Outside the Outbreak: Geologist may have found earliest fossil record of animal life, state lawmakers combat racist housing covenants

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First sign of animal life on Earth may be a sponge fossil

This undated photo provided by Elizabeth Turner, Laurentian University, shows a field location in Northwest Territories, Canada. Canadian geologist Elizabeth Turner may have found the earliest fossil record of animal life on Earth in the area shown, according to a report published Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in the journal “Nature.” (Courtesy of Elizabeth Turner/Laurentian University via AP)

A Canadian geologist may have found the earliest fossil record of animal life on Earth, according to a report published Wednesday, July 28 in the journal “Nature.”

Geologist Elizabeth Turner discovered the rocks in a remote region of the Northwest Territories accessible only by helicopter, where she has been excavating since the 1980s. Thin sections of rock contain three-dimensional structures that resemble modern sponge skeletons.

The dating of adjacent rock layers indicates the samples are about 890 million years old, which would make them about 350 million years older than the oldest undisputed sponge fossils previously found.

State lawmakers work to strip old ‘whites only’ covenants

In this Saturday, July 17, 2021, photo, Dave Ware, left, and his father, Fred Ware, look over a deed and copy of a covenant for their home in Manchester, Conn. Fred and Dave Ware recently found a whites-only covenant on his property dating back to 1942 when researching the title chain. Upon finding the covenant, Dave Ware, who grew up in the home, reached out to state lawmakers and helped get a bill passed that strips these covenants on properties. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Fred Ware and his son were researching the history of the home he’s owned in the Hartford, Connecticut suburbs since 1950 when they discovered something far uglier than they expected.

Tucked in a list of rules on the home’s original deed from the developer was a provision that said: “No persons of any race other than the white race shall use or occupy any building or any lot,” with the exception of “domestic servants of a different race.”

While the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948 ruled such racially restrictive housing covenants unenforceable, many remain on paper today and can be difficult to remove. In Connecticut, David Ware asked legislators to help homeowners strike the language, and a bill ultimately was signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, in July.

Death row inmate in cabin killings dealt setback on appeal

FILE – In this file photo provided by the Utah Department of Corrections shows Von Lester Taylor, a Utah death row inmate convicted in a double murder and kidnapping at a family’s remote cabin. A federal appeals court has dealt a setback to Taylor, who saw his conviction overturned in a string of violence at a remote cabin. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday, July 30, 2021, that even if Taylor did not fire the fatal shots in a 1990 triple shooting and kidnapping case, he cannot be considered innocent because Utah law makes accomplices as guilty as perpetrators. (Utah Department of Corrections via AP, File)

A federal appeals court has dealt a setback to a Utah death row inmate who saw his conviction overturned in connection with a string of violence at a remote cabin.

Even if Von Lester Taylor did not fire the fatal shots in a 1990 triple shooting and kidnapping case, he cannot be considered innocent because Utah law makes accomplices as guilty as perpetrators, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday, July 30.

The finding overturns a previous ruling by a federal judge in Salt Lake City who found reason to believe Taylor’s partner committed the murders. U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell ruled Taylor’s trial lawyer failed him and ordered his conviction overturned.

Wilson bounces back, sparkles in his 2nd Jets camp practice

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) looks on during practice at the team’s NFL football training facility on Saturday, July 31 in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

Now, that was more like it.

Zach Wilson shook off a rough training camp debut by showing off the type of eye-popping playmaking ability that made him so coveted by the New York Jets. And the No. 2 overall draft pick did it Saturday, July 31 in front of plenty of excited fans.

And teammates.

“He’s doing things you’re not expecting him to do,” left tackle Mekhi Becton said. “There’s a lot of things that he’s out there doing that you don’t expect him to do, so I can’t just key in on one thing.”

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