May 2014, after RFD-TV was dropped by Comcast Cable in Colorado and New Mexico, I was invited to testify before the House Judiciary Sub-Committee regarding the proposed Comcast/Time Warner merger and the possible impact of continued urban-media consolidation to the public interest.  On January 28, 2016, as a last resort, RFD-TV took out full page ads in both the Washington Post and New York Times newspapers against an unresponsive Verizon FiOS TV after they removed only rural themed programming – Outdoor Channel, Sportsman's Channel, The Weather Channel, and RFD-TV – from their channel lineups despite the strongest possible protests from Verizon's own customer base. 

K-9 Dogs Overdose on Fentanyl | Posted on November 30, 2016

Primus, a Florida police dog, is normally a spirited animal. But after assisting in a federal drug raid early one morning last month, he seemed out of sorts. "He wouldn't drink water. He would release his toy very easily. And he was looking lethargic, almost sedated," said Detective Andy Weiman, the head of dog training for the Broward County Sheriff's Office."We knew something was wrong."Primus was rushed to a local animal hospital. By the time he arrived 10 minutes later, the German short-haired pointer was in serious distress — his tongue was hanging out of his mouth, his breathing had slowed dramatically and he seemed to be staring off into the distance. These were classic signs of a drug overdose, and it turned out that while Primus and two other dogs sniffed their way through the suspect's house, they were exposed to unseen fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin sold on the street. Fentanyl, much of it coming from Mexico and China, has killed hundreds of users, including music legend Prince, since its availability spiked in 2013. But the Drug Enforcement Administration says it also poses a "grave threat" to first responders and law enforcement officers — human and canine.It's so potent that a few grains can be deadly. It can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes.

White Deaths Exceed Births in One-Third of U.S. States

University of New Hampshire | Posted on November 29, 2016

In 2014, deaths among non-Hispanic whites exceeded births in more states than at any time in U.S. history. Seventeen states, home to 121 million residents or roughly 38 percent of the U.S. population, had more deaths than births among non-Hispanic whites (hereafter referred to as whites) in 2014, compared to just four in 2004. When births fail to keep pace with deaths, a region is said to have a “natural decrease” in population, which can only be offset by migration gains. In twelve of the seventeen states with white natural decreases, the white population diminished overall between 2013 and 2014.

Vilsack’s tough message for fellow Democrats: Stop writing off rural America

The Washington Post | Posted on November 29, 2016

Shortly after Republicans’ stunning Election Day sweep, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack grabbed Vice President Biden in a receiving line.  Vilsack had an urgent message, and he sensed that in Biden, he would find a receptive audience. The two politicians had served together throughout President Obama’s eight years in office and had known each other for decades. Both are nearing the ends of long and successful political careers, built on speaking to the ambitions and anxieties of white, working-class voters who turned decisively to Donald Trump in this election.  “We need to speak more directly to our folks in rural America,” Vilsack recalled telling the vice president. “And we have to spend time there.”  Biden nodded, and Vilsack kept moving, unsure whether his message — one that he had been pressing for years — had penetrated. Their hurried exchange is a small part of a broader reckoning that is happening among Democrats as they struggle to make sense of their election losses.   Even before Trump’s surprising victory this month, Vilsack was complaining, sometimes loudly and often with little effect, that his party had essentially given up competing in large swaths of the country that it needed to win Senate seats, governor’s races and state legislatures. “Democrats need to talk to rural voters,” Vilsack warned this summer. “They can’t write them off. They can’t ignore them. They actually have to spend a little time talking to them.”  Today, the former Iowa governor compares Democrats to a tree that “looks healthy on the outside but is in the throes of slow and long-term demise.”


Tennessee parents lose kids as opioid crisis rages on

The Tennessean | Posted on November 28, 2016

The number of parents permanently losing their rights to a child has grown significantly in Tennessee, a Tennessean analysis found.  Between 2010 and 2014 (the most recent year data is available), there was a 51 percent increase in the number of parents who have had their relationship legally and permanently severed from a child.  In the same time period, the number of children in Tennessee waiting to be adopted increased by 56 percent.