Rare birth of Asiatic cheetah cubs in Iran is a first in captivity

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Updated 02 May 2022

Rare birth of Asiatic cheetah cubs in Iran is a first in captivity

  • ‘Iran,’ one of only a dozen cheetahs found in the country, delivered three ‘healthy’ cubs by C-section

TEHRAN: An Asiatic cheetah gave birth to three “healthy” cubs in Iran, the head of the environment department said Sunday, calling it a first in captivity for the endangered species.

“Iran,” one of only a dozen cheetahs found in the Islamic republic, delivered three “healthy” cubs by C-section, Ali Salajegheh told IRNA news agency.

“This is the first birth of an Asiatic cheetah in captivity,” he said.

“By preserving these cubs, we can increase the cheetah population in captivity and then in semi-captivity,” Salajegheh added.

The cubs were born in the Touran Wildlife Refuge in the Semnan province east of Tehran, where the mother and her babies are being monitored in intensive care.

The world’s fastest land animal, capable of reaching speeds of 120 km per hour, cheetahs once stalked habitats from the eastern reaches of India to the Atlantic coast of Senegal and beyond

They are still found in parts of southern Africa, but have practically disappeared from North Africa and Asia.

Iran is one of the last countries in the world where the Asiatic cheetahs live in the wild and began a United Nations-supported protection program in 2001.

The subspecies “Acinonyx jubatus venaticus,” commonly known as the Asiatic cheetah, is critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In January Deputy Environment minister Hassan Akbari said Iran is home to only a dozen Asiatic cheetahs — down from an estimated 100 in 2010.

Their situation “is extremely critical,” Akbari said at the time, adding that the animals have been victims of drought, hunters and car accidents.

Iranian authorities last week ordered the arrest of suspects who beat to death a brown bear in a northern village.

Denouncing a “horrible” act that upset the population, Javad Parvaneh, prosecutor in the village of Namin, ordered an investigation and the arrest of suspects who killed the endangered animal.

The agency said the incident took place in the northwestern Ardabil province.

“The villagers restrained the animal” and they “resorted to inappropriate methods and behaviors by chasing, beating and injuring it,” IRNA said.


Air India fined over passenger’s mid-air urination scandal

Updated 21 January 2023

Air India fined over passenger’s mid-air urination scandal

NEW DELHI: Air India has been fined $37,000 for its handling of an incident in which a drunk senior US bank executive was accused of urinating on a female passenger, Indian media reported.
The man allegedly relieved himself on the 72-year-old woman seated in business class on a November 26 flight from New York to New Delhi, an incident dubbed “peegate” by the media.
The Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation also fined Air India’s director of in-flight services 300,000 rupees in addition to the carrier’s penalty of three million rupees ($37,000), reports on Friday and Saturday said.
The flight’s pilot also had his license suspended for three months for “failing to discharge his duties” to ensure safety and discipline.
The banker, Indian national Shankar Mishra, was allowed to disembark as normal when the aircraft landed in India and no immediate action was taken.
The woman complained and, after the story was widely reported in the Indian media, police arrested Mishra weeks later after he went to ground and reportedly switched off his phone.
US bank Wells Fargo fired him from his job as vice president of its Indian operations after the “deeply disturbing” allegations.
Air India faced severe criticism for its handling of the woman’s complaint and the airline’s chief executive was forced to issue an apology.
“Air India acknowledges that it could have handled these matters better, both in the air and on the ground and is committed to taking action,” chief executive Campbell Wilson said.
Mishra has been refused bail. His lawyer, Ramesh Gupta, told a hearing last week that the woman, an Indian classical dancer, had in fact urinated on herself.
According to Indian media, Gupta also said that, because of where she was seated, it was impossible for Mishra to have urinated on her without also doing so on another woman who has “made no such complaint.”
The case is the latest embarrassing incident to be reported in India’s booming airline sector in recent months, including shirtless brawls and passengers having heated arguments with cabin crew.
Another inebriated man was accused of urinating on the blanket of a woman on a flight from Paris to India last month but no action was taken after he issued a written apology, reports said.


Fit of road rage captured on camera brings down Hong Kong gangster

Updated 15 January 2023

Fit of road rage captured on camera brings down Hong Kong gangster

  • Viral video showed motorist on Porsche getting out and shouting profanities at bus driver and claiming to be a Triad member

HONG KONG: A self-professed Hong Kong gangster has learned the benefits of keeping a low profile after a viral video of him exiting a Porsche to berate a minibus driver led to his arrest for cocaine possession.
The 35-year-old appeared in court on Saturday after the clip capturing their traffic dispute helped police track down the wanted fugitive.
It shows the man getting out of the sports car and shouting profanities at the driver while claiming to be a Triad member — an offense in Hong Kong.
He bashes the window of the vehicle while knocking the glasses off the driver’s face and waving a stick.
But his fit of road rage has cost him dearly after police busted him and three others on Thursday for drug possession, with officers seizing 1.7 kilograms (3.7 pounds) of suspected cocaine.
“This man disregarded the safety of other road users and further disregarded law and order by publicly claiming to be a triad member,” Chief Inspector Wong Chi-tang told reporters.
He added that police made the arrest after identifying the man from the video.
Meanwhile, the victim of the man’s outburst has been dubbed the “most educated minibus driver” in Hong Kong after it was discovered he holds a master’s degree in transport planning and had quit a lucrative job to serve commuters from behind the wheel.
 

 

 


Homophobic chant in English soccer deemed punishable offense

Updated 14 January 2023

Homophobic chant in English soccer deemed punishable offense

  • The FA announced that chants of “Rent Boy,” which have been directed at Chelsea fans by rival supporters, are now considered a breach of its rules
  • There have been allegations of the chants being made in recent Chelsea games

LONDON: Chelsea welcomed the English Football Association’s decision to make a homophobic chant aimed at their supporters a punishable offense, calling it a “step in the right direction” on Friday.
The FA announced on Wednesday that chants of “Rent Boy,” which have been directed at Chelsea fans by rival supporters, are now considered a breach of its rules.
It has written to all Premier League clubs and clubs throughout English soccer to enforce the point and attempt to stamp out discriminatory behavior.
“The ‘Rent Boy’ chant is intolerable and has no place in football or anywhere else,” Chelsea said in a statement. “That opposition clubs can now face disciplinary action if their supporters engage in this discriminatory and offensive behavior is a step in the right direction. Everyone who chooses to participate in this chant must know their actions have consequences.”
There have been allegations of the chants being made in recent Chelsea games.
“The Football Association strongly condemns all offensive, abusive and discriminatory chanting in football stadiums, and is determined to stamp this behavior out,” the FA said.
“These chants can have a lasting and damaging impact on people and communities within our game, and it must stop.”


Beat the traffic: While Beirut politicians cling to motorcades, a European diplomat opts for a bike

Updated 13 January 2023

Beat the traffic: While Beirut politicians cling to motorcades, a European diplomat opts for a bike

  • Hans Peter van der Woude, the Dutch ambassador to Lebanon, was praised for setting an example in a country facing a growing traffic crisis
  • He posted a photo on Twitter of himself and his bicycle, sparking an online debate and criticism of the government for failing to tackle transport problems

LONDON: While Lebanese politicians typically travel in multi-car motorcades, at least one European diplomat is beating the heavy Beirut traffic by getting on a bike.

In a message posted on Twitter on Thursday, Hans Peter van der Woude, the Dutch ambassador to Lebanon, posted a photo of himself wearing a helmet and standing next to an e-bike as he prepared to set off for a meeting.

The photo sparked an online debate about the country’s traffic problems, with many people praising him as an “example” for everyone to follow.

“Setting a great example. Drive safely,” one user wrote.

Another asked the envoy whether he feels safe cycling around the busy streets of the capital.

“I felt really comfortable on a bicycle in traffic,” van der Woude replied. “Just because drivers are not used to cyclists, they are more careful. One has to be vigilant though, like everyone in Lebanese traffic.”

He added that he completes his journeys really quickly compared with people in cars, who often get stuck in traffic jams.

Nasser Yassin, Lebanon’s environment minister, retweeted the envoy’s photo, thanked him and said the government backs the use of non-motorized transport options, also known as “soft mobility.”

“We are supporting initiatives that will promote soft mobility in Beirut and other cities; but we need to work more with municipalities and others to create the right environment for soft mobility in our cities,” he wrote.

However, the minister faced criticism from people who accused him of hypocrisy, given the lack of a government strategy to tackle Lebanon’s traffic problems.

One person wrote: “Mr. Nasser Yassin, in your government’s ministerial statement, you announced ‘the pursuit of a comprehensive transport plan and the adoption of a partnership mechanism between the public and private sectors.’ And you, with this tweet, are encouraging support for soft mobility initiatives. Can you tell us how and what you have accomplished or what you intend to accomplish … apart from tweeting on Twitter?”

In recent years, traffic congestion in Lebanon has increased as a result of the poor state of roads, the growing number of vehicles using them, and a flawed public-transport system. According to World Bank-affiliated Urban Transport Development Project, people in Lebanon spend an estimated average of 720 hours in vehicles each year.

Officials have promised to find solutions to the over-reliance on private vehicles in the country but have been accused of hypocrisy on the issue. In 2017, for example, the Lebanese government was criticized for purchasing, or receiving as grants and donations, an “excessively large number of vehicles” for use by ministries, departments, public institutions and municipalities.

The government was also accused of breaking laws and regulations by using money from the public purse to pay for maintenance, insurance, fuel and other expenses arising from the use of an estimated 12,000 government-owned vehicles.
 

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US first lady Jill Biden has surgery to remove cancerous skin lesions

Updated 12 January 2023

US first lady Jill Biden has surgery to remove cancerous skin lesions

  • The 71-year-old first lady spent more than eight hours at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the outpatient procedure

BETHESDA, Maryland: US first lady Jill Biden had cancerous skin lesions removed from her face and chest during surgery on Wednesday, and a third lesion was removed from her left eyelid and sent for examination, the White House physician said.
The 71-year-old first lady, accompanied by President Joe Biden, spent more than eight hours at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the outpatient procedure.
All cancerous tissue was removed, the White House physician said.
The president returned to the White House later on Wednesday afternoon. The first lady returned separately, her spokesperson, Vanessa Valdivia, said, and was “doing well and in good spirits.”
Jill Biden went to the hospital for removal of a skin lesion above her right eye. White House physician Kevin O’Connor said in a statement that the procedure “confirmed that the small lesion was basal cell carcinoma.”
“All cancerous tissue was successfully removed, and the margins were clear of any residual skin cancer cells. We will monitor the area closely as it heals, but do not anticipate any more procedures will be needed,” he said.
In addition, a small lesion was discovered on Jill Biden’s left eyelid and it was fully excised and sent for further examination, O’Connor said.
During her preoperative consultation, an additional “area of concern” was identified on the left side of the first lady’s chest, and it was consistent with potential basal cell carcinoma, O’Connor said.
This lesion also was excised and basal cell carcinoma was confirmed. “Again, all cancerous tissue was successfully removed,” O’Connor said.
Basal cell carcinoma lesions do not tend to “spread,” or metastasize, as some more serious skin cancers such as melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma are known to do, the doctor added.
They do, however, have the potential to increase in size, resulting in a more significant issue as well as increased challenges for surgical removal, he said.
Jill Biden was experiencing some facial swelling and bruising, but was in good spirits and feeling well, O’Connor said.
The president and first lady arrived at the Walter Reed facility in suburban Bethesda, Maryland, just after 8 a.m. EST on Wednesday.
President Biden “wanted to be there to support her,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “They’ve been married for 45 years now and he wanted to be there with his wife.”
The first lady underwent a common procedure known as Mohs surgery to remove and definitively examine the tissue.
Mohs surgery involves cutting away thin layers of skin after which each is looked at closely for signs of cancer. The process continues until there is no sign of cancer, preserving healthy tissue and reducing the need for further treatment.
The Bidens are passionate advocates in efforts to combat cancer. 
Last year President Biden announced an initiative to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years as part of an effort to revive the “Cancer Moonshot” program that began while he was vice president under Democratic President Barack Obama.
Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.