university of virginia

Mon, 2012-09-17 16:56Brendan DeMelle
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Virginia Judge Tosses Frivolous American Tradition Institute Lawsuit

A Virginia judge issued an order today putting an end to the American Tradition Institute (ATI) frivilous lawsuit that sought to compel the University of Virginia (UVA) to release the private emails of climate scientist Michael Mann.

Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, posted the news on his Facebook page earlier today:

Breaking: A victory for science! ATI loses ATI/UVa FOIA case. Judge issues final order. Affirms the university’s right to withhold scholarly communications and finds that the documents & personal emails of mine demanded by ATI were indeed protected as the university had contended.

I am gratified for the hard work and vigorous defense provided by the university to protect scholarly communications and raw materials of scholarship. Fortunately Virginia has a strong exemption in the public records act that protects research and scholarly endeavors. The judge ruled that the exemption under Virginia’s public records protecting information in furtherance of research on scientific and scholarly issues applies to faculty communications in furtherance of their work.

This finding is a potentially important precedent, as ATI and other industry-backed front groups continue to press their attacks on climate scientists through the abuse of public records and FOIA laws and the issuing of frivolous and vexatious demands for internal scholarly deliberations and personal correspondences.


The ATI litigation effort was led by Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Christopher Horner, well-known to DeSmog readers for his anti-science activism.

Tue, 2012-05-08 16:06Steve Horn
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The Guardian Exposes Fossil Funded Groups Coordinating Renewable Energy Attacks

Ever wonder why a blooming green energy industry has faced such harsh opposition? Now, as the old adage goes, “the cat's out of the bag.”

The Guardian today revealed the network of fossil-funded groups coordinating the ongoing onslaught of attacks on renewable energy, particularly wind power. A memorandum passed to The Guardian from the Checks and Balances Project details the organizations and personnel acting as ringleaders to build an astroturf echo chamber of clean energy critics.

Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg writes in “Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy strategy,” 


“A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.”

A confidential memo seen by The Guardian and obtained by DeSmogBlog “advises using 'subversion' to build a national movement of wind farm protesters,” explained Goldenberg.

That memo was crafted by John Droz, a Senior Fellow at the American Tradition Institute (ATI).*(see update below)* ATI was the right-wing think-tank behind the lawsuit to obtain University of Virginia climatologist Michael Mann's “ClimateGate” emails. 

Tue, 2011-05-31 07:06Chris Mooney
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The UVA Emails and Confirmation Bias: Seek and Ye Shall Find

You have to hand it to the American Tradition Institute. Unlike Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, they’ve found a way to get the University of Virginia to release at least some emails and other documents from climate researcher Michael Mann’s time working there–by using freedom of information requests for “public” documents. (News here, scathing Washington Post editorial here.)

The University of Virginia is complying, although its president says they will take advantage of every exemption allowed by the law. Still, though, it sounds as though a lot of documents are going to be released. So what will happen next?

For an answer, we can look to an important new book, Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies, How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. In it, Shermer discusses the phenomenon of confirmation bias, invoking the biblical line “seek and ye shall find” to describe this pervasive cognitive flaw. 

The American Tradition Institute–and indeed, conservative climate skeptics across the board–have gone seeking scandal among the ranks of climate scientists. That’s what Ken Cuccinelli did. That’s what happened in “ClimateGate.” That has been the strategy for some time.

So does anyone think that that, whatever these documents say, they are not going to be treated as a scandal by those who went searching for them?

Tue, 2011-01-11 10:37Richard Littlemore
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"CIA Vet" Kent Clizbe Stalking Hockey Stick-Author Mike Mann

Spook’s antics would be creepy if they were competent

A self-proclaimed counter-terrorism expert and former CIA case worker is soliciting for “whistleblowers” who will make allegations of impropriety against Dr. Michael Mann, director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center and author of the apparently bulletproof Hockey Stick climate reconstruction.

Kent Clizbe has been sending letters, annually, to Mann’s colleagues promising them a big payout if they can offer any evidence that Mann has been misusing his federal research funds. In the first such letter that Clizbe sent, more than a year ago, he reported that the U.S. False Claims Act stipulates that whistleblowers can claim up to 30% of any recovered money and that Mann has received $50 million. Clizbe adds: “30% of $50 million is more than $12 million.”

In this single sentence, Clizbe reveals all you need to know about the man: he doesn’t care about the accuracy of his facts; and he can’t wrangle a calculator effectively enough to establish that 30% of 50 is 15. (Neither do his math skills improve over time, in this year’s version, he writes: “Up to 30% of $50 million (the total Dr Mann claims to have received for climate research) could net a whistleblower more than $10 million.”)

Thu, 2010-10-21 14:40Brendan DeMelle
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UVA Defends Against Ken Cuccinelli Attacks On Climate Science and Academic Freedom

The University of Virginia has filed two new responses in its ongoing court battle fending off Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s politically-motivated witch hunt against climate scientist Michael Mann.  UVA correctly alerts the court that crazy Cuccinelli’s ‘investigation’ is “an unprecedented and improper governmental intrusion into ongoing scientific research” [PDF of filing].

Cuccinelli’s relentless campaign to waste Virginia taxpayer money attacking Mann continues, despite a total lack of evidence of any wrongdoing on UVA’s or Mann’s part. Instead the row hinges entirely on Cuccinelli’s zeal to pollute public discourse with his own climate denial, clogging the courts with a thinly veiled attack on academic freedom that the Washington Post labeled “a pernicious fishing expedition.”  

UVA argues that Cuccinelli’s latest demand for documents related to Mann’s research repeats the exact same arguments that Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross rejected in August.  Cuccinelli merely recycled his previous non-starter of a complaint in an ongoing effort to woo the Tea Party and stoke the fire for his ambitions to run for higher office.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSexamined Cuccinelli’s original arguments and confirms they have been recycled again to further harass Mann and his colleagues.

“Scientists are proud of UVA for standing up to this relentless rubbish,” said Francesca Grifo, director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity Program. “This investigation has never been about fraud or the facts. Cuccinelli is abusing his power to fight a public relations war against scientific findings.”

Mon, 2010-10-04 19:26Brendan DeMelle
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Cuccinelli Revives Witch Hunt Against Michael Mann and Climate Science

 

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has revived his witch hunt against prominent climate scientist Michael Mann, recycling pieces of his earlier botched subpoena into a new Civil Investigative Demand aimed at Mann and the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli’s previous witch hunt was blocked by Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross, who ruled that Cuccinelli lacked “an objective basis” for his subpoena, which The Washington Post editors noted “put a damper on a pernicious fishing expedition.”

But Cuccinelli has re-strung the same stale Climategate bait on his fishing pole, “extending his assault on academic freedom” as expected. Oh, and he’s going to appeal Judge Peatross’s ruling, in a remarkable display of hubris that is sure to embarrass Virginia yet again.

In his latest political attack on climate science, Cuccinelli demands seven years’ worth of Dr. Mann’s emails, documents and just about every other shred of paper and bytes related to one state grant Mann received during his tenure at UVA. Cuccinelli wants to see every email Mann exchanged with a list of 39 other scientists, as well as Mann’s communications with his secretaries and research associates, related to the state grant. Cuccinelli only stripped his inappropriate request for documents related to federal grants after Judge Peatross smacked down that trolling effort, although he vows to appeal to re-open that garbage can.

Wed, 2010-09-01 11:53Brendan DeMelle
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Washington Post Editorial Slams Ken Cuccinelli "Embarrassing" Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientist

The Washington Post penned an excellent editorial yesterday deriding Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s political attack against climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, a former UVA professor whom Cuccinelli has targeted in a witch hunt.  

The Post editorial notes that “the overblown critique of climate science that emerged early this year continues to underwhelm,” citing several examples of the recent rash of politically-motivated attacks on climate science, including the much-ado-about-nothing ‘Climategate’ episode last winter, the repeated attacks against the integrity of the U.N. IPCC, and of course Mr. Cuccinelli’s witch hunt against UVA and Mike Mann. 

This week’s ruling by Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross confirming that Cuccinelli lacked “an objective basis” for his witch hunt “put a damper on a pernicious fishing expedition,” the Post says.

But that hasn’t checked “Mr. Cuccinelli’s zeal,” since he immediately announced plans to re-rig his fishing pole and try again to smear Dr. Mann, “thereby extending his assault on academic freedom,” says the Post.

The editorial closes with sharp criticism for Cuccinelli’s attempt to “embarrass Virginia”:

“We hope he rethinks his course. At this point all he can do is waste more taxpayer money, force the university to waste more of its money and embarrass Virginia in a way that can only harm its higher education system.” 

Check out the full editorial, 
A judge puts a damper on Mr. Cuccinelli’s U-Va. witch hunt.” 

Thu, 2010-08-19 17:26Brendan DeMelle
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UVA Students, Faculty and Alumni To Protest Ken Cuccinelli Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientist On Friday

University of Virginia faculty, students and alumni will gather Friday afternoon to protest against Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s witch hunt against former UVA Professor and leading climate scientist Michael Mann.  The protest is timed to coincide with the ruling of a Virginia Circuit Court judge who is set to rule on whether to allow Cuccinelli’s frivolous investigation to continue. 

Cuccinelli’s political attack on climate science has two ongoing fronts right now, one targeting climate scientist Michael Mann, and another involving a lawsuit filed by Cuccinelli against the EPA attempting to block the agency’s efforts to regulate carbon dioxide pollution. 

Charlottesville, Virginia ABC affiliate WHSV reports:

Students, faculty members and alumni of the University of Virginia will gather to protest Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s investigation of UVA and former UVA Professor Michael Mann Friday at 1 p.m. on the north (street) side of the University’s Rotunda at 1826 University Ave.

Fri, 2010-05-14 14:58Brendan DeMelle
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Nature Pens Scathing Editorial On Virginia A.G. Cuccinelli Witch Hunt of Michael Mann

In a scathing rebuke of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s witch hunt relating to the work of climatologist Michael Mann, the highly-regarded journal Nature this week published an editorial called “Science subpoenaed” that condemns the latest political attack on a climate scientist and calls into serious question Cuccinelli’s motives.

AG Cuccinelli, a former Republican state Senator, earlier this month launched a ridiculously over-the-top inquiry demanding that the University of Virginia turn over a massive number of documents and personal communications related to Professor Mann’s work and government contracts.  Cuccinelli demands to see eleven years’ worth of Mann’s emails and other correspondence with climate scientists, and all available documents, computer code and data relating to Mann’s research on five different state and federal grants.

Echoing The Washington Post, which published a similar editorial lambasting Cuccinelli’s “witch hunt” of Professor Mann, the Nature editorial similarly slammed the AG.

Sat, 2006-12-02 23:25Kevin Grandia
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Dear University of Virginia: fire Pat Michaels!

In Laurie David's great new quick read book, The Solution is you! , she pens a letter to the University of Virginia regarding Pat “the coalman” Michaels:

To: University of Virginia, Department of Environmental Sciences

Numerous media outlets reported that one of your professors, Dr. Patrick Michaels , has accepted upwards of $150,000 from coal interests and coal-burning electric utility companies for his advocacy against the overwhelming consenus on global warming.

Is this solicitation of funds from industries that pollute the atmosphere with greenhouse gases in line with the university's mission?

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