Pruitt’s Last-Minute Science Shutdown
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Pruitt’s Last-Minute Science Shutdown

Science-Denying EPA Chief Bars Staff Experts from Addressing Climate-Change Conference

Scientists muzzled. The Environmental Protection Agency canceled the speaking appearances of three agency scientists who were scheduled to speak today about climate change at a Rhode Island conference. Autumn Oczkowski, a research ecologist, was scheduled to give the keynote address. Rose Martin, a postdoctoral fellow, and Emily Shumchenia, an EPA consultant, were scheduled to speak at an afternoon panel. The conference is expected to draw attention to the health of Narragansett Bay, the largest estuary in New England. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has said he doesn’t believe human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for global warming. “It’s definitely a blatant example of the scientific censorship we all suspected was going to start being enforced at EPA,” said John King, a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island.

Rights advocate banned. Our country has banned Putin’s nemesis, William F. (Bill) Browder, from entering the United States. Browder’s visa was canceled after Russia placed Browder on the Interpol wanted list. Browder, a British financier and hedge fund manager who was once the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia, helped get the United States to pass the Magnitsky Act which freezes the assets of Russian human-rights abusers and deprives them of visas. Britain, Estonia and Canada have passed similar laws named after Sergei Magnitsky, who was tortured to death in a Russian prison. Now Russian authorities are accusing Browder and an unknown MI-6 agent of murdering Magnitsky. “This is outrageous,” said Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia. Donald Trump Jr., First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort met during the 2016 campaign with an attorney supporting the Russian government’s position.

Nuclear alert. The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991. That means concrete pads at the ends of the runway at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana could have B-52s parked on them with nuclear weapons, ready to take off at a moment’s notice. “This is yet one more step in ensuring that we’re prepared,” said Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff. “I look at it more as not planning for any specific event, but more for the reality of the global situation we find ourselves in and how we ensure we’re prepared going forward.” The decision to be on 24-hour alert would be made by Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, or Gen. Lori Robinson, the head of U.S. Northern Command.

California powderkeg. Record-breaking heat and wind gusts up to 70 mph are forecast for parts of Southern California early this week, which would worsen any fires that might start. Red flag warnings have been posted from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Fire management practices have been unable to address the conflict between California’s growing population and the state’s “fire proneness.” The fires in Northern California this month caused at least $1 billion in damage to insured property and killed 42 people, the deadliest series of fires in state history.

Abe sweeps. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored a landslide victory on Sunday as his conservative ruling party and a coalition partner secured a two-thirds majority in parliament that will allow him to push ahead unimpeded in his quest to change Japan’s pacifist constitution. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, which has been in power for most of the last 60 years, and partner Komeito party needed 310 seats for a two-thirds majority in the 465-seat House of Representatives. By Monday morning, with four seats yet to be declared, the ruling coalition had claimed 312 seats.


October 23, 2017