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Rural News

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.

Where Small Town America is Thriving

The Agurban | Posted on March 22, 2018

Over the last few decades, manufacturing has been shifting from densely population regions of the country to more rural areas. A recent surge in manufacturing investment -- such as Foxconn’s planned $10 billion electronics plant to open in 2020 in Mount Pleasant, Wisc., a city of 26,000 – has benefited some smaller cities and towns, where land is inexpensive, energy often cheap and the labor force is seeking higher paid, blue-collar work. Since 2010, the country has added a million industrial jobs, roughly half of what was lost in the recession. Pullman, Wash., our No. 1 manufacturing small city, has seen industrial growth replace farming as the primary driver of its economy. The area, which abuts the Idaho border and is home to Washington State University, has 60% more industrial jobs per capita than the national average and since 2007 has more than doubled its industrial employment to nearly 2,800. The manufacturing job boom in Pullman has been fueled primarily by Schweitzer Engineering, a maker of electrical equipment.One striking thing about the small manufacturing hot spots is their diversity. Some have benefited from the domestic energy boom, which has contributed to strong industrial growth, like the Texas cities of Port Lavaca, Andrews and Palestine. No. 3 La Grange, Ga., where manufacturing employment has grown nearly 75% since 2007 to 11,700 jobs, is a carpet manufacturing hub and has attracted factories from Duracell, Caterpillar, and Korean companies including Kia Motors.

Grass-fed and organic beef packer closes in Oregon

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 22, 2018

Bartels Packing, a processor of grass-fed and organic beef in Eugene, Ore., has closed its doors, putting more than 130 employees out of work. he result of this abrupt decision is that 139 employees and their families are without jobs and benefits and this reality is very heartbreaking for us, as we owe our success to these hardworking employees whose work ethic, skill set and commitment brought us the growth and success we’ve experienced the past 18 years. We will be forever grateful for their contribution. Over the past 3 years, we have had 3 unsolicited buyers interested in purchasing our business. With health issues to deal with and neither of us getting any younger; succession planning was an important goal for us that would allow the business to carry on. Just this past week; the most recent buyer withdrew and we could no longer financially sustain the working capital necessary to keep operating. With the current economic volatility of the meat industry and many retailers competing with ‘front door delivery’ in a world of convenience, as our customers began to struggle, we too began to lose our footing.

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

Science Daily | Posted on March 22, 2018

A geography professor has created a new interactive map that allows students or researchers to compare the climates of places anywhere in the world. The map draws on five decades of public meteorological data recorded from 50,000 international weather stations around the Earth. And it uses prediction models to display which parts of the globe will experience the most or least climate change in the next 50 years.