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Rural hospital closures hit poor minority communities hardest

Of the 122 hospitals that have closed since 2005, 60% have been in the South. The hospitals that have closed are more likely to serve people of color and lower-income communities.“To conclude, from this study, communities served by hospitals at high risk of financial distress had significantly higher percentages of residents who were black, who did not graduate high school, and are unemployed, again high-needs communities,” Dr. Pink reported.

California conflagration prompts more calls for wildfire funding fix

If Congress spent more money to prevent fires, it wouldn’t have to spend so much to fight them. Advocates and politicians from both parties agree. But that doesn’t appear to result in any action. We’ve grown accustomed to disagreement creating political impasse. But is political division so bad that there’s no progress even when folks agree on a solution? That’s the question Western conservation groups are asking as they push Congress to reform the way the government allocates funding to fight wildfires. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dylan Kruse of Sustainable Northwest.

Michigan bill would prevent public networks

House Bill 5099 would prohibit counties and cities from putting any public funds into a government-owned or -managed network. The tight restrictions would replace Michigan’s current municipal-network limitations.

What America Is Losing as Its Small Towns Struggle

To erode small-town culture is to erode the culture of the nation. Small towns have always risked losing young people for good, but especially after the Great Recession, the American economy has conspired against returners. Economic and agricultural concentration, declining industries, and lower wages aren’t giving younger people much reason to go home. Many small towns are becoming older, poorer, less educated.  Small towns and rural areas send a disproportionate number of their children into the military. America’s food is grown around small towns.

How Iowa became an Obamacare horror story

But Iowa’s marketplace is arguably in the worst shape in the country at a time when Republicans are intent on dismantling Obamacare, creating further stress on the wobbly exchanges. And Trump’s decision to gut funding for outreach and marketing activities ahead of open enrollment is likely to have an outsize effect in a state in which many customers are certain to be confused by their options. How did Iowa get to this precarious point?

How smart farms are making the case for rural broadband

New smart farm technologies can give America’s growers the ability to monitor crop conditions in real time, respond to technical problems before machinery breaks down in the field and consult with the world’s foremost agronomic experts with the push of a button. That is, as long as they’ve got five bars of service and plenty of internet bandwidth. If not, the smartest piece of technology isn’t worth its weight in good, quality fertilizer.

Klamath farmers lose ‘takings’ lawsuit

The Klamath River, in southern Oregon and Northern California, once hosted the West Coast’s third-largest salmon run, until dams and irrigation disrupted it. During severe drought in 2001, the feds shut off farmers’ water to save endangered fish and uphold tribal water rights. The farmers sued for $29 million plus interest for the federal “taking” of their water. In 2002, they got to irrigate, but the resulting salmon die-off enraged tribes. Stakeholders eventually negotiated an end to the fighting.

Federal Ban Leaves Thousands of Pets Behind in Puerto Rico

Animals larger than 20 pounds aren’t being allowed on planes, forcing families to choose between their two- and four-legged loved ones. Meanwhile, shelters are overflowing. The majority of the airlines leaving San Juan do not allow families to be accompanied with many pets. This is because federal authorities have taken custody of cargo compartments in order to transport supplies, and the feds are not allowing animals larger than 20 pounds to fly, according to Sylvie Bedrosian, president of Pet Friendly Puerto Rico.

Rural broadband bill signed by Gov. Brown

Among hundreds of bills signed into law on Sunday by Governor Jerry Brown was the rural broadband measure championed by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D — Winters), Several past efforts to increase funding to close the connectivity gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” known as the “Digital Divide,” were intensely opposed by the largest telecommunications and cable companies.

Governor Cuomo Announces $5 Million for County Fair Infrastructure Improvement Projects

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $5 million is being awarded to county and youth fairs across the State through the 2017 Agricultural Fairgrounds Infrastructure Improvement Program. The funding will be divided equally among the State's 52 eligible local fairs, with each receiving an award of $96,153 to offset the cost of improvements and renovation projects, including new construction, that support New York's agricultural industry. This second round of funding approved in the New York State Budget builds on the $5 million allocated for county fairs in 2016.

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