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Rural News

Researchers trial "genetically engineered" tree to rebuild US chestnut population hit by chestnut blight

Agriculture Week | Posted on March 21, 2017

Once a dominant species of the eastern US, the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was devastated early last century by the disease chestnut blight, caused by the fungal pathogen Cryphonectria parasitica which was recently detected in southwest England. Now researchers at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), part of the State University of New York, have planted 100 transgenic young trees which carry a wheat gene enabling them to withstand the blight in a "seed orchard"in upstate New York. When they grow large enough to produce pollen, this will be used to fertilise the flowers from wild-type "mother trees" to preserve genetic diversity. Half of the resulting nuts will inherit the blight-resistance gene. "They will be the basis of the trees we will eventually give out to the public," said ESF professor William Powell, who has led the project. "And they'll be the basis for the trees we will use for demonstration and research for the next 100 years."


Deadly fungus taking toll on Minnesota bats

inForum | Posted on March 21, 2017

The number of bats counted in the Soudan Underground Mine has dropped 70 percent due to white-nose syndrome, according to the annual survey of the state's largest bat wintering area.Researchers have known since 2013 that the deadly fungus was present on some bats that spend their winter deep underground in the former iron ore mine near Tower. Last winter was the first time they had seen hundreds of dead bats outside the mine during winter months, a sure sign of white-nose syndrome. This winter, the deaths have mounted to catastrophic levels. "Last year we had maybe 1,000 dead bats on the surface. This year it's more than 2,000 and counting. The ravens are really enjoying it, so it's hard to get a good count of the dead bodies," said Jim Essig, manager at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park.


Why prison building will continue booming in rural America

The Conversation | Posted on March 19, 2017

The election of Donald Trump signals an end to the recent optimism about reducing the mass imprisonment of two million U.S. citizens each year.  Trump supports policies like the immigrant ban and increased stop-and-frisk that will undoubtedly lead to more arrests and strain an already bloated prison system.  After taking office, Trump signed an executive order authorizing the secretary of homeland security to “allocate all legally available resources to immediately construct, operate, control, or establish contracts to construct, operate, or control facilities to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico.”  It seems clear that more American prisons are on the way. While much has been written about mass incarceration, less is known about the prison building boom and the role it plays in slowing reform of the criminal justice system. The prison boom is a massive public works program that has taken place virtually unnoticed because roughly 70 percent of prisons were built in rural communities. Most of this prison building has occurred in conservative southern states like Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma and Texas.


Honey bees prefer country blossoms to city blooms

The Ohio State University | Posted on March 18, 2017

Hungry honey bees appear to favor flowers in agricultural areas over those in neighboring urban areas. The discovery has implications for urban beekeepers and challenges assumptions that farmland and honey bees are incompatible, said authors of a new study from The Ohio State University.The team positioned honey bee colonies in an apiary in a central Ohio cemetery smack in the middle of where urban residential development transitions into farmland. They left the colonies to forage for nectar and pollen wherever they preferred.The bees, studied from late summer to early fall, overwhelmingly went for the agricultural offerings instead of the assorted flowering plants in and around the urban neighborhoods nearby, said lead author Douglas Sponsler, who was a graduate student in entomology at Ohio State when the research was conducted in 2014. The study appears in the Journal of Urban Ecology.Throughout the study, the honey bees’ haul always favored plants from the agricultural area, and hit a high of 96 percent of the pollen collected at one point.“Honey bees didn’t seem to care that much what the floral diversity was. What they wanted was large patches of their favorite stuff,” said Sponsler, who now works at Penn State University. Goldenrod was particularly popular, the researchers found. The bees’ agricultural foraging preference was especially pronounced at the end of the season, as the colonies prepared to overwinter.


Two examples of bringing affordable broadband to rural markets

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 15, 2017

Two broadband companies -- one for-profit, one co-operative -- are providing reasonably priced broadband to rural communities in Minnesota.


Bill would ban dogs from roaming about vehicles, hanging out window

Portland Press Herald | Posted on March 15, 2017

Many dog owners don’t think twice about settling Fido in their lap for a drive to the store, or rolling down the windows so Rover can feel the breeze in his ears.  But a bill pending in the Maine Legislature would require dog owners to restrain dogs inside a moving vehicle and keep them out of the way of the driver.


Canadian Firm Opening West Virginia Natural Gas Equipment Shop

U.S. News & World Report | Posted on March 15, 2017

A Canadian firm's subsidiary is taking over a former machine shop in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle to make and sell natural gas compression equipment that will create up to 130 jobs. Gov. Jim Justice says Bidell Gas Compression will operate out of a 100,000-square-foot facility in Weirton that was previously owned by ArcelorMittal Steel. The property had been recently purchased from ArcelorMittal by the Frontier Group, an industrial and commercial facility redeveloper. Bidell is a subsidiary of Calgary, Alberta-based Total Energy Services Inc. The facility will be the company's first U.S. manufacturing operation.


His cattle are dead, but his family is alive, and he’s thankful

The Wichita Eagle | Posted on March 15, 2017

Greg Gardiner is a cowboy. His wide-brimmed hat carries a band darkened by years of sweat and dust. Decades of 100-degree sun, 10-below cold and wicked winds from every direction have left his face as leathery as an old baseball glove. Below his lip is a small goatee and above it a wide trademark mustache. Several days after the biggest fire in the state’s history swept through Clark County, Gardiner slowly drove along some of his family’s 48,000 acres. Occasional tears left trails through the dust on his face, and he wondered whether he was witnessing the biggest natural disaster his family had seen since they’d arrived by covered wagon in 1885. “I still can’t believe we didn’t get anybody hurt or killed,” he said. “My brother and his wife probably shouldn’t be alive today, but they are.”He found few signs of life in four hours of checking pastures. “I know how it sounds, but it’s literally worse than I ever could have imagined,” Gardiner said as he slowly drove by some of the estimated 500 cattle that had died in Monday’s massive wildfire. “They never stood a chance in a lot of these pastures, the fire was so fast.” The tiny town of Englewood probably suffered the most damage per capita of any town in Kansas in the largest wildfire to ever burn across the state.

 

 

 


OHSU researchers unravel mysteries of Zika virus

Oregon Live | Posted on March 15, 2017

Oregon scientists have unlocked some of the mysteries of the Zika virus, tracking how it invades the body. The research by a team at Oregon Health & Science University is likely to help develop a vaccine against the virus, which has caused outbreaks in South America and Southeast Asia and also has turned up in Florida and Texas. The study was conducted on male and female rhesus macaque monkeys last year at OHSU's primate center in Beaverton. Scientists followed the virus as it spread from the bloodstream to other tissues. They found it attacked the central nervous system, reproductive and urinary tracts, muscles, joints and lymph nodes. They expected to find the virus in the lymph nodes based on what scientists know about similar viruses, but not in joints or muscles. But what surprised them the most, said Dan Streblow of OHSU's Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, is that the virus persisted in tissue for at least five weeks, the length of the study for each animal. Typically, the Zika virus disappears from the bloodstream within six days.


PETA’s the Best—At Killing Dogs and Cats

Consumer Freedom | Posted on March 13, 2017

Another year, another pile of dead dogs and cats for the crematorium, courtesy of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Late Tuesday night—almost literally at the last minute—PETA filed its 2016 animal custody information with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) admitting it had killed nearly 72% of the cats and dogs that came through the “animal shelter” at its headquarters. That’s 1,411 dead dogs and cats at the hands of PETA last year alone. Since reporting euthanasia statistics became mandatory in 1998, PETA has killed over 85%, or 36,000, of the animals at its Norfolk “shelter.” A 2010 audit by a VDACS veterinarian found that most animals were killed in their first 24 hours at the facility. A deeper look at the numbers shows even more appalling statistics: PETA’s kill rate for dogs was 16.3 times the rate of other private shelters in Virginia.


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