FROM Jim Smalley
Fighting Mega-Fires More than 100 years after the federal government declared war on wildfire, wildfire is winning. The US Forest Service reports there are 40 large fires currently burning, from Florida to California, with 564 contained so far this year. They are "bigger, fiercer and costlier to put out [than they've ever been]… and there is no end in sight." Ten years ago, the National Forest Service spent $307 million on fire suppression. Last year, the bill was $1.37 billion. Private contracting for firefighters and their equipment can turn potential disasters into bonanzas for local communities. Does firefighting itself create future problems? Would preventative management save big money? What are the roles of politics and the media?
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
After Syria strike a new Trump doctrine emerges The President who promised an end to entanglements in the Middle East and snuggled up to Vladimir Putin has now outraged Russia with surprise missile attacks on Syria. That's raised questions about who's running the White House? We hear a variety of answers.