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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Tax Bite Thursday


Among the marches, petitions and call-in campaigns that comprise much of the Trump resistance movement, one resistance tactic gets little attention: withholding taxes. As the US seems ready to slide into yet another Middle East war in Syria while preparing for massive cuts to government programs at home, what role does tax resistance play in opposing regressive and violent policies?

While being anti-tax is typically associated with conservatism, there is a small but longstanding tradition within the progressive movement of withholding taxes — specifically, war taxes.

How does tax resistance work, and does it result in a lack of support for government programs that most progressives support and would like to see grow? How much of our taxes go to war, the military and militarism anyway, and how much to worthy programs like education, aid for struggling families, the environment and more?

Paying income taxes may not usually spur introspection, but it might if Americans realized that, for example, they are working 27 days out of every year to pay taxes that support war profiteers. Most progressives and many on the right of the political spectrum would never willingly write a check to weapons contractors, or speak in support of weapons systems that will fuel tomorrow’s air strikes and drone attacks. If Lockheed Martin, the nation’s most prolific military contractor, were a store or coffee shop, many would boycott it. So why willingly give Lockheed $170 a year through taxes — which the average taxpayer now does?


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World Ruination Wednesday


This is what a carbon disaster looks like.

Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.

Look all you want, in fact – he sure is cute, the planet’s only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he’s mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it’s deserved: in lots of ways he’s the anti-Trump, and it’s no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.

But when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in Washington.

Not rhetorically: Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. Indeed, they specialize in getting others to say them too – it was Canadian diplomats, and the country’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet’s rise in temperature to 1.5C (2.7F).

But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.

Bill McKibben @ TG

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