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Donald Trump Blasts GOP Rivals at Koch Summit as ‘Puppets’

Politics
Donald Trump Blasts GOP Rivals at Koch Summit as ‘Puppets’

Loud-mouthed Donald Trump is more of a walking punchline than a viable presidential candidate, so it comes as a surprise to find myself actually agreeing with the current Republican front-runner:

Five GOP presidential candidates—former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina—flocked to Charles and David Koch's donor conference, Aug. 1-3, in Dana Point, California, a gathering of 450 top Republican party donors.

This network of conservative mega-donors, or the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, aims to spend a jaw-dropping $889 million for the presidential election, according to the Washington Post.

Seven sitting governors, six incumbent senators and two House members from the Republican party (including the aforementioned White House candidates) were extended an invite to the conference. Trump was not.

As EcoWatch previously pointed out, while the climate-denying mogul would be a perfect candidate for the Kochs, the deep-pocketed brothers have denied the Donald "access to their state-of-the-art data and refusing to let him speak to their gatherings of grassroots activists or major donors," Politico reported.

While many candidates in the crowded Republican field have taken this climate-denying mantle, on Sunday at the Freedom Partners forum, Sen. Cruz repeated his belief that “the data and facts don’t support” that global warming is occurring, the Guardian reported.

Cruz also criticized the Obama administration's latest clean power plan and also described how liberals use global warming to impose “massive government control” on the economy.

Bush also had harsh words for President Obama's new power plant regulations (surely in an effort to please the fossil fuel barons in the audience).

“I think it’s a disaster. It’s typical of the Obama administration, taking the power he doesn’t have,” Bush said, adding that the regulations were both “unconstitutional” and “a job killer.”

It appears that the candidates were well-received by the affluent attendees. "The Texas senator and the former Florida governor drew the most applause among the five Republicans who took the stage," Bloomberg reported from the event.

(No) thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that approved unrestricted campaign spending by corporations, a crop of billionaires and their super PACs have held unwieldy influence on the state of U.S. politics. Politico reported: “The 67 biggest donors, each of whom gave $1 million or more, donated more than three times as much as the 508,000 smallest donors combined."

Meanwhile at a town hall meeting in Rollinsford, New Hampshire, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called the current campaign finance system a “sad state of affairs” and announced a new bill to "cripple the Kochs and right-wing billionaires by providing public funding for elections," PoliticsUSA reported.

“We’re going to introduce legislation which will allow people to run for office without having to beg money from the wealthy and the powerful,” the Vermont senator said.

Sanders has pledged not to accept super PAC money and is running his momentum-gathering campaign on small donations. “We must overturn [Citizens United] before it’s too late,” he added. “We are increasingly living in an oligarchy where big money is buying politicians.”

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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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