National Monuments, Bench Clearing

Opening for Business: Portions of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, as well as three other national monuments, would be opened to mining and drilling under a proposal submitted to President Trump by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

It’s a controversial move, intended in part to unravel the environmental legacy of President Obama. Zinke refused to be specific about exactly what he’s proposing, only that he would “provide a much-needed change for the local communities who border and rely on these lands.” Recreational groups and environmentalists are expected to fight any changes.

In April President Trump ordered a review of 27 national monuments for possible change in their status. Some ranchers, landowners, and Republicans in the West have been pushing for years to remove vast tracts of land from federal protection and give them to the states or put them up for sale for mineral exploitation. About two-thirds of Utah is federal land, preventing the state from cashing in on the mining and fracking bonanza

Foreign Relations: Defense Secretary James Mattis said in Ukraine yesterday the Trump administration is considering supplying the Ukrainians with “defensive weapons.” That might include anti-tank missiles.

Of course, this is directed at the Russians, who have supported rebels in Eastern Ukraine. Mattis said, “Defensive weapons are not provocative unless you are an aggressor, and clearly Ukraine is not an aggressor since it is their territory where the fighting is happening.”

Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced that it is cutting $95.7 million in aid to Egypt and withholding an additional $195 million in military aid until the Egyptian government cleans up its human rights violations.

That still leaves Egypt with a hefty $1 billion in US aid. Egypt’s foreign ministry described the aid cut and delay as a “misjudgment of the nature of the strategic relations that have bound the two countries for decades.”

Foreign policy is nominally directed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is weeding out State Department veterans while failing to replace them as he cuts the budget and awaits an organizational review. Max Boot writes in Foreign Policy that Tillerson “is proving to be quite possibly the most ineffectual secretary of state since America’s rise to global prominence in 1898. Boot says, “Tillerson has actually been far worse than I imagined — and I was never a fan to begin with. I called for the Senate to reject his nomination because I feared that his amoral approach to world affairs and his affinity for Vladimir Putin would reinforce Donald Trump’s worst instincts. Those fears have been borne out — but they are only the beginning of Tillerson’s troubles.”

Heavy Weather: Hurricane Harvey is closing in on the Gulf Coast, expected to hit as a Category 3. That’s powerful and potentially damaging. Expect reporters standing in high winds and knee deep in floodwater.

Whole Paycheck: Amazon, which is closing a deal to buy Whole Foods, the organo-expensive grocery chain, announced that it’s going to immediately start lowering prices.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has repeatedly proven that he’s willing to lose money in order to make money. Lowering prices at a grocery chain whose customers don’t care about how much an organic avocado costs demonstrates that what he’s really doing is going to war with Walmart and Kroger, which owns the more upscale Harris Teeter.

The Sports Page: In a sport obsessed with trivial statistics, the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers established notable numbers yesterday with a bench-clearing brawl that resulted in eight player ejections, the most in any game this season.

Tensions started when the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez was hit with a fastball in the 5th inning, and then in the 6th, the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera had a pitch thrown behind his back.

When the benches emptied, even the relief pitchers came in from the bullpen.

That wasn’t the end of it. Players from both teams were hit with pitches in later innings and the benches emptied two more times.

In the end, they proved that if you want to see athletes who know how to punch, go to a hockey game.

Spreek je Nederlands: The westbound lane of New York’s replacement for the iconic Tappan Zee Bridge north of the city opens to traffic today. The $4 billion bridge has soaring angled support pillars strung with cables. It looks like a harp bridging the Hudson River.

The design and technological wonder stands next to the existing bridge, an old-school girder construction that looks like an erector set.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was named for the wide spot in the Hudson River where it stands. But Tappan Zee was not a politician. The new bridge will be named for the father of New York’s current governor, the late Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, a name that just doesn’t sing like Tappan Zee.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Page Two

Jaw Meet Floor

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Small President

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cuba Diaries

Sunday, March 13, 2016

An Alphabet of Maladies

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Healthcare Confusion Act

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Freedom from Speech

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Too Big to Fire

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Probable Than Not

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's Been Said

" 'The enemy of the people,'" was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017 ... It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase 'enemy of the people,' that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of 'annihilating such individuals' who disagreed with the supreme leader."
Arizona republican Sen. Jeff Flake speaking on the floor today.

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