In places where the unemployment rate is well below the national average — states like Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa — one would think it’d be easier for communities to recruit new residents to fill open jobs.

But the housing market works against rural towns and cities where jobs often stay open because there are too few affordable homes and apartments to buy or rent, or the ones that are affordable need lots of TLC. It’s a situation that threatens to turn low unemployment from an advantage into a liability.

Perspectives - Introducing the 2018 Spring Read

Jan 15, 2018
Wikimedia Commons / U S War Bonds Poster

My father once said “You could call this place six-foot country.” He was an Arkansas native, raised among the trees of the Ozark foothills. His most vivid first impression of the Texas Panhandle area was that a six-foot tall man like him could see for ten miles in any direction, although he said that in 1932, there wasn’t really that much to see.

I remember vividly standing in our front yard in our small town and him pointing to the solitary barn lights of farmers whose places were five, maybe ten miles away.

   The first white explorers of this vast emptiness we call the High Plains agreed there wasn’t much to see. The leader of a mid-nineteenth century surveying party reportedly wrote across his map that “this is a vast treeless plain, unfit for human habitation.”

U.S. Census Bureau / Public Domain

The Federal Government ruled last week that Texas Education officials illegally denied special education services to students across the state, reports The Austin American-Statesman.

The ruling rejected a long-ago decision by the Texas Education Agency that placed a cap on how many students in the state can be eligible for special education services.

Bob Jagendorf / Wikimedia Commons

According to the latest numbers for incarceration rates across the U.S., Oklahoma held the second highest per capita incarceration rate among all states.

As KFOR reports, in 2016 Oklahoma incarcerated 673 people per 100,000 residents. That lands the state second behind only Louisiana, which imprisons a staggering 760 per 100,000. By comparison, Texas imprisons 563 per 100,000 and Colorado imprisons only 356. The national average is around 400 per hundred thousand.

CC0 Creative Commons

The City of Amarillo is considering getting rid of the 22,000 dumpsters that dot the city and replacing them with individual 95-gallon plastic carts that would be rolled to the curb by Amarillo residents. The carts would then be emptied by trucks with robotic grabbers.

Lexey Swall / The Texas Tribune

Texas immigrants and their advocates said they're pleased that a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction keeping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place. But they said they remain focused on the push in Congress to make the program permanent.

From The Texas Tribune:

CC0 Creative Commons

A white-tailed deer that was struck by a vehicle on US Highway 87 near Dalhart has tested positive for a contagious neurological disorder, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials, this is the first instance of a Panhandle white-tail testing positive for chronic wasting disease, and the first instance of the disease appearing in roadkill in the state of Texas.

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Honey Where Are My Keys?

Jan 13, 2018
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The funny stories on the rural plains just keep happening. Joel has started claiming that when he does something funny, he’s only being helpful by providing material!  Today’s sketch is called, “Honey, Where are My Keys?” 

CCO Creative Commons

As a kid, I lived 11 miles from Disneyland. I took for granted that I’d visit the happiest place on earth several times a year. And I did. Due to immaturity, I didn’t understand why my out of state cousins were so excited to visit Southern California and the Magic Kingdom. They were giddy about meeting Mickey and exploring Adventureland, and their enthusiasm for something so commonplace as Disneyland escaped me. After all, it was just a big amusement park with a bunch of costumed characters walking around waving at folks.

Luke Clayton

Luke joined his friend Deryl Markgraf on his hunting least in north Texas along with Terry Tate and Matthew Yates. The group set up what they kiddingly referred to as their "mid-winter rabbit camp". A fajita dinner featuring axis deer steak served as the evening meat, complete with some of Deryl's specialty Chorizo cheese dip. 

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Rachael Denhollander was 15 the first time she went to see Larry Nassar, then the doctor for USA Gymnastics. Denhollander didn't tell anyone of authority about how he sexually assaulted her until years later, in 2004, when she was working as a gymnastics coach.

Nassar has admitted to sexually assaulting minors. He has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for charges related to child pornography, but has not yet been sentenced in a state case for sexually assaulting the athletes.

Updated at 1:28 a.m. ET

The federal government is now in a partial shutdown after Congress failed to pass a stopgap measure to keep funding going ahead of a midnight deadline.

It's an unprecedented situation given that shutdowns usually happen in times of divided government. But this is the first time it's happened with one party controlling both Congress and the White House.

The Senate is set to hold a vote before midnight on Friday on the bill the House passed last night to avert a government shutdown. If it passes, the government will remain funded for the next four weeks.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In 1971, Winnette Willis was a 23-year-old single mom in Chicago when she became pregnant again. "I was terrified of having another child," she tells Radio Diaries.

Before the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade 45 years ago, abortion was illegal in most of the United States, including in Illinois.

Women like Willis who wanted to terminate their pregnancies had limited and often frightening options. She wasn't sure what to do. And then one day, while she was waiting on an L train platform, she saw a sign.

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