Sign Up Now!

Sign up and get personalized intelligence briefing delivered daily.


Sign Up

A ‘Viral’ New Bird Song in Canada Is Causing Sparrows to Change Their Tune

  • A new bird song is spreading like wildfire among Canadian white-throated sparrows, at a scale not seen before by scientists.
  • New research published today in Current Biology describes an extraordinary exception to this rule, in which a novel song sung by white-throated sparrows is spreading across Canada at an unprecedented rate.
  • Traditionally, white-throated sparrows in western and central Canada sing a song distinguished by its three-note ending.
  • The new song, which likely started off as a regional dialect at some point between 1960 and 2000, features a distinctive two-note ending, and it’s taking the sparrow community by storm.
  • By 2014, every white-throated sparrow in Alberta was singing the new doublet, with sizable bird populations in Ontario also chirping the happy tune.
  • The researchers are hoping to study these bird songs further to see if female sparrows are truly responding to novel tunes, in a process that appears to be demanding ongoing musical innovations among these remarkable birds.

save | comments | report | share on


Why tick season could be worse in the summer of Covid-19

  • Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a rise in Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, with seven additional germs identified in the US in the last two decades, while the "lone star tick" expanded its footprint beyond the southeast to northern states and the Midwest.
  • The CDC's guide to visiting parks and recreational facilities in the Covid-19 era includes avoiding crowded parks, staying home if you're infected and choosing parks closer to home to limit extra stops that carry added risk of contagion.
  • Warning signs for tick-borne illnesses are "very similar to the severity that we've seen with Covid-19, which is that fever, the muscle aches, the headaches, the severe fatigue," says Dr. Segal-Maurer.
  • "Some symptoms of Lyme disease, such as fever, chills and headache, are similar to symptoms of COVID-19," Dr. Levine said in a statement, reiterating what other experts say.

save | comments | report | share on


Australian man dies after a shark attack near Queensland's Fraser Island

  • The man was spearfishing in the waters off Indian Head when he was bitten by a shark.
  • Saturday's attack marked the fourth shark-related death in Australia this year.
  • In April, Queensland wildlife ranger Zachary Robba, 23, was killed by a great white shark also near Indian Head.
  • There were no deaths from shark attacks in Australia in 2019 and just one in 2018, according to Sydney's Taronga Zoo. In a post to his official Facebook, Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour said that it was a "tremendously sad day" for the local community.
  • According the Australian Museum, you are more likely to be struck by lightening in Australia or killed in a car accident than attacked by a shark.
  • Annually fewer than 10 people a year on average around the world die of shark attacks, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

save | comments | report | share on


Cleveland Indians Will Consider a Name Change

  • Cleveland’s Major League Baseball franchise, known as the Indians since 1915, said it would consider changing its nickname, a move that comes amid a recent movement across the U.S. to reexamine iconography that is thought to be racist or racially insensitive.
  • The team revealed its intentions hours after the NFL’s Washington Redskins—with a moniker commonly seen as a racial slur—announced they would undertake a “thorough review” of their name.
  • People familiar with the matter said it was likely that Washington will change its...

save | comments | report | share on


The mystery of $4b of loans backed by fake gold

  • The Chinese financial community has been left reeling in shock as a large quantity of gold bars used as collateral for loans has turned out to be nothing but gilded copper, write Wu Yujian, Wu Hongyuran, Bai Yujie and Han Wei. More than a dozen Chinese financial institutions, mainly trust companies, loaned 20 billion yuan ($4 billion) over the past five years to Wuhan Kingold Jewelry with pure gold as collateral and insurance policies to cover any losses.
  • A Dongguan Trust employee said his company reported the case to police on February 27, the day after the test result was delivered, and demanded 1.3 billion yuan of compensation from PICC P&C’s Hubei branch.
  • Several trust company sources said Jia was well-connected in Hubei, which may explain Kingold’s surprise victory in the Tri-Ring deal.

save | comments | report | share on


Eden-Monaro victory a warning to ScoMo: Labor

  • Labor has pulled off a narrow win in the Eden-Monaro byelection, easing pressure on the leadership of Anthony Albanese and reminding the government that Scott Morrison's sky-high personal ratings may not necessarily translate into electoral success.
  • Ms McBain had a primary vote of 36.1 per cent, which was a swing of 3.1 percentage points against Labor in the seat, but higher than the 33.3 per cent the party received nationally at last year's federal election.
  • The win, described by Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon as "ugly", maintains the 100-year run of no government winning a seat from an Opposition in a byelection.
  • One MP who backs Mr Albanese said had Labor's nationwide primary vote been 36 per cent at last year's federal election, it might have won government.
  • Mr Fitzgibbon, who convenes the powerful NSW Right faction, said Mr Morrison had been unable to translate his high approval ratings to the primary vote.

save | comments | report | share on


People who refuse COVID-19 tests should be penalised, AFR readers say

  • More than 80 per cent of readers of The Australian Financial Review say there should be a penalty for people in Melbourne COVID-19 hotspots who refuse to take a diagnostic test.
  • Asked if they were more likely to fly Qantas or Virgin as travel resumes and Virgin re-launches under new ownership, one third responded that they were unsure, while 51 per cent say they would opt for Qantas and 16 per cent for Virgin.
  • Of the readers who took part in the poll, 64 per cent were men and 36 per cent were women.
  • The poll, run once a fortnight, canvasses the views of the Financial Review Business Leaders Panel, which is an online community of our readers and subscribers.
  • The fortnightly poll also revealed that a third of readers were undecided about whether to fly Qantas or Virgin as travel resumes and Virgin restarts under new management.

save | comments | report | share on


Woman Hit by Car in Seattle Protest Dies

  • A 24-year-old woman died Saturday of her injuries after she and another woman were hit by a car on a closed highway in Seattle while protesting against police brutality, authorities said.
  • Summer Taylor of Seattle died in the evening at Harborview Medical Center, spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.
  • Ms. Taylor and Diaz Love, 32, of Portland, Ore.,...

save | comments | report | share on


The Rabbit Outbreak

  • First, it killed Angora rabbits being raised commercially for wool, and then it burned through pet rabbits and rabbits farmed for meat, all of which are members of the same species, Oryctolagus cuniculus, or what is commonly known as the European, or domestic, rabbit.
  • A few years ago, a lawyer named Natalie Reeves, who volunteers at a rabbit shelter and has lectured on rabbit law at the New York City Bar Association, was having trouble untangling the hair of her pet long-haired rabbit, Mopsy McGillicuddy.
  • The biggest processor was (and still is) Pel-Freez, founded in 1911 by a man who was given a pet rabbit that was pregnant, and, according to Pel-Freez’s corporate history, turned “the dilemma into an opportunity.” Rabbit meat, which could be cooked like chicken, was appealingly high in protein and low in fat.

save | comments | report | share on


Teen's coronavirus-themed prom dress made of duct tape is a work of art

  • Her coronavirus-themed dress features multiple images depicting life during the pandemic.
  • Manker's ideas evolved as the pandemic continued to impact people all over the world.
  • She does so by showing an image of people running away from the giant coronavirus to signify the world trying to avoid catching the disease.
  • It would be difficult to tell from looking at the pictures of her work, but Manker says this is her debut as a duct tape artist.
  • Her previous experience is from making small duct tape wallets and flowers when she was much younger.
  • Four months and 41 rolls of duct tape later, she managed to make something far more elaborate.
  • Manker says it is "surreal" that her work was able to make an impression on people all over the world who commented on the post.

save | comments | report | share on