Monday Roundup: Walmart Money

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Crystal Bridges is “the Art Museum Walmart Money Built” according to a headline in the New York Times. The headline goes with a review of the new museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, funded by Alice Walton, an heir to the Walmart fortune. 

We found the headline a bit snooty. What art museum was built without somebody’s money — be it be from Rockefeller, Frick or Mellon? Roberta Smith’s review of this new museum built in rural America with money made largely in small towns is entirely positive:

Much more than just a demonstration of what money can buy or an attempt to burnish a rich family’s name, Crystal Bridges is poised to make a genuine cultural contribution, and possibly to become a place of pilgrimage for art lovers from around the world.

Smith’s largest complaint is that Crystal Bridges failed to include folk art:

There is one huge blind spot in the collection up to 1900, and it is a very serious one in my book: the almost complete lack of paintings by largely self-taught or folk artists. This country’s folk art is as great and as original as any other art it has produced; its uncanny fusion of abstraction and representation, and of primitive and modern makes it the American equivalent of Sienese painting in the early Italian Renaissance. Leaving it out is like looking at the story of American art with only one eye.

Smith’s review has us planning another trip to northwest Arkansas!

•Ten years ago the Idaho Statesman produced a very good series on the rural parts of that state. This week, the paper went back to see what’s changed in the last decade.

Ten years ago, the paper found “that fewer people in rural Idaho had jobs, and they were paid less, were growing older and were attracting lower commodity prices. A third of farm income came in the mail in the form of government checks. Young adults were forced to leave their small communities to find work.”

Some of those trends continue, according to reporter Rocky Barker. But farm income is up and rural Idaho’s 24 to 35 population grew at a faster rate than in urban areas. Rural incomes are gaining on urban incomes and fewer rural economies are dependent on one industry.

Read the full report here

•The Obama administration has ended its push to ban the use of antibiotics that speed the growth of livestock.

The Food and Drug Administration first denied petitions from consumer groups to ban the use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic uses in livestock. Then the FDA killed its own proposal to ban the practice, Philip Brasher reports

Proposals to end the use of antibiotics to promote livestock growth have been around since the ’70s. The fear is that overuse of antibiotics helps salmonella and other bacteria become resistant to drugs. The FDA hopes to convince the industry to give up the practice voluntarily.

• Former Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton argues that if the state built a full-fledged university in the Kentucky coalfields graduates would stay in the region. He writes in the Lexington newspaper:

East Tennessee has East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, and it does not have our problems. Western North Carolina has Appalachian State University in Boone, and it does not have our problems. Northern West Virginia has a coal economy and West Virginia University and it does not have our problems. And if we had an 80-year-old, state-supported university like the rest of the state, we wouldn’t have our problems. 

• The Los Angeles schools got rid of the junk food, replacing pizzas and chicken nuggets with black bean burgers, tostada salad and fresh pears. And, guess what? The kids stopped eating.

The L.A. Times reports there’s just one problem with the new menu: 

Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students. Principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away. Students are ditching lunch, and some say they’re suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving.

The school district won all sorts of awards for its new menu. But it’s having to bring back pizzas and burgers to get the kids to eat. 

• Environmentalists want the Obama administration to end leasing of coal on federal lands on the way to ending the use of the fuel altogether. The industry says Obama regulators are “waging a war on coal.”

The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin writes this morning that the administration is somewhere in the middle. 

“Coal is providing close to half the electricity in the United States, and 40 percent of the coal used in that mix comes from the public land — our land,” said Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes. “It’s an important part of our energy mix. The revenues that come from it are significant.”

“On some level, the twin goals of increased fossil fuel production and reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are necessarily in conflict, at least without a national cap on emissions,” said Paul Bledsoe, who was a special assistant at the Interior Department during the Clinton administration. “This fundamental contradiction in current U.S. energy policy is playing out on the Keystone oil pipeline, in our public lands policy and throughout the energy economy.”

• Oh, Congress passed a two month “doc fix,” delaying a 27.4 percent cut in Medicare payments as part of the larger deal that extended the payroll tax cut. 

 

 

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