Nation roundup for March 4


Are bumblebees disappearing?

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s not just honey bees that are in trouble. The fuzzy American bumblebee seems to be disappearing in the Midwest.

Two new studies in Thursday’s journal Science conclude that wild bees, like the American bumblebee, are increasingly important in pollinating flowers and crops that provide us with food. And, at least in the Midwest, they seem to be dwindling in an alarming manner, possibly from disease and parasites.

Wild bees are difficult to track so scientists have had a hard time knowing what’s happening to them. But because of one man in a small town in Illinois in the 1890s, researchers now have a better clue.

Naturalist Charles Robertson went out daily in a horse-drawn buggy and meticulously collected and categorized insects in Carlinville in southern Illinois.

More than a century later, Laura Burkle of Montana State University went back to see what changed. Burkle and her colleagues reported that they could only find half the species of wild bees that Robertson found — 54 of 109 types.

“That’s a significant decline. It’s a scary decline,” Burkle said Thursday.

And what’s most noticeable is the near absence of one particular species, the yellow-and-black American bumblebee. There are 4,000 species of wild bees in America and 49 of them are bumblebees. In the Midwest, the most common bee has been Bombus pensylvanicus, known as the American bumblebee. It only stings defensively, experts say.

But in 447 hours of searching, Burkle’s team found only one American bumblebee, a queen.

Rodman: Kim wants Obama call

WASHINGTON (AP) — Call me? Maybe?

North Korea’s young leader has riled the U.S. with recent nuclear tests, but Kim Jong Un doesn’t really want war with the superpower, just a call from President Barack Obama to chat about their shared love of basketball, according to ersatz diplomat Dennis Rodman, the ex-NBA star just back from an improbable visit to the reclusive communist country.

“He loves basketball. … I said Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there” as a way to warm up relations between U.S. and North Korea, Rodman told ABC’s “This Week.”

“He asked me to give Obama something to say and do one thing. He wants Obama to do one thing, call him,” said Rodman, who called the authoritarian leader an “awesome guy” during his trip. The State Department criticized North Korea last week for “wining and dining’ Rodman while its own people go hungry.

Rodman also said Kim told him, “I don’t want to do war. I don’t want to do war.”

Yet in January, after the U.N. Security Council voted to condemn the North’s successful rocket launch in December and expand penalties against Kim’s government, his National Defense Commission said in a statement that “settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words.” The statement also promised “a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century.”

‘Giant Slayer’ scares up $28M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It wasn’t exactly a mighty victory, but “Jack the Giant Slayer” won the weekend at the box office.

The Warner Bros. 3-D action extravaganza, based on the Jack and the Beanstalk legend, made just $28 million to debut at No. 1, according to Sunday studio estimates. It had a reported budget of just under $200 million.

But the studio also hit a milestone on the global front with Peter Jackson’s fantasy epic “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” crossing the $1 billion mark worldwide. The first of three films based on the classic J.R.R. Tolkien novel has made $301.1 million domestically and $700 million internationally.

“Jack the Giant Slayer” comes from Bryan Singer, director of “The Usual Suspects” and the first two “X-Men” movies. It stars Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane and Stanley Tucci.

Among other new releases, the college romp “21 & Over” from Relativity Media made only $9 million this weekend to open in third place. And the horror sequel “The Last Exorcism Part II” from CBS Films debuted in fourth place with just over $8 million.

Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ executive vice president of theatrical distribution, said “Jack the Giant Slayer” opened lower than the studio had hoped, but he’s encouraged by its CinemaScore, which was a B-plus overall and an A among viewers under 18.

Rove: GOP needs more diversity

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — GOP strategist Karl Rove said Saturday that rebuilding the Republican brand in California will be a tough task that will require them to diversify and create a strategy to spread their message to a wider audience.

Referring to the state party’s deep losses in recent years, Rove said it needs to focus on larger themes of restoring jobs and reducing government spending.

He also said the party must recruit candidates who reflect the diversity of the country, and in particular, California. By next year, Hispanics will overtake whites as the state’s largest demographic group.

“We need to be asking for votes in the most powerful way possible, which is to have people asking for the vote who are comfortable and look like and sound like the people that we’re asking for the vote from,” Rove said.

His message to delegates, activists and local party officials throughout California was in line with the philosophy behind his new political action committee, the Conservative Victory Project. The committee was established to support Republican candidates it deems electable, offsetting GOP candidates who might offend key parts of the electorate.

Rove told activists at the Republican Party’s spring convention in Sacramento that rebuilding would be “a big task,” but noted Texas as an example. Once a Democratic stronghold, the state elected Republicans to 95 of 150 state House seats in November. Democrats have not won a statewide office in Texas since 1994.

‘Miracles’ founder Rogers, 73, dies

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) — Bobby Rogers, a founding member of Motown group The Miracles and a collaborator with Smokey Robinson, has died. He was 73.

Motown Museum board member Allen Rawls says Rogers died Sunday morning at his home.

Rogers had been ill for several years. He lived in the Detroit suburb of Southfield.

Rogers formed the group in 1956 with cousin Claudette Rogers, Pete Moore, Ronnie White and Robinson. Their hits included “I Second That Emotion” and “The Tears of a Clown.” Rogers and The Miracles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

He shared songwriting credits with Robinson on The Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” The Contours’ “First I Look at the Purse” and The Miracles’ “Going to a Go-Go.”

 

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