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Rural News

Dog Germs Diversify, May Threaten Humans with Flu Pandemics

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News | Posted on June 9, 2018

If you lie with dogs, you might get fleas—or worse, an influenza virus that is completely unfamiliar to your immune defenses. The risk appears to be rising, says an international team of scientists that has been studying how influenza viruses jump from species to species. In a new study, these scientists present evidence that influenza virus can jump from pigs into canines, and that influenza is becoming increasingly diverse in canines. The scientists, who are affiliated with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the National Institutes of Health, and Guangxi University, warn that mammals remain under-recognized sources of influenza virus diversity, including pigs that were the source of the 2009 pandemic and bats and bovines that harbor highly divergent viral lineages. Dogs, too, may serve as influenza reservoirs, as the scientists discovered after sequencing the complete genomes of 16 influenza A viruses (IAVs) obtained from canines in southern China.

Rich buyers are pushing rural hospitals to a controversial practice

The Atlantic | Posted on June 9, 2018

Beau Gertz faced a crowd of worried locals at the town senior center, hoping to sell them on his vision for their long-beloved—but now bankrupt—hospital. In worn blue jeans and an untucked shirt, the bearded entrepreneur from Denver pledged at a town-hall meeting in March to revive the Surprise Valley Community Hospital—a place many in the audience counted on to set their broken bones, stitch up cattle-tagging cuts, and tend to aging loved ones. Gertz said that if they voted on Tuesday to let him buy their tiny public hospital, he would retain such vital services. Better still, he said, he’d like to open a “wellness center” to attract well-heeled outsiders—one that would offer telehealth, addiction treatment, physical therapy, genetic testing, intravenous vitamin infusions, and even massages. Cedarville’s failing hospital, now at least $4 million in debt, would not just bounce back but thrive, he said. Gertz, 34, a former weightlifter who runs clinical-lab and nutraceutical companies, unveiled his plan to pay for it: He’d use the 26-bed hospital to bill insurers for lab tests regardless of where patients lived. Through telemedicine technology, doctors working for Surprise Valley could order tests for people who’d never set foot there.

Decapitated Snake Head Nearly Kills Man

National Geographic | Posted on June 8, 2018

A Texas man was doing yard work when he spotted a four-foot rattlesnake. He beheaded the snake with a shovel—but when he went to dispose of it, the severed head bit him. The man received a massive dose of the snake’s venom. He became seriously ill and had to be air-lifted to a hospital, where he required a large number of doses of antivenom. A week later he remains in stable condition. The snake was reported to be a Western diamondback rattlesnake.This story is perhaps not as uncommon as it may seem, because snakes—like many other reptiles—retain their reflexes even hours after death. The bite reflex is extremely strong in venomous snakes, because their instinct is to deliver one extremely quick bite, move away, and wait for their venom to work. Unfortunately for the Texan, this bite reflex can be triggered hours after the snake dies.

We need to fix up roads and bridges — not mines

High Country News | Posted on June 8, 2018

Federal officials are considering a proposal to add mining to the list of sectors covered by federal legislation that grants funds and speeds up infrastructure projects. The law is called Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, aka FAST-41, passed in 2015. How can mines qualify — the way roads and bridges certainly do — as community “infrastructure?” Mines produce vast quantities of waste, much of it hazardous waste that must be managed forever. Even with modern technology, water pollution, enormous waste-rock piles, heavy-metal-laden dust and toxic spills are the norm.  Worse, the decision on whether to allow mining projects to be fast-tracked is being made behind closed doors, without any involvement from the citizens who will be most affected by it. 

It’s Wildfire Season in California, and Utilities Want to Tamp Down Their Liability

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on June 8, 2018

California utilities might have to pay billions of dollars in damage if state investigators find their power lines sparked last year’s devastating wildfires. And they’ll face similar bills in the future, whenever a tree falls across a power line and sparks a fire that reduces homes, hotels and schools to ashes. To head off financial disaster, the companies and the electrical workers’ union are frantically lobbying Golden State officials for relief from a system that the utilities say is unfair: They’re liable when their equipment ignites a fire, but they can’t automatically pass on the costs to consumers. “Our employers are now at financial risk, because the damage associated with these fires is literally billions and billions of dollars,” said Hunter Stern, a business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, which represents 20,000 workers in California and Nevada. But advocates for ratepayers and wildfire victims say the current system works just fine, and that it gives utilities an incentive to trim nearby trees and invest in their infrastructure.

Des Moines DREAMer dies within weeks after being sent back to Mexico’s violence

Des Moines Register | Posted on June 8, 2018

Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco should have graduated from high school in Des Moines last month. The oldest of four siblings should have walked across a stage in a cap and gown to become a proud symbol to his sister and brothers of the rewards of hard work and education. Instead, Manuel died a brutal death alone in a foreign land, a symbol of gang supremacy in a country plagued by violent drug cartels. It happened three weeks after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned him to Mexico, a country he had left at age 3 when his parents brought him here without a visa. The fact that America was the only home he has known made Manuel eligible to apply for and be granted DACA status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program initiated by former President Barack Obama. It exempted from deportation certain young people, referred to as DREAMERS, who were brought to the U.S. without papers as children. But that status didn’t protect Manuel when he came to immigration authorities’ attention after being stopped for speeding last fall and charged with driving under the influence. An ICE spokesperson said in a statement that ICE officers arrested him in Polk County Jail, and a federal immigration judge terminated his DACA status because of two  misdemeanor convictions. 

Human Trafficking Uncovered On Ohio Egg Farm

Plant Based News | Posted on June 4, 2018

The victims, predominantly Guatemalan minors, were told by a trafficker that a better life awaited them in the US and were brought to Trillium Farms to pay off $15,000 of imposed debt.There, they were forced to work in poor conditions, allowed to keep only a fraction of their pay checks, and met with death threats in the event of protest.They were given such little freedom that one teen was at Trillium for four months before he managed to call his uncle in Florida for help. In response to his nephew's pleas, fear, and desperation - the uncle contacted the Collier City Sheriff's office.Two months later, federal and local authorities raided the trailer park where the workers were held, uncovering at least 10 victims of human trafficking.Senator Robert Portman - who was Chairman of the investigatory committee - said what authorities uncovered during the investigation that followed was 'flat out wrong'.

Local Latino movie producer opens theaters in rural, poor areas

San Francisco Chronicle | Posted on June 4, 2018

For nearly 10 years, residents in a California farming community have had to drive nearly 40 miles (64 kilometers) to see the latest film, a rare trip for some in a place where a third of the population lives in poverty. That all changed in May when Moctesuma Esparza, a Latino movie producer, opened his latest Maya Cinemas theater in Delano in his ongoing effort to open theaters in poor, rural areas in the U.S. that lack entertainment options. The $20 million project gives Delano's 53,000 residents access to recent movie releases in a high-end experience with luxury seating. In 1965, Delano helped spark Cesar Chavez's farm worker union movement. Esparza, who produced the 1997 movie "Selena" and has opened up four identical theaters in poor areas in California, said poverty shouldn't sentence residents to "movie deserts" where inexpensive leisure is limited. He has vowed to do his part to change the landscape in rural America.For years, rural communities in Appalachia, the American Southwest and the Mississippi Delta have seen small theaters close due to the high cost of technology updates and to economic downturns that discourage investors from taking over struggling movie houses.

Lawmakers look to ‘small cell’ tech for rural high-speed internet answers

Rome News Tribune | Posted on June 4, 2018

Getting high-speed internet service into less-populated areas of Georgia remains a top priority of the House Rural Development Council, although providers have yet to propose an overall fix.Towers aren’t going away but small cells — “about the size of garbage cans,” Lumsden said — can be added to increase capacity and coverage in targeted areas. They’re mounted on poles in the public rights of way and can serve customers in a radius of 500 to 1,200 feet.Lumsden said future advancements are expected to bring devices attached to power lines that will add even more capacity as the demand for service continues to increase.“It will give providers the ability to build out their networks in a more cost-effective way than they’ve ever had before,” he said. “But they have to rely on rights of way and that’s where the rub seems to be.”Local governments have control over their rights of way and are unwilling to give that up. Rome City Commissioners discussing the issue said they welcome the service but have concerns about the potential for unsightly transmitters every quarter-mile, especially in historic districts.

University of Memphis to offer free tuition to children, spouses of fallen service members

The Hill | Posted on May 31, 2018

The University of Memphis will no longer charge tuition to the children and spouses of fallen service members. The school becomes the first to offer the national Folds of Honor scholarship as a payment-in-full scholarship, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported on Monday, Memorial Day. The university already accepts the scholarship, which provides a $5,000 per year payment to undergraduate students under the age of 24 who had a parent severely injured or killed while on active duty. Spouses of any age can also receive it if they have not remarried. Fold of Honor recipients, both those currently enrolled and future students, will no longer need to pay for the rest of their education at the Tennessee school. The average cost of tuition at Memphis is reportedly about $9,700 a year, plus room and board, fees and textbooks. Any outstanding fees may also be covered by additional scholarships, said university President David Rudd.