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What’s with the turtles?

People are finding unprecedented numbers of young seat turtles (mostly Kemp’s ridleys) stranded on Cape Code. Volunteers are picking up turtles and transporting them to aquariums where they can recover.

Officials on Cape Cod counted the most sea turtles in 40 years this past summer, likely because of warm waters. Some in this turtle swarm have been trapped in the Cape’s elbow, unable to migrate, and as water temperatures fall, the turtles become immobilized. Eventually, some are washed ashore.

• The Food and Water Watch people have put out a fascinating map showing the growth and spread of “factory farms” — i.e., very large livestock operations.

You can play with a map here.

Dan Piller at the Des Moines Register explores the rapid rise in farmland prices.

Farmland sales in Iowa last month brought a wave of prices of $8,000 an acre, prices that only a year ago would have been considered exceptional. Now there are reports that some Sioux County land went for $13,950 an acre just last month.

Driving the prices has been a 50% increase in the price of corn since June. “Farms are throwing off a lot of cash now, and farmers have it to spend,” said land broker Henry Joe Sandve of Marshalltown. “Everybody’s bullish on farmland.” Included in that group are non-farmer investors.

• Montana Sen. Jon Tester writes in the Helena Independent Record in favor of earmarks, the allocation of money from the federal budget for particular local projects.

“Unlike some Washington bureaucrats who sits in a cubicle all day, I know Montana. I know some parts of our state don’t even have clean drinking water,” Sen. Tester writes. “I drive thousands of miles of highways that need to be maintained in order to keep our businesses and communities strong. Right now, one-third of 1 percent of our federal budget is earmarked for specific water systems and highways in rural America, where there aren’t enough taxpayers to foot the bill.”

• David Montgomery writes in the Rapid City Journal about rural objections to the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband plan.

The plan would fold the Universal Service Fund into the Connect America Fund. The Universal Service Fund, Montgomery writes, was set up to extend telephone service to rural areas. The Connect America Fund is to used to support fast Internet service “with no regard for the location of the user.” Under the plan, Connect America would get $15 billion from the Universal Service Fund.

The fear among rural advocates is that Connect America would spend more money on dense, urban areas than sparsely populated rural communities.

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