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Rural News

Why bulldoze one of the wildest places on Earth?

High Country News | Posted on January 22, 2019

For six decades, the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, tucked along the coast of the Bering Sea, has been protected as one of the wildest nature spots on Earth, remote enough to escape development. But that isolation has been shattered. Seven noisy helicopters swooped down 80 times over two days in July to land on the narrow isthmus where animals nest, feed and migrate. Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, prodded by President Donald Trump, ordered the surprise helicopter survey to prepare to bulldoze a 12-mile road through the refuge’s federally protected wilderness.Almost a year ago, on a day that the federal government was briefly shut down, Zinke quietly signed a land swap, evading Congress, which has wrestled with the issue for decades. The Interior Department is trading the swath of Izembek’s wilderness to Aleut Natives so their cannery town of King Cove can build the final 12 miles of a 37-mile gravel road to the Cold Bay Airport. In exchange, the federal government gets an equal amount of Aleut land.In crafting the deal, Zinke rejected the warnings of his department’s scientists. After a four-year study, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the refuge, concluded that allowing a road through the refuge would “lead to significant degradation of irreplaceable ecological resources.” It also would jeopardize the global survival of a migratory sea goose, called the Pacific black brant, as well as the emperor goose and other waterfowl, the agency said.

More animal species under threat of extinction, new method shows

Science Daily | Posted on January 22, 2019

Currently approximately 600 species might be inaccurately assessed as non-threatened on the Red List of Threatened Species. More than a hundred others that couldn't be assessed before, also appear to be threatened. A new more efficient, systematic and comprehensive approach to assess the extinction risk of animals has shown this.

How Commerce Secretary Ross got the science behind the census so wrong—and why it matters

Science Magazine | Posted on January 22, 2019

A decision this week by a federal court to block the U.S. government’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is more than a political setback for Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and President Donald Trump. It also represents a strong vote of confidence in the U.S. statistical community and the value of research. On 15 January, U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman of the Southern District of New York declared that Ross had been “arbitrary and capricious” in deciding last year to add the citizenship question. He also ruled that the question would most likely result in leaving millions of noncitizens and Hispanic residents out of the decennial head count.The plaintiffs in the case, some 33 state and local officials as well as numerous civil rights organizations, argued successfully that Ross had violated a federal law governing how to make changes in the census. They also convinced the judge that their jurisdictions would likely suffer politically and economically from an undercount.

Federal judge links PG&E's uninsulated power lines to California wildfires

Utility Dive | Posted on January 22, 2019

The federal judge overseeing Pacific Gas & Electric's probation related to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion issued a preliminary finding on Thursday concluding the utility's equipment was a factor in sparking wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that devastated parts of Northern California.The ruling could lead to additional scrutiny or oversight for the utility, which announced Jan. 14 that it would file for bankruptcy protection due to mounting wildfire liabilities. U.S. District Judge William Alsup gave PG&E and the U.S. Justice Department until Jan. 23 to reply to concerns that uninsulated PG&E equipment caused "electrical sparks [to] drop into the vegetation below," creating "an extreme danger of igniting a wildfire."

In Puerto Rico, time measured before and after Maria

AVMA | Posted on January 22, 2019

Veterinarians adjusting to post-hurricane life face serious pet overpopulation problem.  People and their pets fill the lobby waiting their turn to be called into a back area. There, teams of veterinarians and veterinary technicians studiously probe and examine the nervous cats and dogs. They then take the animals to another room where they are sedated and prepped for surgery by one of five veterinarians operating in assembly line–like fashion. Almost as soon as one patient is sutured and sent to recovery, another is placed on the quickly sanitized table.It is only the second day of the weeklong Spayathon for Puerto Rico. The high-quality, high-volume spay-neuter initiative was held for the first time in June 2018 after Hurricane Maria, one of the worst natural disasters in the island's history, made the U.S. commonwealth's stray animal problem even worse.

Washington state wants to add firefighters and training academy to beef up wildfire response

Seattle Times | Posted on January 22, 2019

Citing the devastation and expense of fighting Washington’s wildland blazes, state Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz proposed a “groundbreaking strategic plan” Thursday to prevent and respond to wildfires. Franz’s 10-year plan would add 30 full-time and 40 seasonal wildland firefighters to the agency and add two helicopters to the state’s aerial firefighting resources, with one to be assembled from parts the state already has on hand, a practice DNR has used in the past. The proposal would create a wildland fire-training academy for different agencies to use. It also would explore the creation of “Rangeland Fire Protection Associations” to help cover certain patches of lands. That is necessary, Franz said, because some areas “have absolutely no protection for those homeowners and landowners.”

Black Southerners Are Bearing the Brunt of America’s Eviction Epidemic

Pew Trust | Posted on January 22, 2019

A long understudied facet of the American housing market, evictions have hit no area of the country harder than the South, a region home to most of the top-evicting large and mid-sized U.S. cities, according to a list released by Princeton’s Eviction Lab. Last year Eviction Lab debuted what’s thought to be the nation’s largest eviction database, revealing that U.S. property owners had submitted at least 2.3 million eviction filings in 2016. For housing experts from Louisiana to Virginia, it provided the evidence to confirm what they long suspected: Black renters disproportionately bore the brunt of the eviction crisis.Eviction Lab found that nine of the 10 highest-evicting large U.S. cities were not only located in the South but also had populations that were at least 30 percent black.

PETA, Other Organizations Respond to Video of Local Farm Employee's Actions

We are Green Bay | Posted on January 22, 2019

A Marinette County farm is receiving backlash after a video surfaced of an employee using an electrically heated hot iron to burn the horn buds of the heads of calves. The video shows an employee using the hot iron on approximately 12-week-old calves without giving the calves an anesthetic or giving them pain relief afterwards. During the incident, the calves were kicking their legs, bellowing, flinching and attempting to pull their heads away from the hot irons. The employee also used metal restraints on them. Since then, PETA (People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has requested the Marinette County Sheriff to investigate Heifer Solutions and their use of electrically heated hot irons. 

Free college tuition starts now for Cleveland students as Say Yes to Education arrives | Posted on January 20, 2019

College will be free for virtually all Cleveland school district graduates starting with this year’s senior class, after the much-anticipated launch today of the Say Yes to Education college scholarship and student support program in the city. A team of city, county, philanthropic and Say Yes leaders announced the scholarships at a rally at John Marshall High School to cheering students this morning, pledging that the ever-increasing cost of tuition will no longer block Cleveland school district graduates from attending college. Officials have already raised more than 70 percent of the $125 million they need to pay for scholarships for the next 25 years.

Thousands in Oklahoma could lose Medicaid coverage

Thousands in Oklahoma could lose Medicaid coverage | Posted on January 20, 2019

Thousands of Oklahomans could lose Medicaid coverage if the state is allowed to implement work requirements for the public health insurance program, according to a study from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. The study found anywhere from 4,000 to 13,000 adults could lose coverage.