Weekend Roundup: Blood on the Light Switch
We don’t know who will be affected by this ongoing disaster — but part of the worldwide interest in the goings on at the reactor stem from the fear that we all may be affected. Some spots in Austin, Texas, have sold out of iodine pills even though the city is half a world away.
We know for certain, however, that 43 coal miners died in a methane gas explosion at mine in Pakistan on Sunday, March 20. In checking Google News, however, we don’t see any news about this disaster in the U.S. press after March 22.
There’s no sense comparing disasters, but the deaths in Pakistan are a good reminder that every time we flip a light switch, we get blood on our hands. It may come from those contaminated by radiation or it may come from those killed underground digging coal. Energy has a price that amounts to more than what’s in a utility bill.
And most of that cost is paid by people living in rural communities.
• The Ashland (Kentucky) newspaper, the Daily Independent, quotes the manager of the public radio station in Morehead (WMKY) as saying cuts in federal funding would affect rural stations more than urban ones.
Paul Hitchcock, the general manager of the station at Morehead State University, says small stations depend on federal funds for 30% of their funding, while these funds make up only about 10% of a large station’s budget. Large stations can raise more than $100,000 in a pledge drive and receive corporate support; Hitchcock said that his station can raise about $20,000 in a pledge drive and that the towns his station serves (West Liberty, Owingsville, Olive Hill) aren’t the homes of many large corporations.
The Boston Globe reports that federal funds make up, on average, 10 percent of a local station’s budget, But there are 140 public radio stations across the country that receive 20 percent or more of their budgets from federal grants. “Many of these stations are in rural or underserved areas, where it can be more expensive to operate and more difficult to raise the remaining funds,’’ wrote Corporation for Public Broadcasting spokeswoman Nicole Mezloin an e-mail.
[img:fooddollar.jpeg]• Put it on your schedule. This year is the 100th anniversary of Bill Monroe’s birth. The father of bluegrass music was born September 13, 1911, near Rosine, Kentucky. He died in 1996.
• The Lexington Herald-Leader wonders if Republicans in Congress have such a good idea in reducing the program used by local police to deal with meth labs.
• A study by the Independent Postal Regulatory Commission found that the Postal Service did not adequately evaluate the effect of five-day service on rural areas.
• DTN’s Urban Lehner is waging a one-man campaign for common sense when it comes to genetically engineered crops:
There will be those on both sides who won’t want to talk. Some transgenic growers won’t give up easily on “science rules,” and they’re still winning most of the battles. Some organic growers (and many of their allies in the courts of law and public opinion) wouldn’t be satisfied even if the risk of contamination could be eliminated altogether; their real motive is to outlaw all transgenic crops.
But before they dig in further, each side should consider the alternative. In the absence of a conversation, organic and other non-biotech growers face the likelihood of continued losses in the USDA approval process. Transgenic growers face the likelihood of continued litigation, which at the least means delays and uncertainty for new traits and could someday hand transgenics a real setback.
For neither side is the status quo so favorable that a conversation isn’t worth having.
• The federal EPA did not properly evaluate the health risks of using coal ash for such things as filler or wallboard.
• A large study in China found that rural children were less prone to develop food allergies than kids in cities.
“All our subjects were of the same genetic background, and our results clearly showed that food allergy is far less common in the rural populations,” said one researcher. “It is highly likely that there are important modifiable rural environmental factors protecting against the development of food allergies.”