[imgcontainer right] [img:Fallentree.jpeg] [source]Los Angeles Times[/source] This 1,500 year old sequoia fell across a hiking trail. Best advice: Leave it alone. See story on the jump. [/imgcontainer]

There appears to be a deal that could save six-day-a-week postal delivery — at least for the next two years. Reuters story here

The bill was introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins, Tom Carper and Scott Brown. It would allow the Postal Service to tap into a multibillion retirement fund surplus to ease current financial problems. 

“Too many people still rely on the Postal Service for us to sit back and allow it to collapse,” said Lieberman, whose committee oversees the Postal Service and plans to debate the bill next week.

“The Postmaster General made it very clear to us that he needs the ability to cut $20 billion from the Postal Service’s annual budget. We’re giving him and his employees … the tools to achieve that significant amount of savings,” he said.

Congress has used postal service retirement fund surpluses to fund normal government operations. The surplus amounts to $15 billion. The proposed bill would allow the postal service to use $7 billion to offer buyouts and retirement incentives to cut the workforce.

•We’ve been running stories about the role Social Security plays in rural economies. If you want all the data for every U.S. county, look here

• Ouch. 

Kentucky is a Republican-leaning state, but the Republican candidate for governor is trailing the Democrat by 25 percentage points less than a week before the election.

Senate President David Williams, the Republican, has 29 percent of the vote in the latest poll. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has 54 percent. Perennial independent Gatewood Galbraith has 9 percent. 

“The race is completely over,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “It’s been a joke of a general election. … Here is a classic example of the Republicans picking the wrong person at the wrong time.”

• Letter From Langdon columnist Richard Oswald has written a three part series for DTN on rebuilding after the Missouri River flood covered his farm. A sample: 

No one here can say we were left high and dry. But economic burdens to our farms by the flood came at a time of $7 corn and $14 soybeans. Any average-sized crop would have meant near-record income. As it is now, all we have to show for it is record flooding. There still aren’t accurate numbers for crop acres lost because many crop insurance losses haven’t been settled. Perhaps as little as half of all flooded acres have been reported as lost, because fields are just now becoming accessible to crop insurance adjusters, and because farmers who certified planted acres to FSA may not have gone back to report those acres a second time as lost.

• A 1,500 year old sequoia fell across a well-travelled trail in the Sierra Nevada. The tree was huge. (It was 1,500 years old, for goodness sake!) See the photo above.

The L.A. Times believes the tree should be left alone:

The question is whether we’re smart enough to do the simplest thing — leave the tree alone, rerouting the trail around it and providing informational signs about the amazing transformations  going on in, under and around the tree. Fallen trees have a life beyond death, as it happens, as habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, mushrooms. They release nutrients back into the soil. It’s a whole circle-of-life thing.

• A California hospital trade group has sued state and federal officials to block a 10 percent cut in government reimbursement for providers who treat low-income people. 

The lawsuit contends that the cuts will affect patients in rural communities, who will likely face delays or other gaps in services.

The 10 percent cut was part of a California budget deal approved by the Obama administration.

• The New York Times writes about the incredible hay shortage in drought-weary Texas. 

• A Member of Congress from California, George Miller, gives the strongest speech about mine safety in Appalachia. Read it here

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