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Charles Koch Blasts President Obama for Comments Made at Climate Speech

Politics
Charles Koch Blasts President Obama for Comments Made at Climate Speech

After President Obama called out the Koch Brothers for their anti-renewable energy stance during a climate speech in Nevada on Monday, Charles Koch has sent a missive back to the commander-in-chief.

“It’s beneath the President, the dignity of the President, to be doing that,” Koch told Politico in a phone interview yesterday.

In his speech in Las Vegas during the National Clean Energy Summit, the President singled out the Koch brothers for their efforts in blocking states in setting new renewable energy standards.

The explosive growth of solar in the U.S. “has some big fossil fuel interests pretty nervous,” Obama said. "When you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards, or to prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding, that’s a problem,” Obama continued.

Koch—the co-owner, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Koch Industries—also accused Obama of siding with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is an outspoken critic about Koch and his brother David.

“I was absolutely flabbergasted that he could say so many things about us that were the opposite of the truth,” Koch told Politico. “I was really dumbfounded. And I know he was there with Harry Reid. So we expect that with Harry Reid, but I didn’t expect that from the president.”

He said that his company is “opposed to renewable energy subsidies of all kinds—as we are all subsidies, whether they benefit or help us,” adding that the President's words seemed like a personal attack, Politico reported.

“The only thing I can think of is he was there with Harry Reid, and it was kind of a farewell gesture to help Harry Reid,” Koch said. “I can think of no other reason to single us out in his remarks in his efforts to promote his favorite forms of energy.”

EcoWatch mentioned before that the conservative brothers and their network of mega-donors, or the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, aims to spend a jaw-dropping $889 million for the presidential election. The Nevada senator has been vocal about the brothers' unwieldy campaign donations before.

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“Looks like the Koch Brothers already bought the House. They should buy the Senate,” Reid said last May. “And what’s next? They gonna buy a president?”

As EcoWatch previously noted, the Kochs have made a significant part of their billions from fossil fuels, and have enlisted funding groups, lobbyists and elected officials to defend their right to make even more billions—all while spewing climate change-causing greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

Koch told Politico that his company is not trying to prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding.

“Any business that’s economical, that can succeed in the marketplace, any form of energy, we’re all for," he said. "As a matter of fact, we’re investing in quite a number of them, ourselves—whether that’s ethanol, renewable fuel oil. … We’re investing a tremendous amount in research to make those more efficient and create higher-value products.”

“But it’s not going to help the country to be subsidizing uneconomical forms of energy—whether you call them ‘green,’ ‘renewable’ or whatever. In that case, the cure is worse than the disease," he explained. "And there is a big debate on whether you have a real disease or something that’s not that serious. I recognize there is a big debate about that. But whatever it is, the cure is to do things in the marketplace, and to let individuals and companies innovate, to come up with alternatives that will deal with whatever the problem may be in an economical way so we don’t squander resources on uneconomic approaches.”

In his climate speech, Obama charged the Republican party for thwarting progress in renewables.

“Now is not the time to pull back from these investments. Many Republicans want to take from these successful clean energy programs,” the President said. “That’s not the American way, that’s not progress, that’s not innovation. That’s trying to protect the old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future.”

“I mean, think about this," Obama continued. "Ordinarily, these are groups that tout themselves as champions of the free market. If you start talking to them about providing health care for folks who don’t have health insurance, they’re going crazy: ‘This is socialism, this is going to destroy America.’ But in this situation, they’re trying to undermine competition in the marketplace, and choke off consumer choice, and threaten an industry that’s churning out new jobs at a fast pace.”

Koch responded, “I don’t know whether he knows what that phrase means, but ‘rent seeking,’ of course, is, in economic terms, is getting the government to rig the system in your favor. And that’s exactly what these so-called ‘renewable energy’ proponents are doing.”

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Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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