Senate 'Puts Party Loyalty Above the Good of Our Nation' With Confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions—who has a civil rights history was so troubling that a Republican Senate refused to confirm him as a federal judge in the 1980s—was confirmed Wednesday in the full Senate (52-47) to serve as U.S. Attorney General, despite the unprecedented and growing opposition to Donald Trump's unfit nominees and the radical, minority views they represent.
Fossil Fuels Make Guest Appearance at #Sessions Hearing https://t.co/74FXBqaHbi @billmckibben @ClimateNexus @greenpeaceusa @sierraclub @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1484232073.0
"Jeff Sessions fits right in with Donald Trump's collection of unqualified, unfit nominees who have largely been hostile to the missions—and, at times, very existence—of the agencies they've been asked to lead," Martin Hayden, Earthjustice vice president of policy and litigation, said. "Sessions' abysmal record of opposition to fundamental civil rights and environmental protections disqualifies him for service as head of our federal department dedicated to justice for everyone in our country.
"President Trump's nominees may have been released with a fury, but they are barely dragging across the finish line—winning confirmation only because Republican senators have put party loyalty above the good of our nation ... Earthjustice will hold Sessions accountable in the court of law."
What is Sen. Sessions' record on environmental protection?
He has a dismal record on the environment, climate change and pollution control efforts. A climate change denier, Sessions has opposed nearly every piece of global warming and environmental legislation since 1997.
This year, Sessions opposed amendments in the Energy Policy Modernization Act that would have incentivized energy efficiency, phased out fossil fuel subsidies, and established a national energy efficiency standard.
In 2015, he voted for a resolution to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) carbon pollution standards for new and modified power plants. Sessions has also pushed to gut clean water rules, undermine the protection of imperiled plants and wildlife and opposed climate change science education.
In 2012, he supported a resolution that would roll back protections from toxic mercury which EPA estimates prevent 11,000 premature deaths a year. Also, during a Senate hearing on climate science, he refused to accept that 97 percent of climate scientists believe that global warming is happening and humans are causing it.What does the U.S. Attorney General do?
The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer for the U.S. federal government and head of the Department of Justice. The Attorney General is sworn to enforce and uphold all laws of our nation, including the laws that protect our right to a healthy environment and the laws that uphold our fundamental civil rights. There is no fixed term length for the Attorney General position.
Sessions has voted to defund renewable and solar energy development, voted against tax incentives for renewables like solar and wind, and favored the renewal of oil and gas exploration subsidies. On its most recent National Environmental Scorecard, the League of Conservation Voters scored Sessions in the single digits: an appalling 4 percent—and 7 percent over his whole career, placing him in the lowest quarter of all senators.
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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