By Carey Gillam (Reuters) - Honey bees, critical agents in the pollination of key U.S. crops, disappeared at a staggering rate over the last year, according to a new government report that comes as regulators, environmentalists and agribusinesses try to reverse the decline. Losses of managed honey bee colonies hit 42.1 percent from April 2014 through April 2015, up from 34.2 percent for 2013-2014, and the second-highest annual loss to date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report issued on Wednesday. "Such high colony losses in the summer and year-round remain very troubling," Jeff Pettis, a USDA senior entomologist, said in a statement. The results are based on survey responses from about 6,100 beekeepers managing about 400,000 colonies, or roughly 15.5 percent of U.S. bee colonies. The 2014-15 decline was down from the 45 percent fall in 2012-2013 but well above the other three years of annual measurements and well above the 18.7 percent benchmark considered economically unsustainable, the USDA said. Honey bees are needed to pollinate plants that produce a quarter of the food consumed by Americans. Beekeepers travel the country with managed hives to help the process. Over the past few years, bees have been dying at a rate the U.S. government says must be addressed, and the issue has become politically charged. Beekeepers, environmental groups and some scientists blame a class of insecticide known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, used on crops such as corn as well as on plants used in lawns and gardens. Some lawn and garden retailers have cut the use of neonics. Bayer, Syngenta and others that sell neonic products say mite infestations and other factors are the cause. A subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture is holding a hearing on Wednesday, and the White House has formed a task force to study the issue. The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring a series of studies on neonic effects on bees and plans to release the first in a series of assessments later this year. Pettis said on Wednesday that the high summer losses weakened the argument that mites are behind the large losses as the mites are most active in winter. He said pesticide exposure was likely at least one factor. "The bees should be surviving better, but the numbers say otherwise," he said. This is the first time the USDA has released information about summer month bee losses, though it has gathered the information since 2010-2011. The 2014-2015 season was the first that summer losses exceeded winter, at 27.4 percent and 23.1 percent, respectively. Winter losses the prior year were 23.7 percent and summer losses 19.8 percent. Bayer CropScience called the report "good news," citing the winter loss decline, in a statement issued on Tuesday. Bayer said summer losses were "expected and common," and experts did not agree on what was a "normal range for summer losses." A full report will be published later this year, the USDA said. (Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Ted Botha)
- NBC News
Jennifer Ryan faces charges of disorderly conduct and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry.
- Associated Press
A white military veteran shot and wounded a 15-year-old girl when he fired his gun into a car carrying four Black teenagers during a tense confrontation at a rally in support of President Donald Trump near the Iowa Capitol last month. Michael McKinney, 25, is charged with attempted murder in the Dec. 6 shooting in Des Moines. McKinney, who was heavily armed and wearing body armor, told police he fired the shot in self-defense.
Bee Nguyen, Georgia's first Vietnamese American state representative, donned an áo dài to her swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. Regarded as the most popular national costume of Vietnam, the áo dài for women is a long dress with a contoured top that flows over loose-fitting trousers that reach the sole of the feet. Nguyen, 39, decided to wear the garment in response to the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, in which rioters carried the South Vietnamese flag.
- The Telegraph
Wearing a giant furry hat, black leather jacket and a beaming smile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un introduced “the world’s strongest weapon” – a new submarine-launched ballistic missile – at a nighttime parade on Thursday in Pyongyang. The display of North Korea’s military might followed a rare congress of the ruling Workers' Party, during which leader Kim denounced the United States as his country's “foremost principal enemy” and vowed to strengthen the North’s nuclear war deterrent. On Friday, the reclusive regime’s state media released 100 photos of a mass celebration of the national armory, including tanks and rocket launchers, all flanked by rows of marching soldiers, noticeably not wearing masks. Military aircraft were illuminated by LED lights as they flew overhead in formation. “They’d like us to notice that they’re getting more proficient with larger solid rocket boosters,” tweeted Ankit Panda, a North Korea expert and author of ‘Kim Jong Un and the Bomb’, as the parade unfolded in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung square. As the spectacle reached its climax, the military rolled out what analysts said appeared to be new variants of solid-fuel short-range ballistic missiles – which are more quickly deployed than liquid-fuelled versions - and four Pukguksong-class submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
- Charlotte Observer
An Army private first class was arraigned on sexual assault charges before a military judge.
- Associated Press
A Florida waitress who noticed bruises on an 11-year-old boy flashed him a handwritten note asking him if he needed help, and when he nodded yes, she called the police, authorities said. Orlando police credited Flaviane Carvalho, a waitress at Mrs. Potato Restaurant, with coming to the boy's aid on New Year's Eve when the child’s parents weren’t looking. Police took the boy to a hospital where doctors found bruises on his face, earlobes and arms.
- The Week
Less than a week before the inauguration, Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to offer his congratulations.Pence and Harris spoke over the phone Thursday, with Pence congratulating the incoming vice president and offering "his belated assistance," The New York Times reported on Friday and The Associated Press confirmed.This is the first time Pence and Harris have spoken since their debate in October, and the call was "described as gracious and pleasant," the Times writes. President Trump has yet to speak with President-elect Joe Biden since the election, having spent more than two months falsely claiming to have won.Pence may invite Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, to the vice-presidential residence prior to next week's inauguration, according to the Times, though this is reportedly not set in stone due to scheduling issues created by the ongoing security concerns following last week's Capitol riot.Trump is reportedly expected to leave Washington, D.C. the morning of the inauguration. The president previously confirmed he will skip Biden's swearing-in, but Pence is expected to attend.More stories from theweek.com Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious The worst-case scenario for America's immediate future 5 scathing cartoons about Trump's second impeachment
U.S. casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was buried on Friday on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, a city that he fought for years to have recognised as Israel's capital. Mourners dressed in black - some in skullcaps and all wearing masks - laid Adelson's unadorned coffin to rest, accompanied by his Israeli-born wife Miriam and other family members. Praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "huge Jewish patriot", Adelson died on Monday from cancer, said Las Vegas Sands Corp, which he turned into the world's largest casino company.
- The Independent
Local newspapers turn on Lauren Boebert as 68 state politicians demand investigation into Capitol riot role
Lauren Boebert is under fire for sharing details about the location of the House speaker during the Capitol riots
- Architectural Digest
When it came to the lighting in his home, Pardo drew inspiration from the insides of fruits, nuts, and seeds, as well as sea creatures and machine parts.Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- Yahoo News Video
A friendly $100 wager over the 2020 presidential election has landed in a Florida small claims court.
The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment." The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * The NRA then sued James in federal court, accusing her of violating its right to free speech. * Karl Racine, attorney general for Washington, D.C., filed a separate lawsuit in August against the gun lobby and its foundation "for misusing charitable funds to support wasteful spending by the NRA and its executives."What they're saying: "Today, the NRA announced a restructuring plan that positions us for the long-term and ensures our continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York," the NRA's Wayne LaPierre said in letter to members and supporters Friday. * "The plan can be summed up quite simply: We are DUMPING New York, and we are pursuing plans to reincorporate the NRA in Texas," LaPierre added. * "Under the plan, the NRA will continue what we’ve always done – confronting anti-gun, anti-self-defense and anti-hunting activities and promoting constitutional advocacy that helps law-abiding Americans." * "Our work will continue as it always has. No major changes are expected to the NRA’s operations or workforce. " LaPierre also claimed Friday that the NRA is "as financially strong as we have been in years," despite the organization laying off or furloughing dozens of employees, canceling its national convention and cutting salaries last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, per AP. * A spokesperson for the NRA said in May that like "every other business and nonprofit, we are forced to make tough choices in this new economic environment," per AP. * In its bankruptcy petition filed in Texas, the NRA listed assets and liabilities of as much as $500 million each, Bloomberg reported. Go deeper: The NRA's dwindling political influenceEditor's note: This story has been updated with additional details. Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Associated Press
A 16-year-old boy has admitted fatally shooting his newborn daughter and leaving her body inside a fallen tree in the woods in southern Wisconsin, according to prosecutors. Logan Kruckenburg-Anderson, of Albany, is charged as an adult with first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse. According to a criminal complaint, the teen took the infant shortly after she was born Jan. 5 to a wooded area in Albany, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southwest of Milwaukee, placed her inside a fallen tree and shot her twice in the head.
- The Telegraph
The one-time lover of Spain's former king has accused him of ordering the secret service to deliver death threats to her after their relationship was exposed. Speaking as a witness in a court hearing on Friday, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein stated that her life and those of her children were threatened by the then head of Spain’s CNI secret service, General Félix Sanz Roldán, in her London hotel room in May 2012. The beginning of the alleged campaign of harassment came weeks after a disastrous elephant-hunting trip to Botswana had led to her relationship with Juan Carlos becoming public knowledge. “Sanz Roldán and King Juan Carlos were at great pains to make it clear that it was Juan Carlos who was giving orders to Sanz Roldán, that these orders were coming from the top,” the 56-year-old businesswoman said, speaking to the court in Madrid via a video link from Westminster Magistrates Court. The comments came in a trial in which former Spanish police commissioner José Manuel Villarejo faced charges of slander and false accusation against Mr Sanz Roldán. Mr Villarejo was facing defamation charges after he accused Mr Sanz Roldán of threatening Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein during a 2017 television interview. Mr Villarejo has been remanded in custody since November 2017 while he is investigated on dozens of counts of alleged illegal espionage and other offences. In court, Mr Villarejo said he had been commissioned by the CNI to meet Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein in London in 2015 “to gain her confidence” and convince her to hand over sensitive documents and defuse the dispute between her and Juan Carlos. Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein ratified that she had told Mr Villarejo that Mr Sanz Roldán had said he “could not guarantee my safety and that of my children” during a meeting she said was arranged by Juan Carlos in London’s The Connaught hotel. Since a tape of the conversation between Mr Villarejo and Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein was leaked to the media in 2018, she and other associates of Juan Carlos have been placed under investigation in Switzerland for alleged money laundering. After prosecutors at Spain’s Supreme Court also opened a probe into the former monarch last June, Juan Carlos left Spain and has remained in exile in UAE since.
- The Independent
Cabinet officials preparing to leave administration as DC prepares for Biden inauguration
- Associated Press
In the birthplace of Mexico’s vigilante “self-defense” movement, a new group has emerged entirely made up of women, who carry assault rifles and post roadblocks to fend off what they say is a bloody incursion into the state of Michoacán by the violent Jalisco cartel. The rural area is traversed by dirt roads, through which they fear Jalisco gunmen could penetrate at a time when the homicide rate in Michoacán has spiked to levels not seen since 2013.
Pfizer will temporarily reduce its deliveries to Europe of its vaccine against COVID-19 while it upgrades its production capacity, the company and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) said on Friday. The reduction in deliveries is due to Pfizer limiting output so that it can upgrade production capacity to 2 billion vaccine doses per year from 1.3 billion currently, the FHI said. "It is as yet not precisely clear how long time it will take before Pfizer is up to maximum production capacity again."
- NBC News
As blizzard conditions impacted parts of the Midwest, two Southern California coastal locations registered a national high temperature of 94.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow criticized President Trump’s response to last week's U.S. Capitol siege and his treatment of Vice President Mike Pence in the aftermath of the 2020 election, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday. The big picture: Trump has lost support from a number of top aides and allies since a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6, resulting in five deaths. Kudlow is the latest to publicly speak out against the president.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What he’s saying: “I was hoping that he would come out quickly and make statements calling everybody back and stopping the violence," he said. * The White House National Economic Council director praised the video that Trump released the day of the riot, but said he wished Trump put out a statement sooner. * Kudlow said he considered resigning after the Capitol violence, but spoke with other senior White House officials and decided that “we needed to do the work of the country in the last 10 days or so.” * Kudlow was also “very disappointed” with Trump’s public criticism of Pence. The president turned on his VP after Pence said he would certify Biden’s win. “[V]irtually, except for a few extremists, the entire legal profession agreed with Pence,” Kudlow said. * “Once the electoral college declared Mr. Biden to be president-elect, we would have been better advised to acknowledge that and to pivot toward talking about our positive achievements and the policies that generated those policy achievements.”What to watch: Trump plans to leave the White House the morning of Inauguration Day, according to multiple reports. He will then face his second impeachment trial in the Senate.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Associated Press
Jaime Harrison - a longtime Democratic Party official and fundraising powerhouse who failed in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham - is Joe Biden’s choice to lead the national party, the president-elect announced Thursday. Harrison is expected to be elected without any significant opposition when the Democratic National Committee convenes next Thursday in a virtual session, a day after Biden is inaugurated. In addition to Harrison, Biden on Thursday announced that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. of Texas would serve the party as vice chairs.