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Silas House writes that Appalachians are mourning a “true hillbilly” in Judy Bonds, the anti-coal strip mine advocate who died of cancer last week.  House writes:

“I’m not going to … bury my head in the sand and say, ‘I can’t do anything,’ ” she told me and co-author Jason Howard when we were working on a book that featured Bonds. “I’m not made that way. I’m going to get a lick in so they know they’ve been in a fight. Now ain’t that what a true Appalachian does?”

It is. True hillbillies (a description Bonds said she “loved”) always stand up for what they believe in, and fight back, no matter what. But only the truest hillbillies are full of the kind of light that Bonds possessed.

•Legislators in New Hampshire voted to overturn a ban on weapons in the State House and will now permit concealed weapons on the House floor and in the visitors’ gallery. 

• The Des Moines Register editorial points points out that treatment for mental illness depends on where you live. “We woudn’t tolerate this for Iowans with cancer,” the editorial says. 

• Duke Energy and Progress Energy will merge, creating a $65 billion enterprise.

Ken Ward Jr. collects thoughts about what this will mean to the future of coal. He notes that Duke’s CEO, Jim Rogers, is one of the nation’s most prominent corporate advocates for cutting CO2 emissions

•Speaking to the American Farm Bureau in Atlanta, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack “strongly hinted” that the large budget deficit will require cuts in next year’s Farm Bill. 

“It’s fairly clear. I’m not going to tell you something that you haven’t already heard from your leadership,” Vilsack said. “When you’re dealing with having to reduce deficits, you’re going to have to make difficult choices.”

• And it’s snowing in New England. As of 9:30 eastern, there were 22 inches on the ground in Ridgefield, CT. 

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