Science

'Frontline: Alaska Gold' Premieres on PBS 24 July

Alaska Gold tracks the conflict over the Pebble project, including Alaskans who believe it will decimate the traditional economy, based on fishing, and those who contend it will improve living conditions, by providing jobs.

"It's difficult to put an economic value on a resource that can be mined forever," says David Montgomery. He's describing the sockeye salmon run in Alaska's Bristol Bay, an annual run that has provided sustenance and an economy for generations of native fishermen. His phrasing might also apply to the project now threatening that ecosystem, the Pebble Mine. As it is planned by the companies Anglo-American and Northern Dynasty, the open-pit mine will produce an estimated half a trillion dollars' worth of copper and gold. The cost for these rewards is currently under debate.

This debate forms the focus of Frontline: Alaska Gold, premiering on 24 July on PBS. The sides are embodied primarily by Pebble Park CEO John Shively (who insists that the mine will not upset the local environment) and Rick Halford, former Alaska Senate president and advocate for multiple previous mining projects. "This is an area of experimentation," says Halford, "And I don’t believe that it's the place to experiment." Other mines of the type the Pebble Project proposes use technologies -- ground tailings and empilements -- that turn area water toxic. This even if, according to planners, they would be able to treat some waste and store the other 10 billion tons… forever.

Alaska Gold tracks the conflict over the Pebble project, including Alaskans who believe it will decimate the traditional economy, based on fishing, and those who contend it will improve living conditions, by providing jobs. Several experts point to previous mines that went wrong, in Chile, in Italy, and in Butte, Montana. Amid the turmoil, the EPA conducted a study that "came down hard on the Pebble project," a study that then ignited concerns that the federal government shouldn't be meddling in state business.

Watch Alaska Gold Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

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Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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