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$15 Billion Bee Murder Mystery Deepens

Honey Bee
© Bob Gutowski via Flickr
Honey Bee.

It was the buzz heard round the world. On Thursday, the front-page New York Times article titled, "Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery" was supposed to close the book on a four-year long case involving the unexplained death of millions of honey bees nationwide. Instead, it has only brought more confusion, unanswered questions, and anger in the science and beekeeping communities.

In 2006, once thriving bee colonies across America suddenly vanished, leaving behind empty beehives. The bodies of the bees were never found. Scientists soon gave a name to the mysterious phenomenon: colony collapse disorder (CCD)

From 2006 to 2009, over one-third of beekeepers reported colonies collapsing accompanied by a "lack of dead bees," according to a survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA).

In March 2007, James Doan, formerly the largest commercial beekeeper in New York, delivered an emotional testimony to the House Committee on Agriculture concerning the large-scale and mysterious loss of honey bee colonies, which he attributed to CCD.

"The economic impact on my operation is that it will cost me $200,000 to replace the honey bees that I have currently lost," Doan wrote in a letter. "If we cannot survive as a beekeeping industry here in this country, there will not be an agriculture community here in the U.S., period."

See, it's not just the beekeeping business that has something to worry about - the loss of honey bees affects all people. That is because honey bees pollinate food crops of all kinds.

They provide more than $15 billion in value to about 130 crops, including berries, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). And without honeybees to pollinate crops, our food supply is in danger.


Tiger video catches illegal loggers red-handed

What at first appears to be a conservationist's dream soon becomes a living nightmare. Under the cover of darkness on 5 May, 2010, a curious male Sumatran tiger strolls right up to the camera, pokes his nose in the lens, and sniffs all around, before stalking off. Just a week later, the landscape is unrecognisable.

This rare video footage - only 400 Sumatran tigers are left in Indonesia - was captured by WWF conservationists working in the Bukit Betabuh Protected Forest in Riau Province, Sumatra, with the help of camera traps. Triggered by heat sensors the cameras are set up in fixed locations to monitor nocturnal or rare species in the wild.


Maundering Minimums: Will Earth Enter Another Ice Age?

© unknown
Recently, I appeared as a guest on Lan Lamphere's popular radio program Overnight AM Radio, where the astute host and I spent some time discussing a subject that typically gets short-shrifted in the paranormal community: climate change.

Like many aspects of the world around us, it seems there is much to the nature of this planet that sees little attention in the mainstream media; sometimes, we're lucky if we see anything reported about these subjects at all.

One particular instance that comes to mind here is the way heliospheric phenomenon (solar activity) may be affecting changes here on Earth, or even on other planets. Erratic temperatures - both record highs and lows - are too-often blamed on anthropogenic reasons where humans are considered a prime culprit, where in reality, evidence suggests that humankind's influence may be only one small part of a bigger climatic conundrum.

Bizarro Earth

Tonga: Earthquake Magnitude 6.1 - 12th Oct 10

Tonga Quake_121010
Earthquake Location
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 12:02:55 UTC

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 01:02:55 AM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

20.485°S, 173.951°W

9.9 km (6.2 miles)


150 km (90 miles) ENE of NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga

205 km (125 miles) S of Neiafu, Tonga

495 km (305 miles) E of Ndoi Island, Fiji

2115 km (1320 miles) NE of Auckland, New Zealand

Cloud Lightning

US: Hail brings Brooklyn to a near standstill in a freaky, fast but furious storm

© Arvind S. Grover
Lightning strikes the NYC skyline during Monday night's short, freak storm.
A freak autumn storm turned parts of the city into a winter wonderland on Monday night, pounding some of Brooklyn and Manhattan with hail the size of quarters.

The ferocious front blew in out of the east, hitting the city at about 8:30 p.m. and prompting multiple severe storm warnings and flash flood warnings.

Joann Binns, 61, of Manhattan, said she was pelted by hail a quarter-inch in diameter.

"I started running. There were ice stones," said Binns, who sought shelter under the marquee outside Madison Square Garden. "They hit me and I said, 'I'm outta here.' They hurt."

The storm prompted transit officials to reroute the F subway line and suspend the G line because of station flooding. The wicked weather also delayed the Jets' game against the Minnesota Vikings in the Meadowlands for 45 minutes because of lightning.

Comment: For more information on unusual weather in New York, see this Sott article:

New York City Hit by a TORNADO: One Person Killed and a Trail of Destruction Left as 100mph Winds Rip Through City

Better Earth

Message in a Bottle: From Florida to Ireland on the Gulf Stream

From Florida to Ireland_2
© Jim McMahon
The bottle traveled northeast along the Gulf Stream from Florida to Ireland.
Last week, 17-year-old Adam Flannery was walking along a pebble beach on Ireland's west coast when he saw a rubber-corked bottle with a note inside.

The message explained that the bottle was part of an experiment. It contained directions for anyone who found the bottle to contact Ethan Hall at Melbourne High School in Melbourne, Florida.

Adam and his father did as the message in the bottle asked and contacted Hall, a marine-science teacher.

Hall told Florida Today that he used to joke with students that their bottle might find them an Irish pen pal if they were lucky. But none of his students' bottles had ever traveled to another country in all the years he had been using the experiment.


Animals Said to Have Spiritual Experiences

© iStockPhoto
Spiritual experiences originate within primitive parts of the human brain, structures shared by animals, like dogs.
Ever have an out-of-body experience? Your dog may have too.

The Gist
  • A neurologist and other scientists argue animals are capable of having spiritual experiences.
  • The researchers hold that spiritual experiences originate within primitive parts of the human brain, structures shared by animals.
  • The challenge lies in proving what animals experience.
Animals (not just people) likely have spiritual experiences, according to a prominent neurologist who has analyzed the processes of spiritual sensation for over three decades.

Research suggests that spiritual experiences originate deep within primitive areas of the human brain -- areas shared by other animals with brain structures like our own.

The trick, of course, lies in proving animals' experiences.

"Since only humans are capable of language that can communicate the richness of spiritual experience, it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty what an animal subjectively experiences," Kevin Nelson, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, told Discovery News.

Bizarro Earth

US: 2 Injuries Reported After 2 Quakes Hit Arkansas

The U.S. Geological Survey says two small earthquakes have struck two areas in Arkansas more than 150 miles apart. Local officials say no injuries or damages have been reported from either quake.

An estimated 3.8-magnitude quake shook the small town of Guy in Faulkner County at about 8:30 a.m. Monday. The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake happened 15 miles north-northeast of Conway and 40 miles north of Little Rock.

Another quake hit at almost the exact same time about 150 miles away in northeast Arkansas. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.9-magnitude earthquake was centered about 15 miles southeast of Paragould.


New meat-eater emerges in Madagascar

© Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
This feisty cat-sized creature from Madagascar is the first new species of carnivorous mammal to be discovered in 24 years.

Durrell's vontsira (Salanoia durrelli) was found in the threatened Lac Alaotra wetlands in central eastern Madagascar in 2004. Zoologists took photos of it at the time, and have now confirmed it is a new species after comparing it to specimens of the closely related brown-tailed vontsira (Salanoia concolor).

Named in honour of the late conservationist Gerald Durrell, the new vontsira weighs just over half a kilogram and belongs to a family of carnivores - Eupleridae - only known in Madagascar. It is likely to be one of the most threatened carnivores as their Lac Alaotra wetland habitat becomes threatened by agricultural expansion, burning and invasive plants and fish.

Bizarro Earth

One dead, thousands affected in Philippine floods

© Unknown
One person has drowned and thousands of people have been affected by floods that have swamped a rain-soaked island in the central Philippines, police said Saturday.

Floodwaters rose south of Naujan lake on Mindoro island after heavy rain began falling in the area before dawn Friday, national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz told reporters.

In addition to the drowned person, an undetermined number of farm animals was also lost in floodwaters that reached an average of three feet (0.91 metres), he added.

Some 8,148 families were affected in the towns of Socorro and Pinamalayan, and police are on standby to conduct rescues or evacuations where necessary.