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Archive for April 2017

Export U.S. coal to Asia? Not so fast, say three West Coast states — and Canada?

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News item from October 2016:

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A coal company with mines in Montana and Wyoming said Thursday that it’s begun exporting fuel to Asia through a Canadian shipping terminal, after its years-long effort to secure port access in the U.S. Pacific Northwest has come up short.

Coal TrainThat’s not surprising. The use of coal in America, as S&R explained last year, has stalled — and it’s not going to rebound despite President Donald’s promise to revive the coal industry. So the owners of big coal mines in Montana and Wyoming are looking to export coal to Asian markets to shore up revenues.

But the states of California, Washington, and Oregon have opposed coal export terminal projects in Oakland, Calif.; Bellingham, Gray’s Harbor, and Longview, Wash.; and Port of Morrow, St. Helens, and Coos Bay, Ore. So coal corporations have decided to ship through Canadian ports on its western coast. For now, maybe.

Enter President Donald. First, he slaps a tariff — as much as 24 percent — on Canadian timber destined for the U.S. construction industry. Then he threatens to end NAFTA before negotiating a replacement only to renege on that campaign promise after phone calls with the presidents of Mexico and Canada.

Canada’s not happy — especially the premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 29, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

United Airlines and its ‘calculated misery’: happy customers just aren’t needed to make money

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The future of Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, has just been re-accommodated.

You remember him, of course. After airport dragoons dragged a boarded, seated, paying customer off a United aircraft, Munoz’s first PR apology contained what Scholars & Rogues has called the “word of the year”: “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.”

telemmglpict000125651009-large_trans_nvbqzqnjv4bqbe6o56qrl4zbrlmqqi7ubfvse9jsn00kzbur3ixhagoWell, that’s cost him. Munoz had been groomed to move upstairs from CEO to chairman of United Continental Holdings, the airline’s owner. (You do remember, of course, that Continental agreed to merge with United seven years ago.) Well, Munoz won’t get that top job.

United’s twin clusterfucks of policy execution (overbooking issues) and PR aftermath (“re-accommodated”) have derailed Munoz’s career — well, a little. He may lose about $500,000 from his bonus, because it’s tied in part to what airlines call KPI — key performance indicators as indicated in consumer satisfaction surveys. But don’t shed a tear for Munoz — he received $18.7 million in total compensation for 2016, more than triple that of 2015.

But that’s not the only consequence for United executives. From Barry Meier’s New York Times story:

The company, United Continental Holdings, is also adjusting its incentive compensation program for senior executives to make it “directly and meaningfully tied to progress in improving the customer experience.” [emphasis added]

Really, United? We’re supposed to buy that? The cruel, inhuman removal of bloodied, injured Dr. David Dao from United Express flight 3411 marks a nadir of United’s attitude towards its customers. United could care less, because it has no need whatsoever to improve the customer experience.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 22, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Anniversary journalism? Well, mostly it just sucks.

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In early April 1970, I walked into the newsroom of my hometown newspaper and asked the editor if he knew anyone at the state department of natural resources. I’d just received my undergraduate degree in geology. I could do that kind of work for a while before I returned to university for master’s and doctoral degrees and to eventually live happily in Alaska as its state geologist.

best-earth-day-poster-ideas-pictures-2016I walked out of that newsroom as a journalist. (I lied about being able to type.) The editor needed another sportswriter but couldn’t hire one full time. He needed an environmental writer (the first Earth Day was two weeks away) but he couldn’t hire a full-time one.

I could do both, he judged. He hired me. I wrote about Sen. Gaylord Perry’s first teach-in on April 22. For the next six weeks, I wrote “green” and follow-up Earth Day stories in the afternoon, and local sports in the evening.

But come June, the editor asked for fewer “green” stories and more sports stories. By July, I’d more or less become a full-time sports writer.

In March 1975, five years later, I was asked to produce a slew of Earth Day anniversary stories. Then, a few weeks after Earth Day, no more stories. Ditto 10 years later and 15 years later.

That introduced me to anniversary journalism. I witnessed that with the rise of fall of Earth stories every five years in my newspaper and many, many others.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 22, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized