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How ACA Repeal Would Hurt Farmers and Rural Communities

"The ACA has been a mixed bag for agriculture. While many large farms balked at the requirement to ensure their employees (experts say it cost farm employers in California about $1 per hour per employee working in the field), most small-scale farmers often opted out of insurance all together before the ACA, or sought off-farm employment in order to get coverage through an employer’s plan. A 2015 USDA blog post notes that prior to the ACA, rural families struggled to find affordable healthcare, “paying an average of nearly half of their costs out of their own pockets” and that “one in five farmers is in debt because of medical bills.”

Police Forces Are Sending A Message To Black Suburban Residents: You’re Not Wanted

"It was a familiar story in Troy — where, over the last six years, at least seven black residents have been acquitted of resisting arrest and then paid by the city over claims of police brutality — and evidence of a nationwide trend driven by demographic shifts shaking the country. As black and brown people leave major cities to raise families in areas that were once predominantly white, they’re encountering police departments that are slow to reflect those population shifts and all too eager to placate longtime white residents who equate change with rising crime. To those white residents, the officers serve as a final line of defense against the outsiders marching onto their land, uniformed allies paid to protect them from the dangers they feel closing in around them."

TZ Bridge deck panels to be reused

"The 61-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge, scheduled for demolition this summer, is going to live on in Orange County.

In a new twist on reuse-reduce-recycle, the county has asked the New York State Thruway Authority for 14 of the 150 prefabricated deck panels that will be salvaged from the bridge before it is dismantled.

“We have one bridge – the Corwin Bridge - already in design to accept the panels,″ said Chris Viebrock, the county’s public works commissioner.

The bridge, which carries County Route 11 (Mount Hope Road) over the Shawangunk Kill in the Town of Mount Hope, is getting an estimated $690,000 makeover. The panels will shorten the construction timetable and shave the cost.

Viebrock, praising the Thruway for making the panels available, said he is also evaluating the feasibility of using them on three other bridges as well as two crossings on the new extension of the Heritage Trail between Goshen and Middletown."

Shared Autonomous Vehicles Could Still Increase VMT

Conventional wisdom assumes there will lots of cheap oil for the coming fleet of autonomous vehicles. Or that coal-fired powered plants, generating electricity will replace the need for cheap oil. But will it?

I still think in many ways we are at the twilight of the fossil fuel-era. Many of the predicted fossil fuels won't become a reality, because most of them are marketing gimmicks.

And I'm not sure that autonomous vehicles are all they are cracked up to be? Will computers ever be smart enough to react to potholes, pedestrians, deer, fog and other drivers? Even if they are safer then humans, will people trust a system that still causes carnage on the highways?

I don't believe there will ever be autonomous vehicles in mass. I think motoring is in it's final years, and we should enjoy it while it's still a thing.

Murders by County, 1990-2015

This graph shows all the murders that have occurred in New York State from 1990 through 2015, by county. All of New York State has seen murders go down, although in many upstate counties trend in the number of murders has been hidden by the ordinary noise in the data (murders are somewhat random, they don't evenly go up or down by a certain percent every year). When you have 50 murders on a particular year, a handful more murders can totally throw off a long-standing trend. DCJS has more detailed statistics on index crimes, by county and police departments from 1990-2015. There are some reporting differences between these stats and the ones put out for the US Department of Justice, so numbers don't match exactly but are following the same trend.

Data Source: Index Crimes by County and Agency: Beginning 1990. NYSDCJS.

Total Violent Crimes in NYS, 1965-2015

At 75,165 violent crimes committed in New York State in 2015, that is roughly the same as the number of violent crimes in 1967, at 75,124 crimes. In 1967, the state's population was only 17.7 million, compared to the 19.6 million population in 2015. There are 2.1 million more residents in the state. That means the 2015 violent crime rate of 379.8 per 100,000 persons is lower then the 1967 violent crime 409.7 per 100,000 rate of 1967. The rate in 1966 was somewhat lower at 342.6 and 1965 was 325.4. In other words, it seems like most of the 50 year crime wave from 1967-2007 is all but over.

Data Source: NYS Crime Statistics, 1965-2015.