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Obamacare repeal would hit rural America the hardest

The health of rural America is failing, and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without adequate replacement could prove disastrous. A December 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that for the first time in 20 years, life expectancy in the United States has declined, particularly in small cities and rural areas, where people are dying at much higher rates. This shocking trend is driven in part by increasing mortality rates for white, working-class Americans, many of whom live in rural America.

Bills in VA and MO would double down on banning municipal broadband

Telecom and cable industries are doubling back to make already existing state restrictions tougher, reducing the ability of local governments to create competition for telecommunications services. This time incumbents (the telecommunications companies or successors that were in place before telecommunications deregulation) are giving their bills pro-community broadband titles (Virginia Broadband Deployment Act) and paragraphs of complimentary rhetoric that lead to innocuous sounding directives that are actually quite harmful for municipal broadband advocates.

Carl Corey's Americaville

After a couple decades as a commercial photographer, Carl Corey made a pivot to and started shooting personal pictures in a more observational style. His latest project, Americaville, is a quiet saunter across the Great Plains to the Midwest, where Corey now lives. I talked via email to Carl about his work in small towns.

Lawmakers vote to make N.J. first state to ban cat declawing

The state Assembly Monday voted to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to penalize veterinarians who declaw cats. Under the proposal, onychetomy -- the medical term for declawing -- would be added to the list of criminal animal cruelty offenses. The Assembly approved the measure by a vote of 43-10 with 12 abstentions. There was no floor debate on the bill.  Some veterinarians have objected to the ban, saying the procedure has evolved in recent years to be less invasive. They also argue the ban may discourage adoptions.  "We are not pro-declaw, we are anti-euthanasia.

In a first, Alaska divorce courts will now treat pets more like children

Who gets the house? Who gets the couch? Who gets the dog? If one of those items seems different to you, that’s probably because you, like many Americans, consider pets to be more like family members than furniture. But courts do not. In the eyes of the law, animals are property. So although pet custody battles are often passionate and sometimes truly wacky, courts think of them more prosaically: as part of the “property distribution” in a divorce. That’s why an amendment to Alaska’s divorce statutes, which took effect last week, is making waves in the world of animal law.

Groups petition to stop Arkansas chicken industry expansion

Animal rights and environmental groups are asking for a halt to building more live chicken facilities in Arkansas until federal regulators assess the impacts of such facilities on animals, the environment and public health. Groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Arkansas Animal Rights Koalition are asking USDA and the Small Business Administration to stop making federal loans until the local impact of new facilities has been determined.

Republican States Look to Customize Medicaid Expansion, Not Eliminate It

As candidates two years ago, the Republican governors of Kentucky and Arkansas swore they would do away with “Obamacare” if elected. But a funny thing happened between the campaign trail and the governor’s mansion: Reality set in.  After promising to uproot Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin simply renamed his Democratic predecessor’s health care plan for low-income adults and proposed changes designed to help people find jobs and get off the rolls. In Arkansas, Republican Gov.

12 Alabama legislative districts ruled unconstitutional

A federal court ruled that 12 of Alabama's legislative districts were unconstitutional, citing an improper use of race in their composition. The three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined the use of the districts in future elections but stopped short of intervening in the drawing of new districts.


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