Algerian Sahara desert town dusted with snow

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Ice are seen on the sand dunes outside the Algerian desert town of Ain Sefra, in this still image made from a January 13, 2021 social media video. (Karim Bouchetata via Reuters)
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Ice are seen on the sand dunes outside the Algerian desert town of Ain Sefra, in this still image made from a January 13, 2021 social media video. (Karim Bouchetata via Reuters)
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Updated 19 January 2021

Algerian Sahara desert town dusted with snow

CAIRO: Temperatures have fallen in the Sahara desert to as low as -3C, leaving sand dunes in one Algerian town dusted with snow. 
This drop in temperature allowed the town of Ain Sefra to experience snow for only the fourth time in 42 years. The other three times were in 1979, 2017, and 2018. In 2017, a blizzard dumped snow up to a meter deep in Ain Sefra.
Photographer Karim Bouchetata posted dramatic images and video of the unique weather in the remote town.
Ain Sefra is located in the Atlas Mountains, 1,000 meters above sea level and is known as “the gateway to the desert.” 
It lies in the Naama province of Algeria in the northern part of the Sahara, near to the Moroccan border.

 

 


Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

Updated 24 February 2021

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

  • The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media

BEIJING: A Chinese court has ordered a man to pay his former wife 50,000 yuan ($7,700) as compensation for housework she did during their five-year marriage, state media reported on Wednesday.
Under a landmark civil code that seeks to better protect the rights of individuals, spouses can seek compensation from their partners in a divorce if they have shouldered more responsibilities — including housework.
The woman, who did not work outside the home during the marriage, sought compensation for housework she had done after her husband filed for divorce at a district court in Beijing last year.
The judge ruled in her favor, telling the man to pay 50,000 yuan for her labor, according to state television.
He must also pay 2,000 yuan a month to support their child, with other assets such as property to be divided equally.
The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media, with many netizens saying the amount was too little.
“A nanny’s annual income is already in the tens of thousands of yuan,” said a social media user. “This is too little.”


French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19

Updated 11 February 2021

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19

  • Sister Andre is not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday
  • She converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 26

TOULON, France: Europe’s oldest person, French nun Sister Andre, turns 117 on Thursday after surviving COVID-19 last month and living through two world wars, with a special birthday feast including her favorite dessert — Baked Alaska.
Born Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904, Sister Andre said she didn’t realize she had caught the coronavirus, which infected 81 residents of her retirement home in the southeast city of Toulon, killing 10 of them.
“I’m told that I got it,” the nun said ahead of her birthday. “I was very tired, it’s true, but I didn’t realize it.”
But David Tavella, spokesman for the Sainte-Catherine-Laboure nursing home, said she had “experienced a triple confinement: in her wheelchair, in her room and without a visit.”
“So, her birthday, it reinvigorates us,” he added, following the deadly outbreak.
Sister Andre said she was not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday but the home is planning a celebration for her.
There will be a special mass at the home, which has a dozen nuns, and the chef is preparing a birthday feast of foie gras, capon fillet with porcini mushrooms and Sister Andre’s favorite dessert: baked Alaska, washed down with a glass of port.
She says her favorite food is lobster and she enjoys a glass of wine.
“I drink a small glass of wine every day,” she said.
Born in Ales in a Protestant family, she grew up as the only girl among three brothers.
One of her fondest memories was the return of two of her brothers at the end of World War I.
“It was rare, in families, there were usually two dead rather than two alive. They both came back,” she said last year, on her 116th birthday.
She converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 26. She joined the Daughters of Charity order of nuns at the relatively late age of 41.
Sister Andre was then assigned to a hospital in Vichy, where she worked for 31 years and then spent 30 years in a retirement home in the French Alps before moving to Toulon.
She is the second-oldest living person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, after Japanese woman Kane Tanaka, who is 118.
Asked what she would say to young people, Sister Andre said: “Be brave and show compassion.”


Rod Stewart lawyer: Plea deal in works in hotel altercation

Updated 31 January 2021

Rod Stewart lawyer: Plea deal in works in hotel altercation

  • The Stewart father and son were charged with misdemeanor battery stemming from an altercation with a security guard at a posh Florida hotel on New Year’s Day 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida: Rod Stewart and his son have worked out details for a plea deal to settle misdemeanor battery charges stemming from an altercation with a security guard at a posh Florida hotel, a lawyer for the rock icon says.
Defense attorneys said Friday that Stewart and his son, Sean Stewart, would not be going to trial for the altercation at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach on New Year’s Day 2020, the South Florida SunSentinel reported. Stewart’s lawyers didn’t elaborate on the details.
The Stewarts’ lawyer, Guy Fronstin of Boca Raton, has been negotiating a plea deal with Assistant State Attorney Zachary O’Neill, according to the SunSentinel.
“It sounds like everything’s been worked out,” said attorney Alexandra Antonacci, speaking on behalf of Fronstin, the newspaper reported. She said paperwork still has to be completed in the case.
Prosecutors had no immediate announcement in the case, but did say Saturday that plea deal negotiations are ongoing.
Stewart, 76, and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is best known for such hits as “Maggie May” and “Tonight’s the Night.” The London-born singer was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2016.
Security guard Jessie Dixon told police then that the now 76-year-old Stewart and his family were at the check-in table for a private party that they weren’t authorized to attend.
Dixon said the group became loud and began causing a scene. Dixon told investigators he put his hand on the younger Stewart’s chest and told him to back up and make space, the report said.
That’s when Sean Stewart, the rock star’s 40-year-old son, got “nose to nose” with Dixon.
Sean Stewart then shoved Dixon backwards. Rod Stewart punched Dixon in his “left rib cage area” with a closed fist, a police report said.
The police report said Sean Stewart told investigators he became agitated when they were not able to attend the event “due to Dixon’s interaction with him and his family.”
Palm Beach officer Stephen Mancino said he viewed security footage at the hotel and determined that the Stewarts were the “primary aggressors.”
Two Breakers employees who were working the private event told police they saw Sean Stewart push Dixon and Rod Stewart punch the guard.
Dixon signed an affidavit saying that he wanted to press charges against the Stewarts.
An online court date is scheduled for March 26.

 

 


Lion cub Simba born in Singapore via artificial insemination

Updated 26 January 2021

Lion cub Simba born in Singapore via artificial insemination

  • It is rare for lions to be conceived through artificial insemination
  • Singapore’s new cub, named after the main character in Disney’s ‘The Lion King’

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Zoo has welcomed a lion cub named Simba to its animal kingdom following artificial insemination that officials said Tuesday was a first for the city-state.
It is rare for lions to be conceived through artificial insemination, with the procedure first carried out successfully in 2018 — resulting in two cubs in South Africa.
Lion populations in the wild have plummeted more than 40 percent over the past two decades, with about 23,000 to 39,000 mature animals left, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
It lists lions as vulnerable.
Singapore’s new cub, named after the main character in Disney’s “The Lion King,” was conceived with semen from an elderly African lion.
The father Mufasa, who also takes his name from the animated film, was in poor health and did not survive the procedure, the zoo said.
Simba, who was born in October, is being cared for by his mother Kayla and zookeepers, and is “healthy and inquisitive,” officials said.
A video showed Simba being fed from a bottle and playing with a ball.


No-go for Joe Exotic: Donald Trump’s pardon list omits ‘Tiger King’

Updated 20 January 2021

No-go for Joe Exotic: Donald Trump’s pardon list omits ‘Tiger King’

  • Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison
OKLAHOMA CITY: One name missing in President Donald Trump’s flurry of pardons is “Tiger King” Joe Exotic.
His team was so confident in a pardon that they’d readied a celebratory limousine and a hair and wardrobe team to whisk away the zookeeper-turned-reality-TV-star, who is now serving a 22-year federal prison sentence in Texas. But he wasn’t on the list announced Wednesday morning.
Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison for violating federal wildlife laws and for his role in a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting his chief rival, Carole Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida. Baskin was not harmed.
Maldonado-Passage, who has maintained his innocence, was also sentenced for killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records. A jury convicted him in April 2019.
In his pardon application filed in September, Maldonado-Passage’s attorneys argued that he was “railroaded and betrayed” by others. Maldonado-Passage, 57, is scheduled to be released from custody in 2037, but his attorneys said in the application that “he will likely die in prison” because of health concerns.
Maldonado-Passage’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday.
The blond mullet-wearing zookeeper, known for his expletive-laden rants on YouTube and a failed 2018 Oklahoma gubernatorial campaign, was prominently featured in the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”