September 22, 2021

Pandemic Breakout Tour

NEW YORK — Thanks to the expertise and doggedness of contemporary science, which delivered a vaccine capable of warding off Covid-19, Gabrielle and I departed from our pandemic-safe home in Somerset, KY, and ventured out in April for a nine-day trip to Virginia, New Jersey, and New York. It was an adventure ripe with highlights: 1) reunions with my 91-year-old mother, my two brothers, my sister, their spouses, my nephew and niece, my sister-in-law and …

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Covid-19 Vaccination Day in Kentucky

CORBIN, Kentucky — As of today, March 10, 2021, Kentucky has administered almost 900,000 Covid-19 vaccinations. The United States has administered more than 62 million vaccinations. I was one of them. It was a historic day of sorts. Almost exactly to the day a year ago the full measure of the pandemic’s risk took hold in the country. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shut down the league. Former President Trump — “The virus will not have …

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Benzie County’s Summer and Fall COVID Tourist Economy – Surprise! – Was Very Strong

BENZONIA — On May 15, persuaded that COVID-19 infections and deaths were convincingly low, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) lifted the executive order that for eight weeks had closed most businesses in Benzie and neighboring Northern Michigan counties. Six months later, as COVID-19 infections and deaths mounted as never before in Benzie and the rest of the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reinstated parts of the shutdown—calling for a three-week “pause”—from November …

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Benzie County — Jumpy About Virus and Summer Visitors

BENZONIA, MI – Tucked away on the northern shore of Lake Michigan, the residents of Benzie County spent the final days of winter and the early weeks of spring confident they were safe, but agitated about what was coming. A scenic region of thick forests, clean lakes, and tiny villages, Benzie County lies 30 miles southwest of Traverse City, the nearest sizable city, 80 miles distant from the closest thruway, and 220 miles northwest of …

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Trump’s Call For Opening Puts School Kids At Frontline of Risk and Re-election

You might have missed it this week — a statement by President Trump urging education boards to open schools in September. It’s revealing and, I suspect, politically risky for Trump supporters. “Now when you have an incident, one out of a million, one out of 500,000, will something happen? Perhaps,” Trump said. “But you can be driving to school and some bad things can happen, too. This is a disease that attacks age and it …

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After The Pandemic, A Better Way

BENZONIA, MI — Okay. For the second day in a row I’ve awakened with personal vows. The first is to shed my frustration, my pathology of pissed off, my infernal disgust with the country’s division and its get-it-wrong-at-every-step president. The second is to redirect that stream of contempt to irrigate a meadow of possibility. The Dixie Chicks is one of my favorite bands, ever since 2003 when they publicly and courageously opposed the Iraq invasion. …

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American Mobility Curbed By Pandemic: Oil Sector in Free Fall

Of all the principles that defined American culture and shaped its economy over the last 70 years, arguably none have been as influential as this one: mobility. Think about the salient details of where we live, what we purchase, how we choose our destinations, our work, our social gatherings. Consider the public policy decisions that financed the highways and airports and water systems that spread America out. Don’t forget the economic investments in the apparatus …

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Earth Day At 50 — A Planetary Warning

In 1905, a year before he died, Nathaniel Southgate Shaler published a highly regarded book that advocated “a change in the point of view from which we commonly regard the resources of the earth.” In Man and Earth the famed Harvard scientist described the sun, clouds, soil, and water as a kind of life-giving membrane, a placenta, from which Mother Earth sustains all living creatures. Mindful of the coal dug out of the Appalachians, timber …

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No Mercy in Pandemic Era. Trump Incites Violence With Call to “LIBERATE!”

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!””LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA!” Are we in this together, as the nation’s governors insist? Forget about it. Yesterday President Trump signaled — to supporters toting AR-15s — his blanket approval for acts of violence in pursuit of their economic security, particularly in states led by Democrats. The call to arms, such a characteristically Trumpian contradiction, was issued the day after the president made comments at the White House in support of governors who were …

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Social Distancing Saves Lives; Nearly 8 Million WorldWide Since Novel Coronavirus Emerged

One of the really creative and effective men I’ve known in my life is J. Carl Ganter. A native of Traverse City and a skilled photographer, journalist, and filmmaker who trained at Northwestern, Carl and I have done a few very cool things together. We partnered on New York Times assignments in the 1990s. He and his wife, Eileen Ganter, built MLUI.org, the first Web site for the Michigan Land Use Institute that went live …

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