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Trump Organization to Pay $290,000 for Failed Legal Fight Against Scottish Wind Farm

Renewable Energy
Trump Organization to Pay $290,000 for Failed Legal Fight Against Scottish Wind Farm
Supply boats beside Aberdeen Wind Farm on Aug. 4, 2018. Rab / CC BY 2.0

President Donald Trump doesn't like wind turbines.

In April, he claimed they caused cancer, and he sued to stop an offshore wind farm that was scheduled to go up near land he had purchased for a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He lost that fight, and now the Trump Organization has agreed to pay the Scottish government $290,000 to cover its legal fees, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.


News of the settlement, which comes four years after the Trump Organization's defeat and nearly nine months after it was ordered to pay the costs, was first reported by The Scotsman.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Dr. Richard Dixon reacted to the news by praising the Scottish government for "resisting repeated attempts" to stop the "popular and much needed" wind farm.

"A positive gesture would be for this money recouped from Donald Trump to be committed into programmes which support the growth in community-owned renewables," Dixon told The Scotsman. "Scotland needs to continue its growth in clean, reliable renewable energy as we transition away from fossil fuels to a zero carbon economy."

Trump launched the lawsuit in 2012 over the Scottish government's decision to approve an 11-turbine wind farm two miles from his golf course, The Guardian explained.

During the fight, Trump lashed out against both wind power and the Scottish government. He called the project "monstrous" and referred to then Scottish first minister Alex Salmond as "Mad Alex" in a 2013 op-ed for the Scottish Mail, according to The Washington Post.

"I am going to fight him for as long as it takes — to hell if I have to — and spend as much as it takes to block this useless and grotesque blot on our heritage," he wrote in the same op-ed.

But the UK Supreme Court unanimously rejected his suit in 2015 and, in February of this year, his organization was ordered to pay Scotland for the cost of the litigation. The Scottish government said payment was delayed because the Trump Organization would not agree to an amount. But Trump employees told The Guardian in October that they had not refused to pay.

"This is not in our control. The matter is in the hands of the auditors of the court of session and the Scottish ministers," Executive Vice-President of Trump International Golf Links Sarah Malone told The Guardian at the time.

The fact that the organization has settled now means that the issue will not pass to the auditor of the Court of Session, which would have added to the Trump Organization's legal bills, The Scotsman explained.

"Trump has attempted to avoid any responsibility over the impact of his developments and bullied anyone who has tried to stand in his way, so I'm delighted his business is being forced to compensate Scotland for his failed legal challenges," Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie told The Scotsman. "Hopefully this high-profile case will encourage all developers to consult, include and listen to communities rather than bully them."

The wind farm Trump failed to block began operating last July. It features some of the most powerful turbines in the world and has a capacity of 93.2 megawatts.

Meanwhile, Trump's golf course has operated at a loss for seven years in a row. It lost $1.4 million in 2018, The Washington Post reported.

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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