Loyal Opposition/Resistance U.S. Science & Technology

Written by  //  September 2, 2017  //  Government & Governance, Science & Technology  //  Comments Off on Loyal Opposition/Resistance U.S. Science & Technology

World’s largest general science organisation slams Trump’s lack of ‘scientific thinking’
‘Science and scientists have not been at the table for most of the policy discussions’
(The Independent) Dr Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), pointed to the “great slowness” in appointing people with a scientific background to senior positions.
Donald Trump has infamously dismissed climate change as a “hoax”, but Dr Holt said the problems were much more widespread, encompassing a range of issues from public health to the military.
He was speaking amid controversy over the US Department of Interior’s decision to halt a $1m study into the effects of “mountain-top” coal mining on the health of people living nearby. Mr Trump has spoken repeatedly about his desire to reinvigorate the ailing US coal industry.
In an outspoken editorial, the prestigious journal Nature said the decision suggested the Trump administration might cancel other scientific studies it did not like in “another blow for science and for academic freedom”.

1 September
Rubio, Nelson blast Trump’s NASA pick
(Politico) Florida’s senators are voicing opposition to President Donald Trump’s pick for NASA administrator, Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine, saying a “politician” shouldn’t lead the nation’s space program
The bipartisan pushback against Trump’s nominee for NASA administrator underscores the importance of the agency to Florida, home of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Nelson, as a member of Congress, in 1986 flew on a Space Shuttle Columbia mission; he also has a home on what’s known as the state’s Space Coast.
“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” Nelson said in a brief written statement to POLITICO.
Nelson serves as the ranking member on the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, which oversees NASA and would hear Bridenstine’s nomination. Bridenstine’s office did not return calls seeking comment.
“I just think it could be devastating for the space program. Obviously, being from Florida, I’m very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission,” Rubio told POLITICO.
“It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history,” Rubio said. “I would hate to see an administrator held up — on [grounds of] partisanship, political arguments, past votes, or statements made in the past — because the agency can’t afford it and it can’t afford the controversy.”
Noting NASA’s mission to Mars, Rubio said the agency is at critical moment in its history and he would prefer an administrator who has the “respect of the people who work there from a leadership and even a scientific perspective.”
Trump picks NASA chief, NOAA second-in-command
(Science Magazine) He intends to nominate Representative James Bridenstine (R-OK) to be the administrator of NASA, the White House announced tonight.
And he wants Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, a former Oceanographer of the Navy, to be assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, the number two job at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

23 August
President Trump Science Envoy Quits With a Not-So-Hidden Message
(TIME) A science envoy working for the U.S. State Department announced his resignation on Wednesday with a letter that contained a not entirely subtle message for President Trump: IMPEACH.
Daniel Kammen, science envoy for the State Department, resigned in response to Trump’s “attacks on core values of the United States,” he wrote in a letter addressed to the president. The first letter of each paragraph in the note spell out the word “impeach,” making it clear where Kammen stands on Trump, especially following the president’s tepid response to the demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. earlier this month.

9 August
The battle over science in the Trump administration
(CNN) President Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to roll back environmental regulations and change the playing field for the fossil-fuel industry.
His administration’s actions over its first six months have followed that lead, including what many scientists say is a full-fledged battle against research and facts.
Last week the twitter account for the Department of Energy tweeted out an op-ed written by a scholar at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, with the headline: “In the fight between Rick Perry and climate scientists — He’s winning”
At the Interior Department, a climate scientist who has shared his thoughts on global warming was recently reassigned — to accountant. At the Agriculture Department, the man Trump has chosen to head science as undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics has no formal hard sciences background. At the Environmental Protection Agency, where the administration has successfully delayed a number of regulations drafted under President Barack Obama, Administrator Scott Pruitt is aiming to get more industry voices into the scientific process.

22 April
March for Science: Thousands march around the world to protest Donald Trump’s ‘rejection of science’
Protests were held in more than 500 cities
The protests, which was inspired by the Women’s March, which took place in cities around the globe the day after Mr Trump’s inauguration, were designed to highlight the way Mr Trump has apparently dismissed science on everything from climate chance to the safety of vaccines. During the election campaign, the New York tycoon said climate change was a hoax invented by China.
The organisers pointed out that since then, Mr Trump has rolled back most of the environmental protections enacted by Barack Obama, introduced to try and cut emissions of carbon dioxide. The Republican president has cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and is planning to reduce the grant to the National Institute of Health by 20 per cent.

30 January
McCain, Again the Maverick, Challenges President Trump
Sen. McCain has served notice he is the Republican lawmaker most willing to defy the new Republican president
(SJ) In just over a week’s time, Mr. McCain has called the new Trump ban on immigration from a set of Muslim-majority countries a recruiting boon for Islamic State radicals; threatened to codify Russian economic sanctions into law to prevent Mr. Trump from lifting them; called the president’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership “a serious mistake”; and called the idea of imposing a 20% tariff on imports from Mexico to pay for a border wall “insane.”
The senator also served notice that he will fight any effort to reinstate waterboarding or other forms of torture in interrogation of terror suspects; and declared he may oppose the Trump nominee for budget director because of his past opposition to military spending and troop deployments in Afghanistan.
In short, frenetic as the new president has been, Mr. McCain is matching him step for step. Thus is a president willing to go rogue being matched by a powerful lawmaker—head of the Armed Services Committee and former GOP presidential nominee—prepared to do the same.

29 January
Trial Balloon for a Coup?
By Yonatan Zunger
Analyzing the news of the past 24 hours we have a fairly clear picture in play.
Trump was, indeed, perfectly honest during the campaign; he intends to do everything he said, and more. This should not be reassuring to you.
The regime’s main organizational goal right now is to transfer all effective power to a tight inner circle, eliminating any possible checks from either the Federal bureaucracy, Congress, or the Courts. Departments are being reorganized or purged to effect this.
The inner circle is actively probing the means by which they can seize unchallenged power; yesterday’s moves should be read as the first part of that.
The aims of crushing various groups — Muslims, Latinos, the black and trans communities, academics, the press — are very much primary aims of the regime, and are likely to be acted on with much greater speed than was earlier suspected. The secondary aim of personal enrichment is also very much in play, and clever people will find ways to play these two goals off each other.
If you’re looking for estimates of what this means for the future, I’ll refer you back to yesterday’s post on what “things going wrong” can look like.

(LATimes) Democratic donor and environmentalist Tom Steyer launched a new website to preserve climate change information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Activists have been concerned that the Trump administration would delete the website.

28 January
View from the left: Journalists must start covering the elephant in the room—Trump’s mental health
(Daily Kos) Now is no time for journalists to take a cautious view of their role in our democracy—they weren’t armed with First Amendment protections by the founding fathers so they could hide behind their dictionaries in times of peril.
In years to come, today’s journalists will be judged by one thing and one thing only: How ably they wielded the power of the pen to preserve the foundations of our democracy for generations to come.

27 January
boston_skyline_view_from_salt_and_pepper_bridge-e1425417721478America’s liberal cities are readying to battle Donald Trump on almost every front
(Quartz)With the blessing of their base, liberal big-city mayors have been among the only elected US politicians to openly and meaningfully defy Trump. Right after his election, the heads of over a dozen major cities said that, even at the risk of losing federal funding, they would refuse to cooperate with any Trump-ordered immigrant deportation force. On Jan. 25, the new president signed an executive order officially declaring he would defund them—and they’re still refusing to acquiesce, with Boston mayor Marty Walsh noting Trump’s inability to reroute funding without authorization from Congress and New York’s Bill de Blasio threatening a lawsuit.
A “constructive alternative” to Trump’s agenda
Mayors hold a fair amount of heft in America’s devolved political system. At a time of sustained sclerosis in Washington, cities (arguably with some exceptions) are “the one institution today that still works, where government functions, where trust levels are double the levels of other institutions,” according to Fordham University’s Benjamin Barber, an acclaimed social scientist and author of If Mayors Ruled the World.
They also pack a serious economic punch.

Canadian scientists offer support to muzzled US counterparts
For nine years under Canada’s previous government, science suffered harsh restrictions. Now US scientists may be facing a similar fate
Recent days have seen the Trump administration reportedly consider scrubbing all mentions of climate change from the Environmental Protection Agency website, while the Associated Press reported that EPA scientists could be subject to a “temporary hold”, pending review by political appointees.
The reports have sparked concern north of the border. “We’re already reaching out to our counterparts in the US and in the international science community,” said Debi Daviau, head of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, a union that represents more than 15,000 government scientists, engineers and researchers.
In 2013, hundreds of people clad in white lab coats gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for what became one of the most visible acts of resistance against the repression of Canadian government scientists. A mock funeral procession was held over the “death of scientific evidence”, complete with eulogies that took aim at the years of escalating hostility from the Conservative government. Similar protests were held across the country.
Evidence for Democracy, the group behind the Canadian protests, has been in touch with the organisers of the March for Science in the US. The Americans pointed to the Canadian experience to explain why resistance has galvanised so quickly in the US, said Katie Gibbs of Evidence for Democracy. “They saw what happened under Harper and so they’ve seen where it leads and so they’re not taking a wait-and-see approach, they’re acting now.”

It’s Not Just The Park Service: ‘Rogue’ Federal Twitter Accounts Multiply
(NPR) The AltUSNatParkService Twitter account has gained more than 1 million followers and inspired the creation of many more “unofficial resistance” accounts for specific national parks and other entities, including accounts like Rogue NASA and AltUSForestService.
Some of these accounts — this list has compiled more than 80 of them — initially claimed to be run by members of these organizations, but many have since altered their descriptions, or in the case of the alternative National Park Service have said the account was handed off to environmentalists and activists.
But that’s just it. These are all claims. None of the account owners have come forward and identified themselves. Instead, they are choosing to remain anonymous and continue tweeting out facts about climate change and directly opposing the Trump administration.
What’s different about the number of rogue accounts that have come about as a result of the Trump administration’s apparent gag orders on some federal agencies is that this form of expression could be a logical way to oppose a media blackout.
There are several accounts related to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has reportedly been targeted by the Trump administration over its climate research. Accounts like @ungaggedEPA and Stuff EPA Would Say list similar missions: to “flood the Web with real climate facts” and say things the EPA “is unable to tell you.”
So even if these accounts are just run by supporters and not actual members of the agencies, do they still serve a purpose? Probably.
It’s true that most senators or congressional representatives probably don’t spend a ton of time looking for constituents on Twitter. So some of these accounts are encouraging their followers to take action by calling their congressional representatives and providing scripts for what to tell their lawmakers.

26 January
Looking Back at Canada’s Political Fight Over Science
(The Atlantic) The country’s last prime minister prevented some scientists from talking to the media, while making cuts to research budgets.
Zhang: Should U.S. scientists be optimistic? They are already organizing—backing up government data, organizing a march, and getting each other to run for office.
Turner: It’s so brazen under Trump, it makes it impossible to say they’re not doing it. They’re doing it, and they’re not trying to hide it. Granted, they made it pretty clear about hating EPA during the campaign.
So much had been done by the time people even noticed it in Canada.

25 January
national-park-servixeThe National Park Service Won’t Be Silenced
NPS employees have a message for the Trump Administration
(Scientific American) … the NPS refuses to be silenced. While their main official Twitter account has fallen into line, tweeting an apology for their inauguration retweets and sticking to innocuous fluff since, the Badlands National Park official account defiantly started tweeting about climate change:
On Tuesday, the Twitter account for South Dakota’s Badlands National Park—a subsidiary of the National Park Service—began tweeting out climate change facts, in apparent defiance of the gag order. Someone working for the national park’s social media team went rogue and started posting climate change facts from the National Wildlife Federation’s Web site in 140-character bursts. (Trump, who can generously be described as a climate change skeptic, has previously called called climate change a “hoax” engineered by the Chinese.)
The National Park’s tweets were retweeted thousands of times before they were suddenly deleted later Tuesday afternoon.

24 January
National Park Service Defies Trump Gag Order, Tweets Climate Change Facts
(Vanity Fair) The Badlands National Park Twitter account went rogue Tuesday, before suddenly deleting its tweets.
Andrew Cohen: Women’s March marks the start of the next U.S. campaign
(Ottawa Citizen) Here’s a prediction: Saturday inaugurated a seismic season of protest in the United States. It forged a pan-American movement of women, blacks, environmentalists, unionists and others, the first few leaves of a Tea Party of the left.
It is the new opposition. And as the Republicans lurch right – watch them over the next six months – it will cast itself, a little grandly, as the resistance.
With every move Trump makes, with every step he takes, these activists will be watching him. They are developing a grassroots network of activists amplified by social media….
The opposition will talk quixotically of impeachment. The more practical challenge to Trump is winning control of the House or the Senate in two years. It is not unusual for the president’s party to lose badly in mid-term elections; it happened in 1966, 1974 and 1994.
Saturday was not just a big, audacious march. It was the beginning of the campaign of 2018.

23 January
These Park Service Tweets Were Too Wild For The Interior Department
(Buzzfeed) Accounts across the department were temporarily frozen, and the offending tweets were deleted. The flagged tweets were retweets about the Trump inauguration’s moves on climate and crowd size.
Two errant tweets from the National Park Service about President Trump’s inauguration triggered a Twitter freeze across the Department of Interior this weekend.
The posts, which the NPS deleted, were “inconsistent with the agency’s approach to engaging the public through social media,” a department spokesperson said in a statement emailed to BuzzFeed News.
The news of the freeze was first reported by Gizmodo on Friday.
Both messages deleted by the agency were retweets from other accounts. The first noted that mentions to climate change, civil rights, and health care had been removed from the White House website following the inauguration.

19 January
Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump
(Wired) At 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. They had hundreds of government web pages and data sets to get through before the end of the day—all strategically chosen from the pages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—any of which, they felt, might be deleted, altered, or removed from the public domain by the incoming Trump administration.
The group was split in two. One half was setting web crawlers upon NOAA web pages that could be easily copied and sent to the Internet Archive. The other was working their way through the harder-to-crack data sets—the ones that fuel pages like the EPA’s incredibly detailed interactive map of greenhouse gas emissions, zoomable down to each high-emitting factory and power plant. “In that case, you have to find a back door,” said Michelle Murphy, a technoscience scholar at the University of Toronto.
Murphy had traveled to Philly from Toronto, where another data-rescuing hackathon had taken place a month prior. Murphy brought with her a list of all the data sets that were too tough for the Toronto volunteers to crack before their event ended. “Part of the work is finding where the data set is downloadable—and then sometimes that data set is hooked up to many other data sets,” she said, making a tree-like motion with her hands.

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