June 21, 2024

Doha’s Toybox Skyline

DOHA, Qatar — A decade ago Sheraton’s pyramid shaped hotel was just about the only modern building along this city’s Arabian (Persian) Gulf shoreline. Today the hotel is dwarfed by 21st-century skyscrapers designed by architects who seem to have been inspired by the shapes contained in a boy’s toybox. Yet along with the playful shapes comes an accompanying narrative of the rising concern about how development affects the Gulf’s ecological and economic security. We are …

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More Evidence of Rust Belt Revival

OWENSBORO, KY — When it’s completed next year, the 169,000-square-foot, $48 million convention center under construction in this city of 57,000 will arguably be the most striking architectural achievement on the Ohio River. With its angles and glass and cantilevered roof, the convention center dwells atop a high river bluff like a palace to the future. Which is almost precisely what it is. Almost two years ago I first set foot in Owensboro to undertake …

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A Cathedral to Beer in Pittsburgh

The Church Brew Works opened in 1996 in the then 94-year-old former St. John The Baptist Roman Catholic church, and has thrived ever since. Photo/Keith Schneider PITTSBURGH — On the way to President Obama’s second inauguration last week we celebrated at the most confounding brew pub I’ve ever visited: The Church Brew Works. As an example of urban design serving and celebrating a new use, the pub is hard to beat. First of all is …

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Circle of Blue — At the Frontline of the Global Contest Over Energy, Food, and Water

Pressed by growing demand to cool a proliferation of new coal-fired power plants in Chhattisgarh, India, workers expand and modernize a big water transport canal. Photo/Keith Schneider TRAVERSE CITY, MI — As we’ve known for years now, the diminishment of the mainstream American media is opening fresh opportunities for more nimble and skilled newsrooms to produce first-rate reporting. Nowhere is that more true than at Circle of Blue, where I serve as senior editor, reporting …

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Rust Rubbed Off Ohio River Valley, Narrative of Economic Revival in New York Times

Luke Patterson, the 31-year-old pilot of the towboat Mike Weisend. Photo © Keith Schneider PADUCAH, KY. – On a mile-wide reach of the Ohio River, just upstream from where it converges with the Mississippi, Ray McKinney, the 54-year-old first mate aboard the Mike Weisend, a year-old towboat, pounds the slack out of steel cables that lash 15 barges together in a long tow headed upriver. The heavy pipe in his hands, and the tangle of …

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Fossil Fuel Boom Is One of Several Trends Leading Ohio River Cities Back To Economic Relevance

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The Ohio is the most beautiful river on earth. Its current gentle, waters clear, and bosom smooth and unbroken by rocks and rapids, a single instance only excepted.” Downriver from Louisville, Kentucky, where the 1,000-mile long Ohio River reaches its widest points, and the mirroring waters slip by miles of unbroken hardwood forests, it’s possible to witness some of the very same beauty that inspired Jefferson. The Ohio is much in my …

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North Dakota Oil Boom Like Air Ambulance Flying In Storm

The day after Christmas, Scott Terrell, a painter and carpenter from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho turned 58. Never has he felt the weight and wear of his years so acutely. Last August Terrell joined the army of oilfield mercenaries that are rapidly converting great stretches of North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming into the most productive fossil fuel development zone in U.S. history. He quickly landed a job driving a Volvo haul truck on a …

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Is American Energy Exploration and Production Breaking the Great Recession?

WILLISTON, ND — The Saturday morning earlier this month that Scott Terrell and I had breakfast at Gramma Sharon’s Family Restaurant, every seat was taken by roughnecks and drivers fueling up before heading out to work this state’s giant oil patch. The line of customers waiting to pay their bills was so long I did something I rarely do on reporting trips. I left cash on the table and utterly violated the ethos expressed on …

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Oil Production Soars, Prices Fall, Water Contest Grows

The Department of Energy earlier this  month reported that crude oil production in the United States climbed to 5.88 million barrels per day, the most since 1998. Meanwhile the share of oil demand taken up by imports is declining. After nearly three decades of steadily falling domestic production, the U.S. is now in the midst of an oil boom that is in its third straight year, with no sign of abating. Last night on the …

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Owensboro’s Downtown Development Plan in New York Times

The New York Times today published my article on Owensboro’s downtown development plan, much of it financed by a local tax increase enacted in 2009. Though the public spending has spurred new development and thousands of jobs in the last two years — Owensboro has generated 2,400 jobs in 2010 and 2011, more than any other Kentucky metro area — just two of the seven elected leaders who voted for it are still in office. …

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