[imgcontainer right] [img:keel.jpeg] Jefferson Keel, above, is giving the State of Indian Nations address this morning. [/imgcontainer]

Stop reading this and switch over to here to watch the 9th annual State of Indian Nations address by Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians. It begins at 10:30 Eastern.

Immediately after Keel’s talk, the Congressional response will be given by Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Keel is expected to discuss employment, broadband, tribal energy development and significant events of the past year, such as the Cobell settlement and the Tribal Law & Order Act. 

• The Atlantic has an interesting roundup of ideas on how to save the U.S. Postal Service. 

Remember, the USPS is looking to close 2,000 offices, most in suburban or rural areas, as a way to save some $$. The magazine runs down various ways the Postal Service can keep the offices open without diminishing service. One idea is to bid out the rural offices, to see if some for-profit firms can figure out how to run the offices profitably. 

• Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was in Iowa speaking to a renewable energy conference in Des Moines. Gingrich is mulling a presidential bid.

Gingrich suggested that the Environmental Protection Agency be abolished and replaced with an “environmental solutions agency.” One solution off the table, however, is ethanol. In an interview, Gingrich said he did not support federal support for that fuel. 

• Alabama’s new governor, Robert Bentley, has created the Alabama Rural Development Office. He appointed former agriculture commissioner Ron Sparks to head the office.

The purpose of the office, according to the governor, is “to improve and advance education, healthcare, and economic development in the rural areas of Alabama.”

• The Food and Drug Administration intends to begin testing milk from farms that have been found to have sold cows with high levels of antibiotics.

The dairy industry doesn’t like the plan, saying it could force farmers to dump milk that goes bad as everyone waits for test results. So, the FDA postponed the tests and now the two sides are arguing. 

• The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement says that proposed regulations governing surface coal mining would cut production to the point where 7,000 of the nation’s 80,600 mining jobs would be lost, the Associated Press reports. 

The regulations are aimed at mountaintop removal mining, which takes place mostly in the eastern coalfields. Coal production would likely increase under these rules in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin says he will attempt to block the regulations. 

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