Drilling Near Dinosaur National Monument Draws Criticism ~ NYT

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Changes loom near remote Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. It’s a rough region of 1,000-foot cliffs and canyons, two wild rivers — the Green and the Yampa — ancient rock art and archaeological evidence of 10,000 years of human history.

The park, which straddles the Utah-Colorado border, affords visitors backcountry camping, white-water rafting and, most famously, spectacular dinosaur fossils. The Bureau of Land Management has announced that in December it will auction gas and oil drilling rights on 94,000 acres, or 146 square miles, of land, some of it near the park’s entrance road.

Pumpjacks, drill rigs and other equipment would be visible from the park’s visitor center, which is 2.5 miles from one lease parcel, according to critics. The B.L.M. has said that equipment would not intrude on the average visitor’s field of view. The agency said it would take steps to minimize visibility, including light shields, noise mufflers and “placement of exhaust systems to direct noise away from noise sensitive areas” and “avoiding unnecessary flaring of gas.”

Ozone pollution from such energy development already exceeds federal Clean Air Act limits in the monument area.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican who supports fossil fuel development on public lands, initially said he worried that the new leases would bring eyesores too close to the park. “The state wishes to ensure leasing of these parcels does not impact visual resources or cause light or sound disturbances,” he said in comments submitted to the B.L.M. in July.

The monument’s National Park Service administrators have also expressed concern about dust, night lights, air and water pollution and threats to endangered species. The 330-square-mile, high-desert park is visited by about 300,000 people a year. It was designated a national monument by President Woodrow Wilson in 1915, using powers granted him under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

The new drilling leases pivot away from a policy begun during the administration of Barack Obama, in which the Park Service and the B.L.M. collaborated to avoid visual and environmental impacts from industrial development on public lands near parks. The national monument, administered by the park service, is surrounded by federal public lands administered by the B.L.M. Both agencies are within the Department of the Interior.

More gas and oil drilling is part of the Trump administration’s announced goals of what the president has referred to as “energy dominance. The Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, has said that “oil and gas production on federal lands is an important source of revenue and job growth in rural America.”

In response to the concerns expressed by Mr. Herbert and others, the B.L.M. has deferred action indefinitely on about 1,600 acres near the park that had been proposed for leases, and said that it will try to mitigate impacts at the monument from drilling activity on the remaining areas near the park.

The governor’s office declared that it was satisfied by the changes.

“Thank you @BLMNational for listening to our concerns about protecting the visitor experience at @DinosaurNPS,” Mr. Herbert said on Twitter.

Others are unhappy. Critics say the shift is emblematic of changes that will affect a wide range of other parks and monuments, as well as those who visit them.

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The Moral Case for Draft Resistance

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On Monday, Oct. 16, 1967, Americans gathered by the thousands in cities and on campuses all over the country for the first “Stop the Draft” week. On the steps of federal buildings, city halls and university buildings, hundreds of young men protested the Vietnam War by turning in their draft cards — a national act of civil disobedience.

In Boston, draft resisters assembled in the historic Arlington Street Church and turned in their cards in what seemed like a sacramental rite. They moved solemnly up the aisle, some in tears, and deposited their draft cards in offering plates. Others burned their cards in the flame of a candle held by a candlestick once owned by the abolitionist preacher William Ellery Channing.

Reflecting on the moment when he turned in his draft card, James Oestereich, a seminarian in Boston, said, “It’s hard” to confront one’s government during wartime. “We know how to pay our taxes … but we don’t know how to oppose our government in a way that’s responsible and that will be listened to.”

In the national memory of the Vietnam War, anyone who violated draft laws is typically seen as selfish, cowardly and unpatriotic. It was one thing for civil rights activists to confront the government by breaking the law; by 1967, many of them were regarded as among the nation’s finest citizens. But if a citizen defied the draft laws to take a similar stand, few saw it as the resisters did: as a desperate appeal to the nation’s highest ideals.

Certainly, President Lyndon Johnson did not understand. When draft resisters showed up in Washington on Oct. 20 with nearly 1,000 draft cards collected from all over the country and turned them in at the Justice Department, he was furious. Johnson raged privately about whomever “the dumb sonofabitch was who would let somebody leave a bunch of draft cards in front of the Justice Department and then let them just walk away,” and ordered the attorney general, the F.B.I. and the Selective Service to investigate.

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New Documentary Blends Civil Rights Murders With Hunt for Blues Icons ~ RollingStone

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The new documentary ‘Two Trains Running’ pairs the search for lost 1930s blues singers Son House and Skip James with the tragic Mississippi Burning murders. Dick Waterman

 

On June 21st, 1964 three young civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi were brutally murdered by the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan while they participated in the Freedom Summer voter registration initiative. Racially-motivated killings were nothing new in that part of the country during the Jim Crow era, but two of the victims were affluent, young, white males from the north. That was enough to turn their deaths into major national news, attracting the attention of the FBI and President Lyndon Johnson and acting as a catalyst for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

On the same day the killings, known as the Mississippi Burning murders, took place, another trio of young males from the north were driving through Mississippi with a different agenda. Led by guitarist John Fahey, the three men were obsessive fans of 1930s Delta blues musicians. Many of the key figures from that era had disappeared without a trace decades earlier, and they were determined to track down Skip James, whose sole recorded output was a handful of scratchy 78-RPM records in 1931. Through a combination of luck and guile, they found James at a hospital in Tunica, Mississippi.

Amazingly, another threesome of young, white males from the north were driving through Mississippi that same day in 1964 seeking out Son House, another Delta blues icon from the 1930s. They tracked him down via telephone and met up with him at his house in Rochester, New York two days later. Much like James, House had no idea that his old recordings had found a cult audience eager to see him play live. They both wound up attending the Newport Folk Festival the next month – James performed, though an ailment prevented House from taking the stage – relaunched their careers in the years to come after decades in complete obscurity.

The remarkable coincidence of these three historic events taking place on the same day in 1964 is the subject of the new documentary Two Trains Runnin’, which hit the festival circuit last year and is now rolling out to theaters across America. The incredible story was going to be told in writer Benjamin Hedin’s book In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now, but once the focus of the work shifted, he was unable to fit it in. “It pained me,” says Hedin, “I had done lots of research and interviews, [but] there was no place in it for the story of the searches for Son House and Skip James set against the backdrop of Freedom Summer.”

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“Two Trains Runnin’,” Sam Pollard’s compact, resonant documentary — part essay film, part road picture, part musical anthology — is built around an astonishing historical coincidence. On June 21, 1964, two lost giants of the Delta blues, Skip James and Son House, were found by separate crews of obsessed music fans after weeks of amateur sleuthing along the back roads of Mississippi. James and House had each made a handful of recordings in the ’30s and ’40s, and then faded into obscurity until the folk revival of the early ’60s piqued the interest of students and coffeehouse guitar pickers in the college towns of the North.

One car, captained by the guitarist John Fahey, set out from Berkeley, Calif., in search of Skip James. Another left Cambridge, Mass., following a wisp of a clue about where Son House might be. At the same time, other, larger groups of students were preparing to travel to Mississippi for reasons having little to do with music. They were part of Freedom Summer, a campaign organized mainly by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, to register black voters in the state. On June 21, three of those activists — James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman — disappeared near Philadelphia, Miss. They were killed by the Ku Klux Klan.

With deep historical knowledge and nimble storytelling techniques, Mr. Pollard explores how idealism, horrific brutality and artistic genius converged in a single historical moment. Interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses, scholars and musicians are complemented with archival material, animation (which is fast becoming a staple of modern documentary filmmaking) and the retrospective thoughts of critics, journalists and musicians. Some of these are a little distracting. It’s nice to hear Lucinda Williams, Gary Clark Jr. and others testify to (and demonstrate) the enduring influence of James and House, but it’s infinitely more valuable to hear the men themselves.

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Kiitella Award: Access Fund Honors Executive Director Brady Robinson

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At the Access Fund annual event in Oakland, California, the organization honored Brady Robinson, their Executive Director, for his ten years of excellent leadership. Laminated bamboo and polished steel merge in this minimal and elegant plaque by Lisa Issenberg of Kiitella, with the Access Fund logo translating beautifully into a jetcut design.

Tom Hanks Is Obsessed With Typewriters (So He Wrote A Book About Them)

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Actor Tom Hanks has made us believe he can be anyone and do anything on the big screen.

Now he’s taking us on a journey on the page: Tom Hanks has written a book.

It’s a collection of short stories, with varied subjects: a World War II veteran on Christmas Eve in 1953, a California surfer kid who makes an unsettling discovery. There’s time travel. In every story, Hanks sneaks in the machine he’s so obsessed with — the typewriter.

“I have too many typewriters, David,” he says, beginning a riff. “You want one? I should have brought one for you and the staff, just to help out, man. I don’t want these to be a burden to my children when I kick the bucket. I don’t want them to say, ‘What are we gonna do with dad’s typewriters?'”

Sometimes the typewriter is a plot device; sometimes it really does feel almost hidden. Fittingly, the book is called Uncommon Type. And in talking to Hanks, you learn that his thing with typewriters is not a gimmick – more like a love affair.

“There’s something about – I don’t know, it’s a hex in my brain – there is something I find reassuring, comforting, dazzling in that here is a very specific apparatus that is meant to do one thing, and it does it perfectly,” he says. “And that one thing is to translate the thoughts in your head down to paper. Now that means everything from a shopping list to James Joyce’s Ulysses. Short of carving words into stone with a hammer and chisel, not much is more permanent than a paragraph or a sentence or a love letter or a story typed on paper.”

Some Stories

by Tom Hanks and Kevin Twomey

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Interview Highlights

On the story ‘These Are The Meditations Of My Heart’

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