A 3.8-Million-Year-Old Skull Puts a New Face on a Little-Known Human Ancestor

A 3.8-Million-Year-Old Skull Puts a New Face on a Little-Known Human Ancestor

Spotting the intact Australopithecus skull in the Ethiopian dirt caused paleoanthropologist Yohannes Haile-Selassie to literally jump for joy. “It was something that I’ve never seen before, and I’ve seen a lot of cranial fossils,” he says.

The chance discovery by Haile-Selassie and an Ethiopian shepherd has created a captivating portrait of 3.8-million-year-old face, providing an unprecedented look at a hominin species from a key stage of human evolution. Experts say the extraordinary fossil can help redefine the branches of humans’ evolutionary tree during a time when our ancestors had just evolved efficient ways to walk upright.

“This cranium looks set to become another celebrated icon of human evolution,” Fred Spoor, a human evolution researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, writes in a News & Views article that accompanied Haile-Selassie and colleagues’ new study in the journal Nature.

New York City Considers Again A Ban on Foie Gras, As Farmers Refute Animal Abuse Claims

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New York City’s reputation for fine dining makes it one of the premier destinations for eating foie gras in the country. The renowned but increasingly-controversial delicacy made by force-feeding ducks and geese has been banned in states like California, overturned in a court decision, only to have a federal appeals court reinstate the ban. California bans the force-feeding of animals, a tenet also at the heart of new legislation before the New York City Council.

New York City looks increasingly likely to ban foie gras, and fowl farmers aren’t happy about it. A bill sponsored by Carlina Rivera, a city councilwoman who represents Manhattan neighborhoods, would prohibit the sale of the delicacy, and levy fines of up to $1,000 to businesses that violate the ban.

The bill, which already has the support of half of the Council in the form of co-sponsors is also supported in principle by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“It’s a purely luxury product,” said Ms. Rivera, who conceded to having tasted foie gras before she knew how it was made. (“I wasn’t a fan,” she said.)

Foie gras advocates say claims of torture are exaggerated and politically motivated. Mark Caro, author of ‘The Foie Gras Wars’, an overview of all aspects of the controversy argues that the uproar is overstated. “If you try to get people to give up their cheap chicken, you would have a problem, because it would affect their budgets,” Caro is quoted in the New York Times.

The attempts to ban foie gras are rooted in the wave of populism that has swept the country. Caro believes that attacking the lifestyles of the 1% is part of today’s political activism. There is no agreement among scientists and credentialed professionals associated with the food industry about whether foie gras is the product of torture and inhumane punishment of animals. The Times goes in-depth to educate us on all the nuances involved in this long-fought battle around foie gras.

AOC first took up the topic in 2009.

Debunking Myths about the Impact of Elephants on Large Trees

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Debunking Myths about the Impact of Elephants on Large Trees

By Ross Harvey, Independent Economist; PhD Candidate, University of Cape Town. First published on The Conversation.

Elephants are often accused of being responsible for the unsustainable loss of large trees in protected areas. This is because they strip bark and break branches. They can also have a heavier impact through uprooting trees or snapping stems. They have forage preferences too. Marula, knobthorn and red bushwillow are among their favourites.

This type of behaviour has raised concerns over the effects of elephants on large trees in protected areas such as South Africa’s Kruger National Park. As a result, elephant populations have been managed to preserve trees and the environment in a static state.

Researchers Dr Michelle Henley and Robin Cook recently set out to establish whether elephants are in fact responsible for large tree mortality.

They did this by reviewing the science and evaluating how effective past strategies have been at mitigating large tree loss, given that such loss was typically attributed to high elephant densities. These strategies usually focused on controlling elephant numbers lethally, through either culling or hunting.

Russell James Portraits New VS Model Lorena Duran as Sensual Phoenix Teases Rise from Ashes

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Russell James Portraits New VS Model Lorena Duran as Sensual Phoenix Teases Rise from Ashes

VS needs all the support we can muster in our own USA economic interest, so let’s give the formerly great lingerie brand a break. AOC applauds its new hire model Lorena Duran and putting Russell James (who I’ve always adored) behind the lens to photograph her.

Russell James has an impeccable reputation with the VS models for decades. And few contemporary photographers have a better grasp of photographing upscale female sensuality — transgender, bisexual, gay or straight. Russell James respects and appreciates women. (Whatever group I forgot, please forgive me. Surely you get my point.)

Chief Sustainability Officers Become Collaborative C-Suite Execs with Major Fashion Influence

Virginie-Helias-CSO Procter Gamble (top) Marie-Claire Daveau CSO Kering (bottom)

Virginie-Helias-CSO Procter Gamble (top) Marie-Claire Daveau CSO Kering (bottom)

Vogue Business profiles the growing influence of corporate Chief Sustainability Officers (CSO) including Kering’s CSO and head of international institutional affairs Marie-Claire Daveu, who sits on Karing’s 13-person executive committee; Virginie Helias, who actually created her top-level position at Procter & Gamble, by pitching it to the CEO; Nike’s CSO Noel Kinder, who reports to Nike COO, Eric Sprunk and Tom Berry, who is the global director of sustainable business at Farfetch.

The position of CSO could also be good for career advancement, writes VB. Tom Berry sees the role eventually becoming attached to the role of chief innovation or strategy officers.

“I’m convinced that in the coming decade, more CSOs will progress toward other C-suite roles,” says Daveu. “A successful CSO has to be a visionary thinker, a creative problem solver, an operational implementer and a collaborative leader.”

“It’s now seen as a transversal mission. It’s all about courageous leadership toward things that have not been done before, and about being able to develop an ambitious vision,” says Helias.

Article Take Aways

1) The Global Fashion Agenda’s recent Pulse of the Fashion Industry report concluded that fashion isn’t implementing sustainable solutions fast enough to offset the negative environmental and social impacts that come with their growth.

2) The vast range of skills associated with developing sustainable practices prompts the trends towards inter and intra-industry collaboration. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which P&G joined with at least 40 companies in early 2019, is an example of the number of interests involved. 

“I’m spending more of my time thinking about how to collaborate externally,” says Kinder, who is now working through the Global Fashion Agenda and the United Nations. “H&M has been really ambitious externally, and Adidas — probably our closest competitor — does a nice job of collaborating. There has not been any reluctance to working [together] on big topics like waste or climate change. The challenges we face as an industry and as a species are bigger than any one brand.”

Noel Kinder NIKE COS

Noel Kinder NIKE COS

Can Environmental Populism Save the Planet? Two Movements Intersect

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Can Environmental Populism Save the Planet? Two Movements Intersect

By Mark Beeson, Professor of International Politics, University of Western Australia. First published on The Conversation.

Populism and environmentalism are words seldom seen in the same sentence. One is associated predominantly with nationalists and charismatic leaders of “real people”, the other with broadly-based collective action to address the world’s single most pressing problem.

Differences don’t get much starker, it would seem. But we are increasingly seeing the two strands combine in countries around the world.

Exhibit A in support of this thesis is the remarkable growth and impact of Extinction Rebellion, often known as XR.

When I finished writing a book on the possibility of environmental populism little more than six months ago, I’d never even heard of XR. Now it is a global phenomenon, beginning to be taken seriously by policymakers in some of the world’s more consequential democracies. Britain’s decision earlier this year to declare a climate emergency is attributed in part to 11 days of Extinction Rebellion protest that paralysed parts of London.