Weekend Roundup: The Maize Maze

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There are good prices for corn now, goodness knows, but there might be better money in University of Kentucky basketball. At least that’s the bet being made by Kelley Farms. 

Kelley has cut an incredible pattern of UK basketball coach John Calipari in a ten-acre corn field. Call it a maize maze.

Admission to wander coach’s face will be $9 a person. 

• Florida is shutting down its “pill mills.” 

Florida doctors bought 89% of all Oxycodone sold in the U.S. last year. The highly addictive pain reliever wasn’t sold just to Florida patients. 

Doctors in the state set up over 1,000 clinics where Oxy was shoveled out to people visiting from all over the country. Vans from Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio were loading people to Florida, where they would stock up on the pain pills, feeding addictions across the country. 

The New York Times reports that Florida prosecutors have shut down dozens of these pill mills and some 80 doctors have had their licenses suspended for “prescribing mass quantities of pills without clear medical need.” 

New laws in the state, that went into full effect in July, bar doctors in Florida from dispensing narcotics from their clinics. “As a result, doctors’ purchases of Oxycodone, which reached 32.2 million doses in the first six months of 2010, fell by 97 percent in the same period this year,” Lizette Alvarez reports.

“We had no tough laws in place; now we do,” said Pam Bondi, Florida’s attorney general.

Other states, such as Kentucky, have been pressing Florida for years to shut down these pill mills.

• Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, California authorities raided four medical clinics suspected of operating as “prescription mills.” 

• What does “rural” mean in California? 

Ninety-eight percent of rural residents live in what are officially “metro” counties, write Don Villarejo and Gail Wadsworth, who are both with the California Institute for Rural Studies. The definitions of rural and urban used nationally don’t work in the state, they say in a good article found in Civil Eats. 

• Vermont still drying out from Irene. From reports like this one, you really get the sense the state is pulling together. 

For instance, the Rutland Vet Clinic is sending a doc into towns cut off by floodwaters to help with pets. And, “he’s going to stay until he’s not needed any longer,” said one volunteer.

Way to go, Vermont!! 

• It’s not just that the Postal Service is closing offices and may eliminate Saturday delivery. The Service is not providing the service.

The Canadian Record, a Texas Panhandle weekly, is reducing the price for its online edition from $35 a year to $25 a year “in honor of the United States Postal Service, whose delivery service continues to degrade even as they impose more ineffectual and capricious regulations on the newspapers that have been their loyal customers for decades,” an email from the paper tells us.

•For all you four-wheelers out there, the AP is reporting that relief work in Vermont would be a heck of a lot slower were it not for ATVs. 

• The United Kingdom’s telecom regulator has issued proposals for using “white spaces” in the spectrum normally used to broadcast television signals to provide broadband to rural areas.

eWeek Europe reports that the regulator “wants the UK to lead Europe in this ‘spectrum recycling,’ and says it will make the spectrum ‘licence exempt,’ so it can be used freely….” 

“Within Europe, we have been leading the way to try to harness this capacity without causing harmful interference to existing users of the spectrum,” said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. “The solution we have devised creates the opportunity to maximise the efficient use of spectrum and open the door to the development of a new and exciting range of consumer and business applications.”

• Bad news about oysters. A University of Maryland study has found that overfishing and parasites have pushed the oyster population so low in the Chesapeake Bay that the only way to save the creatures is to stop fishing entirely. 

The Washington Post reports that “nearly 100 percent of the oyster population has been lost since its peak in the early 1800s and more than 90 percent has been lost since 1980.” The study recommends that all oyster harvests be banned. 

• Diette Courrege has a good post over at Education Week on a Colorado lawsuit brought by 21 mostly rural school districts. They are arguing that the state’s method of distributing money is “irrational and arbitrary” and puts some children at risk. 

She notes that this is part of a larger struggle by rural districts to find fairness in school funding. 

 

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