Some New Yorkers received an early Christmas present this year – a little, yellow envelope that came through the mail, inside, a letter telling the person that their medical debt has been forgiven. This act of kindness comes courtesy of Carolyn Kenyon and Judith Jones, who both live in Ithaca, N.Y. The two friends met through the Finger Lakes chapter of the Campaign for New York Health.
They’re both big supporters of a single-payer health system. And they were looking for a project to work on together to highlight the problems with the health care system. They decided on medical debt.
Australia’s splendid assassin fly (Blepharotes splendidissimus) earns its fearsome moniker. About the size of a bottle cap and sporting a similar metallic luster, they ambush butterflies and dragonflies in midair, killing them with a venomous bite. Now, scientists have discovered that even the larvae of these flies are vicious.
The mouths of these maggots are “the insect equivalent of a Swiss army knife,” researchers report in Austral Entomology. Using scanning electron microscopy to produce photos like the one above, the team discovered blade-shaped mandible hooks with backward-pointing teeth—all the better to pierce into soft-bodied bugs in the soil where these larvae live. These hooks also have grooves that, when pushed together, form a tube the maggots use to inject venomous saliva into their prey. The venom injector tool doubles as a straw, allowing the larvae to suck out the body parts of their victims, the authors report.
In all the years of concern about collapsing bee colonies around the world, I have never once heard about AFB – mentioned or implicated. Don’t think “bee problem solved!” We still need to deal with the pesticide issue.
Bees may soon get an ally in their fight against bacterial disease — one of the most serious threats the pollinators face — in the form of an edible vaccine. That’s the promise held out by researchers in Finland, who say they’ve made the first-ever vaccine for insects, aimed at helping struggling honeybee populations.
The scientists are targeting one of bees’ most deadly enemies: American foulbrood, or AFB, an infectious disease that devastates hives and can spread at a calamitous rate. Often introduced by nurse bees, the disease works by bacteria feeding on larvae — and then generating more spores, to spread further.
“The signature of that kill mechanism, climate warming and oxygen loss, is this geographic pattern that’s predicted by the model and then discovered in the fossils,” Penn said. “The agreement between the two indicates this mechanism of climate warming and oxygen loss was a primary cause of the extinction.”
Despite a few hiccups along the way, Australia’s plastic bag consumption has dropped drastically.
Three months after two of the largest supermarket chains banned plastic grocery bags, an estimated 1.5 billion bags have been prevented from use, the Australian Associated Press reported, citing the National Retail Association.
Overall, the bans introduced by Coles and Woolworths last summer resulted in an 80 percent reduction in the country’s overall use of the single-use item, the retail group revealed.
“Indeed, some retailers are reporting reduction rates as high as 90 per cent,” National Retail Association’s David Stout told the news service.
“He arrived almost defiant,” says Jennifer Doudna, who did landmark CRISPR work at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. She and the other conference organizers politely asked He questions about the scientific details and rationale of his work, the permissions he had secured to conduct it, and how he recruited hopeful parents to participate and informed them about risks. He asked them whether his planned talk 2 days later should include data about the twin girls, who had a gene altered to make them resistant to HIV infection. “We were all like, ‘Uh, yes,’” Doudna says.
After more than an hour of questioning, He had had enough. “He just seemed surprised that people were reacting negatively about this,” Doudna says. “By the end of the dinner he was pretty upset and left quite abruptly.”
Currently on exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History, not far from the famous Fenykovi elephant in the museum’s rotunda, Smithsonian Libraries has organized “Game Change: Elephants from Prey to Preservation,” a show that tracks this historic negotiation. The show includes rare books, children’s stories like Babar, photographs, manuscripts, artworks and artifacts including an elephant radio collar. The offerings are primary sources for the telling of a rich story of a negotiation over time, one in which generations determined whether to loathe or love, hunt or preserve the great land whale.
If you want to see a wild island fox, you have to visit the remote Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. This special species doesn’t live anywhere else.
Biologists were alarmed in the mid-‘90s to discover that these foxes had suddenly and mysteriously started to disappear. In 1993, more than 1,500 had roamed the largest of the islands, Santa Cruz. By 2001, fewer than a hundred remained. Extinction seemed imminent. But why?