Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 AP Investigation: Palin got zoning aid, gifts

By BRETT J. BLACKLEDGE, Associated Press Writer

2 hours, 12 minutes ago

WASILLA, Alaska – Though Sarah Palin depicts herself as a pit bull fighting good-old-boy politics, in her years as mayor she and her friends received special benefits more typical of small-town politics as usual, an Associated Press investigation shows.

When Palin needed to sell her house during her last year as Wasilla mayor, she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception – and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard.

She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free “awesome facial” she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The “absolutely gorgeous flowers” she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon to take home.

2 Iraqi Christians protest end to quotas in vote law

By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 1 minute ago

BAGHDAD – Hundreds of Iraqi Christians rallied in northern Iraq on Sunday to protest a new elections law they say denies them their rights because it doesn’t guarantee their minority any seats on provincial councils.

In violence, at least 25 people were killed by attacks in Baghdad and restive Diyala province, including a series of car bombings in the capital that targeted shoppers.

Amid growing criticism of the provincial election law, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appealed to parliament and the electoral commission to restore the quotas guaranteed for minority goups by the old election law.

3 Bailout deal vote, market verdict awaited

By Richard Cowan and Patrick Rucker, Reuters

14 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers pushed to finalize a deal to create a $700 billion government fund to buy bad debt and halt the financial crisis as European regulators scrambled to prevent two banks from collapsing.

However, questions abound as to whether the U.S. financial rescue plan, which would use taxpayer funds to buy up toxic mortgage debt, would restore confidence to shaky markets and head off a deeper downturn.

In a sign of the spreading crisis, Belgian-Dutch financial group Fortis faced a takeover or break-up as European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet joined emergency talks with Dutch and Belgian lawmakers.

4 China’s spacewalk astronauts return as heroes

By Emma Graham-Harrison, Reuters

29 minutes ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – Three Chinese astronauts landed safely back on earth on Sunday after a 68-hour voyage and space walk that showcased the country’s technological mastery and were hailed as a major victory by its leaders.

Their Shenzhou (“sacred vessel”) spacecraft parachuted down to the steppes of northern Inner Mongolia region at dusk. Doctors rushed to open the capsule and check the men as they readjusted to gravity and recovered from the punishing re-entry.

Spacewalker Zhai Zhigang was the first to emerge and was helped to a nearby folding chair, where he was greeted with flowers and applause and said he was “proud of his motherland.”

5 Austria swings to the right in snap elections

by Simon Morgan, AFP

17 minutes ago

VIENNA (AFP) – Austria’s two ruling parties, the Social Democrats and conservatives, received a severe drubbing in a snap general election here Sunday, which was marked by a resurgence of the far-right.

As of 7:00 pm (1700 GMT), two hours after the polls closed, the interior ministry calculated that the Social Democrat SPOe managed to hold on to first place, garnering 29.9 percent of votes.

But the reading represented a drop of 5.4 percentage points from the previous election in October 2006 and was the SPOe’s lowest score since the end of World War II.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Recommended

6 China milk victim lawyers say pressed to quit

By Chris Buckley, Reuters

Sun Sep 28, 5:02 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese lawyers seeking redress for infant victims of toxic milk say they are facing growing official pressure to abandon the efforts, blaming growing government sensitivity over the health scandal.

Scenes of thousands of parents crowding hospitals, seeking help for babies ill from toxic dairy powder, have stoked widespread public dismay in China.

Reflecting that anger, local rights advocates and lawyers have mobilized to support families seeking redress, possibly by suing dairies or officials who failed to disclose the problem.

7 Iraq signs billion-dollar power deals with GE, Siemens

By Simon Webb, Reuters

Sun Sep 28, 1:11 AM ET

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iraq has signed preliminary deals worth billions of dollars with General Electric Co and Siemens for equipment to almost double electricity generation capacity, an energy official said on Saturday.

The deals with GE, Siemens and a third company would be worth a total of $7 billion to $8 billion, Iraq’s Electricity Minister Karim Waheed told Reuters.

Years of war, sanctions and neglect have battered Iraq’s power grid and the country suffers chronic power shortages. The capital Baghdad receives only a few hours of electricity a day. The deals would mark a big step in the country’s reconstruction, Waheed said.

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8 Taliban kill Afghanistan’s most high-profile policewoman

by Nasrat Shoaib, AFP

Sun Sep 28, 4:46 AM ET

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) – Taliban gunmen shot dead the most high-profile female police officer in Afghanistan on Sunday as she left her home to go to work on Sunday, officials and the militia said.

The attackers were waiting outside the home of Malalai Kakar, head of the city of Kandahar’s department of crimes against women, and opened fire on her car, Kandahar government spokesman Zalmay Ayoobi told AFP.

“Today between 7 am and 8 am when she was (in her car) outside her house and going to her job, some gunmen attacked,” Ayoobi said. “Malalai Kakar died in front of her house. Her son was wounded.”

From Yahoo News World

9 US ambassador appeals for patience in Iraq

By JOHN DANISZEWSKI, Associated Press Writer

Sun Sep 28, 11:13 AM ET

BAGHDAD – U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Sunday accused Iran of trying to interfere with a new security pact between Iraq and the United States, and said Americans need to view Iraq with “a sense of strategic patience” because the stakes in the region are so high.

The 37-year veteran diplomat, interviewed by The Associated Press at his embassy in Baghdad, is in the middle of tough negotiations with Iraqi officials to define the basis for a continuing American military presence in the country beyond the end of this year.

The talks hit an impasse recently and are taking place against a backdrop of increasing calls in the United States for a U.S. withdrawal and declining interest in the war itself from many members of the American public.

10 Indian police detain about 12 over Delhi blast

By Bappa Majumdar, Reuters

Sun Sep 28, 7:03 AM ET

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian police have detained about a dozen people in connection with a deadly bomb blast in a crowded New Delhi market, officials said on Sunday, the second attack in the capital this month.

Police said they had witnesses who could identify the two men who dropped a plastic bag in the capital’s busy Mehrauli market, before speeding away on a motorcycle on Saturday.

A boy picked up the bag and ran after the motorcyclists to return it when there was a huge explosion, killing him on the spot. A 60-year-old man died in hospital later. Twenty-two people were wounded in the blast.

11 Spate of Baghdad bombings kills 26

AFP

1 hour, 16 minutes ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) – At least 26 people were killed in a spate of bombings in Baghdad on Sunday, including three attacks which struck as Iraqis marked the end of the daily Ramadan fast, security officials said.

A bomb in a minibus parked near a Shiite mosque in Baghdad’s Shurta neighbourhood killed 12 people and wounded 35 others, the officials told AFP, while a second car bombing killed one person and wounded another in Hai al-Amil.

Both attacks took place in the western Baghdad neighbourhoods just minutes before the end of the daily Ramadan dawn-to-dusk fast.

12 McCain misstates some facts in foreign-policy debate

By Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers

Sat Sep 27, 11:22 AM ET

WASHINGTON – John McCain and Barack Obama clashed repeatedly over foreign policy in their first presidential debate Friday night, crossing swords on Iran and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan .

McCain made the most notable misstatements and stumbled over the names of the leaders of Iran , Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , whose name he couldn’t pronounce, and of Pakistan , referring to the latter as “Qadari” instead of Asif Ali Zardari.

McCain incorrectly asserted that former Gen. Pervez Musharraf rescued Pakistan from being a “failed state” when he seized power in a 1999 coup.

13 Europe’s Conservatives Pooh-Pooh the Free Market

By BRUCE CRUMLEY/PARIS, Time Magazine

Sun Sep 28, 2:30 AM ET

France’s notoriously divided and ideologically marooned Socialist opposition has long struggled to find a leader capable of selling a modern leftist vision that voters will embrace. Right now, though, conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy may be doing that job for the Socialists. Following his Tuesday address to the United Nations in which he characterized international financial markets as “insane,” Sarkozy Thursday sounded like an indignant leftist when he called for sweeping regulation and “moralization” of international finance, and declared that the era “of the market always being right is over.”
From Yahoo News U.S. News

14 Conservative talk radio rails against bailout

By Matthew Bigg, Reuters

Fri Sep 26, 3:33 PM ET

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Opposition to a massive Wall Street bailout plan has quickly emerged on conservative talk radio, with hosts and callers saying the rescue undermines principles at the heart of the Republican Party.

Tens of millions of conservatives tune in to AM talk radio, trusting nationally syndicated hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Neal Boortz over media outlets they say have a liberal bias.

“I really don’t like this (proposal),” said Lance from North Carolina on the “Today’s Issues” program broadcast on Christian radio stations across America.

15 Avoid wrong crisis lesson, invest in poor: Clinton

By Michelle Nichols, Reuters

Fri Sep 26, 4:12 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton warned rich countries on Friday that they should not learn the wrong lesson from the financial crisis and said it can be profitable to help the poor.

While Congress debated a $700 billion bailout to save the U.S. financial system, Clinton said as he wrapped up his philanthropic summit that the turmoil could also be seen as an opportunity to invest in developing nations.

He warned governments to avoid just “looking inward” as they sought to fix the financial system.

16 Breakthrough in US talks on Wall Street bailout

by Virginie Montet

2 hours, 17 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US lawmakers hailed a breakthrough in talks on 700-billion dollar bailout to avert the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and worked to finalize a deal on Sunday.

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid attributed the fresh progress to a last-minute intervention by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“It’s been a very long day. Quite frankly, a long week. This evening has been extremely difficult,” Reid said after US lawmakers worked feverishly into the early morning hours.

17 Obama to move campaign to Midwest as rows with McCain flare

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

2 hours, 1 minute ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Barack Obama was to move his campaign to the industrial Midwest Sunday as the Democratic nominee and his Republican rival, John McCain, tore into one another over the reeling US economy.

Obama was to speak at a rally in Detroit one day after the US Senate approved 25 billion dollars in loan guarantees for the financially strapped US auto industry.

The bill, which passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday, contains the first loan guarantees for US carmakers since Congress approved a similar 675 million dollar measure for Chrysler in 1980.

18 Looking for a loan? Try P2P

by Nathalie Laville, AFP

2 hours, 15 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Saddled by student loans and credit card debt, Ryan Little was looking for relief.

Like many, the 30-year-old insurance agent turned towards banks for a loan but he ended up finding a much better deal elsewhere, on the Internet, through a website called Lending Club (lendingclub.com).

Little eventually borrowed 10,000 dollars from 30 people he didn’t know and had never met through Lending Club, a “peer-to-peer” or social lending network.

19 Oh, the Drama! McCain in the Theater of the Absurd

By MICHAEL GRUNWALD, Time Magazine

Sat Sep 27, 4:55 PM ET

If you missed the news this week, you didn’t miss all that much. The stock market threatened to crash, but didn’t. John McCain threatened to skip the presidential debate unless members of Congress approved a huge financial bailout, but they didn’t, so he didn’t. The debate went on; the candidates stayed on message; the pundits all agreed that it wasn’t a “game-changer.” You did miss the largest bank failure in American history, not to mention a $25 billion bailout of the auto industry, but that’s chump change these days, right? You might not have heard that investment banks are now officially extinct, but basically the economy is on the same precipice it was on last week.

20 What Michelle Obama Would Bring to the White House

By CURTIS SITTENFELD, Time Magazine

Sun Sep 28, 8:55 AM ET

Michelle Obama is tall, smart, funny, relaxed and basically so glowy and poised – if she’s attractive in pictures, she’s flat-out gorgeous in person – that it almost seems as if she already is the First Lady.
From Yahoo News Politics

21 Earmarks aside, McCain would have said yes to bill

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

Sun Sep 28, 11:47 AM ET

WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Sunday he probably would have voted for legislation to keep the federal government running after midweek, even though it was packed with the kind of “outrageous pork-barrel spending” he has long opposed.

“That’s the way they always do,” the Arizona senator said dismissively of fellow lawmakers. “You put in the, you put in the good deals, and then you put in the pork, as well.” He said separate votes should be allowed on the bill’s different provisions.

McCain did not vote on the measure when it cleared Congress on Saturday, although he returned to Washington after Friday night’s campaign debate in Mississippi. McCain said he was working on other matters at the time of the vote, including negotiations on a bailout of the financial industry.

22 US Congress passes 25 bln loan guarantees to automakers

AFP

2 hours, 10 minutes ago

DETROIT, Michigan (AFP) – The US Senate Saturday approved 25 billion dollars in loan guarantees for the financially strapped US auto industry, intended to spark a wave of automotive innovation.

The loan guarantees were included in a continuing resolution that included funding for the US government and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

President George W. Bush has indicated that he intends to sign the bill.

From Yahoo News Business

23 What $700B won’t buy: a quick fix for the economy

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer

Sat Sep 27, 2:45 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO – Not even $700 billion will be enough to spare the United States from more economic anguish if the government’s proposed banking bailout pans out like similar desperation moves during the past two decades.

It usually takes years to recover from a financial crisis severe enough for politicians to ride to the rescue with truckloads of taxpayer money.

Take, for example, the U.S. government’s August 1989 bailout of the savings-and-loan industry. The stock market fell by 12 percent within the first 14 months of the rescue plan while the economy slipped into an eight-month recession that began in July 1990. Housing prices that had just begun to erode continued to fall for another three years.

24 Hong Kong investors in Lehman protest again

By MIN LEE, Associated Press Writer

Sun Sep 28, 6:50 AM ET

HONG KONG – Investors in Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong held their second protest in a week on Sunday, accusing local banks of misleading them about investment products backed by the failed U.S. investment bank.

Holding signs that said “Return my blood money” and “Crafty salesmanship, sugarcoated poison,” about 400 people marched through Hong Kong’s Central financial district to nearby government headquarters.

The protesters complained that banks that sold them Lehman-backed bonds didn’t properly explain the products to them and urged the Hong Kong government to better regulate methods of selling investment products.

25 Coke tests Beijing’s acceptance of acquisitions

By JOE McDONALD, AP Business Writer

Sun Sep 28, 7:30 AM ET

BEIJING – Coca-Cola’s friendly $2.5 billion bid to buy China’s biggest juice maker is emerging as a test of whether Beijing will allow foreign companies to buy homegrown businesses – or force entrepreneurs to serve its vision of creating national economic champions.

Huiyuan Juice Group Ltd., little known outside China but with an estimated 42 percent of its pure juice market, could become a victim of its own success if Beijing deems it too big and famous to fall into foreign hands.

Huiyuan’s green cartons of orange, apple, pear and grape juice are ubiquitous in Chinese grocery stores. Acquiring the company would expand Coke’s presence in a major market. For Huiyuan, which welcomes the deal, being acquired would give it access to experience at product development and marketing.

26 UK set to nationalize B&B bank, may sell savings

By Steve Slater and Sumeet Desai, Reuters

Sun Sep 28, 8:53 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government will nationalize troubled mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley (BB.L) and is discussing the sale of its savings book and branches, people in the banking industry familiar with the matter said.

The Treasury is leading talks on the rescue of the bank and said on Sunday discussions were continuing. A full statement will be made by finance minister Alistair Darling before Monday’s market opening.

The Treasury would have preferred a private sector rescue for Britain’s ninth biggest mortgage provider but rivals appear unwilling to come in as a “white knight” amid a global credit crisis and weakening British housing market.

27 Fortis in play as Trichet joins emergency talks

By Reed Stevenson and Philip Blenkinsop, Reuters

23 minutes ago

AMSTERDAM/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Fortis faced a takeover, break-up or nationalization as European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet held emergency talks on Sunday with Dutch and Belgian ministers to restore faith in the Belgian-Dutch financial group.

Trichet, who as ECB head is responsible for safeguarding financial stability in the euro zone, joined Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme in Brussels in a bid to secure the future of Fortis, including a partial or full sale or some form of state intervention, a source familiar with the situation said.

BNP Paribas and ING Group both declined comment on reports that they could buy all or part of Fortis or Dutch bank ABN AMRO, which Fortis bought a year ago.

28 Financial markets paralyzed

By Natsuko Waki, Reuters

Sun Sep 28, 11:05 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) – Investors start the final quarter of 2008 this week in an increasingly dysfunctional global market, after weeks of historic turbulence that have prompted a near seizure in lending between banks.

While Washington’s $700-billion bailout package is crucial in tackling the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, doubts remain as to how it could immediately thaw the frozen money and credit market.

This week’s data highlight is the U.S. employment report for September but the indicator is unlikely to fully capture the massive shock to the labor market, broader economy and consumer confidence of the events of the past two weeks.

29 Berlusconi rules out foreign takeover for Alitalia: report

AFP

1 hour, 52 minutes ago

ROME (AFP) – Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reiterated Sunday his opposition to foreign investors taking a majority stake in national airline Alitalia, the ANSA news agency reported.

Press reports say Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are preparing takeover bids for the troubled airline. Berlusconi promised during his election campaign to keep Alitalia in Italian hands, opposing in April a takeover bid from the Franco-Dutch company.

“There is a clause (in the contracts) which forbids shareholders from selling a majority stake for at least five years,” Berlusconi was quoted as saying by ANSA, referring to Italian consortium CAI’s offer of one billion euros (1.45 billion dollars).

From Yahoo News Science

30 CERN rivals see melting magnets as par for course

By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS, Associated Press Writer

Sat Sep 27, 11:39 AM ET

GENEVA – The daring success of the world’s largest atom smasher on its opening day was more surprising to many scientists than the troubles it subsequently developed.

A problem with a magnet connection will delay the start of experiments for half a year, partly because the $3.8 billion accelerator is so complicated to repair. Physicists – some of whom waited two decades to use the new equipment – will now have to wait three more weeks for the damaged section to be warmed up to room temperature.

They can then get inside to see what went wrong.

31 UCLA group discovers humungous prime number

Associated Press

Sat Sep 27, 11:50 AM ET

LOS ANGELES – Mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a 13-million-digit prime number, a long-sought milestone that makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize.

The group found the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP. The number was verified by a different computer system running a different algorithm.

“We’re delighted,” said UCLA’s Edson Smith, the leader of the effort. “Now we’re looking for the next one, despite the odds.”

32 Deal keeps U.S. on International Space Station

By Irene Klotz, Reuters

Thu Sep 25, 5:33 PM ET

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – A political stalemate that threatened to boot the United States off the International Space Station eased on Thursday after U.S. lawmakers passed an exemption allowing NASA to buy rides from the Russians, agency officials said.

Without authorization to spend tax dollars on Russian Soyuz spacecraft and other space services, NASA would have been forced off the space station just as the $100 billion complex is finally finished and ready for full-time science.

The Soyuz capsules are the only available vehicles capable of ferrying people to and from the station aside from the U.S. space shuttles, which are being retired in two years. Soyuz capsules also serve as the space station’s lifeboats.

33 Oldest rocks on Earth found in northern Canada

By Will Dunham, Reuters

Thu Sep 25, 2:13 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A pinkish tract of bedrock on the eastern shore of Canada’s Hudson Bay contains the oldest known rocks on Earth, formed 4.28 billion years ago, not long after the planet was formed, scientists said on Thursday.

The rocks may be remnants of Earth’s primordial crust, which formed on the planet’s surface as it cooled following the birth of the solar system, according to Jonathan O’Neil of McGill University in Montreal.

“Maybe it was the original crust, and before that there was no stable crust on the Earth. That’s a big question,” O’Neil said in a telephone interview.

34 Beijing announces steps to fight smog, traffic

AFP

Sun Sep 28, 2:50 AM ET

BEIJING (AFP) – Beijing will implement new traffic control measures aimed at clearing the Chinese capital’s notoriously smoggy skies and chronic transport congestion, the city government said on Sunday.

However, the measures will not be as tough as the strict curbs on driving that were implemented for the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, which were widely credited with clearing the city’s skies.

From Wednesday, 30 percent of government vehicles will be taken off the roads, said a notice on the municipal government’s website.

35 Africa awash in sunlight, but not solar energy

by Jerome Cartillier, AFP

Sun Sep 28, 2:43 AM ET

PARIS (AFP) – From household solar panels to thermal generators big enough to power a town, sun power has enjoyed explosive growth around the world.

Everywhere, that is, except on the sun-drenched continent of Africa.

With an average daily dose of five-to-seven kilowatts per hour (kWh) for every square metre (10 square feet), Africa has more potential for producing energy from the sun than almost anywhere on Earth, with the possible exception of northern Australia or the Arabian peninsula.

36 Canada pledges environmental restrictions on oil exports

AFP

Fri Sep 26, 8:58 PM ET

OTTAWA (AFP) – Canada will ban the export of tar-like bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to countries that don’t match Canadian targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“We are imposing regulations on the oil sands to achieve important environmental targets for this country,” said Harper at a press briefing on Friday, adding that Canada will not allow the emission target to be avoided “by exporting to countries that do not impose sufficient environmental standards.

“We think that’s environmentally responsible,” said Harper.

37 Scientists Eager to See European Spacecraft’s Death Dive

Tariq Malik, Senior Editor SPACE.com

2 hours, 22 minutes ago

A European space freighter the size of a London double-decker bus is headed for a fiery death on Monday with a team of scientists hoping for a ringside seat.

Researchers from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and other groups are preparing to watch from afar as the unmanned cargo ship Jules Verne plunges through the Earth’s atmosphere and burns up over the Pacific Ocean after a successful supply run to the International Space Station. The spacecraft’s demise will mark a dramatic end for the first of ESA’s new fleet of Automated Transfer Vehicles.

“With the reentry of Jules Verne, there is a certain sadness at the conclusion of what has been such a successful mission,” ESA’s ATV mission manager John Ellwood told SPACE.com. “However, we know that all the mission requirements were met or exceeded and this has given a great satisfaction to the enormous team which has worked on this amazing project.”

38 Signs of Underground Plumbing Seen on Mars

SPACE.com Staff

Fri Sep 26, 1:47 PM ET

A NASA probe has spotted hundreds of small surface fractures near Mars’ equator that may have acted as underground natural plumbing to channel groundwater billions of years ago.

Geologists compare the fractures in the sandstone rock deposits on Mars to features called deformation bands on Earth, which can arise from the influence of groundwater in the underground bedrock. The bands and faults have strong influences on groundwater movement on Earth, and seem to have played the same role on Mars. Other research has examined how surface water from rain or snow shaped the planet surface, but many agree that groundwater has an equally important influence.

“Groundwater often flows along fractures such as these, and knowing that these are deformation bands helps us understand how the underground plumbing may have worked within these layered deposits,” said Chris Okubo, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz. who headed up a new study of the Martian fractures.

39 Bees Can Count

Graciela Flores, Natural History Magazine, LiveScience.com

Fri Sep 26, 5:46 PM ET

Honeybees are clever little creatures. They can form abstract concepts, such as symmetry versus asymmetry, and they use symbolic language – the celebrated waggle dance – to direct their hivemates to flower patches. New reports suggest that they can also communicate across species, and can count – up to a point.

With colleagues, Songkun Su of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and Shaowu Zhang of the Australian National University in Canberra managed to overcome the apian impulse to kill intruders and cultivated the first mixed-species colonies, made up of European honeybees, Apis mellifera, and Asiatic honeybees, A. cerana. The researchers confirmed that the two species have their own dialects: foraging in identical environments, the bees signaled the distance to a food source with dances of different durations.

Remarkably, despite the communication barrier, A. cerana decoded A. mellifera’s dance and found the food.

5 comments

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  1. Somewhat less than 40.  I could have looked deeper but I found these topics of interest.

    • RiaD on September 28, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    many many interesting tidbits today!

    • Robyn on September 28, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    How long is that in creationist years?

  2. around by liberal blogs for being worthless that it is now doing all these investigations and other stories not covered by other megamedia? of course, the timing is also concurrent with it losing subscribers. so, it had to make itself better. but, heck, really hard to not cite the AP oftentimes now because they do carry exclusives.

    great work ek, as usual!

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