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D’Angelo sounds off on ‘Soho Karen’ at Verzuz Apollo event

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D'Angelo sounds off on 'Soho Karen' at Verzuz Apollo event

D’Angelo may have done the very first solo Verzuz — I mean, who would want to battle him? — but he brought in a very special guest musician to kick off his performance at the Apollo on Saturday night.

That would be Keyon Harrold, the veteran trumpeter and member of D’Angelo’s band whose 14-year-old black son, Keyon Harrold Jr., was falsely accused of stealing an iPhone from a white woman at the Arlo Hotel in Soho last September.

No explanation was needed as this went down live at the Apollo Theater — the mecca for African-American artists. This was a moment — as Black History Month draws to a close — to remind you of how far we still have to go, with this distinguished musician, Harrold, introduced with a “very, very dear friend of mine” by the four-time Grammy winner on the most historic of black music stages.

As he continued to introduce “my brother, a great musician,” it was very clear that this was a moment that the reclusive star was taking to reintroduce himself to the masses by showing the humanity that exists in all of us — including the father of a 14-year-old kid who was allegedly assaulted by 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto, nicknamed “Soho Karen,” for doing nothing wrong. 

Before even singing a note, D’Angelo had already made a statement.

Then they launched into what appeared to be a song in progress, with D’Angelo declaring that “love is a thing that makes the world go ’round.” And as Harrold vibed out on his horn with the neo-soul man on the keys — Lena Waithe very accurately described it as MTV “ ‘Unplugged’  vibes,” in the comments — it was a moment that dissolved any “Verzuz” between people.

The battle, it seems, was over before it ever really began in this latest installment of the Verzuz series that has been one  of the most popular virtual series to come out of the COVID era.

As D’Angelo was about an hour late to take the stage around 10 p.m. at the Apollo, DJ Scratch kept the people and the party hype, with a who’s who of African-American artists —  including Common, Timbaland, Snoop Dogg and Babyface — in attendance.

But although this Verzuz had been billed as “D’Angelo & Friends,” he wasn’t really throwing down tracks against anyone else. It was all about him.

And who could argue with that? Just seeing D’Angelo — rocking a tan hat and matching do-rag to go with his faux-fur black coat — was enough of a gift for the fans who have been waiting since he last dropped his “Black Messiah” album in the final days of 2014.

And D did deliver on bringing out a few “Friends”: Redman and Method Man showed up to drop rhymes on “Left & Right,” from D’Angelo’s 2000 masterpiece “Voodoo.” And two-time Grammy winner H.E.R. turned up to do the Lauryn Hill part of “Nothing Even Matters,” from the 1998 classic “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

But in the end, this didn’t feel like a true Verzuz, with no one for D’Angelo to really battle. The obvious choice would have been Maxwell. Just as Erykah Badu and Jill Scott went diva to diva in an early Verzuz last year, it would have been great to see D’Angelo put his best up against his top neo-soul-man competition.

Still, it’s hard to argue with anything that leaves you feeling all of the “Brown Sugar” sweetness on a COVID Saturday night. 

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Bill Gates said to be growing potatoes for McDonald’s fries

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Bill Gates said to be growing potatoes for McDonald's fries

Next time you savor a McDonald’s french fry, remember to thank Bill Gates for the tasty spud.

As reported in The Post, the soon-to-be single computer magnate happens to own more farmland than anyone else in the United States. Known for loving fast food — although his burger of choice comes from the Washington-based chainlet Burgermaster — Gates, according to NBC News, grows potatoes for McDonald’s in fields so vast they can be scoped from outer space.

Although Gates has focused his energies on saving our climate, he has made clear that the tater patches are strictly money-making operations.

“My investment group chose to do this,” stated Farmer Bill during an AMA on Reddit. “It is not connected to climate.”

Considering that Gates is said to own 269,000 acres of fertile land in 18 states, it’s easy to imagine him keeping track of it all on some souped-up series of spreadsheets. If so, gangs of divorce lawyers — including some who worked on the Jeff Bezos bust-up — have surely been scrutinizing the potato haul. Gates, the fourth-richest person in the world, married his impending ex, Melinda, without a prenuptial agreement, so they will be splitting property via a so-called “separation contract.”

No word on whether or not she will soon reign as McDonald’s potato queen.

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Honeybee worker can produce millions of identical clones, study shows

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Honeybee worker can produce millions of identical clones, study shows

A South African subspecies of the honeybee is reportedly able to produce millions of clones of itself. 

According to new research published in the journal Current Biology and Proceedings of the Royal Society B, one such insect – known as the Cape honeybee or Apis mellifera capensis– has managed to do so many times over the past 30 years. 

It’s a process called thelytokous parthenogenesis, which a group of international scientists said is akin to the “virgin birth of a female.” 

While asexual reproduction is fairly common, genetically identical offspring is not. 

The exchange of genetic material between different organisms, or “recombination,” normally leads to the production of offspring with combinations of different traits.

If there even is only one parent, New Scientist noted, offspring born from thelytokous parthenogenesis will still be born with a slightly different genetic makeup.

And yet, the worker Cape honeybee has reportedly found a way to reduce recombination and remain genetically healthy, whereas asexual reproduction has been lethal in honeybees before, resulting in inbred larvae that don’t survive. 

“For workers, it is important to reduce the frequency of recombination so as to not produce offspring that are homozygous.”

In order to learn more, the paper’s authors “experimentally manipulated” Cape workers and Cape queens to reproduce thelytokously.

“The two female castes of the Cape honeybee, Apis mellifera capensis, differ in their mode of reproduction. While workers always reproduce thelytokously, queens always mate and reproduce sexually,” the researchers explained in the paper’s abstract.

Performing fieldwork at South Africa’s Plant Protection Research Institute in Stellenbosch, the team instrumentally inseminated a queen with the semen of a single male and then introduced a brood comb holding several hundred eggs laid by the queen into a colony to be reared. 

Queens were made to reproduce asexually using what researchers said amounted to a “chastity belt.”

“When the queens were 5 days post eclosion we constrained them in an artificial insemination apparatus [37] without narcosis. We then glued a 5 mm piece of surgical tape (Micropore, 3M, Minnesota) over the sting chamber using nail varnish,” the paper explained. 

The researchers monitored the queens, confirming the chastity belts were intact after each flight around the colony and, eventually, compared asexually reproduced larvae of the queen to those of the workers.

“We monitored the queens closely for the next two weeks, to determine if and when oviposition had commenced. We collected larvae as soon as they appeared into ethanol,” the researchers wrote.

“Not all queens flew, not all returned from mating flights, and not all laid. In the end, we were able to harvest one queen and 25 of her larval progeny into ethanol.”

The group also genotyped four workers and 63 of their larvae.

Ultimately, the authors found that the queen showed levels of genetic recombination 100 times more than seen in the cloned offspring of the worker bees.

“Using a combination of microsatellite genotyping and whole-genome sequencing we find that a reduction in recombination is confined to workers only,” the abstract concluded.

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Russia’s navy kicks off large-scale drills in Pacific ocean

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Russia's navy kicks off large-scale drills in Pacific ocean

Large-scale drills of Russia’s Pacific Fleet began in the central part of the Pacific Ocean, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported on Thursday, June 10.

According to the ministry, 20 warships, submarines and support vessels are taking part in the exercises. In particular the missile cruiser “Varyag”, the large anti-submarine ship “Admiral Panteleev”, the frigate “Marshal Shaposhnikov” as well as other military and support vessels.

In addition, about 20 aircraft are involved in the exercise, including Tu-142mz long-range anti-submarine aircraft and MiG-31BM high-altitude fighter-interceptors.

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