Bumble Bees Don't Generate Big Buzz and Their Numbers Are Also In Steep Decline

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Environmentalists and concerned citizens are very attuned to the plight of bees, and specifically honey bees, considered to be most vital for pollination. The bumble bees' longer tongue and wing vibrating tendencies make them more efficient pollinators for some plant species. 

Bumble bees can forage in cool, unfavorable weather better than other bees, making them a focus of study among scientists at Michigan State University. Researchers studied the current population of Michigan bumble bees while extracting data from museum specimens collected as far back as the 1880s.

Blueberries are MIchigan’s leading fruit crop. Science Daily writes: “To extract the pollen necessary for fertilization, the blossom needs to be shaken vigorously, and bumble bees are expert at vibrating the flowers to shake out the pollen.”

"In Michigan, there are 19 species of bumble bees and around 445 species of other bees," said Wood, who led the study in the lab of Rufus Isaacs, MSU entomologist. "Many of Michigan's key crops depend on them. In fact, about 50 percent of cherry pollination is carried out by wild bees."

Wood's team scoured the state of Michigan and compared the distribution of 12 different bumble bee species across the state's 83 counties before and after the year 2000. Some of the biggest declines include:

  • Rusty patched bumble bee -- 100%

  • American bumble bee -- 98%

  • Yellow banded bumble bee -- 71%

  • Yellow bumble bee -- 65%

The findings hold lessons for other regions around the globe, and some of them are positive. A couple of success stories include the common eastern bumble bee and the brown belted bumble bee, which increased by 31% and 10%, respectively.

By sampling pollen on aged bee specimens in museums, scientists determined that the greatest declines in bumble species came from those that had a narrow range of plants they visit for pollen. The picky eaters bumble bees weren’t able to adapt seasonally and also due to loss of prairies over the last century. Pesticides aren’t mentioned in the research summary.

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Diane von Furstenberg Raises $100 Million For New NYC Harbor Statue of Liberty Museum

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As fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg prepares to step down as chairwoman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America — turning over the position to Tom Ford — DVF celebrates her new role as chair of the fund-raising campaign for the Statue of Liberty Museum, which opened on Wednesday.

The designer is interviewed by friend Mellody Hobson, an African American businesswoman who is president of Ariel Investments and the former chairwoman of Dream Works Animation about her first job of raising $100 million for the Statue of Liberty Museum.

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With Edwin Schlossberg, the museum’s designer, Von Furstenberg came up with the idea for an abstract “Stars and Stripes” mural for the entrance. The stripes are iron bars from the Statue of Liberty’s original armature created by Gustave Eiffel, and Diane’s friend sculptor Anh Duong designed 50 stars to sell to donors. It was easy, explained the philanthropist, activist businesswoman and wife of Barry Diller.

There’s something magical about the Statute of Liberty: She belongs to everybody.

Read more details at Harper’s Bazaar US. Photographer Alexi Lubomirski captures Diane with models Akiima, Charlee Fraser and Emmy Rappe honoring one of Americans’ (well most Americans) most cherished symbols of the country we want to be again, as a member in high standing of the international community.

Emmy Rappe (l), Charlee Fraser (c) and Akiima (r)

Emmy Rappe (l), Charlee Fraser (c) and Akiima (r)

Catholic Hierarchy Makes Seemingly Little Progress On Enhancing Role Of Women

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In 2007, Lucetta Scaraffia became the first female contributor to the Vatican’s daily newspaper ‘L’Osservatore Romano’. Soon she proposed the creation of a publication dedicated to women, an approved by Pope Benedict XVI.

“There are so many more women working within the church than there are men, doing interesting and intelligent things, but nobody knows about it,” Scaraffia says. “The magazine set out to give a voice to these women.”

Scaraffia didn’t disappoint — depending on one’s expectations. Early on she began to call out misogyny in the church. In March 2018, she produced an article exposing the servitude of nuns who work “for a pittance to cook and clean for clerics.”

“This created so much embarrassment and hostility in the Catholic hierarchy as the priests thought it was their right to have an unpaid nun serving them. They believe that women become nuns to serve them; it’s a mistaken belief but is very much rooted within the church,” says Scaraffia in a hard-hitting story by The Guardian. “Women become nuns because they have a vocation and want to help those who are suffering or fragile, not to serve priests.”

Scaraffia’s position as editor of ‘Women Church World’ hit the wall on March 26, 2019 when she sent a letter to Pope Francis, telling him “We are throwing in the towel.” After exposing the shocking sexual abuse of nuns and secret abortions paid for by priests, Scaraffia was done. Note, that the editor/professor also has many grievances against feminism, so listen to her and don’t make assumptions about her point of view on women. Scaraffia said that her 11-strong editorial team felt “surrounded by an atmosphere of distrust and progressive delegitimisation.” Church elders were attempting to gag them, she claimed. “A vital initiative has been reduced to silence and there has been a return to the antiquated and arid custom of choosing women considered trustworthy from on high, under the direct control of men.”

Scaraffia told the AP that the decision was taken after the new editor of L'Osservatore, Andrea Monda, told her earlier this year he would take over as editor. She said he reconsidered after the editorial board threatened to resign and the Catholic weeklies that distribute translations of "Women Church World" in France, Spain and Latin America, told her they would stop distributing.

"After the attempts to put us under control, came the indirect attempts to delegitimze us," she said, citing other women brought in to write for L'Osservatore "with an editorial line opposed to ours."

This story has a strong odor of the 2012 Vatican’s investigation into progressive American nuns. Factually speaking, on the subject of the Catholic Church and women, some things never change. Hope springs eternal, but patriarchal reality always smacks women in the face.

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