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National Perspective: West Virginia hopes to reverse a decade of decline

DRY FORK, W.Va. — There’s nobody here.

Well, almost nobody. This unincorporated community is in a magnificent corner of the world, garlanded by mountains, picturesque farms planted along the road, eight miles from not one but two ski areas and a state park that describes itself as a conference center and resort. Mostly the sounds here are of deep silences.
Some 1,085 people live here today. In 1900 — when loggers toiled amid the densely forested hills, a lumber mill sat on Red Creek, the community had its own railroad, and coal mines operated nearby — Dry Fork had a population of 3,224.

This is a fortunate part of the state, endowed with stunning beauty, a growing tourist industry and many advantages, including a median family income 10% higher than the rest of West Virginia and a rate of higher education double the state figure. And yet the population has fallen by two-thirds since the days when workers — the gandy dancers, as the men who worked the rails were called, or the pick-and-shovel men who dug for coal, or the logging crews from Pennsylvania and Nova Scotia who employed skidding tongs and peaveys to harvest the trees — filled the silences with their grunts. They extracted wood and coal from the area and sent the profits to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Cleveland.

That is the West Virginia story.

That story’s latest chapter is of fresh decline. Newly released Census Bureau data show that West Virginia suffered the largest population decline in the country, a drop of nearly 60,000 people, or 3.2 percent, in the decade between 2010 and 2020. It is one of seven states that will lose a congressional seat in next year’s midterm elections.

There are several explanations, all of them partial, all plausible. Poverty is one (about one in seven West Virginians qualify for the national definition). Job loss is another (especially in coal, which has lost more than half its jobs in the past dozen years). The two, of course are related. So is drug addiction (West Virginia has by far the highest rate of opioid addiction — four times higher than Texas, almost certainly the result of the astonishing fact that seven in 10 West Virginians have been prescribed opioids).

Unemployment is especially severe in the coal-oriented southwestern counties of McDowell, Boone, Wyoming, Mingo and Logan, which have lost at least a quarter of their jobs over half a decade, the result of environmental regulation and the competitive cost of natural gas, a rival fuel source. In those places, as elsewhere, internet connections are pitiable, roads beyond the highways often are tortuous, and the refugees to brighter prospects out of state tend to be younger, better educated and better trained.

“The result is a vicious cycle where the losses make the area less attractive, and that drives away more businesses,” said John Deskins, who heads the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University. “It is very hard to halt that. All the tools government has are better at boosting development of areas that are on the upswing than in helping communities that are in decline. They are better at accelerating growth than reversing momentum.”

West Virginia is experiencing in the third decade of the 21st century what Iowa experienced in the last decade of the 20th century, when small towns shrank, a farm-credit crunch pinched many farmers, and broader economic changes squeezed the state’s economy. In those years, some farmers burned their barns rather than pay taxes on them.

Exactly 30 years ago, I visited Alden, Iowa, just when Linda and Tom Jass decided to abandon the family corn and soybean fields near the Iowa River, leaving Mrs. Jass’ parents, both in their 70s, to tend to the sheep and crops in a town that hadn’t had a grocery store, a doctor or a police officer in a generation. Mr. Jass told me at the time that he had lost “a ton of money” in the richest soil in the world. He had no idea where he was going to go, only that he was determined to leave.

I caught up with him the other day and discovered that the couple left shortly after we talked.

They relocated to South Dakota, where his wife taught sixth grade and he managed absentee-owner farmlands.

“I worry that small towns struggle,” said Mr. Jass. “But I am glad we left when we did.”

Mrs. Jass has no regrets. “We have enjoyed our new home and we love the town, and we love being close to Sioux Falls,” she said. “Our kids all found great spouses, and it has worked out really well. We still have family and friends back in Alden, but we are settled here in South Dakota. We are staying put, right where we are.”

What struck me all those years ago, and what seems especially poignant now, are the remarks of their son Luke. “The chances that I’ll be a farmer in Alden are almost nonexistent,” he said at age 14. “Farmers are always in debt, they don’t have any fun, they work hard and they don’t get anything out of it. I’ll do anything but farm.”

He was true to his word. Though he now works for the agricultural powerhouse Cargill Inc. in Minneapolis, he is in the company’s IT department. “I never liked it there much,” he said of his hometown of Alden. “The opportunities weren’t there.”

West Virginia is determined to avoid the phenomenon that sent the Jass family fleeing north. The state legislature passed a bill to make it easier for remote workers to operate out of the state, canceling sales and income taxes for the first 30 days of telecommuting, and lawmakers next year will consider a proposal to make the state more attractive to migrants by eliminating the income tax completely.

“This has been a big topic in the state and the driving force behind a lot of our politics,” said Sean O’Leary, a senior policy analyst at the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “We can’t grow economically without people. As our population declines, the older and unhealthy members of our state still have growing needs.”
In the years between 2010 and 2018, 27,000 more people left West Virginia than moved in. It may be almost heaven, but the problem is that it is almost empty.

David M. Shribman is the former executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Follow him on Twitter at ShribmanPG.

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This post originally posted here usnews

EIB & KfW welcome progress in Lusaka sanitation project to double network access underway after decade of preparations

EIB & KfW welcome progress in Lusaka sanitation project to double network access underway after decade of preparations

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Upgrading sanitation key to improve public health and COVID protection; First financing for EUR 262 million scheme disbursed by EIB (www.EIB.org) and KfW; Team Europe partners welcome scheme’s vision and ambition.

New investment to transform public health in the Zambian capital Lusaka by improving access by 525,000 families to sanitation, expanding wastewater treatment at two new plants in Chunga and Ngwerere, and construction of 520 km of sewerage pipes will be accelerated by disbursement of financing for the Lusaka Sanitation Program by the European Investment Bank and a grant by the German Development Bank, KfW, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany.

“Expanding access to sewerage based sanitation is crucial to protect public health against a variety of waterborne diseases and COVID-19, ensure that thousands of, also poor, families across Lusaka benefit from better services and enable waste water treatment to continue during the either droughts or floods that would be hitting Zambia. The close cooperation with Zambian and international partners, including long-term financing and technical expertise provided by the European Investment Bank and KfW over recent years, is now delivering and contributing to Zambia’s Vision 2030.” said Eng. Jonathan Kampata, Managing Director of the Lusaka Water and Sanitation Company.

“The European Investment Bank is pleased to support the ambitious and visionary Lusaka Sanitation Program that will transform sanitation, public health, economic and social development in the Zambian capital. The scale of the project being implemented by the Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company has required intensive technical preparations to maximise the impact of the scheme. Today marks a key milestone in the project that enables the first financing to be provided by EIB and KfW for rehabilitation of two waste water treatment works in the city and complement other parts of the city-wide scheme already underway. Accelerating high-impact sanitation investment is crucial to strengthen public health resilience to COVID-19 and deliver sustainable urban development.” said Thomas Ostros, European Investment Bank Vice President.

“Safe sanitation and hygiene are key aspects of a healthy and dignified life. Universal access to sanitation and hygiene by 2030 is a target of the Sustainable Development Agenda. Unfortunately, progress to date has been slow. Access rates to safe sanitation are not increasing fast enough, this amid the Covid-19 pandemic – and not just in Zambia. I am happy to announce the first disbursements of EIB and KfW funds, marking another important and timely step in the realization of the Lusaka Sanitation Programme. Increasing the waste water treatment capacity in Lusaka with support of the German government will form the backbone for upscaling access to safe sanitation and hygiene, particularly for poor households. By reducing the ground and surface water contamination the increased waste water treatment capacity will contribute to improving the quality of scarce water resources”, Anne Wagner-Mitchell, Ambassador of Germany to Zambia and Special Representative to COMESA.

Progress unlocking financing from international partners Progress in technical planning and project preparation for the Lusaka Sanitation Programme has enabled the first EUR 2.7 million to be disbursed by the European Investment Bank and German Development Bank, KfW. This is the first financing from the two international partners for the scheme.

The EIB will provide EUR 102.5 million and KfW EUR 33 million (grant) for the overall project, alongside the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Union, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Government of Zambia.

Long-term sanitation investment to improve public health and social inclusion Implementation of the Lusaka Sanitation Program is a key part of the Zambian government’s Vision 2030 and National Development that will improve public health and social inclusion of vulnerable communities and address challenges faced by women and children.

Once complete the Lusaka Sanitation Program will reduce prevalence of water borne disease and pollution in local rivers.

Combating COVID-19 through community involvement Since the Covid-19 pandemic the Lusaka Sanitation Program has strengthened hygiene measures across the city by practising social distancing and changing public perception of hand washing.

400 hand sanitiser stations have been installed in public spaces such as markets, health centres, water points, and places of worship and over 600 water tap attendants have become coronavirus prevention ambassadors.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of European Investment Bank (EIB).
Background information The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.

KfW is one of the world’s leading and most experienced promotional banks. Established as a public law institution in 1948, the German Federal Government has an 80% stake and the German federal states have a 20% stake in the bank. The objective is to combat poverty, secure peace, protect the environment and the climate as well as ensuring fair globalization. KfW is a competent and strategic adviser for current development policy issues.

Press contacts: Nshamba Muzungu [email protected] Mobile:  +260 0977 408 554

EIB: Richard Willis [email protected] Tel.: +352 43 79 82155 Mobile:  +352 621 55 57 58

Website: www.EIB.org/press Press Office: +352 4379 21000 [email protected]

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Zambia Lisa Nolte Press Officer [email protected] +260 971 798 420

KfW Tom Woyack Portfolio Manager [email protected] +260 977 11 48 98

Follow us on: Twitter: https://twitter.com/EIB Facebook: https://bit.ly/2UD2VVm Instagram: https://bit.ly/3AX9fIa YouTube: https://bit.ly/2T8QFvw RSS: https://bit.ly/3r1TGtS LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2VtdJ8V

EIB backing water investment across Zambia The EIB is also supporting new investment to upgrade and expand water and wastewater services provided by the Mulonga Water Supply and Sanitation Company on the Copperbelt Province.

The European Investment Bank has supported water, energy, transport, agriculture and private sector investment across Zambia since 1978 and KfW has been active in Zambia since 1965.

KfW: Increasing access to water, sanitation and hygiene in rural and urban Zambia German Cooperation, through KfW, is supporting the Zambian Government in its pursuit to ensure universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene in particular in Luapula, Eastern and Southern Provinces.

KfW has supported Zambia since 1965 on behalf of the German Federal Government with more than EUR 900 million, mainly financing infrastructure projects improving access to water and sanitation, transport and basic infrastructure in provinces and recently also energy and agriculture.

How to live longer: Expert divulges five tips to extend longevity by more than a decade

“We know that food is made up of complex chemical structures, which interact with one other as well as with our gut microbes and our cells,” Dr Federica began.

“What’s exciting to see (in recent research) is how plants can act to help improve our health in clinically measurable ways, including managing levels of stress.

“Nature’s pharmacy includes polyphenols in dark plants and fruits, such as cavolo nero and haskap berries, which help counteract oxidative stress.”

Dr Frederica added that reishi mushroom may also “improve your body’s ability to cope with stress”.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed
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Windows 10 fans set for most 'significant update' in a decade and it could be coming soon

There’s no word on when this new operating system will be announced but Microsoft has said that consumers should expect to hear more news soon.

In a statement, originally posted by The Verge, Nadella said: “Soon we will share one of the most significant updates to Windows of the past decade to unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators.

“I’ve been self-hosting it over the past several months, and I’m incredibly excited about the next generation of Windows.

“Our promise to you is this: we will create more opportunity for every Windows developer today and welcome every creator who is looking for the most innovative, new, open platform to build and distribute and monetise applications. We look forward to sharing more very soon.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Sharon Stone, 63, sparks frenzy as she stuns in gown she first wore nearly a decade ago

Recalling her health deterioration in her memoir The Beauty of Living Twice, the actress described the process of her hospitalisation.

In a recent appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, the Basic Instinct star revealed she remembered looking down at her body in the hospital bed.

“I remember looking down and thinking that the floor was very far away,” she told the show.

“I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t know how I’m going to get down.’

“It just seemed like I was floating. [It was] very strange [and] very beautiful.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

ITV’s Vera – where the original cast are a decade since the first episode

A green mac, a fishing hat and murders in Northumberland – it could only possibly be Vera.

Remarkably, it’s now been 10 years since the DCI initially came to our screens, with the first episode airing on ITV in May 2011.

A mark of the programme’s success, it regularly draws in upwards of eight million viewers and is set to air its eleventh series later this year.

Telling Ann Cleeves’ intricate Vera Stanhope stories has involved a sizeable cast, but what have the original stars of series one been up to over the past decade?

Brenda Blethyn – DCI Vera Stanhope

Brenda Blethyn made her television debut in Mike Leigh’s Grown Ups in 1980, but it was another Leigh production – Secrets & Lies – that served as her major career breakthrough in 1996.

On the back of her portrayal of Cynthia Purley in the drama, she won Best Actress at the Baftas, the Golden Globes and the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2003, Blethyn was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours for services to drama.

Blethyn in 2019
Blethyn in 2019

Her recent career has been defined by her performance as the titular DCI in Vera – a character rarely seen without her trusty mac and hat.

But Blethyn has also been busy on the big screen over the past decade too, appearing in Mary & Martha alongside Hilary Swank, Two Men in Town and as the voice of Ethel in the animated Raymond Briggs biopic Ethel & Ernest.

Most recently, she played the lead in ITV’s Kate & Koji sitcom in 2020 and will soon appear again in the upcoming series of Vera.

Jon Morrison – DC Kenny Lockhart

The only actor other than Brenda Blethyn to appear in all ten series of Vera, Jon Morrison is a very familiar face on the show – and, as DC Kenny Lockhart (below, left), a reliable detective.

He started his career in 1973 as Currie in religious drama series Adam Smith, before going on to appear in television programmes including Van der Valk, Bergerac, A Touch of Frost, Taggart and Rebus.

Morrison even featured on The Bill on four occasions, playing a different character each time.

You might also recognise him in the Ken Loach film Sweet Sixteen, in which he played Douglas alongside Line of Duty star Martin Compston.

In recent years, Morrison has primarily dedicated his career to Vera, although in 2013 he appeared on talk show The Crime Thriller Club with Bradley Walsh.

Paul Ritter – Dr Billy Cartwright

Appearing in only the first three series of Vera as forensic pathologist Dr Billy Cartwright, Paul Ritter had his TV debut two decades earlier in another detective programme, The Bill.

He quickly became a familiar face on both stage and screen, featuring over the years in films including Quantum of Solace, Son of Rambow and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Ritter had the versatility to excel both in dramas – Chernobyl, No Offence, The Last Kingdom and Belgravia, to name a few – and in comedy – such as Cold Feet, Plebs and Top Coppers.

Ritter in 2020
Ritter in 2020

But it was his portrayal of Martin Goodman in Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner that he was perhaps best known for in recent years. The show ran for six series from 2011 to 2020.

Tragically, Ritter passed away in April aged 54.

He has since been nominated for a posthumous Bafta for Best Male Comedy Performance. A documentary dedicated to Ritter to mark the tenth anniversary of Friday Night Dinner will be aired later this year.

Wunmi Mosaku – DC Holly Lawson

RADA graduate Wunmi Mosaku was only a few years out of drama school before landing the part of DC Holly Lawson in Vera.

And casting directors must have enjoyed her performance as a police officer, because she has since donned the uniform again numerous times, including as DS Halliday in Luther, DC Darego in The End of the F***ing World and DCS Greenwood in Fearless, alongside the late Helen McCrory.

Mosaku in 2017
Mosaku in 2017

On the big screen, Mosaku has appeared in Philomena, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and, most recently, as Rial in thriller His House – for which she was nominated for a Bafta.

In 2017, she won a separate Best Supporting Actress Bafta for her role as Gloria Taylor in Damilola, Our Loved Boy.

Mosaku will soon appear in the upcoming Disney+ Marvel series Loki as Hunter B-15.

David Leon – DS Joe Ashworth

Working at different times as a CITV presenter, a Blackburn Rovers football player and a short film director, David Leon had a varied career before Vera – and still has one today.

He played DS Joe Ashworth on the show for four series, going on to act in the BBC’s The Refugees as Álex, In the Dark as DI Adam Perrin and Gold Digger as Kieran.

Leon has also reprised his role as a director, working behind the camera for the short film Orthodox – which he also wrote – and an episode of Vera in 2018.

Most recently, he narrated Our Cops in the North, an observational documentary telling the stories of Northumbria Police Force for BBC One.

Leon is currently working as writer/director on two more short films, Stable and Driven.

Author: [email protected] (Erin Santillo)
This post originally appeared on Hull Live – Celebs & TV