The “Factory Man” Election: How globalization is fueling the rise of Trump (Politico Magazine)

As Super Tuesday approached, voters prepared to cast their votes in presidential primaries around the South as analysts struggled to understand the appeal of Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump.

My story for Politico Magazine, “Why the South Is Rebelling Again,” examined the role of globalization and the loss of factory jobs in generating small-town and rural anger that has propelled Trump’s rise. It features John Bassett III (hero of the upcoming HBO series “Factory Man”), Beth Macy (who authored the book that inspired it), former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, former Southside Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode and more.

Read it here.

International market trends result in Volvo layoffs (Roanoke Business)

thousands of regional workers.

The list of layoffs and job reductions stretches through the years: 300 jobs in 2013, 50 in October, 700 in 2009, 650 in 2008, 1,075 in 2008. Yet regional advocates took solace from two economic development announcements in the past two years, including the investment of $69 million into a customer experience track in 2014, creating a projected 200 jobs, and an additional $38 million facility to accompany it, announced last year and creating 32 new jobs.

Any hopes that the announcements signaled an end to cyclical job reductions were dashed in early December, when the company filed notice it would lay off 730 employees in February. In early February, that number was decreased to 600.

My story about the whys and hows of the layoff announcement runs in this month’s issue of Roanoke Business, available online and at grocery stores around Roanoke and the NRV.

The vibrant Syrian-Lebanese cuisine of Roanoke, whose mayor wants no refugees (Munchies)

Last fall Roanoke Mayor David Bowers went viral when he cited Japanese internment camps during World War II as a reason why the city shouldn’t accept Syrian refugees.

The discordant statement not only flew in the face of Roanoke’s status as a destination for refugees, but it also disregarded the contributions of the many Syrians who migrated to the city in the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th.

In those days, “Syrian” meant something far different than it does today. Before World War I, the Ottoman Empire incorporated not just Syria as we know it today, but the bulk of the Middle East, North Africa and southeast Europe. Between 1880 and 1920, about 150,000 people left the Ottoman Empire—and many landed in Roanoke.

I and photographer Suzie Kelly explored Roanoke’s rich (and tasty!) history of Syrian and Lebanese cuisine from the early 1900s to today in this story for Munchies.

The shape of music to come, based on who wins the presidency (Noisey)

Presidents can shift the direction of art and culture by providing an inspiration, sometimes as a hostile response to whoever inhabits in the White House.

At the dawn of the Iowa Caucuses—and thus the start of the 2016 camapign in earnest—I charted the future of music under 15 different potential presidents.

Yes, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore is there.

Read my story at Noisey.

Blue Ridge Trail Heroes (Blue Ridge Outdoors)

Mirna Valerio, who started running at well over 300 pounds and now competes multiple ultramarathons each year.

Mike Wardian, an international ship broker who has become worldwide running celebrity.

Sophie Spiedel, a 50-something mom who recently completed her 10th Hellgate 100K.

Anita Walker Finkle, who ran right through cancer and out the other side.

Phil Phelan, who quit drinking to explore and document the hidden trails of Linville Gorge.

Read their stories in my feature on Trail Heroes for Blue Ridge Outdoors.

Appalachian Power’s big shift from coal (Roanoke Business)

In late October, Appalachian Power President Charles Patton made headlines in West Virginia when he told a summit of energy executives that coal just isn’t coming back, even if federal rules on power plants get rolled back.

Sure, that may be conventional wisdom in much of the country, but this speech came from the president and COO of Central Appalachia’s biggest electric utility, which has relied on coal as its dominant source of generation since its inception in 1911.

Two weeks later, as he walked into Appalachian Power’s offices in Roanoke, Virginia—his news-making remarks were delivered in the West Virginia community of the same name—he acknowledged that his comments were not what the room wanted to hear. After all, the economy in southern West Virginia and southwest Virginia was built around coal mining, and many there today still fervently hope that a coal comeback will fuel a new round of economic prosperity.

The problem for them is that, even as elected officials still continue to fight the so-called “war on coal” in state houses and on Capitol Hill, Appalachian Power already is taking action that will only cement the move away from coal when it comes to producing electricity. That’s not to say the utility won’t continue to rely on its existing fleet of coal-burning power plants, but, according to a document filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, but Appalachian Power has begun a substantial pivot away from the fossil fuel that defined its first century. The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) filed with the SCC on July 1 includes a dramatic decrease in its use of coal, as well as a corresponding increase in natural gas and renewable energy such as wind and solar.

Read more in “Old King Coal Dethroned,” my special report for Roanoke Business.

Hokie profile: UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees (Virginia Tech Magazine)

As hundreds of thousands of refugees and vulnerable migrants fled their homes in war-torn regions last year, a Hokie landed in the heart of the crisis.

Kelly Tallman Clements (French, international studies ’88, M.U.A. ’90) was named the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ deputy high commissioner, making her the the No. 2 official in an international agency charged with protecting and assisting those who have been forcibly displaced.

Read more in my alumni profile of Clements (and her husband Andrew, also doing crucial work) in the Winter 2014-15 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine.