Wednesday Roundup: HIV/AIDS in South

BLM leases coal below market value, report says • Farm bill progress slows • Mexican farmers "swindled" in wind-farm deals • Colorado cools, but fires spread in California, Alaska and Arizona.

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The South holds 37 percent of the country’s population but 50 percent of the new HIV diagnoses and eight of the 10 states with the highest infection rates. These facts are part of “Deep South,” a documentary by Lisa Biagiotti that premiered this week in New York. The film addresses the silence about the HIV epidemic in the American South. 

Biagiotti asserts that the problem is one of a “broken social infrastructure,” something money alone will not fix. She says more public discussion is the first step. “It’s so quiet — the opposite of urban HIV/AIDS activism of the 1980s and 90s.”

Coal Leases Below Market Value – The Bureau of Land Management fails to get the fair-market value of public-land coal leases, a report from the Office of the Inspector General says.

Federal land leases must reflect market value by law, but a separate report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis shows leases have fallen short of market value by $29 billion over a 30 year period.

Farm Bill Update – The farm bill hit the House floor for debate yesterday, along with 103 amendments that are open for discussion. Chris Clayton has a roundup of the action in his story today on Progressive Farmer.

Farm bill proponents who hoped to get passage this week are concerned that debate will spill over into next week. Debate resumes this afternoon. House members have been promised that they can head home by 3 p.m. Thursday.

Separated by a Common Language – Nearly a quarter of Americans aren’t sure where they stand on the Affordable Care Act. But call the health-insurance reform law by its nickname, “Obamacare,” and more of us have an opinion – good or bad.

Politicalwire reports on a Kaiser Family Foundation poll: 

Democrats show the biggest change in favorability with the alternate question wording — 73% have a favorable opinion of “Obamacare” compared to 58% who say the same for the “health reform law.” Likewise, 76% of Republicans have an unfavorable view of the “health reform law” but 86% don’t like it when it’s called “Obamacare.”

Farmers vs. Wind Farms – Farmers in rural Mexico say that big business swindled them into leasing their land for wind farms and that now they can’t cultivate their crops. “We can’t sow our fields, which they have rented for next to nothing,” said farmer Guadalupe Ramírez. “What good do we get out of it?” .

The Piedra Larga I wind farm has been operating since October 2012 and is owned by Desarrollos Eólicos Mexicanos (DEMEX). DEMEX began signing rental contracts in 2007 with members of the “ejido” or communal land, treating them as if they were independent smallholders and not communal rights holders. They also underpaid for the land, renting it at $20 a hectare, while other wind companies paid up to $80.

 “They said they would come to help us, but that’s a lie,” Ramirez said.

Western Wildfires  – Colorado’s wildfire is cooling down, but not before destroying 502 homes and continuing to displace 2,600 residents.  The fire consumed 22 square miles, making it the worst in the state’s history. Meanwhile, more fires are heating up in California, Alaska and Arizona, Reuters reports.

American Beauty -Photographer Larry Gerbrandt spent nine years capturing the beauty of the Palouse region in Eastern Washington. His landscapes were recently published on the Daily Mail’s website, and are breathtaking pictures of rural American terrain.

 

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