'Bring It On': Green New Deal Champions Welcome McConnell's Cynical Ploy for Up-or-Down Vote
By Jake Johnson
But, confident that the calculated ploy will backfire on the GOP, climate groups and progressive lawmakers are telling the Republican leader: "Bring it on."
After McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that he plans to hold a floor vote the Green New Deal plan unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), environmentalists and progressive members of Congress argued that rather than revealing deep rifts in the Democratic Party, an up-or-down vote will spotlight the GOP's total opposition to a widely popular policy that represents the best hope of adequately confronting the climate crisis.
"Republicans don't want to debate climate change, they only want to deny it," Markey said in a statement after McConnell's announcement. "They have offered no plan to address this economic and national security threat and want to sabotage any effort that makes Big Oil and corporate polluters pay."
Since the Green New Deal resolution was introduced last week, President Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers, and right-wing pundits have spread hysterical falsehoods about the measure and decried it as a "socialist fever dream" that would be political suicide for Democrats to support.
But, noting that the Green New Deal is extremely popular among the U.S. public—with one survey showing that 57 percent of Republican voters and 81 percent of Americans overall support the ambitious idea—Markey concluded that "Republicans, climate deniers, and the fossil fuel industry are going to end up on the wrong side of history."
This isn't a new Republican trick. By rushing a vote on the #GreenNewDeal resolution, Republicans want to avoid a t… https://t.co/MxIKzjj6Hj— Ed Markey (@Ed Markey)1550008925.0
Ocasio-Cortez—who has led the congressional push to force the Green New Deal into political mainstream—accused McConnell of attempting to "bully" the Democratic Party by plowing ahead with a vote, and argued that Democrats should embrace the opportunity to go on the record in support of bold climate action.
"[H]e's banking on people not being courageous," Ocasio-Cortez told the Washington Post. "I think people should call his bluff."
We are already feeling the early nightmares of climate crisis, & the GOP is doing nothing to stop it - as they have… https://t.co/qZxS3FnpRA— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1550017702.0
In response to McConnell's announcement, the youth-led Sunrise Movement scheduled an "emergency mass call" for Wednesday night to discuss plans to make the Senate Majority Leader regret his politically-motivated scheme.
"This vote forces every member of the Senate to make a choice: will you vote for a plan to guarantee every American clean air and water, a stable climate, and a good job? Or will you stand with Mitch McConnell and the fossil fuel billionaires who are willing to put millions of lives in peril so they can pad their profits?" Sunrise declared.
"In the coming weeks," the group concluded, "Sunrise Movement's army of young people will be taking action to expose the moral bankruptcy of GOP elites and invite all Senate Democrats to join Sen. Markey in championing the first-ever resolution to rise to the scale and urgency of the climate crisis."
The #GreenNewDeal doesn’t ban air travel and cow farts, it ensures good jobs+a livable future. We look forward to… https://t.co/0vZOcq2YXy— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@Sunrise Movement 🌅)1550068370.0
Ocasio-Cortez and Markey's Green New Deal resolution—which calls for a "national mobilization" to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030—has already garnered the support of 67 House Democrats and 11 senators, including major 2020 presidential contenders like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
While McConnell seems to think that getting Democrats on the record backing the Green New Deal will help the GOP politically, the New Yorker's Osita Nwanevu noted that supporting the bold measure "isn't very fraught with political risk for most Democrats."
On top of polls showing the Green New Deal is extremely popular, Nwanevu pointed to another survey showing "that 66 percent of Americans want to see action on climate change, with a 45 percent plurality favoring 'immediate' action."
An up-or-down vote on the Green New Deal resolution would also be beneficial for grassroots advocates, Nwanevu argued, because it would also force centrist Democrats who oppose the bold and popular policy to go on the record.
"The resolution will surely be opposed by some Democratic centrists," he concluded. "This, perhaps counterintuitively, makes an up-or-down vote extraordinarily convenient for activists supporting the Green New Deal—from groups like the Sunrise Movement, Indivisible, and the Sierra Club—who will be able to put pressure on those who reject the resolution in the months ahead. Broadly speaking, a vote on the resolution will do little more for Republicans than further elevate an issue on which they're deeply at odds with public opinion."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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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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