A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general on Monday called on Congress to allow Medicaid funding to flow to larger drug treatment centers, potentially expanding the number of addicts who can get help as the nation grapples with an overdose crisis. The government lawyers for 38 states and Washington, D.C., sent a letter to congressional leaders requesting the change. They say it’s needed to help fight the opioid abuse and overdose epidemic, which continues to claim tens of thousands of lives a year.
The wildfires that tore through over a million acres of Montana this year damaged homes, cloaked communities in smoke, and burned a hole in the state budget. With winter snow already falling, Montana’s blazes mostly have subsided. But the state now faces a $200 million budget shortfall exacerbated by the record cost of fighting wildfires, Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, said in an early September statement explaining the crisis. “We are also facing the most expensive fire season in state history, requiring spending of over $60 million to date.”State and federal lawmakers across the country are looking back on a record fire season and asking whether there’s a way to better prepare financially for major wildfires. The federal government spent more than $2 billion on fires from Florida to Washington this year. States spend untold millions more.As the wildfire season lengthens and the fires become larger and more dangerous — a trend driven by a number of factors, including climate change — both state and federal natural resource departments are spending more time and money on firefighting and less on other forest management programs that help the land recover after wildfires, or lessen the impact of future fires.
As staggering as the climb in the nation’s overdose death rate has been, the deepening crisis has hit some populations even harder. Older, working-age adults and non-Hispanic whites experienced faster-than-average increases in drug overdose death rates during the 2000s, growing by factors of 5 and 3.5, respectively. New research by Alan B. Krueger for the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity finds that increases in opioid prescriptions might account for 20 percent of the decline in men’s labor force participation since 1999.Although virtually no community remains untouched by this epidemic, some parts of the country have borne the brunt of the recent increases.The media have increasingly chronicled the struggles of people and places affected by growing drug addiction and overdose deaths. Whether in sparsely populated rural areas, the urban core, or suburbia, communities across the country are grappling with similar challenges around access to treatment, effective interventions, and sufficient capacity and resources—challenges that run deeper in many of the economically distressed communities most affected by the opioid crisis.
Marine biologists have released estimates of sea turtle nests lost to Hurricane Irma, finding that 56 percent of green turtle nests and 24 percent of loggerhead nests were lost within Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. Both are endangered species. The losses put a damper on what had been a record year for green turtle nesting.
In an effort to support the safe evacuation of Puerto Ricans and their pets, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam issued an emergency order suspending import paperwork requirements for pets that arrive in Florida with their evacuee owners. This emergency order does not apply to stray animals or livestock. “Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico face a long road to recovery, and they need all the support we can provide,” said Commissioner Adam H. Putnam. “By removing some of the hurdles for evacuees coming to Florida with companion pets, we’re making the process of evacuating to Florida easier.”
When federal land-management agencies pulled out of an inter-agency agreement to protect sage-grouse habitat in Utah in September, the federal Treasury picked up an additional $15,000 from energy companies for public-land leases. The federal government may have to spend many times that amount on legal actions related to the dissolution of the land management agreement, say conservationists. And outdoor-business industry leaders say the decision to abandon the agreement will also take money out of the pockets of local businesses that cater to hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts.The public land that the Department of Interior opened to private fossil fuel development is in Juab County, Utah, in prime sage-grouse habitat. The bird’s population is dwindling, but federal agencies worked with conservation groups to keep the bird off the endangered species list through a widely-celebrated collaborative conservation initiative. The agreement was hailed as a common-sense approach that protects the bird without having to list it as endangered, which triggers stricter rules, including a hunting ban.Interior’s Bureau Land of Management (BLM) pulled out of the agreement in September and announced a nine-parcel auction for oil and gas exploration on BLM land in Utah’s West Desert. Only three of the public land offers attracted bids, and those bids just met the minimum price of $2 an acre. Total BLM proceeds from the lease were $14,837. The BLM rationale for the sale was stated as “keeping with the administration’s goals of promoting America’s energy independence.”Conservationists and businesses leaders say there is much more at stake with potential damage to the outdoor recreation industry in Utah. Similar public land leases are likely to continue in sage grouse habitat across the West, according to Interior Department officials who briefed the New York Times. Internal staff reported that under Trump Administration appointee Ryan Zinke, the department intends “to publish a formal notice of intent to amend 98 sage grouse habitat management plans across 10 states.”
Public TV. It’s where we got to see “Medora,” a film about the Hornets, the high school basketball team in a small Indiana town, and its struggle to resist the consequences of school consolidation. And “Deep Down,” about a community conflict over mountaintop removal in eastern Kentucky. And “A Class Apart,” about the lawsuit that resulted from a murder in small-town Texas and challenged the legal discrimination of Latinos. And “Weaving Worlds,” about the makers of the legendary Navajo rugs. And “Next Year Country,” about Montana farmers who turn to real-life rainmakers in a time of drought. Public TV reaches more parts of America than commercial broadcast TV, because it hits small town and rural areas that commercial broadcasters don’t find worth their time. Its most popular program service, PBS, is consistently rated the most trusted media brand in America. But to some Trump-era officials, it’s un-American. The Trump budget released earlier this year called for total defunding of public broadcasting. A deeply conservative Congressman, Andy Harris (R-MD), was more mild-mannered. He only asked for defunding of the radio news service NPR and the public TV documentary production service Independent Television Service (ITVS). Why? Too “liberal.” He singled out three programs on public TV that feature women of color as evidence. He said public broadcasting shouldn’t fund “controversial, out-of-mainstream programming”—that is, anything by or about someone who doesn’t look like the (OK, you and I can say it out loud if he can’t, “white”) majority.
Congressional Democrats are calling for a $40 billion investment to expand internet access in rural and inner-city communities, likening their plan to New Deal efforts to expand the electrical grid. The new proposal is the latest addition to the party's "Better Deal" agendalaunched in July.Democrats say public funds are needed because internet service providers on their own have failed to cover large swaths of the population. Under the plan, the $40 billion would go toward funding private and public infrastructure projects, mapping internet access across the country, upgrading outdated internet capabilities and building out public safety infrastructure.
These volunteers spend their time and money to rescue dogs from municipal shelters by shuttling them to fosters or adopters in other parts of the country. They see it as a win for everyone – it eases overcrowding at shelters, keeps dogs from being euthanized and loving families get pets. But there are no laws in the U.S. about tracking dogs moving across state lines. Rescue groups say they self-police and emphasize transparency, but critics say the lack of regulation may put adopters at risk if they unwittingly take in dogs with behavioral problems. They say details about a dog’s past aggression can be lost in the shuffle or obscured by well-meaning rescuers. The daughter of the Virginia Beach woman who was killed said in a lawsuit that’s what happened to her. She wasn’t made aware of Blue’s bite history when she adopted him. Media from around the country have reported similar incidents. There are some pushing for legislative oversight of this pet pipeline, but few inroads have been made. In the meantime, thousands of dogs are moving across state lines every year with little oversight.
“Just wow,” Peggy and Mark Kennedy said to each other last week in Montgomery, Ala. On the TV, Roy Moore had just pulled a little pistol from a pocket of his cowboy costume to show his love for the Second Amendment. The next night he won the Republican nomination in the race to be their next senator. Peggy, née Wallace, braced for a new round of interviews, having often been asked during the presidential campaign to compare Donald Trump with her father, the segregationist governor George C. Wallace. “But my daddy was qualified” for office, she would say, long since a supporter of Barack Obama.She and Mr. Kennedy, a predecessor of Mr. Moore on the state Supreme Court, represent one current of Alabama history — a slice of the population yearning against the “fear and anger and hate” that Ms. Kennedy says her father exploited, and ultimately repented of. Not long ago, the path of progress seemed inevitable. At the time of the church bombing, after which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told Wallace that “the blood of our little children is on your hands,” the governor seemed to be the toxic tribune of a fading order. That arc of the universe seemed on track 23 years later when Alabama’s Democratic senator Howell Heflin, Mr. Jones’s old boss, cast the decisive vote against a federal judgeship for Jeff Sessions. In 1986, Mr. Sessions was considered beyond the moral pale.Now Mr. Sessions is the attorney general, having vacated Mr. Heflin’s old Senate seat (the same one Mr. Moore and Mr. Jones hope to fill), and his zealous nativism set the scene for a winning presidential campaign. Donald Trump has upended the reconciliation script, recasting white nationalists as the victims — of an elite that includes an Ayn Rand-reading Republican House speaker as well as an arugula-eating black Democrat.