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Opioid crisis shadows rural America

first_imgThe opioid crisis competes with the economy as the most pressing issue in rural America, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Experts met at the Chan School on Friday to assess the poll’s implications and propose solutions in a panel discussion moderated by NPR correspondent Joe Neel.Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis, described the results as both surprising and disturbing.“If you’re in the polling world, you rarely ever hear people say that the biggest problem in their community is a health problem,” he said.But the U.S. opioid crisis is now so widespread that one of every four respondents knew someone who was affected. The data on drug use shows clear overlap with economic problems.“Fifty-five percent of people said that the economy where they lived was fair or poor,” Blendon said. “So these are people looking across the street and not seeing a very hopeful point of view.”Yet there is some optimism, as half of those interviewed said that they believe many problems could be addressed within five years. What citizens are hoping for, Blendon said, are long-term solutions — improved health care, strong public schools, and solid work opportunities.“They want something that really sticks,” he said.Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said that he wasn’t surprised by the findings, as his state loses 14 people a day to drug addiction. “It is a huge problem and in my judgment, it has not been sufficiently recognized as such.”While citing the need for robust treatment programs, Strickland emphasized that the crisis is tied to other issues.“Housing issues, transportation issues, food insecurity problems — all of these are characteristic to rural areas and I think related to the opioid problem.”David Terrell, executive director of the Indiana Communities Institute, agreed.“The opioid crisis is really a symptom of a lot of other deep-seated issues, including the economy,” he said, adding that jobs alone will not solve the problem.“Business attraction in and of itself is not the panacea for communities,” Terrell said. “People want to live in viable communities that have strong physical infrastructure, strong and robust schools.”Katrina Badger, program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, went a step further, pointing to studies that illustrate how the social stability of a community affects its health and economic strength.“We know from research that social connectedness — between families and neighbors, looking out for each other in times of need — really leads to longer lives and better health and well-being.”One positive development, the panel noted, is strong public support for drug treatment, rather than imprisonment — a marked change from attitudes during the crack epidemic of the 1980s.“Minority communities believe that the first epidemic, which impacted them more greatly, got a different response from the president on down,” Blendon said. “But [we learned that] filling prisons didn’t solve the problem.”To make inroads against the opioid crisis, the country needs to implement a comprehensive plan of training, treatment, and education, the panelists agreed. Strickland recalled once picking up a hitchhiker while driving to teach a class; the man turned out to be on his way to treatment for addiction.“He told me he had just gotten out of prison,” Strickland said. “He told me he was alienated from his daughter. He said to me, ‘I wish I had a car because it would be easier to get a job.’ I think about that fellow a lot. I think he illustrates part of the problems that people in rural areas face.”last_img read more

Idina Menzel Reveals Blast-From-the-Past Poster From Her Wedding Singer Days

first_img View Comments Idina Menzel Broadway supernova Idina Menzel has obviously been digging through her family’s attic in Long Island, because she just tweeted an amazing blast-from-the-past photo from her wedding singer days. The Rent and Wicked alum is sporting some fantastic pink eyeshadow, feathered bangs, giant rhinestone earrings, and wait…is that blue eyeliner? Yes. Yes, it is. We’re hoping the Frozen fave will belt hits like “Let It Go,” “Take Me Or Leave Me” and “Defying Gravity” at her one-night-only concert at Jones Beach Ampitheatre on July 17—and we’ve got our fingers crossed she’ll be wearing this exact getup. Don’t let us down, Idina!center_img Star Fileslast_img

Seaport Global analyst: U.S. thermal coal ‘could be a disaster zone in 2020’

first_imgSeaport Global analyst: U.S. thermal coal ‘could be a disaster zone in 2020’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):In the second quarter of 2019, average quarterly U.S. coal mining employment declined to the lowest level since the first quarter of Donald Trump’s presidency as production in the first half remains significantly lower than the first or second half of 2018.Average employment in the sector fell by about 2.7% from the first to the second quarter of 2019 while coal production held roughly flat in the same period, S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of federal data shows. Employment and production figures could look even starker in the next quarter. Blackjewel LLC sent hundreds of miners home and operations were idled in the wake of the company’s bankruptcy early in the third quarter while export markets that propped up the industry in recent periods are showing signs of weakness moving forward.Seaport Global Securities LLC analyst Mark Levin recently wrote that there are few new metallurgical coal projects in the pipeline worldwide as “producers continue to struggle to offset depletion, particularly because geology is getting more difficult, and a lot of excess cash is being returned to shareholders rather than reinvested in new projects.” Domestic thermal coal in the U.S. has long been in decline, but “could be a disaster zone in 2020” based on an expected drop in demand, Levin wrote.Coal production and employment trends vary significantly by location. The nation’s most productive coal region, the Powder River Basin, produced significantly less coal in the first half of 2019 than in the first or second half of 2018. The area produces thermal coal and has limited access to export markets, making it particularly susceptible to a secular decline in U.S. utility coal consumption.Unless other coal producers pick up the slack, quarterly coal production could take a significant dip in the third quarter as Blackjewel’s Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines remain closed since July 1 after initial financing for the company’s bankruptcy fell through. The mines accounted for 7.9 million tons of coal production in the second quarter, roughly 11.1% of the 71.4 million tons of coal produced in the period. Contura Energy Inc. is currently negotiating with federal officials to resolve issues with Contura’s proposed purchase of the mines, which it sold to Blackjewel in 2017.Despite a significant amount of production going offline due to the closures, Peabody Energy Corp. President and CEO Glenn Kellow reported that even a month after the Blackjewel mines stopped producing, prices did not change due to ongoing competition from low-priced natural gas and renewables. Peabody and Arch Coal Inc. recently announced they are working toward a joint venture of their operations in the Powder River Basin and Colorado.More ($): U.S. coal employment, production slides as market poised to get even tougherlast_img read more