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Rural News

How the Election Revealed the Divide Between City and Country

The Atlantic | Posted on November 18, 2016

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. Trump’s victory was an empire-strikes-back moment for all the places and voters that feel left behind in an increasingly diverse, post-industrial, and urbanized America. Squeezing bigger margins from smaller places, Trump overcame a tide of resistance in the largest metropolitan areas that allowed Clinton to carry the national popular vote, but not the decisive Electoral College. This election thus carved a divide between cities and non-metropolitan areas as stark as American politics has produced since the years just before and after 1920.  In an extended tussle over the country’s direction, forces grounded outside of the largest cities overcame urban resistance to impose Prohibition in 1919 and severely limit new immigration in 1924. The same fear of “a chaotically pluralistic society,” as one historian put it, fueled a resurgence of religious fundamentalism and a revival of the Ku Klux Klan. Then, as now, the lines between city and country were not absolute: both Prohibition and immigration restriction drew meaningful support from within the urban professional and intellectual classes.

Fallout over water ruling heats up in Washington

Capital Press | Posted on November 17, 2016

Several senators criticized Tuesday a recent Washington Supreme Court decision that threatens to halt home building in farm communities and said they will try to counteract the decision in the upcoming legislative session. “It’s totally ridiculous, what’s going on. It’s killing rural America,” said Republican Sen. Brian Dansel, who represents the state’s sparsely populated northeastern corner.  The 6-3 ruling in Hirst v. Whatcom County in October struck down the routine approval of new domestic wells. It also gave the 2017 Legislature another major battle along rural and urban lines.  The issue of whether wells can be drilled in places not served by waterlines has “bumped its way to the top of our list,” said Moses Lake Republican Judy Warnick, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Development Committee. The committee was briefed on the ruling by the Department of Ecology and others. Domestic wells statewide are responsible for 1 percent of water consumption, and Ecology said new wells for single-family homes were OK in Whatcom County.

U.S. Sweats Out Third-Warmest October On Record

Growing Produce | Posted on November 17, 2016

The contiguous U.S. experienced its third warmest October in 122-years of recordkeeping, with an average temperature of 57.7°F, which is 3.6°F above the 20th-century average. Forty-seven states were warmer than average. The precipitation total for the month was 0.17-inch above average.

Dwayne Andreas, who transformed Archer Daniels Midland into global powerhouse, dies

The Washington Post | Posted on November 17, 2016


Dwayne Andreas, the farmer’s son and college dropout who turned the grain-processing company Archer Daniels Midland into “the supermarket to the world,” then saw it rocked by a price-fixing scandal, has died. He was 98. Archer Daniels Midland spokeswoman Jackie Anderson confirmed the death. The company did not immediately provide other details. Under Mr. Andreas’s guidance, the company changed the agricultural world. He used his influence and friendships with politicians, including House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill (D-Mass.), Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, to encourage federal subsidies for corn and grain farmers, maintain huge overseas markets, and help turn ADM products such as high-fructose corn syrup into staples of the American diet.

How dogs sniff out invasive species of mussel in Montana

Christian Science Monitor | Posted on November 17, 2016

These canines were trained to detect zebra and quagga mussels, invasive species which have caused ecological problems in the US since first detected in the 1980s. Like their bomb-sniffing and drug-sniffing counterparts, these dogs have been trained to pick out the scent of zebra and quagga mussels in an attempt to identify the creatures before they take hold in a new area. These environmental watchdogs are typically deployed to boat-inspection sites to make sure any ships entering their domain are not carrying these unwanted stowaways.

Colorado to test taxing drivers by the mile instead of at the pump

Denver Post | Posted on November 17, 2016

Starting in December, state transportation officials will launch a program to test a new way to raise funds that could one day eliminate the need for the state’s 22-cent per gallon gas tax, which hasn’t been adjusted upward in more than two decades: Make motorists pay for every mile they drive.  The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Road Usage Charge Pilot Program will recruit 100 volunteers to track how far they drive and then “pay,” in theory, 1.2 cents per mile for their use of the road. No money will actually change hands, but CDOT hopes to get a sense of how such a system would work in terms of mileage reporting and revenue collection.


Northeast Iowa sand company gets go-ahead for underground mining

The Gazette | Posted on November 17, 2016

The Clayton County Zoning Board of Adjustment voted 4-0 Tuesday night to approve a zoning change to allow the Pattison Sand Co. to expand its operations.  The panel’s approval was the final step in a yearlong process to rezone 746 acres from agricultural to heavy industry to facilitate underground mining of the silica sand used in the hydraulic fracturing process of extracting oil and natural gas.  A standing-room-only crowd packed the meeting room, and more than a dozen attendees spoke both for and against the proposal during the nearly three-hour meeting.

How some rural hospitals thrive

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 17, 2016

Under myriad pressures, an increasing number of rural hospitals are either shutting their doors or joining up with large systems. Some, though, continue to do quite well as independents.  Scores of rural hospitals around the country have closed in the last six years, but Southeastern Health’s 452-bed main facility and 30 primary care and specialty clinics remain open. That gives Langley the ability to focus on local care. The challenges to viability are many. According to the University of North Carolina’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, 78 rural hospitals have shut down since January 2010. Fifty-one of those were in the South. Many rural communities have declining, aging populations, and rural hospitals receive a higher percentage of patients with no health coverage than their urban counterparts. They also tend to operate on tighter margins– tighter still in the aftermath of the March 2013 federal sequestration. Further cuts came when the federal government reduced the bad-debt reimbursement Medicare pays to hospitals for shouldering much of the cost of care for those who can’t afford it. This was done with the assumption that Medicaid expansion would help offset the lost revenue – which might at least partially explain so many closures in the South. Nineteen states have chosen not to expand Medicaid, 10 of them in the South. Mark Holmes, director of UNC’s Sheps Center, said there’s a lot of overlap in the map of where hospitals have closed and of states that haven’t expanded Medicaid. But, he cautioned, “I think it’ll be awhile before we can know for sure” the extent to which the closures can be directly attributed to decisions not to expand Medicaid.

Red squirrels in the British Isles are infected with leprosy bacteria

Science Daily | Posted on November 16, 2016

Microbiologists have discovered that red squirrels in Britain and Ireland carry the two bacterial species that cause leprosy in humans.

What Happens When Golf Carts Hit the Streets?

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on November 13, 2016

At retirement communities from California to Florida, golf carts have become a way of life. They’re energy-efficient, cheaper to buy and maintain than regular cars, and, seniors say, fun to drive. For many, they’re the main way to get from doctor’s appointments and dance classes to restaurants and shopping centers. But as the bare-bones buggies move from the back nine to the blacktop, safety experts and advocates for seniors say they’re worried about them sharing the road with larger, faster cars and trucks.