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Georgia's voter fraud investigations disproportionately focus on rural

If Douglas, Georgia, City Commissioner Olivia Pearson lived in an urban county with better trained election workers, she might not be facing charges that threaten her public office and her freedom, a voting rights consultant said. Olivia Pearson is charged with illegally assisting a voter in the 2012 general election and falsely signing a form explaining her reason for doing so. The event occurred in Coffee County, a rural southeast Georgia county with a population of about 42,000.

Ontario town of 36,000 partners with Uber to create substitute for public transit

Innisfil, Ont., will become the first town in Canada to partner with the controversial ride-hailing service Uber to provide on-demand transit service. The roughly 36,000-population Ontario town, just south of Barrie on the western shore of Lake Simcoe, is officially launching the service at 10 a.m. to help address community concerns about a lack of transit. "To me, it's a savings, and everybody in the community can use it," he said. "If we went with buses, only a certain amount of people can use it.""To me, it's a savings, and everybody in the community can use it," he said.

A New Meth Surge Gathers Momentum

The opioid epidemic has killed tens of thousands over the last two years and driven major reforms in state and local law enforcement and public health policies for people with addiction. But another deadly but popular drug, methamphetamine, also has been surging in many parts of the country. And federal officials say that, based on what they learned as opioids swept the U.S., methamphetamine is likely to spread even further.

Dam on Yellowstone River moves ahead

Pallid sturgeon, declared endangered in 1990, can live for decades and reach 5 feet in length. Fewer than 125 are left in the Upper Missouri River Basin; they’re believed to be genetically distinct and key to the species’ survival. Their reproduction is hampered by dams, though, and in 2015, environmental groups sued to demolish one on the Yellowstone River that blocks 165 miles of crucial spawning habitat (“Can pallid sturgeon hang on in the overworked Missouri River?” HCN, 9/17/12).

As Fentanyl Spreads, States Step Up Responses

The presence of fentanyl in the illicit drug supply has put law enforcement officials and the medical community on high alert in more than a dozen states, accelerating the battle against opioids on all fronts. States, counties and cities are responding to this latest crisis by doing more of what they already were doing: stockpiling the overdose reversal drug naloxone, funding more drug treatment, and ramping up police surveillance of drug trafficking. In addition, a handful of states are stiffening penalties for selling the lethal drug.

The decline of Arctic sea ice

Over the past three decades the area of sea ice in the Arctic has fallen by more than half and its volume has plummeted by three-quarters. So says a report “Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic” (SWIPA), produced under the auspices of the Arctic Council, a scientific-policy club for the eight countries with territory in the Arctic Circle, as well as observers including China and India.  SWIPA estimates that the Arctic will be free of sea ice in the summer by 2040. Scientists previously suggested this would not occur until 2070.

California Assembly bill to expand broadband in rural areas moves forward

A $330 million package will expand broadband access and digital literacy to communities deprived of a reliable internet connection, thanks to Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Solano.  Assembly Bill 1665, joint-authored by several bipartisan Assemblymembers, including Aguiar-Curry, Eduardo Garcia, D – Coachella and Brian Dahle, R – Bieber, passed out of the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee with a 12-0 vote.“People don’t start businesses in areas where they can’t even send an email,” Aguiar-Curry said.

Florida Legislature cuts all funds for Florida Forever land conservation program

Lawmakers Friday tentatively agreed to defund the state's main land conservation program to free up money for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to curb discharges, and other legislative priorities. On the chopping block is Florida Forever, which acquires land for trails, natural spaces and conservation areas. That's not final until the Legislature passes a state budget by the May 5 end of session, and things still could change, state Sen. Rob Bradley said.


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