Departed Interior Sec. Zinke Under Investigation by DOJ
The Justice Department is looking into whether former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied to investigators at the Department of Interior, The Washington Post reports. Anonymous sources tell the Post that investigators at the Interior's inspector general's office raised the issue with the DOJ after suspecting Zinke may have lied during questioning over his real estate deals in Montana and his review of a Native American casino project in Connecticut.
The Justice Department has not yet decided whether Zinke should face legal action, the Post reports. Zinke, who left the agency Wednesday following a series of high-profile scandals, denied the allegations to the Associated Press, blaming conservation groups for creating a "playbook" designed to use "frivolous allegations, sources, rumors, innuendo and false accusations" to boot him and other Cabinet members from office.
As reported by The Washington Post:
"Zinke, who submitted his resignation last month, had faced intense pressure to step down because of the probes into his conduct, though President Trump had soured on him for other reasons, too, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. In particular, this person said, Trump was upset Zinke would not challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in last year's election and over how Zinke handled the administration's plan to expand offshore drilling.
Last January, Zinke flew to Florida and, without consulting the White House, announced in a news conference with then-Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that Interior would exempt the state from offshore drilling. The move raised ethics questions, along with an outcry from other governors whose coastal states were affected by the plan."
The Associated Press reported that Zinke blamed conservation groups such as Montana Conservation Voters and Western Values Project for making it "impossible for Zinke and other Trump Cabinet members to serve."
"A representative of Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund, Whitney Tawney, noted that the group had endorsed Zinke when he was a state lawmaker but expected more out of him in terms of protecting natural resources.
'The accusation that groups like Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund made his job impossible proves once again that he's continuing to point fingers at anyone he can instead of accepting responsibility for his own failures,' Tawney said."
#Zinke Leaves #Interior to His Pro-Polluter, Anti-Environment Deputy https://t.co/KRdLDQausl @Interior @greenpeaceusa @Earthjustice— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1546554171.0
For a deeper dive:
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.
"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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