US population center moves 11.8 miles; still in Missouri

HARTVILLE, Mo. — Some people might describe Hartville, Missouri, as being in the middle of nowhere, but the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday announced that it's the closest town to the middle of the nation. The hamlet of about 600 people in the Missouri Ozarks is located about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the center of the U.S. population distribution, according to the Census Bureau. The town is the type of place where families have been farming for generations, everybody knows each other and people stay for the “small-town living,” said Sabrina Gilliland, 38, a paralegal for the local prosecutor, who lives on a family farm with her four children, cattle, pigs and chickens.

Biden pushes electric vehicle chargers as energy costs spike

President Joe Biden is highlighting billions of dollars in his giant bipartisan infrastructure deal to pay for the installation of electric vehicle chargers across the country, an investment he says will go a long way to curbing planet-warming carbon emissions while creating good-paying jobs. Biden on Wednesday will visit a General Motors plant in Detroit that manufactures electric vehicles. He'll use the occasion to make the case that the $7.5 billion in the new infrastructure law for electric vehicle chargers will help America get “off the sidelines” on green-energy manufacturing. Currently, the U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle sales is one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. “It’s a big deal," Biden declared as he signed the bill into law at a White House ceremony on Monday. Two top White House advisers, writing in the Detroit Free Press, said the legislation will help America regain its global competitiveness, which has waned, they contend, “after decades of delay and decay.”

US overdose deaths topped 100,000 in one year, officials say

An estimated 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in one year, a never-before-seen milestone that health officials say is tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and a more dangerous drug supply. Overdose deaths have been rising for more than two decades, accelerated in the past two years and, according to new data posted Wednesday, jumped nearly 30% in the latest year. Experts believe the top drivers are the growing prevalence of deadly fentanyl in the illicit drug supply and the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many drug users socially isolated and unable to get treatment or other support. The number is “devastating,” said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University expert on drug abuse issues. “It’s a magnitude of overdose death that we haven’t seen in this country."

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