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Rural News

FCC set to waste billions on the wrong rural broadband providers

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 28, 2018

Rural communities have already proven that cooperatives are the way to get good, fast Internet access to underserved areas. So why are AT&T and other big corporations in line to get $2.5 billion in government funding to reach customers – again. The Connect America Fund is the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) effort to connect the unconnected, mostly by throwing billions of dollars to the companies that have most resisted investing in rural areas. AT&T, alone, is getting $2.5 billion over six years from this fund to invest in obsolete connections too slow to meet the FCC’s definition of broadband. Since the creation of the Connect America Fund during President Obama’s first term, its funding schemes and disbursements have disproportionately supported big monopolies over local cooperatives that offer superior services.  

Domestic Migration and Fewer Births Reshaping America

University of New Hampshire, Carsey School | Posted on March 28, 2018

New Census Bureau data released on March 22, 2018, demonstrate the continuing influence of domestic migration on U.S. demographic trends. Migration patterns are reverting to those common before the recession. Suburban counties of large metropolitan areas, smaller metropolitan areas, and rural counties proximate to metropolitan areas all gained more domestic migrants in the last year. In contrast, domestic migration losses grew in the core counties of metropolitan areas of 1 million or more and remained substantial in rural counties that are not adjacent to an urban area. 


Rural Counties Are Making a Comeback, Census Data Shows

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on March 28, 2018

Some long-declining small towns and farming and manufacturing counties are adding people as population growth in large cities cools, according to a Stateline analysis of census estimates released Thursday.  “This seems to be the beginning of a return to population dispersal after a decade or so of clustering into cities and the biggest metropolitan areas,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. Steady improvement in the economy and recovering housing markets may be prompting employers and job seekers to look again at areas that were growing before the Great Recession — suburbs, exurbs and small towns, Frey said.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch growing rapidly, study shows

Science Daily | Posted on March 28, 2018

A new study shows that 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic weighing 80,000 metric tons are currently afloat in an area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- and the problem is rapidly getting worse.

Direct evidence of exposure of pregnant women to Glyphosphate

Science Daily | Posted on March 28, 2018

The first birth cohort study of its kind has found more than 90 percent of a group of pregnant women in Central Indiana had detectable levels of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the most heavily used herbicide worldwide. Researchers from Indiana University and University of California San Francisco reported that the glyphosate levels correlated significantly with shortened pregnancy lengths.

How some rural hospitals were used to score huge paydays

CBS | Posted on March 27, 2018

As many Americans struggle to pay rising health insurance premiums, a CBS News investigation has uncovered a scheme that could make those premiums go even higher. It raises costs for insurers, who could then pass the increase along to you. Jorge Perez is CEO of Empower Group, a Miami-based healthcare company that claims to specialize in saving rural hospitals."We've gone to these towns and basically some of them we bought out of bankruptcy or they were just days before closing," Perez said.But one of the hospitals Perez promised to save in the Florida panhandle is now shut down and boarded up. We spoke to attorney Michelle Jordan who represents that hospital, Campbellton-Graceville, which was days away from closing when Perez and his partners swooped in. We asked if she wondered, what was in it for them? Perez's associates agreed to pay off the hospital's debt and manage it for a fee of $30,000 a month. Jordan begged the board not to sign, but she says they wanted to keep the hospital open. It did, thanks in part to deals Perez made with drug testing laboratories all over the country.To keep rural hospitals in business, insurance companies reimburse them for tests at much higher rates. A lab in Dallas might get $200 for a urine screen. The same test billed through a rural hospital could be more than $1,000. That explains why Perez struck deals with dozens of labs around the country to pass their testing through Campbellton-Graceville, and their billing along with it."I can tell you what was actually funneled through the facility, and that was over $120 million in about 14 months," Jordan said. "It sounds too good to be true."

The Great Puerto Rico Doglift

Village Voice | Posted on March 26, 2018

The Sato Project is working to rescue Puerto Rico’s street dogs for U.S. adoptions — and to reunite them with their storm evacuee families. Puerto Rico has had a stray dog problem for so long that the animals have become part of the island’s cultural landscape. But while many of the dogs in the airlift were mixed-breed satos — rescued from the street, the beach, parking lots, or major roads — others had recently lost their homes when their owners fled the island after Hurricane Maria and were forced to leave their pets behind. “It’s a public health crisis,” says Chrissy Beckles, founder of the Sato Project, a nonprofit dedicated to rescuing abused and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico. “If nothing is done about it, it will continue to escalate.”

Forecasters warn of fires, crop damage across US high plains

AP | Posted on March 22, 2018

The amount of moisture received across the United States’ southern high plains since October has been ridiculously low, and forecasters warned Friday that the intensifying drought has resulted in critical fire danger and some winter wheat crops being reduced to stubble across several states. Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said during a national briefing that some areas in the region have received less than one-tenth of an inch of rain in the past five months and that’s perhaps the longest period of time these areas have been without rain since record-keeping began decades ago.

‘I saw more dead birds in that one pit than hunters would poach’

High Country News | Posted on March 22, 2018

When he drove out to inspect the half-acre pond, he found something far worse. As he expected, its banks were covered with dried oil. But it was the bottom of the abandoned pit that shocked him: It was blanketed with the bones of thousands of birds. “You see that carnage and you know there are 500 more pits with oil on them and you can’t see the bottom,” Mowad said. “It’s an ‘Oh, my God’ moment. If there are this many dead birds in this pit, can you imagine what’s in the others?” “I knew that I saw more dead birds in that one pit than hunters would poach my entire career,” Mowad, who is now retired, said of the 1996 discovery. “It was very clear to me that this is where our work priority should be.” Since the 1970s, federal officials had used the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to prosecute and fine companies that accidentally killed birds with oil pits, wind turbines, spills or other industrial hazards. But a legal decision issued in December by the Interior Department revoked that ability.

Human influence on climate change will fuel more extreme heat waves in US

Science Daily | Posted on March 22, 2018

Human-caused climate change will drive more extreme summer heat waves in the western US, including in California and the Southwest as early as 2020, new research shows.