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Algae scooped out of Maumee Bay in Lake. Photo by Mark Brush / Michigan Radio
Algae scooped out of Maumee Bay in Lake. Photo by Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Warmer waters fuel toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes

Big, ugly algal blooms are reappearing in the western basin (and sometimes the central basin) of Lake Erie. The blooms happen when excess nutrients - mostly phosphorus - run off into the lake from farms and sewage treatment plants. Some of these kinds of algae produce toxins that are among the most powerful natural poisons on Earth.  Go to full article
Middlebury College Organic Garden. Photo: Dan Kane
Middlebury College Organic Garden. Photo: Dan Kane

Farmers Under 40: Liberal arts students try their hand at farming

Land grant schools like Cornell University have long specialized in teaching agriculture. But across the country, liberal arts colleges are adding programs about food, farming, and sustainability to their curricula.

They're not teaching farming per se--no classes about pests or crop rotation. They're giving farming the full liberal arts treatment, offering courses in philosophy and economics, as well as some work in the field.

As Sarah Harris reports, they want students to think critically about food systems and sustainable practices.  Go to full article
Alex French and some of the residents of Gembeltu, Ethiopia
Alex French and some of the residents of Gembeltu, Ethiopia

Hospitality and a helping hand in Ethiopia

It started with a dirt bike ride to visit a friend's family and is now a quest to build a school in Ethiopia. Alex French, a SUNY Potsdam alumnus, spent part of last year living and working in the east African country. It was a side trip to the small community of Gembeltu, difficult to find on most maps of Ethiopia, that inspired him to give back. As part of our series, Moving the World, Todd Moe spoke with French about exploring a new culture and lending a helping hand.  Go to full article

Floor tax forces hard choices on restaurants

In our series, A Year of Hard Choices, we've been reporting on the current economic downturn and how it's affecting the choices people in the North Country are making. With household budgets under pressure, these are already tough times for restaurants. Rick Davidson is co-owner of Davidson Brothers Brew Pub and Restaurant in Glens Falls. He says new fees and taxes meant to close government budget gaps are making things tighter. New York increased its excise tax on beer and wine--not much, he says, but it all adds up for businesses like his.

North Country Assemblywoman Addie Russell is circulating a petition to repeal the "floor tax." Russell says petitions are going out to local restaurants, breweries, wineries and liquor stores. There's also a digital version on the assemblywoman's web site.

Davidson tells Jonathan Brown that since May 1, restaurants, wineries, liquor stores and distributors are all paying 11 cents more for each gallon of wine, and three cents more for each gallon of beer they sell.  Go to full article

Hospital CEO says health care reform must include fundamental change

President Barack Obama meets today with business executives to talk to them about the high price of health care. In a meeting at the White House yesterday, representatives of hospitals, insurance companies, drug makers and doctors promised to cut $2 trillion in costs over 10 years by improving coordination, focusing on efficiency and embracing better technology and regulatory reform. Obama calls their pledge a watershed event in a long and elusive quest for health care reform. Many lawmakers are skeptical. And the President acknowledges the step will be meaningful only if it is part of a larger and successful effort toward universal health care coverage for Americans. Martha Foley spoke with David Acker, CEO of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, about how the federal health care reform discussion plays out in rural northern New York.  Go to full article

Old coal-burning power plants still spewing lots of CO2

Carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming are driving power companies to a decision. They can move away from burning coal altogether or they can work on technology to eliminate their CO2 emissions someday. While they're making that decision, some of the nation's oldest, dirtiest coal-burning power plants still run. In the final part of our series on the future of coal, Shawn Allee looks at why they billow dangerous air pollution -- stuff most people think we cleaned up long ago.  Go to full article
Sandy Maine hopes to break into mass market retail with "Bug Off."
Sandy Maine hopes to break into mass market retail with "Bug Off."

A Year of Hard Choices: SunFeather Soap - tough times, hope for the future

In our Year of Hard Choices series today, we go to a mainstay of the North Country's homegrown business community. You find the SunFeather Soap Company in a tidy, low building on the old state road outside Parishville, in St. Lawrence County. Martha Foley went for a tour, and got a lesson in small business 101.  Go to full article

A campaign season status check

Just over two weeks remain until Americans go to the polls to choose a new president. We'll also decide the shape of Congress and vote for state and local offices. The economic turmoil has added urgency to the election - it's also changed the messages of the candidates, and, perhaps, the progress of their campaigns. Brian Mann has been following the election season closely and blogging about politics on our website. He talks with Martha Foley.  Go to full article
Jacob Edgar pulls a CD from his vast archives at the home of Cumbancha Records.
Jacob Edgar pulls a CD from his vast archives at the home of Cumbancha Records.

Cumbancha Records: world music with Vermont roots

Walk into a coffeehouse or boutique almost anywhere, and you may see a display of brightly-colored world music CDs. Putumayo Records' compilations are famous for bringing little-known global artists to American ears. The man who discovers those musical gems lives right here on the east side of the Champlain Valley, and he's started his own world music label. Jacob Edgar has brought musicians from Central America, Asia, and Africa to his studios in Charlotte, Vermont. His latest artist, Chiwoniso of Zimbabwe, was rehearsing at a little farmhouse nearby for her upcoming North American tour. David Sommerstein stopped by and has this profile.  Go to full article

PTSD, Pt.4: A war trauma counselor

This week we've been reporting on the struggles of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in getting help with combat trauma. Today we get a window inside their world from one of the North Country's most respected experts. Nellie Coakley is a Vietnam veteran. She relies on her own experience in her work as a war trauma counselor. She's worked out the region's Vet Center since the 1980s. Vet Centers were created to give an alternative to Vietnam vets who didn't trust the standard VA channels. Coakley counsels an increasing number of Iraq and Afghanistan vets, and she sees a similar mistrust. She says the American public needs to do more to understand post-traumatic stress disorder and help veterans re-enter society. The trouble is, soldiers coming home with PTSD find they can't leave their warrior training behind. For them, Coakley told David Sommerstein, combat is life-changing.  Go to full article

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