FROM Darryl Fears
The National Park Service celebrates 100 years The National Parks have been called "America's best idea" but, on their hundredth anniversary, they're faced with troubling questions. Will Congress make up a $12 billion deficit for maintenance and repair? Are the parks serving just a fraction of a young and diverse population? Mt. Rainier Photo by Samuel Kerr The National Parks' official 100tth anniversary was yesterday, and the Park Service will be celebrating all through this coming weekend. Admission will be free to 400 sites on 85 million acres in the 50 states and territories. That includes 58 full-scale National Parks as well as monuments and other protected areas. But who are the visitors likely to be — now and in the future? And what will they find?
Nearly All Sales of Elephant Ivory Are a Crime Ivory is a beloved item, used since the start of the nation in pianos, knife handles and furniture. Now it's become a big enough business to threaten species extinction. So, the Obama Administration has declared a near-total ban on the sale of products containing African elephant ivory. As Darryl Fears reports in the Washington Post , the ban may put an end to more than one kind of business.
Mandatory Sentencing in the War on Drugs Federal laws passed in the 1980's provided the same prison sentence for dealing in five grams of crack cocaine as for 500 grams of powder, a ratio of 100-to-1. But it turned out that the so-called "crack epidemic" never happened, and the Journal of the American Medical Association now says that crack is not more addictive than powder or more likely to lead to violence after all. But crack is used more often by African Americans, which means that federal prisons are crowded with black prisoners doing more time than whites for essentially the same crimes. Two weeks ago, the House and the Senate allowed new guidelines that make sentences for crack commensurate with those for powder cocaine. Should the change be made retroactive? Would 20,000 criminals be released all at once? We'll hear about the ongoing debate at the US Sentencing Commission.
Concern deepens amid Trump's controversies President Trump delivered today's commencement speech to the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. As he praised the accomplishments of the graduates, he listed some of his own… and made reference to reports that he leaked intelligence to the Russians and tried to shut down an FBI Investigation into his associates.
Trump, the GOP and the rule of law Conservatives — and some Republicans — are criticizing the President for "the mess he made" in firing FBI Director James Comey. We hear about a potential successor, the possibility of "obstruction of justice" and the constitutional separation of powers.