Below is a recap of this week’s news related to the ongoing Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. LUSH Cosmetics, a company which produces handmade beauty products, is helping its customers to take a stand against Keystone XL by joining forces with an environmental group. With gas prices falling ahead of summer, Republicans are beginning to lose steam in one of their factually corrupt arguments in favor of TransCanada’s tar sands pipeline. See below for more:
News & Developments:
- Despite what some Keystone-obsessed GOPers are claiming about the benefits to the U.S. about Keystone XL, the largest circulation newspaper in Canada tells it like it really is: Keystone XL is an export pipeline that goes through the U.S., not to the U.S. Today’s Globe and Mail, Why Keystone XL might be Canadian oil's best route to China, ticks through the reasons why Keystone XL would make a good pipeline for Asian market exports, including the fact that “it may well be cheaper to ship crude to Texas than through a big pipe crossing difficult terrain to the [British Columbia] coast.” Earlier attempts to guarantee that Keystone XL oil would be used domestically were lambasted by TransCanada.
- In an AARP interview, President Obama states that Keystone XL is an export pipeline that will not reduce U.S. gas prices and acknowledges that the best way to keep gas prices low is to reduce demand. From the president: “they want to build a pipeline to pump from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, where they can then export that oil all around the world. It's not going to make a dent in gas prices here in the United States.”
- A popular cosmetics company joined the fight against Keystone XL, urging visitors to their stores and website to have a say in their clean energy future and say “no” to the tar sands pipeline. LUSH Cosmetics, a company who has made a commitment to people and the environment. In collaboration with the environmental group, 350.org, LUSH is urging customers to add their voice to the chorus of more than 800,000 against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
- The company’s website explains, “Did you know that TransCanada is proposing to build a $7 billion pipeline through the U.S. that could threaten countless animals, ecosystems and communities? At LUSH, we believe that a multi-billion dollar project proposed by an unsustainable industry—one that could threaten your land, your water, your jobs and your very livelihoods—is one that Americans should have the right to vote on!”
- The Republican’s false premise that Keystone XL would reduce gas prices takes yet another hit prices at the pump begin to fall. Despite evidence showing Keystone XL would do nothing for gas prices, and could even raise the cost at the pump for many Americans, Republicans continue to push the lie that the tar sands pipeline would make it less expensive for drivers to fill their tanks. However, gas prices are expected to drop further over the next few weeks. Gas prices are still at historic highs, but as Jonathan Capehart pointed out this week, Republicans are beginning to lose credibility on the issue.
- The Associated Press reported that EPA has concerns for Keystone pipeline near coast, a story that was born out of a Friends of the Earth press call that detailed the consistent stonewalling that landowners and other people in Texas and Oklahoma have faced in trying to extract even basic information from the Army Corps of Engineers about TransCanada’s application. The article quotes David Daniel, a Winnsboro, Texas resident whose land will be crossed by the proposed pipeline: “As people who are mostly impacted by this and will bear the brunt of this, our voices have been silenced for us by the process, and it's one that we should have input in.” The other call participants echoed these sentiments.
Quote of the Week:
“…What I don’t want to do is have [Keystone XL] take down the transportation bill. As strongly as I feel about (the pipeline), it isn’t worth losing the bill.” – Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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