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World’s biggest bee spotted alive for the first time in decades

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A walnut-sized bee with a massive jaw and impressive wingspan has been spotted for the first time in nearly 38 years.

Wallace’s Giant Bee, known by the scientific name Megachile pluto, is the world’s largest bee species — and now we know it actually still exists.

Females measure up to 63.5 millimetres from wing tip to wing tip (longer than a AA battery) and 38 millimetres from head to tail, although males are smaller.

A female of the species was photographed and captured on video in the North Moluccas islands of Indonesia in January, the Global Wildlife Conservation Society announced this week.

A small expedition found the bee in her nest in a termite mound up in a rotting tree, where it’s thought she was raising her young, said Clay Bolt, an American nature photographer who was on the expedition.

“It’s very good news,” he said.

Natural history photographer Clay Bolt takes the first ever photos of a living Wallace’s giant bee at its nest, which is found in an termite mound in the North Moluccas, Indonesia. (Simon Robson)

The bee was first spotted by Iswan, one of the team’s two Indonesian guides, who had noticed a termite mound with a whole that was “very round, and just the size a giant bee might use,” Bolt wrote in a blog post about the discovery.

At the team’s request, Iswan climbed up to investigate and quickly jumped down when he saw the movement of what he thought could be either a snake or a bee. He was followed by American Museum of Natural History entomologist Eli Wyman, who confirmed the hole definitely looked like the nest of a Wallace’s giant bee.

Bolt went up next and directed his headlamp into the hole.

“I saw the bee’s face looking back at me,” he said in an interview with CBC News. “It was an extraordinary moment.”

The team spent two hours waiting for the bee to emerge. Eventually, they tapped her gently with a blade of grass “and she just walked right out,” Bolt said.

Sold on eBay

Prior to that, there had only been two scientific reports of the species. The first from Alfred Russell Wallace, the bee’s namesake and an entomologist who independently developed the theory of evolution by natural selection at the same time as Charles Darwin. And the second sighting was by American entomologist Adam C. Messer in 1981, who found six nests in the same group of Indonesian islands.

Even locals said they had never seen the bee when Bolt and the team arrived and began asking about it.

Indonesian guide Iswan examines an arboreal termite mound containing the first rediscovered Wallace’s giant bee and her nest. (Clay Bolt)

Still, there was good reason to believe that the bee still existed, as dead specimens had turned up for sale on places like eBay. One sold last March for $11, 975 ($9,100 US).

Bolt became captivated by the bee about four years ago after he was shown a specimen by Wyman at the American Museum of Natural History while doing background research for a project that involves photographing native bees across North America.

A couple of years ago, Bolt and Wyman successfully lobbied to have it added to the Global Wildlife Conservation Society’s list of “25 most wanted species” as part of its Search for Lost Species program. The program aims to find plant and animal species that haven’t been spotted for years or decades.

Simon Robson, honorary professor of biology at the University of Sydney and Central Queensland University in Australia, holds a tube containing a Wallace’s giant bee. (Clay Bolt)

As Bolt and Wyman discussed a plan to search for the bee, they were contacted by Canadian-Australian ornithologist and writer Glen Chilton, professor emeritus at St. Mary’s University in Calgary and adjunct professor at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. He had written a book about lost species and was planning a trip to hunt for the bee with James Cook University ecologist Simon Robson.

The four ended up organizing the expedition together, but Chilton fell very ill after a couple of days and had to leave Indonesia.

The team found the bee about four days later, but were unsuccessful in finding other specimens over the next two weeks.

3rd ‘most wanted’ species to be found

The bee is the third of the “25 most wanted species” to be reported found since the list was released in 2017. The news follows the announcement earlier this week that the Fernandina Giant Tortoise was found alive in the Galapagos Islands.

The first lost species found was Jackson’s climbing salamander of Guatemala in 2017. The publicity surrounding its rediscovery helped fund the creation of a reserve to protect its habitat, said Robin Moore, who leads the Global Conservation Society’s Lost Species program.

He hopes to get a similar result for Wallace’s giant bee, which is currently unprotected.

Despite the fact that it is rarely spotted, it’s only listed as “vulnerable,” not “endangered,” by the by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Moore suspects that’s because its habitat still exists, dead specimens are still being traded, and there isn’t enough data to confirm how many there are.

We’re hoping that this will help shine the spotlight and help us [fund] follow up expeditions to determine its status,” Moore said, “and hopefully catalyze conservation actions — protection of habitat, but also protection of species against the trade.”

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Wedding attack and tech: How OpenText’s investigations service beats the traditional approach

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At its heart, an investigation is a hunt for relevant facts in order to tell a story — a story that drives strategies for organizations, including law firms.

Tracy Drynan, head of OpenText Recon Investigations — a seamless end-to-end service that helps companies and law firms find evidence for all types of investigations including internal investigations, litigation assessments, compliance and regulatory investigations, c-suite vetting and more — says these stories are a more powerful tool than most people think.

The team led by Drynan arms both in-house and external counsel with the information needed to guide their corporate and outside lawyers with the information needed to guide their clients: an investigation empowers them. What differentiates OpenText Recon is the speed with which the team utilizes specialized tools and workflows to efficiently locate evidence. This approach gains insights into patterns, gaps and relationships in a fraction of the cost of a traditional eDiscovery review, and more quickly gathers the relevant facts to create that critical story.

“Whether it be litigation or a regulatory investigation or an internal audit, often time is of the essence,” Drynan says. “Being able to make decisions that affect your bottom line, your liability, your risks which ultimately challenge your resources, even public opinion, is critical.”

Too often, an archaic model is applied to investigations — one derived when we still existed in a paper society — that analyzes all available information but doesn’t actively hunt for relevant facts, and that produces a disconnect. An efficient model does not need to analyze every piece of information.

“It’s flawed for this reason,” Drynan says. “When you review a set of information, even when you apply advanced analytics and information retrieval science, it is still at the end bucketed for a team to analyze it contiguously. In a way, we are still following the pre-electronic paradigm — we are reviewing almost paper documents one by one, and that unfortunately is handicapping both the talent and the technology in the hunt for the facts.”

While lawyers may make a living hunting facts and building narratives, Drynan would argue their approach could be improved and points out that many of the companies hired by firms to help out during an investigation still apply that outdated model. OpenText Recon breaks that pattern and approaches the hunt differently — they don’t compartmentalize anything, which means the team can identify patterns more easily. Those patterns become the clues, which become the facts, that become the story that allow lawyers to make those critical decisions. The result is not a stack of documents, but a more nuanced report outlining the important facts to analyze.

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Canada takes aim at Netflix, Airbnb in $6.5B big-tech tax plan

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Canada’s federal government is planning to force foreign-based technology firms such as Netflix Inc. and Airbnb Inc. to charge their users a sales tax in a move aimed at boosting the government’s coffers by as much as $6.5 billion over the next five years. 

The new taxation plans, outlined in the government’s Fall Economic Statement, attempt to level the playing field between Canadian companies and foreign-based digital corporations that were largely exempt from paying federal sales taxes. Some provinces — such as Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Quebec — introduced taxes on streaming services like Netflix earlier this year. 

The government announced Monday that any foreign-based company selling digital products or services to consumers in Canada will be required to collect and remit the Goods and Services Tax or Harmonized Sales Tax. The new tax changes are proposed to begin on July 1, 2021. 

“Canadians want a tax system that is fair, where everyone pays their fair share, so the government has the resources it needs to invest in people and keep our economy strong. That is why we are moving ahead with implementing GST/HST on multinational digital giants and limiting stock option deductions in the largest companies,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, in prepared remarks. 

“And Canada will act unilaterally, if necessary … to apply a tax on large multinational digital corporations, so they pay their fair share just like any other company operating in Canada.”

Those taxes will include any sales on products or services made through digital marketplace platforms, sales to Canadians of goods that are located in Canadian fulfillment warehouses, as well as any companies whose platforms help to facilitate short-term rental accommodations in Canada. 

However, the new taxation moves wouldn’t see streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video, Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+, and Spotify Technology SA meet certain Canadian-content requirements, something the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission​ recommended be adopted rather than introduce new tax measures in a wide-ranging report released earlier this year. 

The CRTC estimates that those streaming services record annual revenue of roughly $5 billion, according to its most recent financial data. The federal broadcast regulator said in January that Ottawa should require foreign streaming services to invest in local programming rather than “digital taxes” that would likely get passed down to consumers. 

“It is more appropriate to establish a regime that requires such online streaming services that benefit from operating in Canada to invest in Canadian programming that they believe will attract and appeal to Canadians,” the report said. 

Ottawa will also consider new corporate-level taxes for foreign-owned digital corporations and is working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to develop a framework it expects to provide further details on in the next budget. It expects the new measure will result in $3.4 billion in new tax revenue over the next five years once it is introduced sometime in 2022. 

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RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. RevoluPAY To Pursue Dubai Financial Services Authority PSP License

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia(GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RevoluGROUP Canada Inc. (TSX-V: REVO), (Frankfurt: IJA2) (the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has dispatched Company advisor Erik A. Lara Riveros to pursue the petition of a Payment Service Provider (“PSP”) Money Service Business License in the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”) from the Dubai Financial Services Authority.

Corporate Rational For a PSP License in Dubai

In May 2020, RevoluPAY was granted the European PSD2 license. In September, RevoluPAY received Pan-European passporting approval to operate in 27 E.U. countries. The Company has further expanded its international open banking reach through definitive agreements (“DA”) with BBVA, Flutterwave, and Thunes. Additionally, via direct PSD2 SEPA passporting, the Company added sixty-eight countries and territories to its financial operations roster. In November, the Company submitted petitions for both the analogous United States MSB licenses and the Canadian FINTRAC license. The MEASA region of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia is a significant financial hub that necessitates exposure for both financial operations and a strategic base for the region’s operations. The Company considers the DIFC an excellent regional hub, having introduced robust legislation for payment services providers (“PSP”) like RevoluPAY.

Furthermore, DIFC conveniently fills the timezone gap for a global financial center between London and New York’s leading financial centers in the West and Hong Kong and Tokyo in the East. Company advisor Erik A. Lara Riveros is duly accredited with the Dubai Financial Services Authority, which should aid the Company’s plans to obtain the Dubai PSP license and establish a corporate financial hub in the region. The Company has diligently prepared all required documentation, and Mr. Lara Riveros arrives in Dubai on the 4th of December 2020 to initiate the license petition process. The global operations of RevoluPAY expect to benefit from the multi timezone capability garnered from a supplementary and PSP licensed subsidiary domiciled in the MEASA region.

License Sought in Dubai

The Company intends to pursue the Category 3D license, which covers the following activities, “Providing or Operating a Payment Account, executing Payment Transactions or Issuing Payment Instruments, including creating and maintaining accounts for executing payment transactions, issuance of personalized sets of procedures agreed upon by the users and the provider, for initiation or execution of payment instructions.”

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