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Rural News

Heroin's face: Indiana woman, unconscious from overdose, with baby nearby

USA Today | Posted on October 27, 2016

Police in Hope, Ind., found the woman unconscious from an overdose Saturday. She was sprawled behind the steering wheel of her car, head tilted back, sunglasses over blonde curls pulled into a ponytail.  Needle still in hand. Her 10-month old son crying in the back seat. This child, the local town marshal said, is the face of the most helpless victims of Indiana's drug crisis. "Parents are doing this more often with children in the car because they are doing it away from someone who is going to disapprove," said Matthew Tallent, the marshal. "This is becoming a new norm for drug users."  Officer Skylar Hollin's body camera was rolling as he approached the vehicle and opened the driver's door. The time was 2:06 p.m. Police say the camera captured Erika P. Hurt, 25, unconscious in the driver's seat of a car parked at the Dollar General in Hope, located about 45 miles southeast of Indianapolis with a population of 2,100. The incident is reminiscent of what police came across last month in East Liverpool, Ohio: A grandmother and her friend overdosed on heroin in a car with her 4-year-old grandson in the back seat. Photos posted to Facebook became widely circulated. Both incidents serve as reminders of how pervasive and disturbing the problem of heroin abuse is in Indiana and across the region. It's been described as an epidemic by politicians and public health officials here.

California eyes more Sacramento River water for fish, less for farms, cities

Sacramento Bee | Posted on October 26, 2016

Signaling a cutback in water supplies for farming and cities, California regulators on Wednesday issued a new scientific analysis that proposes overhauling the management of the Sacramento River and devoting more water to Northern California’s dwindling fish populations.  The State Water Resources Control Board, in a widely anticipated report crafted by its staff, said it’s considering allowing much more of the flow from the Sacramento River and its tributaries to wash out into the ocean. The board avoided issuing a specific recommendation on how much additional water should go to fish. Instead, the agency is analyzing the impact of allowing anywhere from 35 percent to 75 percent of the flows from the Sacramento River watershed to wash out to sea. Currently about half of the flow from the Sacramento and its tributaries, including the American and Feather rivers, is allowed to flow unimpeded to the ocean for the benefit of fish.



As Rural America Ages, Volunteers Give a Hand

Pew Trusts | Posted on October 26, 2016

Haller, a 65-year-old widow with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who uses an oxygen generator, was rushed to the emergency room several times this year because of breathing problems her doctors said were exacerbated by the mold. She badly needed help, but couldn’t afford the repairs.  Last month, the Harpswell Aging at Home team came to Haller’s rescue. The group of volunteers in their 60s and 70s, dubbed the Dream Team, went to work insulating and shoring up the floor, sealing the foundation, rebuilding the front door, installing rain gutters and storm windows, replacing ceiling lights that were fire hazards, and doing other work — all for free.  Across Maine, volunteers are stepping up to help rural seniors like Haller who want to remain in their homes as they age. Some work with local governments or nonprofits. Others have simply gotten together to offer a hand. Many of them are seniors themselves.  And what they are doing can be emulated by the rest of the nation, as the number of people 65 and over is projected to explode from 48 million to 77 million between now and 2035.

The 6th District Court of Appeals has taken a stand by placing a higher value on companion animals.

Toledo Blade | Posted on October 25, 2016

The court recently remanded a 2015 civil suit over an injured dog back to Toledo Municipal Court for a hearing on damages awarded in the case by determining “substantial justice was not done” by the trial court in awarding the plaintiff only $400 — or the dog’s market value — in December.  “We agree with and acknowledge that pets do not have the same characteristics as other forms of personal property, such as a table or sofa which is disposable and replaceable at our convenience,” the three-judge panel wrote in the decision.  The original lawsuit filed in municipal court in April, 2015, showed plaintiff Jamie Rego of Toledo spent more than $10,000 in veterinary care for the family dog after the “pit bull” puppy was attacked by an adult dog. The appeals court and Mr. Rice noted there have been numerous cases in Ohio and across the country where veterinary expenses were included in economic damages awarded to pet owners. “It certainly is logical to expect that a dog owner is going to take a dog to the veterinarian and seek veterinary care,” Mr. Rice said. He noted that if Kingston had died before being treated, Ms. Rego would be entitled to only his market value.

How poor management left Mexican wolves dangerously inbred

High Country News | Posted on October 25, 2016

On the surface, things seemed to be looking up for the entire Mexican wolf population. In 1998, after Mexican wolves were poisoned and shot out of existence here, the Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 11 wolves, with the initial goal of growing their numbers to 100. After years of struggle, the population crossed that threshold for the first time in 2015. Biologists counted 110 animals, a 25 percent increase over the previous year. M1296 was among 97 wolves counted in this year’s census.  Yet trouble lurks even in these historic numbers. As the population expands, it’s also edging toward a genetic crisis, and the larger the population gets, the harder it will be to avert. M1296 is descended from a fantastically successful matriarch called AF521, “A” for alpha. His mate is, too. Their story is typical. In fact, biologists know of only one breeding female in the wild that isn’t related to AF521. Wolves shouldn’t sleep with their relatives for the same reason people shouldn’t. Inbreeding can cause dangerous disorders, depress fertility, and even make small populations more vulnerable to extinction. But right now, the Southwest’s Mexican wolves don’t have much choice. On average, they share about as much genetic material as siblings do. They need new blood, and quick.

N.Y. negotiates national settlement with Cigna on opioid treatment

USA Today | Posted on October 24, 2016

The insurer Cigna will no longer require  pre-authorization for prescriptions to treat opioid addiction under the terms of a national settlement announced late Thursday by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.  Doctors and patients complain that while it may be common to require doctors to get prior approval for other prescriptions, a delay in getting medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for heroin addiction can be deadly, as addicts can easily relapse and overdose. While pre-authorizations should just take hours, it can often take days if there are problems with the paperwork.

Attack of the flesh-eating screwworm pushes up Key deer death toll

Miami Herald | Posted on October 24, 2016

As of Friday afternoon, Oct. 14, 2016, 83 endangered Key deer had been euthanized because of an infestation of the New World screwworm. The screwworm, not seen in the U.S. since the 1960s, is leaving open wounds on the deer and then eating the flesh until the deer is incapacitated. U.S. Fish & Wildlife, in partnership with the Florida and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, are working hard to eradicate the Screwworm and keep it contained to the lower Keys.   New World screwworm flies have now caused the euthanization of nearly 10 percent of the endangered Key deer population — and things could get worse before they get better now that the flies have been found on more than just Big Pine and No Name keys.


AEM Seeks Answers to Rural Infrastructure Challenges

Asociation of Equipment Manufacturers | Posted on October 20, 2016

AEM hopes to help find answers to the infrastructure challenges facing the U.S. agriculture sector.  Under its Infrastructure Vision 2050 thought-leadership initiative, AEM will seek innovative ideas and best practices to address those challenges in the context of current and future U.S. infrastructure trends. AEM is calling for papers and research that  focus on one of two specific areas: 1) the movement of agriculture products from farm to market or 2) the movement of equipment from farm to farm.  "How we plan to transport agriculture products from farm to market or equipment from one farm to another in the future, relying on our current infrastructure, are crucial questions that AEM wants to help answer," said AEM President Dennis Slater. "This call for papers provides us with a platform to help shape the future of U.S. infrastructure for both the agriculture community and rural America."

Service dog or pet? Maine clarifies law

Portland Press Herald | Posted on October 20, 2016

Those who try to pass off pets as service animals in Maine now face a $1,000 fine under a new law.  The Maine Human Rights Commission says many people in the disability community are unaware of the changes, which include a new category called assistance animals. Such animals are either trained or determined to be necessary to provide comfort and support to people with physical or mental disabilities.

Alienation rates in politics higher in rural areas than in cities

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 20, 2016

A new poll finds a stark geographic division in the nation’s culture and politics. The study was conducted by Gallup for the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. The polling finds deep distrust in the nation’s institutions and leaders. For example, less than 5 percent of all respondents to the survey believe America is “strongly improving” while nearly six out of 10of those polled agree that the “American way of life,” which is undefined in the poll, “is rapidly disappearing.”  Distrust in American institutions — Wall Street, government, science — has been rising since at least the mid-1960s. Indeed, a decline in trust is a feature in all industrialized countries. A good number of Americans feel powerless and marginalized. What this poll finds, however, is that the levels of personal alienation differ with population density.  “Alienation rates are twice as likely to be very high in the most rural areas as in the denser cities; three-and-a-half times more likely if you have only a high school diploma than a graduate degree; and four times more likely if you are in the lowest income bracket than if you belong in the highest income bracket,” write James Davison Hunter and Carl Desportes Bowman. Hunter and Bowman make it clear that all Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going. But, they add, “When one considers all dimensions of disaffection together and looks to their cumulative impact, one sees the greatest intensity of total disaffection in a population that tends to be more male than female, disproportionately represented among Baby Boomers, and among those who reside in the lowest density parts of the country, though not in any particular region of the country.”  The poll finds that “about half (53%) of all who have a very high disaffection live in the lowest two levels of population density. If you live in the least populated rural areas, you are twice as likely to be in the highest category of disaffection.”