May 29, 2020

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Tough Second Act

SALT LAKE CITY — January was supposed to be a great month for Interior Secretary Ryan Keith Zinke, the tall, cowboy-fit, decorated SEAL warrior dispatched by the White House to battle the “elites” and elevate resource development to the primary goal of the world’s largest conservation agency. Guided by his personal hero, Teddy Roosevelt, who once said “conservation means development as much as it does protection,” Zinke opened the year with the most ambitious federal …

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Gina Lopez: A Philippine Political Story

A week after I arrived in the Philippines in late April, Gina Lopez invited me to lunch at her home in Quezon City, the center of government. Lopez was engaged in a national campaign to preserve her post as the Philippine secretary of the environment. Her 10-month tenure had yielded shutdown and suspension orders against 26 of the country’s 41 big hard rock mines. Lopez formed and promoted an interagency law enforcement campaign to impede …

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In the U.S., An “Episode” Set to End, Another Ready to Start

SOMERSET, KY. — A story of leadership and poise emerged on Wednesday night after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. It is a lesson with lasting value to our national life. The Cleveland Indians scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to tie the game. Momentum had veered to the home team. To a man, the Cubs were rattled. Some said they were finding it hard to breathe. At the end …

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Henderson, Kentucky’s Riverwalk Along the Ohio River Shows Value of Public Investment

HENDERSON, KY — The 981-mile Ohio River Valley, which extends from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill. is full of surprises these days. Pittsburgh shed its sooty industrial coat of the 20th century to emerge as a center of engineering and biomedical innovation. Cincinnati, battered by race riots and disinvestment, is building a $1 billion riverfront neighborhood and a streetcar line. Louisville’s days as a meatpacking hub are long gone. Now it’s the growing capital of the …

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Washington Is Not Working — Literally

WASHINGTON — Two events occurred here on Thursday this week that together are a nearly perfect distillation of why this otherwise pleasant city has become the capital of intransigence and frustration for people like me concerned about our national interest. In the morning the U.S. Supreme Court announced, in a 5-4 decision, that campaign donations are a form of free speech, and that the wealthy can spend just about as much as they like to …

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Owensboro Convention Center Opens With Big Party; Senators Paul and McConnell Not Among The Guests

OWENSBORO, KY — In February 2009, in the very depths of the Great Recession, seven of the nine commissioners elected to lead this capable city and surrounding Daviess County took a long breath, understood the political consequences, and approved a modest increase in a local tax to generate $80 million to build a new downtown. Though just two of the seven officials remain in office, what they accomplished in a single courageous vote achieved three distinct …

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Shillong Times and its Courageous Editor, Patricia Mukhim, Gain National Hearing On Coal Mine Safety

Patricia Mukhim, editor of the Shillong Times. Photo/Dhruv Malhotra SHILLONG, India — To the best of anyone’s knowledge, and that includes a tribunal of senior jurists who heard testimony here on January 24, 15 men drowned in a coal mine in this state’s mineral-rich Garo Hills on July 6, 2012. The disaster occurred in one of the thousands of Meghalaya’s dangerous and unregulated coal mines. It wasn’t formally reported for more than a week. The …

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Just As It’s Always Been, Earth Day Marks Big Problems, Big Choices

CHATHAM, Mass. — The tides here lay down a walkway of shells — horseshoe crabs, scallops, palm-size crabs — where the water meets dry sand. On Earth Day 2013 a nearly full moon is perched, like a round plate on a pedestal, amid an expanse of cloudless blue sky. Gulls soar and dive in a stout breeze, and in the nearby mudflats men and women with long-handled metal rakes in hand and collars turned up …

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Gun Violence Mounts; So Does Cowardice

In Florida, supporters sounded off on the need to strengthen gun safety and reduce violence, some of whom also were members of the NRA. This has been a lousy week of murder in America. It’s also been another intolerable and telling week of cultural contrast best described by what President Obama today called “shameful” politics. When a terrorist bomb killed three and injured nearly 180 people in Boston two days ago, we reacted with sorrow …

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In Civic Dispute Over Fracking, Lessons of Pragmatism From Previous Fights

The economic benefits of deep shale gas development are becoming apparent, especially in Ohio where two new steel plants have been built, and three more expanded to serve the drilling and production sector. U.S. Steel’s new plant in Lorrain prepares drilling pipe for deep well development. Photo/Keith Schneider Last month an 11-member collaborative – two foundations, five state and national environmental organizations, four energy companies — announced they had formed the Center for Sustainable Shale …

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