Protecting Rappahannock's rivers, streams and soil: Signs of progress, but work remains

Environmental agencies, experts, nonprofits and volunteers have been largely successful in keeping Rappahannock’s streams and soils clean and healthy, which preserves the county’s rural and agricultural character. But sustained efforts will be needed to ensure its treasured natural resources continue to benefit the local community as well as the millions of people who live downriver.

Home Sweet Home?

Housing has long been a topic of discussion in Rappahannock. What’s available? What’s affordable? This report, the first of two, aims to enrich these continuing discussions by analyzing responses from 120 people to a questionnaire we circulated last fall. It also includes expert input based on more than three dozen interviews to paint a clearer picture of the county’s housing situation. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the deep recession it has sparked, the focus on housing is even more timely and important.

Freeport Put $12 Billion Into a Giant Mine; Now Indonesia Is Squeezing It Out

JAKARTA—Freeport-McMoRan Inc.’s standoff with Indonesia over the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine is entering a new phase, as the company scales back operations while trying to force a resolution to the dispute. Last month, the U.S. miner threatened to take Indonesia to arbitration, saying new rules the country imposed on miners in January violated the terms of an operating agreement struck in 1991 that runs through 2021.

Indonesia Fights Volcanic Risk to Air Travel

BALI—Indonesia is taking steps to curb disruptions to air travel after a series of volcanic eruptions near popular tourist destinations sparked havoc in this fast-growing air travel market. Volcanic eruptions in 2015 shut airports in parts of Indonesia’s vast archipelago, stranding tens of thousands of passengers, forcing the postponement of an international family-planning conference and costing local industry tens of millions of dollars. The events jolted a country that sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, with among the world’s highest number of active volcanoes, 139, and its most life-threatening ones due to their numbers, power and proximity to people. These factors make Indonesia highly prone to air-travel disturbances. But with limited monitoring resources, the country has long prioritized protecting people over planes.

Indonesia Tries New Tactics to Douse Annual Firestorms

DUMAI, Indonesia—Late last month, a fire patrol here was hard at work battling small blazes on the dried-out bogs that make eastern Sumatra island infamous as a major source of Southeast Asia’s perennial, choking haze. Members of the local fire brigade and a soldier together with young volunteers sucked water from a nearby canal with a hose. For about an hour, they moved across the scrubland, tackling flames that popped up even before the ones they were fighting were extinguished. They had been at it for weeks.

Mobile Banking Struggles to Gain Traction in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Packets of cookies, peanuts and other snacks hang from the walls of Basri’s kiosk in north Jakarta. He’s been selling goods in this narrow-alley enclave for years and as technology has progressed so has what he’s able to offer. He recently started accepting payments by transfer via mobile phone, part of an electronic money program introduced by the central bank several years ago and adopted by 20 licensed banks, telecommunication companies and electronic payment agencies. Mr. Basri, who goes by one name, is one of around 500 people in this neighborhood who do their banking via mobile, along with buying and selling goods.

Indonesians sue ExxonMobil in US court

LHOKSEUMAWE, Aceh — Syukri A-Wahap still bears scars from the two days he spent tied to a chair at a military checkpoint here in northern Indonesia in 2003. Indonesian soldiers who suspected he was aiding separatist rebels used their guns to try and beat a confession out of him. With the butt of an SS1 rifle they cracked his skull and busted his lower lip. His story is one of thousands involving kidnap, torture, rape and murder at the hands of the Indonesian military, which some victims here say was aided by US oil giant ExxonMobil.