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Invasive snail blamed for annual Mississippi River bird kill

An invasive snail is being blamed for killing hundreds of waterfowl on the Upper Mississippi River this fall. Field workers have found almost 1,000 dead coot and lesser scaup washed up on the shores near Genoa since early October, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The birds are believed to be the victims of an intestinal parasite found in faucet snails, which the birds eat during stopovers on their fall migration. Die-offs have become an annual event during the past 15 years, since the arrival of the faucet snail.

Bail reform in Maryland clears major hurdle

Judges in Maryland would not be able to set bail that is too high for a poor defendant to pay unless the defendant is considered a flight risk or a danger to society, under a rule change that a key judiciary committee voted to recommend to the state’s highest court. The Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Maryland Court of Appeals voted 18 to 5 to recommend an overhaul of the state’s money-based bail system, which critics say is unfair to poor and minority defendants.

Many Insured Children Lack Essential Health Care, Study Finds

A new study to be released on Monday by the Children’s Health Fund, a nonprofit based in New York City that expands access to health care for disadvantaged children, found that one in four children in the United States did not have access to essential health care, though a record number of young people now have health insurance.  The report found that 20.3 million people in the nation under the age of 18 lack “access to care that meets modern pediatric standards.”

Three drug companies settle WV lawsuits for $800K

Three more prescription drug companies have settled lawsuits with the state of West Virginia, for a total of $800,000, over the huge numbers of pain pills shipped into the state over several years. The settlements with J.M. Smith Corporation, Top Rx and Masters Pharmaceutical LLC were announced late Thursday in a news release from the state Attorney General’s office. The state Department of Health and Human Resources and the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety also approved the settlements, according to the release. J.M.

Missing links that connect human DNA variation with disease discovered

Scientists have discovered the hidden connections in our genomes that contribute to common diseases. Using a pioneering technique, the results are beginning to make biological sense of the mountains of genetic data linking very small changes in our DNA sequence to our risk of disease. Discovering these missing links will inform the design of new drugs and future treatments for a range of diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and other types of autoimmune disease.

Dedicated to the Mountains, Desperate for Jobs

It’s never been easy to make a living in central Appalachia’s narrow valleys. Without coal, it’s become a whole lot harder. Mining jobs were some of the best-paying in the area, and the industry supported an array of other professions, from truck drivers to personal injury lawyers. Today about 9 percent of eastern Kentuckians are out of work. Thirty percent live in poverty, according to the most recent federal statistics. Rates of drug overdose deaths, cancer, diabetes and disability are high.

New Aerial Survey Identifies More Than 100 Million Dead Trees in California

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that the U.S. Forest Service has identified an additional 36 million dead trees across California since its last aerial survey in May 2016. This brings the total number of dead trees since 2010 to over 102 million on 7.7 million acres of California's drought stricken forests. In 2016 alone, 62 million trees have died, representing more than a 100 percent increase in dead trees across the state from 2015.

PETA Blames the Victim

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sure has a weird way of showing what it’s all about. In a recent lawsuit against the organization, PETA is accused of stealing and murdering a Hispanic family’s beloved dog named Maya in southeastern Virginia.  PETA’s response has hit a new low in hypocrisy and stupidity. It has filed several motions to dismiss the case on the grounds that the dog was legally worthless and that what they did was not “outrageous” conduct.

Rural economies get high on legal cannabis

In Trinidad, Colorado, revenue from eight recreational cannabis shops is paving streets and helping refurbish downtown apartments. Across the state in De Beque, nearly a quarter of the town’s general fund comes from marijuana sales tax.

How the Election Revealed the Divide Between City and Country

Not since then has the cultural chasm between urban and non-urban America shaped the struggle over the country’s direction as much as today. Of all the overlapping generational, racial, and educational divides that explained Trump’s stunning upset over Hillary Clinton last week, none proved more powerful than the distance between the Democrats’ continued dominance of the largest metropolitan areas, and the stampede toward the GOP almost everywhere else.

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