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Rhode Island sues major oil companies over climate change

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Rhode Island on Monday sued several major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp and BP plc, accusing them of contributing to climate change that is damaging infrastructure and coastal communities in the state.

The lawsuit announced by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin was the first by a state seeking to hold oil companies responsible for costs associated with climate change and followed similar cases by several local governments nationally.

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The lawsuit alleged that various oil companies had created a public nuisance in the state and failed to adequately warn customers, consumers and regulators about the risks posed by their products.

“For a very long time, there has been this perception that ‘Big Oil’ was too big to take on, but here we are – the smallest state – taking on some of the biggest corporate polluters in the world,” Kilmartin said in a statement.

The lawsuit, filed in Providence County Superior Court, named as defendants Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, and Chevron Corp, among other companies.

Shell, in a statement, said, “lawsuits that masquerade as climate action and impede the collaboration needed for meaningful change” were not the answer to climate change. The other companies did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit by the Democratic attorney general follows similar cases by U.S. cities and local governments, arguing the production of fossil fuels had led to rising tides that damaged shorelines, roads and other properties requiring remediation.

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The lawsuit contended that the companies sought to refute scientific findings regarding how greenhouse gas pollution was causing climate change, and failed to prevent the harm that would result from consumers’ using fossil fuel products.

The lawsuit said that companies also violated the state’s Environmental Rights Act by polluting and destroying natural resources in Rhode Island.

Kilmartin is seeking to force the companies to pay for damages associated with climate change, citing the costs taxpayers were incurring to repair roads and bridges and rebuild coastal structures.

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The complaint seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages as well as orders requiring the companies to pay abatement costs and to disgorge profits.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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Buffalo has a long history of protecting cops from criminal charges: report

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On Saturday, The Daily Beast documented the recent history of use of force in the Buffalo Police Department, which is reeling from controversy as two officers face assault charges for shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground.

"As shocking as this all may be to outsiders, the shoving of demonstrator Martin Gugino and the defiant response of officers to an effort to discipline two of their own is indicative of the state of police affairs in Buffalo," wrote Jim Heaney. "Has been for a long time, not that you have to go back too far to find other episodes of brutality that have been captured on video."

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Internet disgusted after Buffalo first responders cheer cops charged with assaulting 75-year-old protester

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Commenters on Twitter expressed both contempt and disgust for Buffalo firefighters and police officers who turned out in front of Buffalo City Court to support two suspended police officers with applause and cheering.

Moments after officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault and then released without having to post bail, they were greeted as heroes outside the courthouse.

After a video was posted showing the celebration, commenters on Twitter vented at cops and firefighters for defending the two officers who assaulted the 75-year-old man who had to be rushed to a hospital after they shoved him to the ground where he sustained a head injury.

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Donald Trump’s lurch toward fascism is backfiring spectacularly

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

During the 2016 campaign, as Donald Trump railed against "Mexican rapists" and other "criminal aliens," pollsters found that the share of Americans who said that immigrants worked hard and made a positive contribution to our society increased significantly, and noticed a similar decline in the share who said they take citizens' jobs and burden our social safety net. After Trump was elected and began pursuing his Muslim ban, the share of respondents who held a positive view of Islam also increased pretty dramatically. I'm not aware of any polling of the general public about transgender troops serving in the military before Trump decided to discharge them, but Gallup found that 71 percent of respondents opposed his position after he did.

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