Tag Archives: TMT

The end of the Thirty Meter Telescope?

The arriving dark age: It appears that the protests in Hawaii that are preventing the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope might end up killing the telescope completely.

The problem is twofold. First, the Democratic-controlled government in Hawaii is willing to let the protesters run the show, essentially allowing a mob to defy the legal rulings of the courts:

The Native Hawaiian protesters blocking the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of Mauna Kea appear to have settled in for the long haul. After 2 months of protests, their encampment on the Mauna Kea access road has shops, a cafeteria, and meeting spaces. “It’s like a small village,” says Sarah Bosman, an astronomer from University College London who visited in July. “There are signs up all over the island. It was a bit overwhelming really.”

Second, there is opposition to the alternate backup site in the Grand Canary Islands, both from local environmental groups and from within the consortium that is financing the telescope’s construction.

Astronomers say that the 2250-meter-high site, about half as high as Mauna Kea, is inferior for observations. Canada, one of six TMT partners—which also include Japan, China, India, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California—is especially reluctant to make the move and could withdraw from the $1.4 billion project, which can ill afford to lose funding. Finally, an environmental group on La Palma called Ben Magec is determined to fight the TMT in court and has succeeded in delaying its building permit. It says the conservation area that the TMT wants to build on contains archaeological artifacts. “They’re willing to fight tooth and nail to stop TMT,” says Thayne Currie, an astronomer at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

We now live in a culture that is opposed to new knowledge. It is also a culture that prefers mob rule, giving power to the loudest and possibly most violent protesters, while treating the law as a mere inconvenience to be abandoned at the slightest whim of those mobs.

If this doesn’t define a dark age, I’m not sure what does.

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Protesters allow research to resume, within limits, at other Mauna Kea telescopes

How special of them! The protesters blocking construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) have now agreed to allow limited access to Mauna Kea for the researchers and technicians for the other telescopes there.

The Maunakea Access Road remains blockaded. However, activists agreed, after the Emergency Proclamation was withdrawn, to allow all existing observatory employees, including astronomers, to access Maunakea using the Old Saddle Road and a section of unpaved lava. This route is unimproved and lined with tents, cars and people. However, pursuant to this agreement, on Wednesday, August 7, 2019 the state laid cinder and cones in an attempt to address safety concerns. The people blocking the road also agreed to allow larger vehicles to access Maunakea by going around the tent blockade. This means the vehicles will travel on the road’s shoulder.

The current process of gaining access to Maunakea requires the observatories to provide pre-arranged notification of all vehicles seeking access. To accomplish this, the people blocking the road will be provided a list of which vehicles are going up and when. This requires the observatories to contact the Office of Maunakea Management, which then contacts law enforcement, who then provides the list to the activists. The observatories are also aware that activists have been keeping a log of who goes up and down. [emphasis mine]

Essentially the protesters now run Mauna Kea, and have the right to ban anyone they don’t like from going there. This is essentially mob rule, since the law does not give them that right, and in fact has always given access rights to everyone.

The highlighted words indicate the possibility of increased risk by this mob rule. I’ve been on that road. It is gravel but well-graded. Its shoulders are not gigantic, however, and often border steep slopes and cliffs.

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TMT consortium applies for Canary Islands building permit

The coming dark age: The consortium that wants to build the Thirty Meter Telescope has applied for a building permit to build the telescope in the Canary Islands, Spain, thus preparing to abandon their years-long effort to put the telescope in Hawaii.

Thirty Meter Telescope Executive Director Ed Stone said in a statement Monday that the group still wants to break ground on Mauna Kea, but they need to have a backup plan. “We continue to follow the process to allow for TMT to be constructed at the ‘plan B’ site in (Spain) should it not be possible to build in Hawaii,” Stone said. “Mauna Kea remains the preferred site.”

But Native Hawaiian activists say they will not budge until the project moves elsewhere. Protest leaders, who say they are not against science or astronomy, told The Associated Press that the Spain permit is a positive development, but it’s not enough for them to end their blockade of Mauna Kea’s access road, where more than 2,000 people have gathered at times. “There’s lots of good science to be done from the Canary Islands,” said Kealoha Pisciotta, who has helped organize the protest on Mauna Kea. It would “be a win for everyone.” [emphasis mine]

Do not expect the protests to end when TMT officially abandons Mauna Kea. I fully expect the protesters to increase their demands, calling for the closing of more telescopes on the mountain.

It appears that the United States is no longer ruled by law. The TMT consortium spent years following the law, negotiating deals with everyone, including local native Hawaiian religious groups, and finally obtained their permits, twice. This wasn’t good enough for the protesters and their leaders, who wish to rule by fiat and mob power. Those protesters have likely won, mostly because the Democratic Party that runs Hawaii is on their side.

It also appears that the United States is becoming a nation that no longer gives priority to obtaining new knowledge about the universe. If TMT moves to Spain, its loss will be somewhat equivalent to the Catholic Church’s attack on Galileo in Italy. That action in the 1600s essentially killed the Italian Renaissance, with the growth of the scientific method and new knowledge shifting to Great Britain and France, the wealth and prosperity that new knowledge brought going with that shift.

Posted from the airport on the way to Denver.

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TMT protests continue, block all astronomy research to Mauna Kea

The Hawaiian government continues to allow protesters against the Thirty Meter Telescope to block all access to Mauna Kea, thus also blocking researchers and maintenance crews from working on the thirteen operating telescopes already there.

Protests against construction of a giant telescope have halted work at existing observatories on the Big Island, a report said. Workers at other facilities on the dormant Mauna Kea volcano have been denied access by demonstrators opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope, Hawaii News Now reported Sunday.

The Mauna Kea Observatories house 13 telescopes that have led to astronomical breakthroughs for more than 40 years, including the first photo of a black hole and the discovery of the first interstellar object in space.

“All we’re looking to do is to go up the road and resume what we’ve been doing for 50 years,” said scientist Doug Simons from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. The two-week closure of the access road leading to the summit has resulted in the potential loss of a year’s worth of discoveries, said Simons.

The demonstrations have also affected the scientists’ interactions with family and community members. “They have these great bonds within their family and their friends, and now there’s a big rift there,” said Jessica Dempsey from the East Asian Observatory and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. [emphasis mine]

If my memory is correct, previous protests did not block access to the other telescopes. That they are now doing it suggests that the protesters feel empowered and are now going for their real goal, a complete shutdown of all astronomy on Mauna Kea. The highlighted text implies this. Native workers for the other telescopes appear have suddenly discovered that these protesters want to also destroy their jobs.

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Hawaii’s governor expresses support for TMT protesters

In the ongoing protests that have blocked construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) as well as shutdown all thirteen other telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Democrat governor David Ige visited with the protesters yesterday, expressing sympathy for their positions.

Ige indicated last week that he was willing to talk to protesters. But his visit and statement Tuesday were the first public steps he’s taken toward that end. “We will be working together to determine next steps that are in the best interests of all the people of Hawaii,” Ige said in his statement.

In a nod to activist preferences, his statement referred to them as “protectors” of Mauna Kea instead of protesters.

Protest leader Kealoha Pisciotta said officials must consider not building the telescope on Mauna Kea. She said she met previously with the mayor and governor without making any progress. “We’ve done all of that. But it’s window dressing trying to get our buy-in,” Pisciotta said. “We really need people to honestly consider our positions this time.”

TMT will not be built on Mauna Kea. Bet on it. Ige always favored the protesters. Following standard Democratic Party strategy, he made believe he would enforce the law, but set things up so that the protests would have a chance to swell and block construction. He is now using this situation as a ploy to give the protesters what they want, while making believe he has no choice.

Moreover, Ige’s actions likely mean that the other thirteen telescopes are in serious danger as well. It is very likely that this power grab will allow the protesters, a small minority in Hawaii that does not have the support of the majority of the population, to force their shut down.

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Protests continue at Mauna Kea

Even as the number of protesters dropped (due to the demand that alcohol-drinking and pot-smoking cease), the protests against construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) continue, aided by emotional support given by Hawaii’s lieutenant governor during a visit to the protest site.

Last week, law enforcement officials saw some protesters — who call themselves “protectors” — drinking beer and they could also smell marijuana, Dennison said. Other protesters said they would patrol the area and ask the beer drinkers and marijuana smokers to leave, Dennison said.

Law enforcement officers no longer report beer drinking or the odor of marijuana, he said.

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green visited Mauna Kea this morning to offer his ear, advice and services as a doctor to people on the mountain blocking construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Green, who is from Hawaii island, also said Gov. David Ige should meet with the kupuna, or Hawaiian elders, serving as decision-makers in the group, and he apologized for some of the things said earlier that have offended demonstrators. “I am here to listen,” he told a group kupuna under a canopy during a misty morning. “And I want to say I’m sorry for some of the things that have been said in the past days and weeks.” [emphasis mine]

I have been saying for two years that Governor David Ige and his Democratic Party government in Hawaii will do nothing to stop the protests. They want to play it both ways. They mouth support for the telescope in an effort to satisfy the majority of the population (which wants it built), while doing everything they can to make sure the protests succeed in stopping construction.

This is exactly what is happening now. As long as the Democratic Party controls the government in Hawaii, TMT will never be built there.

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Protesters continue to block telescope construction in Hawaii

The number of protesters daily blocking access to Mauna Kea in Hawaii and thus prevent the start of construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) grew to more than 2,000 yesterday.

The police arrested 33 people, but did nothing else to clear the road. Meanwhile, Democratic governor David Ige finally took some action, albeit mild.

After a day of growing crowds and arrests of elderly demonstrators, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation giving law enforcement more options to end the blockade. The state hadn’t decided whether to remove protesters from the mountain, but the proclamation makes that an option, Ige said. “We are certainly committed to ensuring the project has access to the construction site,” Ige said. “We’ve been patient in trying to allow the protesters to express their feelings about the project.”

If Ige had moved firmly at the beginning of the week, the situation would likely not have escalated, as it has. Removing the protesters now will be far more difficult.

As is usual for modern reporting, the article spends most of its time promoting the perspective of the protesters. However, it does get one quote from a native Hawaiian who supports the telescope’s construction, and that quote reveals how little this protest has to do with religion:

Some Native Hawaiians say they don’t believe the project will desecrate Mauna Kea. Most of the cultural practices on the mountain take place away from the summit, said Annette Reyes, a Native Hawaiian from the Big Island. “It’s going to be out of sight, out of mind,” she said.

During the legal battle the court took testimony from many native Hawaiians who confirmed this position. Moreover, the public negotiations that produced the agreement to build the telescope (while removing five other telescopes on the mountaintop) included the most important religious leaders among the native population.

This is a power game being played here by the protest leaders. They are vying for power and influence both within their community as well as across Hawaii. Moreover, they want a level of power that will make them immune from any legal or democratic process. If they win they will have obtained the dictatorial right to unilaterally rule, on any issue.

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Protesters continue to block construction of TMT

For the second day in a row protesters have blocked construction vehicles from accessing Mauna Kea to begin construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

As I expected, the Hawaiian government (entirely Democratically controlled) is reluctant to enforce the law against these protesters. David Ige, the governor, is trying to have it both ways. He mouths support for the law and the telescope, which has the support of the public, but then lets the protesters control the situation and block construction.

Unless something changes, which I doubt, do not expect TMT to ever be built in Hawaii.

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500 protesters block access road on Mauna Kea

About 500 protesters this morning blocked the access road on Mauna Kea that construction vehicles were going to use to begin construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

More than 500 protestors blocked Mauna Kea Access Road and chanted at the sun rose this morning, including seven who chained themselves to a cattle guard near the base of the road.

A convoy of state Department of Transportation vehicles carrying traffic control signage passed the intersection but made no effort to turn onto the access road.

More than a dozen elders with the protest movement sat on folding chairs and were joined by two protestors in wheelchairs at the bottom to the road as the crowd chanted and sang.

Police made no effort to disturb the protest. Gov. David Ige announced last week that the access road would be closed at 7 a.m. today to clear the way for heavy equipment for the controversial $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope.

Based on this report it sounds like the protesters have successfully prevented construction from beginning.

Several points: First, these protesters are breaking the law.

Second, these protesters had their day in court, and lost. In a civilized society, you accept such decisions. No civilization can function if some people think they will always get their way, even if the law and the majority rule against them.

Third, at this moment it appears that David Ige, the Democratic governor, is doing exactly what I expected. He is mouthing platitudes about supporting the law and the construction, while allowing the protesters to block it. Unless he takes action in the next day or so to remove the protesters and clear the road, the protests will grow and become unmanageable. At that point Ige will say that construction must be stopped to avoid bloodshed, and to honor the wishes of what must be a large percentage of the population.

That last part however is a lie. Polls have all indicated that the public wants TMT. And the law is on the public’s side here. It is Ige’s job to support both, not a small minority of unruly spoiled agitators.

Being a modern Democrat however, I expect Ige to favor the lawbreakers.

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TMT construction begins July 15

According to a press announcement today from the governor’s office in Hawaii, construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope will finally begin during the week of July 15 following several years of delays due to protests.

The State Department of Transportation announced that Mauna Kea Access Road will be closed and there could be lane and other road closures associated with large equipment movement beginning July 15. In addition, hunting units A, K, and G in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve area will be temporarily closed to hunting effective July 15. Both measures are being taken to ensure the safety and security of the public and personnel involved in moving equipment for the TMT project up the Mauna Kea Access Road.

Expect more protests. The real question is whether the Democratic governor David Ige can stand up to them, especially because these protesters have been using the kind of identity politics that the Democratic Party relies on. Ige would have to defy that, and I haven’t seen a Democrat do that in decades.

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Hawaii fully okays construction of TMT, removes protest structures

The Hawaiian state government today finally gave the go-ahead for the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), sending close to 100 police officers to the mountain to remove four structures built by protesters to block construction.

[Democratic government David] Ige said he believes the state now has sufficient legal basis for construction to go more smoothly than it did following the telescope’s 2014 groundbreaking. After significant protests in 2014 and 2015, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that a 2011 permit from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources was invalid after finding the Land Board violated due process rights of project opponents by voting before the first contested case was held.

However, the Supreme Court approved an amended permit late last year, allowing the project to seek a notice to proceed. The conditions of the amended permit state that the TMT will be the last telescope to be built on Maunakea and that five other telescopes at the summit will be decommissioned and removed.

Despite Ige’s confidence in the process, opponents are preparing for further protests. Kanuha said he intends to “try and stop it the same way we did the first time.”

“This is about more than the mountain, this is about how we treat land and natural resources in Hawaii,” Kanuha said. “If we allow this to happen, we can kiss goodbye all we hold precious in Hawaii. It’s just a matter of time.”

Another protester, Lakea Trask, warned of an inevitable conflict. “The state is declaring war on Hawaiians,” said Trask, who was arrested and charged with trespassing during the 2015 protests. “The state is now using TMT to declare war, an all-out war on Hawaiians.”

First, this is the second time the state has approved this project, which followed the law both the first time and now. Second, the protests that stopped construction in 2014 and 2015 were not “significant” but were led by a very small number of people. Third, those same protesters, as quoted above, probably intend to repeat their actions once construction resumes this summer. If so, expect violence. These people know they will not be seriously punished for breaking the law, and will take advantage of this.

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Hawaii Supreme Court rules in favor of TMT

Hawaii’s Supreme Court today upheld by a 4-1 vote the construction permits of the consortium building the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea.

In its own press release, the TMT consortium said that it “will move forward with fulfilling the numerous conditions and requirements of [the state’s permit] prior to the start of any construction.”

The comments by one of the the telescope’s opponents at the first link are revealing.

Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the main leaders against the telescope, said she’s doesn’t know what their next steps will be, but she’s not hopeful that more legal wrangling will help. “The court is the last bastion in democracy,” she said. “The only other option is to take to the streets. If we lose the integrity of the court, then you’re losing normal law and order, and the only other option is people have to rise up.” [emphasis mine]

Let me translate: We didn’t get our way, so we’re now going to throw another tantrum! Expect more protests and attempts to block construction. Expect the Hawaiian government, dominated almost entirely by Democrats, to fold to those protests. Expect more delays. For example, do you really think the permit process was really done?

State Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case said the next steps involve telescope builders submitting construction plans. The department will review the plans before issuing permission to proceed.

This was all done almost a decade earlier, and was exactly what the Supreme Court ruled on. To bring it up now suggests the state government is still quietly looking for loopholes to stop the construction, even though the public supports construction and the protesters are a decided minority.

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Hawaii’s Supreme Court to review TMT’s permit, again

Hawaii’s Supreme Court is set to review, for the second time, the construction permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Much of the arguments centered around whether it was a conflict of interest for a hearings officer who made a key recommendation in favor of the project to be a member of a Hawaii astronomy center. The state allowed retired judge Riki May Amano to preside over contested-case hearings for the contentious project despite complaints from telescope opponents who decried her paid membership to the Imiloa Astronomy Center.

The Big Island center is connected to the University of Hawaii, which is the permit applicant.

Opponents appealed to the Supreme Court after Amano recommended granting the permit and the state land board approved it. “She should have never presided over the case,” Richard Wurdeman, an attorney representing telescope opponents, told the justices. He noted the center included exhibits about the project planned for the Big Island’s Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain.

The details don’t really matter. Nor will the decision. The protesters will simply find another petty issue if they lose, and will appeal again. Their goal, apparently supported covertly by Hawaii’s Democratic government, is to delay, delay, and delay, until the consortium building TMT is forced to abandon Hawaii.

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Two giant U.S. telescope projects team up

The two consortiums building the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) have teamed up in order to coordinate their research as well as encourage increased government funding for both.

The partnership, approved by the GMT board this month and by the TMT board last month, commits the two projects to developing a joint plan that would allow astronomers from any institution to use the telescopes; under previous plans observing time was available only to researchers from nations or institutions that had provided funding. The projects are discussing awarding at least 25% of each telescope’s time to nonpartners through a competitive process to be administered by the National Center for Optical-Infrared Astronomy—an umbrella organization that will replace the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), based in Tucson, Arizona, sometime in fiscal year 2019. Telescope backers hope the public access plan will help persuade the federal government to pay for at least 25% of the total cost of the two facilities, which could total $1 billion. (Cost estimates for the GMT and the TMT are $1 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively, but astronomers expect both numbers to grow.) “There are many science projects that are $1 billion class projects,” says David Silva, NOAO’s director. “The investment that we would want is of a similar size.”

…In making their case, the teams will argue the benefits of having telescopes in both the northern and southern hemispheres. “When you are covering the whole sky, you have greater scientific reach,” says Wendy Freedman, an astronomer at The University of Chicago in Illinois who was the founding leader of the GMT. The teams will also argue that the telescopes have complementary strengths. The design of the GMT, for instance, makes it ideal for a high-resolution spectrograph designed to probe the atmospheres of exoplanets. The TMT, which has more light-gathering power, could host a multiobject spectrograph to quickly gather demographic statistics on the universe’s first galaxies. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted sentences explain everything. First, government funding for both projects has been weak, partly because the National Science Foundation (the funding agency) has not been able to make up it mind which of these two U.S. projects to back. By teaming up as one project building two telescopes, the builders hope they will grease the wheels of the federal funding machine.

Second, by selling these two telescopes as covering both the north and south hemispheres, they indicate that the TMT is now almost certainly going to abandon its Hawaii location and move to the Canary Islands. GMT will be built at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, located at 29 degrees south latitude. By placing TMT in the northern hemisphere at 29 degrees north latitude in the Canary Islands, rather than Mauna Kea’s 19 degrees north latitude, they better compliment GMT in the southern hemisphere.

In other words, this partnership strengthens the case for TMT to abandon Hawaii. Not only will construction begin sooner (as the Hawaiian government has shown no interest in approving the project), the higher latitude as part of this partnership better justifies funding.

And the odds of getting that funding have apparently increased, as the chair of the House appropriations panel that funds the National Science Foundation has just shown himself to be very willing to give telescope projects a lot of money, more in fact than they even request.

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More delays threaten the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii

The coming dark age: The delaying tactics of the opponents to building the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii has caused the consortium to announce that it now seriously considering moving the telescope to Spain’s Canary Islands.

These have been the most recent delaying tactics:

On Thursday, the Hawaii Senate approved a bill to ban new construction atop Mauna Kea, and included a series of audits and other requirements before the ban could be lifted. But House leaders said they don’t have plans to advance the bill. Democratic House Speaker Scott Saiki told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the “bill is dead on arrival in the House.”

There are also two appeals before the Hawaii Supreme Court. One challenges the sublease and land use permit issued by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources. The other has been brought by a Native Hawaiian man who says use of the land interferes with his right to exercise cultural practices and is thus entitled to a case hearing.

When the telescope gets moved, expect these barbarians in Hawaii to celebrate loudly, claiming their victory as a victory for “native rights.” What they will really be telling us is two things. First, they are against gaining new knowledge and new technology in a manner that does no one any harm. And two, they put racial rights above all, making them the worst sort of bigots.

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Canada’s Supreme Court rules against tribe in development dispute

In a case that appears similar to the dispute in Hawaii over the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope, Canada’s Supreme Court this week ruled against a local tribe in its more than quarter century battle to block the construction of a nearby ski resort.

The Ktunaxa Nation had opposed a resort on Crown land near their community in southeastern British Columbia, arguing that it would affect a grizzly-bear habitat and drive away the Grizzly Bear Spirit essential to their faith.

But, in a line that stunned some academic observers, seven judges of nine said that they looked on the religious-freedom claim under Section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights no differently than if it were made by non-Indigenous. They said the Ktunaxa claim fell entirely outside of the Canadian notion of freedom of religion, as established in previous Charter cases, which protects only the right to hold and manifest beliefs.

“In short, the Charter protects the freedom to worship, but does not protect the spiritual focal point of worship,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Malcolm Rowe wrote for the seven judges. The court also affirmed that, while developers and government need to consult with Indigenous peoples and accommodate their concerns, the First Nations possess no veto power over development.

What I find interesting about this story is that the developer first proposed this ski resort in 1991, and has spent 26 years consulting and then fighting with the local tribes. Talk about stick-to-it-ness! Moreover, the insincerity and delaying tactics of one tribe are revealed by this quote:

It was only in 2009, the Supreme Court said, as the proposal appeared on the verge of approval, that the Ktunaxa first mentioned the Grizzly Bear Spirit and said that no accommodation was possible.

It is important to note that the land in question is privately owned by the resort, and that the tribe essentially wanted a full veto over the rights of that private owner to use their land as they wished. The Supreme Court ruled that the tribe does not have that right. Had it agreed to this demand, the court would have essentially given the tribe the power to rule over everyone else in Canada, on almost any issue the tribe wished. All they would have had to do is to come up with some religious excuse (as it appears they did here).

Hat tip Peter Arzenshek.

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TMT opponents file appeal to Hawaiian supreme court

The opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) have filed an appeal to the Hawaiian supreme court of the telescope’s permit approval.

The strategy is delay, delay, delay, so that the consortium building TMT will be forced to abandon Hawaii. And with the help of the Hawaiian government, run by Democrats, it appears this strategy will work.

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Hawaii’s land board votes 5-2 in favor of TMT

After lengthy hearings, Hawaii’s land board has voted 5 to 2 to approve the construction permit for building the Thirty Meter Telescope on top of Mauna Kea.

The board placed 43 conditions on the permit, including a previously negotiated plan requiring the University of Hawaii to decommission three existing telescopes atop Mauna Kea, where the TMT is to be built, and barring any future telescopes on the mountain. In a statement, Suzanne Case, chair of the board, said: “This was one of the most difficult decisions this Board has ever made. The members greatly respected and considered the concerns raised by those opposed to the construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.”

TMT opponents tell ScienceInsider that they will appeal the decision. Kealoha Pisciotta, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner and a plaintiff in the case against the TMT permit, said she believed the board had rubber-stamped the permit, and the decision seemed like a foregone conclusion. “They did not deliberate. They did not properly consider or take into account the evidence,” she said. [emphasis mine]

They did not deliberate? The decision was announced with a 345 page document [pdf] outlining the long history of this permit process, including a detailed description of the previous process that had given its approval before protests required a second hearing followed by the numerous and endless testimony since.

This “Hawaiian cultural practitioner” (or what I call a typical race hustler) is either lying or willfully ignorant, and actually could be a poster-boy for modern intellectualism, which always puts race and ethnicity above facts and reasoned debate. And if you don’t believe me, read the pdf at the link above. Search for Pisciotta’s name and read her testimony. It reeks of ignorance and dishonesty, all colored by a racist love of her native race and a hatred of all others.

I still do not expect TMT to be built in Hawaii. The race hustlers rule the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party rules Hawaii. They will allow the stalling to continue until the consortium building TMT will be forced to go elsewhere.

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More hearings stalling TMT

Stall, stall: After spending 44 days of hearings before a retired judge, Hawaii is now forcing the consortium that wants to build the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea to undergo further hearings before the local land board.

Wednesday’s hearing in a Hilo hotel comes after the retired judge overseeing contested-case hearings for the Thirty Meter Telescope recommended granting the project a construction permit. Riki May Amano issued her recommendation in July after hearing testimony that spanned 44 days. Opponents and supporters are echoing much of the arguments made during those oftentimes emotional days of testimony.

This short article, which really says little, ends by noting that “it’s not clear when the board will make a decision.”

Well, it is clear to me that the authorities in Hawaii, run exclusively by today’s racially-focused Democratic Party, is stalling as much as they can in order to force TMT to go elsewhere. They know it will not be a popular decision to block the telescope, but they also don’t want it because the hustlers of race on the island are against it. And to the Democratic Party today, the only thing that matters is to appease these race hustlers. So, they stall, figuring they can get rid of the telescope that way without ever having to block it outright.

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Judge okays TMT permit

In a 305-page decision, an Hawaiian judge has approved a new construction permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea.

This does not mean that the project now proceeds.

This isn’t the final say on whether the embattled project will proceed.

Now that Amano has issued her 305-page proposed decision and order, the state land board will set a deadline for telescope opponents and permit applicants to file arguments against her recommendations. The board will later hold a hearing and then make the final decision on the project’s conservation district use permit.

Not surprisingly, the Democratic governor of Hawaii issued a short, non-committal statement, stating that he supports “the co-existence of astronomy and culture on Mauna Kea,” whatever that means.

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If TMT moves from Hawaii Canada might exit partnership

The possibility that the Thirty Meter Telescope might be forced to move from Hawaii to the Canary Islands because of political opposition in Hawaii has Canadian scientists considering leaving the partnership.

The mega-telescope is “a critical component of the Canadian astronomical landscape,” says Michael Balogh, an astronomer at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. The country — one of six major international partners — has committed CAN$243 million (US$180 million) to the project. “If we have to move, it’s effectively a de-scope in the project,” says Balogh.

The back-up site, Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma, the Canary Islands, is lower in elevation than Mauna Kea, and its skies are more turbulent than those above the Hawaii mountain. That means that observing conditions are not quite as good; in particular, the extra atmosphere above La Palma interferes with much of the observing in mid-infrared wavelengths of light, the sweet spot for looking at exoplanet atmospheres.

If Canada leaves, there is a chance that the entire TMT partnership might fall apart.

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Construction begins on the European Extremely Large Telescope

On Friday the European Southern Observatory broke ground in Chile on the construction of the European Extemely Large Telescope (E-ELT), which when finished in 2024 will be the largest ground-based telescope in the world.

The mirror will be 39 meters across.

Meanwhile, construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope remains stalled. It was originally supposed to be operating before E-ELT, but that is becoming increasingly doubtful. Its builders can’t get Hawaii to approve a building permit, and they haven’t yet been willing to admit that they will never get permission to build there.

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New poll says most Hawaiians favor TMT

It won’t matter: A new poll suggests that a large majority of Hawaiians strongly favor the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island.

When it comes to the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea, 72 percent of likely voters said they supported it. On the Big Island, 68 percent of residents said they favored it, 15 percent more than two years ago.

“Even on Hawaii Island, support is over 2-to-1 that this is a project that they don’t want to see an opportunity lost for local kids there,” said Kyle Chock, interim executive director of Pacific Resource Partnership, which conducted the poll.

I am not surprised by this poll. Nor do I think it makes a bit of difference. I right now do not believe TMT will be built on Hawaii. The state government, controlled by the Democratic Party, is entirely sympathetic to the position of the small minority that is hostile to this project. This minority is opposed mostly because of a bigoted dislike of non-natives and a close-minded ignorance of modern technology. And because today’s Democratic Party cares only for racial and ethnic minorites, it supports them entirely. That government has been slow-walking the permitting process so much that it will decades to get through it.

Posted about 36,000 feet in the air over Hungary, returning from my week-long visit to Israel.

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44 days for first round of hearings on TMT

Stonewalling: Hawaiian officials have just completed the first round of hearings for deciding whether to issue a new construction permit for building the Thirty Meter Telescope, and those hearings stretched out for 44 days and cost nearly $225K.

Will that allow for a new permit? Don’t bet on it.

The hearings officer will recommend whether the state land board should grant a construction permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope. If there are exceptions filed to the hearings officer’s recommendations, the land board will hear arguments before issuing a written decision.

In other words, the state will allow the telescope’s opponents to force another set of hearings that could likely last as long.

As I’ve said before, it is time to tell Hawaii to go to hell. The state, run by Democrats, is obviously taking sides in opposition to the telescope, though they are trying to hide that fact. If the consortium wants to build this telescope on time, they need to find a place interested in having them. Let Hawaii keep its barren and empty mountain, even if it means the state will be poorer and less connected with the cutting edge of science.

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ELT construction moves forward

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) today signed contracts for the construction of the mirrors and sensor for its Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

At a ceremony today at ESO’s Headquarters four contracts were signed for major components of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) that ESO is building. These were for: the casting of the telescope’s giant secondary and tertiary mirrors, awarded to SCHOTT; the supply of mirror cells to support these two mirrors, awarded to the SENER Group; and the supply of the edge sensors that form a vital part of the ELT’s huge segmented primary mirror control system, awarded to the FAMES consortium. The secondary mirror will be largest ever employed on a telescope and the largest convex mirror ever produced.

The construction of the 39-metre ELT, the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world, is moving forward. The giant telescope employs a complex five-mirror optical system that has never been used before and requires optical and mechanical elements that stretch modern technology to its limits.

Meanwhile it remains unclear when and where the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be built.

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TMT legal case in Hawaii gets messier

The permit process in Hawaii for the Thirty Meter Telescope has gotten far messier, with the telescope’s opponents appealing to the state’s Supreme Court, complaining about witness procedures and the lawyers who are working for the state, while the land board running the procedures has asked the court to dismiss this appeal.

Essentially, the opponents are using every trick in the book to delay the permit process, and it appears that the law in Hawaii, including one just passed in August, is designed to aid them in this tactic.

TMT will not be built in Hawaii.The consortium that is building it needs a decision by early next year at the latest. They ain’t gonna get it. The luddites going to win, and Hawaii will be far poorer because of it.

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TMT consortium picks Canary Islands as alternative site to Hawaii

Faced with delays from protesters and an Hawaiian government slow-walking its permit process, the consortium building the Thirty Meter Telescope has announced that it will build the telescope on the Canary Islands if it continues to be blocked in Hawaii.

The article does not say when they will make this decision, but based on previous reports, they have to make their decision soon in order to begin construction no later than April 2018.

I fully expect them to abandon Hawaii, since I see no desire by the Hawaiian government to play fair during the new permit hearings. Instead, it seems to me that they are rigging this process so that it will never end.

Posted from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, where Diane and I plan a nice day hike tomorrow down the Hermit Trail.

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TMT hearing a fiasco

The initial hearing in Hawaii for the second permit application of the Thirty Meter Telescope today appears to have been a complete fiasco, designed to extend the proceedings as long as possible, ad infinitum.

Confusion reigned as Thursday’s hearing got underway in a Hilo hotel banquet room. Various telescope opponents complained about the scheduling and location of the hearing. One lawyer wanted to know the process for making objections. More than an hour went by before the first witness, environmental planner Perry White, was called to testify.

All witnesses will be allowed to provide a 10-minute summary of written testimony already submitted. But before White could provide his summary, there were various objections about qualifying him as an expert. Nearly two dozen people— many who are individual telescope opponents who don’t have lawyers representing them — will have a chance to cross-examine each witness.

Cross-examination of White will resume Monday.

It is very clear to me that Hawaii is stalling, designing the hearings so that they will last forever. TMT will never get built in Hawaii. It is time to say bye-bye and go somewhere where knowledge and technology is treasured.

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TMT considers alternative sites to Hawaii

Faced with a continuing legal battle to build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the consortium running is now seriously considering alternative sites.

Potential Northern Hemisphere sites include San Pedro Mártir in Baja California in Mexico and Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma, a Spanish island off the Atlantic coast of Morocco. “Our friends in La Palma are pushing hard” to get the TMT, says Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C. But neither alternative matches the seeing conditions on Mauna Kea, and they would bring extra cost and complication. The project has already ruled out sites in the Himalayas, put forward by India and China—both TMT partners along with the United States, Japan, and Canada—because they are too far from ports and have short construction seasons.

The TMT governors are expected to choose their top alternative site later this month. Regardless of what happens in Hawaii, the governors have vowed to start construction—on Mauna Kea or elsewhere—no later than April 2018.

It is clear that Mauna Kea in Hawaii is the best location. Unfortunately, they are faced with the reality that there might be years of delays before they ever get permission to build, if they get permission at all.

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Hawaii Supreme Court approves solar telescope construction

Even as the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea remains in legal limbo, the Hawaii Supreme Court today ruled that the permits for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Haleakala were correct and that construction can go forward.

Not surprisingly, the protesters who have lost this case immediately indicated that they will fight it with continued protests, not unlike a 3-year-old who doesn’t get his way and starts to scream and yell and pound the floor.

Meanwhile, the TMT court case is supposed to resume later this month.

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