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Rural News

Bridging the rural-urban conservation gap

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 12, 2017

Urban-based conservation groups need get out of their isolated circles and do a better job of including rural communities in their efforts to protect public lands, says the director of a hiking-trail association in southern Oregon. Gabriel Howe, executive director of the Siskiyou Mountain Club, describes himself as a “proud Oregon boy with a barrel chest, tough feet, and calloused hands.”  He’s also a “bleeding heart conservationist.” In an opinion piece in the January 1 Oregonian, Howe arg ued that some urban conservation groups in his state have looked down their noses at rural residents and created unnecessary and unproductive resentments in rural areas. They tend to focus on the needs of urban members and leave potential rural allies out in the cold, he said. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this criticism. But Howe’s op/ed articulated the complaint so skillfully, I asked him to elaborate for the Daily Yonder. He says there is a path to agreement between urban and rural conservationists, but we might have to clear away a little brush to make it walkable.

Illinois poised to require lead testing in public schools, day care centers

Politico | Posted on January 12, 2017

Illinois public schools and licensed daycare facilities will be required to test drinking water for lead contamination under a major compromise reached by key stakeholders.  Long-running negotiations among environmental groups, lawmakers, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the governor’s office culminated in a compromise late last week, according to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office and the Illinois Environmental Council.

Miracle-Gro®’s 2017 Rose Parade® Float ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ Salutes America’s National Flower, the Rose

Globe News Wire | Posted on January 12, 2017

As Miracle-Gro® prepares to return to Pasadena, The Official Rose & Flower Care Company of the Tournament of Roses® announced today details for its 2017 float. ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’, Miracle-Gro’s fifth Rose Parade® float entry, honors the Parade’s namesake and the most popular flower in backyard gardens – the rose.  Designed and built once again by Fiesta Parade Floats, all of Miracle-Gro’s past Rose Parade® entries have received awards, including the Governor’s Trophy for best depiction of life in California (2016); Isabella Coleman Award for best use of color in flowers (2015); Queen’s Award for most effective use of roses (2014); and Crown City Innovation Award for best use of imagination and innovation to advance float design (2013).  “This year’s parade theme: ‘Echoes of Success’ celebrates the selfless contributions of others and their inspirational gifts,” said John Sass, Vice President and General Manager of Miracle-Gro. “More often than any other flower, the rose is held as the symbol of life, love and beauty. Our 2017 float not only pays tribute to the very flower for which the Parade is named, we’re celebrating the success gardeners have achieved for decades with the help of our products.”

Ohio communities, counties have nearly $1.2B less in aid for 2017 because of state cuts | Posted on January 10, 2017

Cuts in local government funds and tax changes made at the state level will cost Ohio counties and communities nearly $1.2 billion in 2017, as compared to 2010, a new report shows.  Chief among those cuts were elimination of the state's estate tax, the halving of local government funds and accelerated phase-outs of local business taxes, a report from the liberal leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio found. But the report drew criticism from Gov. John Kasich's administration, which argues that focusing solely on cuts tells only part of the story. Growth in income and sales tax revenues as Ohio's economy recovers from the recession have helped offset the cuts, a spokeswoman said, citing alternative research.  Policy Matters also looked more closely at 18 counties -- ranging from the 10 largest to some of the smallest -- and 20 cities within those counties to illustrate the impact at a local level.  

I Photographed the Wonders of North America on a 15,000 Mile Trip

Peta Pixel | Posted on January 10, 2017

Back in September 2016, I decided to fulfill my dream of traveling and photographing North America. Without any set itinerary, I hit the road and ended up driving and flying more than 24,000km (~15,000mi), experiencing some of the most amazing scenery and adventures.   I had the trip of my life, and am so glad I decided to pick up my camera and embark on it. I’d like to share the very best of my trip in 20 pictures.

‘Hacktivists’ Increasingly Target Local and State Government Computers

Pew Trusts | Posted on January 10, 2017

Early last year, hackers launched a cyberattack against the state of Michigan’s main website to draw attention to the Flint water crisis. In May, they targeted North Carolina government websites to protest a controversial state law requiring transgender people to use bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificate. And in July, they took aim at the city of Baton Rouge’s website after the fatal police shooting of a black man.  It’s called “hacktivism,” a blend of hacking and activism for a political or social cause, and state and local governments are increasingly finding themselves targets. Unlike cyber criminals who hack into computer networks to steal data for the cash, most hacktivists aren’t doing it for the dollars. They’re individuals or groups of hackers who band together and see themselves as fighting injustice. Hacktivists have gone after everyone from foreign governments and corporations to drug dealers and pedophiles. Police departments, hospitals, small towns, big cities and states also have come under attack. Online activists have successfully frozen government servers, defaced websites, and hacked into data or email and released it online.

2 drug distributors to pay $36M to settle WV painkiller lawsuits

Charleston Gazette Mail | Posted on January 10, 2017

Two of the nation’s largest drug wholesalers have agreed to pay a combined $36 million to settle lawsuits that allege the companies benefited from West Virginia’s problem with prescription drug abuse. Cardinal Health, the largest supplier of drugs in West Virginia, will pay the state $20 million. AmerisourceBergen, the state’s third-largest drug distributor, agreed to pay $16 million. It’s believed to be the largest pharmaceutical settlement in state history. The lawsuits had dragged on for more than four and a half years in Boone County Circuit Court and spanned the terms of two attorneys general.  The settlement money will go to drug treatment programs that help West Virginians addicted to opioid drugs such as heroin and prescription painkillers. The money will be kept in a special account at the State Auditor’s office. “We’ve taken steps to combat drug abuse in West Virginia with distributors, prescribers and pharmacists, and the money from this settlement will help us expand those efforts with additional treatment and long-term recovery options,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said.

Oregon counties pressured to exit $1.4 billion forest lawsuit

Capital Press | Posted on January 10, 2017

Fifteen Oregon counties must soon decide whether to opt out of a class action lawsuit seeking $1.4 billion for allegedly insufficient logging in state forests.  As the Jan. 25 deadline approaches, a coalition of environmental and fishing groups is urging counties and the taxing entities within them — including school and fire districts — to exit the litigation. The North Coast State Forest Coalition, which represents the seven organizations, hopes to send a message that counties and taxing districts see state forests as more than just “piggy banks,” said Chris Smith, the coalition’s coordinator. The lawsuit aims to recoup revenues lost by the counties when the State of Oregon changed forest policies in 1998 to focus on the environment and recreation instead of maximizing logging, he said.

Pact opens doors for U.S. turkey exports to New Zealand

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on January 4, 2017

A new veterinary certificate approved by New Zealand authorities will open that nation’s market to cooked turkey products from U.S. sources, according to a news release from the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC).  New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries approved the agreement after two years of direct negotiations between the regulators and USDA after new import health standards were approved there in 2015. The process of opening the pathway for U.S. turkey products in New Zealand actually began in 2002 with USDA and USAPEEC taking leading roles in recent years, the release noted. The lack of competitive local production has made New Zealand a potentially positive market for U.S. turkeys even though efforts were held up because of health concerns from New Zealand officials.

This Small Town Refused to Settle for Wal-Mart When Its Last Local Grocery Store Closed

Yes magazine | Posted on January 4, 2017

For two months in 2012, longtime Iola, Kansas, resident Mary Ross trudged through the sweltering heat, waving gnats from her view as she walked door to door with a petition. It was the hottest summer since moving there with her family about 30 years ago, but Ross was determined to gather signatures requesting a grocery store be established in the small rural town of fewer than 6,000 people. Iola had lost its last independent grocery store four years earlier, shortly after the Wal-mart Supercenter—with its own expansive aisles—came to town and drove out all of the competition.In October, Iola’s first grocery store in nearly a decade broke ground, thanks to a unique public-private partnership. Allen County agreed to sell property for it at a steep discount to G&W Foods Inc., a Missouri-based chain with stores scattered throughout the region. “Basically, our community said that having a supermarket on this site is a priority, and we’re willing to put some skin in the game,” says David Toland, executive director of Thrive Allen County, a health and wellness center. But the problem is bigger than Iola.