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Hippy dream now a billion-dollar industry with California set to legalise cannabis


The state that is the worlds sixth biggest economy will legalise cannabis on New Years Day and expects a boom time for jobs and investment

While Arctic conditions gripped Americas north-east, balmy sunshine bathed Los Angeles last week but that was not the only reason denizens of the Venice boardwalk were feeling mellow. An astringent, earthy aroma infused the Pacific zephyrs wafting through the buskers, joggers, skateboarders, tourists and panhandlers.

Weed is part of the culture here, said Oni Farley, 30, perched on a sandy mound, watching life go by. Its part of the LA/California scene, the laid-back vibe. He ignored a police patrol car that inched through the throng. Ive blazed in front of cops and they dont say anything. To be honest, most of the time Im so high I dont notice them.

Pot wasnt hiding. In multiple different ways it was on display.

Addicted to weed, anything green helps, said a scrawled sign tilted against the backpack of Alexander Harth, 36, a dusty member of the boardwalks homeless population.

On the pavement, Marc Patsiner hawked wooden ornaments etched with Californian symbols: sunglasses, palm trees and marijuana leaves. Its pretty bohemian out here. People associate us with the leaf.

A vape shop offered glass pipes and other pot paraphernalia. T-shirt stores peddled images of Barack Obama smoking a joint alongside other herb-themed garments saying best buds and just hit it.

On Monday, California, the USs most populous state, and the worlds sixth biggest economy, will officially hit it by legalising cannabis.

Think Amsterdam, but sunnier and vaster a watershed event for the legalisation movement. Overnight a shadow industry worth billions of dollars annually will emerge into the light, taking its place alongside agriculture, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and other sectors that are regulated and taxed.

It will answer to the newly created Bureau of Cannabis Control bureaucratic confirmation that a day many activists did not dare dream of has indeed come to pass.

A product pilloried in the 1936 film Reefer Madness will become culturally normalised and economically integrated, said Philip Wolf, an entrepreneur who runs a cannabis wedding company and a firm that pairs pot with gourmet food. Its going to help destigmatise the plant. Theres going to be a lot of people making money and people will want to tax those dollars. This is going to spread. California is a trend-setting state.

California legalised pot for medicinal purposes in 1996, ushering in a web of dispensaries, spin-off businesses and creeping mainstream acceptance. That culminated in voters last year approving proposition 64, a ballot initiative which legalised pot sales for recreation. History will mark the date it came into effect: 1 January 2018.

It is expected to unleash profound changes across the state. The Salinas Valley, an agricultural zone south of San Francisco nicknamed Americas salad bowl, has already earned a new moniker: Americas cannabis bucket. Silicon Valley investors and other moneyed folk are hoping to mint fortunes by developing technology to cultivate, transport, store and sell weed. Entrepreneurs are devising pot-related products and services. Financiers are exploring ways to fold the revenue estimated at $7bn per annum by 2020 into corporate banking.

Customers at MedMen, a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. Use of the drug to ease pain and disease has already been decriminalised in California. Photograph: Richard Vogel/AP

California is not the trailblazer. Colorado grabbed that mantle in January 2014 when it became the first jurisdiction in the world beating Washington state and Uruguay by months to legalise recreational cannabis sales. California is one of 29 US states where pot is legal for medical or recreational use. With medical certificates you can criss-cross the country getting legally stoned.

But cultural, political and economic heft makes California a landmark in the global legalisation campaign. This is the state that incubated the political careers of Richard Nixon, who launched the war on drugs in 1971, and Ronald Reagan, who continued hardline prohibition policies under his wife Nancys slogan just say no.

Californias path to yes wound through Venice, a gritty beachside haven for beat poets, artists and musicians long before hippies wore flowers on their way to San Francisco. The Doors, among others, kept the counterculture torch lit in Venice: here they wrote Light My Fire, Moonlight Drive and Break on Through. A giant mural of a shirtless Jim Morrison still peers down from a wall. It was in Venice that generations of Angelenos and tourists toked illicit spliffs. They still do, though it is now a gentrifying tech enclave.

When California legalised pot for medicinal purposes many cities and neighbourhoods refused to issue licenses for pot dispensaries. In Venice they popped up like toast, as did clinics where for a fee ranging from around $20 to $40 doctors issued pot recommendation letters to ostensible patients. Some were genuine, with ailments and pain alleviated by the herb. Many just wanted to get high. Pretending you have an affliction just to smoke, thats ridiculous, said Farley, the boardwalk observer. Having served in the navy, he claimed to have post-traumatic stress disorder. I dont, but thats what I said.

The California Alternative Caregivers dispensary set up shop in 2005 on Lincoln Boulevard, on the second floor of a maze of little shops and offices. It was by design, upstairs, all the way to the back. We didnt advertise, said the manager, Jim Harrison, 46. Pot, medicinal or not, still needed to be discreet. If asked about his profession Harrison would say he was a healthcare professional.

The sky failed to fall in on Venice, or other areas with dispensaries, and little by little pot became more mainstream, even respectable. Harrison, who wears a white coat and calls his patrons patients, is proud that his dispensarys protocols, such as sealing and labelling bags and containers, have been replicated in the new state regulations for recreational pot.

Full legalisation feels historic, he said. Its pretty amazing. The cats out of the bag. His dispensary will create a new space for recreation customers and keep a separate room for patients. Tax on medicinal pot is lower so dispensaries expect that market segment to dwindle but not disappear.

The new era may begin with a whimper. State authorities have given counties and cities authority and responsibility to govern the new industry. The result is a patchwork. Some places, such as Kern county, are still banning all commercial pot activity. LA and San Francisco only recently approved local regulations so it could be weeks or months before newly licensed pot shops start sprouting. Oakland, Santa Cruz and San Diego have licensed operators ready to open on Monday.

Golden State Greens budtender Olivia Vugrin (right), serves a customer in San Diego, California. Dozens of shops in the state will be selling marijuana for recreational use from tomorrow. Photograph: Elliot Spagat/AP

Donald Trumps administration casts a shadow because pot remains illegal under federal law. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has compared the herb to heroin and threatened a crackdown. Fearful of federal prosecution, banks are shunning pot businesses, leaving the industry stuck with mounds of cash which must be transported under armed guard.

Venices bohemians helped pave the way to Californias big experiment but it is another California, that of boardrooms and city halls, which stands to gain.

Based on Colorados experience politicians across the Golden State are expecting tax windfalls. Labour unions are hoping to recruit tens of thousands of workers to cultivate and sell pot.

Wealthy investors are snapping up land in Salinas and other cultivation areas with a view to mass production. Others are forming pot-focused business accelerators and management firms. Start-ups are devising new apps, products and services.

Corporate expansion felt a world away from the patch of sand that Harth, the Venice panhandler, called home. Despite the sunshine drawing big crowds to the boardwalk he stuffed his sign Addicted to weed, anything green helps into his backpack. The dollars werent coming.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/30/california-legalise-cannabis-hippy-dream-billion-dollar-industry

Ricky Gervais Targets Caitlyn Jenner AGAIN! Is This Joke Another Low Blow ??


And on Friday, the English actor took to Twitter to go after the reality stellar once again regarding that awful coincidence!

The 54 -year-old shared an section about how the former jock was breaking her stillnes over his insensitive pun, and included a brand-new flame in his pole, publication:


Her response to his awards demo mine was that she would speak to the Globes about hosting herself. And of COURSE Ricky had a retort for that as well, tweeting 😛 TAGEND

What do “youre thinking about” his latest cranny, Perezcious readers? Should he back off, or is it all in good merriment? SOUND OFF in the comments!

Hair Pins and Body Doubles: Happens You NEVER Knew About’ The Parent Trap’


Hallie. Annie. Annie. Hallie. Two twinneds. One elaborated scheme to reunite their parents. Hijinks. Love. Camp. Meredith Blake.Marvas! Chessie! Martin! Dennis Quaid! Natasha Richardson !! Lindsay Lohan !!!

The Parent Trap is one of the greatest movies of the ‘9 0s. You know you enjoy it. You still watch it. You still mention it. You still can’t get enough.

But did you know these behind-the-scenes facts about the movie? I bet you didn’t. Speak them, hear them, and then you’ll be able to tell your friends, “I have class, and you don’t! “

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Two missing after Spring Break boat trip near Florida’s Gulf Coast


The search continues for two boaters on Spring Break who disappeared in the rough waters of Florida’s Pass–AGrille Channel Wednesday morning.

According to a Wednesday morning update from Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the initial call came at about 6 p. m. Tuesday. Lieutenants say 15 students from Colorado State University chartered the 71 -foot yacht, “ve called the” “Jaguar, ” from Maximo Marina. But rough waters and high winds caused the expedition to take a turn — arising in one of the pupils and a craft crew member to become lost at sea.


Five male students had gone swimming off the side of the vessel while it was anchored Tuesday afternoon. But lieutenants say the wind, motions, and current were too much, thrusting the students to swim back to the boat.

However, one of the young men wasn’t able to make it back on his own. Jie Lou, a 21 -year-old from China, is still missing.

PCSO says that as the charter chieftain expedited the other four swimmers, 27 -year-old charter mate Andrew Dillman jump-start in the irrigate to expedite Lou.

Deputies feel the two men were then caught in the fast-moving current. They were not wearing personal flotation devices.

Click here to read more of this story at Fox1 3.

Watch this man slip and slide down his entire driveway on black ice


This dude just earned himself a PhD in skating on black ice.

Clearly, it’s winter out there, which means cold temperatures will occasionally bring ice and snow to a neighborhood near you. But black ice is an especially treacherous obstacle to both vehicles and pedestrians, considering its virtually invisible.

Tim Besecker of Loudoun County, Virginia found that out the hard when we he walked out to his car on Tuesday, only to discover too late that his entire driveway was covered in ice. After saving himself from an initial spill, Tim was sent careening down his sloped driveway before landing elegantly on his front lawn.

His home security footage captured the whole thing, and thankfully his wife Kelly Besecker posted the video to her Facebook page for all to see.

Oh, and thank goodness Tim was uninjured in the ordeal, according to local news outlet WVTR.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/10/man-slips-black-ice-driveway-fail/

Texas father who action daughter into prostitution is convicted


A Houston-area man was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment Monday for coercing his daughter into prostitution.

The man was convicted in Harris County after pleading guilty to aggravated compelling of vice. He was arrested in June 2015 following an undercover investigation by the Houston Police Departments Vice Division and the FBI, part of Houstons Child Exploitation Task Force.


Its believing in her( the daughter ), and then improving a occurrence with evidence that supports her tale, if it does, said JoAnne Musick, chief of Harris County District Attorneys Office of Sex Crimes Division.

Fox News will not identify the man to safeguard the identity of his daughter, a casualty of a sex offense.


The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received the initial gratuity that the man was prostituting his daughter. They likewise learned that the papa was advertising his daughter on BackPage.com. They elapsed all relevant considerations along to the Child Exploitation Task Force.

Once the authorities were able to locate the girl on Back Page they set up a vice appointment to heal “their childrens”, is in accordance with Musick.

The father began by wreaking his daughter to truck stops and had her knock on doors and proposition them for fornication. Harmonizing to Musick, when he saw because this is profitable, he began to advertise.

Musick said the girl didnt have a direction to speak up because her father was the only person she had and her estranged baby had recently succumbed. She facilitated the police build the event against her father from day one.

She was able to give the police a lot of details and they are capable of trace them down and substantiate them. A mint of durations with these kinds of cases with back sheet and other things like that, you have a lot of digital attest. So we can subpoena some of that from back page and we download other information from other devices, said Musick.

Musick explained that authorities can regain report from cell phone and other inventions that many users think is deleted. This included exchanges between the daughter, papa and customers.

The daughter said she had multiple patrons a nighttime and her leader deterred the money. She said when her father-god found out she was sexually active, he said if she was going to act like a prostitute she might as well be one. The felony went on for several months.

Authorities were able to find relatives of the girl who took her in. She was placed into counseling and according to Musick, she is still traumatized but doing much better.

Ray Bogan is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in El Paso, Texas. Follow him on twitter: @RayBogan

Ritz Paris theft: some gems received but gang members still on operate


Part of pillage is recovered during detention of three supposes and more is found in bag dropped by one of two men still at large

French police have recovered some of the ornaments worth an estimated EUR4m( PS3. 5m) that were looted from the Ritz hotel in central Paris on Wednesday night, a police informant has told AFP, as men hunt for two thieves who remain on the run.

A gang of five masked men forearmed with axes and bayonets smashed the presentation windows of jewellery stores on the first floor of the hotel on rue Cambon, near the Place Vendome, at about 6.30 pm( 5.30 pm GMT ).

” A part of the pillage was recovered scattered about during the arrest of three of the suspicious raiders ,” the police root said, referring to the men incarcerated following the end of the heist.

More pearls and watches were found in a purse declined by one of the two suspects still at large, contributed the source, who could not dedicate an estimate for the value of the goods retrieved.


Place Vendome, residence to some of Paris’s top jewellers and high-end watchmakers, has been the scene of several presumptuous daytime raids in recent years.

Three of the raiders, who were wearing gauntlets and balaclavas and carrying handguns as well as tomahawks, entered the inn from the back and crushed the showing windows, is in accordance with two police sources. They tried to escape out of the back but acquired the doors blocked and tried to transfer the pillage through a space to two helpers waiting outside.

One of the two helpers fled by car. The other drew his getaway on a motorbike, descending a bag of ornaments in the process. The total ethic of the loot assessed at EUR4m, a legal generator close to the example told AFP.

Gerard Collomb, the French home minister, praised the police response following the arrests.” Armed burglary at the Ritz: three of the presumed thieves already arrested by police from the 2nd arrondissement. Their talk froid, their professionalism and their speedy actions do the police force proud. I am grateful to them ,” Collomb tweeted.

The Ritz is owned by the Egyptian entrepreneur Mohamed Al Fayed. It was at the Paris Ritz that Diana, Princess of Wales, dined with Fayed’s son, Dodi, the darknes before they died in a auto accident in August 1997.

Security was stepped up in and around Place Vendome in 2014 after a series of stealings on luxury patronizes and jewellers in the square, which is also home to France’s Ministry of Justice.

In October 2016, jewellery importance EUR1 0m was stolen from the American reality TV wizard Kim Kardashian in Paris. Five guys, some wearing jackets with police insignia, nursed her at gunpoint, moving off with various bits of gold and diamond jewellery.

Wednesday’s robbery comes 18 months after the Ritz reopened to guests after practically four years of redevelopments and a major fire.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

My truck has never needed to be washed that badly!!!


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A different dimension of loss: inside the great insect die-off


The long read: Scientists have identified 2 million species of living things. No one knows how many more are out there, and tens of thousands may be vanishing before we have even had a chance to encounter them

The Earth is ridiculously, burstingly fullof life. Four billion years after theappearance of the first microbes, 400myears after the emergence of thefirst life on land, 200,000 years after humans arrived on this planet, 5,000 years (give or take) after God bid Noah to gather to himself two of every creeping thing, and 200 years after we started to systematically categorise allthe worlds living things, still, new species are being discovered by the hundreds and thousands.

In the world of the systematic taxonomists those scientists charged with documenting this ever-growing onrush of biological profligacy the first week of November 2017 looked like any other. Which is to say, it was extraordinary. It began with 95 new types of beetle from Madagascar. But this was only the beginning. As the week progressed, it brought forth seven new varieties of micromoth from across South America, 10 minuscule spiders from Ecuador, and seven South African recluse spiders, all of them poisonous. A cave-loving crustacean from Brazil. Seven types of subterranean earwig. Four Chinese cockroaches. A nocturnal jellyfish from Japan. A blue-eyed damselfly from Cambodia. Thirteen bristle worms from the bottom of the ocean some bulbous, some hairy, all hideous. Eight North American mites pulled from the feathers of Georgia roadkill. Three black corals from Bermuda. One Andean frog, whose bright orange eyes reminded its discoverers of the Incan sun god Inti.

About 2m species of plants, animals and fungi are known to science thus far. No one knows how many are left to discover. Some put it at around 2m, others at more than 100m. The truescope of the worlds biodiversity is one of the biggest and most intractable problems in the sciences. Theres no quick fixor calculation that can solve it, just a steady drip of new observations of new beetles and new flies, accumulating towards a fathomless goal.

An Oxysternon conspicillatum dung beetle from South America. Photograph: Alamy

But even as thousands of new species are being discovered every year, thousands more seem to be disappearing, swept away in an ecological catastrophe that has come to be known as the sixth extinction. There have been five such disasters in the past. The most famous (and recent) is the end-Cretaceous extinction, the one that killed off the dinosaurs 66m years ago. The most destructive was the Permian, the one that cleared the way for the dinosaurs 190m years before that.

To know if we are really in the midst of a sixth extinction, scientists need to establish both the rate at which species arecurrently vanishing, and the rate at which they would go extinct without human activity (known as the background rate). In 2015, using a census of all known vertebrates, ateamof American and Mexican scientists argued that animalspecies are going extinct up to 100 times faster thanthey would without us a pace of disappearance on aparwith the extinction that took out the dinosaurs.

But as Terry Erwin, the legendary tropical entomologist, pointed out to me, these sixth-extinction estimates are biased towards a very small portion of biodiversity. When it comes to invertebrates the slugs, crabs, worms, snails, spiders, octopuses and, above all, insects that make up the bulk of the worlds animal species we are guessing. Conservationists are doing what they can, without data on insects, he said.

To really know whats going on with the state of the worlds biodiversity, ecologists need to start paying more attention tothe invertebrates and spend less time on the cute and cuddlies Erwins term for the vertebrates. (Years of hearing about the wonders of gorillas and humpback whales can make a staunch bug man resentful.) After all, there are far, far more of them than there are of us.

We live in an invertebrate world. Of all known animal species, less than 5% have backbones. About 70% are insects. Fewer than one in every 200 are mammals, and a huge proportion of those are rodents. Looked at from the point of view of species diversity, we mammals are just a handful of mice on a globe full of beetles. The great majority of those beetles are herbivores native to the tropics. So if you really want to understand the total diversity of life on Earth and the true rate at which it is disappearing you need to figure out how many types of beetle munch on every variety of tropical tree.

But before you can count species, you have to name them. Thats where the taxonomists come in. The idea of species has been notoriously hard for biologists to define, especially since organisms so often exist on a continuum, becoming harder and harder to distinguish the closer they are to each other. The most widely accepted definition comes from the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, who defined species as groups of animals that breed with one another, but not with others at least not in the regular course of events. (If you force a zebra and a donkey together to make a zonkey, youve created one hybrid, not disproved the fact that they are two different species, since such a mating would not normally occur in nature.)

Taxonomists do not just name individual species; they also have to figure out how species are related to each other. Over the centuries, many scientists have tried to fit the worlds creatures into a coherent system, with mixed results. Aristotle tried to classify all life forms based on their essential traits, and in particular, the way they moved. Sedentary animals gave him the most trouble. He seems to have spent a lot of time on the island of Lesbos, puzzling over whether sea anemones and sponges were animals, plants, or plant-like animals.

The real revolution in taxonomy came in the 18th century, during the age of Enlightenment. It was largely the work of one man, Carl Linnaeus, who was hailed as the Isaac Newton of biology. Linnaeus was an odd figure to rise to such heights: a brilliant, headstrong, egotistical showoff with a prodigious knack for remembering the sexual characteristics of plants. He made one major expedition to Lapland, in Swedens north but mostly relied on the discoveries of others. He inspired 17 apostles to venture into the world in search of specimens to complete his system. Seven never came home. Based on their collective work, he named 7,700 species of plants and 4,400 species of animals.

Later biologists found much to quibble with in Linnaeuss system. For instance, he grouped hedgehogs and bats together as ferocious beasts, and shrews and hippos together as beasts of burden. Linnaeuss lasting achievement was not increating the groups themselves, but the system by which allsubsequent species would be named. He decreed that all species should have a two-part name. The first part indicates the genus to which a species belongs, and the second part is the species name.

The Neopalpa donaldtrumpi moth. Photograph: Vazrick Nazari/ZooKeys

This is a brilliantly efficient system for both naming and sorting. With it, we can tell in an instant that we, Homo sapiens, are both related to, and distinct from, our evolutionary relatives Homo erectus and Homo habilis. It is also a source of considerable fun for taxonomists. Presidential names the bushi, obamai and donaldtrumpi (a remarkably coiffed moth) reliably grab headlines. Less frequently, species names invoke politics or recent events. A Brazilian mayfly received the species name tragediae, to commemorate the catastrophic collapse of a dam in 2015. Taxonomists are also not above the occasional pun or rhyme. Terry Gosliner, an expert on nudibranchs, or marine sea slugs, once giving the name Kahuna to a species belonging to genus Thurunna from Hawaii, to make Thurunna kahuna.

Gosliner found his first nudibranch while still at high school. Since then he has travelled the world in search of them, and has named more than 300 in his 40-year career. As denizens ofcoral reefs, sea slugs are particularly sensitive to rising sea temperatures. Some scientists think climate change and ocean acidification might cause reefs to vanish entirely in the next 50 to 100 years. Gosliner tends to be a bit more optimistic, emphasising the reefs ability to bounce back from stress. But while corals reefs face peril in the seas, an even greater crisis could be developing for insects on land the true dimensions of which entomologists are only beginning to grapple with.

Before entomologists could ponder the terrifying possibility of an insect mass extinction, they first had to come to grips with the true scale of insect diversity. They are still struggling to do that now. But for many, the breakthrough moment camein 1982, with a brief paper published by a young beetle specialist named Terry Erwin.

Erwin wanted to figure out how many species of insect lived on an average acre of rainforest in Panama, where he wasworking. To do this, he covered a single tree in sheeting and fogged it, by blasting it with insecticide from a device resembling a leafblower. He waited several hours while dead bugs cascaded on to the plastic sheeting he had spread on the ground. He then spent months counting and sorting them all. What Erwin found was startling: 1,200 species lived on this one tree. More than 100 lived on this particular tree and nowhere else. Scaling this result up, Erwin estimated that there are 41,000 different species in every hectare of rainforest, and 30m species worldwide.

This estimate quickly became famous, and controversial. Erwin is widely respected in the field. He has been commemorated in the names of 47 species, two genera, one subfamily and one subspecies a good gauge of respect in the entomological community, where, according to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, naming a species after yourself is forbidden by custom, but not law. Still, many entomologists are sceptical about Erwins wilder estimates, and more recent studies have tended to revise the 30m number down somewhat. But Erwin remains intransigent. Its like Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid, these kids out here taking potshots at me. None of them have any data, he told me recently. Theyre just sitting in that office throwing numbers around. He thinks the real number might be as highas 80m, or even 200m and that a large number of these species are in the process of vanishing without anyone being around to even notice.

A nudibranch sea slug, Chromodoris kuniei, from the Solomon Islands. Photograph: Alamy

Everywhere, invertebrates are threatened by climate change, competition from invasive species and habitat loss. Insect abundance seems to be declining precipitously, even inplaces where their habitats have not suffered notable new losses. A troubling new report from Germany has shown a75%plunge in insect populations since 1989, suggesting thatthey may be even more imperilled than any previous studies suggested.

Entomologists across the world have watched this decline with growing concern. When Brian Fisher, an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences with a particular expertise in ants, arrived in Madagascar in 1993, he expected he would be able to describe some new species, but he had no idea of the extent of the riches he would find there. Everything was new. It was like it was in the 1930s, Fisher said. In that time, he has identified more than 1,000 new species of ant, including some whose adults feed exclusively on the blood of their own young, agroup he has nicknamed the Dracula ants.

A thousand ants is quite a lot, but scientists have identified 16,000 species so far. To a layperson like me, they all seem basically alike. Some are brown, some are black, some are cinnamon-coloured, but other than that, they look pretty much like the (invasive, Argentine) ants that swarm my kitchen in California every time it rains. To an expert like Fisher though, they are as different from one another as warblers are to a birder. Under a microscope, each ant positively bristles with identifying features in their flagellate hairs, their segmented antennae, and most of all, in their mandibles, which under magnification look like diabolical garden shears.

In the decades since Fisher started making expeditions to Madagascar, deforestation has accelerated, and today only 10% of its virgin forests remain intact. Fisher says that in 50years I cant imagine any forest left in Madagascar. According to Wendy Moore, a professor of entomology at the University of Arizona, who specialises in ant nest beetles, There is a sense of running out of time. Everyone in the field who is paying attention feels that. Because many insects depend on a single plant species for their survival, the devastation caused by deforestation is almost unimaginably huge. Once a certain type of forest vanishes, thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds ofthousands of species will vanish, Erwin told me. Deforestation is taking out untold millions of species.

While we still dont have a clear idea of whats happening to insects at the species level, we are in the midst of a crisis at the population level. Put simply, even if many kinds of insects are holding on, their overall numbers are falling drastically. The alarming new data from Germany, which was based on tracking the number of flying insects captured at a number of sites over 35 years, is one warning sign among many. According to estimates made by Claire Rgnier of the French Natural History Museum in Paris, in the past four centuries, as many of 130,000 species ofknown invertebrates may have already disappeared.

Various kinds of anecdotal evidence appear to support these observations. The environmental journalist Michael McCarthy has noted the seeming disappearance of the windscreen phenomenon. Once, he writes, any long automobile journey, especially one undertaken in summer, would resultin a car windscreen that was insect-spattered. In recentyears this phenomenon seems to have vanished.

A violin beetle, Mormolyce phylloies. Photograph: Alamy

Although insecticides have been blamed for the declines in Europe, Erwin thinks the ultimate culprit is climate change. The location he has been observing in Ecuador is pristine, virgin rainforest. Theres no insecticides, nothing at all, hesaid. But gradually, almost imperceptibly, in the time he has been there, something has changed in the balance of the forest. Studying the data, Erwin and his collaborators have found that over the past 35 years, the Amazon rainforest has been slowly dying out. And if the forest goes, Erwin tells me, everything that lives in it will be affected.

If this trend were to continue indefinitely, the consequences would be devastating. Insects have been on Earth 1,000 times longer than humans have. In many ways, they created the world we live in. They helped call the universe of flowering plants into being. They are to terrestrial food chains what plankton is to oceanic ones. Without insects and other land-based arthropods, EO Wilson, the renowned Harvard entomologist, and inventor of sociobiology, estimates that humanity would last all of a few months. After that, most of the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals would go, along with the flowering plants. The planet would become an immense compost heap, covered in shoals of carcasses and dead trees that refused to rot. Briefly, fungi would bloom in untold numbers. Then, they too would die off. The Earth would revert to what it was like in the Silurian period, 440m years ago, when life was just beginning to colonise the soil a spongy, silent place, filled with mosses and liverworts, waiting for the first shrimp brave enough to try its luck on land.

Conserving individual insect species piecemeal, as is done with most endangered mammals, is extremely difficult. Not only are the numbers mind-boggling, but insects and other invertebrates dont tend to have the same cachet. Polar bears and humpback whales are one thing; soft-bodied plant beetles from the Gaoligong mountains of Yunnan are quite another.

Not long ago, I took a trip to the first wildlife refuge established with the express purpose of protecting an endangered insect, the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, about an hours drive north-east of Berkeley, California. The reserve is small only 55 acres, hemmed in on three sides by a chain-link fence, and by the San Joaquin river on the fourth and, in truth, the Dunes do not dazzle the eye. The terrain resembles an unlovely, overgrown plot of land intended for development at some unspecified point in the future. The day I went, three vultures huddled around the body of a cat while the turbines of a wind farm spun lazily on the opposite bank of the river.

Once, however, these dunes were a miniature Sahara, home to a number of animals and plants that existed nowhere else. It took decades before that fact became apparent to biologists, and by then, it was very nearly too late. When white settlers arrived in California, the dunes were seen simply as a source of raw materials. The dune sand was unusually well-suited for brickmaking, and between the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the postwar housing boom, most of the sand was mined out and turned into buildings. Once the dunes were gone, most of the land they formerly stood on was built up.

It wasnt until the 1960s that biologists began to realise howspecial the Antioch Dunes were. By that point, only three native species remained. There were two plants the Contra Costa wallflower and the Antioch Dunes evening primrose and one insect, the Langes metalmark butterfly. The metalmark butterfly is tiny, with a wingspan about the size of thumbnail. A pretty brown-and-orange with white spotting, they are weak flyers, capable of travelling a maximum 400 metres (1,300ft) after they emerge from their chrysalises forseven to nine days every August.

A black garden ant, Lasius niger. Photograph: Alamy

After the Dunes Reserve was established in 1980, the butterfly enjoyed a brief resurgence. Today, it is struggling. Atlast count, there were only 67 individuals in the park. The Langes lay their eggs on one plant and one plant only: the naked-stemmed buckwheat, which is currently being choked out by weeds. The only other population of Langes is kept in acaptive-breeding programme at Moorpark College in Simi Valley, California. If something should happen to these, it would be the end of the species.

In a bid to save the butterfly, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has recently begun a bold experiment in habitat restoration, covering much of the refuge in sand. Spread a metre deep, thesand suffocates invasive plants, allowing the species that originally evolved on the dunes to reclaim their lost ground. If we can bring back the environment, we can bring back the butterfly, wildlife refuge manager Don Brubaker told me. The day I visited, his co-worker, refuge specialist Louis Terrazas, spotted a hopeful sign. The seasons first shoots of native primrose had just started peeking out above the sand. Given time, this remnant of a remnant might spring back to life.

When I asked Brubaker if his painstaking efforts on behalf of the Langes was worth all the trouble, he replied: Why protect the species? Why not? Because its what we do wereenabling the planet to keep functioning.

In some ways, the tiny ranges of invertebrates like the Langes Metalmark Butterfly make them perfect targets for protection. Sarina Jepsen is the director of endangered species and aquatic conservation at the Xerces Society, a Portland, Oregon-based non-profit focusing on invertebrates. She told me that for insects, often small patches of land can make ahuge difference, unlike what is needed for, say, wolf or tigerconservation. We dont necessarily need hundreds of thousands of acres to make a difference with these species, she said. Even so, the amount of work that goes into saving even asingle species can sometimes feel overwhelming. It isnt enough to save one in a lab. You have to rescue whole environments the products of complex interactions betweenplants, animals, soil and climate that have built upover millennia.

At a certain point, it becomes clear that to even think about extinction in terms of individual species is to commit an error of scale. If entomologists most dire predictions come true, the number of species that will go extinct in the coming century will be in the millions, if not the tens of millions. Saving them one at a time is like trying to stop a tsunami with a couple of sandbags.

Like many of the species they study, taxonomists are presently at risk ofbecoming a dying breed. Faculty hires, museum posts and government grants are all declining. Fewer students are drawn to the field as well. All too often, taxonomy gets dismissed as old-fashioned and intellectually undemanding, the scientific equivalent of stamp collecting. Molecular biology, with its concern for DNA, proteins and chemical processes within individual cells, dominates curriculums and hoovers up grant money. All the university courses are oriented towards it, andso is the funding, says Terry Erwin.

Meanwhile, the new species keep piling up. Already today, as Im writing, ZooKeys and Zootaxa, two of the largest and most prolific taxonomic journals, have announced the discovery of a potter wasp from South America, a water scavenger beetle from the Tibetan plateau, an erebid moth, an Andean scarab beetle, two Korean crustaceans and awhole genus of parasitoid wasps (dont worry, were safe the bastards prey on aphids), and it isnt even noon yet.

What to do with this onrush? Many taxonomists I spoke to admit that it simply isnt manageable. Brian Fisher confessed that many taxonomists find themselves awed at some point bythe immensity of what we dont know. Kipling Will, of the University of California, Berkeley, who has spent two decades studying one subfamily of ground beetles, told me, while gesturing at boxes of samples that had just flown in from Australia: We do what we can. I have so much undescribed material. It takes decades just to get where we are. With any species, it takes time to do a proper dissection, test their DNA, compare them to their nearest relatives, and compile all the information necessary to publish something as new. With so many invertebrates being found each year, its common for them to spend years, or even decades, in a queue waiting for their coming-out party.

A long-legged spider crab, Macropodia rostrata. Photograph: Alamy

So what to do? And why bother? There are plenty of practical reasons to worry about the fate of invertebrates. They are avital part of the ecosystems that function as the heart, lungs and digestive system of our planet. Some might carry, inside their exotic biochemistries, cures forany number of diseases. Recently, chemicals harvested from sea slugs have been tested in clinical trials in the US for use as cancer-fighting drugs. Others could be used as natural alternatives to pesticides. But ultimately, its not certain that any of these will be enough on its own. The answer could havemore to do with aesthetics, or enthusiasm for the living world the quality EO Wilson named biophilia.

When you ask people who work in invertebrate taxonomy why they have devoted their lives to a particular type of insect, snail or clam, the word you hear most often is beautiful. Their eyes light up in front of their chosen genus or subclass. The occupants of a case full of slightly iridescent, mostly black beetles will be described as rather huge and incredibly beautiful. (Huge is relative, too they are the size of the final joint of a little finger.) Surrounded by jars full of tiny sea slugs, they will gush about their beauty and the glorious variety of their colour, shape and behaviour. Amy Berkov, a professor of tropical ecology at the City College of New York who works on wood-boring beetles, came to entomology from a background in art and chose her new field, in part, because theres nothing more amazing than looking at insects. Even theant specialists generally a pretty hard-nosed-bunch willtrade Latin names of rare ants with the affection you usually hear reserved for old friends.

Its easy to care about the cute and cuddlies. Soon well beliving on a planet that has lost its last mountain gorilla, itslast leatherback turtle. A world without tigers or polar bears; what a sad place that will be.

But to think about the coming invertebrate extinctions is to confront a different dimension of loss. So much will vanish before we even knew it was there, before we had even begun to understand it. Species arent just names, or points on an evolutionary tree, or abstract sequences of DNA. They encode countless millennia of complex interactions between plant and animal, soil and air. Each species carries with it behaviours we have only begun to witness, chemical tricks honed over a million generations, whole worlds of mimicry and violence, maternal care and carnal exuberance. To know that all this will disappear is like watching a library burn without being able to pick up a single book. Our role in this destruction is a kind of vandalism, against their history, and ours as well.

Take Strumigenys reliquia, one of the ants I heard discussed with such warmth at the California Academy of Sciences. Strumigenys is a predator, a native of the undergrowth, and very rare. It was first discovered in 1986 by Phil Ward of the University of California, Davis. He spotted this incredibly rare species on a two-hectare patch of woods a few miles from his office. It has never been seen anywhere else. Ward thinks there is a reason for this. California rivers were once flanked by giant forests of hardy, flood-resistant, evergreen oaks. Geologists think these riverine forests were a feature of the landscape for at least 20m years. Accounts from early settlers and explorers give an idea of what they might have been like. They write of flocks of geese blackening the sky, salmon choking the streams and grizzly bears gathering under the oaks to feed on acorns in troupes of a hundred or more.

Today, except for a few scattered acres like the one Ward found in Yolo County, those forests are gone. They were chopped down long ago for firewood and ploughed under tomake way for tomato farms and almond orchards. The salmon, the geese and the grizzlies have all gone too. Onlytheant remains. Only it remembers.

Main image: Alamy; Getty; Guardian Design; Sara Ramsbottom

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/14/a-different-dimension-of-loss-great-insect-die-off-sixth-extinction

Shahs Of Sunset Star Mike Shouhed’s Eight-Month Marriage Is ‘Officially Done’!


At least they lasted longer than

On Thursday, Mike attended the Susan G. Komen LA Presents ‘Babes For Boobs’ Live Bachelor Auction in Los Angeles where he supported his single status.

“I am not married. I am single. It’s officially done.”

According to court evidences, the two actuality whizs finalized their divorce last fall.

Although he and his ex talk “once in a while, ” he is doing his best to live life as a bachelor.

“It’s hard because I am still mending my broken heart from before … It seems like women around L.A. are on the prowl. It’s like a shortage of men here or something. My DM get blown up.”

But don’t get it twisted. It does NOT go down in the DM!

“Be like old school, stalkershow up at my doorway. Don’t send me nudes immediately like, ‘Hey, what’s up? ‘”

Best of luck with your next union!

[ Image via Jessica Parido/ Instagram .]