World’s largest bee, missing for 38 years, found in Indonesia

Biologists discover single female Wallace’s giant bee inside a termites’ nest in a tree

Wallace’s giant bee, foreground, is about four times larger than a European honeybee.

As long as an adult thumb, with jaws like a stag beetle and four times larger than a honeybee, Wallace’s giant bee is not exactly inconspicuous.

But after going missing, feared extinct, for 38 years, the world’s largest bee has been rediscovered on the Indonesian islands of the North Moluccas.

A search team of North American and Australian biologists found a single female Wallace’s giant bee (Megachile pluto) living inside a termites’ nest in a tree, more than two metres off the ground.

“It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog’ of an insect that we weren’t sure existed any more,” said Clay Bolt, a specialist photographer who obtained the first images of the species alive. “To actually see how beautiful and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible.”

The giant bee – the female can measure nearly 4cm in length – first became known to science in 1858 when the British explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace discovered it on the tropical Indonesian island of Bacan. He described the female bee as “a large, black wasp-like insect, with immense jaws like a stag beetle”.

Despite its size, the bee remained elusive, with almost nothing known about the female’s secretive life cycle involving making nests of tree resin inside active arboreal termite mounds.

Entomologist Eli Wyman with the first rediscovered individual of Wallace’s giant bee

The bee was not seen again by scientists until 1981, when Adam Messer, an American entomologist, rediscovered it on three Indonesian islands. He observed how the bee used its giant mandibles to gather resin and wood for its termite-proof nests.

Search teams failed to find the bee again, but the rediscovery of a sole female raises hopes that the region’s forests still harbour this species.

The bee’s habitat is threatened by massive deforestation for agriculture in Indonesia, and its size and rarity make it a target for collectors. There is, at present, no legal protection concerning trading of Wallace’s giant bee.

Robin Moore, a conservation biologist with Global Wildlife Conservation, which runs a programme called The Search for Lost Species, said: “We know that putting the news out about this rediscovery could seem like a big risk given the demand, but the reality is that unscrupulous collectors already know that the bee is out there.”

Moore said it was vital that conservationists made the Indonesian government aware of the bee and took steps to protect the species and its habitat. “By making the bee a world-famous flagship for conservation we are confident that the species has a brighter future than if we just let it quietly be collected into oblivion,” he said.


Severe typhoon Wutip will develop in the western Pacific

The first intense typhoon of the 2019 Pacific season is expected to develop in the coming days – Typhoon Wutip formed in Micronesia yesterday. Wutip is currently packing winds of 75 knots with central pressure around 967 mbar, moving northwest.

Here are a couple of latest satellite images, indicating explosive deep convection ongoing around the virtual center of the low, a sign that the typhoon is gaining strength and organizing.

The OHC (Ocean Heat Content) chart reveals why the current convection is so explosive – the favorable very warm waters are rising the near-surface dewpoints, providing high moisture and instability for the storms.

The future track will bring Wutip close to Guam island, likely on late Sunday local time as a severe CAT 3 typhoon with sustained winds of around 100 kt.

After the close approach to Guam, Wutip will soon turn towards the northeast and start weakening in less favorable water temperatures and increased shear.

‘Very Dangerous Situation’: South Rains Trigger Damaging Landslides in Kentucky, Tennessee

A landslide took out a highway and at least two vehicles in East Tennessee. One person was injured.
Evacuations were ordered at a campground in Lebanon, Tennessee, on Wednesday.

A half-dozen roads were blocked by downed trees or utility poles in Huntsville, Alabama.
Flooding of roadways was also reported Wednesday in Paducah, Kentucky.

Heavy rain continued to swamp parts of the Deep South Thursday, triggering numerous landslides in Kentucky and Tennessee, including one that injured at least one person in East Tennessee and triggered the voluntary evacuations of nearby homes.

The large landslide took out both lanes of Tennessee’s Highway 70N in Hawkins County early Thursday. Emergency personnel reported that at least two vehicles were involved in the slide and one person was transported to an area hospital, WBIR reports.

The slide prompted local authorities to advise nearby residents to voluntarily evacuate their homes.

“It was a voluntary evacuation,” Hawkins County Rescue Squad Captain Scott Stewart said. “Some of the families left, there were a few, I think one, that was a good distance away from it, they went to them to make sure they knew there was an issue with the road and offered them a way out, but they refused.”

We are getting a first look at the early morning slide that has closed Highway 70N in Hawkins County. According to emergency personnel, two vehicles were involved, one person taken to the hospital.

The scene remains active as the ground continues to move down the side of the mountain and the search for any other vehicles that may have been involved in the slide continues, Stewart said.

“Every time we think the mountain’s going to stop, it continues to move,” he added.

Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson, providing updates on Twitter, described the active mudslide as a “very dangerous situation.”

In Indiana, four people were rescued Thursday after spending 14 hours overnight on top of their jeep that was stranded in floodwaters, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. A fifth occupant of the jeep waded through 4 feet of water to seek help. The rescued were transported to an area hospital for hypothermia symptoms and were later released.

On Wednesday, residents at Timberline Campground in Lebanon, Tennessee, about 30 miles east of Nashville, were evacuated after the Sinking Creek overtopped its banks, local emergency management reported.

A half-dozen roads were blocked Wednesday morning by downed trees or utility poles and flash flooding in Huntsville, Alabama, the Associated Press reported.

Flooding of roadways was also reported in Paducah, Kentucky, according to the National Weather Service. In the town of Clinton, a large landslide was reported Wednesday morning. It was one of several landslides reported in Eastern Kentucky Wednesday.

The Tennessee Valley Authority closed the road and bridge over Wilson Dam in northern Alabama Wednesday due to hazardous conditions created by the heavy rain.

TVA spokesperson Scott Fiedler told the Birmingham Times Daily the road and bridge would remain closed until further notice.

“We want to make sure everyone is safe during this event,” Fiedler said.

TVA notes that it is releasing water at all of its dams on the main stem of the Tennessee River to accommodate the heavy rains expected in the days to come.

“With above average rainfall totals on already-saturated ground possible next week, we are moving lots of water through the system to create as much storage as possible in our reservoirs while also limiting flows to protect downstream areas,” said James Everett, senior manager for TVA’s River Forecast Center.

Children’s pastor, decorated detective, commits suicide after child porn found on church computer

The late veteran police officer, Allan Richardson, who served as a children’s minister at Riverstone Community Church in Jacksonville, Fla., took his life as he was being investigated for possession of child pornography. |

Detective Vernon Allan Richardson, a beloved children’s minister and award-winning veteran officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, known for his work in helping to locate missing children, killed himself Tuesday as authorities investigated him for possession of child pornography, some of which was found on his church computer.

Pastor Ricky Baldwin of Riverstone Community Church in Jacksonville, told CBS 47 that he didn’t know Richardson, 56, was under investigation for child pornography until his suicide. Richardson had been with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for 17 years and served as Riverstone’s children’s pastor for eight years.

“Never in a million years would you ever thought that was possible. That’s why it’s so hard to believe now,” Baldwin said.

“I don’t know what all is going to come out, or what is yet to come out. I don’t know any of that. But we loved him and we love his family and plan to stick by his family,” Baldwin added.

A report in The Florida Times-Union said Richardson was found dead shortly before noon in some woods off Tynes Boulevard near Pine Ridge Parkway on Tuesday from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office reportedly began investigating Richardson in December after receiving a tip about him possessing child porn. Police records said the children’s pastor was questioned on Feb. 1 after an image showing two naked boys ages 12 to 14 committing a sexual act had been uploaded to a computer, the Times-Union said.

Investigators then went to Richardson’s home and served him with a search warrant. He “denied any and all allegations” but confirmed watching pornography on his cellphone, police records note.

“When asked what he looks up, he stated ‘sex with wives,’” the documents said. “After the interview was concluded, the defendant spontaneously uttered, ‘If I was going to watch child pornography, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to upload it or download it.’”

The pastor’s computer was seized and two images classified as child pornography were found, police said. One was of a nude boy 7 to 9, the other of a nude girl about the same age.

Richardson was found dead before authorities were able to arrest him.

The child pornography was reportedly found on Richardson’s church computer just days before he killed himself. Richardson worked for JSO as a detective since 1999, and was a burglary detective at the time of his death.

First Coast News reported that Richardson had been a detective with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office since 1999 and was a burglary detective at the time of his death.

The late pastor was also the recipient of the “Local Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” award for his work and dedication in locating missing children.

“Detective Richardson was recognized for his consistent efforts and dedication to locate missing children. Detective Richardson worked 360 missing person cases over 12 months with a 98 percent clearance rate. He helped develop an incident command protocol for missing, abducted and endangered persons that is operational in Duval County,” the award said.

Richardson had been married for more than 30 years and his son is an officer with the JSO.

The New Anti-Semitism’: Leftist Hatred of Jews and Israel Fuels Europe’s Biggest Increase in Anti-Semitism ‘Since World War II’

French President Emmanuel Macron says anti-Semitism is the worst its been since World War II.

Macron addressed Jewish community leaders Wednesday after thousands of people flooded the streets in protest of a recent scourge of attacks against Jews.

“Our country, and for that matter all of Europe and most Western democracies, seems to be facing a resurgence of anti-Semitism unseen since World War II,” Macron said while speaking at the Representative of French Jewish Institutions annual dinner.

France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community and saw a 74 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in 2018. Just this week, 80 Jewish graves were vandalized with swastikas.

The president said he has asked his interior minister to ban racist groups and vowed to introduce legislation that will criminalize “hate speech” online.

Macron also went as far to say France will recognize anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism.

President Reuven Rivlin sent a letter to Macron praising him for taking the attacks agains the Jewish community seriously.

“Mr. President, times like these demand clear and strong leadership. As I saw when we met on my recent visit to France, your actions, as well as your words, show how seriously you take the issue of anti-Semitism. This is an important message for the people of France and its Jewish community. It gives us all belief that we can and we must fight this scourge and that, together, we will overcome hatred of all kinds,” the president said.

On Tuesday, French police arrested an anti-Semite who was seen on camera harassing Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut. The video depicts the man calling Finkielkraut a “dirty Zionist” and telling him “France is ours.”

The incident sparked international outrage and Israel’s Immigration Minister Yoav Gallant pleaded with French Jews to “come home” to Israel for their safety.

Last Monday, French authorities found swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs painted on mailboxes displaying the portraits of French politician and Holocaust survivor, Simone Veil.

Anti-Semites also cut down a tree planted in memory of a Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006.

Last Sunday, vandals spray painted the word “Juden” (German for Jew) on a Bagelstein bagel shop.

The emboldened acts of anti-Semitism in France come just three months after a deadly attack on a Jewish community in the US.

The suspect in the Oct. 27 shooting massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh pled not guilty to 11 counts of hate crimes and murder.

“It’s like a contagious disease that always under the surface and sometimes it spurs up into epidemic proportions and then sometimes it recedes,” remarked the Moody Bible Institute’s Michael Rydelnik, whose parents survived the Holocaust.

“We thought after the Holocaust, most historians and analysts thought, ‘That’s the end of it’ and we saw how evil it is and we thought it would be over,” he continued. “And yet in recent days, it’s revived really strongly.”

Rydelnik says this type of hatred knows no political party and exists in both extreme fringes.

Just recently, freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) apologized after tweeting criticisms of US support of Israel and tweeting in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

Ilhan Omar

Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League recently issued a report that shows anti-Semitic incidents rose nearly 60 percent in just one year – from 2016 to 2017.

“Well, I think it’s really interesting that the new anti-Semitism, it used to just be on the right, right wing fascist kind of Nazi kind of ideology, extreme right,” Rydelnik noted. “I don’t think all conservatives are like that, but the extreme Right.”

“Now the extreme Left has embraced it as well, and so you have two groups,” he continued. “And I think also the part of the liberal ideology today, the extreme Left, is extremely anti-Israel and because of that, there’s a greater propensity to persecute Israel or argue against Israel because it’s a Jewish state. It’s the Jewish state of Israel that they’re angry about.”

CBN News has also reported on a spike in anti-Semitism on college campuses in the US.

And Ryldelnik says even in Asian countries where fewer people are Jewish, a growing tide of anti-Semitism is taking hold.

Nursing Home Resident Euthanized Against Her Will

Once you create a situation at law where killing of another person is allowed in certain circumstances, not only will the circumstances in which such killing is endorsed or allowed change over time, but the boundaries, however originally drawn, will be entirely ineffective in providing moral, legal and ethical guidance and restraint.

In Belgium and The Netherlands in the thousands of euthanasia deaths since their laws came into being in 2002 few cases have ever been referred by the review systems to justice for further scrutiny. In Belgium that number is one; one case only. …

According to a multiplicity of reports, an un-named woman–an octogenarian living in a nursing home and experiencing dementia– was euthanized against her will. She had made a comment in her advanced directive that she would like euthanasia “when I myself find it the right time.”

The woman had been a resident in the nursing home for only seven weeks. During that time she was noted as being ‘frightened and angry’ wandering the halls of the facility at night and missing her family. This, the nursing home doctor concluded, meant that she was suffering unbearably. She assessed that the woman was no longer mentally competent and accepted that the written declaration she had made earlier in her advanced directive was an acceptable request for euthanasia.

The Dutch Law allows for a request for euthanasia in an advanced directive to be acted upon after the satisfaction of all the other qualifying criteria. The law considers such a written statement as a ‘well considered request for euthanasia’. How it can be known for certain that, at the time the request was written down, that the person understood fully the nature of their request is never explained.

Compounding the problem, the woman’s expression of intent in her directive was not clear and should not have been accepted as an advance request according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission. She had written, concerning euthanasia, that she wanted it, “when I myself find it the right time.” At the very least, this expression suggests that the woman wanted to approach the matter when she thought it was appropriate, implying that her own capacity to make a contemporary decision was important to her. Paradoxically, the doctor’s determination that capacity had been lost should have rendered her statement null.

Various media reports point out that the woman was provided with a sedative in her coffee ‘to calm the woman down’. She was unaware that the sedative had been provided. The Trouw newspaper’s editorial discussed the issue of the provision of a pre-euthanasia sedative without the person’s knowledge, pointing to a recent case where a similar sedative was provided without consent in a bowl of apple sauce. They note that the Dutch Euthanasia Review Commission rightly considers such behavior as ‘deceptive’.

The Trouw editor concluded that the problem was really that the coffee-carried dose was too low. Why? Because the woman resisted when later the doctor moved to apply the lethal dose via syringe. The NLTimes described it this way:

‘But when the infusion was inserted she “pulled back”, and while the doctor injected the euthanasia agent, she moved as if to get up. The doctor decided to continue while family members held the patient down. The woman died shortly afterwards.’

According to the UK Mirror, this story came to light via a report prepared by a Dutch Coroner for review by the Dutch Euthanasia Regional Review Committee. The Mirror says that the woman had said clearly several times “I don’t want to die” in the days before her death.

The Euthanasia Review Committee is charged with reviewing the file and making a recommendation that would need to be endorsed by a second review committee.

The Mirror concludes:

“The committee concluded though the doctor had acted in good faith, she should have stopped when the patient resisted.

“Committee spokesman Jacob Kohnstamm added he was in favour of the case going to court: “Not to punish the doctor, but to get judicial clarity over what powers a doctor has when it comes to the euthanasia of patients suffering from severe dementia.”

“The committee’s recommendations are now reportedly being considered by prosecutors and health officials.” …

Euthanasia or assisted suicide laws create an exception to the laws prohibiting homicide if certain criteria are observed. They were not observed in these cases, therefore the exception should not be applied. In Holland it would seem that ‘good faith’ is enough to be let off with a little less than a slap on the wrist. But deciding what is and is not an act in ‘good faith’ is a tricky business. A wrongful death – even in ‘good faith’ is still a homicide and not simply a misdemeanor.

It may be that this situation is being used deliberately to further the current debate on euthanasia and dementia and euthanasia and ‘tired of life’. It may be that the doctor was lax in her application to the paperwork; a simple mistake. But it just may be about a death outside of the confines set by the parliament – deliberately or otherwise – a homicide.

Whatever the outcome, what is abundantly clear is that once we create legal excuses for killing there will be more excuses and more killing.

Explosive cyclogenesis in central Atlantic Ocean, exceptional wind speeds within the jet stream

Explosive cyclogenesis in central Atlantic Ocean, exceptional wind speeds within the jet stream

A hurricane-force low located in the central Atlantic Ocean is moving NE and causing exceptional wind speeds within the jet stream across the North Atlantic Ocean. The cyclone underwent incredibly rapid intensification and is expected to pass west of Iceland on February 21 before it hits south Greenland.

“This jet is related to the intense bombogenesis cyclone that has developed last night in the north Atlantic,” Severe Weather Europe meteorologists said. “Wind speeds of almost 400 km/h (250 mph) are being observed approximately 10 km (6.2 miles) above the ground.”

Earlier today, around 00:00 UTC (February 20), the core was even stronger and wind speeds were up to 407 km/h (253 mph)!

The cyclone has gone through an incredibly rapid intensification and deepened below 940 hPa on the morning of February 20. Within only 19 hours, this cyclone deepened for incredible 51 hPa – from 1 003 to 952 hPa.

51 hPa is more than double the threshold (24 hPa in 24 hours) for ‘explosive cyclogenesis’ also known as ‘bombogenesis’ and ‘bomb cyclone.’

The cyclone expected to produce waves of up to 15 m (49 feet) and pass west of Iceland on February 21 before making landfall over southern Greenland.