This is actually the past. In the present, you used a time machine to come back to this point in time and correct a mistake you did. Unfortunately, your memory of events from this point to the present was erased in the process.

Month: August, 2008

red alert: bees are disappearing

bee on flowerCourtesy Maryann Frazier

(CNN) — With rising energy prices and the global biofuel rush already putting pressure on food prices,more news that some countries’ food supplies are being threatened from other corners is never welcome. But new research from the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) released last week seemed to promise exactly that.

A British beekeeper checks up on one of his colonies. Bee populations fell by 30 percent last year.

A British beekeeper checks up on one of his colonies. Bee populations fell by 30 percent last year.

According to the BBKA, the country’s honeybee populations fell by 30 percent in the past year.

Why should we care?

In the West at least, it is said that bees are to thank for putting one third of everything we eat on our tables. For humans they are also the most important pollinator on Earth.

In the UK, 70 crops depend on bees’ pollinating skills, BBKA says; while in the U.S. the value of bees are much higher, pollinating as many as 130 crops a year, their services worth $15 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The BBKA is seriously concerned that Britain may be the latest victim of a mysterious phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) where hive populations disappear without a trace. But it is even more concerned that if the UK Government fails to take this seriously enough, that honeybees could disappear from the country in less than 10 years.

Are virus-carrying alien mites to blame?

Declining bee populations were first spotted in the U.S. in late 2006 when some hives were reported to have hemorrhaged as much as 90 percent of their populations for no apparent reason.

Theories have abounded since regarding the cause of CCD which have ranged from mobile phone signals to the use of pesticides, but one theory has stayed its course.

It is also a favorite of BBKA’s president Tim Lovett — a virus carried by the Varroa mite, a blood-sucking non-native parasite which Lovett suspects first got into the Uk in the early 1990’s and has spread like wildfire ever since.

“It was first discovered in Devon in the early 1990’s and no-one is really sure how it got here.” says Lovett.

“Then three or four years ago we began to realize the treatment we were using for it…which was approved for treatment of Varroa mites. They became resistant to it and strangely that also started in Devon.”

Lovett believes that mites can only have been imported by beekeepers as no host bee carrying the parasite could have made it to the country on its own.

“The English Channel has been a good protective element for the Uk for some years. It’s a hell of a flight for a bumblebee… the most likely thing is someone imported a Queen, and they normally come with workers and attendants and they probably had the mites.”

While the mites were an irritant they were not necessarily a massive problem at first. For obvious reasons, parasites do not tend to kill their hosts. But if a non-native parasite is carrying a disease, the new hosts may not be able to withstand it, says Lovett.

“It doesn’t mean to kill,” says Lovett. “The viruses don’t cause any illness to the Varrao but they are the carriers… European bees had no exposure to it and no ability to handle it.”



Michelle Obama, the next world’s best dressed woman.

Michelle Obama hailed as fashion?s first lady by Vanity Fair

Michelle Obama: a modern woman

But there was no place for her rival to be the next White House spouse.

While Senator Barack Obama’s wife came first on the list, Senator John McCain’s wife did not make it on to the list at all and was dismissed by critics as being too conventional to be stylish.

Mrs Obama joins French first lady Carla Bruni, Kate Middleton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tilda Swinton, Daniel Craig and Angelina Jolie on the list.

Notable among those missing was Victoria Beckham. But given that Mrs Obama topped the lot, it was Mrs McCain who stood out most among the American absentees – and critics appeared to relish the fact.

“Clothes make the woman, after all,” wrote the New York Daily News of the snub.

“Like it or lump it, the personal style of each candidate’s wife has become an important part in establishing individuality, likability and power. Michelle Obama, who has her own favourite high-end designers, has made sure to advertise her everywoman-frugality every chance she gets.”

Keren Eldad, New York fashion manager of the Los Angeles Times, said: “McCain’s style is like the political style of her husband: conservative and outdated. It screams ‘safety’ and escapes any nod to change, to risk, or to bravado. She may throw on a tailored leather jacket every once again, but through her pearls and all that hairspray, can we really detect any semblance of inspiration? Of fun?

“Obama, on the other hand, gets it. She IS a modern woman, she has fun with fashion, she embraces life with fury and grace – making apparel choices so varied, that time and again signal this woman never sees anything in life as constant. That’s change. And that is the essence of what fashion is all about”.

Vanity Fair’s style connoisseurs deemed Mrs Obama ready for the crown of the world’s best-dressed woman for her ensemble of a Maria Pinto purple sheath dress, with a black Azzedine Alaïa belt, worn when her husband claimed the Democratic presidential nomination. “She’s our commander in sheath,” the magazine said.

When Mrs Obama appeared on the popular US daytime talk show, The View, wearing a black and white Donna Ricci dress that cost $148 (£74), the dress sold out overnight and made the designer a household name.

Mrs McCain, on the other hand, has been criticised for her stiff appearance and dress — her hair until recently was always styled in a rigid “up-do” – and is often compared with a Stepford Wife or a cyborg in the media and on blogs.

When Mrs McCain made an effort to soften her image and literally let her hair down for a Vogue photo shoot, the Washington Post ran a feature on the transformation.