Weekend Roundup: Whom Would You Like to Hear?

Traditional tribal structures burned • Nebraska landowner group applauds Rice's withdrawal from Secretary of State nomination • National Rural Assembly asks for speaker suggestions

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The National Rural Assembly will convene again next June 23-26 in Washington, DC. Those of you who have attended previous Assemblies know this is a wonderful event, filled with information and good will.

The conference planners are looking for your suggestions on keynote speakers. You can offer your ideas on the Rural Assembly Facebook page or by contacting Whitney Kimball Coe at whitney@ruralstrategies.org. The Facebook page is here

Anything goes as far as speakers. Last session, we had a clip from a movie about kids who joined the military after high school from a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. And we had two former advisers to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Think about who would be good and contact Whitney or go straight to the Facebook page.

Rice Out — Susan Rice has taken herself out of the running to be the next Secretary of State. She had run into Republican opposition for how she had portrayed the attacks that killed a U.S. ambassador in Libya.

She had also come under scrutiny by environmental and landowner groups for her ownership of up to $600,000 in stock in TransCanada, the company building the Keystone XL pipeline. Keystone would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. But first the pipeline must receive a permit from the, you guessed it, Secretary of State.

Rice’s conflict of interest was not mentioned in stories in the Washington Post, New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Nor were her extensive holdings in other companies active in Canadian tar sands noted. Not only are the tar sands reserves an economic issue, they are an international issue, as China has begun investing in the field.

Landowner group Bold Nebraska, which has opposed the pipeline, favored Rice’s withdrawal.

“Susan Rice did the right thing by taking her name out of running for Secretary of State because of her holdings with TransCanada, not because of her qualifications, as she is obviously qualified to serve as Secretary of State,” BOLD Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb told Politico. “The critical issue of our political leaders’ private investments potentially influencing public decisions needs a serious discussion and policy review. The ties to big energy corporations need to end. If you serve in a public role you need to serve the public, not your stock holdings.” 

Keystone Landowners Unite — The Nebraska Easement Action Team is asking those in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline to join in order to give landowners some power in negotiating with TransCanada, the company building the pipeline through the state. 

Holy War on Native Land — Mary Annette Pember reports from northern Wisconsin about a spate of arson that has destroyed several traditional ceremonial buildings on the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe reservation. 

“Someone is attacking traditionalism in the community,” said LCO tribal member and journalist Paul DeMain.

An LCO tribal member was detained as a “person of interest” in the case. The 38-year old man has ties to local evangelicals. Pember writes that members of this evangelical group  “embrace elements of a growing ideological movement that has been known to equate  traditional Native spirituality with a dangerous form of idolatry, even witchcraft. This idolatry, some believe, is responsible for the social ills in Indian country.”

Rural Assistance Center Reaches 10 — Celebrate with us the 10th birthday of the Rural Assistance Center, an invaluable source of information about rural health and human services. See their website here

RAC is based at the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health and was founded in conjunction with RUPRI, the Rural Policy Research Institute. 

Anti-Fracking Numbers Grow — A Bloomberg poll has found that two-thirds of Americans want more government oversight of fracking — the process of injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to free gas trapped in rock. That’s up from 56 percent in September. 

Food to Vermont Schools — Vermont has put together half a million dollars that will link local foods with the state’s public school lunchrooms. 

The World Gets Bigger — The Economist tells us that rising rates of obesity are a worldwide problem. 

And, in fact, a new study finds that obesity is a bigger health crisis globally than hunger. 

Researchers from 50 countries published their findings in the medical journal The Lancet. They found that there has been an 82 percent increase globally in obesity. 

“We discovered that there’s been a huge shift in mortality. Kids who used to die from infectious disease are now doing extremely well with immunization,” said Ali Mokdad, co-author of the study and professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which led the collaborative project.

“However, the world is now obese and we’re seeing the impact of that.”

More Reaction to Vilsack — Recall that US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Farm Journal Forum last week that that rural America was losing its “relevance to the politics of this country.” Evidence? We don’t have a Farm Bill.

Steve Kopperud at Brownfield disagrees. First, Kroperud blames House Speaker John Boehner (and Majority Leader Eric Cantor). But he continues: 

I understand USDA’s constituency includes all of the American public, no matter their dietary habits or philosophy. I also understand some believe USDA is all about Big Ag, but when push comes to shove, food production of all stripes is what the department is primarily about. That proactive messaging the Secretary wants to hear to keep young people in rural America is needed, but equally needed is as much and the same kind of USDA cheerleading for conventional agriculture – if only an echoing of rural community messaging – as there is for ‘buy local,’organics, broadband access, biofuels and the priming of the export machine.

There’s nothing more relevant to every man, woman and child in the U.S. than food or the lack thereof. USDA can help farmers and ranchers remind folks of that fact.

 

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