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?
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.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?