World's largest solar farm • Comcast and Time Warner making a romcom • Midwest literary contributions • CNN covers rape in Alaska • Rural roads deadlier than city streets when snowy • Senators introduce rural veteran healthcare bill • Another rural Georgian hospital to close • Farmer gives aid to South Dakota ranchers • The nation's best tasting rural water
The world’s largest solar-electricity-producing plant started operation yesterday on the California-Nevada border. It’s massive – 5 square miles. Gizmodo has plenty of pics.
The merger of cable giants Comcast and Time Warner is a big deal – the very definition of a big deal – in its own right. But some speculate that the merger could also mean more consolidation lies ahead for cable and satellite television subscribers.
Deadline.com speculates that the merger could lead to satellite firms DirecTV and DishNetwork joining forces:
“The satellite companies have said that they’d like to merge but feared that the FCC or antitrust regulators would reject a deal that reduces competition in a business that’s particularly important in rural areas not served by cable. That sentiment could change if they can make the case that they need to merge to keep up with Comcast.”
President Obama will propose a $1 billion “Climate Resilience Fund” in his budget draft next month.
The fund, according to the White House, would go to research on the projected impacts of climate change, help communities prepare for climate change’s effects and fund “breakthrough technologies and resilient infrastructure.”
H.L. Mencken did not hold Midwesterners in high regard. “I don’t care how well she writes, I don’t give a damn what happens in Nebraska,” he said of novelist Willa Cather.
Jon K. Lauck argues that Mencken and others who write off “flyover country” are missing a big chunk of the nation’s geography, culture and history.
Michael Dirda reviews The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History in the Washington Post:
Midwesterners, as … Lauck stresses in a plea for renewed attention to this “lost region” and its history, aren’t so much provincial as they are populist, staunchly democratic, rooted in their communities and believers in individualism and self-reliance. In our standard accounts of early American history, we tend to emphasize the sophisticated East and the troubled South, yet as Ralph Waldo Emerson observed with his usual shrewdness, “Europe extends to the Alleghenies, while America lies beyond.” The fundamental spirit of our nation was forged on the frontier.
Lauck is from South Dakota and is an adviser and legal counsel to Sen. John Thune (R).
CNN looks at rural Alaska’s “most controversial and pervasive subjects” in an investigative piece titled “The Rapist Next Door.”
The Tundra Drums reports:
Reporter/Columnist John Sutter writes, “Alaska’s per capita rate of reported rape is the highest in the country, according to 2012 FBI crime data. An estimated 80 rapes are reported in Alaska for every 100,000 people. That’s nearly three times the national average of 27; and almost seven times the rate in New Jersey, the state where reported rape is least common.”
More winter storms bring a steady stream of reports on massive traffic snarls in urban areas. But the deadliest roads in winter conditions are the rural routes, according to researchers at the University of Alabama. The Tuascaloosa News reports on traffic accidents in Alabama that resulted from winter storms:
The researchers believe while many of the roadways in the state’s urban and metro areas became parking lots, rural roads with less traffic volume and consequently less congestion permitted motorists to continue to travel at faster speeds. The researchers also noted the less-traveled rural roads were often the last to have sand or salt applied.
The researchers found that the proportion of fatalities that occurred on rural roads this year increased over last year. They attributed the increase to winter road conditions.
U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have introduced a bill to improve health care for veterans in rural communities, according to a press release.
“Lower Oconee Community Hospital in southeast Georgia has closed due to financial problems, becoming the state’s fourth rural hospital to do so in the past two years,” reports the Macon Telegraph.
Don’t tell Lynn Koontz of Spring Valley Farms of near Harrisonburg, Virginia, that he can’t help cattle ranchers in South Dakota who suffered losses in last fall’s blizzard.
“People told me it couldn’t be done — moving heifers out there from the East,” he said. “But I’m a little stubborn and made up my mind to do it.” …
“I read about the number of cattle lost and about the Heifers for South Dakota project. I got to thinking how really blessed we’ve been the past two years here,” said Koontz in a phone interview with Farmshine this week. “We’ve had super crop years, marvelous corn and cattle prices. What better time for us to take advantage of good times to help ones who fell on hard times?”
Farmshine has the rest of the story here.
“Nebraska’s Easter City and home of the state’s College of Technical Agriculture can add a third title: home of the best-tasting rural water in the nation.”