FROM Darryl Fears
Are national monuments on the chopping block? Teddy Roosevelt's legacy of 400 national parks may be "America's best idea," but some two-dozen national monuments are another matter. Miners, loggers and some residents in Western States are angry that past presidents limited use of millions of acres of public land. President Trump says Clinton, Bush and Obama, abused their power, and he's reportedly ready to shrink the size of some protected areas — if he can. We hear about disputes including industrial and recreational interests, environmentalists and Native American tribes.
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.
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?