Two N.C. reporters
who made up quotes resign, and so does their editor
. . .
An editor and two reporters at a The
Reidsville (N.C.) Review have resigned
after the writers were accused of inventing quotes published
on the paper's front page. See
item in yesterday's Rural Blog.
Managing Editor Jeff Sykes told William
L. Holmes of The Associated Press he
resigned yesterday afternoon. (Read
more) Sykes apologized to The Review's subscribers
in a column published yesterday. Sykes said he learned
of the deception earlier this month and verbally disciplined
both reporters, but believes he made a mistake by not
immediately firing them. He told AP, "I was trying
Ellen Ishmael, publisher of the 5,195-circulation
Media General daily, said in a Letter
to Readers today, "We let you down by not having
an appropriate check and balance system. I assure you
we will impose a better editing process immediately.
And I will continue to investigate the accuracy of other
stories written by the two reporters. ... I am committed
to giving you a fair and accurate news report every
morning. I will dedicate myself to regaining your trust."
Reporters Brook R. Corwin and Michael
Pucci "were making up quotes and attributing them
to friends and family members who do not live in Reidsville,"
Ishmael wrote. They invented quotes for the daily 'Two
Cents Worth' feature, which includes a small picture
of a person, along with their name and response to a
question," AP writes. An
article this week in the Greensboro News
& Record, circulation 90,436, reported
on a number of individuals who were included in the
column disputing they had said what they were quoted
as saying, and charging they had never given permission
for use of their photos.
Sykes told Lesley Messer of Editor
& Publisher that when the reporters admitted
their transgression, "I was just dumbfounded at
that point. I was in shock. I think I said, 'You guys
are killing me.' Sykes told Messer he is "the one
paying the price." Sykes added, "When I made
the decision that they deserved a second chance, I didn't
think about the fact that this would spread across the
globe in the blink of an eye and that I would be scrutinized
a la Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass," infamous
To Jim Romenesko at The Poynter
Institute, Sykes wrote "An
apology to journalism," saying he had made
the wrong decision but was upset about "a disagreement
with my publisher and some advertising staff over the
independence of the editorial department" and wanted
to give a second chance to "two of the best and
hardest working reporters I had recruited here to our
group of two daily and one weekly newspapers. . . .
I never thought about their sins again until the mighty
sword of journalistic morality fell upon me Tuesday.
I did not believe that a Two-Cent item that runs with
an ad on the front page was part of the editorial responsibility,
and that the breach of trust was not one of journalism
ethics, but of being forced in a small market to do
leg work for other departments." Sykes was editor
of all three papers.
. . . Meanwhile,
rural expert says reporters and editor aren't all to
After reading the E&P story, Tim Marema
of the Center for Rural Strategies
voices sympathy with Skyes, in an e-mail to the Institute
for Rural Journalism and Community Issues:
"Part of what's going on, aside from bad journalism,
are pressures on editors and reporters to churn it out.
The chains are all about the bottom line until some
poor sucker like this editor makes a big mistake, and
then suddenly they are about journalism ethics? I don't
"Small-town editors are in a bad
position. They have to keep their costs down by limiting
the number of staff, increasing the number of assignments,
and keeping wages as low as possible. They have to provide
all the features the publisher, circulation, and advertising
departments think are going to sell papers (on top of
actually covering the news). And they have to abide
by the rules of journalism and police their staff to
make sure they are doing the same. Under conditions
like these, it's not suprising that an editor would
say, 'All in all, I can't afford to fire these guys
right now because I'll never get the paper out if I
"I think he made the wrong decision,
but if I were in his shoes, I would have thought long
and hard before firing 40 percent of my reporting staff
(and 100 percent of my government reporters) in one
day. Why are the government reporters having to do a
worthless feature like "Two Cents Worth" anyhow?
Because some publisher or ad exec thinks it sells papers,
that's why. You know the editor and reporters thought
it was crap. They shouldn't have treated it that way,
but I don't blame them for thinking it.
"If the editor had fired those reporters,
he would have to explain to his publisher not only why
there was no 'Two Cents Worth' on the front page, but
why the rest of the front-page copy was recycled press
releases and wedding announcements. What those reporters
did was wrong, and they deserved to be fired for it.
But when you place tremendous economic pressure on editors
who are supposed to operate based on ethical standards,
the press, of all people, shouldn't be surprised when
they cave. So, there's my 2 cents."
Other postings on this issue will
be considered for publication. Click the List Serve
Energy bill with
tax breaks for companies, longer DST nears final passage
A far-ranging energy bill, sought by President
Bush since taking office, with billions in tax breaks
and other incentives to encourage energy production
from traditional and alternative sources, appears headed
toward passage today in the U. S. Senate after the House
approved it yesterday.
The measure includes $14.5 billion in
tax breaks, most for coal, oil, natural gas and utilities.
Other incentives are designated for hybrid cars, alternative
sources of energy such as wind, and for energy efficiency
-- including a four-week expansion of daylight saving
time. Supporters say the bill will help develop less
polluting sources of electricity, including nuclear
and "clean coal" facilities, and could improve
the nation's electrical grid making it more reliable
through enforceable rules regulating its operation,writes
Justin Blum of The Washington Post.
Opponents, however, say the bill does
little to bring down gasoline prices or lessen dependence
on foreign oil. They say the measure fleeces taxpayers
by providing billions in tax breaks and subsidies to
oil and gas companies, already set to experience huge
profits this year.
Nearly 1/3 of Iraq
veterans have mental problems; strain on rural health
The Army’s surgeon general has reported
that 30 percent of U.S. troops returning from the Iraq
war have developed stress-related mental health problems
three to four months after coming home. Veterans are
disproportionately from rural areas, where treatment
of such maladies is often hard to find.
The problems "include anxiety, depression,
nightmares, anger and an inability to concentrate,"
said Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley and other military medical
officials, writes John J. Lumpkin for The Associated
more) Some troops experienced more severe symptoms
and were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder,
or PTSD, a serious mental illness.
The 30 percent figure contradicts the
3 to 5 percent who are diagnosed with a significant
mental health issue as they left the war theater. A
study of troops who were still in the combat zone in
2004 found 13 percent experienced significant mental
health problems. Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a military psychiatrist
on Kiley's staff, said such problems are sometimes more
acute in members of the National Guard,
who return to civilian jobs when they leave active duty.
Rural users need
continued analog cell phone service, says newspaper
The Federal Communications Commission
wants an all-digital cell phone system nationwide. What
will happen to rural residents with phone systems not
set up for digital and who rely on the old-fashioned
telephones to keep in touch or call for help? A Henderson,
N.C., newspaper has taken up that cause.
By the end of this year, notes the Henderson
Daily Dispatch, the FCC wants 95 percent of
each wireless company's customers to have digital phones,
allowing emergency operators to pinpoint a 911 call
location. And, by 2008, wireless firms could drop analog
service entirely. (Read
"Which is all well and good, provided
you can actually get digital reception everywhere. Right
now, in mid-2005, you can't," the Dispatch said
in a recent editorial. The paper noted other efforts
to "rally support for a resolution seeking to suspend
or modify the deadline on location-capable phones."
It quoted FCC Commissioner Bob Sahr as saying that for
rural areas "analog phones are the only kind that
The newspaper emphasized that "The
National Emergency Number Association opposes
a blanket delay in the move to new digital phones, even
though it confesses that fewer than half of the nation's
911 centers even have the technology to pinpoint the
digital phones' emergency chips." They conclude,
"Clearly, digital cell phones are superior. Reception
(where you can get it) is clearer, and they offer far
better functions and features. But a digital phone with
no signal is a paperweight."
FDA bans poultry
antibiotic, citing cases of resistant infections in
The Food and Drug Administration
is banning the use of an antibiotic in poultry because
of concerns it could lead to antibiotic-resistant infections
in people. FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford ordered
that approval for use of the drug Baytril be withdrawn
effective Sept. 12, reports The Associated Press.
Manufactured in Germany, Baytril is similar
to the popular drug Cipro, used in humans. Crawford
cited concerns about a particular bacteria which is
increasingly causing serious illness in humans, and
the agency notes treatment efforts can be less effective
if the germ has already developed resistance. (Read
Margaret Mellon, of the Union
of Concerned Scientists, told reporters, "It's
the first time [the] FDA has withdrawn a veterinary
drug on the basis of antibiotic resistance concerns."
Crawford said the particular bacteria -- Campylobacter
-- is commonly found in the intestinal tracts of turkeys
and chickens, where it does not generally cause illness.
The wire service reports that resistant bacteria may
be present in poultry sold at retail outlets. Crawford
noted that since the drug Baytril was introduced for
poultry in the 1990s, the proportion of resistant infections
in humans has risen significantly.
CAFTA chatter pits
USDA secretary versus Louisiana's top farm official
This week's narrow passage of the Central
American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has caused such
a clatter, we opened up the Web to see what was the
matter. No fewer than 37 groups had CAFTA statements
today on Government
Policy News-links. Here are takes fom each side.
U.S. Department of Agricuture
Secretary Mike Johanns called CAFTA a boon
to American farmers. "The implications of this
trade agreement extend well beyond agriculture,"
he a statement
Louisiana’s Agriculture Commissioner
Bob Odom is among those denouncing CAFTA's passage in
a report by Steve Sabludowsky in the Metairie, La.,
publication Bayou Buzz. (Read
more) "I am terribly disappointed that Congress
and the Administration supported something that could
cause such great damage to American agriculture,"
Odom said. "Our sugarcane and poultry industries
will face negative effects from this agreement."
Poultry, Sabludowsky notes, is Louisiana’s
most valuable livestock commodity at $1.5 billion in
total value last year. Under CAFTA, exports of some
assorted package chicken will not be eliminated for
at least 10 years. Sugarcane, which may be more heavily
affected by CAFTA, has an economic impact of nearly
$500 million, with 720 sugarcane producers and some
29,000 jobs tied to the industry.
say mad-cow crisis has strengthened Canada's beef industry
Canada's embattled beef industry says
it's better positioned to compete in the global market
following a two-year U.S. ban on Canadian beef spurred
by mad-cow disease.
The Ontario Cattlemen's Association
said "The closure of the U.S. border to Canadian
cattle cost the industry an estimated $7 billion but
also gave rise to a state-of-the-art beef production
industry in Canada," reports The
Press, Canada's analogue to The Associated
Association President Ian McKillop told
the news agency, "This has made us a very strong
competitor with the U.S. on the world market, stronger
than before. By processing the animals in Canada, putting
the beef in boxes, we have the ability to ship it around
U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins met with
Ontario farmers to discuss last week's border re-opening
and he told the CP, "The administration's position
is very clear, that we support open borders and support
the flow of Canadian cattle to the United States."
Wilkins commented just hours before U.S. officials revealed
another potential mad-cow case. The renewed trade applies
to cattle under 30 months old, thought to be at lowest
risk for mad cow. Up step would be trading older cattle,
including breeding stock.
cite agri-terrorism, want homeland security beyond metros
A top state administrator in Colorado
says the state's rural settings deserve no less federal
support than metro areas when it comes to protection
against a terrorist strike.
"Michael Beasley, executive director
of the state Department of Local Affairs,
spoke with The Daily Sentinel to address
the way federal homeland security grants are divvied
up across Colorado," writes Danie Harrelson of
the Grand Junction newspaper. (Read
A 10-county region of northwest Colorado
has received more than $2.1 million in federal anti-terrorism
assistance in 2005, money that critics say "would
be better spent on such obvious targets as ports and
high-profile cities with high-traffic borders,"
writes Harrelson. But Beasley told the newspaper local
communities, large or small, that are prepared to handle
any hazard are better prepared to handle a terrorist
strike. “I worry as much about agri-terrorism.
People can’t underestimate the threat to the nation’s
food or water supply," Beasley added.
Sen. Ron Teck (R-Grand Junction) told
editors, "Trying to identify what regions or sites
in the state face a bigger threat of terrorism and thereby
merit more anti-terrorism funding doesn’t yield
cut-and-dried answers," the newspaper writes. “It
truly is a bit of a shell game. Do I assume a terrorist
would attack a water supply or a sports arena?"
In 2002, Gov. Bill Owens established an
Office of Preparedness, Security and Fire Safety to
oversee Homeland Security efforts, and last year he
split the responsibilities between an existing anti-terrorism
agency and the Department of Local Affairs. That split
has caused statewide debate, Harrelson writes.
Old farm company
joins new-age venture, invests in rural wind harvesting
One of the oldest and most steadfast names in farming,
Deere, has announced its investment in
several wind energy projects in Minnesota and Texas.
The company is also considering projects in other states
and has reviewed projects in other countries.
"Over the next 15 years, experts
in the industry predict the amount of energy generated
from wind power will increase dramatically," reports
Agriculture Online. (Read
more) Wind power in the United States produced less
than 7,000 megawatts in 2004 but could reach more than
100,000 megawatts in 2020.
John Deere has created a business unit
to provide project development, debt financing and other
services for those interested in harvesting wind. The
wind energy initiative, the company says, will help
it improve profitability and productivity. Blogger's
note: It used to be "nothing runs like a Deere."
Now, it might be said, "Deere runs like the wind."
from Iowa, Nebraska send strong signal to meth makers
U.S. Attorneys for Nebraska and Iowa are
sending a strong message to manufacturers of the highly
addictive drug methamphetamine. They want to get their
respective state anti-meth laws federalized, reports
The Associated Press. (Read
more) For a story focused on Iowa, click
"Nebraska's U.S. Attorney Mike Heavican
and his counterparts in Iowa, Charles Larson, Sr. and
Matthew G. Whitaker, [have warned that] anyone who intends
to cross state lines to obtain the key meth-ingredient
pseudoephedrine may be prosecuted in federal court,"
Iowa's new law, effective May 21, is touted
as the nation's toughest. A new Nebraska law, taking
effect Sept. 3, "requires common cold and allergy
products that contain pseudoephedrine to be placed behind
the counter or in a locked case, limits how much of
it can be sold at once, requires the purchaser to show
an ID and be at least 18 years old," and is similar
to new laws in numerous states, AP notes.
A U.S. Senate committee has passed an
amendment to a proposed federal anti-methamphetamine
law. That amendment would protect Oklahoma's stronger
regulations. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) lobbied for the
change to protect Oklahoma's existing and highly effective
anti-methamphetamine law. Read
more from a staff report in the Tulsa World.
Coburn told reporters, "This amendment
will ensure that a federal 'one-size-fits-all' solution
does not water down Oklahoma's successful law."
Ohio senator questions
Shawnee chief about off-the-reservation casino plans
U.S. Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
yesterday questioned an Indian tribe's chief attempting
to build casinos in his state on whether to curtail
Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma Chief
Charles D. Enyart, a proponent of casinos in several
Ohio communities, told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
his tribe seeks "a mutually beneficial and political
economic relationship with the state" 150 years
after its ancestors were forcibly removed from [it],"
writes Sabrina Eaton of The Plain Dealer.
The tribe filed a lawsuit last month seeking
the return of its ancestral lands after Ohio elected
officials refused to discuss the matter, writes Eaton
from the Cleveland newspaper's Washington bureau. Casinos
in Ohio communities would boost area economies and help
lift his once impoverished tribe, Enyart told committee
chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain has conducted
hearings to determine whether Indian gambling laws should
Voinovich accused the tribe of gold-digging
in more populous parts if Ohio, and insisted the tribe
and its financial partners are "blackmailing the
state and they are not even being subtle about it."
Voinovich has introduced a bill to limit the scope of
Indian casino gambling. A representative of the Interior
Department, which regulates Indian tribes,
told the newspaper it's rare for tribes to seek off-reservation
casinos, and the Eastern Shawnee haven't yet sought
permission from the agency to build in Ohio.
Also, an Indiana tribe seeking to build
a Michigan casino has filed a motion in federal court
to intervene in a suit aimed at blocking the facility,
reports Chris Knape of The Grand Rapids Press.
get free health care via Remote Area Medical Expedition
Health care for many southwest Virginia
residents is an unaffordable luxury in a region that
habitually records some of the worst health statistics
in the nation. Once a year, however, thousands get wide-ranging
free medical care at the Wise County Remote
Area Medical Expedition, which last year
provided almost $1 million in free services to about
6,000 poor people.
The 2005 medical expedition began early
today near Wise, Va. Last night on America Public
heard on many National Public Radio
stations, Julia DeBruicker had a preview of
this year's event and a retrospective on what the medical
help has meant to area folks. (Story
web-page) (Listening to story requires
high-end Web audio capability.)
Sonja Cox told DeBruicker she is "disabled
and doesn't make enough money for a pair of bifocals."
Most attending the expedition make a thousand dollars
a month or less. The Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps,
is a 20-year-old non-profit, volunteer, airborne relief
effort that provides free health, dental and eye care,
veterinary services, and technical and educational assistance
to rural residents.
Last year in Wise, doctors, nurses and
dentists provided care to 6,026 patients; extracted
3,291 bad teeth and filled 932; gave 3,398 consultations,
including lab procedures, pharmacy and telemedicine;
performed 104 mammograms; and conducted 1,078 eye examinations
with free prescription eyeglasses, many of which were
provided on site. All that free care was valued at $946,326,
green? Company uses wind turbine and rainwater pond
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
is experimenting in McKinney, Tex., with its first environmentally
friendly store to conserve resources and save money,
the company says.
"The world's largest retailer opened
a 206,000-square-foot building last week that will include
such features as a 120-foot tall wind turbine that will
produce about 5 percent of the store's energy and a
rainwater harvesting pond designed to provide 95 percent
of the water needed for irrigation," writes Steve
Quinn of The Associated Press. (Read
"McKinney's hot summer climate also
made it an ideal location for Wal-Mart to test its new
energy-efficient cooling and heating systems,"
writes Danny Gallagher of the daily McKinney
Courier-Gazette, with a story that offers many
details about the project. (Read
Don Moseley, manager of Wal-Mart experimental
projects, told Quaid, "We want to be more sustainable,
more economical or more environmentally responsible."
The company said there were additional costs with the
conservation efforts, but would not elaborate on the
price tag. Gus Whitcomb, a regional Wal-Mart spokesman,
said, "We want to see if this can save us some
money and keep our costs down."
Wal-Mart has been working to polish its
image as an employee- and community-friendly corporation,
and has earmarked $35 million over 10 years to help
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
conserve 1 acre of priority habitat for each acre developed,
writes Quaid. Analyst Al Meyers of Retail Forward
Inc., a consultancy, said he'll be watching
the store and the company's environmental efforts closely.
accused of making up quotes, plagiarizing photos;
stands accused of "using photos from TheFacebook.com
and making up quotes for its front-page 'Two Cents
Worth' column," charges the Greensboro
News & Record, a Landmark newspaper.
"Jack Wiley Westall, 22, was
quoted in the man-on-the-street feature about
his summer plans, but says he never talked to
the [Reidsville] paper or gave permission for
his photo to be used. Others tell similar stories.
Review executive editor Jeffrey Sykes refuses
to answer questions about the bogus quotes and
copied photos," reports Carla Bagley of the
News & Record. The Review, a Media
General paper, has a ciruclation of 5,195.
The News & Record, a Landmark Communications
paper, has 90,436.
If the tales proves true, it could
be an example of what American Journalism
Review Managing Editor Lori Anderson
writes about in AJR's upcomiong August-September
issue: America embracing a culture of opinion
and entertainment and moving away from one of
"In the not-too-distant past,
journalism sages, columnists and otherwise rational
old people were quick to condemn the ethically
lax, morally inept, not-able-to-handle-the-pressure-of-the-big-time
'kids these days' as the root of the plagiarism
and fabrication problem. Young journalists --
whom one newspaper columnist I interviewed defined
as anyone under the age of 40 -- can thank Stephen
Glass and Jayson Blair for the slew of blame-it-on-the-young
diatribes. If only the problem were that simple,"
"As the recent round of cheating
cases cropped up -- there was a decided lack of
excuses put forth. No whining about temptations
of the Internet. Little bemoaning the sad state
of youth," she writes. "Has the search
for why been called off? Or is the industry ready
to tackle a much more difficult matter: The culture?
Nobody wants to hear this. 'Culture' is so new-agey,
touchy-feely, some would say 'soft,' awful gauzy
for a place as crass, competitive and cynical
as a newsroom." (Click
here for AJR Preview)
Jim DeFede fired for secretly taping phone call
The Miami Herald
has fired columnist Jim DeFede because he tape-recorded
a phone conversation with Arthur E. Teele Jr.
without his knowledge, moments before Teele shot
himself in the head.
"Teele had killed himself ...
without ever knowing that the columnist recorded
their conversation," writes Jay Weaver of
The Miami Herald. (Read
more) Both Publisher Jesús Díaz
Jr. and Executive Editor Tom Fiedler told Weaver
they fired the popular metro writer because it
is illegal to tape a conversation with another
person without that individual's consent in Florida.
Diaz told Weaver that during his
interview with Teele, DeFede turned on a tape
machine to record his conversation as the politician
confided in him about his public corruption charges,
financial problems and other sensitive issues.
At one point, notes Weaver, Teele told the columnist
he was not speaking on the record -- but DeFede
continued to record him anyway without his knowledge.
Diaz said of the firing, ''With
all of our sources, we have to treat them with
respect and dignity. I don't think we did that
in this situation. The public's trust is at stake
... we have to make sure the public understands
that trust is the most important value that the
community bestows upon us.''
Comment from blogger Bill
Griffin: The Herald sub-headline read,
Former official faced fraud charges - shot
self at newspaper. What we noticed, along
with the chosen venue, was the number of staff
used to tell the story of Teele Jr. shooting himself
in the head yesterday as police arrived at The
Herald building. (Read
more) Along with principle writers, Luisa
Yanez, Carol Rosenberg, Matthew I. Pinzur and
Scott Hiaasen, 11 other news staff members contributed
to the story. Our question, especially for our
rural, less richly staffed colleagues, is how
many newspapers do you know of that even have
15 reporters total? The story ran about 1,500
words. That works out to a hundred words a piece.
Nice work if you can get it!
The story also prompts reflection
on the media's power to prod the accused over
the edge. Teele, besieged by considerable media
coverage and "buckling under chronic debts
and legal bills," the Herald reports, told
DeFede moments before killing himself, "Who
did I piss off in this town?''
seeking to silence its own; wants ban on even
off-duty staff griping
The possibility of any newspaper
firing its workers for griping about their workplace,
even while off duty, could send shivers and shock
waves throughout the industry.
"There's not a newspaper in
the country where reporters and editors, at some
time or another, haven't spouted off about what
they didn't like about the place. Work-related
griping over a beer at the neighborhood tavern
-- or nowadays in an e-mail among colleagues --
is as common as spin control from a political
flak," writes Joe Strupp of Editor
& Publisher. (Read
But, Strupp reports, if the York
(Pa.) Daily Record has its way,
such outspoken opinions, either in the newsroom
or at a nearby watering hole, may become a fireable
offense. Among several proposals in the latest
contract offer to Daily Record guild members is
a provision that would ban disparagement of the
company by its employees.
Lauri Lebo, unit chair for the York
Local 38218 of The Newspaper Guild,
told Strupp, "People are horrified. I actually
shrieked when I read it." Its members received
the proposal earlier this month.
The Guild local oversees two units
at the Daily Record and a third unit at the cross-town
York Dispatch. Both Record units
are under a three-year contract that ends Sept.
30, while the Dispatch unit's agreement does not
expire until next year, writes Strupp.
third case of mad-cow disease needs more testing,
U.S. officials say
A cow that died of complications
from calving in April may have been infected with
mad-cow disease, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture said Wednesday.
The animal posed no danger to the
human or animal food supply because it was destroyed
where it died after tissue samples were taken,
said USDA Chief Veterinarian Dr. John Clifford,
writes Steven Bodzin of the Los Angeles
more) The animal's death while calving in
"a remote area" led to an inconclusive
tissue study, reports the USDA.
Clifford told the Times a brain
tissue sample submitted by a veterinarian who
treated animals in a remote area was treated with
a preservative -- which allows only one type of
test -- and frozen for analysis. The results of
the test were inconclusive.
Additional samples are being tested
at the USDA laboratory in Ames, Iowa, and at a
laboratory in England, considered the most sophisticated
in the world. The results are expected next week.
Mad cow disease is spread when cows eat brain
or nerve parts from an infected animal. Japan
has had 20 cases of mad cow disease and tests
every animal slaughtered. Authorities there have
demanded the United States test more animals before
beef exports to Japan can resume.
rattled with each reported mad-cow case, officials
News of mad cow disease can move
markets, stall trade negotiations and prompt nations
to grow more skeptical of American beef; economic
calamity that is inspiring a debate on releasing
test results and raising questions about regulators
protecting the market rather than consumers.
"Although beef markets reacted
mildly in late June to the confirmation of the
nation's first home-grown case [of mad cow in
Texas] the damage was done. Nations such as Taiwan
and Indonesia quickly restricted beef purchases
from the U.S.," writes Purva Patel of the
Houston Chronicle. (Read
Industry observers told the Chronicle,
"The type and timing of the information released
by regulators can make all the financial difference
in the world to[those] whose livelihood is tied
to the price of beef," writes Patel. "But
trying to find consensus among state and federal
agencies can be difficult, as two recently obtained
letters from Texas regulators to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture show."
The letters included concerns from
the heads of the Texas Agriculture Department
and Texas Animal Health Commission
on the USDA's handling of cases. Texas Agriculture
Commissioner Susan Combs suggested federal regulators
hold results from the public until animals are
confirmed positive or negative.
Combs wrote, "While markets
may bounce back, enormous amounts of money can
be lost in the interim. It is estimated that the
market dropped $25 per head on cattle, resulting
in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to
our cattle industry." However, Animal Health
Commission Executive Director Bob Hillman wrote,
"Experience has shown it is impossible to
prevent rumors from any number of sources."
Commission Chairman Richard Taylor wrote, "Uncertainties
and rumors are far more damaging ... than known
Blogger's note: A sample measure
of how these reports reverberate is exampled in
today's and yesterday's media coverage of the
most recent case. In addition to the L.A. Times
story (noted above) here's just a few other story
New York Times, The
Washington Post, MacNewsWorld.com,
800 AM Radio - Canada, KOMO
- Seattle,WA (Radio & Television), Guardian
Unlimited - United Kingdom, which
ran The Associated Press story
by Libby Quaid.
expands ban on southwestern states' livestock
to protect its own
While news of mad cow reverberates
worldwide, a lesser known animal affliction, Vesicular
Stomatitis, which can affect humans, has prompted
tighter restrictions on livestock coming into
Kentucky Department of Agriculture
has widened its prohibition on all livestock and
exotic or wild animals to include four more counties
in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, reports
The Associated Press. (Read
With the four new counties, Kentucky
has now banned animal exports from a total of
20 counties in those states. An agriculture department
news release reports the state wants to keep vesicular
stomatitis (VS) from spreading to the valuable
horse and cattle industries.
Agriculture Commissioner Richie
Farmer said, "VS could affect the livelihoods
of thousands of hardworking farm families [and]
the department will do all it can to keep this
disease out of the state and prevent it from harming
our agriculture economy." AP reports VS is
a rarely fatal viral disease that can affect humans
as well as horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goat and
deer. It is similar to foot-and-mouth disease,
which has not been seen in the United States since
1929. Infected animals may get blisters on their
mouths, hooves and teats. Humans infected with
VS may experience flu-like symptoms.
N.C. to join
states tightly regulating meth ingredients; compromise
A North Carolina legislature joint
committee is expected to iron out differences
between House and Senate version of bills banning
ingredients used to make the powerful, addictive,
destructive and socially devastating drug called
meth, which is especially prevalent in rural areas.
"North Carolina is poised to
clamp down on [the] widely available ingredient
in the addictive stimulant [meth] say state House
members who approved [passage of a measure yesterday],"
writes Matthew Eisley of The News &
Observer of Raleigh. (Read
more). The vote limits the ability to buy
ordinary cold medicines which contain the component,
the popular decongestant pseudoephedrine.
Rep. Mitch Gillespie, a Republican
business owner from meth lab hot spot McDowell
County, along the Blue Ridge mountains, told Eisley,
"Will this make it harder for the average
citizen to obtain (the colds medicine substance]?
Yes, it will! But, we see in our paper every week
the devastation this terrible drug causes. It
is a very tragic thing." McDowell County
was recently reported as the most meth lab-infested
county in the Tar Heel state.
The anti-meth bill now goes to the
Senate, which already has approved a different
version. The chambers differ on which medications
to regulate, and how, Eisley writes.
sees irony in Appalachian forest-cutting incentive
Rural Policy Research
Institute fellow and columnist
Thomas D. Rowley is one of many journalists
who notice the best of humankind, and its
worst. Rowley, after recently praising a
Kenyan government policy of paying residents
not to destroy their nearby forest ecology,
writes of an Appalachian example of the
opposite - an incentive to cut down trees
which ironically may conserve. (Read
"Folks in southwest Virginia
and northeast Tennessee are being compensated
... in the name of conservation. If that
sounds wacky, just wait. Not only are these
Appalachian landowners being paid to harvest
trees, they are being paid a premium and
for the worst trees," writes Rowley.
The Appalachian Sustainable Development
(ASD) "Sustainable Woods" program
is "an effort to improve the health
of the local forests and at the same time
improve the health of the local economy,"
notes Rowley. He observed the program as
part of the International Rural
Network conference last month in
Abingdon, Va., from "the forest and
at the saw-mill," he describes.
Rowley the conservation program's
purpose is "to institute environmentally
friendly forestry practices. It then takes
the timber that results and processes it
locally to create jobs and improve incomes."
He notes the timber cutting is done in an
area where "the trees are felled and
... hauled out of the forest ... and often
as not by horse."
ASD Executive Director Anthony
Flaccavento told Rowley, "We take a
market approach," which means "landowners
are paid for the timber, and [paid] well
- as much as 25 percent more per board foot
than other lumber companies [which] helps
landowners swallow the notion of cutting
fewer trees and effectively leaving money
in the forest instead of putting it in their
pockets." Flaccavento told Rowley that
landowners "are getting a little more
for leaving a little more." This,
and other columns, available
Energy bill almost
ready for president; last-minute coal cleanup idea left
"After coming up short for years,
Congress is preparing to enact a broad energy plan that
would provide generous federal subsidies to the oil
and gas industries, encourage new nuclear power plant
construction and try to whet the nation's appetite for
renewable fuels like ethanol and wind power," write
Carl Hulse and Michael Janofsky of The New York
Final details were ironed out in a nine-hour
meeting that ended early Tuesday. House and Senate leaders
hope to get the bill in President Bush's hands by week's
end, a goal that has been on the administration's to-do
list since 2001. The last step - an estimated $11 billion
in tax breaks for energy production and efficiency -
was being handled Tuesday night, report Hulse and Janofsky.
An editorial by the Casper (Wyo.)
Star-Tribune attacked the bill: "The current
version of the energy bill provides plenty of expensive
incentives to satiate America's hunger for energy, but
painfully little to curb its growing appetite. House
and Senate negotiators are nearing completion of a comprehensive
energy package, and they could send this pork-laden
measure to the president's desk by the end of the week."
The editorial criticizes legislators for
leaving out a coal cleanup provision. “Rep. Barbara
Cubin [wanted] to re-authorize the 1977 abandoned mine
cleanup law, which is set to expire Sept. 30,”
the paper writes. “Cubin, a member of the House-Senate
conference committee working on final details of the
energy bill, had said last week she hoped to include
the compromise measure she and Eastern lawmakers had
Cubin (R-Wyo.) and Rep. John Peterson
(R.-Pa.) tried to resolve their differences on the mining
provision. “Wyoming, which now produces more coal
than any other state, is the biggest contributor to
the federal cleanup fund and gets the most money from
it,” writes Mary Clare Jalonick of The
Associated Press. “But Eastern states
like Pennsylvania have declining coal production and
the most abandoned mine land.” (Read
Peterson wanted more funding for states
with the most abandoned land, while Cubin wanted more
funds for Wyoming. Some legislators from Appalachian
states supported adding the amendment to the energy
bill, reports Jalonick, because it expanded guaranteed
health care benefits to thousands more retired miners
from the United Mine Workers of America
who worked for now-defunct companies.
Farm Bureau praises
energy bill, neglects to mention daylight saving time
As earlier noted, many rural folk feel
daylight saving time is a "feuding, fighting and
fussing" issue. And yet, the American Farm
Bureau Federation, which one would think takes
rural folks to heart, praises the federal energy bill
containing DST expansion without noticing the "March
of Time" provision.
Bureau news release -- a statement from president
Bob Stallman on the energy bill -- reads, "The
House and Senate conference committee compiled an excellent
compromise energy bill that will benefit all Americans,
including farmers and ranchers."
"Of major importance is that the
conference report requires the use of 7.5 billion gallons
of home-grown renewable fuels by 2012," he states.
“Farm Bureau is urging the full Senate and House
to pass the compromise legislation so that President
Bush may sign it into law. Enacting the legislation
will start reducing the nation’s dependence on
foreign oil. Farmers and ranchers will increase their
use of renewable fuels, mainly biodiesel and ethanol,
and farmers will also play a big part in producing these
fuels from such crops as soybeans and corn."
There's no mention, however, as noted
in our July 25 Rural Blog, that "The four-week
extension [of daylight saving time] is less than initially
proposed. Under the measure, [it] would begin on the
second Sunday of March and clocks would be turned back
an hour on the first Sunday of November. Currently,
[it] starts the first Sunday in April and lasts to the
last Sunday in October. The extension would become effective
one year after passage of the bill and requires the
Energy Department to study its impact,"
we wrote. Blogger's note: Should we get Mr. Stallman
ban on Pensacola paper; company didn't like critical
The Pensacola News Journal
will soon be back on the rack at northwest-Florida area
Wal-Mart stores. The nation's largest
retailer had imposed a ban when a local manager considered
a newspaper column derogatory.
"Columnist Mark O'Brien wrote Pensacola
should 'be more than the Wal-Mart kind of town we're
becoming -- cheap and comfy on the surface, lots of
unhappiness and hidden costs underneath,'" writes
Bill Kaczor of The Associated Press.
more) O'Brien's column cited a New York
Times report which found 10,000 children of
Wal-Mart employees in Georgia's health-care program,
costing taxpayers nearly $10 million a year. O'Brien
noted the Times report was cited in "The World
is Flat," a global economy book by Thomas Friedman.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sharon Weber said,
"We did make an error in judgment. They should
be available in our stores by the end of the week."
News Journal Executive Editor Randy Hammer told Kaczor,
"There are lots of different ways to disagree with
people; this wasn't necessarily one of them." The
offended manager defended Wal-Mart's wage and employment
practices in a letter to the editor citing the average
full-time pay at more than $10 an hour, twice the federal
minimum wage, and that an estimated 160,000 people obtained
health insurance by going to work for Wal-Mart.
In a Sunday column, Hammer said that in
a conversation with the offended Wal-Mart manager, the
manager discussed lifting the ban if the newspaper fired
O'Brien. But, Hammer said, "I might understand
it if Wal-Mart [had] said I ought to fire Mark because
what he wasn't accurate, but that isn't the case."
Wall Street Journal yesterday ran a profile
of Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott which included "a very
good summary of how the company turned from darling
to devil," notes IRJCI Director Al Cross. The
WSJ article requires a subscription. The News Journal,
owned by Gannett, has a circulation of 63,016. The
original Mark O'Brien News Journal column is archived
requiring a search, and a fee after seven days.
issues order to inspect Canada beef after ban lifted
With Canadian cattle crossing the U.S.
border again, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer last week
ordered that all livestock headed for Montana must be
checked to ensure federal restrictions compliance.
Schweitzer told reporters state Livestock
Department supervised veterinarians will inspect
cattle that are younger than 30 months, not pregnant
and have the mandated "CAN" brand, writes
Bob Anez of The Associated Press. (Read
more) Owners will pay the cost, an estimated $3
to $5 a head.
Schweitzer, who is a rancher, said, "I
am committed to the ranchers and consumers in this state.
We will take every precaution available to us to protect
[our people and our] cattle industry," writes Anez.
Schweitzer said he'd urge similar action by governors
in Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon,
South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. Montana cattle
industry leaders and the activist R-CALF USA
(Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers
of America) applauded the move. John Lockie, executive
director of the Montana Cattlemen's Association,
told the AP, "It only makes sense to make sure
that we're checking and we're getting what we're supposed
to be getting."
Steve Pilcher, executive vice president
of the Montana Stockgrowers Association,
said his only concern was whether Canadian ranchers
could be forced to pay for the inspections in Montana.
Rob McNabb, assistant manager of the Canadian
Cattlemen's Association, said producers won't
pay again for the same inspection they finance before
their cows can be shipped. The United States banned
Canadian cattle in May 2003 following Canada's first
case of mad cow disease.
The Consumers Union has
called on the USDA to release data on the government's
inspection program, in light of the mad cow scare and
the reopening of the Canadian border, which it says
"raises serious concerns about credibility of government
surveillance program." For the story on that click
co-op forging independent meat processing facility
A Northern Alberta, Canada farming cooperative
is progressing on plans to build its own meat processing
"Members of the Peace Country
Tender Beef Co-op say they're not deterred
by the long-awaited reopening of the American border
to Canadian cattle," reports the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) out of Edmonton,
Alberta, Canada. (Read
The co-op formed during the border closure
and industry ban following the discovery of a case of
mad cow disease in 2003, and has grown to about 600
members. Member Seth Barnfield told reporters Canadians
need to become less dependent on the United States.
"We've got to get more value added, we've got to
get more processing in our country or we're going to
be behind it all the time. We're shipping everything
out, like our lumber, and we're just killing our small
The co-op is transforming a curling club
into a meat processing plant to be open this fall, and
is working with the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency on plans for a new slaughter house for
2006. "The Canadian cattle industry was decimated
by the closure of the U.S. border," reports the
CBC. Exports losses were about $7 billion. The Canadian
government and provinces spent $2.5 billion to keep
the industry afloat. Blogger's note: 'Curling' is
a distinctly British Isles sport which involves sliding
a pumpkin-shaped object over ice to bump your opponents'
out of the way to score points; kind of shuffleboard
with bigger pucks.
bill limits Indian tribes' casino ventures
A dispute between an American Indian tribe
and township property owners over 315 acres of land
sought as part of a casino venture ended in a victory
for the township when a federal judge ruled in their
favor. But, U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent says he's filing
a bill to give property owners more protection.
Dent (R-Lehigh Valley) said, "The
threat is far from over," writes Sarah Mausolf
of The Express Times in Easton. (Read
more) Dent noted, "An appeal [of the township-American
Indian tribe decision] is before the Third Circuit Court
of Appeals. [And] I am concerned about this kind of
Dent has unveiled a bill limiting the
ability of tribes to expand into new properties "for
the sole purpose of building casinos," writes Mausolf,
by stiffening the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.
That measure forbids American Indian gaming but has
numerous exceptions. Dent told reporters ''reservation
shopping'' places unsuspecting homeowners at risk. Under
Dent's proposal, tribes wanting to build casinos could
only claim lands adjacent to existing reservations.
All other lands would be off limits.
Dent's bill would also limit the power
to base a claim on land deals reached before the United
States was founded. In Forks Township, the Delaware
Nation argued it was swindled out of land by William
Penn's son in 1737, 50 years prior to the enactment
of the U.S. Constitution. "The bill would give
the Legislature power to block land claims fueled by
casino projects. Presently, only the governor can contradict
such a land claim once it has been approved by the U.S.
Department of the Interior," writes Mausolf.
announces national campaign against Moosehead development
A coalition of environmental groups says
it is ready to launch a "national campaign"
to stop a proposed large-scale development in Maine's
Moosehead Lake Region.
Former Green Party gubernatorial candidate
Jonathan Carter said the "Save Moosehead"
campaign will pursue every "political, legal and
legislative" option to end the development. If
that fails, he said, the coalition will be ready to
start a petition drive for a statewide vote, writes
Jerry Harkavy of The Associated Press.
A development group called Plum
Creek filed a plan with state officials involving
426,000 acres, of which about 10,000 are slated for
development. The development would include 575 shorefront
lots and 400 back lots, writes Harkavy. Carter charges
the developers deceived the residents of Maine when
Plum Creek bought 900,000 acres seven years ago and
stated they had no plans to carve it up for vacation
Carter, now director of the Forest Ecology
Network, told AP, "We´re going to attack
from all sides." Jim Lehner, Plum Creek´s
regional general manager, said, "Opposition to
the project by environmental groups was not unexpected
or beyond the level that his company had foreseen."
the practice of courts not allowing non-Christian oaths
Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina
has filed a lawsuit challenging the state's practice
of refusing to allow people of faith to take an oath
in court using a religious text other than the Bible.
Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of
North Carolina, states in an ACLU news release, "The
government cannot favor one set of religious values
over another and must allow all individuals of faith
to be sworn in on the holy text that is in accordance
with their faith." Rudinger says limiting an oath
to only the Bible is "discriminating against people
of other faiths." The lawsuit filed in Wake County
Superior Court seeks a court order clarifying the phrase
"Holy Scriptures" in the state’s existing
statute, which the ACLU claims is broad enough to allow
the use of multiple religious texts.
The ACLU has asked the state Administrative
Office of the Courts (AOC) to adopt a policy allowing
the use of the Qur'an and other religious texts, and
an Islamic Center previously offered to donate copies
of the Qur'an to the Guilford County court system for
this purpose, notes the release. Muslim groups, the
Council on American-Islamic Relations and interfaith
religious organizations also joined the ACLU in calling
upon the state courts to respect religious diversity.
The AOC responded that the legislature or a court ruling
would have to settle the case.
But, the ACLU notes, "Existing North
Carolina statutes allow for the use of a religious oath
to be sworn 'with upraised hand,' without the use of
any religious text, and for the use of a secular oath
[where] the word 'affirm' replaces the word 'swear'
and the words 'so help me God' are deleted." The
ACLU lawsuit does not concern these options but is to
address religious oaths using religious text.
Study shows decline in crossings'
collisions; is more safety needed?
A U.S. Department of Transportation
reports highway railroad crossings deaths decreased
50 percent last year from 1995 figures. Poynter
Institute commentator Al Tompkins is asking
if more should be done.
states, "There were almost eight such collisions
a day [3,045 total] in 2004, resulting in at least one
death per day [and 368 fatalities that year]. In the
last 10 years, the feds have closed tens of thousands
of crossings and installed more than 4,000 crossing
gates and flashing lights. Train companies have had
to install new reflective stickers on railroad cars,
increase the sound of warning horns and install locomotive
Tompkins asks, "So what can be done
to further reduce the numbers?" And, he challenges,
"Here is your local angle. Read this fairly mind-blowing
of the report." "The biggest cause of
train/car wrecks now," Tompkins opines, "is
knuckleheads driving around the automatic warning gates."
In other words, Tompkins continues, "Additional
gains will be harder to achieve. To illustrate, automatic
warning devices do not prevent all accidents. Nearly
half of the crossing collisions that occurred in the
last five years occurred at crossings with active warning
Tompkins contends, "Further progress
will be difficult because railroad accident reports
attributed 91 percent of collisions [over the last five
years] to reckless or inattentive drivers [ignoring]
warning signs or [driving] around barriers as trains
approach." The Department of Transportation,
Tompkins notes, "says
railroad companies must also be more vigilant in reporting
serious accidents to the federal government quickly
[21 percent go unreported]." "The report suggests
the federal government should aggressively fine railroads
for unsafe crossings," writes Tompkins. Currently,
only about 5 percent of critical violations ever get
punished with fines, and he draws our attention to page
five of the report.
Laws aiding rural
hospitals against large competition facing court challenge
Rural health care is a precious commodity.
In an effort to protect public hospitals some counties
have prevented private health care businesses from building
new facilities. That practice now faces opposition.
"Counties around the nation, and
at least three in Indiana, have adopted ordinances that
prevent health care businesses from building new facilities
for one year," The Times of Munster,
Ind., reported Sunday in a story by Matthew Van Dusen.
more) For The Associated Press's
updated version, click
"The ordinances can protect public
hospitals from private firms that siphon off profitable
services ... that hospitals use to support unprofitable
specialties such as maternity care," writes Van
Dusen. Officials at county-owned Porter hospital asked
local commissioners to pass a one-year moratorium on
outpatient surgical centers, imaging centers and specialty
hospitals. Similar ordinances have prompted lawsuits
claiming unfair competition, and that counties do not
have the power to regulate health care businesses.
Kentuckiana Medical Center LLC
is suing Clark and Floyd counties in Indiana and
Sisters of St. Francis Health Services is suing
Morgan County for similar restrictions. Proponents say
such restrictions are allowed under the state's home
rule statute, which allows local governments to make
any law that is not forbidden and to regulate what is
not already regulated. The lawsuits say the restrictions
give the counties the power to regulate hospitals, which
they claim belongs solely to the Indiana Department
Stephen Bush, a Floyd County commissioner
who voted against the law, told Van Dusen, "I opposed
it, saying competition is good.Why send people over
the river (to Kentucky)?" Bush believes new hospitals
expand the tax base and provide more health care options.
Porter hospital board Chairman John Rhame told reporters
private hospitals and health-care "boutiques"
generally are not concerned with treating the poor or
indigent, [and] do not provide unprofitable, but necessary,
'No wading in the
meth pool,' says expert; addicted teens need special
A Wyoming detention facility
has started a unique program after seeing an alarming
increase in teenagers addicted to methamphetamine, and
finding treatment especially challenging for the young
users who are instantly seduced by the drug and face
The Jeffrey C. Wardle Academy
is where Mandy (last name protected) has gone for help
on her 16th birthday. "This is her second stay
at the detention facility east of Cheyenne, though no
details were offered about her first time here. She's
a long way from her western Wyoming home," writes
Juliette Rule of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle.
Mandy and seven other teens are among
the first in the country to participate in the special
program, says psychiatrist Chris Reyburn, who is medical
director for Compass Point Wellness Center.
The center formed last year to bring this and other
substance abuse treatment programs to the academy. Reyburn
told Rule, "Other programs aren't designed with
kids who use meth ... in mind."
Experts say meth inhibits brain development
and teens need more intense treatment. Compass Point
psychologist Earl Faulkner told Rule addicts use meth
because it is cheap and delivers instant gratification.
He said meth corrodes the passages of the brain through
the cerebral cortex, which is the attention-driving,
impulse-curbing part of the brain. Faulkner explains
that is why high-level users are prone to anxiety, aggression
and sometimes violence.
Faulkner says meth's effects can be permanent,
stunting the brain's ability to develop beyond early
to mid-teen years. He told Rule, "A [general treatment
plan] is not going [be intensive enough]. We wanted
something to address the intensity and specificity of
[teen] meth addiction." Reyburn, describing the
addictive power of the drug to quickly seduce users,
said, "There is no shallow end of the meth pool.
People can wade into the water of alcohol and marijuana,
but there's no wading in the meth pool."
Son ignored father's advice, took up the profession
A 27-year-old farmer near Dover, Wis.,
didn't listen to his dad. Steve Henningfield is an anomaly
"in an industry that's rapidly aging, where production
expenses are out-pacing agriculture prices and where
market values are fluctuating drastically," writes
Tom Barton of the Journal Times. (Read
But he says he is determined. The youngest
of nine siblings, he was the only one to follow his
father, Frank Henningfield, into farming. "It was
the one lifestyle Frank did not want for his children,"
But Steve couldn't be happier, telling
the Racine newspaper, "There's only one thing I
know I can do well and which I enjoy, and that's farming.
I really enjoy it. I like being my own boss and setting
my own schedule." He's in the minority.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture
estimates and U.S. Census figures show
about 2 percent of the U.S. population are farmers and
in Wisconsin farming accounted for less than 1 percent
of the state population in 2002.
USDA figures show fewer than 4 percent
of farmers in Wisconsin are 27 years old or younger.
Other key statistics: The average age of all principal
U.S. farm operators has increased to 55 in 2002 from
50 in 1974. The age of farm operators 65 years and older
in 1974 was 1 in 6. It was roughly 1 in 4 in 2002. The
number of U.S. farmers 35 years and younger has declined
to about 6 percent in 2002 from about 16 percent in
1982. Wisconsin farmers 25 to 34 years old fell to 4,380
in 2002 from 6,144 in 1997.
Steve Henningfield told Barton, "My
dad discouraged the whole family from farming. He said
it was too hard of a life and it was too hard to farm.
I'm the only one that didn't listen." Barton writes,
"In 1989, after farming for nearly 40 years, Frank
Henningfield sold his milking operation, including his
cows and machinery." The farm was still left, but
plans were to sell or rent it out. Steve Henningfield
roils between history preservationists, gambling developers
President Abraham Lincoln said in the
Gettysburg Address, "We cannot consecrate, we can
not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead,
who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our
poor power to add or detract." But some developers
armed with the state's new expanded gambling law have
their eyes and wallets set on -- or at least near --
that hallowed ground.
"About four miles from one of America’s
most sacred sites [the] developers energized by a new
Pennsylvania law that authorizes the largest expansion
of gambling in state history want to build a slot machine
casino," writes Peter Durantine in a special report
to Stateline.org. (Read
The 3,000-machine casino proposal has
ignited a global uproar, including the Oval Office.
A Virginia congressman has written President Bush and
called for action. Opponents don’t doubt a group
of investors named Chance Enterprises and their leader,
Gettysburg businessman David LeVan, can afford the state’s
$50 million license fee. Their plans include a luxury
hotel and spa, restaurant and shopping mall.
Several leading Pennsylvania legislators
denounced the idea. "The 70,000-member Civil
War Preservation Trust and Pulitzer Prize-winning
historian James McPherson also have excoriated it,"
Durantine notes. A fusillade of mostly critical coverage
appears to have not slowed developers, but they have
stopped talking to reporters. LeVan previously told
the Scotsman the casino is far from
earshot and eyesight of the battlefield. “The
only thing it’s going to have in common is the
name Gettysburg,” he said.
"Unlike other Civil War battlefields
such as Vicksburg, Miss., where riverboat casinos are
docked along the Mississippi River about a half mile
from a historic site," Durantine writes, the Gettysburg
site hasn't had to face a lot of development pressures
until now. Katie Lawhon, a spokeswoman for the park,
which is maintained by the National Park Service,
told Durantine, "We’re fortunate in that
it hasn't’t happened often here. We have a good
track record of acquiring land to preserve the battlefield."
forest land up for auction; helps Forest Service pay
Valuable northwoods Minnesota land owned
by the U.S. Forest Service is for sale
to the highest bidder.
"The sale is part of a national pilot
project that allows individual national forests to keep
the proceeds from property sales and use the money for
local projects. In the past, the money went to Washington,
" writes John Meyers of the Duluth News
Some of the houses to be auctioned off
are in "pristine condition with modern plumbing
— one with a three-season porch and a giant stone
fireplace. The logs are big, more than 18 inches wide,
and are unusual because they are poplar or aspen, not
pine," writes Meyers.
Crews from the depression-era Civilian
Conservation Corps built the houses in 1933 on bluestone
foundations. The oldest cabins are eligible for the
National Register of Historic Places,
and buyers will be required to keep the character of
the buildings intact.
It's not clear what the properties are
worth. Forest Service appraisals aren't complete. "The
sales are part of a nationwide trend in which national
forests are selling little-used or abandoned properties
to reduce the backlog of unfunded repairs and maintenance
estimated at $1.2 billion," notes Meyers. Interested
buyers can go on the Web starting next month and hundreds
of people have already inquired. The government will
take online bids and will decide how to sell based on
the best offer.
enviros want state to be national model on hog-waste
and the Southern
Environmental Law Center (SELC) want North
Carolina to draw up a "multifaceted plan"
based on systems being tested at state universities
to help hog farmers convert hog-lagoons to waste management
technologies to protect the environment and public health.
"N.C. State University
(NCSU) has announced [more] waste systems under review
meet stringent environmental performance standards ...
bringing to five the number of cleaner systems identified,"
Environmental Defense reports in a news release on its
Web site. (Read
Joe Rudek, senior scientist with the North
Carolina office of Environmental Defense, says in the
release,"We now know for sure that there are cleaner
technologies for hog waste treatment. Now it's time
to design a plan that will ensure that hog farmers can
afford to switch to cleaner technologies and properly
close out polluting lagoons." Rudek's statement
continues, "We call upon [North Carolina) Attorney
General Roy Cooper and Governor Easley ... to provide
bold leadership. And we call upon the pork industry
to rededicate themselves to showing the nation how to
solve this problem."
The group says despite a moratorium on new open-air
lagoons and improved regulations, residents near hog
farms "continue to suffer from odor and air pollution,
contaminated groundwater and polluted streams."
SELC Senior Attorney Michelle Nowlin said in the release,
"We urge lawmakers to support cleaner waste technologies
and move the state's hog industry to a total phase out
of hog lagoons."
Environmental Defense is a national nonprofit organization
claiming more than 400,000 members. Since 1967, the
organization says it has linked science, economics,
law and private-sector partnerships to create solutions
to serious environmental problems.
Illinois formally requests federal disaster aid; farmers
As expected, Illinois Governor Rod Blogojevich
yesterday requested a federal disaster declaration for
his drought-drained state where farming has been scorched
by record heat and parched by a lack of rain.
"With counties in the northern and
western parts of the state seven to 10 inches below
normal precipitation levels, many farmers expect to
lose all or part of their crops. The ... declaration
would allow them to apply for low-interest loans to
cover ... losses," writes Courtney Flynn of the
Chicago Tribune. (Read
After sending a letter to U.S. Secretary
of Agriculture Mike Johanns formally requesting federal
aid, Blogojevich said, "Although our crops are
still in the fields, reports--even at this early date--show
drought losses enough to warrant a federal disaster
declaration and only will mount without significant
As reported in yesterday's blog, the continuing
drought, the fifth-driest growing season in 110 years,
is afflicting farms and ranches region-wide. The drought
covers the northern three-quarters of Illinois. Statewide,
the latest U. S. Department of Agriculture
report shows 55 percent of the corn crop and 36 percent
of the soybean crop is rated very poor or poor. Of 102
counties, 98 have reported drought-related crop damage.
Kentucky ATV death
rate high; safety advocates push for child helmet law
All-terrain vehicle safety advocates
in Kentucky, many of whom live in rural areas, want
a statewide law requiring children 16 and younger to
wear helmets while riding their four-wheelers.
"Kentucky has been among the nation's
leaders in the number of ATV deaths and injuries, advocates
told the interim joint [legislative] Committee,"
writes Joe Biesk for The Associated Press.
more) Dr. Roger Humphries, chairman of the emergency
medicine department at the University of Kentucky
Medical Center, told Biesk children younger
than 16 are vulnerable because they often lack the physical
strength and cognitive development needed to safely
maneuver ATVs. "Car accidents will happen. But
this is different. This is basically an irresponsibility
of society," said Humphries.
Similar measures have stalled in the Kentucky
General Assembly, but backers hope that will
change when the assembly meets next year. Mary Haas,
of the Brain Injury Association of Kentucky,
told AP, "It's time for Kentucky to protect the
children of the commonwealth. Children are dying on
ATVs, and children are being seriously injured."
Humphries told Biesk the UK hospital's trauma center
admitted 151 patients younger than 18 with ATV-related
injuries between 1996 and 2000.
drops separate Web fee idea; media opposed the plan
The Associated Press,
facing resistance from some newspapers and broadcasters,
has dropped plans to begin charging a separate fee for
clients who use its stories and photographs on Web sites,
reports James T. Madore of Newsday.
The wire service's board opted to roll
a proposed "online licensing fee" into the
general assessment paid yearly by member papers and
TV and radio stations. That assessment or membership
fee will increase by 2.2 percent next year, the smallest
hike in 35 years, except for 1999, when it was the same
The move comes after three months of debate
in which some journalism experts and others expressed
concern that Web readers would lose access to AP stories,
long the backbone of many news sites.
Activist group invites public on 'Mountain Witness Tour'
A Kentuckians for the Commonwealth's
Mountain Witness Tour is set for Saturday,
July 30 in Harlan County with a focus on protecting
communities in and around Cumberland from heavy coal
"Local residents want the coal company
to use an alternate route to haul coal so the community
can again be a quiet, safe place to live. We will also
visit a nearby mountaintop removal site and hear more
about the biology of why mountaintop removal is the
most destructive form of mining," KFTC writes.
The tours bring people together from different communities
both inside and outside coalfields to learn and take
action. KFTC hopes to "broaden the communities
organizing against the abuses of an outlaw coal industry."
The tour will start with a potluck lunch
at 11:30 a.m. KFTC is encouraging people to carpool,
especially groups coming from Louisville, Lexington
or distant places. For more information, contact Colleen
Unroe in Whitesburg at 606-632-0051 or e-mail her at
Energy bill with
expanded daylight-saving time nears final passage in
In rural areas, where legend has the rooster
sounding the rise of day, tinkering with time is an
issue that can bring responses bordering on a Hatfields-McCoys
dispute. Still, “House and Senate negotiators
agreed [last week] to extend daylight saving time by
four weeks as part of a sweeping energy bill,"
writes Richard Simon of the Los Angeles Times.
more) Much work remains on the energy-policy overhaul.
The four-week extension is less than initially
proposed. It was drafted to address "concerns about
children waiting for morning buses or walking to school
in the dark" and complaints from airlines about
disruption of schedules, Simon writes. Airlines still
dispute supporters' contention the provision will save
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a co-sponsor,
told Simon, "The beauty of daylight-savings time
is that it just makes everyone feel sunnier." Under
the measure, daylight time would begin on the second
Sunday of March and clocks would be turned back an hour
on the first Sunday of November. Currently, daylight
time starts the first Sunday in April and lasts to the
last Sunday in October. The extension would become effective
one year after passage of the bill and would require
the Energy Department to study its
Ex-FBI man, now
local official in N.C., shows the way to open government
We think every newspaper in America should
reflect on, and perhaps publish, the remarks that Mark
Swanger, chairman of the Haywood County, North Carolina,
Board of Commissioners, made Friday upon receiving the
18th William C. Lassiter First Amendment Award from
Carolina Press Association. The story of
Swanger, is a road map to open government for other
public officials, and for the journalists who cover
Swanger, who returned to western North
Carolina after a career in the FBI, was elected three
years ago "during a climate of general public discontent
over what was perceived as a secretive board that made
a concerted effort to block the public out of the decision-making
process," the NCPA convention program said. He
told the convention that he got three of the other four
commissioners to support his open government measures
because "The process became a campaign issue."
That is a lesson for journalists. If you ask candidates
at election time where they stand on freedom-of-information
issues, you are likely to get responses that will help
you win FOI battles when those candidates take office.
The NCPA gives the
award to a non-member who has devoted time and effort
in defense of freedom of the press, the promotion of
open government and the public’s right to know.
Swanger was nominated by Becky Johnson of the Smoky
Mountain News, who told the convention that
before him, "The public never seemed to know what
the commissioners were up to." Now, she said, Haywood
County has "one of the most open county governments
in the state." It videotapes and broadcasts commission
meetings, puts those tapes in libraries, gives journalists
the same background information commissioners get, at
the same time; makes adherence to FOI laws part of the
county manager's duties; and takes minutes of closed
sessions, and makes them available to the public when
the reason for the closed session no longer exists.
In the FBI, Swanger's focus was public
corruption, and he told the convention that he found
such corruption “could not succeed unless the
press and the people were deceived. This deception can
be overt, or it can be more subtle. The subtle deception
can often be just as dangerous because conducting meetings
in secret, manipulating the media, conducting meaningless
public hearings and meetings after the real decisions
have already been made, can become institutionalized
over time. It can become the norm – just 'business
as usual'.” He said a "culture of secrecy"
is more likely in small jurisdictions, where "people
are afraid to be honest" and more likely to take
cues from lawyers. To read all of the remarks Swanger
prepared for delivery, click
Born poor, live
poor, die poor: West Virginia economy defies welfare
Poverty is lot like a field of thistles
or briars. You can cut it down, but often it stubbornly
persists, springs back and spreads, if it isn't killed
at the roots. "Sophia Diamond was born poor and
does not doubt that she will die the same way,"
writes Evelyn Nieves of The Washington Post,
to introduce a story about the persistence of poverty
in some parts of America, many of them rural, after
Diamond is a 30-year-old, disabled, unemployable
woman who lives in Delbarton, W.Va., on public assistance
with no transportation living 45 minutes by car, behind
coal trucks, over bad roads, from the nearest grocer.
She got welfare until it ran out. She gets Supplemental
Security Income (SSI), $479 a month and $160 in food
stamps, but can barely afford electricity for her trailer
or food for her daughter, the Post reports. Diamond
told Nieves, "I can't work at all, and there ain't
no jobs here no-how, except in the coal mines. Without
my family, I would not survive."
"In the Central Appalachian coal
country, where the land is famously rich and the people
famously not, welfare caseloads are down, but poverty
still flourishes," Nieves writes. Since welfare
reform passed in 1996, West Virginia's caseload has
dropped to fewer than 10,000 from 38,404. The law, which
sets a five-year limit and requires recipients to get
an education, take job training or perform community
service is considered a success, notes Nieves, but West
Virginia University research has found that
many former recipients are worse off than before.
The research, with the state Department
of Health and Human Resources, shows moving
welfare recipients into jobs is easier said than done.
The researchers found a year after welfare stopped,
73.1 percent of former recipients were unemployed, 65.6
percent reported not being able to afford their basic
utilities, and only a few believed their prospects for
the future were good.
"The main problems: Jobs were few
and far between, getting from here to there was a major
ordeal, and added personal burdens -- from health concerns
to child care quandaries -- could derail even the most
determined attempts welfare recipients might make at
self-sufficiency," Nieves writes. The legislature
is considering stricter work requirements and more child
care funding. (Click
here to read the full story.)
Judge to let groups
seek tougher fine if tobacco companies lose landmark
The federal judge in the Justice
Department racketeering case against major
tobacco companies has agreed to let public-interest
groups intervene and argue for tougher punishment if
the government wins. Big penalties for tobacco companies
could mean less business for American tobacco growers.
Coming some six weeks after both sides
rested, "The unusual decision by U.S. District
Judge Gladys Kessler will allow groups such as the American
Cancer Society and the Tobacco-Free
Kids Action Fund to make the case that the
Justice Department did not properly represent the interests
of the public," writes Marc Kaufman of The
Washington Post. (Read
The Justice Department reduced its requested
"remedy" from $130 billion to $10 billion.
Public interest groups strongly opposed the move. The
groups will now be allowed to argue the companies should
be forced to pay more for smoking-cessation programs,
but they won't be able to enter new evidence.
In her order, Kessler concluded that "it
will serve the public interest for major public health
organizations, who have long experience with smoking
and health issues, to contribute their perspectives
on what appropriate and legally permissible remedies
may be imposed should liability be found," Kaufman
The government said an earlier appeals
court ruling had forced it to change its position. But
last week they decided to appeal that decision to the
U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether any smoking-cessation
program ordered by Kessler should be offered to a wide
range of smokers, or just those who will become addicted
to tobacco in the near future, writes Kaufman.
West Virginia residents
protest the protest of 'outsiders' at Massey site
At a school nearly surrounded by a coal
mine and processing plant, targeted by the Mountain
Justice Summer protests of mountaintop-removal
mining, teachers and students' relatives confronted
protesters and disputed their contentions that the Massey
Energy facilities put the students' health
and safety at risk.
"Ninety-five percent of them come
from out of state, and they want to say they're speaking
for the community. They're not," parent Sheila
Gunnoe of Dry Creek told Eric Schelzig of The
Associated Press. The other counter-protester
in Schelzig's story was a woman whose husband is a heavy-equipment
operator for Massey, which is based in Richmond, Va.,
and is the largest producer of coal in Central Appalachia.
The competing protests took place at Marsh
Fork Elementary School, which "has become
a focal point of protests by Coal River Mountain
Watch and Mountain Justice Summer," Schelzig
reports. "They say dust from a coal preparation
plant -- where rock is removed from mined coal -- enters
the school, causing asthma and respiratory problems.
The groups want to shut down the plant, a 1,849-acre
mountaintop removal mine site and a 2.8 billion-gallon
coal sludge dam about 400 yards from the school."
Massey wants to erect another coal silo
at the site, but state officials have questioned whether
it would be on the same property used for processing
before passage of the 1977 federal strip-mine law, which
prohibits new surface-mine operations within 300 feet
of a school.
South Dakota law
requires home sellers to disclose if property had meth
A South Dakota law that took effect this
month requires anyone selling a home in the state to
disclose if the property was ever used to produce methamphetamine,
production of which is prevalent in rural areas.
South Dakota Real Estate Commissioner
Loren Anderson told Nathan Johnson of the Yankton Press
& Dakotan that "Everybody who sells
their home, whether it's through a real estate company
or not, is to fill out one of those disclosure statements."
more) But the law requires only disclosure, and
"any action taken on a site beyond authorities'
initial processing is up to the property owner,"
Rick Lancaster, an environmental project
scientist for the South Dakota Department
of Environmental and Natural Resources
(DENR), told the newspaper a landlord who has rented
property to a manufacturer often must deal with the
cleanup, and suggests buyers or renters should ask what
has been done to the site. "It's buyer beware.
It's whatever you're comfortable with," said Lancaster.
Methamphetamine is a toxic blend of chemicals.
After discovering a lab, hazardous waste professionals
clean up the site, but traces of the toxic substances
are often left behind. Jason Kirwin, of the Minnesota-based
West Central Environmental Consultants,
told Johnson it's hard to say when a site is actually
clean. "No one has told us what the magic number
for meth residue is," Kirwin said. "[The company
gives property owners lab results and] it's up to them
whether they'd want to move back into the house or not."
The newspaper reports the DENR has issued
contamination guidelines, and the agency recommends
no more than .1 micrograms of meth residue per 100 square
centimeters. Michael Moore of The Missoulian
reports an alarming trend for area teens showing an
increase in meth addiction. (Click
Historic Army post
in rural Virginia being enveloped in suburban sprawl
If a Special Forces grunt is training
to survive in the middle of nowhere, can he learn the
necessary skills in close proximity to soccer moms and
strip malls? That appears to be the plight of a sprawling
rural Virginia military installation facing encroachment
from the growing suburbs of Washington, D.C.
"The Washington growth equation abhors
a vacuum, and developers have their eyes on [two military
posts, including] Fort A.P. Hill, a
76,000-acre Army training facility just over the border
in Caroline County. Soldiers, police officers and agents
of various stripes go there to shoot, blow things up
and practice surviving," writes Michelle Boorstein
of The Washington Post. (Read
more) That would include your chief blogger,
Bill Griffin, who trained in 1968 pre-Vietnam tour.
County supervisors scheduled a public
hearing earlier this month on a proposed 1,500-home
development called New Post, less than two miles from
the base, prompting A.P. Hill's commander to write,
"The approval of this [rezoning] request and others
that would increase residential development near the
installation boundary is very likely to have an adverse
effect on future military training and national security."
"As dozens of people waited to testify,
supervisors abruptly canceled the hearing," Boorstein
writes. The hearing is to be rescheduled. Government
officials and experts told Boorstein "encroachment"
is a key concern for the military as communities grow
around bases, most of which date to the World War II
era. "The growth brings concern about endangered
species and putting civilians in the way of harm from
modern weapons that have more range and greater space
requirements," she writes.
boundary line dispute has sides gearing up for fight
Escaping urban sprawl and searching for
quiet nights, clean air and less traffic, many Miami
Beach area residents have moved inland to more peaceful
"As developers increasingly eye untouched
land in western Miami-Dade County, environmentalists
worry that politicians will soon allow the sprawling
housing developments and congestion that has clogged
much of South Florida to invade the Everglades,"
writes Mc Nelly Torres of the Miami bureau of the Fort
Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. (Read
At issue, writes Torres, "is Miami-Dade's
three-decades-old Urban Development Boundary, the county's
buffer between heavily populated areas and the Everglades.
Although county officials are not yet considering a
plan to move the line, developers and their representatives
say that is inevitable because Miami-Dade needs more
land for affordable housing projects to accommodate
its growing population."
Florida City has annexed 1,700 acres beyond
the boundary forcing county officials, already under
pressure, to choose sides, Torres notes. Environmentalists
fear if Miami-Dade permits the kind of growth Broward
County officials have allowed, more homes could endanger
environmental restoration projects, affect flood control
and water supply and that more traffic would hamper
John Adornato, a representative for the
National Parks Conservation Association,
told Torres, "Broward County has developed all
the way up to the Everglades, and until now the boundary
had protected the sensitive wetlands down in South Miami-Dade
as it was supposed to do."
Opponents of development near the Everglades
were discouraged last month when the Miami-Dade County
Commission overrode the Florida City's mayor's veto
of the commission's approval of Florida City's annexation
plan, Torres writes. Blog assistant Chas J. Hartman's
late grandfather, George Fry, served as assistant superintendent
of Everglades National Park from 1954 to 1959.
comes under fire; last accepted sighting occurred 57
An Alabama man who says he discovered
an ivory-billed woodpecker is facing the kind of scrutiny
usually reserved for people who spot UFOs or perhaps
the Loch Ness Monster.
"In the church of birds, where passions
run high and prophets emerge from swamps and thickets
with revelations, nothing can ruin a reputation like
admitting that you have seen an ivory-billed woodpecker,"
writes James Gorman of The New York Times.
more) Photography professor Bobby Harrison is admitting
just that and critics are questioning a videotape and
eyewitness statements. They want a clear picture of
the woodpecker and a bird that can be seen repeatedly.
"It is 17 months since the day --
Feb. 27, 2004 -- when (Harrison) and Tim Gallagher of
the Cornell Lab of Ornithology were
paddling a canoe in the Cache River National
Wildlife Refuge in eastern Arkansas, bumping
into cypress trees and searching tall tupelos for some
hint of an ivory bill," reports Gorman. "They
were following up on the report of Gene Sparlin, a kayaker
who had seen some sort of bird but was not sure what
it was. ‘We knew what we were looking for,’
Mr. Harrison said."
When they saw a bird flying in the distance,
Harrison told Gorman they knew its identity. “When
it flew over land, they tried to chase it through the
swamp, running over the wet ground, carrying binoculars
and notebooks,” writes Gorman. “Finally
they stopped, (Harrison) said, and he wept.”
Harrison wants a picture of the ivory-billed
woodpecker that can stand up under close scrutiny. John
V. Dennis snapped the last accepted photograph of the
bird in 1948 in Cuba. Harrison will return to the Arkansas
swamp in August and then visit other swamps later this
year. "I've waited all my life for this,"
he told Gorman. "Still haven't got that photograph
Illinois requesting aid; some farms teeter on brink,
Beyond the bright lights and big shoulders
of Chicago is largely rural and agricultural, and widely
indicative of farming throughout the Midwest. The drought
picture there is a portrait of farming in trouble.
"Farmer Bob Bleuer stood last week
on dry, cracked ground amid cornstalks never likely
to bear kernels, fingering tassels on plants as high
as his chest," write Hal Dardick and John Biemer
of the Chicago Tribune. (Read
more) Bleuer told them, "It should all be way
over your head this time of year." Bleuer expects
a near-total loss of his 500-acre corn crop.
The continuing drought -- triggered by
above-average temperatures and the fifth-driest growing
season in 110 years -- is afflicting farms and ranches
region-wide. The drought covers the northern three-quarters
of Illinois, write Dardick and Biemer. Statewide, the
latest U. S. Department of Agriculture report
shows 55 percent of the corn crop and 36 percent of
the soybean crop is rated very poor or poor. Of 102
counties, 98 have reported drought-related crop damage.
U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an
Yorkville, Ill., Republican says he plans to meet this
week with Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. Gov. Rod
Blagojevich is expected today to request the federal
government declare a disaster in Illinois, making affected
farmers eligible for a wide array of relief. The National
Weather Service reports, "Extreme drought
extends from Lake Michigan to west central Illinois."
"Extreme" is the second-highest classification,
after "exceptional," Dardick and Biemer write.
A recent opinion piece by Martin Naparsteck
in the The
favorably reviews a book by George Pyle which paints
a dark view of modern agriculture. Pyle, Naparsteck
writes, says "American farms are too big, ... use
too many chemicals, a few big companies pretty much
dictate farm policy ... and, as a result, farmers in
this country and poor people around the world suffer."
(Archive fee required)
merger on legislative fast track for more urban focus
An Alabama effort to comply with a court-order
and merge agriculture extension services is making its
way through the state legislature with the kind of speed
folks at Talladega would envy but with a purpose many
rural racing fans might find puzzling.
Both chambers [have] "passed bills
to … [merge] Auburn University's and Alabama A&M
University's extension operations and give them a more
urban focus," writes Tom Gordon of The
Birmingham News. (Read
more) The House measure could go before the Senate
as early as tomorrow.
The bills would change the Alabama
Cooperative Extension Service, based at Auburn,
to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
The director would be at Auburn but chosen by the presidents
of Auburn and A&M after each school's board of trustees
approval, and each university would pay half the director's
salary. The new extension system would provide "useful
and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture,"
but would include "family and individual well-being,
youth development, community and economic development,
urban affairs and other areas as needed," writes
The merger was ordered in Alabama's long-running
higher education desegregation case focused on historically
black A&M in Huntsville and Alabama
State University in Montgomery. In his 1995
decree, the judge ordered millions of state dollars
to create trust funds and scholarships at both colleges
that would help attract white students, Gordon writes.
Carroll worries about the journalism of publicly traded
John Carroll, who retired last week as
editor of the Los Angeles Times, owned
by Tribune Co., is voicing concern
that publicly traded corporations cannot produce top-notch
journalism. Here's a premise and a question posed to
him by Paul McLeary of Columbia
Journalism Review, and his answer:
McLeary: "It's generally
acknowledged that the New York Times,
the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal
and The Washington Post are
the four premier newspapers in the country in terms
of resources that they throw into reporting and presenting
the news. Three of those four are essentially family-held
enterprises, in that a majority of voting stock remains
in private hands. The fourth -- your employer -- is
a publicly-held company. Is it possible for a great
newspaper to thrive under the umbrella of a publicly
Carroll: "This is one of
the penetrating questions about our business. Can corporations
that are not family-controlled produce excellent newspapers?
The returns aren't in, but it's not looking good. Newspaper-owning
corporations -- and I mean all of them, not just my
own employer -- have an unwritten pact with Wall Street
that requires unsustainably high profit levels. Each
year, newspapers shed reporters, editors, photographers,
designers and newshole. Each year, readers get less.
Each year many of those readers turn elsewhere for their
news. Professor Phil Meyer [of the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill] has plotted
our oblivion, which, as I recall, comes in less than
two generations. As I say, we are on an unsustainable
course. The old family-owned papers had their flaws,
but at least the owners tried to preserve them for their
children and grandchildren. It's important that the
Los Angeles Times remain firmly in the top tier -- important
to the community, important to journalism, important
to the national conversation. There's no other newsgathering
engine this formidable west of Manhattan. The nation's
voice should not be monopolized by New York and Washington."
Bush high court
nominee helped loosen limits on mountaintop removal
John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush’s
nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, helped the coal industry
overturn a 1999 federal court ruling that limited mountaintop-removal
Roberts was among the lawyers who represented
the National Mining Association (NMA)
in the case but was not the primary lawyer and it was
the only case in which he represented the organization,
writes Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette.
Roberts was one of three lawyers at a
firm that filed a "friend of the court" brief
in an appeal before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 4th Circuit overturned the landmark decision setting
limits. In its decision, the appeals court said the
dispute belonged in state court, not in front of a federal
One of the judges who overturned the decision,
J. Michael Luttig, was considered by Bush for the open
Supreme Court seat and, according to national media
reports, is a close friend of Roberts. New York
Times reporter Adam Liptak today writes of
Roberts' decisions, Nominee Favors Judicial Caution.
here) And, the Times has an interactive
display of all of his decisions. Click
hospital comparisons, find wide variations in quality
"U.S. hospitals are improving the
quality of the care they provide, but even the best
fail too often to offer the right treatments, such as
immediately giving aspirin to victims of heart attacks
and properly administering antibiotics to pneumonia
patients, according to the two most comprehensive analyses
of the issue,” reports Rob Stein of The
Washington Post. (Read
Two studies of 3,000-plus hospitals found
that despite overall improvement, hospitals in the North
and Midwest generally outperforming those in the South
and West. For regional differences, click
here. "Wherever you live and whatever you're
being treated for, you really should get the same quality
of care," Ashish K. Jha of the Harvard
School of Public Health, who led one of the
analyses, told Stein. "Our study reinforces that
that's really not happening."
In the first study,
the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare
Organizations compared how 3,087 hospitals
scored between the third quarter of 2002 and the second
quarter of 2004 on 18 measures of care quality for three
conditions: congestive heart failure, heart attacks
and pneumonia. Those conditions are among the most common
reasons people are hospitalized.
The study does not rate differences in
care at rural and urban hospitals, but categorizes hospitals
as acute care and critical access. Up to 12 hospitals
in each category may be viewed at one time, but hospitals
from both groups cannot be viewed simultaneously. Federal
law defines critical access hospitals as small facilities
in rural areas. An acute care hospital provides inpatient
medical care and other related services.
For the second study, Jha and his colleagues
analyzed data from 3,558 hospitals collected by the
Hospital Quality Alliance. While most
hospitals scored highly, in 10 percent to 30 percent
of cases patients failed to receive potentially life-saving
Livestock ID system
brings order to Tennessee cattle call, worries some
An electronic tagging system designed
to track diseased livestock was given a road test recently
in Tennessee. Some farm groups welcome the measure,
but others don't like the added bureaucracy.
The Southeastern Livestock Network
held the demonstration at the East Tennessee
Livestock Center in Sweetwater, tagging a group
of cattle with radio frequency identification tags (RFID)
to track the cows from market to slaughter. "The
demonstration is part of an effort to educate farmers
on the national identification program being rolled
out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,"
writes Larisa Brass of the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
The USDA has indicated RFID will be mandatory
starting in 2008. Some farmers dislike the expected
extra work and government involvement. Others see benefits
for food safety, writes Brass. The Tennessee cattle
sale was used to promote the first step to a national
ID program, "premise registration," which
is to record every farm, auction yard, fairground and
other locations handling livestock.
The system is designed to allow 48-hour
trace-back of livestock's movement throughout their
lives in case of disease outbreak. State veterinarian
Ron Wilson and Charlie Hatcher, recently named to head
the state's animal identification program, told Brass,
"This is a needed component to our agriculture."
Wilson admitted, "Not necessarily a welcome component,
its RFID policy to include U.S. livestock seeking to
Canada has opened her gates to allow U.S.
cows to graze but says the livestock won't be let loose
until they're wearing ear tags embedded with radio-frequency
identification (RFID) chips.
The Canadian Cattlemen's Identification
Association, created by the Canadian government
several years ago to implement its national ID program,
now requires that all U.S. cattle who graze on Canadian
feedlots must have the RFID tags identifying place of
birth, writes Laurie Sullivan of Information
more) The association will oversee tag distribution
and manage a database.
Behind the change is the recently lifted
bilateral ban on cattle importation between Canada and
fear 100 blood donors may have human form of mad cow
United Kingdom government officials have
announced more than 100 blood donors are being told
they may have the human form of mad cow disease, variant
"The donors do not necessarily have
the disease, but [are being] told in letters from health
officials they have a greater chance than the rest of
the population," writes Louise Gray of The
more) Health officials also say those recipients
can no longer donate blood, tissue or organs and must
inform their doctor so extra precautions can be taken.
All those notified are being offered counseling to cope
with the news. Up to 3,000 others who received blood,
but who have no signs of vCJD, could be contacted.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Aileen
Keel told Gray,"... it is sensible that we take
precautionary measures." Keith Thompson, the director
of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service,
urged donors to not be put off by the vCJD scare.
smoke exposure down in U.S., survey finds
Exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke
is down across the nation, according to the latest U.S.
government survey on chemical exposures.
The National Report on Human Exposure
to Environmental Chemicals, released by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, detailed
148 different chemicals found in the blood and urine
of 2,400 volunteers, writes Maggie Fox, Health and Science
Correspondent for Reuters. (Read
report measured exposure to second-hand tobacco
smoke, focusing on a chemical called cotinine, a breakdown
product of nicotine. It found cotinine levels in blood
have fallen 68 percent in children aged 4 to 11 from
a previous 1988-to-1991 test period, by 69 percent in
12- to 19-year-olds and by 75 percent in adults aged
20 to 74. But blacks and children still have higher
levels than white adults, the survey found.
CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding commented
the study says virtually nothing about whether the chemicals
pose any danger to people. Noting the discrepancy, Gerberding
asked, "What are the human health consequences
of those exposures?" This is where research is
needed, and finding those answers will take years as
scientists look at disease in the population and correlate
it with the findings of the regular CDC surveys started
in 1999, notes Fox. The study also looked at lead and
Dentists on wheels
help brighten smiles in dental-challenged Appalachia
If the patient can't come to the dentist,
because of bad roads, poverty, or no understanding of
oral hygiene, then the dentist is going to meet the
"With a silvery Airstream trailer
as a dental office, Dr. Jeff Bailey goes about his work
brightening the often gapped smiles of people in a part
of the country with the highest rate of toothlessness
in America," writes Roger Alford of The
Associated Press. (Read
Alford calls Bailey "one of many
volunteers ... bringing free mobile dental care to poor
people in ... Appalachia, [who] sees case after case
of severe tooth decay and gum disease -- the consequences
of sugary foods, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, a lack
of fluoridated water, and simple neglect."
Bailey told Alford, "People have
a mind-set that if your grandfather and father were
in dentures, then you're going to be in dentures, too.
We need to break that attitude." Bailey and the
other volunteers are trying to reach people who cannot
afford dental care but make too much money to qualify
The central Appalachian states lead the
nation in toothlessness, notes Alford. The Centers
for Disease Control reports more
than 32 percent of Tennessee residents surveyed last
year, 38 percent in Kentucky and 43 percent in West
Virginia, had lost six or more teeth because of decay
or gum disease.
examining ways for development without sprawl
Groups of landowners and farming interests
in Boyle County, Kentucky, agree development is inevitable,
but aren't certain exactly how it should be done.
"One [group] believes the agriculture
economy is slowing and farmers should be able to sell
their land for development. The other believes the county
should preserve its rural character by looking at ways
to develop without creating urban sprawl," writes
Liz Maples of The Advocate-Messenger.
more) Gary Chidester of the Danville-Boyle
County Planning and Zoning Commission told
the newspaper the two sides are more alike than they
Planning and zoning staff will write two
versions of a zoning plan, one incorporating the idea
that agriculture is declining in Boyle County and the
other including alternatives to development. The group
of 24-plus landowners suggested changes about preservation
of some landscapes to give farmers different development
options. Group spokesman Ron Scott said, "We are
going to grow. The question is how?"
That group also suggested "developing
in village environments or clusters. Maples writes,
"Instead of dividing 100 acres into 20 lots that
are each 5 acres and harder to sell, the landowner would
be able to cluster 20 houses close together and the
land around the houses could still be farmed or maintained
as green space." P&Z attorney Bruce Smith said
a neighboring county is doing that to fight urban sprawl.
Rural West Virginia
areas to get math, science and language boost via grants
Verizon West Virginia, Marshall
University and the state have given
$250,000 a piece to launch a
technology-based effort to help rural areas narrow the
learning gap in science, math and languages.
June Harless Center for Rural
Educational Research and Development Director
Stan Maynard, said, "The idea behind the continuing
partnership ... is that no child or teacher should be
left behind because of his or her address, " writes
Lori Wolfe of The Herald-Dispatch.
more) The effort also includes assistance from the
Regional Educational Service Agency.
George Beck, manager of strategic initiatives
at Verizon West Virginia, told the newspaper "The
objective ... is to utilize the best technology [to]
increase access for students in rural areas." The
money will fund technology that allows learning to go
on between teachers and students miles apart.
Stan Cavendish, president of Verizon West
Virginia, said the combination of technology and the
expertise of those at the Marshall center will mean
"more effective instruction in [the] math, sciences
and languages fields." Cavendish added, "I
think it has the chance to have a revolutionary impact
on the quality of learning. The world is changing and
students need to be equipped."
Virginia Farm Bureau
Federation says ag's future hangs on education resources
The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
(VFBF) says if state agriculture is to thrive, it needs
governments to provide the financial resources to land
grant universities needed in that effort.
VFBF Senior Assistant Governmental Relations
Director Andrew Smith said in an agency news release,
"Virginia needs our land-grant universities, Virginia
Tech and Virginia State, to
be in a position to provide fundamental and innovative
research, aggressive new market opportunities and dynamic
instructional programs." (Read
The bureau says "improving Virginia’s
education and research support for agriculture is a
key element of the 2006 Virginia Agriculture and Forestry
Initiative, a political platform recently presented
to all seven candidates running for statewide office
this fall." The bureau also notes Virginia’s
agriculture education system "faces challenges
in this time of tight state and federal budgets,"
and ask members to lobby candidates for continued support
for the programs.
"A recent Virginia Tech study found
that every dollar spent on agriculture research results
in increased farm production of $9.10, and that each
dollar spent on Virginia Cooperative Extension
programs results in $3.87 in increased production,"
the bureau writes.
announces 30-year veteran is new Illinois bureau chief
William R. Handy, a publishing executive
and former reporter and editor at newspapers in Florida
and Kansas, has been named Illinois chief of bureau
for The Associated Press, based in
Tom Brettingen, senior vice president
for Newspaper and New Media Markets, announced the appointment
yesterday. Handy, 55, succeeded Jim Reindl, who earlier
was named the AP's director of major accounts development.
Handy worked in Florida for The
Ledger of Lakeland and The Haines City
Herald before joining The Tampa Tribune
in 1976. He was state editor at Tampa for three
years before moving to The Wichita
(Kan.) Eagle, where he became managing
editor in 1985. He held that position six years before
becoming the Eagle's director of development for creating
new publishing businesses, they write.
Mad-cow fears prompt
USDA to speed plan for national animal ID system
The recent confirmation of a second case
of mad cow disease in the United States has prodded
the U.S. Department of Agriculture
to accelerate implementation of a national animal identification
Because the cow in question found in Texas
"was unable to walk, a downer cow, it never entered
the general food supply [according to the USDA],"
writes Paul Hollis of the Southeast Farm Press.
more) Now "beef leaders in at least one Southeast
state are endorsing the USDA' s plan to implement a
National Animal Identification System (NAIS),"
The Alabama Farmers Federation
State Beef Committee supports the plan, which
Hollis writes, would allow "animal health officials
to better manage disease surveillance and control programs."
When fully operational the system would use electronic
identification to track all animals and locations that
have had contact with an diseased animal within 48 hours
"Federation Beef Director Perry Mobley
says the plan will protect consumers and producers because
it will allow USDA to quickly track exposed animals
in the event of an agri-terrorism attack or disease
outbreak," writes Hollis. To find out how to participate
in the identification program in your state, contact
your state veterinarian or click
here for more information.
to help new cigarette maker; critics say it's a contradiction
Kentucky plans to use tax dollars to help
two of its local entrepreneurs get into the cigarette-making
business, even as it spends more than $1.2 billion a
year treating sick smokers.
"Cantus Tobacco has received preliminary
approval from the Kentucky Economic Development
Finance Authority for $750,000 in tax credits,"
writes Janet Patton of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
more) This comes as the state recently raised the
tax on cigarettes, and earlier this month Gov. Ernie
Fletcher announced a federally-funded hotline to help
callers quit smoking
Ellen Hahn, University of Kentucky
professor and tobacco control policy researcher, told
Patton, sarcastically, "We'd much rather subsidize
an industry that promotes death than subsidize prevention
programs that can reduce economic burden and costs to
quality of life. It's really a sad day, I think."
The money the state dedicates to smoking-cessation
programs has been cut in half since 2000. Peter Fisher,
director of state issues for the Campaign for
Tobacco-Free Kids, called the Cantus incentives
"the height of irresponsibility." J. R. Wilhite,
commissioner of existing business development, said
cigarette-making is a worthwhile investment because
of the good jobs Cantus will create in a poor county.
"If there's any issues of product safety or liability,
that's just a part of their business environment,"
Wilhite told the newspaper the Cabinet
for Economic Development recognizes this program
"certainly does not improve the health situation,"
but the jobs outweigh that consideration.
wants lawmakers to fund youth anti-tobacco programs
A coalition of anti-smoking and health
groups plans to back a petition drive to amend the Florida
Constitution to force lawmakers to restore youth tobacco
education funding, charging state lawmakers have ''decimated''
the state's tobacco-education program aimed at young
"Heart, lung and cancer associations,
working with the nationwide advocacy group Campaign
for Tobacco-Free Kids, said they were forced
to resort to using the constitutional amendment process
after the Legislature repeatedly ignored their calls
to restore the money the state once spent on tobacco
education," writes Mary Ellen Klas of The
Miami Herald. (Read
Florida receives about $360 million a
year from the tobacco settlement, which requires the
state spend part of the proceeds on youth tobacco education,
writes Klas, but "lawmakers have whittled the amount
down from a high of $70 million in 1998 to $1 million
in the last three years." Michael Kasper, a Boca
Raton oncologist and member of the Floridians
for Youth Tobacco Education, the group that
will conduct the petition drive, told Klas, ''The only
message that is getting out is the tobacco industry's.''
Kasper said as a result the impact of tobacco education
in Florida has declined.
Kasper says teen smoking has stopped declining
and has leveled off, and he says tobacco industry reports
more money is being spent to target Florida youth than
in any other state -- $772 million in 2002.
Idaho Power wants
wind-farm moratorium; farmers fear investor exodus
Idaho Power is asking
the state for a moratorium on any new wind farm projects.
"Because of rising power costs many
Idaho farmers have given up traditional farming for
something a little less 'down to earth' -- wind farming,"
reports David Gale of KTVB (NewsChannel 7)
in Boise. Idaho Power spokesman Dennis
Lopez told the station, "We’re not opposed
to it. We're simply saying that right now we're seeing
this incredible growth and it doesn't seem to be slowing
Idaho Power is required under a 1978 federal
law to purchase electricity from small-scale energy
suppliers to help development of renewable sources like
wind farms. Lopez told Gale, "The thought was if
you could build enough small qualifying facilities that
were renewables, that you would reduce the total number
of thermal plants, of coal- and natural-gas-fired plants."
Idaho Power wants the moratorium to reevaluate
the rates and reliability of wind projects. But wind
farmers fear the moratorium would basically kill many
projects. Wind farmer Leroy Jarolimek told Gale, "This
moratorium it's going to slam the door on possibility,
because a lot of these farmers are struggling, just
like I am." Idaho Power says wind power is not
always reliable. Advocates point to natural gas and
other sources which they say are also unpredictable.
Peter Richardson of Exergy Development
Group told the station, "There
is no fuel risk, and there is no risk that some Arab
country is going to take away the motive for us [to
generate wind power]." If not resolved quickly,
wind farmers fear investors will leave for states where
interest is higher, Gale notes.
in Nebraska is rising, but health care costs hinder
More Nebraskans are owning their own businesses,
but a recent study also notes that the high cost of
health insurance may be a major hindrance to continued
"Entrepreneurs are cropping up ...
faster than most people think, says a Center
for Applied Rural Innovation (CARI) study at
the University of Nebraska," writes
Mina Azodi of Inc.com. (Read
The survey of nearly 3,000 rural Nebraska
residents ... focused on changes in residents' lives
over the past decade. CARI Professor Randy Cantrell
told Azodi, "One of the most important changes
is the large number of rural Nebraskans who started
their own businesses in the past 10 years."
The survey indicates 20 percent of rural
residents now own companies and rural business owners
turn to entrepreneurship as the only opportunity in
a small town. Cantrell explained, “You either
have to leave an area you love ... or you have to engage
in an entrepreneurial activity.” Many survey respondents
had moved to rural communities from larger cities over
the past decade.
"Rural towns are attracting a younger,
more educated population than ever, and the increased
mobility fosters entrepreneurship," Cantrell noted.
He also told Inc.com. legislators could do more to nurture
small business growth in rural communities. Nearly 70
percent of those surveyed said health insurance costs
makes self-employment unappealing. Cantrell emphasized,
"If legislators want to continue to bring young
entrepreneurs to rural areas, they must see health insurance
from an economic perspective."
Loudoun Part 1:
Fast-growing Virginia county enacts new curbs on growth
Suburban Loudoun County, Va., supervisors have voted
for stronger growth controls that could limit growth
in one of the last remaining open spaces in the Washington,
"The ... vote ran counter to the
expectations of some landowners and developers who ...
helped elect a Republican majority on the county's Board
of Supervisors with the hope of avoiding such controls,"
writes Michael Laris of The Washington Post.
more) The decision also responded to a recent ruling
by Virginia's Supreme Court, throwing out a set of tighter
building limits on a technicality.
The restrictions backed by two Republicans, two independents
and the lone Democrat on the Board of Supervisors, would
"prevent construction of [many] houses worth billions
of dollars in a scenic expanse that constitutes the
western two-thirds of the county," notes Laris.
A final vote is still required.
The plan would replace the three-acre-per-house
zoning requirement with an average of 20 acres per house
in northwestern Loudoun and 40 acres in southwestern
Loudoun. They could build twice as many if they follow
guidelines for maintaining open space. The plan's most
unusual feature is the introduction of an option to
rezone property in exchange for contributions for roads,
schools and other costly public projects. The plan allows
landowners to sell individual parcels more easily and
gives families rights to subdivide.
U.S. Census Bureau figures released today
show between April 2000 and July 2004, 24,755 homes
were built in Loudoun, the third-fastest construction
boom in the nation. Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg),
who helped craft the plan endorsed told the newspaper,
"Growth is inevitable. [But] we have an opportunity
here to manage it, and you have to look at all the issues
affected by it."
Loudoun Part 2:
Farms evolve to pay property taxes, avoid development
Farms in Loudoun County have evolved to
keep going. Some changed from dairy to beef when milk
prices fell off, others from tobacco to a diverse array
of alternative possibilities. And now, farmers are looking
at a complete makeover to survive rising property taxes
driven upward by nearby development.
"Dave Messenheimer stood in front
of an old barn at the Hatch family farm south of Leesburg
last week and imagined something different," writes
Michael Alison Chandler of The Washington Post.
He told Chandler he envisioned "a little tasting
room where people can come for wine and cheese and meats.
It's a great space with exposed oak planks." (Read
Messenheimer "was speaking the language
of the future of farming," Chandler writes. "With
three-acre home sites selling for more than $200,000
in western Loudoun County, earnings from the beef cattle
farm can barely keep up with property taxes. Farmers
in the area must figure out how to adopt newfangled
ideas or risk being forced to make tougher decisions."
Warren Howell, the county's agricultural marketing manager,
told Chandler, "It's getting harder ... to justify
farms [with] so much land [that] produce relatively
little." Howell said many older farmers have been
struggling or selling out.
But new or adapting farmers have had some
success, Chandler notes. USDA figures show farm sales
in Loudoun County rose 39 percent to nearly $39 million
in 2002, up from $28 million in 1997. At the same time,
the average farm size decreased 25 percent from 146
acres to 109 acres. Chris Hatch hopes to learn from
new farmers, not only to make his farm more profitable
but to inspire his two daughters to stick with farming,
get religion with ‘A Word to the Faithful’
on a Web page
"Senate Democrats are getting religion,"
write Alan Cooperman and Brian Faler of The
Washington Post, reporting on Minority Leader
Harry Reid's posting of a Web page aimed at religious
voters and plans to hold a conference on faith-based
social services in his home state of Nevada on Aug.
The Post notes, "During the 2004
presidential campaign, Democrats accused the White
House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
of holding similar conferences -- paid for
with taxpayer dollars -- to build support for the Republican
ticket in swing states," with rural votes critical
for both sides. A Reid spokeswoman said the Federal
Home Loan Bank Board will sponsor his conference
in Las Vegas.
page, which Reid titled "A Word to the Faithful,"
says it is "dedicated to illustrating how people
of faith and Senate Democrats can work together to lift
our neighbors up and achieve our common goals."
It includes a photo of Reid praying with a group in
"Evangelicals were not impressed,"
the Post reports. "Basically, it looks like he's
created a Web site that will appeal to liberal Protestants
and some Catholics. Those are people who have largely
been inside the Democratic camp already," Michael
P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal
Defense Association, told the newspaper. "I
hope they spend a lot of time and money on it, because
it will be a waste of money." (Read
provides incentives toward education for protecting
Many African children living on the edges
[of life and] the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve
and National Park on Kenya’s coast are
forced by poverty to plunder the timber and wildlife
of the nearby forest to live. Now a new project is providing
them with incentives to preserve rather than destroy
it, and it offers an example for rural people all over
the world, writes Thomas D. Rowley in his latest Rural
Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) column. (Click
here to read the full column and more from RUPRI)
Almost all of the 25,000 children in
the region qualified to attend secondary school in 2000
did not because they could not afford it, Rowley reports.
"A small nature conservation organization called
A Rocha Kenya has developed the Arabuko-Sokoke
Schools and Eco-tourism Scheme. ASSETS for short. The
concept is elegant in its simplicity," he says.
"ASSETS replaces the incentive for local people
to exploit the forest with incentives for them to protect
it by collecting guide fees, park entrance fees, donations,
etc. from eco-tourists who come to marvel at the forest’s
incredible and endangered wildlife and uses that money
to fund school scholarships for local kids," he
Rowley concludes, "Among environmentalists,
recognition is growing that the future of the natural
world depends on the well being of the people—many
of them rural--who interact with it. Regulations by
themselves are not enough. If habitats and species are
to survive, local people must value them. For people
to value habitats and species, they must benefit from
them—in economic and other ways. ASSETS captures
that recognition and puts it into action."
John Carroll, Pulitzer
producer from Ky. to Calif., retiring from L.A. Times
Los Angeles Times editor
John S. Carroll is retiring, to be succeeded by Dean
Baquet, the newspaper's Pulitzer Prize-winning managing
editor, the newspaper reported yesterday.
Carroll has been an editor at several
papers, and "In each of his incarcerations, the
name John S. Carroll has been synonymous with quality
journalism.," writes Rem Reider, editor of American
Journalism Review. "The newspaper business
today lost one of its best editors." To read the
rest of Reider's column,
click here) For AJR Online's story,
Carroll, 63, was editor of the Lexington
Herald from 1979 to 1983 when the it
was merged with The Lexington Leader and for the combined
Lexington Herald-Leader until 1991,
when he was named editor of The Sun
and The Evening Sun newspapers in Baltimore.
For Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post's
perceptive and colorful accounting of Carroll's career
and retirement -- which may have been occasioned by
budget pressures from Tribune Co.,
the Times' owner -- click
"In Kentucky, John saw the intimate
connection between rural counties and urban centers.
He understood one depended on the other and he ran the
Herald-Leader that way by pushing people and resources
out of Lexington and into the rest of the state,"
said Bill Bishop, reporter for the Austin American-Statesman
and former Herald-Leader writer. Under Carroll,
the Herald-Leader won its first Pulitzer Prize in 1986,
for investigative reporting and was a Pulitzer finalist
Carroll was named editor of the the Los
Angeles Times in April 2000. During his tenure, the
paper won 13 Pulitzers, and weathered circulation and
advertising declines. Carroll started his career in
journalism in 1963 as a reporter for the Providence
(R.I.) Journal-Bulletin. He later served
as a correspondent in Vietnam, the Middle East and at
the White House for The Sun.
Blogger's Note: While working as a
Navy journalist in Vietnam, our unit coordinated a trip
for Carroll out to the USS New Jersey in 1968 for a
'gunfire mission' onto the DMZ. He was impressed at
what "The Old Gray Lady" could do with her
16 inch guns some 23 years after she was commissioned.
We were impressed with his affable and easygoing
nature not long after the Tet offensive, when some parts
of Saigon were still "hostile." --Bill Griffin
Democrat hauls in journalism awards
The Lebanon Democrat won
big in Tennessee's two most prestigious journalism contests
recently, bringing in a host of first-place awards.
"Wilson County's 118-year-old daily
newspaper brought in first place awards for investigative
reporting and business writing as well as feature and
sports photography in the Tennessee Associated
Press Managing Editors contest (TAPME),"
the newspaper reports. (Read
The Democrat also won first place awards
in Public Service and Personal Humor Column
writing in the Tennessee Press Association annual
journalism contest. The awards were announced at banquets
in Nashville, they write. Blogger's Note: Hats off
to the long-standing tradition of excellence on the
part of the Democrat, extended and corroborated in these
The Rural War:
Iraq War deaths disproportionate among rural, poor counties
Kipling wrote in his famous tribute to
British soldiers, Tommy - "For it's Tommy
this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Chuck him out,' the brute!
But it's 'Saviour of 'is country' when the guns begin
to shoot.'" Now, a study published in today's New
York Times further indicates America's Tommies
fighting and dying in Iraq are disproportionately from
rural, poor counties, where patriotism is abundant and
opportunities are scarce.
"A look at the demographics of soldiers killed
reveals that Iraq is not the war of any one race or
region. Rather, it is rural America's war," write
Robert Cushing and Bill Bishop in an Op-Ed piece for
the Times. (Read
more) For details on their data, click here.
Cushing and Bishop found that, "a
nearly equal percentage of [those] aged 18 to 54 live
in counties with a million or more inhabitants as live
in counties of 100,000 or fewer. And yet, of [those]
who have died in Iraq, 342 came from densely populated
counties while 536 came from smaller ones."
Their column displays a hot-link that
clicks to a chart with figures derived from Pentagon
and U.S. Census data, which shows the Iraqi war death
rates for every 100,000 people ages 18 to 54 by the
size of their county's population. The difference, they
write is visible "in the size of a soldier's county
of origin, but also in its location. Small rural counties
have a death rate nearly twice that of counties that
have the same population but happen to be part of metropolitan
areas," note Cushing and Bishop.
Cushing and Bishop say this is happening
because, "The armed forces ... must be disproportionately
drawn from rural communities." And, they add, "Military
studies consistently find that a poor economy is a boon
to recruiting. The higher rate of deaths from rural
counties likely reflects sparse opportunities for young
people in those places. When ... Iraq war memorials
go up ... monuments to heroism and sacrifice ... [fewer
will be found] in thriving urban centers than in lagging
Military base closure
panel adds facilities to list; eight states affected
From California to Maine military facilities
that dodged a bullet in the Pentagon's spring reorganization
recommendations are learning they could still be targeted.
The base-closing commission charged with
reviewing the proposals yesterday voted "to add
a handful of military facilities in eight states and
the nation's capital to the list of bases [being considered
for] shut down or [reduction]," writes Liz Sidoti
of The Associated Press. (Read
more) This will likely ignite a new round of lobbying
by communities whose military facilities are now being
To soothe anxieties, Commission Chairman
Anthony Principi said adding a base to the list "does
not necessarily mean the base will be realigned or closed
but will allow the panel to further analyze those bases,"
Sidoti writes. The spring list included 62 major bases
and hundreds of smaller installations.
Bases added: Naval Air Station, Brunswick,
Maine, Naval Master Jet Base, Naval Air Station Oceana,
Va., Navy Broadway Complex, San Diego, Calif., Pope
Air Force Base, N.C., Galena Airport Forward Operating
Location, Alaska. The commission also included several
small installations in Colorado, Ohio, Indiana, California,
Virginia and Washington, D.C., for consideration. The
commission is to make final decisions next month, with
President Bush and Congress making the final decisions
in the fall, AP reports.
Justice Dept. opposes
shield law for reporters, says bill on sources bad policy
A bipartisan effort to protect journalists from being
forced to reveal confidential sources, is being opposed
by the Justice Department, calling the legislation "bad
public policy" which is says would impair their
ability "to effectively enforce the law and fight
Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey
Jr. told a Senate Judiciary Committee, "imposing
inflexible, mandatory standards" would hurt prosecutions
involving public health, safety and national security,
writes Howard Kurtz for the Washington Post.
more) The position disappointed lawmakers and news
media advocates working with Justice officials on a
bill to meet administration objections.
Senate sponsors Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.)
and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) offered changes that
would allow prosecutors to force journalists to testify
where it would prevent "imminent and actual harm
to national security" and the harm outweighs public
interest in "unfettered reporting," writes
Dodd said Justice officials "are
making a judgment that this is good politics for them
to be opposed," and added, "There are numerous
instances since the founding of the republic when we
have relied on aggressive investigative reporting to
get to the bottom of things. You now have a chilling
Time magazine reporter
Matthew Cooper, who narrowly avoided jail by testifying
last week in the Valerie Plame leak investigation, and
Time Inc. Editor in Chief Norman Pearlstine, who surrendered
Cooper's notes, are scheduled to testify before the
committee today. While 31 states and the District of
Columbia have "shield laws" protecting journalists,
the recent jailing of New York Times
reporter Judith Miller for refusing to testify in the
outing of a CIA operative has fueled the debate.
wants bill - he signed - shielding public officials
Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has called on
government officials to ignore a new law he signed July
13 that would keep the addresses and telephone numbers
of public officials and law officers from being posted
on the Internet without their consent.
"The new law would impose the ban
beginning August 28. But Blunt said he hoped legislators
would repeal it during a September special session,"
reports The Associated Press. (Read
Blunt suggested officials not implement
the law while waiting for its repeal and he noted the
ban contained no penalty for governments that post the
information. Some county officials say the law could
force them to take some government Web sites off the
The Missouri Press Association
has urged Blunt to veto the bill because of the provision.
Blunt explained "he signed the bill because it
also contained some good provisions, including one expanding
the circumstances that would prohibit a child taken
into the foster care system from being returned to the
home of a convicted sex offender," AP reports.
depot may separate toxic warheads, rockets; concerns
The Army is considering separating potentially
unstable rockets from chemical warheads at the Blue
Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Ky., inspiring new safety
concerns from local residents.
"The Defense Department wants to
make sure that aging rocket propellant is safe, following
recent fires during the disposal of chemical weapons
at the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility in
Oregon and the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility
in Arkansas," reports James R. Carroll of The
more) For the Lexington Herald-Leader
version by Peter Matthews, click
here, and for a related story by Matthews, click
Jim Fritche, site project manager at the
depot for the assembled chemical weapons alternatives
program, said the rockets have not caused any fires
or explosions. But Fritche added officials want to know
more about the state of the decades-old rocket fuel,
reports Carroll for the Louisville newspaper. "If
it is deteriorating, we want to know that sooner than
later," Fritche said. "If we don't have an
emergency, we're not going to go forward on this."
Fritche told Carroll the Army may know
as soon as Thursday "whether propellant samples
from other stockpiles show the fuel has so degraded
that it could ignite under certain conditions."
rallied at Capitol for federal regulation of tobacco
Activists pushing for federal regulation of tobacco
used 1,200 empty pairs of shoes to illustrate the dangers
of smoking at a rally yesterday in front of the U.S.
Kassie Hobbs, the Campaign for
Tobacco-Free Kids' National Youth Advocate
of the Year, explained the display saying, "Twelve-hundred
people die a day from tobacco - but it didn't mean anything
until now. Everyone wears shoes. But 1,200 people can't
wear them because they died from tobacco use."
The rally was to promote House and Senate bills that
would allow the Food and Drug Administration
to restrict tobacco advertising, ban candy-flavored
cigarettes and require ingredients to be listed on cigarette
packages, writes Emma Burgin for the Knight
Ridder/Tribune News Service. (Read
Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.) told the gathering,
"We must regulate this product. It is long overdue."
The Senate passed similar legislation twice in 2004
that met resistance from the House leadership. Advocates
hope that bipartisan support this year will push through
the measure, currently in committee.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President
Matthew Myers said, "So many people die from tobacco,
the statistics often blend into the woodwork, and yet
Congress acts as if nothing is wrong." Myers also
chastised the tobacco industry for controlling legislators
through campaign contributions. A recent Center
for Public Integrity study found the tobacco
industry spent $250 million in political lobbying and
contributions between 1998 and 2004, writes Burgin.
applaud calls for rural state to boost parliament presence
The immediate past president of the New
South Wales Farmers Federation has gotten behind
calls for a seventh Australian state just for rural
"Mal Peters says the survival of
rural NSW could depend on the idea," writes Tanya
Nolan for ABC On-Line Australia's PM.
more) The seventh-state plan is the brainchild of
farmer Ron Young, based in Coonabarabran, who says rural
residents are under-represented in Parliament. "Rural
New South Wales is basically governed by a city-centric
government ... [that is] really not interested rural
affairs," Young said.
Under the plan, NSW would be split in
two, writes Nolan. Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong
would constitute NSW, while other rural areas would
form a new state with a new government. Young told the
news agency, "I think it will be up to individual
areas to decide whether they want to be with Newcastle,
Sydney, Wollongong, or whether they want to be in the
bigger rural area."
NSW Farmers Federation conference delegates
voted in favor of the idea. Peters told Nolan, "Is
it good for Australia to potentially be able to grow
those other areas by having another government?"
But Federal Minister for Regional Services Warren Truss
does not think a seventh Australian state is a feasible
municipal high-speed networks garners Intel endorsement
Intel Corp. has endorsed
legislation allowing cities to participate in high-speed
Internet networks, which thrusts the high-tech giant
full-force into the vortex of the broadband debate.
Intel Communications Policy Director Peter
Pitsch said the legislation "strikes an appropriate
balance between preempting state prohibitions on the
municipalities that provide broadband service and requiring
municipalities to operate in a competitively neutral
manner under open, transparent processes," writes
Drew Clark of National Journal’s Technology
Clark notes that the legislation "would
bar states from opposing municipal broadband as long
as municipalities do not discriminate against competitors,"
while a competing House bill "would bar states
from permitting municipal broadband when already offered
by the private sector."
Senate Commerce Technology Subcommittee
Chairman John Ensign (R-Nev.) is working on language
that would set limits on municipal broadband. Ensign
told Clark, "As far as the municipalities competing,
you can grandfather some of them in, or if there is
no one willing to bring it in, then you can allow them
to do it. But don't allow them to continue to compete
with the private sector in the future."
cites 'United States of Wal-Mart' book in latest column
Don Quixote McNay has focused
on the lance and pen of another crusader-knight who
has pointed his sharpened wit at the giant windmill
known as Wal-Mart in a journalistic
joust where the nation's number one retailer is likened
to a sovereign nation, and we its serfs.
McNay borrows from John Dicker, author
of "The United States of Wal-Mart," - which
can be found at www.penguin.com
- writing that, "Dicker ... explains the sociological
and business changes that allowed Wal-Mart to become
the 800 pound gorilla of the retail world ... [and he]
points out Wal-Mart’s warts but entwines them
in the history of how Wal-Mart grew from one store to
a company that does $288 billion in sales." (Read
more) from McNay's column.
McNay says Dicker delves into "Wal-Mart’s
alleged exploitation of foreign labor and allegations
of mistreating American employees ... [and] notes the
number of class action lawsuits, like the one filed
in Ashland, [Ky.] based on alleged gender discrimination
and alleged violations of wage and hour laws,"
and also "explains why attempts to unionize the
company have failed and that some of the blame goes
to the inept efforts of union leaders with six- figure
salaries and country-club memberships."
"Protests over labor practices or
its impact on other businesses have had little success,
but zoning battles have kept Wal-Mart out of some cities.
The prospect of driving down property values or traffic
problems will cause a large cross section of a community
to fight Wal-Mart. Nothing else will stop it,"
The book ends with an ominous insight,
writes McNay. "The ugly truth is that we have become
a nation that values little above a bargain. Customer
service, product quality, a connection to people who
make and sell our sacred stuff – it’s all
become secondary to savings," writes Dicker. McNay
calls on his readers to read Dicker's book, writing,
"It is funny, insightful and not on sale in the
Wal-Mart book department."
Desert Morning News reports
Wal-Mart is planning to open a bank in Utah. For details,
$200 million in loan guarantees for renewable energy,
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's
for Rural Development has announced $200
million in guaranteed loan funds are available for agricultural
producers and rural small businesses looking to invest
in renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.
The money is part of a funds announcement
in March of 2005 by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns,
writes Tim McNeilly in the USDA news release.
Johanns indicates money will be made available
in two stages, the release states. In March, the USDA
began receiving grant applications and the deadline
was June 27. For more information, click
here or here.
announces solar water heater installer training workshop
Energy from the sun, it appears, can go a long way toward
helping consumers wanting to save on the costs of laundering
their clothes, or relaxing in a heated pool.
A two-day workshop sponsored by Appalachia-Science
in the Public Interest's Kentucky Solar Partnership
will cover solar water and pool heating system design,
installation and maintenance techniques.
Officials say the seminar is "geared
to plumbing and heating contractors, and reasonably
priced at $115, it is also open to interested homeowners."
Some scholarships are available, they report. For more
information, e-mail a request to
firstname.lastname@example.org or click
Catholics mark century of mission with art exhibit,
Louisville has been chosen as one of three
cities to showcase a Catholic Extension Society
art exhibit. The Mission American Art Exhibit
is a multi-media presentation highlighting a century
of "building the faith in America's [Catholic]
missions," writes Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly in
The Record, the Louisville Diocesan
The exhibit, which began yesterday is
being displayed at the Cathedral Heritage Foundation's
Museum of Faiths in Louisville until August 18. The
society also is conducting a centennial Mass and reception
at the Cathedral this coming Saturday, July 23 beginning
at 5:30 p.m. You can RSVP or get more information at
1-888-47-FAITH, or by contacting Sister Judy Morris,
O.P. at 501-741-0045.
Since 1905, nearly $400 million has been
distributed to needy (many rural) dioceses nationwide
to help them survive. In Kentucky alone, the society
contributed $4.5 million in aid to its mission churches.
Justice dept. asks
high court to allow pursuit of $280 billion tobacco
The Justice Department
has asked the U. S. Supreme Court to
overturn an appeals court ruling which halted an earlier
effort and allow it to force tobacco companies to turn
over $280 billion in profits.
"The government should be allowed
to pursue the money to address 'ongoing concerted unlawful
activity in the tobacco industry spanning decades and
affecting the lives of millions of Americans,' the department
said in asking the high court to take the case,"
writes Mark Sherman of The Associated Press.
The decision by the appeals court was
a major blow to the government's long-running racketeering
lawsuit against the cigarette companies. The request
came at the deadline for the administration to decide
whether to appeal the February ruling by an appellate
court that the government could not use a federal racketeering
law to seek the penalty.
The $280 billion is the most ever sought
in a civil racketeering trial, and has been described
"as an estimate of money the companies earned illegally
through fraudulent activities such as marketing to children
and denying that it did so," writes Sherman. For
The New York Times story by Eric Lichtblau,
Danny McKinney, chief executive officer
of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association
in Lexington, Ky., told Sherman the federal suit and
the appeal aren't good for tobacco farmers. "They
ultimately are our customers, and that can't help us."
Gary Huddleston, spokesman for the Kentucky
Farm Bureau, told AP Kentucky views the Justice
Department suit as "kind of piling on." And,
he added, "It appears that (the government) is
taking a whole new attack or just looking for a way
to go after the same companies for the same alleged
sins, but just using a different part of the law."
to extract tobacco's proteins may be boon for growers
A blue substance on a tobacco leaf used
to send chills throughout the farming community fearing
loss of crops due to "blue mold" fungal infection.
But, in Maryland blue on leaves there could very well
bring gold to the beleaguered tobacco growers.
"The strange crop growing in [a]
University of Maryland field is part
of an initiative that researchers believe will transform
tobacco, which has hastened the deaths of millions,
into a plant with beneficial uses that could enhance
shampoos, treat kidney dialysis patients or even fight
certain types of cancer," writes Amit R. Paley
of the Washington Post. (Read
Project creator Gary V. Hodge told Paley,
"It's the ultimate irony. But it might be just
the thing that ultimately keeps tobacco alive."
Some view the federally funded Alternative Uses
of Tobacco Project as the last chance to revive
an industry that was the economic and cultural basis
of Southern Maryland.
Six years ago, after the Maryland General
Assembly approved a tobacco buyout, about 85 percent
of the state's 1,000 or so tobacco farmers promised
to stop growing tobacco in exchange for cash payouts.
The exception was if they grew tobacco for non-smoking
"alternative" uses. Now scientists are racing
to complete research before farmers die and their land
is sold off.
Hodge told Paley, "All we need is
a way for farmers to reengage in tobacco for a totally
different purpose than its historical purpose of smoking."
U.S. gets first
Canadian cattle shipment since mad-cow ban lifted
A shipment of Canadian cattle crossed
the U.S. border yesterday, four days after a federal
appeals court ended a two-year-old ban originally instituted
because of mad-cow disease.
The 35 black Angus cattle arrived at Lewiston,
N.Y., near Niagara Falls, destined for a Pennsylvania
slaughterhouse. "In Washington state, a common
destination for Canadian cattle, another Canadian shipper
has submitted a request to cross the border," writes
Libby Quaid of The Associated Press.
The owner of the company that shipped
the cattle, Wally Schaus, told Quaid, "We went
from 18 trucks to nine, and it was a struggle to keep
nine trucks busy, but with the border open again, it
won't be hard to get 20 trucks going again."
A federal appeals court last week overturned
a Montana judge's decision upholding the embargo. The
U.S. ban on Canadian cattle began in May 2003 after
Canada's first case of mad cow disease. U.S. meatpackers
laid off an estimated 8,000 workers as a result of the
ban. Canada shipped 1 million head a year into the United
States before the ban, writes Quaid. Stan Eby, president
of the 90,000-member Canadian Cattlemen's Association,
said the closure cost Canadian producers around $5.7
Johanns warns Congress
impatient on Japan beef ban, may retaliate
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns
has warned Japan that Congress may lose its patience
and step up retaliatory pressure if Tokyo fails to lift
its ban on American beef.
"Johanns told reporters he conveyed
the warning to Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Minister Yoshinobu Shimamura during their talks [last
week] ... [at] a World Trade Organization
ministerial meeting in ... China," reports Kyodo
News International. (Read
more) The Japanese ban on imports began 19 months
ago after the United States discovered its first case
of mad-cow disease.
The Japanese news agency reports Johanns
said, "I explained to the Japanese minister ...
there's a point at which Congress does lose patience.
And ... I would be very, very worried that a course
of action would be taken that none of us want."
Neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives
have moved toward voting on a retaliatory resolution
submitted earlier this year. That measure urges economic
sanctions against Japan for failing to implement an
agreement reached last October to resume imports of
U.S. beef from animals aged up to 20 months. Japan was
the U.S.'s largest importer of beef before the ban.
If a famous steak house in Chicago is
a national indicator, Americans continue ordering steaks
at the usual mad pace, despite all the publicity and
scare surrounding mad-cow disease. "The restaurant's
28-ounce rib-eye steaks are running at their customary
40-50 a night," writes Jeremy Grant of the Financial
Times of London. (Read
attractive' for rural states; might stem youth out-migration
Experts have told the nation's governors
that rural states should make a major effort at expanding
or encouraging broadband Internet services to attract
and keep businesses.
A panel at the National Governors'
Association meeting in Iowa looking at expanding
broadband services to new areas and customers determined
"governments should support businesses that provide
the service as a way to compete for industry. The discussion
also focused on showing the governors different models
for doing that," writes Rachel Gallegos of The
Des Moines Register. (Read
Panel member John Rutledge, chairman of
private equity firm Rutledge Capital,
said states have two choices. "We can either learn
to compete for capital . . . or we can learn Chinese."
And, he added, when telecommunication and technology
companies export to other nations, "they take your
children's jobs with them." He called on states
and the nation to support these companies, making them
want to stay.
Brian Mefford, president and chief executive
of ConnectKentucky, an alliance supporting
technology in in Kentucky described how the model created
by Taylor County officials after the manufacturer that
domainated the town closed down has developed rapidly
and is now being used statewide.
Mefford told the panel, "We want
to create a work force that is capable of adjusting
in this new age" , And he said by bringing broadband
to the rural areas, equaling the technology found in
the cities, people "not only can move back to Kentucky
but also stay in the rural areas."
Weapons ban prompts
NRA to move confab; other local laws targeted?
The National Rifle Association
has canceled plans to hold its national 2007 convention
in Columbus, Ohio, an event that was expected to pump
more than $15 million into the local economy.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre
said, "Thanks to the Columbus City Council, 65,000
people will not be coming to your wonderful Greater
Columbus Convention Center in 2007," writes James
Dao of The New York Times. (Read more)
"The only thing the City Council can expect out
of their decision is the gratitude of those businesses
in the city we go to instead," LaPierre continued.
This follows Mayor Michael Coleman signing
a sales ban on certain types of assault weapons. The
ban requires people who buy such weapons before the
law takes effect, Aug. 12, to register with the police.
Columbus officials and gun control groups say the withdrawal
of the convention is an effort to embarrass the council
and a bid to get the state Legislature to pass a bill
that would invalidate the Columbus ban and prohibit
other local governments from enacting such measures.
Coleman told the council yesterday, "What
we saw today was a heavy-handed attempt to dictate policy.
That might work in Washington, but it's not going to
work in Columbus." Dao notes the rifle association's
action has implications in the 2006 race for governor.
Coleman plans to run against Representative Ted Strickland
in the Democratic primary. Strickland voted against
a federal assault weapon ban in 1994 and has been endorsed
by the NRA.
blasts may prompt U.S. bus driver anti-terrorism training
Recent London bombings, terror in Madrid,
and military and civilian deaths at the hands of insurgents
and suicide bombers in Iraq on top of the mind-numbing
devastation of September 11, 2001 may be pushing national
educators to take action to protect America’s
Association for Pupil Transportation wants
to train more than 600,000 school bus drivers across
the country to be prepared for terrorism, ... an attempt
to develop a national anti-terrorism training program,"
writes Al Tompkins of the Poynter
Institute in his Morning Meeting
more) School officials started the training in earnest
in October after terrorists took over a school in Beslan,
Russia, and killed more than 300 people.
Sam Garza, a former school teacher employed
by Highway Watch, a Washington-based
anti-terrorism training program for transportation workers,
speaking of the training program, told the Dallas
Morning News, "It opened up a lot of eyes
to the potential for what terror organizations worldwide
are willing to put on their map as targets." For
several months Garza has been traveling across south
Texas training school bus drivers. "I think that
school was definitely an eye-opener for a lot of people,"
The newspaper also wrote, "[The National
Association for Pupil Transportation] ... commissioned
the school bus curriculum for the American Trucking
Association, which has received $40 million
in federal homeland security money over two years to
train truckers through Highway
Watch," writes Tompkins.
Meth driving rural
mailbox thefts in Georgia, spread of HIV in South Dakota
Federal, state and local law enforcement
agents in north Georgia are hunting down thieves who
have been using identities stolen from mailboxes to
obtain money for methamphetamine.
Some 20 "Mailbox Meth Gang"
members have been arrested in a three-county area in
north Georgia and charged with fraud, identity theft
and meth-related offenses, reports The Associated
Authorities say one part of the gang
altered and forged checks and another focused on credit
card theft. Thieves also steal checks, bank statements
and preapproved credit card applications. Investigators
don't know the network's size. Some 65,000 credit-card
numbers were found in a laptop computer seized in a
raid last month in one county, and the U.S. Secret
Service identitied 14,000 of the cardholders.
Valid card numbers have been traced to Georgia counties
and victims in North Carolina, California and Texas.
Meanwhile, federal officials
say meth use has become an epidemic, estimating 1.5
million regular users exist in the U.S. The National
Survey on Drug Use and Health reports as of 2003 12.3
million Americans had tried methamphetamine at least
once, up nearly 40 percent over 2000 and 156 percent
over 1996, writes Brian Knickerbocker for the Christian
Science Monitor. (Read
The Argus Leader in Sioux
Falls, S.D., reports "Intravenous use of methamphetamine
and people hooking up with anonymous sex partners on
the Internet have doubled the HIV rate in South Dakota,
worrying health officials." (Read
more) Meth can be an aphrodisiac.
State Epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger told
reporter Corrine Olson, "We're on the cusp of a
trend. ... People know the risks, but [but despite this
they] discount the virus." The state reported 26
new cases of HIV ... in the first six months of this
year, compared with 19 in all of 2004 and 25 in 2003,
For a special report, "Covering the
meth epidemic in rural America," click
government's role in development of broadband access
Experts told the National Governors
Association meeting in Des Moines that broadband
capability is driving a new global marketplace, sweeping
aside the old one that was predicated on the infrastructure
mainstays of physical access to roads and waterways.
"Governors debated public ownership
of broadband networks as an economic development tool
during this weekend's NGA meeting," writes The
Associated Press. (Read
more) Former White House financial adviser John
Rutledge told the conference the lack of broadband access
is costing the country precious investment capital,
and he said Americans should learn to compete for capital,
though he says municipal broadband networks would deter
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford told
the gathering the Internet has changed the world forever
and the nation must better compete with developing countries.
Sanford cites Europe, Korea, China and Japan where broadband
is cheaper, faster and more accessible. For additional
coverage of the NGA meeting, click
here for related stories in The Des Moines
fighting illegal immigration gets outposts far from
A volunteer group vowing to guard America
from illegal immigration is spreading its message and
membership from the U.S.-Mexican border to the ridges
and valleys of Appalachia. "At least 40 anti-immigration
groups have popped up nationally, inspired by the Minuteman
Project that rallied hundreds this year to
patrol the Mexican border in Arizona," reports
The Associated Press. (Read
Jim Gilchrist co-founded the Minuteman
Project 10 months ago. He told Duncan Mansfield, who
is based in AP's Knoxville bureau, "I struck the
mother lode of patriotism or nationalism. ... Due to
politically-correct paralysis ... everyone was afraid
to bring up the lack of law enforcement."
Tennessee Volunteer Minutemen is run by
Carl "Two Feathers" Whitaker, an Indian activist
and perennial gubernatorial candidate. He says his group's
aim is "exposing those who employ illegals,"
AP writes. Critics it vigilantism and are comparing
it to hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. A recent report
said some counties in Appalachia would have lost population
in the last census if not for influx of Hispanics.
Minuteman Project chapters are in 18 states,
from California, New Mexico, Utah, to Minnesota and
Maine. They have no direct affiliation, but share a
common goal. The Department of Homeland Security's
Customs and Border Patrol is guarded about
Minuteman-type activism. An agency spokesman told Mansfield,
"Homeland security is a shared responsibility ...
but as far doing an investigation or anything beyond
giving us a heads-up, that should be handled by trained
Young farmers getting
hard to find, especially in California, says the Merc
"Young farmer? Nationwide -- and
statewide -- that's an oxymoron if there ever was one,"
writes Carolyn Jung of the San Jose Mercury
News, citing Census data showing that ",the
number of farmers under 35 fell 44 percent in California
and 18 percent nationwide from 1997 to 2002. As a result,
in 2002, only 5.8 percent of all farmers nationwide"
were under 35.
"The high price of land, the scarcity
of farmland near urban centers, as well as more lucrative
job opportunities in other less physically taxing industries,
have increasingly made farming a hard sell to a new
generation," Jung reports, noting that the average
age of a farm operator has risen steadily since 1978,
to 55.3 in 2002. In California, it was 56.8.
`"Farmers look at all the barriers
-- economic, trade, environment, irrigation, the market,''
Michael Marks of Sacramento, a longtime produce specialist,
told Jung. "When you look at all that, why in the
world would a college-educated son of a third-generation
farmer want to take over the family farm except to take
over the land to sell it to a developer?"
But some get into farming, and they include
"Latino and Southeast Asian immigrant farmworkers
who have risen to new independence in running their
own farms," Jung writes. "And some are U.S.-born
and college-educated, drawn to this graying industry
to rally the causes of organics and sustainability."
group showing muscle in beef over Canadian imports
In the business of beef, and cattle imports,
its not the size of the group in the fight, but the
size of the fight in the group, some might say of a
Billings, Mont.-based cattlemen's organization that
is three-for-three in major court battles over Canadian
imports following a mad-cow scare.
"R-CALF United Stock Growers
of America was a tiny cattlemen's group focused
on what many in the industry considered a non issue;
Canadian beef imports," writes Becky Bohrer of
The Associated Press. (Read
more) "But three cases of mad-cow disease in
Canada have propelled the Ranchers-Cattlemen
Action Legal Fund from bit player to ringleader
in a trade dispute that some see as the biggest and
most divisive issue to confront the cattle industry
in recent memory."
The organization led the legal battle
to keep Canadian beef and cattle out of the United States
to "protect consumer health and cattlemen's herds,"
it said. R-CALF's leaders say the cause struck a nerve
and inspired thousands of new members, adding respect
and credibility. Chief Executive Officer Bill Bullard
told Bohrer, "The influence we are having is reshaping
the direction of the U.S. cattle industry itself."
Some detractors see R-CALF as protectionist
and anti-trade. They say the group is more a disruptive
force than a major player. Meat packers and some cattlemen's
groups say the group's argument and credibility have
been undercut by the more recent discovery of diseased
cow in Texas.
Andy Gottschalk, of the agribusiness research
told AP, "They're kind of in a box with their argument."
But, some packer and industry groups still contend R-CALF
cannot be ignored. Stan Eby, president of the Canadian
Cattlemen's Association, told Rohrer, "We
do not underestimate what the R-CALF people can accomplish."
With tobacco program
over, Kentucky may lose a third of federal farm offices
The federal agency that administers farm
programs is considering closing a third of its offices
in Kentucky, largely because of the demise of the demise
of the federal tobacco program.
"Kentucky Farm Service Agency State
Director Jeff Hall said about 30 of the current 90 offices
might be closed. Hall also said 51 positions, of about
450, might be eliminated as part of a national staff
reduction of more than 600 jobs," writes Janet
Patton of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Hall told Patton, "It affects us
more than it does really any other state." Kentucky
has had more tobacco growers than any other state. Hall
told her employees would be offered buyout incentives
and severance packages, and he cites the loss of the
tobacco program as the impetus for the cuts. Forty-three
of the 51 positions being eliminated are tobacco-related.
The FSA tracked production, quota and
leases of tobacco. The FSA also helps farmers with loan
programs, commodity supports, environmental programs,
business plans, disaster assistance and more.
reporter's jailing on source issue making media firms
Are newspapers becoming more reluctant
to do hard-hitting investigative reporting because a
New York Times reporter is in jail
for not revealing her confidential sources? Two noted
journalists say the answer to that question is a resounding,
Cokie Roberts and her husband, Steve Roberts,
note in a United Feature Syndicate story
that a major Ohio daily is holding back on two stories
for fear the reporters might be subpoenaed. (Read
more) "The Cleveland Plain Dealer
is holding back two stories of 'profound importance'
because executives fear that aggressive prosecutors
would demand to know their sources of information,"
Plain Dealer "Editor Doug Clifton
explained to Editor & Publisher
why his paper is so timid: 'The reporters say, 'Well,
we're willing to go to jail,' and I'm willing to go
to jail if it gets laid on me. But the paper isn't willing
to go to jail. That's what the lawyers have told us.
So this is a Time Inc. sort of situation,'"
write the pair referring to that company's having "caved
in to the pressure by supplying notes and documents,
and its reporter, Matt Cooper, avoided jail by claiming
his source had freed him from promises of confidentiality."
The Times refused to reveal its sources,
and saw its reporter incarcerated rather than break
her promise of confidentiality. The case involves CIA
operative Valerie Plame. Prosecutors are trying to determine
who leaked her name to several journalists, which is
a possible crime. In a recent Times column, "Worse
than Watergate," Frank Rich quotes what journalist
and author David Halberstam asked after Time turned
over Cooper's notes: "Is this a journalistic company
or an entertainment company?"
Cooper appeared yesterday on NBC's
"Meet The Press" to counter claims by White
House adviser Karl Rove that he learned the name from
reporters. Cooper said he learned of Plame's name from
Rove. For the Times story on Cooper's story and interview,
by Lorne Manly and David Johnston, click
Even as Congress
debates its funding, NPR says it's going full steam
"Even as Congress debates funding
for National Public Radio, the network's top officials
said this week they are pressing ahead with plans to
strengthen the franchise's technology and news-gathering
abilities," reports Martin Miller in the Los
Angeles Times. (Read
In a few months, "The network expects
to launch new multi-casts, further enhance its burgeoning
satellite and podcasting capabilities, while also continuing
an ongoing three-year, $15-million expansion of its
news division," Miller writes. "NPR officials
said they are paying special attention to podcasting
and ... its ability to let listeners with portable devices
hear programming on their own schedule." The new
tools "are going to change the way people listen
to radio," Ken Stern, NPR's executive vice president,
said last week in L.A.
"Ideas for future growth were derailed
last month when the House Appropriations Committee voted
to slash funding by some $200 million to the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting," Miller notes.
CPB gives NPR about 2 percent of its $118 million budget
but a much greater share to rural NPR affiliates. However,
public outcry seems to have made big cuts "far
less likely," Miller reports. "This week,
a key Senate subcommittee approved restoring funding
to near its original level."
Miller concludes, "NPR officials
are optimistic they will keep all, or almost all, of
their funding. Their confidence is due in part to an
outpouring of popular support for the network that followed
the proposed cuts." Stern said at the Los
Angeles Press Club, "The speed and power
of the reaction was staggering."
But NPR and the Public Broadcasting
Service remain under fire from conservatives
for what Wall Street Journal Editorial
page Editor Paul Gigot calls a "center-left"
perspective. Paul Farhi of The Washington Post
examines such complaints in a
story today. He begins: "To its conservative
critics, public broadcasting is the little liberal idea
that won't go away."
This Day In
History: "Gonzo journalist" Hunter S.
Thompson born, 1929
The Pioneer of "gonzo" journalism,
Hunter Stockton Thompson, was born on this date in 1929
in Louisville, Ky. "By age 10, Thompson was publishing
his own two-page newspaper, which he sold for four cents.
By his early teens, he had already launched on the life
of drinking, vandalism, and pyromania that would turn
him into a bestselling writer," according to The
U.S. Appeals Court
overturns Canada beef ban prompted by mad-cow scare
A federal appeals court yesterday lifted
an injunction blocking the resumption of cattle imports
from Canada, after agriculture officials said the animals
are no threat to humans from mad cow disease.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture
was unavailable to say when Canadian cattle imports
would resume. "The agency banned the imports in
May 2003 after a cow in Alberta was found to have mad
cow disease," writes David Kravets of The
Associated Press. (For the New York
Times story, click
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimous ruling
overturns a Montana judge who blocked the USDA from
reopening the border in March. That judge said such
imports subject "the entire U.S. beef industry
to potentially catastrophic damages" and "presents
a genuine risk of death for U.S. consumers." The
appellate judges are expecting justices to issue another
ruling soon explaining their rationale.
Wednesday the Justice Department
urged the appeals court in Seattle to reopen the border
to imports. Justice Department attorney Mark Stern said
lifting the ban is based on "good science"
and would not result in the "infestation in American
American Meat Institute
President J. Patrick Boyle told AP the industry will
be able to resume cattle shipments quickly. "A
lot of the preliminary work is already done. I think
you'll see the industry move quickly." Boyle told
reporters the ruling is "a win for American consumers
who were paying $1.85 a pound for ground beef before
the border closed and are paying about $2.55 today."
High tech expert
tells young farmers, 'Get ready for wireless broadband!'
Since ancient times, farmers have depended
on the skies for life giving resources to produce precious
bounty. Now, a high-tech information guru is telling
young farmers a variation of the same, only he says
in the new age of agriculture they need high-speed,
direct wireless information as much as sun and rain.
Todd Peterson, manager of enabling technologies
at Pioneer Hi-Bred International, in
a recent lecture to a group of young future farmers
near Des Moines, Iowa talked about wireless broadband
and how it is going to revolutionize farming, writes
Cheryl Rainford, news editor of Agriculture
Peterson, told about 40 National
FFA Organization New Century Farmers,
"What's going to rock our world is wireless Internet
in rural areas." Rainford notes anyone who has
ever upgraded from a dial-up modem to broadband has
felt the power of the technology. Wireless, or WiFi,
goes one better, she writes. The lecture was centered
on creative uses for yield map data combined with GPS
and other information technologies. Peterson was asked
about the next big technology trend in agriculture.
He said, while today's farmer may carry
around a laptop computer, a cell phone, a camera and
a PDA, next year he predicts that may be a tablet combining
the laptop, PDA, and cell phone with a camera. He called
Bluetooth's wireless technology "sort
of neat," Rainford writes. "Real time broadband
access will dramatically change what we do," Peterson
said, and he predicts wireless will make Web sites for
farmers obsolete. Peterson says information will need
to go direct to growers in the tractor, combine, or
"Every tractor, every combine will
be a node on the Internet," predicts Peterson.
And, he said new technologies will be automatic and
employ voice technology, writes Rainford.
encounter a dreary landscape of high land prices
"The dark prairie soils of central
Illinois grow some of the world's finest corn and soybeans.
They also command steeply rising prices, inflated in
part by investors who snap up farmland across the Midwest.
While rising prices are good for older landowners, whose
land may represent a life's savings, they make breaking
into the farming business tougher than ever and are
the most recent of many developments that are putting
a way of life at risk,” writes Richard Mertens
for The Christian Science Monitor.
Farmland is appreciating throughout the
country, increasing land rental and purchase prices.
“The Federal Reserve Bank of
Chicago reported in May that farmland values in the
region rose an average of 10 percent over the preceding
year and as much as 14 percent in some states, including
Illinois,” reports Mertens. (Read
more) Most young farmers rent land before buying
it. Also, most new farmers are people who benefit from
their parents' land, equipment, and connections.
Other changes are occurring in the rural
Midwest, writes Mertens. Farmers are getting older,
and landowners are increasingly farmers’ children
who have moved to cities and lost interest in their
parents’ trade. Also, costs keep jumping for fertilizers,
fuel, and health insurance. These changes may lead aspiring
farmers to cutback their plans or delay their careers.
State's Beginning Farmer Center Director
John Baker helps new farmers break into the business.
"They don't have the money. They can't buy their
way in very effectively," Baker told Mertens. "What
they do have is education and labor and energy. I think
it's a tremendous problem if we're going to put people
into agriculture in this borrow-and-buy model."
Weekly keeps probing
tobacco-settlement spending; student stories coming
A group of cattle farmers
is managing most of the agricultural-development programs
funded by the national tobacco settlement in Casey County,
Kentucky, and the Casey County News
took a look at the organization's work this week in
the latest installment of a series about the subject.
The newspaper has no Web site, but its stories are being
posted at www.ruraljournalism.org;
for the latest, click
The Casey County Cattlemen's Association
has doled out about $750,000 to 315 farmers in the county,
some of them husbands and wives, and in one case a 15-year-old
boy. The administrator for the group, Jim Young, told
the newspaper that state regulations allow a husband
and wife to apply, but only for separate farms, and
using separate Social Security numbers. The 15-year-old
was qualified to receive money for improving the genetics
of his cattle herd because he possessed his own cattle.
The association said it would have a committee
to approve applications and make sure applicants were
using the money properly, but the responsibility has
devolved solely to Young. He told the paper that the
committee approach didn't work out because the other
members had full-time jobs. Young said he has inspected"about
12 to 15" of the 150 operations that got money
for cattle-handling facilities.
"Young said he mainly takes participants
at their word," Editor Donna Carman wrote, under
a subhead reading "Potential for fraud."
Young acknowledged that the potential exists, but
said it was no more than with any other government subsidy.
"We have fraud in Medicaid, don’t we?"
Through June, the state Agricultural
Development Board had made 2,147 tobacco-settlement
grants totaling more than $179 million. State officials
have acknowledged hat they do not have the staff and
time to make extensive checks on how the money has been
That acknowledgement was made to a student
in the spring-semester Rural Journalism class at the
University of Kentucky, as part of
a reporting on the future of tobacco and tobacco-dependent
communities. His story and others about Kentucky's tobacco-settlement
spending will appear on this site soon, in conjunction
with research by students at the University
of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on settlement
spending in that state. Other stories from the UK project,
about the Casey County Cattlemen's Association and other
grant administrators in the county, are on the Reports
section of our site.
TV station collaborate for a look at Kentucky's health
"If Kentucky were a patient, it'd
be in the ICU -- we live in one of the sickest places
in America. And yes, much of the blame has to do with
our behavior -- what we smoke, eat and drink,"
Jean West of WHAS-TV reported in the
first segment of a report advancing a major project
that will appear Sunday in The Courier-Journal.
The two Louisville media outlets, which the Bingham
family sold to separate owners in 1986, collaborated
on the project, which the paper started about a year
In her second segment, West reported that
much of the state's poor health ranking comes from Eastern
Kentucky. She reported from Owsley County, the state's
poorest: "The death rate here from chronic disease
is twice that of the national average. Wherever you
look, there is smoking, fatty foods, and despair. And
if you need medical care, you'll have to go out of town,
C-J medical reporter Laura Ungar told
WHAS, "A lot of people told us that state government
hasn't done enough over the years to affect smoking
rates, obesity rates.” The station reports, "Adults
in Kentucky smoke at the highest rate than any other
state. Kentucky is second worst in the nation for cancer
deaths, fourth worst for obesity, fifth worse for heart
disease. The underlying cause . . . is poverty."
The newspaper's project, in a special
section coming Sunday, is titled "Kentucky's
Health: Critical Condition." For Part 1 of
the TV report, click
here. For Part 2, click
rising in North Carolina; leads nation in spotted fever
North Carolina has more people ill with the tick-borne
disease Rocky Mountain spotted fever than any other
state, and cases of the potentially fatal, flu-like
illness are rising again this year.
Last year, the Tar Heel State had 535
of the 1,514 cases reported nationally, more than three
times any other state. North Carolina had more cases
than South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and
Tennessee combined, writes Emily Almas of The
Charlotte Observer. (Read
By early July, N.C.'s fever cases had
climbed to 146, about 33 percent higher than the same
period last year. Epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Engel told
Almas the state is a hotbed of spotted fever because
it has large numbers of dog ticks that can carry the
RMSF bacteria. And, he told the newspaper, rapid growth
in suburbs in recent years is "exacerbating the
problem by bringing more humans and ticks closer together."
People usually get potted fever through
bites from ticks infected with the rickettsia bacteria.
Common symptoms are severe head or muscle aches, high
fever, nausea and a rash, which appear within two weeks
of being bitten, writes Almas.
Organic corn and
soybean yields measure up long-term, with extra benefits
Organic and conventional farming yield
the same long-term production of corn and soybeans,
and organic farming uses 30 percent less energy and
less water, as well as the most familiar benefit of
avoiding pesticides, a Cornell University
professor has concluded after reviewing a 22-year study.
"Organic farming offers real advantages
for such crops as corn and soybeans," ecology and
agriculture professor David Pimentel writes in the July
issue of Bioscience,
reviewing the Rodale Institute Farming
Systems Trial, the longest-running comparison of the
two methods. Organic farming also causes less erosion,
maintains soil and groundwater quality, and conserves
more biological resources, he reports.
"The study compared a conventional
farm that used recommended fertilizer and pesticide
applications with an organic animal-based farm (where
manure was applied) and an organic legume-based farm
(that used a three-year rotation of hairy vetch/corn
and rye/soybeans and wheat). The two organic systems
received no chemical fertilizers or pesticides,"
says Newswise, a research-reporting
"First and foremost, we found that
corn and soybean yields were the same across the three
systems," Pimentel said. While organic corn yields
were about one-third lower during the first four years,
the organic systems eventually produced higher yields,
especially during droughts -- because erosion degraded
the soil on the conventionally farmed acreage while
the soil on the organic operation "steadily improved
in organic matter, moisture, microbial activity and
other soil quality indicators," Newswise reports.
"Pimentel noted that although cash
crops cannot be grown as frequently over time on organic
farms because of the dependence on cultural practices
to supply nutrients and control pests and because labor
costs average about 15 percent higher in organic farming
systems, the higher prices that organic foods command
in the marketplace still make the net economic return
per acre either equal to or higher than that of conventionally
produced crops," Newswise reports. He said organic
farming can compete effectively with conventionally
grown corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and other grains,
but it might not be as favorable for crops with greater
pest problems, such as grapes, apples, cherries and
Want to know more
about agri-terrorism? Free online courses are coming
Free, online courses on agri-terrorism
awareness, with information about the potential for
terrorist attacks on crops, livestock and the U.S. food
supply, are scheduled to be available in August.
"Agri-terrorism has already occurred
in the U.S. and, since 9/11, seems more likely to occur
again," said Mark Schneider, director of technology
and terrorism preparedness at the Kentucky Injury
Prevention and Research Center, which prepared
the courses with the Kentucky Department of
Agriculture and the University of Kentucky
colleges of Agriculture and Public Health.
"The new courses follow a series
of online terrorism preparedness courses that Schneider
developed for Kentucky first responders," writes
Aimee Nelson of the agriculture college's news service.
"When those initial courses became available on
the Internet, users from across the United States and
other countries began logging on. Schneider saw the
opportunity to expand the offerings and said it was
collaborate with experts in the Cooperative
The courses are aimed in part at increasing
awareness, and thus the likelihood of reporting suspicious
activity, among Extension personnel and young people
who are in 4-H and FFA. They include videos, animation,
interactive exercises and examinations. Successful completion
will earn a certificate. Both courses are available
on CD-ROM to provide extra bandwidth for interactive
features. For more information, see the the KIPRC Web
leader wants tobacco settlement money for economic boost
The leader of the Michigan Senate is comfortable
with a House plan to sell part of the state's tobacco
settlement but, he says, only if the money is used to
boost and diversify the economy.
"Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema,
R-Wyoming, said selling the settlement for a lump sum
payment of $1 billion to invest in high-tech industries
is a good idea because the state could get the money
right away and avoid a costly statewide election,"
reports The Associated Press. (Read
Others had proposed bonding for the money,
but that would require voter approved in November, writes
AP. Sikkema said borrowing against future tobacco settlement
payments should be done only for one-time needs, such
as diversifying the state's lagging economy. His comments
to reporters make it more likely some of Michigan's
future tobacco settlement payments will be sold for
economic investment. That plan would replace proposals
to get voters' approval to sell bonds for such an investment.
Under the "tobacco "securitization plan,"
an election would be avoided, saving the between $7
and $9 million, writes AP.
Information on the tobacco settlement
bill (HB 5048) is available on the Michigan
Legislature Web site.
farmers finding future in fish; some turning Koi into
A former tobacco farmer in North Carolina,
is doing swimmingly in the state's growing aquaculture
industry finding specialty fish farming can be a lucrative
replacement for leaf.
"Ornamental-fish farming is a small
segment of North Carolina's aquaculture, but the profit
margin can be high, possibly high enough that state
officials hope that other former tobacco producers might
consider commercial fish production as a viable option
to replace the golden leaf," writes Sherry Youngquist
of the Winston-Salem Journal. (Read
Koi are colorful carp. They can grow to
be about 3 feet and fetch thousands of dollars. Ron
Stroud also sells some goldfish — comets and fan-tails
— but the demand is highest for koi, he told Youngquist.
Stroud, the owner of Tar Heel Fish Farm near Walnut
Cove, N.C. told her, "You go out to Japan, and
they're everywhere. They'll come out of the water and
into your hands." The most Stroud has paid for
a fish is $800, which he said, "was about six to
eight inches about four years ago. Now, it's in excess
of 25 inches and valued at $4,000 to $5,000." Blog
Note: Talk about goldfish!
Like Stroud, more than 250 people in North
Carolina have been issued licenses for pond and tank
aquaculture, notes Youngquist. The majority of aquaculture
in the state is in fish raised to be eaten, such as
catfish, trout and hybrid striped bass. The majority
of aquculture in the state is in fish raised to be eaten,
such as catfish, trout and hybrid striped bass, she
Survey shows Public
support for reporters keeping news sources confidential
A new survey brings encouraging news for
journalists in the midst of a seemingly endless string
of stinging criticism, and debate over confidential
sources following the jailing of a New York
"In the latest State of the First
Amendment survey's findings about unnamed sources,
the 2005 edition of the poll found 69 percent of Americans
agree that "Journalists should be allowed to keep
a news source confidential." The survey was commissioned
by the First Amendment Center in collaboration
with American Journalism Review (AJR).
"This broad support for a reporter's
right to shield sources comes as protection of anonymous
sources is under assault in the federal courts and as
abuse of unnamed sources has fomented myriad news scandals,"
notes Rachel Smolkin, an AJR senior writer.
Entrepreneur conference set for July 17-19, Charleston,
As rural America endures economic restructuring
and transitions from traditional to knowledge-based
economies, innovation is key. The Incubating Innovation
and Entrepreneurship conference will examine business
incubation, technology commercialization and entrepreneurial
The conference Web
site provides an agenda, accommodation information,
online registration and more. For more information,
call Jeri Adkins of Charleston Area Alliance
at (304) 340-4253
or by email email@example.com.
This Day In History
- 1971 Nixon announces a visit to China
President Richard Nixon stunned the western
world when he announced he planned to visit Beijing,
China, before May 1972. The news was issued simultaneously
in Beijing and the United States, according to The
History Channel. (Read
Nixon reported he was visiting in order
"to seek normalization of relations between the
two countries and to exchange views on questions of
concern to both sides." Privately, Nixon hoped
that achieving a rapprochement with China, North Vietnam's
major benefactor, would convince Hanoi to negotiate
a peaceful settlement to the Vietnam War.
Rural banks spread
out to compensate for fewer customers, limits on loans
With declining populations, Iowa's rural
banks are turning to larger city institutions in order
to survive. Blencoe State Bank manager
Charles Hitchman "realized three years ago that
if the bank was to prosper, he had to branch out, in
this case eight miles away in Onawa," writes S.P.
Dinnen of the Des Moines Register.
more) Since 1940, Blencoe's population has declined
Dinnen notes Blencoe's aging population
makes for "loyal customers and a good source of
deposits," but he writes, "As they die ...
the money they have on deposit increasingly is leaving
rural areas for banks in [cities] where their children
Rural banks depend on making farming loans.
"If farming turns down, banks will falter, too,"
writes Dinnen. And, he notes economic development tends
to cluster where people cluster, favoring cities over
small communities, "far off the interstate or a
rail line [which] may have a hard time attracting a
factory and lack the financial clout to campaign for
a new employer."
Rural bankers also face finding "someone
willing to step into their shoes [when they retire]
in a community of 1,000 or even 500 people," Dinnen
writes. "[Hitchman's] county is one of the most
elderly in Iowa, and his bank has $21 million in assets,"
so laws prohibit him from loaning more than $306,000
to any one borrower. He said, "Most [customers]
need $500,000 or more to plant their crops or rent farmland."
Hitchman turned to an Onawa branch to
get access to more home mortgage loans and diversify
from the agricultural loans. "Diversity ... has
been a key driver behind bank mergers and branch openings
the past few years," writes Dinnen. "The Des
Moines and Cedar Rapids areas have been the primary
beneficiaries as banks from rural areas have sought
to establish a foothold in growing markets."
Mining deaths spur
calls for drug education and testing by state, industry
A U.S. Mine Safety and Health
Administration (MSHA) official is calling on
government inspectors and industry groups to curb coal-mining
deaths, while the head of that organization told a Louisville
newspaper reporter there is a need for increased awareness
of the dangers of miners using drugs.
Ray McKinney, head of the agency’s
coal division, told Charleston Gazette
reporter Ken Ward Jr. a “serious effort”
is needed “to get ahead of this issue.”
more) While MSHA Director David Dye told Alan Maimon
of The Courier-Journal, "federal
authorities will try to educate miners about the dangers
of using drugs at work but said the industry and states
should be responsible for drug testing." (Read
Dye told Maimon he will not ask Congress
to pass a law permitting his agency to test for drugs,
and said states and the industry should handle tests.
Officials have said two Kentucky miners who were killed
in underground coal mine accidents in the past two years
tested positive for drugs, but it isn't clear whether
drug impairment led to either accident, writes Maimon.
As of the end of May, five coal-mining
fatalities had been reported nationwide; five more have
been reported since then. Alabama leads the nation this
year with three coal-mining deaths, writes Ward. MSHA
records show West Virginia and Kentucky have each reported
There have been 10 fatalities so far this
year compared to 14 through the same period last year,
but, McKinney told Ward, “The types of accidents
that have caused these fatalities were surely preventable.”
The July 4 issue of the industry newsletter Mine
Safety and Health News first revealed McKinney's
concerns. MSHA has announced two mine safety and awareness
campaigns to address the problem.
Bush to visit North
Carolina textile plant in bid to salvage trade treaty
President Bush will visit a textile plant
in Belmont, N.C., tomorrow to shore up what the Charlotte
Observer described as "thin Southern support
for a controversial new trade pact."
The president's schedule calls from him
to visit the plant and then tout the Central America
Free Trade Agreement in a speech at Gaston College.
"In coming to Rep. Sue Myrick's 9th Congressional
District, the president is coming to the only district
in the Carolinas whose representative publicly supports
the pact," write Jim Morrill and Tim Funk. (Read
The Senate has approved the trade agreement;
a House vote could come as soon as next week. A poll
of 39 House members from the Carolinas, Georgia and
Alabama released Tuesday by Women's Wear Daily
showed Charlotte Republican Myrick is one of
only two members who support the agreement.
The newspaper reports Bush's advisers
"had hoped to send the president to Rep. Howard
Coble's district to turn the Greensboro Republican into
a key 'yes' vote on CAFTA." The 11-term congressman
apparently is leaning against the treaty. Coble was
among 14 members recently invited to the White House
for a meeting with Bush. Coble got emotional talking
about his late mother, a former textile worker. "He
said, 'Every time I go into a textile mill, I see the
face of my mother'," Coble spokesman Ed McDonald
told the reporters. "So it's hard for him to vote
for something he thinks could cost textile workers their
Critics say CAFTA will cost the state
jobs by making it easier for U.S. companies to relocate
operations in Central America, where labor costs are
much cheaper, but Bush says the treaty will bring jobs
tax increase has more smokers saying they will quit;
Ohio's 70-cent cigarette tax increase
may inspire smokers to visit Kentucky and other states
in search of cheaper smokes, but it also appears to
be increasing the number of people thinking about quitting.
Shawn Chapman, who works with the Freshstart
smoking cessation program in Cincinnati, told Joshua
Rinaldi of the The Cincinnati Post,
"We do have more people talking about quitting.
I think this is common when the price goes up."
more) While the jury is out on whether talk will
turn into action, cigarette price hikes usually signal
increased enrollment in the cessation programs, notes
A pack of cigarettes in Ohio costs nearly
$5. Chapman told the newspaper even diehard smokers
are reluctant to spend more money. "Those who are
very highly addicted, stay addicted. It's like the price
of gasoline. It keeps going up, but we still need it."
Becky Catlett, community liaison for St.
Luke Hospitals, which oversees a 13-week smoking
cessation program in Northern Kentucky, told Rinaldi
that smoking causes countless health concerns, but "The
more they have to pay out of pocket for the habit, the
more they consider stopping." Still, Kathy Rack,
a Kentucky Cancer Programs control
specialist, said, "I can remember hearing people
say 'when packs go up to a dollar, that's it,' and we're
way past that."
"Although some people likely will
quit the habit instead of spending an extra 70 cents
a pack, the real benefit of the tax, they say, is not
to cause people to quit, but to prevent people from
starting, especially young people," Rinaldi writes.
Rack told him, "Any time the price of cigarettes
go up, fewer people start smoking." Catlett lamented
Kentucky's much lower tax on cigarettes, fearing many
Ohioans will merely buy across the river. She claims
the deterrent of higher taxes has been proven in New
York where smokers pay $1.50 in city tax on top of the
$1.50 state tax.
Men planned rocket
escape for methamphetamine in Missouri, police say
"Two Kentucky men face federal drug-trafficking
charges after the Missouri State Highway Patrol allegedly
found methamphetamine and cash in their vehicle along
with a rocket system in the car’s trunk. Authorities
suspect the rocket was intended to jettison the drugs
in the event it was detected by police," reports
Joe Meyer of the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Michael Ray Sullivan of Louisville and
Joseph C. Seidl of Sebree were arrested June 24 in Kingdom
City, Mo. In the vehicle’s trunk, officers found
a "hobby-style" rocket, 3 to 4 feet tall and
3 to 4 inches in diameter, said Don Ledford, spokesman
for the U.S. attorney in Kansas City. Troopers also
found a system of ropes and pulleys that lifted the
rocket to an upright position when the trunk was lifted.
The rocket could be launched using the car’s cigarette
lighter, Ledford told Meyer.
The rocket contained more than two pounds
of methamphetamine, worth about $145,000. The rocket
was ready to go, Ledford said, but he did not know if
the trunk could be opened from inside the car. "During
a search of the 1990 Ford Thunderbird, officers discovered
$13,534 in cash," writes Meyer.
blasts USDA for dragging feet on mad-cow disease detection
An editorial in yesterday's Columbus
Dispatch excoriates U.
S. Department of Agriculture officials
for dragging their feet on the testing of, detecting
of and alerting of the nation to another case
of mad-cow disease this time involving an infected
animal in Texas. (Read
more; requires subscription)
The newspapers editors fired a sarcastic
blast at USDA experts, saying they "pinned
down where the nation's second case ... is believed
to have originated, a mere eight months after
the animal died. Hey, what's the rush." The
Dispatch says while the danger to humans is limited,
a "lot of havoc could have met the beef industry
and consumers in that time." And,
the editors charge several indicators months ago
should have "prodded officials to quickly
criticize the agency's focusing of testing on
so-called "downer cattle," saying, "Testing
in other countries has found mad-cow disease in
seemingly healthy animals.". The paper also
questions the claim that the animal in question
was infected from eating food mixed with animal
parts from cattle. Editors wrote the practice
"was outlawed not long after the stricken
animal was born." And, the editorial concludes,
Agriculture Secretary Michael Johanns "continues
to tell the world that U.S. beef 'is the safest
...in the world.'" The newspaper says that
claim is hard to sustain without constant testing.
America: Destructive Asian insects discovered
Federal and state agriculture officials
have issued a warning after the discovery of destructive
Asian beetles outside a Sacramento warehouse at
the former McClellan Air Force Base,
and they have dispatched federal firefighters
to nearby forests to search trees for traces of
the insects. Officials believe the beetles arrived
last month from China in wooden crates along with
a tiles shipment, writes Kathleen Hennessey of
The Associated Press. (Read
The beetle is known for destroying
hardwood trees such as maple, birch, elm, poplar
and sycamore. But, Steve Lyle, a spokesman for
the California Department of Food and
Agriculture, told AP that oak trees,
one of California's best-known hardwoods, are
at low risk.
Matt Mathes, a spokesman for the
U.S. Forest Service, told the
wire service this is the first time the beetles
have been found outdoors in the state. The beetles
have plagued forests and parks in New York, New
Jersey and Illinois since they were discovered
in the U.S. in 1996. The U.S. Department
of Agriculture estimates state and federal
agencies have spent $168 million on eradication
The beetles kill trees because they
tunnel into them and lay eggs in their bark. The
larvae then consume the trees from the inside
before emerging as adults. Insecticide is useless
once the eggs hatch.
reports noted editor recovering from brain-tumor
The editor of the Springfield
News-Sun, Karla Garrett Harshaw,
underwent surgery Monday for removal of a brain
tumor, the newspaper announced on page one of
its local/state section yesterday. (Read
more; free registration required)
The newspaper reported the surgery was successful
on Harshaw and “She is progressing as expected…
recuperating from her surgery at a Dayton hospital.”
Harshaw, who recently completed
a one-year stint as president of the American
Society of Newspaper Editors, became
editor of the Springfield newspaper in 1990. Earlier,
she worked as a reporter, assistant city editor,
features editor and assistant business manager
at the Dayton Daily News, also
owned by Cox Enterprises. The
newspaper invites well-wishers to send an e-mail
message to her through a link on the story site.
here for the "guest book."
farming hazardous to health, especially for young workers
National statistics show the agriculture
industry is more deadly for young workers than any other
industry in the country, a growing problem that a farm
safety course at a rural Ohio high school is trying
National Consumers League
figures show 42 percent of all work-related deaths of
young people between 1992 and 2000 occurred in the agriculture
industry, making it the number one most dangerous industry
for young workers. Bureau of Labor Statistics
found the risk of fatal injury for agricultural workers
ages 15 to 17 is four times that of young people working
in any other industry, reports Cassie Shaner of The
Marietta Times. (Read
David Rankin, 15, of Waterford, took the
safety course taught by Allen Clark at Warren High School,
and told Shaner, “It’s all kind of dangerous
if you don’t know what you’re doing. I thought
I went in there knowing everything I could know. I came
out knowing a lot more information than I ever would
have imagined.” For farm safety tips, and statistics,
Machinery, electrical currents, bodies
of water, grain storage facilities and livestock are
all potential farm dangers. Crop production specifically
accounts for 52 percent of all work-related fatalities
on farms. A16-year-old boy working on the family-owned
farm east of Columbus died recently while transferring
soybeans from one grain bin to another. It's believed
he fell in and was trapped by the weight of the beans.
to base closings; most money, job losses recouped, study
A new Heritage Foundation
study indicates losing a military base does not spell
"Communities where bases close regain
about 90 percent of the jobs lost within six years,"
according to a news release from the foundation. "And,
[it continues] although per capita incomes drop slightly
at first, they quickly recoup that loss and often experience
strong growth thereafter." The study was led by
Jack Spencer, a senior defense policy analyst at Heritage
and an expert, the foundation says, on the Base
Realignment and Closing (BRAC) process. (Read
The foundation study calls for "quick
action by local leaders to transform the abandoned facilities
into engines of economic growth," and says, "Communities
have converted bases to a variety of new and profitable
uses." The news release lists several examples
noted in the study.
The foundation study says Congress can
help in two ways; "first by holding hearings on
how communities have overcome base closures. Also, lawmakers
should encourage communication between communities that
have gone through the process and those that face it
now," the news release states. Spencer says, “BRAC
is about sorting out which facilities we need and which
can be converted to other uses. It’s up to community
leaders ... to move quickly to deal with the fallout.”
Trash for cash:
Rural areas get more city waste, smells, long-term waste
Fifty thousand tons of trash are transported
daily from New York to landfills and incinerators in
rural towns and poor cities in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Virginia and South Carolina.
"Experts say these ... long hauls
[often up to 650 miles by rail and highway] have become
the norm ... as [local] landfills fill up and close,"
writes David B. Caruso of The Associated Press
) The Congressional Research Service reports
that in 2003, about a fourth of the all municipal trash
crossed state lines. During that year, 10 states received
at least 1 million tons of trash, up from only two states
New York City wants to extend their range
by using barges to locations up and down the East Coast,
writes Caruso. The plan is already fueling debate. Many
states are raising concerns about the smell and environment
dangers. But, AP notes, "more urban trash is winding
up in rural communities where political resistance is
likely to be minimal."
Fox Township, Pa., supervisor Michael
Keller - 130 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. - sees 1,300
tons of garbage arrived daily from New York and he worries
the landfill’s protective liners won’t hold
up, which would endanger the environment. “My
concern is ... years from now, they’ll be saying,
'What were those guys thinking, allowing something like
this to be built in this community?'" Keller told
Virginia, which received 7.8 million tons
of garbage last year from New York, up 67 percent from
1997, is also watching the plan. "The issue has
been contentious since laws passed by legislators in
the late 1990s seeking to slow the importation of trash
were struck down by the courts," writes Caruso.
'Fast track' development
law delay extended; enviros want measure killed
A delay on a law allowing speedy expedition
of development projects in New Jersey has been extended
by that state's acting governor until conflicts with
federal restrictions can be worked out.
"The starting date for a now year-old
law that would allow quicker approval of some construction
projects has been delayed again, drawing cheers from
environmental groups who would just as soon see the
measure killed," writes Jeff Linkous of The
Associated Press. (Read
Former Gov. James E. McGreevey first put
a moratorium on the law, dubbed the "fast track"
law by critics and "smart growth" law by its
supporters, Linkous writes. Some of the laws provisions
have drawn strong opposition, including the automatic
approval of permits if state environmental regulators
fail to act within 45 days and the limiting of public
comment. Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey, a co-sponsor
of the law, had named an overseer to handle the permits
but left the door open to revising the statute.
Jeff Tittel of the state's chapter of
the Sierra Club, told AP, "Governor
Codey ... stood up to special interests and did what's
right for the people of New Jersey." Tittel's organization
and others threatened to sue if the law took effect,
claiming it posed an environmental danger. Doug Fenichel,
a spokesman for the state's largest home builder, said
his company hoped the law would take effect, and he
disputed claims it would compromise environmental standards.
Corn crops, gravel
roads, rural hazard at highway and railway intersections
The Iowa Department of Transportation
has updated its Driver's License Manual to include a
section on driving rural roadways, with a warning that
might be described as beware of "corn that's as
high as an elephant's eye," to borrow a line from
a Broadway musical.
"The manual now includes details
on crop-obstructed views at rural highway intersections
and railroad crossings as well as how loose gravel can
affect stopping distances and the driver's ability to
control a vehicle," reports the Council Bluffs
Daily Nonpareil. (Read
more) The information was added based on suggestions
from seventh-graders who are raising awareness in response
to deadly crashes on rural roads.
While there were no fatalities on farm/residential
drives or rural intersections because of obstructed
views by trees or crops, 17 major injuries and 25 minor
injuries were reported in a total of 63 crashes with
property damage totaling $594,236, the newspaper writes.
The state usually has three fatalities each year because
of sight obstructions on rural gravel intersections
Most rural intersections and rail crossings
in Iowa do not have stop or yield signs, reports the
newspaper. DOT safety engineer Tom Welch, told them,
"These intersections should always be approached
with caution especially when the view is obstructed
by crops or trees."
Major white water
attraction access caught in eminent domain dispute
An eminent domain dispute in West Virginia,
following a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding a
city’s right to take private property for public
good, has one of the region’s most popular white
water rafting, boating and tourist attractions caught
in the middle, reports West Virginia Public
For years, private boaters and paddlers
were welcomed, but now the owners of a private mid-river
access point on the Gauley River want the government
to buy their property. The report by Anna Sales follows
the breakdown of negotiations between the National
Park Service and the landowners. Sales
says "whitewater enthusiasts are worried they’ll
be up a creek."
Charlie Walbridge, who has boated the
Gauley for nearly 35 years, told Sales he heard the
access points would be closed to all private users the
entire Gauley Season, which runs for six weekends beginning
September 9. He told her losing those access points
leaves private boaters with few options. "If the
private access points are closed, [the] only real option
[is] to boat down [the] entire 26 miles of the river,
which is really too much for [many] people."
Gauley River National Recreation Area was
established in 1988. There are no official estimates
of how many private boaters come to the Gauley each
year, but the W.Va.
Division of Tourism says more than 43,000
people rode the Gauley last fall and spent nearly $11
million in the state.
Massey began coal
silo construction near school without permit, before
Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
records show Massey
Energy was allowed to start building a
coal silo near an elementary school more than two months
before permits got approved.
DEP records show "Subsidiary Goals
Coal Co. began work on the silo in early April
[which will be] 260 feet from Marsh Fork Elementary
School at Sundial," writes Ken Ward of the Charleston
more) Environmental Protection Secretary
Stephanie Timmermeyer told Ward the state did not approve
the final permits for the Raleigh County project until
June 30. But, by then, the company had completed the
foundation for the 10,000-ton silo.
DEP officials said they did not object
because Massey planned only to build the foundation,
and not the 168-foot-tall silo itself. Keith Porterfield,
an assistant director at the DEP Division of Mining
and Reclamation’s Oak Hill office, told Ward,
“This was just pouring concrete on the ground.”
But, some residents "are upset about the silo,
and worried about Massey’s continued operation
of a preparation plant and huge slurry impoundment so
close to an elementary school," Ward writes.
rediscovery spurs song, gives Arkansas residents a voice
An ivory-billed woodpecker is bringing
hope to residents of Brinkley, Ark., and it inspired
a song called "The Lord God Bird" by Sufjan
Stevens, reports National Public Radio.
Once thought extinct, the ivory-billed
woodpecker was recently rediscovered near the small
Arkansas farming community, which is being hit with
a recession and population drop. "Independent radio
producers Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister were curious
about how Stevens writes his songs, which, much like
their own work, are filled with stories of places and
people," NPR reports. "So, they introduced
Stevens to the Arkansas town of Brinkley.”
Collison and Meister interviewed Brinkley
residents and gave their statements to Stevens. The
song’s title refers to the ivory-billed woodpecker
being known as the "lord god" or "great
god" bird due to its beautiful features. “The
Lord God Bird” succeeds in painting a lyrical
and musical portrait of Brinkley. “It’s
the great god bird down in Arkansas and the hunters
beware,” Stevens sings.
Stevens needed a song about Arkansas and
the two producers wanted a portrait of Brinkley. So
the collaboration killed two birds with one stone. Links
to two versions of the song, one with residents’
statements intertwined and one with only Stevens are
available at this site.
Mayor seeks open
records, meetings workshop; police records request denied
Farmington, N.M., Mayor Bill Standley
may require his city officials to attend an open records,
open meetings workshop after a local newspaper was denied
police records which are supposed to be public.
"The issue came to light after a
request by The Daily Times. The state
Inspection of Public Records Act requires blotters,
radio logs, dispatch logs, desk logs and other records
of incidents reported to law enforcement be open to
the public," reports The Associated Press.
Standley thought there had been a misunderstanding and
said he would ask the attorney general's office to hold
a public records workshop.
Farmington police told the Times they
no longer keep those records. Police Chief Mike Burridge
said his department has no need for blotters anymore
because of administrative changes and he'd have to gauge
the public's need before making them available. Records
requests were referred to central dispatch in Aztec,
where the supervisor said they don't "just allow
the public to come in and look" for security reasons.
reporter named AP correspondent for Missouri, Arkansas
A former chief correspondent for Reuters
in Vienna, Austria, Marcus Kabel, has been named The
Associated Press' correspondent for southwest
Missouri and northwest Arkansas.
Kabel, who worked for Reuters the past
15 years, will cover Wal-Mart Stores Inc.,
the world's largest retailer, based in Arkansas, AP
reports. AP bureau chiefs Randy Picht in Kansas City,
Mo., and Robert Shaw in Little Rock, Ark., announced
the appointment. Kabel is from St. Louis and Chicago
and graduated from Earlham College
in Richmond, Ind., where he also worked for WKBV radio.
He also has worked for the City News Bureau
in Chicago and the German wire service DPA.
Only 61 congressional
districts are rural, Congressional Quarterly reports
"A 27-page special report by Congressional
Quarterly that examined voting and demographic
data for all 435 House districts concluded that for
the first time, most districts -- 220 -- have a majority
of their populations in the suburbs," writes Mike
Allen of The Washington Post. "The
study found ... 90 districts are urban, 61 are rural
and 64 are mixed. In a similar survey in 1997, many
more districts were mixed."
CQ's report said that the new suburban
majority means that unless Democrats "figure out
a strategy for breaching the outer suburban fortress,
it will be a struggle to achieve the 15-seat gain they
would need to capture control in the 2006 midterm election.
And their prospects look bleak for a return to the kind
of dominance they enjoyed during a House reign that
ran from 1954 to 1994."
is a subscriber-only service, but offers free trials
to qualified subscribers. For details, click
Calls growing to
subsidize 'green farming,' reports National Public Radio
The federal government is expected to
dole out $24 billion in farm subsidies this year. Critics,
including some farmers, say taxpayers should not have
to pay for corn or cotton surpluses. Instead, they say
the funds should go toward projects that benefit the
public, such as cleaner water and a healthier environment.
In a National Public Radio's
Morning Edition story yesterday reporter
Dan Charles visited a farm in a watershed that is one
of 220 areas eligible for funding from the USDA's
Conservation Security Program (CSP).
The program pays farmers who help the environment. "Farmers
can qualify for payments if they can show they've done
a good job protecting the environment in the past. They
must also show they're preventing manure or other fertilizer
from running into streams, and they're conserving soil
and minimizing pesticide use," NPR reports. (Read
Farmers who have qualified "can get
extra points and higher payments for [such things as
providing] habitat for wildlife or [protecting] streams
and groundwater ... cutting back on fertilizer or pesticides,
converting crop land into permanent pasture, or building
windmills to supply the farm with energy," reports
Charles. The CSP was established in 2002, and will distribute
about $240 million to farmers this year -- 1 percent
of the total subsidies, Charles notes.
Also, the USDA’s Natural
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking
public comments on the CSP until July 25th. Last year’s
public comments prompted the "NRCS to make several
important program modifications," the NRCS announced.
To comment, write a brief letter to NRCS on its Revised
Interim Final Rule, which is the mechanism it uses to
guide the 2005 CSP sign-up process. You can find out
more on the Center’s Web
here for a map of regions currently eligible for
menace to Midwest farms; soybean rust in the wind and
The big winds blowing into Winnetka, remnants
of Hurricane Dennis, bring with them much-needed rain,
but also an increased chance of damage to soybean crops,
agriculture experts warn.
"The storm clouds also could be carrying
spores of a potentially devastating soybean fungus,"
writes Rick Callahan of The Associated Press.
more) Purdue University plant pathologist
Greg Shaner told Callahan when Dennis made landfall,
it picked up spores from southwestern Alabama and parts
of Florida, where fields are infected with soybean rust,
and carried them to fields in Midwestern states where
much of the nation's soybean crop is grown. For USDA
soybean rust facts, click
Soybean rust has not caused any significant
damage in the United States since it arrived last year,
but it cost farmers in Brazil about $1 billion last
year in crop losses and fungicide treatments, AP reports.
Matt Royer, with the USDA's Animal Plant Health
Inspection Service, said soybean rust spores
could enter the Deep South, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana
and parts of Missouri and Illinois this week.
N. West Virginia
mining may come back; labor, environmental issues linger
"After nearly a decade and a half,
coal mining in north-central West Virginia looks to
be on the rise. There are plans to open a new mine and
reopen another that’s been idle for years. Both
announcements were made in recent weeks. However, these
mining operations will likely have to contend with lingering
labor and environmental issues," reports Emily
Hughes for West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
International Coal Group
hopes to open a mine next year in Taylor County, near
Grafton. Chris Hamilton, vice president of the West
Virginia Coal Association, told Hughes the
mine should employ about 300 people. "And it’s
good to see mining take place again in Taylor County,"
Hamilton said. "It’s been several years since
we had active operations in that area."
In Marion County, a company from Missouri
bought a mine that was shut down years ago. "This
outfit is buying the old Martika mine . . . jobs should
belong to the miners that worked there," Rich Eddy,
with the United Mine Workers of America,
told Hughes. Eddy expects the Missouri company to merge
with International Coal Group, which bought most of
Horizon Natural Resources mining operations
after a federal judge in Kentucky ruled that Horizon
could cancel health insurance policies for 3,800 union
Twelve to 15 years ago, coal mining started
slowing down in north-central West Virginia. "Clean
Air Act requirements made much of the region's high-sulfur
coal impractical to mine," reports Hughes.
annexation that could allow liquor right on a 'dry'
The Burnside, Ky., City Council has approved
an annexation that could bring controversial business
to the community that depends heavily on the tourist
and recreation mecca, sprawling Lake Cumberland.
"The council annexed a corridor of
land about 11 miles long in order to take in Lee's Ford
Marina Resort. The marina is only 2 or 3 miles from
Burnside as the crow flies, but about 11 miles by way
of the lake," writes Bill Estep for the Lexington
more) The city annexed a strip of land along one
side of the water to cover that distance. The land is
owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
which manages the 101-mile-long lake.
There are some concerns, however, that
the move to expand could bring alcohol sales to an area
of the county that did not have a chance to vote last
year on legalizing liquor sales. Councilman Don Coggins,
principal at a Christian school and the lone dissenter,
said "This is a much greater issue than the six
Annexing the marina into the city of 635
people would boost the tax base, say other council members,
providing additional money for critical city services.
Mayor Dean Lovins estimates the annexation could produce
$70,000 a year, an increase of 20 percent to 30 percent
in the city's tax base, writes Estep.
Kansas Press Association's
former exec charged with stealing tens of thousands
Jeff Burkhead, who once held famed rural
editor William Allen White's old job at the Emporia
Gazette, has been charged with theft after
being forced to resign as executive director of the
Kansas Press Association and being sued by the KPA for
recovery of missing funds, reports The Associated
The charge is obtaining or exerting unauthorized
control of property valued at more than $25,000. Burkhead
resigned in September 2003. "After an audit, the
organization discovered a loss of $119,500," AP
reported. "A lawsuit seeking recovery of money
was settled this year." Burkhead agreed to pay
$56,000, in addition to a $25,000 insurance settlement
and other payments he made earlier.
"Criminal charges were an unfortunate
possible outcome when this began," John Montgomery,
past KPA president and editor and publisher of the Hays
Daily News, told AP. He said the association
had no agenda "other than to be straightforward
about what we know and cooperate with investigators."
Burkhead had been editor and publisher
of the Southwest Daily Times, circulation
4,250, in Liberal, Kan. The Gazette is still owned by
the White family and has a circulation of 7,943.
wins merit award for historic preservation efforts
The Tennessee Historical
Commission has recognized Pulaski
Publishing for its preservation of the state’s
cultural heritage with a Certificate of Merit Award.
"We are interested in recognizing
activities in the areas of publication, commemoration,
education and any other efforts to preserve our history
and heritage," said Herbert L. Harper, commission
executive director. "[Harper] presented the award
as part of the National Trust’s 'Communities at
a Crossroads' 2005 preservation month," writes
Claudia Johnson of the Pulaski Citizen,
which has no Web site.
“Pulaski Publishing has owned and
operated the Pulaski Citizen, one of the 10 oldest newspapers
remaining in operation in Tennessee, and the Giles Free
Press for more than 20 years,” writes Johnson.
A panel of authorities from across the state reviewed
the nomination. She notes that, "Company President
Hershel Lake and newspaper publisher Steve Lake have
consistently supported historic preservation."
The nomination focused on the 2004 Citizen
sesquicentennial and A Page from the Past,
Johnson's compilation of news from each week of the
paper's historyt, but also noted the company continues
to print several local books about historically significant
figures and occurrences, such as the early history of
Giles County, two histories of Pulaski and the history
of the Ku Klux Klan, which began in the town.
to offer lessons in building communities, organizations
The Brushy Fork Institute will
offer "real solutions to the challenges facing
your community or organization" at its new regional
program Sept. 14-17 at Berea College.
The institute says attendees will "return home
with cutting edge skills, applicable resources and expanded
Participants choose from concurrent tracks
that provide 10 hours of intensive training from regional
and national experts focused on one topic. Tracks include
community economic development, nonprofit management,
financial Management for nonprofit groups, proposal
writing, fund-raising beyond grants, Web site development,
leadership development, marketing and running for public
Plenary sessions for all participants
will explore regional leadership and community development
issues. Keynote speaker Dr. Vaughn Grisham, director
of the McLean Institute for Community Development,
will discuss economic development in Tupelo, Miss.,
and applying that model elsewhere. The program also
aims to help participants build connections and share
ideas and strategies.
The registration fee is $400 until Aug.
14. Late registration fee is $425. For more information,
visit Brushy Fork's Web
site, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 859-985-3858.
Alliance prepares for annual meeting, invites public
The Kentucky Waterways Alliance
will hold its annual meeting July 16 in Horse Cave,
Ky., at the historic Thomas House and the public is
"The day-long [event] offers canoe
cleanup trips on the Green River in the morning, [and]
a cave tour at the American Cave Conservation
Association's Hidden River Cave in the afternoon,"
prior to the annual meeting and dinner beginning at
5:30 pm (CST). For directions, accommodations, and registration
information (deadline tomorrow) click
here, or call 270-932-2884.
Sweet Corn Festival offers ears to eat, music for the
Orchard, near Georgetown, Ky., is conducting
its "Sweet Corn Festival" from 9:30 a.m. to
5:30 p.m. July 23 at its orchard and cider mill, 180
Old Stone Road, in Scott County.
"We'd like to invite you for a full
day of family fun out on the farm. We will have craft
booths, mouth watering food, kids play area, and much
more all day long! Food that will be featured includes
grilled corn on the cob, cheeseburgers, rib-eye sandwiches,
fried apple and peach pies, fresh vegetables, homegrown
peaches, fresh squeezed lemonade and more," said
organizer Jenny Evans.
The Dixon Line will provide live music
from noon to 2 p.m. Call Evans at 502-863-2255 for more
newspaper profiles ease and speed of prescription drug
The ability to abuse prescription drugs
requires only a mouse-click, according to a reporter
for a rural Kentucky newspaper, underscoring for local
readers the dimensions of a regional problem.
Tim Weldon of the Winchester
Sun, as part of a series the newspaper
did recently on illegal trafficking of painkillers and
access to painkillers through online pharmacies, was
able to acquire a sizeable amount of drugs quickly without
a prescription and without question. (Read
"In an effort to determine how easily
narcotics can be purchased online, The Winchester Sun
authorized me to do exactly what a number of drug dealers
do on a regular basis - buy prescription drugs online
that would be delivered right to my door," writes
"All it took was a simple Internet
search to find a list of cyber-pharmacies offering pain
medication. Twenty-four hours after speaking on the
phone with the pharmacy's 'doctor,' 90 Lortabs -- a
potent prescription painkiller that is commonly trafficked
illegally -- were delivered to my home in a nondescript
package," notes Weldon. In an editorial last week,
the newspaper called for a quicker national-to-local
remedy of this problem, which is especially prevalent
in Eastern Kentucky. (Read
"Money, time and personnel need to
be set aside for enforcement of this law. Let law enforcement
agents go fishing on the Internet to see who will ship
drugs to Kentucky illegally and once a violator is found,
throw the book at them," the newspaper opines.
"The proposed Ryan Haight Internet Pharmacy Consumer
Protection Act of 2005, which places strict controls
on Internet pharmacy sites, also needs to be passed.
Winchester residents have died and will continue to
die from them."
via power lines easier said than done, reporter notes
Internet access via power lines instead
of cable or phone lines is touted as a cost-efficient
means of brining the Web to rural areas, but deployment
difficulties appear to be slowing down the dream. "Power-line
broadband has been talked up for years as a cheap, widely
available alternative to cable-modem and digital subscriber
line (DSL) access, but it has been slow to make the
move from laboratories to homes," writes Maria
L. Henriques of The Washington Post.
In the Washington, D.C., area, Manassas
became the first to start offering power-line access,
launching the service in January 2004. Henriques, a
Manassas resident, writes, "I ... was told it would
arrive in my neighborhood that May and put my name on
a waiting list." But, she notes, "the May
deadline was pushed back to July, then October, then
January of this year. I finally got hooked up in February."
This happened for two reasons, writes
Henriques, because the Manassas Department of
Utilities "had to lay in a fiber-optics
network to bring Internet data to and from its power
lines, then install special relay units on its network
of power lines. The department had to build in this
capability one street at a time and is still not done."
Utilities Director John D. Hewa told her 10,000 of the
city's 12,500 households can get the service and that
the remainder should over the next two months.
There were other complications, she notes.
"The city also changed Internet providers when
its contract with its first operator, Prospect
Street Broadband, ended. A new franchisee took
over in July 2004: Chantilly (Va.)-based Communication
Technologies Inc., or ComTek
The power-line service is slower than
that available by cable or DSL, but has proved reliable,
with no outages, and "its cost savings are substantial,
and its coverage advantages -- once a utility has prepared
its system for this technology -- are even more so,"
she writes. "DSL is limited to areas near telephone-network
hubs, and cable service doesn't reach some rural areas,
but everybody has electricity."
Fuel costs vexing
rural school transportation officials; pondering ways
Record crude oil prices, which are driving
up expenses for rural school systems nationwide, have
Arkansas school officials straining to conserve fuel
as they put together a facilities and transportation
Division of Public School Facilities and
Transportation Director Mike Simmons told James Jefferson
of The Associated Press, "We have
not really discussed alternatives, but it's something
that we may have to pretty quick." (Read
more) Transportation officials say buses could spend
less time idling and reduce transporting students to
special activities this fall to counter rising fuel
prices. Facilities division spokeswoman Julie Johnson
Thompson said rising gas prices will "definitely
have an adverse effect on budgets. That comes out of
maintenance and operation expenditures."
Tennessee school officials say raising
taxes to offset rising expenses will be a hard sell.
Critics doubt funds are wisely spent, while backers
say more teachers are needed, reports Bill Poovey of
Nolan Elementary School in Signal Mountain,
near Chattanooga, is finding that "cost-cutting
means that more students are competing for the teacher's
time and that the principal runs the floor buffer. More
than two-thirds of Tennessee's 95 counties have raised
property taxes since 2003, [but] the Hamilton County
Commission voted not to last year, which forced Principal
Ken Barker to eliminate funding for a part-time maintenance
worker," notes Poovey.
Reducing Nolan Elementary's budget by
$110,000 also meant eliminating salaries for full-time
and part-time teachers, a part-time guidance counselor
and part-time physical education instructor. Fewer teachers
meant increased class sizes. Barker jokingly told AP,
"I'm probably the highest-paid floor buffer in
the state of Tennessee." Tennessee schools have
no separate taxing authority, so their budgets depend
on local governments. Successful tax increases are usually
tied to school improvements.
Few wealthy farmers
owe estate taxes, report says; repeal would shift burden
A Congressional Budget Office
report shows the number of farms owing an estate tax
dropped by 82 percent since 2000, to 300 farms, as Congress
more than doubled the threshold at which the tax applies.
"All but 27 farmers left enough
liquid assets to pay taxes owed, the budget office found,
although it hinted that the actual number might be zero.
The study examined how much in cash, stocks and bonds
these farmers left to pay estate taxes, but the report
noted that no data existed on how much life insurance
the farmers had put into trusts," writes David
Cay Johnston of The New York Times.
The Senate is set to vote on a repeal
of the estate tax, which raised an estimated $23.4 billion
last year. Repeal would shift part of the burden of
taxes off the richest 1 percent of Americans onto the
general population. The loss could be made up in three
ways: higher income taxes; reduced government services;
or more borrowing. President Bush, the American
Farm Bureau Federation and the National
Cattlemen's Beef Association contend the estate
tax is destroying family farms, but have not cited a
case of a farm lost to estate taxes. Bush has said he
talked to such farmers.
The small number of farms subject to the
tax has fallen since the president "persuaded Congress
to raise the threshold to $1.5 million, double that
for married couples, for last year and this year,"
writes Johnson. Currently, families with children can
shield several million more dollars from the tax.
tempting growers with up-front, lump-sum buyout payments
Banks and other agricultural lending institutions
across tobacco country are enticing growers and quota
holders with offers of buyout payments all at once.
"The lump sums are less than what
they would have gotten if they opted for annual payments.
The actual lump sum will be determined by the discount
rate set by each financial institution. In return, recipients
assign their total annual payments to the financial
institutions. Those lenders recoup their payments, plus
some, through those installments," writes Bruce
Schreiner of The Associated Press.
more) Under the offer, buyout recipients would end
up with about 75 percent to slightly more than 80 percent
of their total buyout amounts. Competition among financial
institutions could boost benefit somewhat.
Paul Hornback, a Kentucky tobacco farmer
who stands to receive several hundred thousand dollars
if he takes the lump sum told Schreiner, "It's
by far the biggest decision I've ever made, because
it's more money at one time than I've ever dealt with."
Some financial institutions have held back on the offers
until the U.S. Farm Service Agency
approves the multitude of buyout contracts and issues
final rules for some forms of the lump-sum deals.
Tobacco farmers’ use of the money
is a concern of the Cooperative Extension Service.
For University of Kentucky journalism student Lindsey
O’Donnell’s story about the service and
its concerns, click
prompts miners protest, call for end to practice
About 200 protesters marched last week
on coal giant Massey Energy Co.'s headquarters
in Richmond, Va., demanding an end to mountaintop removal
strip mining, continuing a string of similar protests.
"Led by the Mountain Justice Summer
campaign, it marked the latest showdown between the
nation's fourth-largest coal mining company and environmentalists.
Mountain Justice Summer is described by its participants
as a non-violent campaign ... for the abolition of mountaintop
removal mining in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and
West Virginia," writes Dionne Walker of The
Associated Press. (Read
Mountaintop-removal mining involves blasting
rock and dirt from mountaintops to expose seams of coal
underneath. The leftover dirt is then deposited in nearby
valleys. Katharine Kenny, vice president of investor
relations, told AP about 75 percent of Massey's coal
mines are in West Virginia, and she estimated 67 percent
of the nation's coal is produced through surface mining
methods, which the company contend are cleaner and safer
Environmentalists, however, claim the
techniques have destroyed more than 1,000 miles of stream
beds in West Virginia alone. And, they claim noxious
fumes from a coal operation are blackening the lungs
of some West Virginia school children. Julia Bonds of
West Virginia's Coal River Mountain Watch
gave a "fiery speech" at the Abingdon protest.
Afterward, she told AP, "I don't want to see babies
attracts big talent, diverse plays; tickets used to
cost a chicken
Theater in the picturesque Appalachian
town of Abingdon, Va., is known for attracting big talent,
from producers to actors, doing productions from down-home
to Hamlet, and when it first opened the fine art might
cost you a chicken.
"The Barter Theatre opened in 1933
at the height of the Depression. True to its name, it
accepted live hens, a dead rattlesnake and canned goods
in return for tickets. A ham for Hamlet, as the saying
goes here," writes Calvin Woodward of The
Associated Press. (Read
Barter began small before becoming a Mecca
for theater elites, notes Woodward, "drawing 150,000
through its doors in a season in this southwestern Virginia
town of fewer than 8,000 people." In addition to
accepting poultry for performances, productions occasionally
ruffle some feathers. Its staging of "Liquid Moon"
in 2003 featured two naked actors for part of the performance,
drawing protests from a state senator and the Cedar
Bluff Baptist Church in nearby Atkins.
The atmosphere at the theater remains
a bit rustic. "The wail of a passing freight train
echoes through the tall, old windows," Woodward
notes, but "these young actors know that whatever
the odds, others who spent time on the Barter stage
found success. Among them were Gregory Peck, Patricia
Neal, Ernest Borgnine, Hume Cronyn and Ned Beatty."
pits 'pugnacious' against more conventional
Two small weekly newspapers and a city-subsidized
newsletter in the Cincinnati suburb of Dayton, Ky.,
(pop. 6,000) are slinging ink and words at each other
in a bitter battle for dominance.
"The feud has puzzled residents of
this working-class town in the shadow of Cincinnati.,"
writes Brandon Ortiz of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
more) Even the executive director of the Kentucky
Press Association, David T. Thompson, told
Ortiz he's never heard of such a strange fight. And,
Dayton Mayor Ken Rankle told him, "It is really
just a weird, screwy situation with those papers."
The River Cities Beacon
is suing the former publishers of the town's two other
news publications: the Dayton Dispatch News,
a taxpayer-financed newsletter; and the River
Cities Star, edited by the Beacon's former
editor. "The Beacon, a weekly paper that was distributed
at local businesses, is also suing the city of Dayton,
its mayor and police chief on allegations they violated
its First Amendment rights because it criticized the
city," writes Ortiz.
The Beacon, circulation of 1,000, more
often acts as "cheerleader for the community,"
he writes, but also "responds to criticism and
perceived wrongdoing with aggressive coverage,"
Ortiz notes. Tom McQueen, husband of Beacon publisher
Valerie McQueen, told Ortiz, "People don't like
us -- they either love us or hate us. There is no in-between."
Henry Bird new
head of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.'s Midwest
Henry Bird, publisher of The
Pantagraph in Bloomington, Ill., and vice president
of Pulitzer Newspapers Inc., will lead
the Midwest Division of Community Newspaper
Holdings Inc., reported The Associated
The division, based in Carmel, Ind., includes
12 daily newspapers -- seven in Indiana, four in Illinois
and the Mankato Free Press in Minnesota
-- and eight weeklies and specialty publications. Bird
has been president and publisher of The Pantagraph since
February 2001 and a vice president of Pulitzer since
2003, first supervising papers in Illinois and Wisconsin,
then adding those in California and Utah. From 1996
to 2001, Bird was publisher of The Star Press
in Muncie for Central Newspapers Inc.
-- owner of The Indianapolis Star --
which was bought by Gannett Co. He
had been publisher of The Herald-Bulletin in
Anderson and a group publisher for Thomson Newspapers
in Indiana and Michigan.
Pulitzer was sold to Lee Enterprises,
based in Davenport, Iowa, in a deal completed last month.
"Linda Lindus, publisher of the Herald
& Review in Decatur, Ill., will succeed
Bird as publisher of The Pantagraph, one of 14 dailies
that joined Lee ... in its acquisition of Pulitzer,"
AP reports. "Lindus, who had been in Decatur since
2002, also oversees Lee newspapers in central and southern
Illinois, as well as one newspaper in Missouri. Lindus'
successor in Decatur is Todd Nelson, general manager
of the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal
Star, also a Lee paper."
This Day In
History: Burr slays Hamilton in duel, 1804
In a duel held in Weehawken, N.J., Vice
President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political
antagonist Alexander Hamilton, according to the History
Channel. Hamilton, a leading Federalist
and the chief architect of America's political economy,
died the following day.
As FCC reports
broadband gains, study questions subsidies for
Federal Communications Commission
statistics show U.S. consumers and businesses
subscribing to high-speed Internet service, or
broadband, jumped 34 percent last year to almost
38 million lines.
The U.S. still lags behind 15 other
countries in broadband coverage, but U.S. officials
stress "some countries subsidize deployment
and are more densely populated," which makes
it easier and less expensive to develop broadband,
reports Reuters. (Read
more) The report says cable companies added
about 5 million customers during the year, a 30
percent increase to 21.4 million lines, while
the number of DSL subscribers climbed about 45
percent, or 4.3 million lines, to 13.8 million
lines. For the report, click
President Bush has pledged universal
access to broadband by 2007. FCC Chairman Kevin
Martin has said he wants to eliminate regulatory
hurdles to achieve that goal, and in yesterday's
Wall Street Journal, he said the FCC
should ease some old regulations on telephone
companies to put them on equal footing with cable
operators, but not full relinquish protections.
For the FCC press release, click
Consumer advocate Jeff Chester,
executive director of the Center for Digital
Democracy, criticized FCC policies as
harming competition for broadband. He told Reuters,
"Competitive Internet service providers are
now history; the U.S. has a duopoly -- cable and
telephone industry -- over broadband. Both cable
and telephone have a long history of anti-competitive
Meanwhile, the Heartland
Institute has issued a report, New
Study Questions Benefits of Subsidizing Broadband,
on Marshall University's
review of high-speed Internet services in West
Virginia. "Much of the economic benefits
of broadband have already been realized, and gains
from its further extension to rural areas are
probably not sufficiently large to justify government
subsidies," says the institiute, which has
a libertarian outlook. For the full text, click
Service facing challenges in helping tobacco growers,
After nearly seven decades of federal
tobacco quotas and price supports, "Kentucky’s
quota owners and growers [have entered] a new
era of uncertainty, [with] questions ... in need
of educated answers," reports Lindsey O’Donnell,
a University of Kentucky journalism
student who was part of a Rural Journalism class
reporting project on the future of tobacco and
"The future of local economies
of tobacco-dependent communities may depend on
how the farmers choose to spend their buyout funds,"
writes O'Donnell. "But where do these people
go to get the advice and information necessary
to make a short term or long term investment?"
Shelby County extension agent Brittany
Edelson told O'Donnell she is concerned with how
farmers will choose to spend the money they receive
from the buyout. “You can lead a horse to
water and that’s what we’ll try and
do through education, but people will make their
own decisions in the end,” Edelson said,
adding that she does not try to tell former quota
holders how to spend their money, but tries to
provide options and opportunities.
UK's extension economist for tobacco
Will Snell, told O'Donnell the tobacco buyout
is the biggest issue currently facing the university's
extension service. Snell says he prepared seven
years for the buyout, which "is probably
the most significant and far-reaching piece of
agricultural policy legislation for Kentucky farmers
and rural communities since the development of
the federal tobacco program in the 1930s."
here for the story, and here
for an index to other stories in the project.
More are coming.
cig tax revenue falling as customers cut back,
A study by the Tax Foundation
suggests that states hoping to plug budget gaps
with higher cigarette taxes are seeing a diminished
return as higher prices drive down conventional
purchases and some consumers get their smokes
from the black market.
In the study, Tax
Foundation Background Paper No. 48, “State
Excise Taxation: Horse-and-Buggy Taxes in an Electronic
Age,” George Mason University
Professor Richard Wagner says “All excise
taxes on particular products are obsolete [and]
because government is always slow to change, they
will die a slow death. In the meantime they will
cause a great deal of harm ... to taxpayers and
to the state governments.”
The foundation found that among
the selective excise taxes, states raise the most
by taxing cigarettes, alcohol, gasoline and telecommunications.
Of these, the study says, "It is the cigarette
tax that states have raised most ... during the
last 10 years, despite abundant evidence the high
tax levels are creating a host of problems,"
including: Revenue estimates are rarely met, making
budget forecasting difficult, and bonds sold against
future master settlement revenues are unattractive
except at preposterously high interest rates.
Wagner says the "growth of
these destructive consequences brings state governments
to a crossroads. In one direction: [are] state
governments that use invasive, threatening, expensive
and ultimately futile tactics to enforce high
tax rates. In the other direction: [are] innovative,
service-oriented state governments that know they
must compete with their neighboring jurisdictions
by levying reasonable taxes.
Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation,
said, “Cigarette taxes are already an unreliable
revenue source, and that unreliability will surely
get worse as tax rates climb and more customers
are forced to shop for low-tax cigarettes from
legal and illegal sources.”
congressman proposes tax credit for rural physicians
Rep. Jim Gibbons, a Nevada Republican,
announced yesterday that he has filed a bill offering
tax credits to encourage physicians to practice
in rural America.
"I represent every single rural
community in Nevada and as a result, I am committed
to ensuring that these Nevadans receive the same
quality health care services as others living
in urban areas," Gibbons said. "This
bill will encourage more doctors to serve rural
areas and expand the health care services available
to these communities."
The National Rural Health
Association endorsed the bill. "Rural
communities frequently suffer from a shortage
of physicians because many doctors feel that they
cannot sustain a viable practice in a rural setting,"
NRHA President Hilda Heady said. NRHA said in
a news release, "Graduating medical students
who may have preferred a working rural practice
tend to practice in more urban settings simply
because of student-loan debt."
set on shield law; follows reporter jailing, news-media
The Senate Judiciary Committee is
planning hearings on a bill that would protect
reporters who refuse to identify their sources.
New York Times
reporter Judith Miller was jailed Wednesday for
refusing to tell prosecutors who leaked the name
of an undercover CIA officer. The bill, sponsored
by Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican, "would
require prosecutors and judges to meet strict
national standards and exhaust other remedies
before they could subpoena reporters," reports
The Associated Press.(Read
Matt Cooper, the Time magazine
reporter who barely escaped being sent to jail
along with Miller, says the grand jury probe makes
the case for such a law. The prosecutor and representatives
of the media outlets could be called to testify.
The House legislation is sponsored by Indiana
Rep. Mike Pence (R).
cattle, state-inspected slaughter prevent mad-cow
Advocates say the chance that meat
with mad-cow disease would end up on your dinner
table could be reduced if the federal government
encouraged more grass-fed cattle farms and in-state
"The advocates say there would
be no chance of animal waste products added to
feed or cows in contact with other ill cows,"
writes M. J. Ellington of The Decatur
more) Heightened by the recent report of an
infected cow from Texas, advocates charge "the
government is more interested in protecting the
nation's beef suppliers and minimizing financial
impact from another mad-cow announcement than
in guarding consumer health," Ellington writes
for the Northern Alabama newspaper.
Alabama officials said the nation's
beef supply is safe and "doubt the demise
of the country's system of cattle fattening and
slaughter," Ellington reports. Still, the
executive vice president of the Alabama
Cattlemen's Association told the newspaper
that Auburn University has been
at work on plans to encourage more grass-fed cattle
farming. ACA Executive Vice President Bill Powell
endorsed grass-fed cattle farms and Alabama slaughterhouses
for some of the state's cattle producers. Powell
said Auburn and ACA see the logic of developing
a network of small, inspected slaughterhouses
in his region.
for workers: firms raising wages, wooing younger
Coal industry and union executives,
concerned that Pennsylvania may face shortages
of skilled coal miners similar to those experienced
in the Appalachian states of Ohio, West Virginia,
Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky, are gearing up
a nationwide effort to recruit more miners.
Katharine Kenny, director of investor
relations for Richmond, Va.-based Massey
Energy Co., the nation's fourth-largest
producer, told Pamela Gaynor of the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette that in much of central
Appalachia, "We're always 200 to 300 miners
short of where we want to be." (Read
more) Pennsylvania coal producers have yet
to feel such a pinch, writes Gaynor, but George
Ellis, president of the Pennsylvania Coal
Association, "We see a problem up
the road if we don't start doing something"
to step up recruitment, she writes.
Global demand for coal, rising electricity
consumption and a surge in oil prices have boosted
coal mining out of a 20-year slump. The lack of
hiring in the past two decades has crated labor
shortages in some previous industry strongholds,
such as southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky,
and a rapidly aging work force in others, including
Pennsylvania, notes Gaynor.
United Mine Workers of America
District 3 is seeking $4.6 million in state funds
for a training center. Union and industry officials
also are discussing a proposal to recognize skill
certifications obtain outside Pennsylvania. Other
key mining states already provide the so-called
"reciprocity." Consol Energy Inc., which
plans next year to begin a $500 million expansion
project -- the largest in its history -- in Washington
County, also are taking steps on their own to
avoid shortages in Pennsylvania, Gaynor writes.
Center of the Mountains attracts southeastern
Appalachian students who live hours
from the nearest state universities are taking
advantage -- in growing numbers -- of an initiative
designed to increase the number of people with
"Enrollment at the University
Center of the Mountains ... is expected
to top 300 this fall and could reach 1,000 in
the next five years, said Ron Daley, who heads
the initiative," writes Roger Alford of The
Associated Press. (Read
more) Daley told Alford only 8.6 percent of
residents in the center's eight-county service
area have four-year degrees, making it one of
the least-educated regions of the country. Classes
at Morehead State University
and Eastern Kentucky University,
the nearest universities, require round trips
of four hours.
The University Center of the Mountains
started in 2002 with a $300,000 grant from the
Appalachian Regional Commission.
It provides offices and classrooms for state universities
and private colleges that offer classes for bachelor's
degrees in 15 areas of study, from business administration
to social work, writes Alford. Hazard
Community and Technical College President
Jay Box, who helped to found the center, predicts
the number of degree programs and enrollment will
increase, and that the 3,800 students enrolled
at his two-year college will take courses through
methadone clinic request pulled after residents
take protest to state
A company planning to run a methadone
clinic in Middlesboro, Ky., has withdrawn its
application in the face of staunch opposition.
Steve Shannon of the Kentucky
Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
said Rehabilitation Drug Services
made the request yesterday, AP reports. (Read
A meeting set today with state officials
in Frankfort on whether to allow the methadone
clinic has been canceled. Several hundred people
opposed to the proposed clinic were expected to
attend the meeting. RDS President and General
Manager Barbara Smith has requested state assistance
in preparing another application to open a clinic
in Middlesboro, and asked the meeting held to
consider the company's next application be private,
because of "The sensitive nature of the proprietary
information contained therein."
Middlesboro residents opposed the
proposed clinic because its planned location was
within three blocks of two schools. Mac Bell,
who oversees methadone clinics for the Kentucky
Cabinet for Health and Family Services,
said the opposition to the Middlesboro clinic
say woman ran meth lab out of home and FEMA trailer
Port St. Lucie, Fla., area police
have accused a woman of running a methamphetamine
lab out of her grandmother's house and a Federal
Emergency Management Agency trailer supplied
to house victims of last year's hurricane damage.
The woman faces at least four felony
and two misdemeanor charges. Investigators found
a portable meth lab in the kitchen of the home,
and items used to make the drug in a trailer provided
by [FEMA] ... after last year's hurricanes, writes
Will Greenlee of The Stuart News.
A police spokesman told Greenlee
"they could have manufactured meth anywhere."
Police say the woman admitted that methamphetamine,
cocaine and weapons were in the home. They say
they also found about 10 grams of crystal methamphetamine
in her purse and in a bedroom.
director, an ex-political writer, named to review
The combination of more than 200
races for judgeships next year in Kentucky, and
court decisions greatly relaxing guidelines on
judicial campaign ethics, has prompted Kentucky
Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert to
set up a special panel to "monitor and encourage
ethical campaigns by judicial candidates,"
writes Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader
Institute for Rural Journalism
& Community Issues Director Al Cross,
who was political writer for The Courier-Journal
for 26 years and still writes a twice-a-month
column for the Louisville newspaper, is among
those who have agreed to serve on the panel. Cross
wrote of the coming races in Kentucky and other
states in a June 30 Rural Blog item, Demagoguery
and big money increase in races for judgeships;
beware next year.
Other members include lawyers Jon
Fleischaker of Louisville and Robert Houlihan
of Lexington, both First Amendment specialists;
Bowling Green lawyer Charles English, a leader
in evaluation of federal judicial candidates;
and Bob Schulman of Louisville, a journalist who
has worked with Lambert to conduct dialogues between
judges, lawyers and journalists.
Lambert said he hopes the panel
will have "a considerable moral suasion and
restraint on candidates who might be inclined
to let campaigns go into the mud.We want our judges
to have freedom of speech, but also to be impartial."
Lambert has asked Tony Wilhoit of Versailles,
executive director of the state Legislative
Ethics Commission and former chief judge
of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, to head the
group, to be called the Judicial Campaign
sought on EPA's Environmental Justice Strategic
Plan by July 15
The Environmental Protection
Agency is seeking public comment on a
proposed framework and plan for its "Environmental
Justice Strategic Plan."
"The plan will guide the agency
in prioritize issues facing communities with disproportionate
impacts from pollution, and may also affect the
grant priorities for the next 5 years," says
the agency. The draft framework and outline are
available at on the agency's Web
site. Deadline for comments is July 15.
in history: In 1776, the Liberty Bell proclaimed
In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell
rang out from the tower of the Pennsylvania State
House (now known as Independence Hall), summoning
citizens to the first public reading of The Declaration
of Independence, according to The
On July 4, the historic document
was adopted by delegates to the Continental Congress
meeting in the State House. However, the Liberty
Bell, which bore the apt biblical quotation, "Proclaim
Liberty Throughout All the Land unto All the Inhabitants
Thereof," was not rung until the Declaration
of Independence returned from the printer on July
rural ones, struggle to meet demand for Internet access
Almost all U.S. libraries now have free
Internet access, but they are struggling to meet the
public's demand for the service, especially in rural
areas, according to a new study done by Florida
The study found that 99.6 percent of all
public libraries were connected to the Internet in 2004,
but "more than 85 percent of libraries said they
were not able to meet the public demand for computers
consistently or at certain times of the day," says
Newswise, a research-reporting service.
"Adding to the problem is the fact that 13 percent
of libraries reported a decrease in their technology
budgets from the previous year, and more than 50 percent
indicated their technology budgets stayed the same with
no increase for inflation or demand for services."
Rural libraries generally "have slower
connections, fewer workstations and fewer training opportunities"
than urban libraries, Newswise reports. Some libraries
with wireless capability have begun to loan laptops
for use inside the building because they lack money
and/or the space for more workstations, researcher John
Carlo Bertot said. "About 18 percent of libraries
already have wireless Internet access and 21 percent
are planning wireless access within the next year,"
Newswise reports. (Read
"Public libraries serve a vital role
in helping to bridge the digital divide," Bertot
said. "They play a critical role in keeping people
from falling behind, which is important for careers
and quality of life. It's a place of first and last
resort for a lot of people."
The study was funded by the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation and the American
Library Association. Other professors who performed
the work were Charles R. McClure and Paul T. Jaeger,
who is research-development manager at the Information
Use Management and Policy Institute in the
FSU College of Information.
keeping tabs on local spending of tobacco-settlement
When the Kentucky General Assembly
set aside half the state's national tobacco-settlement
money for agricultural development, it allocated
35 percent of that half to local agriculture councils,
which set priorities for use of the money in each
county. But the county councils lack any direct
authority over spending of the money by groups
and businesses that are awarded the grants, and
state Agricultural Development Board
officials acknowledge that they are short-handed
when it comes to checking up on spending at the
county and farm level, even though the settlement
fund is the largest discretionary pot of money
in Kentucky state government.
That's an invitation
for some accountability reporting, and the Casey
County News of Liberty, Ky., is meeting
the challenge. The paper is in the middle of a
five-part series about tobacco-settlement spending
in the county, and is asking pertinent questions
about state, regional and local oversight. For
example, a story last week about a multi-county
goat program questioned whether the administrator
was checking to see whether farmers had met the
requirements for use of the money, and one this
week about a forage program posed similar questions.
The Casey County
News has no Web site, but its stories are posted
here, on the site
of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community
Issues. Also in the Reports section
of the site are stories by students in the University
of Kentucky's Rural Journalism class,
taught by the director, on the future of tobacco
and tobacco-dependent communities. Other reports
from the class and a class at the University
of North Carolina will be posted soon.
journalist heightens call for federal shield law
to protect sources
With the jailing yesterday of New
York Times reporter Judith Miller for
refusing to release confidential source information,
here for the Times' full story) the Newspaper
Association of America and 80 other news
media organizations, are calling for "Congress
to act on legislation that would protect journalists"
who refuse to reveal such information. (Read
more from NAA)
The NAA release said the proposed Free
Flow of Information Act would follow Justice
Department guidelines, allowing prosecutors
to compel a journalist's testimony only after non-media
sources have been exhausted and the information is essential
to a criminal investigation or the resolution of a civil
case." NAA President and CEO John F. Sturm said,
“Confidential sources have played a vital role
in the reporting process, contributing important information
on [critical] issues. Without ... confidentiality, sources,
including whistle blowers, will not come forward.”
For The Washington Post story, click
The Times, which usually has three or
four editorials, had only one
today, on the Miller case, saying, "This is a proud
but awful moment for The New York Times and its employees.
Ms. Miller has taken a path that will be lonely and
painful ... but we are certain she did the right thing.
She is surrendering her liberty in defense of a greater
liberty, granted to a free press ... so journalists
can work on behalf of the public without fear of regulation
or retaliation." For the Post editorial on Miller,
There is disagreement in the news
business about Miller's decision, but we think all media
owners need to get behind the bill for a federal shield
law and explain to their readers, viewers and listeners
wby it's important to have confidential sources. --Al
Cross, IRJCI director
Chief blogger Bill Griffin adds this
food for thought: German theologian Rev. Martin Niemoller
said in 1945 about his Nazi imprisonment following the
round-up of numerous other groups, "Then they came
for me, and ... there was no one left to speak up for
Meth toll on rural
families increasing; 'fosters family breakups,' reports
Wreckage from methamphetamine is
widening and deepening, destroying not only users,
but those who depend on them to live. The growing
epidemic means family members are becoming collateral
damage, says a survey by the National
Association of Counties.
"The nation's methamphetamine
epidemic [especially prevalent in rural areas]
continues to challenge not just local law enforcement
but child welfare workers across the country,"
reports Howard Berkes of National Public
Click here to read or listen to his story.
Berkes reports not only on the conclusions
of a new National Association of Counties
(NACO) survey of sheriffs, noted in yesterday's
Rural Blog, but on responses from more than 300
county child-welfare officials, which detailed
the anguish of the drug's social consequences.
"Forty percent of the county
child-welfare workers surveyed say meth abuse
by parents puts more children in foster care or
some other out-of-home placement. Almost 60 percent
say meth is such a persistent drug that it makes
reunification of families more difficult,"
still basic commerce in Virginia community; leave
the wallet at home
Time has stood still somewhat,
at least in economics and commerce, in a Virginia
community where bartering is still a valued means
"They came to Blue Mountain
Mercantile store in downtown Floyd, Va., to get
back to the land, to be alone, to find community
or to make music. They fit here because they didn't’t
quite fit in anywhere else. Here the counterculture
met the mountain culture and something unique
was born," waxes Calvin Woodward of The
Associated Press. (Read
more) That "something" is a growing
A lack of money in both groups inspired
the barter system, which is defined as trading
goods or services with no money involved."
Woodward writes this economic throwback to more
agrarian days "courses through Floyd, an
Appalachian town that still attracts people who
are off the beaten path in life."
At a medical "Barter Clinic,"
people bring firewood, meat and soap to trade
for medical services. A man worked for 15 minutes
at a local natural foods and exotic gifts store
for "a few croissants as payment the next
day," notes Woodward. Dawn Shiner and her
family help a farmer cut and bale hay, and in
return they receive all the hay they need. They
also work at a market for five pounds of almonds
Federal Reserve Bank of
Richmond economists told Woodward "informal
commerce, including bartering, baby-sitting, lawn
mowing and unreported moonlighting, make up at
least 6 percent and even as much as 20 percent
of the national economy." And, he notes,
that doesn’t count criminal transactions.
gay rights suit reopened against Kentucky county
The American Civil Liberties
Union has asked a federal judge to reopen
its gay-rights lawsuit against the Boyd County,
Kentucky schools, charging inadequate anti-harassment
"The ACLU argued school officials
failed to comply with a settlement that allowed
the Boyd County High School Gay-Straight Alliance
to use school facilities," writes Alan Maimon
of The Courier-Journal. (Read
more) The settlement required the school district
to provide anti-harassment training focused on
"sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination,"
writes Maimon for the Louisville newspaper.
Sharon McGowan, a staff attorney
for the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, told
Maimon, "To end up in front of the judge
again is very disappointing, but the district's
efforts fell so far short of the mark." Teresa
Cornette, a school board member, told The C-J
the district has "struggled to come up with
a complete program about sexual orientation."
To read the ACLU press release, click
creates booming need for miners, competition among
Growing global energy demands and
a long untapped major source of coal near Halifax,
Nova Scotia, has fueled a rush of applications
from former and would-be miners, and forged an
alliance of coal companies from around the world
to unearth the "black gold."
"More than 600 résumés
sit on a desk in Bob Burchell's Glace Bay, Nova
Scotia, office, from coal miners salivating at
the possibility of the sooty, black mineral again
fueling the economy and the culture of Cape Breton"
Island, writes Shawna Richer of the Globe
and Mail of Toronto. (Read
more) Burchell toiled in a Nova Scotia mine
until 1982, becoming an international representative
for the United Mine Workers.
Coal, Richer writes, "was both
literally and figuratively the foundation on which
Cape Breton was built." The Nova Scotia government
is set to announce which of three bidders will
open an abandoned underground mine closed nearly
four years ago. Australian company Xstrata
Coal, with its partners, Kaoclay
Resources Inc. of Halifax and Atlantic
Green Energy Development of Savannah,
Ga.; Donkin Resources, of Sydney,
Nova Scotia; and a third group in partnership
with Commonwealth Coal of Virginia,
are under consideration for the job.
The new mine could, the newspaper
reports, create up to 300 jobs directly and 700
indirectly. Some 12,000 people were employed in
the coal industry at its peak in the area. As
much as 700 million tons of coal could come from
the mine. Tunnels were dug at the site near Glace
Bay more than two decades ago but the coal reserve
was never extracted, writes Richer.
stands for rural causes, shaping, influencing
A community group formed in opposition
to incorporation of a new city in Arizona is expanding
its efforts to direct development in its predominantly
"The Better Living Coalition
formed more than a year ago as an opposition group
to [efforts to] incorporate a city of San Tan,"
writes Sara Thorson of Scottsdale's East
Valley Tribune. (Read
more) "When the incorporation effort
failed, and a renewed effort was persuaded to
leave rural areas out of the proposed city, coalition
members decided they didn't’t want to stop
making a difference in their community,"
Thorson continues. Gordon Brown, spokesman for
the group, told Thorson, "We’re not
big on saying, ‘We see a problem and somebody
needs to fix this for us. We see a problem and
get out of our road, we’re going to fix
The group is expanding efforts to
identify community needs and is considering a
more formal membership process to accomplish goals.
Currently, 10 directors communicate with a growing
membership through e-mails and meetings, writes
Thorson. Brown also told her, "There’s
always been kind of a loose-knit organization
[but], an interconnected community. Somebody ...
cries wolf and people come from the hills."
Group members have discovered they face many of
the same issues; responsible housing, development,
community fundraising, unregulated subdivisions
faster along rural interstate highways; signs
of the times?
"Life in the fast lane"
usually refers to the pace of city dwellers. And
a tour of the countryside usually means a leisurely
stroll, but much of that is changing. Speed limits
on some interstates in rural areas are going up.
of Transportation workers [have] began
replacing more than 600 signs to reflect the higher
limits of 70 mph for cars and 65 mph for large
trucks on rural interstates, which are those that
are 10 miles outside of areas with populations
of 50,000 or more. The 55 mph limit in urban areas
will not change," writes By Harold J. Adams
of The Courier-Journal. (Read
The Louisville newspaper reports
the higher limits are being posted along parts
of Interstates 64, 164, 65, 69, 70, 74, 94, the
Indiana Toll Road and parts of I-469 around Fort
Wayne. Limits also are being increased to 65 mph
on sections of U.S. 20 and U.S. 31 in rural Elkhart
and St. Joseph counties. The limit has gone up
slightly on sections of I-64 and I-65 in Kentucky.
Resident Dale Barns told Adams, "I like it.
You get places quicker," while Melvin Roberts
of Columbus, Ohio, isn't a fan of the change.
"at 65, people are doing 75 to 80, and now
that it's 70 [so] they're doing 85 to 90,"
The Insurance Institute
for Highway Safety reports Indiana joined
Iowa as the 30th and 31st states to authorize
speed limits of at least 70 mph on rural interstates.
Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio -- have speed limits
of 65 mph. Michigan has a 70 mph limit for cars
and a 55 mph limit for trucks, Adams writes.
Sheriffs say meth
top U.S. drug problem; survey at odds with administration?
Five hundred sheriff's departments in
45 states say methamphetamine has become the leading
drug problem affecting local law enforcement in the
United States, according to a national survey.
Association of Counties survey shows 90
percent of the sheriffs questioned "reported increases
in meth-related arrests in their counties over the last
three years, and more than half considered meth the
most serious problems their department faces,"
writes Ryan Lenz of The Associated Press.
more) Arrests have packed jails in the Midwest and
elsewhere, swamped other county-level agencies, and
stretched the resources for agencies that care for children
whose parents have become addicted and cleaning up the
toxic chemicals left behind by largely rural meth cookers,
Larry Naake, NACo's executive director,
told Lenz, "We're finding out that this is bigger
problem than we thought." The White House Office
of National Drug Control Policy, however,
recently declared that marijuana remains the nation's
most substantial drug problem with 15 million users
compared to1 million meth users. But most law enforcement
agencies say the costs of meth far outweigh marijuana's
The greatest increase in meth arrests
over the last five years occurred in the upper Midwest,
the Southwest and Northwest. Arrests doubled in Arizona,
Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota,
Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wyoming. Georgia, Kentucky,
South Dakota, Iowa and Mississippi, reported similar
increases, notes Lenz.
Sheriff Keith Cain in Daviess County,
Kentucky, which leads the state in meth arrests, said
meth has slowed fighting other crimes. He told Lenz,
"The other crime ... worsens because it's not being
dealt with." The survey also examined meth's effect
on children and found 40 percent of child welfare officials
in 13 states where welfare is a county responsibility
had removed more children from homes because of meth.
Tax land more heavily
than buildings to encourage development, researcher
Two-rate property tax systems, with lower
taxes on buildings and higher levies on land, encourage
the construction of new buildings and maintenance of
old ones, and thus promote growth in income and employment,
says Richard England, an economics professor at the
University of New Hampshire.
In the June issue of National
Tax Journal, available only to members of the
National Tax Association, England wrote,
“Our research suggests that a two-rate property
tax would be good for local economic activity, especially
in New Hampshire's cities. It would also help to preserve
open space by encouraging larger buildings on smaller
lots.” England's research focused on Dover, N.H.,
which he said was chosen because it has a “landscape
ranging from a traditional central business district
to suburban shopping centers and office parks to undeveloped
farmland. Its housing stock ranges from aging apartment
buildings to new condo projects and from modest ranch
homes to expensive waterfront mansions.”
"More than a dozen cities and towns
in Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, Scranton and
Harrisburg, have operated under the two-rate system,"
reports Newswise, a research-reporting
service. In 2002, the Virginia legislature allowed the
city of Fairfax to do likewise. "Although two-rate
taxation has been restricted to Pennsylvania until now,"
England says, "interest seems to be spreading.
It is being seriously considered now in Virginia, Minnesota
and Connecticut." To read the Newswise release,
Judy Miller goes to jail rather than reveal confidential
U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan of Washington,
D.C., sent New York Times reporter
Judith Miller to jail today for contempt of court for
"refusing to divulge her source in the investigation
of the leak of an undercover CIA officer's name,"
The Associated Press reports.
"There is still a realistic possibility
that confinement might cause her to testify," Hogan
said. AP reports, "Unless Miller decides to talk,
she will be held until the grand jury ends its work
in October. The judge speculated that Miller's confinement
might cause her source to give her a more specific waiver
of confidentiality," as did the source of Time
magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, who said
that without the waiver he was prepared for months in
jail. Last week, Time said it was giving Cooper's notes
to U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating
the leak of the name of undercover agent Valerie Plame.
"Fitzgerald opposed a request that
Cooper and Miller to be granted home detention —
instead of jail — for remaining tight-lipped about
their sources," AP reports. "Fitzgerald said
allowing them home confinement would make it easier
for them to continue to defy the court order."
AP sums up: "The case is among the
most serious legal clashes between the media and the
government since the Supreme Court in 1971 refused to
stop the Times and The Washington Post from
publishing a classified history of the Vietnam War known
as the Pentagon Papers. This time, the high court refused
to hear the reporters’ appeal." In 1972,
the court ruled 5-4 that the First Amendment right to
gather news did not give journalists the right to withhold
testimony in a criminal case. But the opinion said there
might be cases in which such a privilege would exist,
and some federal appellate courts recognized it. But
recently the trend has gone against the news media,
and today's sentencing is a landmark event in that process.
All states but Wyoming have "shield
laws" or court decisions that establish at least
some limited reporters' privilege to keep sources confidential,
and a bill in Congress would enact a federal shield
Beefing up openness:
Bipartisan coalition seeks law to force FOI Act compliance
A political pastiche of legislators, advocacy
groups and news organizations is looking to crack down
on government officials who ignore public requests for
information, and their efforts earned them a story in
The Washington Post this morning.
Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and John
Cornyn (R-Tex.) are pushing legislative proposals that
would fine agencies that ignore Freedom of Information
Act requests. They also want to create a an ombudsman
for FOIA, who would help referee conflicts while requiring
departments to provide more information on how quickly
they process requests, Brian Faler writes for the Post.
more) The ombudsman provision would help those unhappy
with an agency's decision, an alternative to going to
court. Currently, they can appeal and then sue if necessary
-- an option that is too costly for many.
Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general,
told Faler that the bill reflects laws in many states.
"In Washington there's no real presumption of openness,"
he said. "There seems to be very few incentives
. . . to encourage timely compliance with FOIA requests."
The bill would penalize agencies that do not meet the
current requirement to within 20 business days whether
requests will be met, and would reduce the number of
legal grounds on which an agency could withhold a document
if it does not meet the 20-day deadline. It would also
create a public, government-wide tracking system to
keep tabs on requests.
The legislation has been endorsed by a
groups across the political spectrum, including the
Civil Liberties Union, the Heritage
Cause, along with some news media organizations.
Association of America and the Society
of Professional Journalists also support
it. We encourage rural media to ask their senators
and congressmen to vote for the bill.
face charges for taking photos of Florida voters in
A journalist arrested for taking photos
of Florida voters in a long line last Election Day will
continue to face misdemeanor charges, a Palm Beach County
judge said yesterday, the Palm Beach Post
Judge Peter Evans ruled James Henry violated
a state law against soliciting voters inside a 50-foot
buffer zone. "Criminal defense attorneys for Henry,
a Harvard-trained lawyer and author, had asked that
the charges be dismissed. They argued that the state
statute creating a 50-foot buffer ban on soliciting
voters did not apply to working media," Susan Spencer-Wendel
reports. Evans wrote that the law "is designed
to allow voters to cast their votes unmolested and with
some degree of peace. There must come a time when the
constant bombardment of partisan politics and news gathering
will stop and voters may be free to walk into a voting
Henry, 55, of New York, was in Palm Beach
reporting for a book, Democracy In America.
"A sheriff's deputy, following the order of then-Elections
Supervisor Theresa LePore, warned Henry to stop taking
photos, according to an arrest report," Spencer-Wendel
writes. "Henry refused, the report said, then fled
when the deputy told him he would be arrested."
He is charged with resisting arrest and unlawful solicitation
on interactive audience participation; passive soon
Printed news, through the Internet, is morphing into
universal town squares, where citizens have a say and
where every reader is a reporter. The
News & Record of Greensboro, N.C.,
is New York Times reporter Kit Seelye's
example of a transformation in the works across the
country, "where top-down, voice-of-God journalism
is being challenged by what is called participatory
journalism, or civic or citizen journalism," Seelye
writes. "Under this model, readers contribute to
the newspaper. And they are doing so in many forms,
including blogs, photos, audio, video and podcasts."
Seeyle continues, "Whether such efforts
can revive revenue for newspaper publishers is an open
question, but with gloomy financial forecasts and declines
in circulation, some papers are starting to see participatory
journalism as their hope for reconnecting with their
Interactivity has many permutations. Citizens
are the only contributors to Backfence.com,
in suburban Virginia, and the Web site is unedited.
"In Bluffton, S.C., Blufftontoday.com
is made up largely of reader contributions, but some
content is also published in a colorful tabloid newspaper
and distributed free," Seelye writes. "In
Colorado, The Rocky Mountain News is
creating 39 local Web sites under the umbrella of YourHub.com,
with most of the material intended to come from readers.
. . . Nearly all newspapers have been troubled by the
loss of 18-to-34-year-old readers; the loss of trust
in conventional news media; and the emergence of technology,
especially blogs, that make it easy for ordinary people
to barge into the old media's one-way conversation."
In Greensboro, www.Greensboro101.com
says it already provides residents with "an alternative
media hub." Several area politicians blog, including
city council member Sandy Carmany, who scooped The N&R
recently on the city budget. And, when an N&R reporter
called councilman Tom Phillips for comment on the paper's
would-be scoop on some Wal-Mart
news, Phillips broke the story on his blog!
inaction threatens U.S. influence; year without ratification
A year-old tobacco treaty, designed to tighten control
of cigarette advertising and consumption worldwide has
yet to be ratified by the U.S. Senate, The Washington
Post notes today. (Read
The treaty is already in effect in 70
nations, and when then-Health and Human Services Secretary
Tommy Thompson signed the treaty in May 2004, he said
he hoped the treaty would pass by year's end. State
Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez told Kaufman,
"The treaty is still under interagency review."
The treaty calls for reducing tobacco
consumption through various measures, including increasing
the size of safety warnings, strictly limiting cigarette
advertising, moving toward smoke-free workplaces and
public areas, and reducing cigarette smuggling, a priority
for tobacco companies.
Reynolds Tobacco Co. said it objects to
treaty provisions that "would restrict cigarette
advertising and centralize and expand government authority
over other aspects of the industry." A company
spokesman told Kaufman, "Some of the restrictions
are things that could prevent us from competing effectively
for the business of adult smokers." A spokeswoman
Group, the parent of Philip
Morris USA, voiced concerns about possible
restrictions on the cigarette sales in duty-free stores
and advertising bans in some nations, Kaufman writes.
Altria, unlike RJR, favors having the Food
and Drug Administration regulate tobacco
products and is using its influence in Congress to get
a bill passed.
A spokesman for Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.,
home of RJR, told Kaufman Burr opposes "anything
that threatens the viability of tobacco farmers."
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign
for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the administration
is forfeiting the nation's leadership on tobacco-control
issues and may see other nations make decisions that
will have a significant impact on U.S. consumers and
Some Atlanta suburban
residents say two Wal-Marts too close for comfort
In fast-growing Cobb County, Georgia,
a developer is scraping away trees near a parkway to
make room for a Wal-Mart Supercenter
less than three miles from an existing Supercenter on
the same road.
"When the new store opens next year,
the two Supercenters will be the closest together in
metro Atlanta," writes Brenden Sager of the
Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Read
more) Wal-Mart spokesman Glen Wilkins told Sager,
"We usually open stores in areas that are growing
The back-to-back Wal-Marts are the latest
development along a rapid growth corridor. Within the
last few years, Home Depot and Lowe's have opened stores
there, just a short drive from a large mall near Interstate
75. Also, a SuperTarget is under construction between
the Wal-Marts, in a shopping center that will include
a Circuit City and an OfficeMax, notes Sager.
Luring the retailers is a bumper crop
of new houses in an upscale subdivisions around a lake,
once a quiet rural area of small ranch houses and trailers.
Now, home prices in the subdivision start at $620,000
and go up to more than $1 million. While soaring property
values offer some compensation for their problems, residents
are starting to feel the pinch of development and traffic.
To some, two Wal-Mart Supercenters so close together
is too much.
Troy Williams, who lives less than half
a mile from the new superstore, told Sager, "It's
absurd." Williams runs an antiques store with his
retired parents along North Cobb Parkway at the Bartow
County line. He and others who live in the area have
heard rumors that as soon as the new Wal-Mart opens,
the company will close the other store or turn it into
a Sam's Club, which has happened elsewhere. But, a Wal-Mart
spokesman told the newspaper, "We have no plans
to close that one down."
seeks kiddie disciples of health, apostles of greens
Smack in the middle of the power-center
of this hectic world of fast-food, high fat, high carb,
high sugar, high grease-mania nation, appeared an oasis
of health -- and the keepers of this otherworldly vestibule
of veggies were kids, and their high priestess was a
gourmet restaurateur from Berkeley, Calif.
The great gourmand and writer R.W. Apple
Jr. of The New York Times reports from
the National Mall in Washington that he saw "a
dozen raised beds of thriving corn, beans and eggplants,
okra and mizuna, onions and tomatoes." (Read
more) The garden was part of a plan by Alice Waters
to improve the eating habits of schoolchildren and promote
sustainable agriculture at the same time.
In a fell swoop, Waters was fighting rampant
obesity and supporting sustainable, local agriculture.
She terms it "edible education," and she has
declared all-out war on the burger-and-soda school lunch,
writes Apple. The Washington garden was a miniature
version of the Edible Schoolyard, a one-acre
garden at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in
Berkeley, where students plant and harvest fruits and
vegetables, then cook and eat meals using their own
produce. Waters told Apple, "It makes the connection
for them ... If they grow it, we find, they'll probably
The garden on the mall helped Waters draw
attention to what she is doing as she begins to expand
the program at the King school into all 16 public schools
in Berkeley, providing nutritious lunches for more than
9,000 students from kindergarten through high school.
She hopes it will be a pilot program for the nation,
writes "Johnny" Apple.
promotes 'Interdependence Day' to learn from world
Inspired by the recent International
Rural Network Conference in Abingdon, Va.,
where experts from 46 counties and 35 states discussed
common problems, Rural
Policy Research Institute columnist Tom
Rowley observes, "We all too often think we’ve
nothing to learn from other countries. As a result,
many policymakers choose to ignore that the world is
a shrinking place -- that the global economy inextricably
links (everyone worldwide). They choose to deny that
we -- rural (and urban) -- are all in it together."
And, Rowley notes, "policymakers
aren’t the only ones. American citizens, too,
have our fair share of hang-ups when it comes to learning
from and working with people in other countries."
He writes that his friend, Priscilla Salant of the University
of Idaho described the stares and crossed arms
she gets when sharing lessons from abroad, and says
"You can’t speak French in Idaho." But
"Metaphorically we must speak [multiple languages]
. . . rural people everywhere must work together."
Brian Dabson, associate director of the Institute, told
him, “We must build bridges across the gaps that
"At the conference, hundreds of those
bridges started taking shape," Rowley reports.
"People interested in forestry took back ideas
from a project in Virginia on harvesting lower quality
“character grade” logs and selling them
at a premium in niche markets—benefiting the forest,
the landowner, and the logger. Those working in education
learned from successful efforts to base curriculum for
aboriginal Australians in their own place and their
Rowley ends: "Lest I be labeled 'unpatriotic,'
let me quickly add that I do not think that interdependence
contradicts our independence. American independence
is to be treasured, and those who have won and kept
it for us, honored. Our independence, however, should
never be a rationale for isolation or an excuse for
not working with and learning from others. In today’s
world, our neighbors may be thousands of miles away,
but they are still our neighbors — economically,
environmentally, and politically."
'Meth mouth' costs
rising for states as numbers of addicted inmates rise
The explosion of methamphetamine addiction
and its resulting dental damage and neglect has added
to prison costs for dental care, as states see more
inmates "with black-orange smiles, enamel completely
rotted, gums bleeding and receding, and no choice but
to have every tooth pulled," writes Brett Barrouquere
of The Associated Press, offering some
fresh data on a growing problem. (Read
The chemicals used to make methamphetamine
slow the blood flow to teeth and speed up decay. The
drug also dries up the the mouth, gives users a sweet
tooth that leads to high intake of "sugary junk
food and soft drinks with lots of caffeine," AP
reports. "Meth mouth" statistics are hard
to come by, but Barrouquere reports that the number
of days a dentist served inmates in North Dakota shot
from 50 in 2000 to 78 in 2004. Minnesota's bill for
inmate dental care went from $1.2 million in 2000 to
$2 million in 2004.
Extractions costs taxpayers $500 per inmate.
Ken Fields, a spokesman for Correctional
Medical Services in St. Louis, which provides
dental and medical care in prisons in 27 states, told
AP, "It's in every state I can think of."
Meth is especially a problem in rural areas, where production
growth in Appalachia, making up for white outmigration
Hispanics have surpassed African Americans
as the nation's largest minority group, but not in the
13 states that make up the 200,000 square miles of Appalachia.
However, Hispanics' cultural contributions are carving
out special niches and increasing their numbers and
influence throughout the mountainous region.
Lee Mueller, Eastern Kentucky Bureau chief
for the Lexington Herald-Leader, localized
an Associated Press story on Hispanic
influence in Appalachia. by profiling several Hispanics
who have parlayed their culture into businesses in Paintsville,
Pikeville, Hazard and West Liberty, Ky. (Read
"Historically, Kentucky's section
of Appalachia has contained few non-whites. But the
State Data Center shows a relative explosion
in the region's Hispanic population since 1990,"
writes Mueller. "In Pike, Floyd, Martin, Magoffin
and Johnson counties, the number of Hispanics increased
by 155 percent, from 387 to 987, between 1990 and 2000."
A 2004 study by the Population
Reference Bureau found blacks still outnumber
Hispanics in Appalachia, although Hispanics have fueled
the growth there since the 1990s, writes AP's Vickie
more) "Nearly half of Appalachia's 321,000
new residents since 2000 are minority members, about
80,000 of them Hispanics. Because so many are children
or working-age adults, the study done for the Appalachian
Regional Commission concludes that racial and
ethnic diversity will only grow," she writes.
Smith also points out, "Without
minority growth, West Virginia and some other states
would have lost population between 1990 and 2000: The
report found that 211,000 new minority residents offset
the loss of 47,000 whites in northern Appalachia."
For more information on the ethnic background of the
region, see The
Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia
at Marshall University.
Employment in Appalachia
still a challenge; Gannett newspapers survey needs
Gannett News Service
took a fresh look at the continuing economic challenges
in Appalachia, focusing on southeastern Ohio, which
is served by several Gannett Co. newspapers.
"Too few roads and inadequate water
and sewer connections continue to bedevil some parts
of Appalachia's 13-state region," Raju Chebium
from GNS headquarters in Washington. His story that
was part of a package published over the weekend. In
Ohio's part of the federally defined Appalachian Region,
Gannett has newspapers in Zanesville and Chillicothe.
It also has dailies in Cincinnati, Mansfield, Newark,
and Lancaster, which are near the region and reach it
with their circulation. Gannett also owns The
Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, W.Va., the only
state lying entirely within the region.
Ohio has 29 counties are in the region
handled by the Appalachian
Regional Commission. Because they have
smaller populations, the economic impact is greater
if a local company closes or lays off workers, and Appalachian
Ohio "tends to be less economically diversified
than counties around Ohio’s big cities, so if
a company closes, its former workers must scramble to
find a good-paying job," Dennis Evans of the Ohio
Department of Job and Family Services in
Columbus told the news service.
Since the commission was created 40 years
ago, poverty in Appalachia has been reduced by 50 percent,
and the region's high-school graduation rate is up by
70 percent, but there are still pockets of resistance
to federal and state efforts, GNS reports. For look
at poverty in several Ohio counties, by Greg Wright,
here; for a more localized version by Daniel Prazer
of the Chillicothe Gazette, click
Land boom in rural
Texas fueled by urbanites' desire for 'a place to go'
Texans "frustrated by lackluster
returns on Wall Street and encouraged by the cheapest
money in a generation, gobbling up rural land for personal
hunting estates" are seeking respite from their
teeming cities in increasing numbers, reports Angela
Shah of The Dallas Morning News (Read
James Griffiths, an Abilene real estate
agent who sold a property to a client who wants a place
to hunt and fish, told Shah, "People just want
a place to go." And, Shah reports, businesses --
including dairy farms that have moved to the state from
California -- have relocated because land is so much
cheaper than on the coasts. But the land rush hasn't
reversed the decline of many Texas' rural communities,
whose share of the population in 2040 is expected to
drop to 9 percent, from 20 percent in 2000.
While "some old-timers say higher
land prices make the math of farming a lot trickier,"
new cash is flowing into normally strapped economies,
and landowners have adapted, ditching century-old farms
for dude ranches catering to city slickers and Old West
re-enactors," she writes. "Behind the boom
is an urban state rediscovering its country heritage."
"North Texans, in particular, are
attracted to the relatively nearby communities in West
Texas for recreational and hunting land," Shah
reports. "In Taylor County where Abilene is located,
former scrubland is now prized for abundant white-tail
deer, turkey and quail," she reports, citing Griffiths.
"In some parts of West Texas, real-estate prices
Curing doctor shortage:
University of Arizona reaches out to inspire rural help
Arizona's flagship university has started
special "summer camps" for high school students
from around the state to pique their interests in medicine
in hopes they will enter the profession to help address
the state's doctor shortage, especially in its rural
The camps are conducted by the University
of Arizona's Health
Sciences Center. One "MedCamp"
ended last week and gave students a "comprehensive
overview of the medical field." A second MedCamp,
lasting six weeks, in addition to exposure to the medical
field, is giving 43 students "a taste of college
life through academics and dorm living," writes
Monica Warren of the Tuscon Citizen.
The first camp included a "virtual
autopsy," a tour of the medical center and lectures
from the hospital's top doctors. Nishant Patel participated
in MedCamp in 1998 and told Warren "it was one
of the main things that got me interested in medicine."
Linda Don, director of the Office of Minority Affairs
for the health center, told Warren the more intensive
program also prepares students [also] for the "rigor
The students in the intensive course are
to travel to Northern Arizona University
for a week to learn dentistry and physical therapy,
and to visit a Hopi health center and hear from a traditional
American Indian healer. The program started in 1968
to increase the number of minorities in health care
in Arizona and the University of Arizona said, "to
improve health care in rural and economically disadvantaged
Couple makes natural
farming profitable through marketing innovations
A Kentucky farming couple is using high-tech
and modern marketing methods to enhance the ancient
art of farming into a money-making and all-natural enterprise.
Naturel Farm near Smiths Grove uses high-tech marketing
to sell their grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chickens
and year-round crops. "In addition to sending a
weekly e-mail of produce available from their farm to
regular customers, Paul and Alison Wiediger take e-mail
orders so if a family likes mesclun, but not lettuce,
they can order that," reports Greg Wells of the
Bowling Green Daily News. (Read
Paul Wiediger told Wells, "From
7 to 12 they can pick up their order at the farmers'
market. They know we'll have what they wanted waiting
for them." In the winter, they offer home delivery
of produce, a personal touch that is "an outgrowth
of the connection they have with their customers,"
Though the farm uses organic methods,
it has opted out of the official "organic"
label because of the cost involved in the program, Wells
writes. Alison Wiediger told him, "We're about
making a living. People talk about sustainable agriculture
like it's some kind of lofty ideal. If it isn't profitable,
it isn't sustainable."
ponders ordinance to preserve history, maybe a tree
A California newspaper, examining a proposal
for a historic preservation ordinance in rural Humboldt
County, asks a variation on an old question, "If
a tree were removed, who would make a sound?"
Wendy Butler of The Eureka
Reporter writes that the county does
not have the ability to prevent destruction of historic
places or objects such as the Old
Arrow Tree, the site of an Indian treaty with settlers,
though the tree is listed as one of the California
State Historical Landmarks. (Read
County Senior Planner Michael Richardson
told Butler if a development were planned on that parcel
of land, it would come under the state's Environmental
Quality Act which would make it mandatory to disclose
the development’s potential impacts, and developers
would have to explore alternatives “that are less
damaging,” but “There is, in my mind, a
need to develop policies to protect historic resources.”
Eureka is the only city in Humboldt County
with a historic preservation ordinance and a Local Register
of Historic Places. Thirteen Humboldt County locations
are on the California historical register and 51 sites
are listed on the National
Register of Historic Places, she writes. The county
is updating its general plan.
Manganese may pose
showery risk, especially in private supplies such as
If you shower with water from a well or
another private supply, you may be at increased risk
for damage to the brain and the rest of the central
nervous system, a new study warns.
“Nearly 9 million people in the
United States are exposed to manganese levels that our
study shows may cause toxic effects,” says Dr.
John Spangler, an associate professor of family medicine
at the Wake Forest University School
of Medicine. “Inhaling manganese, rather than
eating or drinking it, is far more efficient at delivering
manganese to the brain.” Manganese "can cause
learning and coordination disabilities, behavioral changes
and a condition that is similar to Parkinson’s
disease," reports Newswise,
a service that distributes research results.
Manganese levels are especially high in
wells and other private water supplies. Public water
systems are required to monitor and limit levels of
the naturally occurring element, but the Environmental
Protection Agency standard for manganese is
based on odor and taste, not the potential risk of accumulation
in the brain via inhalation.
Spangler found that concentrations well
below the EPA standard might lead to brain injury. He
said, “Inhaling manganese, rather than eating
or drinking it, is far more efficient at delivering
manganese to the brain. The nerve cells involved in
smell are a direct pathway for toxins to enter the brain.”
Newswise reports, "Children, pregnant women, the
elderly, and patients with liver disease are at highest
risk from manganese toxicity. Some of these groups have
developed manganese poisoning even at fairly low doses
in their water supplies, Spangler said."
According to Newswise, "The study
is the first to show the potential for permanent brain
damage from breathing vaporized manganese during a shower.
It was conducted by reviewing the medical literature
and calculating, based on animal studies, the amount
of manganese people would absorb by showering 10 minutes
a day." The study appears
in the current issue of Medical Hypotheses,
a forum for ideas in biomedical science.
Guild, SPJ call
for observances of the impact of sources case on journalism
"The Newspaper Guild
has asked industry workers to pause and stand for two
minutes of silence at noon on Wednesday. In addition,
the Guild has asked its local unions to conduct one-hour
vigils outside federal courthouses," both in observation
of the jail time about to be served by Judith Miller
of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper
of Time magazine for refusing to reveal
their sources before a grand jury, the Society
of Professional Journalists said in a
news release today.
SPJ President Irwin Gratz, of Maine
Public Radio, called on journalists "to
mark the appointed time as you see fit. And I ask the
public to ponder the potential impact of this action
on the practice of journalism in the United States."
Gratz said, "Anonymous sources are
sometimes necessary in ferreting out vital information
on the operation of our governments, and the integrity
of the profession and its mission in informing the public
are jeopardized when journalists don't honor their promises
of confidentiality to those sources. The Society believes
anonymity should not be bestowed lightly, that sources'
motives must always be questioned before granting anonymity
and that the public is entitled to as much information
as possible on sources' reliability. Although we deplore
the overreliance on anonymous sources, we nevertheless
stand with those principled professionals who refuse
to abandon their promises of confidentiality to their
sources when the government applies pressure."
Time last week agreed to turn over Cooper's notes as
demanded by the court.
Indians honor sacred
white buffalo, say rare calf's birth means peace and
Native Americans consider the birth of
a white buffalo much as christians view the birth of
the Messiah, so members of many Indian nations came
to Bagdad, Ky., this past weekend for a sacred Lakota
ceremony to honor the recent birth of a white buffalo
The calf, "named Medicine Heart,
was born June 3 at Buffalo Crossing in Shelby County.
Its Lakota name is Cante Pejuta. Steve McCullough, a
Lakota Shawnee from Indiana, led the 90-minute ceremony
that also thanked the Lakotas' creator for the gift,"
writes Steve Ivey of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
more) McCullough told Ivey, "The white buffalo
calf is still very sacred to us today."
Lakota tradition says the spirit White
Buffalo Calf Woman came to the Lakota 19 generations
ago to bring them their beliefs and traditions. Other
tribes also believe in the spirituality of the white
buffalo calf. McCullough told Ivey, "This ceremony
brings unity, peace and hope," he said. "It's
for all nationalities -- red, yellow, black and white."
Native Americans performed prayer songs to the beat
of a drum. At the end of the ceremony, several of the
200 spectators tied prayer flags and other offerings
around the fence to honor the buffalo calf, writes Ivey.
Medicine Heart is the first fully white
calf born at the ranch according owner Bob Allen. The
calf is the granddaughter of renowned bull Chief Joseph.
Allen purchased Chief Joseph in Denver for $101,000,
the highest price ever for a buffalo, Ivey writes. In
what some see as a spiritual omen, Chief Joseph was
struck by lightning Sept. 11, 2003, and died a couple
leaves Supreme Court with weak ties to grass roots
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement
today that she will retire from the Supreme Court has,
as we like to say here at the Institute for
Rural Journalism and Community Issues, rural
Not only was O'Connor raised on a working
ranch in Arizona, she is the only member of the court
who has stood for elective office, as a judge in her
home state. There are broad and deep virtues to working
the land for a living, and working the electorate for
an office. You gain a grasp of others' beliefs, values
and daily concerns in ways that urban work and appointive
office rarely provide.
Today, in a
story about Congressional reaction from the right
and left to the Supreme Court decision allowing governments
to take private property for private use, Mike Allen
and Charles Babington of The Washington Post
called it "the latest of several congressional
moves to curb a judiciary that some lawmakers consider
out of touch with average Americans." O'Connor
wrote the dissent in that 5-4 decision, saying "The
beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate
influence and power. . . . As for the victims, the government
now has license to transfer property from those with
fewer resources to those with more."
House Speaker Sam Rayburn once said of
the largely Eastern intellectuals in President John
Kennedy's foreign-policy circle, "I'd feel a whole
lot better if just one of them had once run for sheriff
somewhere." Likewise, this country, which is becoming
more deeply divided about the role of the judiciary
and the social issues it is being asked to decide, would
probably feel better about the Supreme Court if at least
one justice had the experiences of working the land
and asking for votes.
Here's hoping that whoever fills the vacancy,
and/or the one likely to be created by the retirement
of ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist will meet
those criteria. --Al Cross, IRJCI director
Vermont and other
mainly rural states continue to lead in Iraq combat
As Americans head into Independence Day
weekend, we remain in a war that has claimed the lives
of 1,741 U.S. military personnel. A disproportionate
number of those are from rural areas, where service
to country often is a higher calling, and the lifestyle,
historically, seems to generate more young warriors.
"California, the nation’s most
populous state, has the most casualties with 191, according
to Pentagon figures. Vermont, meanwhile, has the most
casualties per capita," reports Nick Timorous of
more) But, Timiraos writes, "In a state of
just over 600,000, 11 men and women from Vermont have
died in the war, or 1.77 per 100,000 citizens,"
the highest per-capita loss rate in the nation.
After Vermont, states with the most deaths
per capita are North Dakota (9), Wyoming (6), South
Dakota (8), and Mississippi (29). Other predominately
rural states with high losses include: Kentucky (25)
Ohio (69), Indiana (37), Tennessee (37), West Virginia
(13), Virginia (53) North Carolina (35), South Carolina
(29), Georgia (38), Pennsylvania (81), Louisiana (45),
and Arizona (27). A full accounting is on the story
The per-capita figures are calculated
by dividing war deaths for each state by the 2004 estimated
U.S. Census Bureau figures for state population. War
deaths by state are also available at the private Iraqi
Coalition Casualty Count Web site and alphabetically
by service at Defend
American - Operation Iraqi Freedom.
continue to back off convention in Hawaii; coverage
Four weeks ago today, The Rural Blog relayed
a Charlotte Observer report of a rebellion,
of sorts, in Gastonia, N.C., where local citizens asked
county officials not to go to the National
Association of Counties convention in
Hawaii because the county faces a tight budget. Al Tompkins
of The Poynter Institute and
others picked up the story, the rebellion spread, and
now convention organizers are trying to make up a shortfall
In his "Morning Meeting" column
today, Tompkins relays a report from The
Pacific Business News that many officials
have backed out of attending the convention
in a couple weeks because of news coverage about their
spending. Newspapers from Idaho,
and beyond have reported their politicians are demurring
or "having to defend their trip as being educational
or a way to learn to serve the public, he writes.
Now, Tompkins reports, the host city may
be out a bunch of money. The city, he writes, "will
spend a million dollars hosting the convention and only
has $25,000 of the expenses underwritten.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that
bad press was partly to blame for the fundraising problems.
push rural telecom goals; one is to assure all high-speed
The Congressional Rural Caucus has
launched a preemptive strike for telcos serving small,
predominately rural markets, saying the Universal Service
Fund must be continued as an industry-funded mechanism.
As Congress discusses a rewrite of the
Telecom Act, The bi-partisan group is stressing that
"rural carriers need to be compensated for all
traffic on their networks, a direct shot at voice-over-IP
providers," writes Vince Victor of Telephony
The CRC urged the House Committee
on Energy and Commerce to take the special
needs of rural telephone companies into consideration.
"As the [country] moves into the broadband age,
...Let's make sure the commitment to universal access
to communications services is protected during a rewrite
so that all Americans can have access to advanced communications,
such as DSL, cable, wireless and satellite."
"Broadband isn't simply a faster
way of connecting to the Internet. [It is] an essential
means through which rural America gains access to the
outside world," said U.S. Representative John Peterson
(R-Pa.), who is also co-chairman of the CRC. Peterson
continued, "If [rural] residents are to be competitive
in today's fast-paced, technology-driven global marketplace,
our communities will require affordable high-speed,
high-capacity access to data and information over the
Internet," Victor writes.
Global rural conference
had sessions on education issues around the world
Rural education scholars and activists
from around the globe converged last week in Abingdon,
Virginia at the fourth International Rural Network
Conference to discuss the struggles of rural
"Researchers presented academic papers
on important education topics [and] addressed other
rural issues, such as community development, culture,
tourism, and health and hygiene," writes Alan Richard
of Education Week. (Registration
here for Web site.)
Participants heard about “place-based
learning” in Alabama, a concept that emphasizes
the use of local resources to teach children, And about
the influence of rural parents in Australia. Jack Shelton,
a retired University of Alabama professor,
head of the small schools cooperative, PACERS,
talked about how educators can use rural communities
as platforms for teaching.
Shelton said “consequential learning”—
which ties learning to community needs—helps students
see their schoolwork can contribute to the economic
and educational development of rural communities."
Shelton said, “Schools have become franchises,
like McDonald's,”criticizing federal and state
education laws that require similar academic standards
and streamlined tests in many grades and subjects.
Megan McNicholl, immediate past president
of the Rural Education Forum Australia,
spoke about the influence rural parents have on federal
education policy in Australia. The network includes
organizations focused on education and health. She said,
“We’re not powerful, we’re influential.We’re
The conference was sponsored the Rural
Policy Research Institute, the Appalachian
Regional Commission, the International
Rural Network and other sponsors. This conference
was the first to be held in the United States. Others
were held in Scotland, Canada, and Australia. India
may be the next site.
2005 '10 That Do It Right' awards; models for other
& Publisher magazine's July issue reveals
the 10 newspapers E&P that believes set an example
for papers nationwide, with its annual List of '10 That
Do It Right.'
E&P Editor Greg Mitchell explains,
"We're not honoring the '10 Best' newspapers, but
10 papers that can serve as a model for others in one
or several important areas: Editorial. Community awareness.
Marketing. Tech. Attractive Design. Online innovations.
Diversity in coverage and in hiring. Once again, in
our search and evaluation, we found much to like across
the U.S.A.," the magazine writes. (Read
This is the sixth year E&P has awarded
these honors. The 2005 winners are the Chicago
Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.; the News
& Record of Greensboro, N.C.; the Columbia
Missourian: (circulation 7,011);
of Arlington Heights, Ill.; the Centre
Daily Times of State College, Pa. (circulation
of Portland, Ore.; the Asbury
of Neptune, N.J.; the Noblesville
(Ind.) Daily Times
Mom of Davenport, Iowa. Circulation figures
for the last two were not immediately available.
Explanations for the selections are in
story, and articles about each newspaper are available
on the E&P Web site to subscribers only
in the Print section.
You can get a free
copy of the Atlas of Poverty in America by
Amy Glasmeier, a geographer at
The Pennsylvania State University, is offering
free copies of her work, The Atlas on Poverty in
America: One Nation,
Pulling Apart, 1960–2003. The
50-page booklet (plus notes and index) provides graphically
vivid accounts, historical and contemporary, of economic
"The United States is a nation pulling
apart to a degree unknown in the last 25 years,"
Glasmeier says. "A decade of strong national economic
growth in the 1990s left many of America’s communities
falling far behind median national measures of economic
health," including Appalachia, the Mississippi
Delta, Native American lands and the region along the
Mexican border, which get special attention in the atlas.
Key factors for displays in the atlas,
Glasmeier says, "are the historical record of poverty
in America and the lived experience of being poor in
our nation today. A central theme is the enduring character
of poverty in America, consistently reflecting groups
of individuals and places over time. A key message of
this atlas is that America’s poor are people who
work, or who are dependents of people who work, and
face limited opportunity -- often due to living in places
that are seriously disadvantaged because of geography
or history or both. The story also is one about public
policy and the extent to which public intervention has
been sufficient to ensure that all persons in this country
have an equal chance to achieve their highest potential."
Glasmeier's research was supported by
a grant from the Ford Foundation. For
a free copy of the atlas, write Amy Glasmeier, Penn
State University, 308 Walker Building, University Park
PA 16802,or email@example.com.
Check out the Atlas at http://www.emsei.psu.edu/~kolb/amy/Atlas.
Glasmeier spoke at "Rural America,
Community Issues," a conference that the Institute
for Rural Journalism and Community Issues programmed
for the University of Maryland's Knight Center
for Specialized Journalism in mid-June. To
read reports about some other speakers' sessions, click
Thomas D. Clark,
historian with strong rural roots, laid to rest after
Kentucky Historian Laureate
Thomas D. Clark was remembered at his funeral yesterday
as a witty, earthy and fully engaged citizen who stayed
in touch with his rural roots all the way to his death
at nearly 102.
"Dr. Clark has cast
an imposing shadow over the landscape of Kentucky and
even of America," his University of Kentucky
History Department colleague, Dr. Charles P.
Roland, said in a tribute to Clark in a packed First
United Methodist Church in Lexington. "Kentucky's
debt to him is beyond expression." Roland called
him "a man of outstanding vigor" for whom
history was "a vital element in the life of society."
Clark was involved in many civic causes, and "his
involvement lent strength and legitimacy to any effort,"
Roland, a native of West
Tennessee, said Clark's rural upbringing in east-central
Mississippi often showed in his earthy characterizations.
Once Clark said he caught a colleague, with whom he
was in a dispute, "with wool between his teeth."
Roland explained that was Clark's way of calling the
colleague "a sheep-killing dog." He said Clark's
"masterpiece" was his 1944 book, Pills,
Petticoats and Plows, a history of country
stores. Among his 35-plus other works are A History
of Kentucky and The Southern Country Editor.
Roland said Clark was "a
historian of international distinction," and The
New York Times pretty much confirmed that judgment
yesterday, with a bylined obituary by Wolfgang Saxon.
To read it, click
Art Jester of the
Lexington Herald-Leader has
excellent report on the funeral.
starts airing Sunday on KET; schedule listed
"The Appalachians is an
elegant film about a people and a region that are rarely
examined beyond stereotypes. The writer and producer
... and the West Virginia-born executive producer, Mari-Lynn
C. Evans, want the world to know that the people who
live in the Appalachians from West Virginia to Alabama
have a proud heritage and have gotten a supremely raw
deal from the news media," writes
Anita Gates of The New York Times.
This documentary, which has aired in other
states, is coming to the state that has more persistently
poor counties than any other in Appalachia. Kentucky
Educational Television will air it in three
parts starting at 9 p.m. on July 3. The complete KET
airing schedule is: Part I: Sunday,
July 3, 9 p.m.;Wednesday, July 6, 2 a.m.;
Saturday, July 9, 10 p.m. Part II:
Sunday, July 10, 9 p.m.; Wednesday, July
13, 2 a.m.; Saturday, July 16, 10 p.m. Part
III: Sunday, July 17, 9 p.m.; Wednesday,
July 20, 2 a.m.; Saturday, July 23, 10 p.m.
This Day In History
- 1863 - The Battle of Gettysburg begins
The largest military conflict in North
American history began this day, 142 years ago, when
Union and Confederate forces collide at Gettysburg.
The epic battle lasted three days and resulted in a
retreat to Virginia by Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern
to reprint items from The Rural Blog is hereby granted,
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source of the material. If
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