W.Va. water still stinky • A bill to help school who are losing students • Bringing education back into prisons • A call for pipeline comments • Harvesting data from farmers • Psychiatrists are more popular in D.C. • Cable TV getting less competitive • A rural Sports Illustrated swimsuit model
LaCrisha Rose from Cabin Creek, West Virginia, describes how the January spill of a coal-cleaning chemical has affected her family. The video is produced by Keely Kernan, an artist and freelance photographer.
An elementary school in North Charleston, West Virginia, closed early yesterday after complaints about odor from the water system. Several teachers complained of headaches.
A “rapid response team” investigated the school and three others to determine whether the odor was related to last month’s chemical spill, which contaminated the municipal water system.
Officials sent water for testing but had not received results before the Charleston Gazette story was published.
The Gazette also has more details about the bankruptcy filing of Freedom Industries, the corporation that leaked a coal-washing chemical into the Elk River.
The Maryland Legislature is considering bills that would help with school funding in counties with declining student populations. The Cumberland Times-News in western Maryland reports:
The importance of the bills is that they would automatically provide funding rather than forcing local representatives to fight for special appropriations every year, said Delegate Wendell Beitzel. In the past few years, districts with declining populations have been hit hard by the state’s school funding formula, contributing to school closures in Garrett County. …
Beitzel expects that fight would become more difficult each year as the view in [the state capital] is that counties, especially rural counties, should foot more of the bills for school and other funding, rather than relying on the same state funding year after year.
“The fight for supplemental funding is getting tougher and tougher. There’s a prevailing feeling that counties are going to have to help themselves,” Beitzel said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a new plan to bring college education back into New York prisons. Cuomo’s new initiative will offer college level education at ten New York State prisons, one in each region of the state, though the prisons haven’t yet been identified.
Funding for prison education was slashed nationally in the 1980s and 90s. Proponents say offering college courses in prisons can reduce recidivism. More than 40% of New York’s inmates don’t have a high school diploma or GED.
North Country Public Radio reports that prisons are a major industry in its service area in northern New York.
Public comments on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline are due by March 7. The “final supplemental environmental impact statement” is available online.
Comments may be filed online via www.regulations.gov.
Modern farmers are amassing huge amounts of data as they practice new, computer- and GPS-assisted methods of agriculture. That data could be valuable to researchers and corporations. But if they share the information, will they benefit?
… That’s where the Information Age gets bogged down in the nitty-gritty.
If their data is sold, will farmers get a cut? What if there’s a security breach like at Target? Those concerns are enough for many farmers to keep their data between themselves and close advisors.
“I think there’s a distrust of the major corporations of, ‘O.K., what are you going to do with my data?’” said Brandon Hunnicutt, a farmer from Giltner, Neb.
If the data could put seed companies and fertilizer manufacturers years ahead, where will it leave farmers?
“Someone else is probably profiting from it and (farmers) feel they should share in that,” said farmer Lon Bohn of Gibbon, Nebraska.
Psychiatrists are far more popular in Washington, D.C., than they are in the rest of the U.S., a national survey finds.
Paul Krugman doesn’t mention rural America as such in his column about Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. But one of his arguments acknowledges what many rural consumers already know. There’s not much competition in the cable television market.
Comcast says the merger won’t violate antitrust law because the cable companies don’t compete on the ground for the same customers.
Think of it. The nation’s largest cable company purchases one of its largest competitors and there is virtually no overlap in markets on the ground. That should tell us all we need to know about consumer choice for cable TV.
Krugman says the problem with the merger isn’t just about local competition. The Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal would make Comcast so big it could dictate terms to content providers that want access to Comcast customers.
When not on the set modeling for projects like the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, Hannah Ferguson likes to bake and shoot guns. Reuters reports that Ferguson grew up in “rural Texas” with chores that included feeding farm animals.
She’s the daughter of U.S. Marines.
“My parents have been really supportive. Some people have asked, ‘It is swimwear and you are showing a lot of skin. How do they feel about that?’
“They are happy that I am chasing my dream.”