Pruitt Demoted Staffers Who Raised Concerns About His Conduct
Several U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees who raised concerns about Scott Pruitt's leadership tactics, including his spending habits, were reassigned or demoted, according to a New York Times report.
The five officials in question, including one Trump administration political appointee and one member of Pruitt's security detail, were a key part of the approval process for certain requests, and directly raised concerns over demands for items like a $70,000 desk upgrade, expanded security detail and the use of sirens and flashing lights on occasions when Pruitt was running late for dinner.
The Times report capped off another day of Pruitt-related scandals, including a report from the Washington Post that he endorsed raises for his aides despite denying knowledge of the pay changes earlier this week. One of Pruitt's top aides, Samantha Dravis, handed in her resignation Wednesday.
In a scathing op-ed published in The Hill, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) said Pruitt "has done more to damage the economy, our environment, public safety and American global competitiveness than any Trump Cabinet member.
"Since taking office, Mr. Pruitt has questioned man-made climate change, scrubbed the EPA website of references to climate change, disputed settled scientific findings, and removed scientific experts from advisory boards, replacing them with industry representatives. He has withdrawn and reversed important environmental protections, including the Clean Power Plan and coal ash disposal requirements. Lest we forget, it was Mr. Pruitt who was the loudest cheerleader for pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The administrator has even advocated slashing his agency's budget by a third. All of these decisions jeopardize the American public.
Under the Obama administration, we were making investments in the 21st century clean energy economy and leading the global community in taking historic action on climate change. Mr. Pruitt, however, seems hell-bent on reversing that progress, and would rather pretend climate change doesn't exist. Knowing he speaks to an audience of one, he has calculated that pushing these backward policies may be enough to protect his job."
For a deeper dive:
Employees: New York Times, CNN. Traffic: CBS, Raises: Washington Post. Pruitt in crisis: New York Times, Axios, Huffington Post, LA Times, Politico. Dravis: CNN. Commentary: Washington Post, Philip Bump analysis, Washington Post, Aaron Blake analysis, The Hill, Rep. Gerry Connolly op-ed, The Hill, Mike Carr op-ed, GQ, Jack Holmes analysis, Wall Street Journal editorial, Fox, Steve Milloy op-ed
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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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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