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National News


Calif. tribe wins appeal in landmark water case: USA Today

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — A federal appeals court sided with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians on Tuesday in a landmark water case, upholding a ruling that the tribe has federally established rights to groundwater in the Coachella Valley.

The decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to set an important precedent for tribes across the country.


Court Upholds California Cap and Trade in Boon for State Climate Efforts: Inside Climate News
The court’s ruling that California’s carbon permit auctions are not an illegal tax provides certainty for its landmark program for tackling climate change.

n an important sign that state climate actions may thrive even if federal efforts whither, an appeals court in California upheld the state’s ability to auction off carbon pollution permits, the cornerstone of its landmark cap-and-trade program.

Environmental groups who had joined the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to defend its auctions said the decision would help cement California’s role as a national and global leader in tackling climate change.

California’s cap-and-trade system, including its permit auctions, are central to the state’s promise to cut its emissions sharply in the coming decades. Because the state’s economy is so large and its program so sophisticated, it presents an opportunity to link to other trading programs, in other U.S. states, in Canadian, Mexican and Brazilian provinces, or elsewhere in the world.

EPA Should Not Be Allowed To Dodge Clean Power Plan Ruling: Popular Resistance

Coalition of states, cities and green groups urges D.C. Court of Appeals to reject Trump administration request to stall decision on cornerstone climate regulations.

A coalition of states, cities and environmental groups filed twin briefs on Wednesday accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of trying to “perpetually dodge” court decisions that could keep alive the Clean Power Plan, which the Trump Administration wants to dismantle.

They urged the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reject the administration’s new petition to put the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s climate policies, into an indefinite state of limbo, while the EPA sends the rule back to the drawing board.

The appeals court heard oral arguments in the case months ago and should be ready to rule at any time. A quick ruling could, within a year, put the regulations on the docket of the Supreme Court, which issued a stay in 2016.


Popular Farm Pesticide Found in Drinking Water: EcoWatch

The researchers behind the new study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, took samples from 48 streams that feed the Iowa River, a primary source for drinking water throughout the midwest, and found that 63 percent of the samples contained at least one neonicotinoid compound. The samples were taken shortly after corn and soy were planted in nearby fields.

Even more concerning, samples taken from local tap water and the water treatment plant at the University of Iowa showed three main neonicotinoids, proving that filtration practices are not enough to purify the drinking water. The water was collected over the course of seven weeks, but higher concentrations are likely to occur within one to three days of planting.


7-Eleven to Power 425 Texas Stores With Wind Energy: EcoWatch

7-Eleven, Inc. will energize 425 stories in Texas with wind energy it will buy from TXU Energy. This initiative is expected to reduce 7-Eleven’s carbon footprint by 6.7 percent and reduce operating costs.

The energy will come exclusively from wind farms in Texas, which is a state with more than 10,000 turbines. The agreement is 96 months and begins June 1, 2018.


Trump’s EPA moves to dismantle programs that protect kids from lead paint: Washington Post



Environmental Protection Agency officials are proposing to eliminate two programs focused on limiting children’s exposure to lead-based paint, which is known to cause damage to developing brains and nervous systems.

The proposed cuts, outlined in a 64-page budget memo revealed by The Washington Post on Friday, would roll back programs aimed at reducing lead risks by $16.61 million and more than 70 employees, in line with a broader project by the Trump administration to devolve responsibility for environmental and health protection to state and local governments.

Old housing stock is the biggest risk for lead exposure — and the EPA estimates that 38 million U.S. homes contain lead-based paint.


A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Trying to Bring Down the Indian Child Welfare Act. Why?: The Nation
Native Americans say the law protects their children. The Goldwater Institute claims it does the opposite.



Trump to seek offshore drilling expansion: The Hill

President Trump is preparing an executive order to start undoing former President Obama’s restrictions on offshore drilling.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees offshore drilling, told an industry conference about the upcoming order Thursday, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources in attendance.

The order would direct Interior to rewrite Obama’s five-year schedule for lease sales between 2017 to 2022, which left out any drilling in the Arctic or Atlantic oceans, and to add some sales in those areas.


Here’s How Undocumented Immigrants Are Living In The Shadow Of Border Patrol Deep Within The US: BuzzFeed

“We have always been careful, but now you have to be even more careful.”

“These problems will be decided by someone who has never been here, that’s never seen the people, never looked into the eyes of these scared kids that don’t know what their future holds,” Whitlock said. “It’s not healthy for a community to be at that level of anxiety — it’s just not helpful.”

For Elena, a 40-year-old mother of four, one of them undocumented like her, that anxiety is ever-present. Her family has considered moving, but the places they can afford aren’t as safe as their quiet “ranch” and her kids don’t want to leave their friends.

It hasn’t been as much of a problem up until recently, when doctors discovered her 16-year-old son’s heart abnormality. Nearby doctors couldn’t determine what it was and referred them to specialists in Las Cruces about 50 minutes away.

Elena stays behind inside their trailer home, darkened by thick drapes that keep the desert sun out, while her husband, who has a work permit, drives to doctor’s appointments.

“I can’t go with him,” she said of her son, crying. “I’m his mother — I’m supposed to be there for my kids and I can’t. It’s really tough on me.”


World News


Europeans forgetting about Yemen famine because they don’t feel it affects them, NGO director warns

“Half the country is now suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition, and this is something that could have been prevented.”

“The war is still ongoing. The bombing is still going on. There’s a shortage of food and medication.”

The International Medical Corps warned as many as 460,000 children face severe malnutrition in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation which has been engulfed in three years of civil war.

Overall, 14.1 million people are food insecure while seven million people are considered severely food insecure.


‘Making Europe Great Again,’ Trump’s online supporters shift attention to the French election: The Conversation



A French adaptation of a common Trump-backers’ meme: Pepe the Frog as Marine Le Pen. LitteralyPepe/reddit

The online movement that played a key role in getting Donald Trump elected president of the United States has begun to spread its political influence globally, starting with crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Among several key elections happening in 2017 around Europe, few are as hotly contested as the race to become the next president of France. Having helped install their man in the White House in Washington, D.C., a group of online activists is now trying to get their far-right woman, Marine Le Pen, into the Élysée Palace in Paris.


Science News


Squid and octopus can edit and direct their own brain genes: New Scientist



Octopuses and squid have confirmed their reputation as Earth-bound “aliens” with the discovery that they can edit their own genetic instructions.

Unlike other animals, cephalopods – the family that includes octopuses, squid and cuttlefish – do not obey the commands of their DNA to the letter.

Instead, they sometimes interfere with the code as it is being carried by a molecular “messenger”. This has the effect of diversifying the proteins their cells can produce, leading to some interesting variations.

The system may have produced a special kind of evolution based on RNA editing rather than DNA mutations and could be responsible for the complex behaviour and high intelligence seen in cephalopods, some scientists believe.


Swedish workers implanted with microchips to replace cash cards and ID passes: Independent

The microchip, the size of grains of rice functions as swipe cards: to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies EPA

The syringe slides in between the thumb and index finger. Then, with a click, a microchip is injected in the employee’s hand. Another “cyborg” is created.

What could pass for a dystopian vision of the workplace is almost routine at the Swedish startup hub Epicenter. The company offers to implant its workers and startup members with microchips the size of grains of rice that function as swipe cards: to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.

The injections have become so popular that workers at Epicenter hold parties for those willing to get implanted.

“The biggest benefit I think is convenience,” said Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of Epicenter. As a demonstration, he unlocks a door by merely waving near it. “It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices, whether it be credit cards or keys.”




Federal Appeals Court Finds That the Civil Rights Law Prohibiting Sex Discrimination Also Covers Sexual Orientation: ColorLines
The most recent version of the 1964 Civil Rights Act explicitly prohibits work discrimination against a person because they are a woman or man. Earlier this week, a federal appeals court found that bias against lesbian and gay workers also applies.

The U..S Court of Appeals in the 7th Circuit ruled Tuesday(April 4) that because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from sex discrimination, it also applies to those facing anti-gay and -lesbian bias. The case in question centers on Kimberly Hively, a teacher who believed that Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College repeatedly denied her full-time employment and then fired from her part-time position because she’s a lesbian.


Trump to replace first gay Army Secretary with Tennessee’s most anti-LGBT lawmaker: Think Progress

When the Senate finally confirmed Eric Fanning to serve as Secretary of the Army last spring (six months after his nomination), he became the highest-ranking openly gay member of the Department of Defense. President Trump is reportedly selecting a successor who will be one of the most openly anti-LGBT people to fill the position.

Trump is expected to pick Tennessee gubernatorial candidate and state senator Mark Green (R) to be the new Secretary of the Army. As Nathaniel Frank detailed at Slate, Green is the lead sponsor of several of Tennessee’s many anti-LGBT bills. Here are some of the bills he’s pushing this session alone:

  • SB 127, which would ensure businesses can enforce discriminatory policies without facing any consequences from state or local government.
  • SB 771, which would require schools to discriminate against transgender students when it comes to bathrooms, locker rooms, and similar facilities.
  • SB 14, which would give teachers the right not to teach content that violates their conscience. This could easily be interpreted to mean that teachers would not have to provide accurate information about LGBT identities or that they would not have to protect LGBT students from bullying based on their identities.


Florida News


Caring at Carson Springs: How a couple works to rescue exotic animals in Gainesville: The Independent Florida Alligator



In front of an audience, Gator lunged.

His claws scraped the top of the 14-foot-tall fence, stretching eight feet of orange and black stripes. To a chorus of gasps and murmurs, he snapped the piece of chicken from his keeper’s hand.

“Amazing,” one woman said, gasping in astonishment.

About six years ago, Gator, a tiger rescued from a roadside zoo in Chiefland, Florida, was 9 months old and 65 pounds, barely half the appropriate weight, with bleeding ulcers after a diet of just milk. But under the care of Barry Janks and Christine Janks at the Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation, he’s now 7 years old and 500 pounds, pouncing on pieces of chicken and swimming in his own waterhole.

“That’s your commitment,” Barry said. “If you can’t do what’s right for the animal, why do you take them?”

It costs anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000 annually for the couple to treat their 80 animals — tigers, lions and hyenas among them — right. That’s why on Saturday, they’re hosting their biannual open house for thousands to freely roam the conservation at 8528 E. County Road 225. The profits from the ticket sales — $5 to $10 depending on age — from the event account for at least $25,000 for their annual budget.


Chris King only gubernatorial candidate to show up at Florida Legislative Black Caucus: Florida Politics

Word has it that others were invited but only one candidate or potential candidate, Democrat Chris King, showed up at the Florida Legislative Black Caucus’s symposium Thursday to talk about the 2018 gubernatorial race.




Aetna pulling out of Iowa Obamacare exchange: Axios

Aetna announced this morning that it’s not going to sell health insurance in the Iowa Obamacare marketplace next year — just days after Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state’s dominant insurer, said it was pulling out. In a statement, Aetna spokesman T.J. Crawford said the insurer is withdrawing because of “financial risk and an uncertain outlook for the marketplace.” He said Aetna is still deciding whether to participate in other states.




The Regulatory Wrecking Ball: NYT

Trump has done significant damage with smaller-bore measures, whose cumulative impact will be felt for a very long time. Specifically, he has signed into law 11 regulatory rollback measures, passed by Republican majorities using the Congressional Review Act — a law that lets lawmakers use fast-track procedures to repeal rules completed in the last six months or so of a previous administration. Two more repeal measures await Mr. Trump’s signature, and 20 that have been introduced in Congress could be passed before fast-track procedures expire. At least there will be no more ugly surprises, since the deadline for introducing new rollback measures under the Congressional Review Act passed on March 30.

The wreckage has been extensive. Some of the regulations already repealed would have strengthened health, safety and fair pay protections for workers. Several others were environmental protections, including a rule, repealed this week, for protecting bears and wolves on federal refuges in Alaska from “predator control” techniques used by the state to accommodate hunters. Mr. Trump has also rolled back broadband privacy protections, antibribery standards for oil companies operating abroad, expanded background checks for mentally ill gun buyers and educational assessment standards for public schools.

Many of the measures that have been introduced but not yet passed by both chambers are environmental protections, including a rule that would limit emissions of methane, a powerful global warming gas, rules and regulations to protect wildlife habitats and endangered species, and safeguards against oil drilling in the Arctic and in national parks.




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