Monarch Butterflies Declining

English: Monarch butterflies

English: Monarch butterflies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mary Malinowski’s garden in Plains Township blooms with clusters of purple flowers of the common milkweed, planted to attract monarch butterflies.

But the last two years, the milkweed’s broad, flat leaves have been free of monarchs, their caterpillars or their eggs.

“This year, so far nothing,” she said. “But the years before, they were always here before the first of June.”

Butterfly observers and scientists are warning that the monarch, North America’s most famous butterfly, is in trouble. Overwintering populations counted in Mexico are at their lowest in 20 years, according to data collected by Mexican biologists and compiled by, a website run by University of Kansas professor Orley “Chip” Taylor, Ph.D.

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Report: Foreign Dollars Bring Many Jobs To Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Foreign direct investment has increased jobs in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

It accounted for 14,050 jobs in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in 2011, an increase of about 4,300 in the past two decades, according to a new report that looked at data for the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

That’s 6.2 percent of total private sector employment, above the national rate of 5 percent.

The data comes from a new report that tries to gauge the local impact of “Foreign Direct Investment,” defined as a company in a foreign country investing enough to gain a controlling share of an American company.

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Deportation Battle Ignites Rally In Erie

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Erie County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Erie County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friends say Alfredo Ramos-Gallegos lived a spotless life for two decades, raising and supporting two children through hard labor, ambition and kindness.

But even his loved ones acknowledge a big complication: Ramos-Gallegos, 40, of Painesville, Ohio, was in America illegally. Deported to Mexico once, after a factory raid, he sneaked back into the country to be with his pregnant wife about 15 years ago.

Busted again and facing possible jail time, Ramos-Gallegos is at the center of an anti-deportation movement arguing that federal prosecutors are too tough on illegal immigrants who commit no other crimes. Advocates for the law insist that undocumented migrants often swipe jobs from American citizens, use taxpayer-backed social services and undermine lawful immigrants.

“It’s really not fair to all the people who are sponsoring family members or employees using our legal immigration system,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the nonprofit Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. “I don’t think it’s wrong for the government to undertake prosecution. I wish they didn’t have to do it so many times.”

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Officials Say Heroin A Huge Problem In Pa.

English: Modified IM/IV syringe used for "...

English: Modified IM/IV syringe used for “plugging” heroin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG — Heroin is a growing epidemic in Pennsylvania, and Luzerne County is no exception.

State police Commissioner Frank Noonan told the state House Judiciary Committee this week that the drug is dangerous because users become adjusted to the high it produces. As a result, users have to inject more of the drug, which leads to a higher risk of overdose.

He said users will also typically mix the drug with others in an attempt to achieve the same high.

The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing to discuss the heroin epidemic this week. Afterward, committee member state Rep. Tarah Toohil provided data on the number of heroin deaths in Luzerne County. So far this year, 20 people have died form using heroin with other drugs — users often take multiple drugs. There were 31 deaths in 2012.

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Alleged Head Of Massive Drug Ring Ordered Held Without Bail

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A South Side man accused of heading a drug ring that regularly brought in truckloads of cocaine and other drugs from January 2011 and until this September pleaded not guilty Thursday to a drug conspiracy charge.

Luis M. “Weezy” Carde, 41, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Maureen Kelly, who ordered him held without bail.

Other than answering the judge’s questions, Carde didn’t speak during the hearing. His attorney, Marvin Miller, declined comment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Haller said Carde should be kept in jail because he’s a flight risk and a danger to the community.

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Mexico: The New China

3-D perspective image of the San Diego-Tijuana...

3-D perspective image of the San Diego-Tijuana area from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In November I quit my job as the editor of Wired to run 3D Robotics, the San Diego-based drone company I started with a partner as a side project three years ago.  We make autopilot technology and small aircraft — both planes and multirotor copters — that can fly by themselves.  The drones, which sell for a few hundred bucks, are for civilians: they don’t shoot anything but photographs and videos.  And they’re incredibly fun to build (which we do with the ample help of robots).  It wasn’t a hard decision to give up publishing for this.

But my company, like many manufacturers, is faced with a familiar challenge: its main competitors are Chinese companies that have the dual advantages of cheap labor and top-notch engineering.  So, naturally, when we were raising a round of investment financing last year, venture capitalists demanded a plausible explanation for how our little start-up could beat its Chinese rivals.  The answer was as much a surprise to the investors as it had been to me a few years earlier:  Mexico.  In particular, Tijuana.

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Lehigh Valley International Airport To Have International Flights

Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Ai...

Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABE, ICAO: KABE) in Hanover Township, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the first time, Lehigh Valley International Airport passengers could soon be taking direct flights to places like Mexico, Puerto Rico and Jamaica.

The authority that runs the cash-strapped and passenger-starved airport Tuesday endorsed a $5 million plan to add a U.S. Customs station that would allow LVIA to have flights out of the country as early as 2014.

Embarking on a multimillion-dollar project will not be easy for the struggling airport.  But the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority supported a plan to accept a $1.5 million state grant and take out loans for $3.5 million to build an inspection station.

The board believes the station will keep thousands of fliers a year from using other airports to go to places like Cancun, San Juan and Montego Bay.

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Mayans Themselves May Have Aided Collapse Of Empire

Editor’s note:  Sounds like history is repeating itself in the Amazon!

The city states of the ancient Mayan empire flourished in southern Mexico and northern Central America for about six centuries.  Then, around A.D. 900, Mayan civilization disintegrated.

Two new studies examine the reasons for the collapse of the Mayan culture, finding the Mayans themselves contributed to the downfall of the empire.

Scientists have found that drought played a key role, but the Mayans appear to have exacerbated the problem by cutting down the jungle canopy to make way for cities and crops, according to researchers who used climate-model simulations to see how much deforestation aggravated the drought.

“We’re not saying deforestation explains the entire drought, but it does explain a substantial portion of the overall drying that is thought to have occurred,” said the study’s lead author, Benjamin Cook, a climate modeler at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in a statement.

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Shenandoah Men Guilty Of Federal Hate Crime In Beating Death Of Immigrant

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Schuylkill County

Image via Wikipedia

Two Schuylkill County men were found guilty of federal hate crimes in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant, Luis Ramirez. Brandon Piekarsky (18) and Derrick Donchak (20), both of Shenandoah, were convicted by a jury in Scranton.  Donchak was also convicted of two other counts relating to a cover-up plot with Shenandoah Police.  At the time ol the 2008 beating, the accused were high school football players.

Both men were taken away in handcuffs and ordered held until their January 24th sentencing.  They were acquitted of more serious charges by a jury in Pottsville.

Two Shenandoah police officers will go on trial early next year for their role in the attempted cover-up.