Saad Hariri plans France trip after resigning as Lebanon’s prime minister in Saudi Arabia

His resignation — which he blamed on pressure from Iran and its Lebanese Shiite proxy, Hezbollah — stunned Lebanon and the wider region and raised fears the country would plunge again into factional turmoil.

But Lebanese officials had said Hariri, who is a dual Lebanese-Saudi citizen, had been forced to resign by Saudi authorities and was unable to move or speak freely from Riyadh. Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, said Wednesday that Hariri was a “hostage,” and that his government would not accept such an “attack on Lebanese sovereignty.”

…But as Shiite Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni, have competed for influence in the region, the threat of upheaval in Lebanon intensified. Iran has long backed Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful political and military movement, and which is key to Iranian regional reach.

…For its part, Riyadh has sought to bolster Hariri and his Sunni bloc in Lebanon, and have fought what Saudi officials claim are Iranian proxy forces in Yemen. Iran denies having direct links to the Houthi forces in Yemen that drove out the Saudi-backed president in 2015.

Saad Hariri plans France trip after resigning as Lebanon’s prime minister in Saudi Arabia – The Washington Post



Awaiting Trump’s coal comeback, miners reject retraining

Despite broad consensus about coal’s bleak future, a years-long effort to diversify the economy of this hard-hit region away from mining is stumbling, with Obama-era jobs retraining classes undersubscribed and future programs at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget.

…Hundreds of coal-fired plants have closed in recent years, and cheap natural gas continues to erode domestic demand. The Appalachian region has lost about 33,500 mining jobs since 2011, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Although there have been small gains in coal output and hiring this year, driven by foreign demand, production levels remain near lows hit in 1978.

…“The coal industry has stabilized, but it’s not going to come back,” said Blair Zimmerman, a 40-year veteran of the mines who is now the commissioner for Greene County, one of Pennsylvania’s oldest coal regions.

… Coal miners are resisting retraining without ready jobs from new industries, but new companies are unlikely to move here without a trained workforce. The stalled diversification push leaves some of the nation’s poorest areas with no clear path to prosperity.

…They say mining pays well; other industries are unfamiliar; and there’s no income during training and no guarantee of a job afterward.

…Coal jobs are preferable to those in natural gas, they said, because the mines are close to home, while pipeline work requires travel.

Awaiting Trump’s coal comeback, miners reject retraining




Tesla succeeds where Trump flails, brings power to Puerto Rico with solar panels 

In sharp contrast, Whitefish Energy, an unproven Montana-based firm with two full-time employees that was mysteriously awarded a massive contract to rebuild the grid, has been engaging in a bizarre Twitter war with San Juan’s mayor, even threatening to pull its subcontractors out of the island. Congressional lawmakers and the Puerto Rican governor have already called for an investigation into Whitefish and the award of its contract.

Overall, the Trump administration-led response to the disaster has been, well, a disaster. Headlines from just the last couple of days include, “Puerto Ricans at Risk of Waterborne Disease Outbreaks in Wake of Hurricane Maria” (NBC), “The Struggle for Stability in Puerto Rico,” (WNYC), and “‘Like Going Back in Time’: Puerto Ricans Put Survival Skills to Use,” (New York Times).

Tesla succeeds where Trump flails, brings power to Puerto Rico with solar panels – ThinkProgress