This clean, pared-down and solar-powered van conversion hides a lot of ideas for clever storage and ergonomics. […]
(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump has finalized his first budget for the federal government, a blueprint that would make deep cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency and other domestic programs while significantly increasing spending on the military. The budget, to be submitted to Congress on Thursday, was widely expected to cause political pain for Republicans and Democrats, who will have the final say on spending in the arduous budget process. Trump has promised a spending plan that fulfills his campaign promises to boost national security, from spending more on defense to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Though he repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill. Republicans have groused about some of the preliminary plans, including elimination of the $3 billion community development block grant program that’s popular among local GOP officials; a 25 percent cut to the EPA and elimination of 3,000 jobs; and the scuttling, essentially, of a $300 million per-year program to clean up the Great Lakes. Trump’s plan to eliminate community development block grants was dismissed on Capitol Hill by those who remember how a modest cut to the program sank a spending bill not long ago. The United States spends more than half a trillion dollars on defense, more than the next seven countries combined. But Trump has signaled he would make the Pentagon the big winner with a $54 billion boost to defense spending. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development faced a budget cut of about 31 percent, according to several officials. Democrats are unlikely to support the cuts, and Republican defections raise the possibility of a congressional train wreck and a potential government shutdown when the 2018 budget year begins Oct. 1. The budget, known as a “skinny budget,” was unlikely to have many of the details expected on Capitol Hill. It will be limited to the discretionary, $1 trillion-plus portion of the $4 trillion annual federal budget that pays for Cabinet agencies and departments. The remainder of Trump’s budget — proposals on taxes, mandatory spending and deficits and projections on the economy — won’t come out until May. Preliminary reports on the budget show some domestic Cabinet agencies, such as the departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, would see increases, including $3 billion for Trump’s promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. People familiar with the budget who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the public release say the White House is seeking a 30 percent cut from an Energy Department office that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy. The office has funded research on projects such as LED light bulbs, electric trucks, advanced batteries and biofuels. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is targeted for at least $700 million in cuts from its current $2.1 billion budget, said Scott Sklar, chairman of the steering committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition. The Energy Department could see steep cuts for its 17 national laboratories, which conduct cutting-edge research on topics from nuclear power to advanced materials for energy generation, storage and use. Trump’s preliminary budget, delivered in secret to agencies last month, proposes a 37 percent cut to the State Department and foreign aid budgets. Those cuts and others were subject to revision in the back-and-forth the White House had with agencies leading up to the release this week. […]
During his nationally televised speech before Congress on Tuesday night, President Trump vowed to “promote clean air and clean water.”Is that right, Mr. President? Then why is your administration proposing to slash as much as 25 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s current budget and cut its staff by 20 percent? That would cripple environmental safeguards, jeopardize public health, and put future generations at risk.The EPA has made remarkable progress cleaning up air and water pollution since its inception in 1970, but there is still more work to do. In 2015 alone, polluters dumped more than 190 million tons of toxic chemicals into waterways nationwide; at least 5,000 community drinking water systems violated federal lead regulations; and some 116 million Americans lived in counties with harmful levels of ozone or particle pollution, which have been linked to lung cancer, asthma, cardiovascular damage, reproductive problems, and premature death.If anything, the environmental challenges of today suggest that the EPA needs more money and staffing to carry out its congressionally mandated mission, especially since Congress has already reduced its budget between fiscal years 2010 and 2016 by 28 percent in real dollars to $8.14 billion, a paltry 0.2 percent of the projected $4-trillion fiscal year 2017 federal budget.For his part, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt doesn’t seem particularly fazed by the prospect of his agency having to make do with lot less, claiming that state environmental agencies can pick up the slack. As he explained during his Senate confirmation hearing in mid-January, he believes “state regulators … oftentimes best understand the local needs and the uniqueness of our environmental challenges,” and, as far as he’s concerned, they should shoulder the primary responsibility for enforcing the law.But can state environmental agencies really compensate for an eviscerated EPA?The experts say no.States Rely on EPA AssistanceIf anyone understands the relationship between the EPA and state environmental agencies, it’s Carol Browner, who served as EPA administrator during the Clinton administration after running Florida’s Department of Environmental Regulation. State agencies, she says, are simply not equipped to take on the burden of federal functions.“State agencies play an important role in protecting their citizens from dangerous pollution,” she said. “But they can’t do the job alone. […]
By some accounts, the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline now looks unwinnable. Standing Rock became a ghost town last week after police raided and razed the prayer camp that once hosted thousands of water protectors. Earlier this month, the Trump administration fast-tracked approval to build the final section of the pipeline and cancelled the environmental impact statement ordered by President Obama. Construction is nearing completion and oil could flow through the pipeline as early as March 6. For the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, time is running out — fast.
The Sioux’s best shot at stopping Dakota Access now lies in court. It may be a long shot, but a legal win is still possible, some advocates say.
A legal challenge filed by the tribe on Feb. 14 charges pipeline builder Dakota Access, LLC, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with a range of environmental, cultural, and treaty-based violations. It asks a federal judge to rule on whether the Army Corps broke laws and treaties by allowing construction of the last leg of the pipeline under Lake Oahe, a reservoir along the Missouri River in North Dakota.
“What you have is this well-supported decision from a past administration to do more and give a full consideration to treaty rights, and then the second administration throws it in the trash,” says Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice, who’s representing the tribe in its lawsuit. “That’s just not how it works.”
“It’s absolutely not over,” says Kyle Powys Whyte, a professor of philosophy and community sustainability and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. He’s been closely tracking the battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and he thinks the tribes fighting the project have a good legal case. “Absolutely I think there’s a chance to stop this thing.”
One of the Sioux’s main legal complaints is that construction of the pipeline near its reservation and through sites it considers sacred would violate the tribe’s treaty rights — specifically, its rights under the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties. At the heart of the matter is the Sioux’s right to self-determination and tribal sovereignty. Tribes like the Sioux are independent, self-governing nations like any other in the world. And the sovereignty of tribal nations preexists the United States, just like the nations themselves.
Many Native Americans believe that this sovereignty is now under extreme threat. The administration of Donald Trump may be the most hostile to Indian tribes since that of Andrew Jackson, who caused the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, argues Matthew Fletcher, a professor of law at Michigan State University and a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
The tribe’s legal motion also charges that the Army Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act by terminating an environmental review of the pipeline, and violated the Clean Water Act as well.
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has joined the Standing Rock Sioux in its legal challenge, and on Feb. 22, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed its own motion in the case, calling on the court to reject the Army Corps’ permit for pipeline construction. Several other allies, such as the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, have filed amicus briefs supporting the Standing Rock Sioux’s legal case.
Hasselman believes the Sioux have strong legal claims that could lead to the pipeline’s approval being overturned. If the current legal motion fails, he says the tribe will appeal in federal circuit court. Even if oil starts flowing in the pipeline in the interim, it could still be shut off down the line, Hasselman told the Bismarck Tribune.
And tribes are waging other legal battles against the pipeline too. On Feb. 9, the Cheyenne River Sioux filed a motion to temporarily halt construction on the grounds that the pipeline would violate their right to religious freedom by desecrating the sacred waters of Lake Oahe.
“I really hope that the case for religious freedom works,” Powys Whyte says. “This can’t possibly be a country where someone’s business idea can trample someone’s constitutional right to practice their religion.”
The Oglala Sioux Tribe joined the fray on Feb. 13 with its own lawsuit claiming that the pipeline threatened its treaty rights to safe drinking water.
The Cheyenne River Sioux’s religious claim is being heard on Feb. 28, and other motions should be considered in the coming weeks. Still, it could take months, if not years, for all of these cases to move through the courts.
Even if pipeline opponents’ lawsuits are not successful in stopping the pipeline, Powys Whyte sees other gains that have come from the #NoDAPL fight. Standing Rock has provided a template for an indigenous-led movement against projects that pose threats to the environment and to tribes’ sovereignty — a template that could prove crucial to activists over the next four years. He points to two other battles for indigenous rights that will be heating up in coming months: the resistance against the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Tohono O’odham Nation’s staunch opposition to Trump building a border wall on their reservation in Arizona.
Powys Whyte urges non-indigenous environmentalists to get educated about Native American history and tribal rights, and to consult with tribes and incorporate their concerns into campaigns. “Part of the reason why non-indigenous activists are coming late to the Dakota Access fight is because they weren’t aware of the vulnerability and susceptibility Native tribes have,” Powys Whyte says. To learn more, he recommends reading the Native Appropriations blog and the Standing Rock syllabus.
“Literally, if more people supported democratic tribal sovereignty, we wouldn’t have something like the Dakota Access Pipeline happening,” Powys Whyte says.
NASA has just announced the discovery of seven previously unknown earth-size planets orbiting a single dwarf star, which scientists believe could be the best place to look for life, and the Google team could hardly contain its excitement. Thursday’s animated Doodle shows earth peering through a telescope to find its seven friendly neighbors, just 235 trillion miles away. Scientists said the newly discovered solar system, Trappist-1, is significant because three of its seven planets orbit in the “habitable zone”; their proximity to the system’s star suggests the right conditions for holding liquid water. The other four could also potentially be hospitable to living organisms. Researchers don’t yet know whether any of the planets are habitable, but they believe it’s promising. “This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” NASA administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.” […]
“Cautious, yet mystified, Louise takes another bold action: She steps for the boundary. The light from that mist on the other side of that glass illuminates her face, showing her wonderment.” In the surprise hit movie Arrival, which is nominated for eight Academy Awards, linguistics professor Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams), is tasked with interpreting the language of a race of visiting aliens. In a dark, cavernous chamber aboard their spaceship, Louise moves from the shadows to the light – a dance that’s mirrored throughout the movie as the character slowly comes to terms with the true lessons the arrival brings. “I think that journey from darkness to light is her journey,” says Bradford Young, Arrival’s cinematographer. Born in Louisville, Ky., Young has made his reputation with like A Most Violent Year and Selma, in which his mastery of available light helped convey the stories’ intimate natures. And that’s what Arrival’s director Denis Villeneuve was looking for when he embarked on his first science-fiction film. “I was looking for a cinematographer with a very precise sensibility towards natural light,” Villeneuve tells TIME. “I wanted the movie to have strong roots in realism. I wanted a cinematographer who would not be afraid to deal with intimacy. It’s a very specific sensibility that I felt in Bradford’s previous work.” Nowhere else is this play on light more apparent then aboard the spaceship, in the gloomy chamber where Louise spends much of her time. Villeneuve says that the set was specifically designed to be ominous and dark, a place where light is absorbed rather than reflected, a place that subliminally represents death. “The main character is in a relationship with death,” says Villeneuve. “The more she learns about the Heptapod [alien] culture, the more it changes her perception of life, death and time.” Jan ThijsA scene inside the spaceship’s chamber from the film “Arrival” by Paramount PicturesThat’s where Patrice Vermette, the film’s production designer, comes in. “With any movies I do, my process is very similar,” Vermette tells TIME. “I start by creating mood boards and collections of images that are only emotional reactions to the script. It could be colors, lights, marbles, rocks.” Then, he and the director work out where to go with that inspiration. In this case, both men were deeply influenced by the artist James Turrell’s Shallow Space Constructions, a series of artworks that use light and space to question the nature of human perception. “When I saw hundreds of people being hypnotized by James Turrell’s light, I had an epiphany,” says Villeneuve. The cavernous chamber was born out of that experience. It is designed like a dark temple where the film’s characters come to see the light – in this case, the aliens who remain semi-hidden behind a blinding rectangular white screen. Instead of using green screens, Vermette and his team actually built the ship’s chamber. The physical space was humbling and also helped the director and cinematographer set up their shots, Villeneuve days, but the chamber’s bright screen was a challenge for Young. “We had to be fearless,” he says. “We had to accept the fact that when Louise’s very far from the screen she would be quite dark, and when she’s right up on the screen, we would, for lack of a better term, overexpose her.” But that was the point, he adds. “This movie is about Louise’s personal enlightenment. So you just submit to what the light offers and let that tell the story. It gave us the opportunity to let the lighting of the film mirror the journey of the character.” That concept is replicated in two other locations throughout the movie. In Louise’s home, a large wall-to-wall window opens up to a blinding, yet hazy, lake, contrasting with the deliberate darkness of her living room. And inside the brutalist, fortress-like architecture of Louise’s university, she faces a rectangular white board that opens up to a television announcing the aliens’ arrival. Again, light and darkness are at play, informing Louise’s journey. “The structure of all these places work together,” says Young. “Those places make the spaceship that much more important and the spaceship makes those places that much more important. They are in a conversation with one another. They remind us of where Louise came from and where she’s headed.” Outside of the spaceship, Young was inspired by the work of photographer Martina Hoogland Ivanow to create a sense of dread and chaos in direct opposition to the Zen-like nature of Louise’s safe and sacred zones. In her book, Speedway, Ivanow creates gloomy, ominous images from mundane situations: a simple landscape becomes a Twin Peaks-like world where the unknown could be lurking in the dark; a motorcycle pilot is transformed into a shadowy, threatening figure. Martina Hoogland IvanowFrom the series “Speedway”In Arrival, this is in play when we enter the military’s compound set up near the spaceship. “The calmness of the ship’s chamber is in contrast with the interior of the tents,” says Vermette. “We realize that it’s the human beings that are disturbing the peace and we can’t wait to get back inside the spaceship.” Toward the light – the one controlled by the aliens and the one under Young’s spell. “A light that brings a lot of intimacy, sensuality, fragility and humanity to the project,” says Villeneuve. Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent Follow TIME LightBox on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. […]
Copyright © 2017 greenreflection.com - All Rights Reserved
Powered by WordPress & Atahualpa