Hell-bound On Thursday


Gates of Hell, Turkmenistan. A huge, open pit of burning gas that has been continually burning for years!

“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. (Abandon all hope ye who enter here.)”—Dante, The Divine Comedy, Inferno (Part 1), Canto 3, Line 9

Before the Tomahawk missiles start flying between Moscow and New York, Americans had better educate themselves fast about the forces and the people who claim that Russia covered up a Syrian government gas attack on its own people. Proof no longer seems to matter in the rush to further transform the world into Dante’s vision of Hell. Accusations made by anonymous sources, spurious sources and outright frauds have become enough. Washington’s paranoia and confusion bear an uncanny resemblance to the final days of the Third Reich, when the leadership in Berlin became completely unglued.

Tensions have been building since fall with accusations that Russian media interfered with our presidential election and is a growing threat to America’s national security. The latest WikiLeaks release revealed the tools the CIA uses for hacking. One theory is that the CIA’s own contract hackers were behind Hillary Clinton’s email leaks and not Russians. The U.S. has a long reputation of accusing others of things they didn’t do and planting fake news stories to back it up in order to provide a cause for war. The work of secret counterintelligence services is to misinform the public in order to shape opinion, and that’s what this is.


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Weimar Republic Wednesday


WASHINGTON ― Human rights advocates spent years fighting for even small improvements to the system that detains men, women and children waiting to be either deported or released back into the U.S. Now they fear the progress they have made could disappear under President Donald Trump, who has promised harsher treatment of undocumented immigrants.

“This administration is prepared to make conditions at immigrant detention even worse than they already are, which, given that for some people they’re already fatal, is terrifying,” said Mary Small, policy director of the advocacy group Detention Watch Network.

Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is considering looser regulations for new contracts with jails to hold immigrants in deportation proceedings, The New York Times reported earlier this month. That agreement would allow jails to treat immigrants detained for civil offenses the same way they treat people charged with crimes.

The department also plans to eliminate an office at Immigration and Customs Enforcement that focuses on improving the detention system and to ramp up detention and deportation efforts.


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Legal Tar Pit Tuesday


A New York judge has signaled to lawyers for ExxonMobil that she is skeptical of their arguments to derail climate fraud investigations by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts. Exxon’s position had won the support of a judge in Texas whose rulings were heavily weighted in its favor.

U.S. District Court Judge Valerie E. Caproni made her observations during a hearing Friday, when she told Exxon’s lawyers she disagrees with comments made by Judge Ed Kinkeade earlier this month when he transferred the case from Texas to New York.

Exxon had sought an injunction in Texas to halt climate change investigations by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. There, Kinkeade’s rulings mostly went in Exxon’s favor, including a controversial order that would have allowed lawyers for Exxon to depose Healey and Schneiderman.

In his last official action on the case, Kinkeade expressed skepticism about the two states’ investigations into whether the company’s climate record amounted to fraud.

“I have a different view of this case than Judge Kinkeade,” Caproni said after listening to Exxon’s lawyers explain why they think their case against the attorneys general should proceed.


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Scientific Monday


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Tens of thousands of science supporters streamed through a steady rain to rally at the foot of the Washington Monument Saturday to demonstrate their support for policies grounded in science, including climate change action.

As they stood in long lines to pass through security gates onto the grassy mall just south of the White House, the demonstrators talked about deep discomfort with the policies of the Trump administration.

They said they were alarmed not only by the administration’s overt denial of mainstream climate science, but by what they saw as a disrespect for the fundamental values of science and its contribution to society.

The marchers came from practically every branch of science, from the most familiar to the most obscure.

The March for Science, which attracted support from many of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, occurred on Earth Day and kicks off a week of teach-ins, demonstrations and other grassroots activism culminating in the People’s Climate March on April 29, which is expected to draw even bigger crowds.


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Sunny Sunday

POTENT CORONAL HOLE TURNS TOWARD EARTH: A large hole in the sun’s atmosphere is turning toward Earth, and it is spewing a stream of fast-moving solar wind toward our planet. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the giant fissure on April 21st:


This is a “coronal hole” (CH) — a vast region where the sun’s magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. Gaseous material flowing from this coronal hole is expected to reach our planet on April 23rd or 24th and could spark moderately-strong G2-class geomagnetic storms. NOAA forecasters say the odds of a magnetic storm is 75%.

We’ve seen this coronal hole before. On March 27th it lashed Earth’s magnetic field with a fast-moving stream that ignited intense auroras around both of Earth’s poles. The coronal hole is potent because it is spewing solar wind threaded with “negative polarity” magnetic fields. Such fields do a good job connecting to Earth’s magnetosphere and energizing geomagnetic storms.


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Saturday Glass Fest


One of the most eagerly anticipated exhibitions this year is the New York Botanical Garden’s CHIHULY — featuring glass installations by living legend Dale Chihuly, whose organic forms have been showcased around the world (in 1996, Chihuly’s they were rigged over the canals of Venice). The stunning show opens Saturday, April 22nd.

Chihuly has pushed the boundaries of glassblowing for decades, and this show, essentially a Chihuly career retrospective set for the outdoors, shows 40 years of glass work that was made in studios around the globe. Chihuly, who just turned 75 years old, studied interior design and weaving in college before eventually devoting himself to glass. He received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Wisconsin’s glass art program (the first such program in the nation) in 1966, and won a Fulbright scholarship to study with Venetian glassblowers in 1968.

Lots of pics @ THE GOTHAMIST

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