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Rural News

There's a Sexual-Harassment Epidemic on America’s Farms

The Atlantic | Posted on February 1, 2018

Undocumented workers without papers and workers on temporary visas are extremely vulnerable to exploitation in the workplace. This exploitation takes many forms, including unfair labor practices, working without fair pay, and sexual harassment and assault. The agricultural industry in the United States is full of workers who are undocumented or on temporary work visas, people who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. A report by Polaris, an anti-trafficking organization that runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline and the BeFree Textline, on the typology of modern slavery, found that 91 percent of the cases involving modern-day slavery in agriculture involved foreign nationals. The organization, which used data from the hotline and textline to generate the report, defines modern-day slavery as human-trafficking situations where workers are coerced, forced, or victims of fraud. Many of these workers are on “guest-worker” visas, or temporary work visas associated with an employment role, as is common with agriculture workers, who come on a visa called the H-2A. In another report, Polaris identified nearly 300 H-2A visa holders who had been potential victims of labor trafficking and exploitation in an 12-month period. Eighty-five percent of the victims worked in agriculture, with Florida being the state where the most cases were reported.

How do communities succeed at attracting young adults

University of Wisconsin | Posted on February 1, 2018

Stoecker and colleagues concluded that communities must be seen in the context of their regional centers; in particular, proximity to a city or an interstate highway was critical. “We found that people are looking for a nearby employment center that includes high-end, professional employment. They look for amenities in these regional centers: entertainment, movies, art, theater, high-end restaurants, and spectator sports.” Another factor is shopping, not just big box stores, but a range that allows a resident to get everything they need at the city. For these reasons, Stoecker says, “it’s not surprising that these communities are all close to a city, or an interstate, or both.”

These Kentuckians had no water for weeks. Now officials want to raise rates by half. | Posted on February 1, 2018

The Kentucky Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulates most utilities, will hold a hearing in Frankfort on Friday to consider arguments for and against the water district’s rate increase request. In the days following the hearing, the commission will determine how much the district can increase rates, if at all. The request comes as frustrations with the district run high. Thousands in Martin County went without running water this month for days on end — some for three weeks or more — when pipes froze and low water pressure forced the district to cut off service to many homes in hopes of filling reservoir tanks.Citizens claim they report leaks to the water district, only to see them go unfixed for long periods of time. They also post videos and photos showing discolored water of neon blue and mud brown. They report rashes, dry skin and even cancer from drinking and bathing in the water.

NH bill targets owners of trespassing chickens

Fosters | Posted on February 1, 2018

The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill that would make trespassing fowl a violation, not for the chicken, but for its owners. Under the proposal, anyone who knowingly, recklessly or negligently allows their domestic fowl to enter someone else’s property without permission can be convicted of a violation if the birds damage crops or property The law already makes such trespassing illegal when it comes to sheep, goats, cows, horses or pigs, and the bill’s sponsor says fowl shouldn’t be exempt.While a constituent’s frustration with a neighbor’s ducks spurred the legislation, Loudon Republican Rep. Michael Moffett told a House Committee on Tuesday he also has heard from a man who claims his neighbor has used chickens as a “form of harassment and provocation.”“It does come down to property rights, which is important,” Moffett said. “People, wherever you live, should be free from having your property invaded or encroached upon by animals or birds from neighboring property who are not being taken care of.

After Post-Trump Decline, More Central American Children Arriving at U.S. Border

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on January 31, 2018

After a dramatic drop early last year, the number of Central American children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally has been rising sharply since April. Advocates say the increase is being driven by fears of gang violence at home — fears that outweigh heightened concerns about deportation under the Trump administration.“The reality is these children are not necessarily coming to the U.S., they’re just trying to get away from their home country,” said Catherine Hulme, project manager and attorney for unaccompanied children at the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland in Baltimore.

Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to WV town with 2,900 people

Charleston Gazette Mail | Posted on January 31, 2018

Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis. Between 2006 and 2016, drug wholesalers shipped 10.2 million hydrocodone pills and 10.6 million oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy and Hurley Drug in Williamson, according to Drug Enforcement Administration data obtained by the House Committee.Springboro, Ohio-based Miami-Luken sold 6.4 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy from 2008 to 2015, the company disclosed to the panel. That’s more than half of all painkillers shipped to the pharmacy those years. In a single year (2008 to 2009), Miami-Luken’s shipments increased three-fold to the Mingo County town.Miami-Luken also was a major supplier to the now-closed Save-Rite Pharmacy in the Mingo County town of Kermit, population 400. The drug wholesaler shipped 5.7 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Save-Rite and a branch pharmacy called Sav-Rite #2 between 2005 and 2011, according records Miami-Luken gave the committee. In 2008, the company provided 5,624 prescription pain pills for every man, woman and child in Kermit.

Scientists express concern that CWD will jump the gap from deer to people

Smart Brief | Posted on January 30, 2018

Sixty percent of macaques that ate venison infected with the prion that causes chronic wasting disease developed CWD, prompting a warning from the Canadian government last year that eating meat from infected deer, elk or other cervids could cause the disease in people. The macaques consumed the human equivalent of one 7-ounce steak each month for three years, and Mark Zabel, associate director of Colorado State University's Prion Research Center, said that neither freezing nor cooking destroys the prion.

As Trump attacks Federal Health Law. Some States Shore it Up

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on January 30, 2018

Nationwide, premiums for average-priced policies — according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis — offered on and off the health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act rose by more than a third compared with 2017. The biggest statewide hikes were in Iowa (88 percent), Utah (78 percent), New Hampshire (78 percent), Wyoming (72 percent), and Virginia (66 percent). The underlying cause of the rate hikes is clear: efforts last year by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — and promises of further attempts in the year ahead.California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia and Maryland are considering legislation that would recreate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate by requiring nearly all residents to enroll in a health plan or pay a fee. Massachusetts has a mandate on the books that it said it intends to enforce.Taking a different tack — one that has been endorsed by members of both political parties — Alaska, Minnesota and Oregon have created so-called reinsurance programs designed to cover higher-than-average claims with state money and thereby reduce overall risk for insurance companies so they can offer consumers lower premiums.

The DEA is trying to help rural Americans get better access to addiction treatment. Will its plan work?

Pacific Standard | Posted on January 30, 2018

More types of health-care providers—not just doctors—will now be able to apply to prescribe an effective but potentially addictive medicine for treating opioid addiction, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Tuesday. The rule change was intended to help more Americans, particularly those living in rural areas that lack doctors, get treated for opioid use disorders. "This action provides more treatment options for addicts in rural parts of the country," the DEA said in a press release. Advocates are hailing the change as a good first step, but note that more is needed to make sure it works as expected. Otherwise, it could languish as a regulatory move that makes little practical difference.The new policy allows nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants to prescribe and dispense buprenorphine, a medication that helps people manage cravings, ward off withdrawal, and keep from relapsing. Buprenorphine plus counseling is considered a gold-standard treatment for addiction to prescription painkillers or heroin. But the medication is itself an opioid. It can create a euphoric high when used improperly, and has some street value. That's why anybody in America hoping to prescribe buprenorphine for addiction has to get a special waiver from the DEA, which, until this week, only physicians could apply for.

Veterinarians talk new opioid prescription regulation for pets

WECT | Posted on January 30, 2018

Under North Carolina's STOP Act, doctors across the state are changing the way they prescribe opioids. According to Associate Doctor Kara Duffy with Atlantic Animal Hospital, veterinarians are now following suit. Duffy said that the new regulations limit doctors to prescribe just 5 days worth of controlled substances in an effort to curb opioid misuse by owners.“We’ve always kind of just tried to pay attention to how we’re dispensing controlled drugs and making sure that nothing seems suspicious when we’re filling them but we weren’t legally required to do as much as what we’ve done in practice,” she said.Duffy said some prescription medication used by people are also prescribed to pets, especially after surgery or injury. She said that those medications cause the greatest concern of abuse, along with certain anti-anxiety medicines.