Art News - Worldwide

Navy commander: Motive unknown for Pearl Harbor shooting

Yahoo - Art News - 3 hours 40 min ago

A Navy commander says the motive is unknown for a Pearl Harbor shooting that left two civilian workers and the attacker dead. Shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton made the announcement in an “All Hands” message sent Friday. “The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims,” Burton said according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which obtained a copy of the letter.


Taiwan police shoot man suspected of planting explosive device: media

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 20:50

Police in southern Taiwan shot a man on Saturday suspected of planting a possible explosive device outside a campaign office for the island's main opposition party, the Kuomintang, the official Central News Agency reported. Taiwan holds presidential and parliamentary elections on Jan. 11, and campaigning is in full swing with the Kuomintang challenging the ruling Democratic Progressive Party of President Tsai Ing-wen, who is currently far ahead in the polls. Taiwan elections are passionate, noisy affairs, but generally pass off peacefully.


'There'll be war' if Bolivia cuts coca growing, farmers warn

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 20:26

For the coca farmers of western Bolivia's Las Yungas region, the loss of president Evo Morales -- himself a one-time coca grower, and a champion of indigenous rights -- is less worrying than the drop in price of their "holy leaf" crop. "Coquita," as it is known locally, is the only crop grown in Cruz Loma, a village near the town of Coroico, perched 1,700 meters (5,500 feet)above sea level in the Andes.


2020 candidates vow to boycott next debate to support union protests

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 20:16

Elizabeth Warren was the first to make this pledge, and everyone else followed.


Satellite evades ‘day of reckoning' to discover puzzling weather phenomenon on Jupiter

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 19:51

At first glance, these newly released images by NASA may look like lava churning in the heart of a volcano, but they reveal otherworldly storm systems whirling in a way that surprised scientists.The swirls in the photos are cyclones around Jupiter's south pole, captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft on Nov. 3, 2019. Juno has been orbiting the solar system's largest planet since 2016 and has seen these polar cyclones before, but its latest flight over this region of the planet revealed a startling discovery - a new cyclone had formed unexpectedly. Six cyclones can be seen at Jupiter's south pole in this infrared image taken on Feb. 2, 2017, during the 3rd science pass of NASA's Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM) Prior to its early November pass, Juno had photographed five windstorms arranged in a uniform, pentagonal pattern around one storm sitting stationary over the south pole."It almost appeared like the polar cyclones were part of a private club that seemed to resist new members," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.It is unclear when exactly the new cyclone formed, but it changed the arrangement of the storms from a pentagon to a hexagon.Winds in these cyclones average around 225 mph, according to NASA, wind speeds higher than any tropical cyclone ever recorded on Earth. An outline of the continental United States superimposed over the central cyclone and an outline of Texas is superimposed over the newest cyclone at Jupiter's south pole give a sense of their immense scale. The hexagonal arrangement of the cyclones is large enough to dwarf the Earth. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM) The discovery of this evolving meteorological phenomenon almost didn't happen as Jupiter itself almost caused the mission to end abruptly.Juno is a solar-powered spacecraft that relies on constant light from the sun to keep the craft alive. Flying through Jupiter's enormous shadow would take about 12 hours to complete, which would cut off the power source, drain the spacecraft's battery and potentially spell the end of the mission."Our navigators and engineers told us a day of reckoning was coming, when we would go into Jupiter's shadow for about 12 hours," said Steve Levin, Juno project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.To avoid the potential mission-ending eclipse, Juno fired up its engine (which was not initially designed for such a maneuver) and adjusted its trajectory just enough to avoid the icy grip of Jupiter's shadow. Jupiter's moon Io casts its shadow on Jupiter whenever it passes in front of the Sun as seen from Jupiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing by Tanya Oleksuik, (C) CC BY) "Thanks to our navigators and engineers, we still have a mission," said Bolton. "What they did is more than just make our cyclone discovery possible; they made possible the new insights and revelations about Jupiter that lie ahead of us."NASA scientists will continue to study these polar vortices in future flights over Jupiter's south pole to better understand the atmosphere over this part of the planet."These cyclones are new weather phenomena that have not been seen or predicted before," said Cheng Li, a Juno scientist from the University of California, Berkeley. "Nature is revealing new physics regarding fluid motions and how giant planet atmospheres work. Future Juno flybys will help us further refine our understanding by revealing how the cyclones evolve over time."


See Inside a $18.5 M. New York Townhouse Decorated by Julian Schnabel and His Former Wife

ArtNews News Feed - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 18:32

A five-story townhouse in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood that was decorated by painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel has hit the market for the first time in 30 years—with a price tag of $18.5 million. Roughly 6,600 square feet, the Italianate townhouse at 132 West 11th Street has been in the Schnabel family since the 1990s. Though the artist and his first wife, art collector Jacqueline Schnabel, did not reside there—they lived a few blocks away—the interior bears their work. A cavernous dining room is outfitted with baby-pink patent leather chairs, and a white carpet is offset with green and fuchsia paint. A bull’s bleached skull emerges from the hearth of a fireplace in the home office.

“When you are there, you feel as if you are traveling on a boat down the Nile,” Lola Montes Schnabel, Julian’s daughter, said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. “Natural light floods the house from every direction, as if bouncing off water.”

According to the listing agent, Michael Bolla of Sotheby’s International Realty, the house includes four bedrooms, four terraces, a light-filled art studio, library, and a 1,000-foot basement. Past visitors to the townhouse described an environment that embraced spontaneity. According to a 1994 profile in T Magazine, a George Condo painting was once perched in the fireplace (“I put things where I can enjoy them, that’s all,” Jacqueline told the interviewer).

Although divorced, the duo worked together during the renovation. Julian laid the kitchen floor and made furniture, including the kitchen table and Jacqueline’s rolled steel bed. They instructed the architects, David Piscuskas and Jurgen Riehm of 1100 Architect, to restore the house to its 19th-century spaciousness. The architects, in turn, tore off the house’s rear and added a glass-bottomed terrace on the third floor.

Unfortunately for the new tenants, the apartment won’t come with Schnabel’s art collection, which includes works by Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente, and Francis Picabia (among many Schnabels, of course).

Take a tour of the house in the slideshow above.

View an $18.5 M. New York Townhouse Designed by Julian Schnabel

ArtNews News Feed - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 18:30

A five-story townhouse in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood that was decorated by painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel has hit the market for the first time in 30 years—with a price tag of $18.5 million. Roughly 6,600 square feet, the Italianate townhouse at 132 West 11th Street has been in the Schnabel family since the 1990s. Though the artist and his first wife, art collector Jacqueline Schnabel, did not reside there—they lived a few blocks away—the interior bears their work. A cavernous dining room is outfitted with baby-pink patent leather chairs, and a white carpet is offset with green and fuchsia paint. A bull’s bleached skull emerges from the hearth of a fireplace in the home office.

Unfortunately for the new tenants, the apartment won’t come with Schnabel’s art collection, which includes works by Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente, and Francis Picabia (among many Schnabels, of course).

Take a tour of the house in the following slideshow.

Center for Public Integrity Challenges Trump Administration Over Heavily Redacted Ukraine Emails

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 18:29

By Rui Kaneya, Alexia Fernández Campbell and Jim Morris, Center for Public IntegrityThe Center for Public Integrity on Friday asked a federal judge to order the Trump administration to divulge information it is concealing about military aid to Ukraine.The action came hours after the House Judiciary Committee advanced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, alleging that he abused his power by withholding information from Congress and that the aid was improperly disrupted last summer for political reasons.On Thursday, the Department of Defense released 146 pages of documents Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered it to produce as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Public Integrity. The department heavily redacted the documents, asserting that much of the material contained within was “deliberative,” and therefore, exempt from disclosure.In a letter accompanying Thursday’s document release, an attorney for the Defense Department explained the redactions by citing three exemptions in the law that protect privacy, "sensitive information of foreign governments" and "privileged" records generated during the “deliberative process.”Public Integrity is challenging the redactions, saying at least some of the material appears to be factual—not deliberative—and should be released.“This is not a case of federal agencies asserting an aggressive, good-faith interpretation of the Freedom of Information Act,” Public Integrity said in a motion filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.Trump Administration Resists Ukraine Disclosures Ordered by CourtFor example, a Defense Department official in an email referred to “attached info on the [Ukraine aid program] execution,” but the information is blacked out. In another email, a White House Office of Management and Budget official said that “OMB OGC [Office of General Counsel] determined [redacted].” Deliberative material generally offers advice or makes an argument about a potential decision or action that a government agency has under consideration. The judge in the Ukraine documents case responded in a decision late Friday that orders the government and Public Integrity to confer by Tuesday about setting a timetable for judicial review of the redacted passages.Some Democratic members of Congress also protested the redactions.Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) showed her House colleagues the blacked-out documents Thursday evening as they debated articles of impeachment against Trump.“The Center for Public Integrity sued in federal court for documents related to the Ukraine scandal, and this is what they got,” Escobar said, waving around a stack of blacked-out papers. “They won in court, but what they got were heavily redacted documents. Why? Because the president doesn't want these documents to see the light of day.”Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic House majority leader from Maryland, said the redactions were part of  “the president’s unprecedented pattern of obstruction.” “The courts continue to rule in favor of transparency, and I hope the judge will do so again,” Hoyer said in a statement to Public Integrity. “No one is above the law, not even this president, and Congress will continue to uphold the rule of law and its duty to conduct oversight.”Public Integrity reached out to 33 lawmakers about the Ukraine documents, including members of leadership and members of the Senate and House judiciary, intelligence and armed services committees . Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) were among several members who said they wanted to read the contents of the files before commenting. Others did not respond to requests for comment.But several think tanks and good-government groups called on the Trump administration to release unredacted version of the Ukraine documents. Among them: * Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. "As the House Judiciary Committee met, the administration changed its story on the Ukraine aid delay, saying it was a policy issue. These documents could show whether that was an accurate claim," Ornstein said. "If indeed it were accurate, they would have every reason to show it. By hiding the communications, it seems clear to me that they were lying as they scrambled to find a reason for the delay in releasing the aid after the DOD had certified Ukraine’s eligibility." * Daniel Stevens, executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, a Washington-based government watchdog group. "The press and watchdog groups must double down on their efforts to obtain government documents through all legal means necessary," Stevens said. "A core value of our American form of government is a reliance on checks and balances. For Congress to hold the executive branch responsible, it must have access to government documents. It is unconscionable that federal agencies to continue to prevent federal records from being released." * Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open the Government, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates for government transparency. She told Public Integrity that the redactions undermine the public's right to timely information relevant to the impeachment proceedings. "It is yet another unacceptable attempt to stonewall efforts to hold the executive branch accountable and demonstrates disregard for the system of checks and balances that protects our democracy against abuse of power by a sitting president,” she said. * Adam Marshall, attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, who noted that Congress has recently made clear it's concerned about the overuse of the "deliberative process" exemption by federal agencies to deny public records requests. "The agencies often use the exemption to hide information that is embarrassing, inconvenient or relating to something they otherwise prefer to not be public," Marshall said. "It's absolutely outrageous that the government is asserting the exemption in this case, which involves information relevant to matters of such public importance." * Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight, who argued the redactions are undermining efforts to hold the government accountable. "Excessive government secrecy around the issues at the heart of the impeachment inquiry don't serve the public nor do they serve the president, unless the defense offered by the House GOP isn't supported by these documents.”Peter Newbatt Smith contributed to this report.This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization. To follow more of the Center’s reporting, go here or follow them on Twitter.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


New Court Filing Reveals Further Details in Case of Embattled Dealer Inigo Philbrick

ArtNews News Feed - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 18:17

Rudolf Stingel’s 2012 painting Untitled which sold at Christie’s New York in May for $6.5 million but has not been paid for in full, remains under lock and key at the auction house while a battle over its ownership unfolds in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Today, one of the vying parties filed a fresh memorandum of law that further unpacks the murky nature of who exactly holds clear title to the painting.

The selling agent behind the disputed painting, a 95-by-76-inch blow-up of a 1930 black and white photograph of Pablo Picasso smoking a cigarette and elegantly outfitted in a double-breasted suit and tie, was the 32-year-old art dealer Inigo Philbrick, the subject of several lawsuits in three jurisdictions amid allegations of a massive art fraud some experts peg in the $100 million range.

What today’s memorandum makes clear is that the case revolves around a transaction that looks like a purchase, but in fact represents a loan made to Philbrick. As attorney Judd Grossman put it, “That is the real story here of what is going on with all of these Inigo deals—there was a lot of easy money allowing him to perpetrate these frauds, not only from the Reubens but others as well.”

The Reubens would be Guzzini Properties Limited, a British Virgin Islands’ registered entity that is a subsidiary of the Geneva based Reuben Brothers SA. Guzzini claims it is the rightful owner of the Stingel, along with Wade Guyton’s Untitled from 2006 and Christopher Wool’s Untitled enamel on linen painting from 2009, having acquired the trio of works from Inigo Philbrick in June 2017 for $6 million.

The sale and purchase agreement under the Guzzini Properties Limited letterhead is described as a “finance document,” which in English law, the governing law of the Guzzini document, covers financial obligations to a lender or other secured party. It lists the works’ respective values in this way: $10 million for the Stingel, $6 million for the Guyton and $9 million for the Wool, all told, $25 million worth of canvas.

In the memorandum of law filed today by Grossman, the attorney representing “for parties in interest” Aleksandar Pesko and Satfinance Investment Ltd., another entity vying for title, states in part, “Although Plaintiff here (that’s Guzzini) alleges that the total “purchase price” for the Stingel and two other artworks was $6 million, according to the loan agreement, the total value of the three works is actually closer to $25 million…. These figures are more in line with the typical loan-to-value ratio for art-backed loans, rather than the alleged “purchase price” for artwork in a purported arm’s length, non-distressed sale, as Guzzini claims was the case here.”

Today’s memorandum includes several exhibits, among them an email written by Pesko in October to Lisa Reuben, the daughter of the multi-billionaire Simon Reuben and a former executive in Sotheby’s contemporary art department, and apparently the point person in the Guzzini matter.

Pesko attached to the email the invoice and payment proof of $3.35 million in January 2016 to Philbrick for a 50 percent share in the Stingel.

Efforts to reach Reuben by email went unanswered, as were phone and email requests for comment from Guzzini’s attorney, Wendy Lindstrom of Mazzola Lindstrom.

If the competing claims over title of the Stingel in the Supreme Court of New York matter sounds complicated, the picture is further tested by a separate action in the Circuit Court of Miami-Dade County where the German entity, FAP GmbH (Fine Art Partners) alleges it acquired the same Stingel from Philbrick in 2015 for $7.1 million.

FAP filed its complaint in October in Miami, where Philbrick maintained an eponymous gallery, which abruptly shut down shortly after the FAP filing.

In the Guzzini sale and purchase agreement, revealed for the first time today, Philbrick, the seller, had a buy-back option on the three artworks for a fee of $10,000 and a stipulation that the buyer (Guzzini) “undertakes not to sell the Artworks until any option for the Seller to buy back the Artworks expires.” That expiration date was August 2019, three months after the Christie’s non-sale.

The Guzzini agreement was provided to Grossman, Pesko’s counsel, by Philbrick before he went missing sometime in November.

Adding to the confusing drama of the battle over the sequestered painting, Guzzini’s action for winning clear title in New York wasn’t filed against Philbrick but the painting itself, “Untitled by Rudolf Stingel, 2012” and as a court document duly noted, no representation of an attorney was recorded.

It seems that the Stingel needs legal aid and the action must set a precedent for a painting being the sole defendant in a court case.

“The Guzzini filing in New York seeks to clear title for the Stingel,” said a spokesperson for Christie’s, “after the fraudulent activities of the selling agent (Philbrick) involved in the sale were discovered. Christie’s agrees that determination of rightful ownership of the Stingel work by the courts is the next necessary step forward.”

A British doctor was treated in an American emergency room and said it revealed how broken US healthcare really is

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 18:09

Adam Kay, the former British doctor who wrote "This Is Going to Hurt," says the UK's National Health Service actually works.


The Tiny, Simple Nuclear Reactor That Could Change Energy

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 17:51

The next step in nuclear power is 1/100th the size of today's reactors.


An influencer and model said she isn't doing a gender reveal because 'that may not be who my child decides to be'

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 16:35

Iskra Lawrence is among influencers making money for documenting their pregnancies, but she's not cashing in on her baby's sex.


Pompeo warns Iran of 'decisive response' if harm in Iraq

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 15:58

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday warned Iran of a "decisive" response if US interests are harmed in Iraq, after a series of rocket attacks on bases. "We must... use this opportunity to remind Iran's leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies or our interests will be answered with a decisive US response," Pompeo said in a statement. "Iran must respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and immediately cease its provision of lethal aid and support to third parties in Iraq and throughout the region," he said.


Fed’s Clarida Dismisses Weak Retail Sales, Says Outlook Solid

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 15:45

(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida brushed aside news of weaker-than-expected retail sales in November and said the U.S. economy looks headed for a solid 2020 based on a strong labor market and a robust consumer.“The U.S. consumer’s never been in better shape in my professional career,” Clarida said Friday in an interview with Fox Business Network, repeating an assertion he’s made in recent months.Earlier on Friday the Commerce Department reported U.S. retail sales rose 0.2% in November from the prior month, missing the median forecast of 0.5% in a Bloomberg survey and suggesting consumer spending will slow in the fourth quarter.Fed officials voted to leave interest rates unchanged Wednesday at the conclusion of their final policy meeting of 2019 -- following quarter-point cuts at each of their last three meetings -- and signaled they would probably be on hold through the end of 2020. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters afterward that “in order to move rates up, I would want to see inflation that’s persistent and that’s significant.”“The economy’s in a good place,” Clarida said. “We have the strongest labor market in 50 years. We have low and stable inflation. We have solid growth, and our baseline outlook for the economy is more of the same in 2020.”Clarida said it’s too early to judge the impact on the economy of the Trump administration’s so-called phase-one trade deal with China, but added, “any reduction in uncertainty is a good thing.”Also speaking on Friday, New York Fed President John Williams said the central bank’s interest-rate reductions this year have positioned the U.S. economy for solid growth in 2020.“The housing market is actually picking up in the U.S. from where it was a year ago. Consumer spending is very strong,” Williams said Friday during a talk in New York. “With the adjustments we’ve already made, lowering interest rates, we’ve got the economy on a very strong footing, sustainable footing, for good growth next year.”Some of the risks that led U.S. central bankers to lower borrowing costs in the first place now seem closer to being resolved, Williams said. Earlier Friday, the U.S. and China announced an agreement on trade negotiations that will roll back some tariffs. And in the U.K., a decisive win for conservatives in a general election Thursday reduced uncertainties about the country’s coming exit from the European Union.Inflation, however, remains muted, despite the ongoing strength of job creation. While the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5% last month, the inflation gauge Fed policy makers watch stood at 1.3% in October. It has been mostly below the central bank’s 2% target since that goal was announced in 2012.The New York Fed chief referred to the low unemployment rate as “a sustainable place for us to be,” adding that he expected the economy to grow about 2% in 2020, and inflation to head back up to near the 2% goal over the next year or so.To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Condon in Washington at ccondon4@bloomberg.net;Matthew Boesler in New York at mboesler1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Margaret Collins at mcollins45@bloomberg.net, Scott Lanman, Alister BullFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Democrats threaten to boycott next debate over labor dispute

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 15:37

All seven Democratic presidential candidates who qualified for next week's debate threatened on Friday to skip the event if an ongoing labor dispute forces them to cross picket lines on the campus hosting it. The Democratic National Committee said it is trying to come up with an "acceptable resolution” to the situation so the debate can proceed. A labor union called UNITE HERE Local 11 says it will picket as Loyola Marymount University hosts Thursday’s sixth Democratic debate of the cycle, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders responded by tweeting they wouldn’t participate if that meant crossing it.


Suit: Pilot tried to warn before dozer killed pot suspect

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 15:20

The family of a marijuana suspect who wound up dead under the treads of a bulldozer commandeered by Pennsylvania State Police has filed an amended lawsuit that raises new questions about the agency's tactics. The family is suing state police, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and others. The suit accuses police of extreme recklessness in their pursuit of 51-year-old Gregory Longenecker, who had been caught growing marijuana plants on public land near Reading.


29 photos show how climate change has ravaged the Arctic in the past decade

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 15:14

NOAA's Arctic Report Card warns that climate change is transforming the Arctic. These photos show its dire effects on the region so far this decade.


Would China Try to Claim Most of the Pacific Ocean?

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 15:11

Nine-dash line? How about two hundred and fifty? Some fake news freaked an academic conference out several years ago.


An Invisible Menace to the Climate, Revealed in Infrared

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 15:07

To the naked eye, there is nothing out of the ordinary at the DCP Pegasus gas processing plant in West Texas, one of the thousands of installations in the vast Permian Basin that have transformed America into the largest oil and gas producer in the world.But a highly specialized camera sees what the human eye cannot: a major release of methane, the main component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas that is helping to warm the planet at an alarming rate.Two New York Times journalists detected this from a tiny plane, crammed with scientific equipment, circling above the oil and gas sites that dot the Permian, an oil field bigger than Kansas. In just a few hours, the plane's instruments identified six sites with unusually high methane emissions.Methane is loosely regulated, difficult to detect and rising sharply. The Times' aerial and on-the-ground research, along with an examination of lobbying activities by the companies that own the sites, shows how the energy industry is seeking and winning looser federal regulations on methane, a major contributor to global warming.Operators of the sites identified by The Times are among the very companies that have lobbied the Trump administration, either directly or through trade organizations, to weaken regulations on methane, a review of regulatory filings, meeting minutes and attendance logs shows. These local companies, along with oil-industry lobby groups that represent the world's largest energy companies, are fighting rules that would force them to more aggressively fix emissions like these.Next year, the administration could move forward with a plan that would effectively eliminate requirements that oil companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from oil and gas facilities. By the Environmental Protection Agency's own calculations, the rollback would increase methane emissions by 370,000 tons through 2025, enough to power more than 1 million homes for a year.In the air, Times reporters surveyed an area in and around two counties in the heart of the Permian with the help of specialists in methane detection."This site's definitely leaking," said Paolo Wilczak, a scientist and the pilot of the two-seater aircraft, as a laptop monitor hooked up to the equipment registered a blip in methane levels. "And that one, too."The reporters drove to the sites armed with infrared video gear that revealed methane billowing from tanks, seeping from pipes and wafting from bright flares that are designed to burn off the gas but sometimes fail to do so completely. At one site, a worker walked directly into a methane plume unprotected.Tim Doty, a former senior official at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality who is trained in infrared leak detection, examined and helped analyze the findings. "That's a crazy amount of emissions," he said. "It takes a little bit of investigative work, but with an infrared camera, you can see it."Oil and gas companies were committed to driving down emissions "while delivering affordable, reliable energy to American families," said Howard Feldman, senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, a major industry lobby group. Its members believed that regulations should be improved, however, to provide clarity for businesses, avoid duplicating state rules and drive industry innovation, he said.The regulatory rollback sought by the energy industry is the latest chapter in the administration's historic effort to weaken environmental and climate regulations while waging a broad-based attack on climate science.Scientists say that, in weakening the rules, the Trump administration underestimates methane's global climate effects. It also disregards research that suggests methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure are far larger than previously estimated.The findings address the mystery behind rising levels of methane in the atmosphere. Methane levels have soared since 2007 for reasons that still aren't fully understood. But fracking natural-gas production, which accelerated just as atmospheric methane levels jumped, is a prime suspect.Methane leaks from oil and gas production threaten to erode the advantage that natural gas has over coal in meeting the world's energy needs, scientists say. When burned for electricity, natural gas produces about half the carbon dioxide that coal does. But if methane is not burned off when released, it can warm the planet more than 80 times as much as carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.Methane also contributes to ground-level ozone, which, if inhaled, can cause asthma and other health problems."It's increasingly clear that fossil fuel production has dramatically increased global methane emissions," said Robert Howarth, an Earth system scientist at Cornell University and author of a study estimating that North American shale gas production may be responsible for about a third of the global increase in methane emissions over the past decade.A bright red-and-white plane pirouetted above the Texas scrub, banking so sharply it were as if the tiny aircraft was spinning on a wingtip. Wilczak, a pilot and flight scientist for Scientific Aviation, an aerial leak-detection company, executed tight circles above an oil installation.Tiny tubes affixed to the wings siphoned air to a sensitive spectrometer, jammed behind the seats, capable of detecting and measuring methane. Wilczak said it takes about seven seconds for the air to pass through and register a reading on a computer balanced on the lap of the only passenger.Detecting methane emissions is difficult work that often begins with flights like these. Oil and gas sites are not required to install round-the-clock emissions monitors, and flights are one of the ways to spot trouble.In the course of about four hours of flying, we found at least six sites with high methane-emissions readings, ranging from about 300 pounds to almost 1,100 pounds an hour, including at DCP Pegasus, which is part owned by energy giant Phillips 66.Those readings would very likely put those sites in the category of "super emitters," a term used by scientists to describe large-scale releases that are responsible for a disproportionately high share of methane emissions from oil and gas sites. In a 2017 study of the Barnett shale basin in Texas, methane releases of about 60 pounds or more an hour were classified as super emitters, making up just 1% of sites but accounting for nearly half of total emissions.On the ground, the Permian is a landscape of parched cotton fields, bobbing pump jacks and dirt roads that stretch for miles. We drove out to photograph the emissions we had detected from the air with a specialized infrared camera fitted with a lens made not of glass, but metal.At the DCP Pegasus plant, south of Midland, the camera transformed a tranquil scene into a furnace. Hot columns of gas shot into the air. Fumes engulfed structures.The camera sees several types of gases, including methane and ethane, both greenhouse gases, as well as pollutants called volatile organic compounds. Any emissions are likely to contain a mixture of the gases. Doty, who now runs a consultancy, said the emissions appeared to be from vapor combustors, compressors and storage tanks.According to Texas regulatory records, DCP has reported more than 250 unpermitted emissions events this year in the Permian Basin and is among the area's bigger emitters. State rules allow facilities to report irregular emissions without penalties.Sarah Sandberg, a spokeswoman for DCP, which operates several pipelines and almost 50 gas processing plants nationwide, said she had "many questions regarding the accuracy of your assessment and assumptions." She did not respond to repeated follow-ups.Phillips 66 declined to comment.At the EagleClaw Midstream gas processing plant just south of Pecos, we found emissions spewing from the top of a wastewater tank. The plant's manager, Justin Bishop, walked over to look at what we were filming. "We didn't know it was leaking," he said.A worker went to check on the tank, climbing some stairs and walking into the plume.He said the emissions were simply water vapor. "There's no problem," he said. "We aren't reporting it."But Doty, the former Texas emissions regulator, said water vapor would have been visible to the naked eye. "That isn't water," he said. "That's a whole lot of emissions."In a statement, EagleClaw said its workers had discovered that the tank's valve did require maintenance and that the problem had been fixed 30 minutes later."The amount of gas that leaked was determined, by our experts, to be well below any legal reportable limits," Todd Carpenter, the company's chief compliance officer, said in an email. He added that the safety and security of EagleClaw's employees, and of the public, "was of primary concern." The company has not filed an emissions event report this year.As early as March 2017 -- just months after the presidential inauguration -- fossil fuel companies made contact with the Trump administration to argue for a rollback of methane emissions rules.They held repeated meetings with federal officials, including an important one in November 2018, when lobbyists for DCP, EagleClaw and other oil processing companies met with officials from the EPA to discuss a critical topic: unintended or "fugitive" methane emissions.Representatives of the lobby group, GPA Midstream, argued that the EPA should relax monitoring requirements for fugitive emissions at gathering and compressor facilities, according to regulatory records reviewed by The Times. GPA Midstream met with Trump administration officials at least three times on the matter."More frequent monitoring would not be cost-effective," GPA lobbyists later said in comments filed with the agency, and stricter regulation was "costly and burdensome."The efforts were part of a broader industry push to reverse Obama-era rules that would have forced operators to more aggressively monitor and repair natural gas leaks while reducing flaring.Earlier, at a March 2018 meeting, lobbyists for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which represents thousands of oil and gas companies nationwide, circulated material that forcefully rebutted the scientific evidence of large fugitive emissions from drilling sites. The lobbyists said the data "create the illusion" that super emitters pose a problem, according to a handout from the meeting.The petroleum association vice president, Lee O. Fuller, said in an interview that for smaller operators, which often run low-producing wells, the costs of excessive regulations could be crippling. They "could put many out of business," he said.The companies found an administration willing to listen. Before his appointment to the post of assistant administrator at the EPA overseeing air pollution, William L. Wehrum lobbied on behalf of oil and gas producers, including gas processors and petroleum refineries.Wehrum resigned from the agency in June and is under investigation for his contacts with former clients. His former boss, Andrew Wheeler, the EPA administrator, also lobbied for energy companies earlier in his career.By this August, the EPA had proposed a broad rollback, including rescinding direct regulations of methane emissions completely. Volatile organic compounds, a separate but related category of gases, would remain regulated, which would have a side effect of limiting some methane emissions.In a statement, an EPA spokesman, Michael Abboud, said methane was a valuable resource, so the industry already "has an incentive to minimize leaks." He added that EPA staff members work with ethics officials "to ensure they are in compliance with all ethics rules." Wehrum did not respond to a request for comment.Energy giants including BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell have, to varying degrees, publicly supported methane regulation. However, trade associations representing all three, including the American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, have fought against direct regulation.A spokesman for BP said the company wanted to maintain the direct regulation of methane, and an official from Exxon said the company was making voluntary efforts to reduce methane, including infrastructure upgrades. A Chevron spokesman, Sean Comey, said the company "supports global efforts to reduce flaring and methane emissions." Shell said it supported the continued direct regulation of methane and more frequent leak inspections.Some companies are starting to use infrared cameras, drones and other technology to detect methane leaks. BP said recently it would use drones and surveillance cameras to monitor for fugitive emissions at new oil and gas projects. Shell is testing solar-powered technology to watch for leaks.As the boom-and-bust oil business goes through another one of its financial gyrations -- production in the Permian is expected to slow as a glut of gas and rock-bottom prices take their toll -- there are concerns that investments in methane detection won't be a priority, particularly for smaller operators.One site where we identified leakage with the infrared camera was an unmanned well pad with a battery of gray tanks. "There's a lot of volume coming out of there," Doty later said of the images. "If this is going 100% of the time, that's a lot of emissions."The site was owned by MDC Texas Operator, which we discovered had filed for bankruptcy that very day.Calls to the company went unanswered, and its bankruptcy lawyers didn't return requests for comment. It is unknown whether the tank is still spewing gas.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2019 The New York Times Company


California police officer involved in two fatal shootings in one year

Yahoo - Art News - Fri, 12/13/2019 - 15:05

A new report has found that a California police officer was involved in two fatal shootings in just one year, highlighting the deadly results of American police policies that generally allow officers to use deadly force when they deem necessary.In both instances, according to an analysis by the Washington Post, Ceres police officer Ross Bays shot at individuals who had stumbled out of a car and began running away — and experts say that the timing of the shootings should be worrisome, even though both were ultimately ruled justified.


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