Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.
Over the next two years, Washington plans to lend $14.44 million and give another $7.11 million to public agencies, tribes and businesses to bring high-speed internet to rural areas and Indian reservations. The money, set aside in the new two-year capital budget, is a fraction of the $1 billion the Washington Independent Telecommunications Association estimates will be needed to blanket the state with service that meets the federal definition of high-speed internet.Because the funding will be mostly loans, the program may not do much to introduce internet to isolated areas with few paying customers, the association’s executive director, Betty Buckley, said.“If we could make money or even repay a loan, we’d have done it already,” said Buckley, who represents 18 small companies that serve rural areas. “We are cutting out the really remote areas,” she said. “Everyone wants to make rural broadband happen, but no one wants to pay for it.”
At a roundtable meeting April 24, CEOs of rural North Carolina hospitals explained to Gov. Roy Cooper and state Health and Human Services Sec. Mandy Cohen that expanding Medicaid would help their institutions keep the doors open. There were some common elements to all their stories. For starters, all of their hospitals are operating on thin margins.The group nodded in agreement as each talked about excessive use of their emergency departments and the uncompensated care resulting from ED patients who were uninsured or unable to pay.Adding to their problems, many said they have a difficult time recruiting medical professionals, and that their counties are turning into “doctor deserts.”The consensus was that Medicaid expansion wouldn’t solve all their problems overnight, but they agreed it would go a long way to relieving pressure on their emergency departments and create a healthier patient population.
Last week I saw a news story that the West Virginia state auditor had recently completed a report that concluded: Richwood “appears to be in more need of finance recovery than before the flood,” because, as the news report stated: “The report … concludes city leaders spent precious federal dollars to hire themselves, friends and family for flood relief jobs. Much of the money was not spent for its stated purposes. “ As a result, the mayor, the former mayor and the city recorder are charged with embezzlement. The town’s police chief is accused of mishandling his state purchasing card and was fired and the town council asked the mayor to resign. The town might have to pay back over $2 million of the money received.All of course are innocent until proven guilty. It’s unclear whether what happened in Richwood was the result of greed and corruption, or simply a case of the town’s leaders being in way over their heads with no knowledge of managing such a vast recovery effort and no direction from state or federal agencies.
Rural communities are aging more rapidly than are other areas, in Wisconsin and across the country. Nearly everyone wants to stay in their community as they age. Increasingly, rural leaders are asking how they can help older residents to thrive. Some are pioneering age-friendly approaches that other communities can learn from.In Wisconsin, three coalitions—in Iowa County, Langlade County, and the city of Waupun—are working with the Center for Aging Research and Education (CARE) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing to support rural aging-in-place.
Cases of an infectious disease that kills deer, elk, and moose are on the rise in Alberta. Similar to mad cow disease (BSE) in cattle, chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion disease of members of the deer family. Infected animals lose weight drastically (wasting), and suffer other symptoms like stumbling, lack of co-ordination, and drooling. CWD is fatal in all cases. There is no cure, treatment, or way to prevent it.But the study of a vaccine against CWD has made researchers in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) hopeful. The study was published recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. It found the vaccine, tested in a mouse model, prolonged the time before infected animals developed symptoms by up to 60 per cent.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals just launched a new campaign aimed at an unlikely audience of one. The organization wants President Trump to slash funding for the National Institutes of Health. PETA claims the agency wastes money funding “experiments on animals that fail to produce cures or treatments for humans.” So it paid a mobile billboard to drive around the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort urging him to “Cut $15 Billion!” from the NIH budget.PETA’s publicity stunts may garner attention, but they’re utterly divorced from reality. Animal research is an irreplaceable step in the drug development process. Without such research, medical advances would grind to a halt — and countless patients would die of otherwise curable diseases.
Last week, the American Bankers Association (ABA) released its annual Farm Bank Performance Report. Today’s update includes several highlights from the ABA update. The ABA report indicated that, “The U.S. banking industry is a major provider of credit to agriculture with more than $186 billion in farm loans extended— approximately 50 percent of the total farm credit outstanding in the U.S.—as of year-end 2018.”“Farm banks have benefited from several years of strong agricultural sector performance and have, during these years, increased their quality and quantity of capital while strengthening their balance sheets.”“Farm lending posted solid growth during 2018,” the report said; adding that, “Farm real estate loans grew at a faster rate than farm production loans.”
Rural counties — particularly in the Midwest and Northeast of the U.S. — are losing people due to higher death rates than birth rates and more people moving away than moving in. The outlook: The 2020 census is likely to show the extent of this drastic trend. "Barring a significant reversal in the next few years," Richard Fry of the Pew Research Center tells Axios, "the share of the population living in rural counties will be less than it was in 2010 ... Rural clout in Congress and the electoral college will be diminished."By the numbers: Overall, non-metro areas increased in population between 2000 and 2015, but a majority of rural counties saw their populations dwindle, including 54% of rural counties in the Northeast and 68% of those in the Midwest, according to a study by Pew Research.Yes, but: Not all rural communities are dying. For example, Williams County and McKenzie County, in North Dakota, saw the largest population increases between 2010 and 2017 due to jobs created by the introduction of fracking.
New Census Bureau population estimates for counties and metropolitan areasconfirm that after concentrating in big cities and major metro areas during the first part of this decade, Americans are spreading out again into suburbs, exurbs, and smaller towns and rural areas.The new numbers, which track annual population trends through July 2018, indicate that for the first time this decade, the nation’s three largest metropolitan areas—New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—all lost population. At the same time, outer suburban, exurban, and non-metropolitan counties nationwide registered renewed growth. Although there are some exceptions in growing parts of the country, the latest data reveal that broad-based population “concentration” toward large urban areas in the early 2010s was an aberration related to the post-recession economy and housing crunch.