Monday Roundup: Pray For Rain
While the Southeast began to recover from tornadoes that killed at least 43 people, Texas continued to burn.
The contrast couldn’t be stronger. Some 90 tornadoes tore across North Carolina Saturday. Meanwhile, fires ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres of Texas, from the Louisiana border to New Mexico.
Officials across West Texas asked people to pray for rain on Sunday. Roman Catholic Diocese of San Angelo Bishop Michael Pfeifer led prayers Sunday and he asked 100 churches to join him.
•It’s unclear whether antibiotics placed in animal feed led to drug-resistant bacteria being found in a large sample of meat. Nearly half of 136 samples of beef, chicken, pork and turkey contained the bacteria that causes staph infections — and half of those had bacteria resistant to three classes of antibiotics.
One scientist said these findings raised questions about the use of antibiotics in stockyards. Others, however, said the bacteria could have come from food handlers.
• Iowa’s governor says corn prices are too high.
“I never thought I’d say that,” Gov. Terry Branstad told The Des Moines Register. “A price around $4 or $5 per bushel is a lot better for everybody. Farmers can make money, but the price doesn’t hurt demand.”
Corn is now up around $7 a bushel as Iowa farmers begin planting.
• The New York Times reports that oil and gas companies have “injected hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicas into wells in more than 13 states from 2005 to 2009….”
The Times says an investigation by Congressional Democrats came to this finding. The injection of the liquids took places as drilling companies used hydraulic fracturing techniques to increase production of natural gas.
• The first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf comes this week. In an editorial, the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes that repairing the damage from the spill, both economic and environmental, is going to take a long time, but that this work should be “made a national priority.”
In particular, the paper wants 80% of the fines BP is expected to pay under the federal Clean Water Act to be spent in the region. BP could be fined between $5 billion and $19 billion.
The good news:
Finally, Gulf residents need visiting journalists and officials to let the nation know that the bountiful seafood and beautiful beaches that made the Gulf Coast a huge tourist draw before the spill are ready for visitors. Some oil residue from the BP spill is still being cleaned up from marshes and coastal zones. But the affected areas are mostly located away from tourism spots. Gulf seafood is safe to eat and is being strictly tested, and the fishing is good.
• The California legislature is considering a bill that would allow hospitals to hire doctors directly.
The bill there and a similar one in Texas are aimed at reducing the doctor shortage in rural areas. The notion is that hospitals will be better able to attract physicians if they are able to negotiate directly in hiring.
Opposition comes from physicians, who fear that hospitals could dictate treatment if they hired doctors directly.
• More than 500 people in a town of fewer than 3,000 turned out in a pro-mining rally in Libby, Montana, last week. The crowd was protesting delays in permits for two mines in one of the world’s largest silver/copper deposits.
The mines call for tunneling under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area, writes Myers Reece in the Flathead Beacon, and that has led to protests from environmentalists.
“To put it quite bluntly, I think the system’s broke,” Libby Mayor Doug Roll said, adding that he has seen the decline of the natural resource industry in Lincoln County over the last three decades. “The EPA, the Forest Service – it’s very frustrating. Who do you talk to if you want to get something done? What can you do? We’ve been going down this road for 30 years.”
• Robots on the farm. Why not?