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Judge Denies Motion to Halt Dakota Access Pipeline as 4-Day Protest Begins in DC

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Judge Denies Motion to Halt Dakota Access Pipeline as 4-Day Protest Begins in DC
Photo credit: © Dewey Forward

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg has rejected the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe's request to halt the last section of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

As they have before, the tribe argued the pipeline's construction would lead to the desecration of their sacred lands and water. Since it would be built under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the tribe argued it would interfere with their religious practices.

But Judge Boasberg dismissed those claims.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the construction of the pipeline, had already "modified the pipeline work space and route more than a hundred times in response to cultural surveys and tribes' concerns regarding historic and cultural resources," Boasberg wrote, as reported by RT, adding that rerouting the pipeline "would be more costly and complicated than it would have been months or years ago."

This ruling means the $3.8 billion, 1,170-mile pipeline is slated to be finished.

"It is simply unacceptable that the government is allowing Energy Transfer Partners to build this pipeline through our sacred lands. The water the pipeline threatens supplies the Lakota and more than 17 million other people downstream," said Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota People's Law Project lead counsel in a statement, on the decision.

"The latest court ruling against my people is unjust and unacceptable. But I am here to tell you, this fight is not over and we will not surrender. Several steps remain in the legal process," he continued.

"On March 10, Native Nations and water protectors from around the country will converge in Washington, DC to let the president, Judge Boasberg and the army know that they are accomplices to a dangerous, criminal corporation. If there is a spill, they will have oil and blood on their hands and we will not let them forget it."

That demonstration in Washington began Tuesday, with tribal members and supporters planning to camp each day on the National Mall, set to bring along teepees, light a ceremonial fire and hold cultural workshops. In the four days of protest, Indigenous leaders also plan to lobby lawmakers to protect tribal rights.

The protest will culminate in a two-mile march from the Army Corps of Engineers office to the White House, where a rally is scheduled for Friday.

Reposted with permission from our media associate teleSUR.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

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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