U.S: Judge orders Dakota Access pipeline to be shut down for review

by Dave Koplack

People’s World | July 13, 2020

Judge orders Dakota Access pipeline to be shut down for review

In this Oct. 5, 2016, file photo, heavy equipment is seen at a site where sections of the Dakota Access pipeline were being buried near the town of St. Anthony in Morton County, N.D. A federal judge on Monday, July 6, 2020, sided with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and ordered the Dakota Access pipeline to shut down until more environmental review is done. | Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A judge last week ordered the Dakota Access pipeline shut down for additional environmental review more than three years after it began pumping oil — handing a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and delivering a blow to President Donald Trump’s efforts to weaken public health and environmental protections his administration views as obstacles to businesses.

In a 24-page order, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., wrote that he was “mindful of the disruption” that shutting down the pipeline would cause, but that it must be done within 30 days. Pipeline owner Energy Transfer plans to ask a court to halt the order and will seek an expedited appeal, spokeswoman Vicki Granado said.

Read More »

Trump to suspend new visas for foreign scholars

by Nidhi Subbaraman and Alexandra Witze

Nature | June 23, 2020

US President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable meeting.
US President Donald Trump has issued new immigration restrictions that will affect people working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty

With a proclamation issued on Monday, US President Donald Trump extended and expanded immigration restrictions to limit the entry of foreign workers to the United States. The move set off ripples of alarm among scientists and drew fire from experts concerned about the future of US science.

According to the order, the United States will stop issuing certain categories of foreign-worker visa — notably the H-1B visa given to foreign faculty members hired at universities and employees hired by tech firms — until the end of the year. The Trump administration characterized the decision as a plan to stave off the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and to prioritize jobs for US citizens.

Read More »

Cities — try to predict superspreading hotspots for COVID-19

by Roland Bouffanais and Sun Sun Lim

Nature | July 10, 2020

A migrant worker listens as officials give a tour of a dormitory, Singapore.
A migrant worker outside a dormitory in Singapore — such high-rise sites have seen some of the city’s worst clusters of COVID-19.Credit: Edgar Su/Reuters

Two months ago in Singapore, walkers, joggers and cyclists in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park got a surprise — a robotic dog nipping at their heels. It ‘barked’ at them to stay metres away from others. No tactic seems too outlandish to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has confined billions of people across the world to their homes.

Now, leaders face a conundrum. Reopen facilities too slowly and prolong hardship, or relax restrictions too quickly and ignite a fresh wave of infections. It’s a precarious balancing act. The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be lightning fast and surreptitious. Superspreading sites — where transmission rates are particularly high — can seed tens or hundreds of cases in days.

Read More »

UK can see more 40°C days by 2100: study

Down To Earth | July 01, 2020

The chances of seeing 40°C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The United Kingdom can see temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius (°C) every third or fourth year by the end of the century if emissions are not curbed, the country’s weather department said.

The highest temperature recorded in the UK was 38.7°C at Cambridge in July 2019, something that raised the question of whether exceeding the 40°C threshold was within the possibilities for UK’s climate.

A recent UK Met office study — published in journal Nature Communications June 30, 2020 — suggested that if emissions were reduced in line with the Paris climate agreement, future probabilities were lower.Read More »

Astronomers unknowingly dedicated moon craters to Nazis. Will the next historical reckoning be at cosmic level?

by Philip Ball

Prospect | June 26, 2020

The far side of the moon, photographed by Apollo 16 in 1972

The impromptu removal of the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston from Bristol’s city centre, and the demands for a similar “relocation” of the statue of British arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College in Oxford, have been met with the accusation that such acts “erase history.” The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, writing in defence of the status of Winston Churchill in central London (which no one was calling to be taken down), said that “If we start purging the record and removing the images of all but those whose attitudes conform to our own, we are engaged in a great lie, a distortion of our history.”

Such sentiments have occasionally been met with the question: But what if it were statues of Nazis that we were discussing? Would we really want to see them commemorated in our public spaces for the sake of “preserving history”? But of course the statue-champions are spared that awkward question, because there are no such monuments standing today.Read More »