New rule closes the 'gun show loophole' and will require more sellers to register as licensed firearms dealers
The Rural Blog
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3d ago
The new rule will dramatically increase firearm purchase background checks. (PBS News Hour photo) To deliver on gun control policy promises, the Biden administration has expanded the number of sellers who must register as federally licensed firearms dealers, reports Glenn Thrush and Erica L. Green of The New York Times. "That means those sellers must run background criminal and mental health checks on potential buyers. . . . [The change] is the broadest expansion of federal background checks and an attempt to regulate the shadow market of weapons sold online, at gun shows and through ..read more
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Comparing U.S. broadband coverage using two different maps shows 'stark contrasts' in representation
The Rural Blog
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3d ago
Photo by Possessed Photography, Unsplash Two separate broadband maps give different pictures of how the service is offered throughout the U.S. "Using the results of 'broadband audits' across the United States, Ready.net has collected geographic data, information about available internet speeds, and demographic data to determine areas that are 'likely or arguably' underserved or unserved," reports Brad Randall of Broadband Communities. The results offer a "stark contrast" with the Federal Communication Commission's reported data. Ready.net "establishes the ground truth of America's bro ..read more
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EPA issues drinking water standards for toxic 'forever chemicals;' for cities and towns, an unknown price awaits
The Rural Blog
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3d ago
Removing PFAS from drinking water is costly. (Photo by Samara Doole, Unsplash) The Environmental Protection Agency has issued its first drinking water standards for "forever chemicals," which are long-lasting and human-made chemicals found in many commercial and industrial products, including nonstick pans, food packaging and common pesticides.  The slowly degrading chemicals have ended up in U.S. drinking water supplies, reports Elizabeth Daigneau of Route Fifty. "The EPA says the new rule will reduce PFAS exposure for approximately 100 million people, prevent thousands of ..read more
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Rural communities try to address dangers of driving on country roads; 40% of traffic deaths occur on rural roads
The Rural Blog
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3d ago
High school students in Kansas participate in the Seatbelts Are  For Everyone program. (Photo via RHIhub) Country roads that are winding, curving and in various states of repair pose a disproportionate danger to travelers. Rural communities are using a grassroots approach to address the problem, reports Gretel Kauffman for Rural Health Information Hub. "While an estimated 20% of people in the U.S. live in rural areas, 40% of traffic deaths occur on rural roads, according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In rural areas, the fatality ..read more
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It's almost cicada time; a trillion bugs are expected to emerge together for the first time since 1803
The Rural Blog
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3d ago
Males cicadas make the bug's signature buzzing  sounds. (Photo by Sagar Vasnani, Unsplash) It's almost time for millions of adult cicadas to dig their way out of the soil, shed their exoskeletons and join their incredible dual emergence. "A trillion cicadas from two different broods will begin appearing in the Midwest and Southeast regions of the United States toward the end of April," reports Aimee Ortiz of The New York Times. "It's the first time since 1803 that Brood XIX, or the Great Southern Brood, and Brood XIII, or the Northern Illinois Brood, will appear together. . . .Th ..read more
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Two-person crews are now required for almost all freight trains in an effort to improve railroad safety
The Rural Blog
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6d ago
Photo by Laurent Jollet, Unsplash More than a year has passed since the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, where cars carrying vinyl chloride exploded and a "controlled chemical burn" was completed and then later disputed as unnecessary. Although East Palestine isn't the only town to face the devastating consequences of a rail disaster, the small town's crisis brought rail safety back into the forefront, and now the federal government has put a new rule in place. "The Biden administration rolled out a mandate requiring nearly all freight trains nationally to o ..read more
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Many charging stations for electric vehicles are being built at gas stations and truck stops; rural areas might not benefit
The Rural Blog
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6d ago
EV charging gas stations may not be a win for rural areas. (Photo by Oxana Melis, Unsplash) A developing trend shows that one of the best ways to encourage cleaner energy use is to piggyback it with fossil fuel convenience. Despite this shift becoming a lifeline for fossil fuel-based gas stations, it may not help rural economies. "When Americans steer their electric vehicles off the highway and into shiny new charging stations — many paid for with federal tax dollars — they're likely to find them in a curiously familiar place: the gas station," reports David Ferris of E & E News ..read more
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Opinion: Look out for these three common fallacies the supplement industry uses to market products
The Rural Blog
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6d ago
Taking extra vitamin C doesn't prevent the flu. (Photo by P. Gauthier, Unsplash) Eating your fruits and veggies is an excellent way to get the nutrients a body needs, but so are dietary supplements; at least, that's what industry marketers want Americans to believe. "According to a 2023 survey, 74% of U.S. adults take vitamins, prebiotics and the like," writes Katie Suleta in her opinion for The Conversation, a journalistic platform for academics. "It's important to consider why so many believe supplements can help them lead healthier lives. While there are many reasons, how suppleme ..read more
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Flora & Fauna: A new flower in town; traveling worms; ants go for global domination; what's in a single drop of water?
The Rural Blog
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6d ago
Firefly Petunia flowers emit light. (Light Bio photo via Lancaster Farming) With spring and summer come abundant flowers and plants, but in the botanical world, there's a new flower in town -- a bloom that will delight and surprise. "It's called the Firefly Petunia, the first commercially available bioluminescent plant," reports Therese Ciesinski of Lancaster Farming. "The scientists at Light Bio, Inc., a biotechnology firm in Sun Valley, Idaho, created it by genetically modifying herbaceous plants using genes from bioluminescent mushrooms. . . .These flowers don't reflect the light ..read more
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As people join together to watch the eclipse, scientists and observers get ready to study wildlife responses to darkness
The Rural Blog
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1w ago
Some animals seem to respond to mid-day darkness. (Photo by Luca Serazzi, CC 2.0 via Atlas Obscura) While many people are making plans to watch the total eclipse on April 8, some animal lovers and scientists are preparing to study nature's responses to the mid-day darkness. "When the moon consumes the sun, the day will plunge into twilight, the temperature will drop — and nature will take notice," reports Carolyn Y. Johnson of The Washington Post. "Plenty of scientists see eclipses as rare opportunities to bolster anecdotal reports by studying how nature responds — or doesn't — to a ..read more
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