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.

Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star

Updated 05 February 2023

Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star

  • Abu Nawas’ Facebook page offering analysis of European football leagues matches has cultivated 243,000 followers
  • The 27-year-old was born with brittle bone disease, that has meant he rarely leaves his home

ZARQA: Having spent most of his life housebound due to a medical condition, Jordanian Amer Abu Nawas’s love of football has propelled him to social media stardom.
Offering analysis of matches from the leading European football leagues to almost a quarter of a million followers, his Facebook page — “HouseAnalyzer” in Arabic — has grown into what he describes as a “big family.”
The 27-year-old was born with osteogenesis, or brittle bone disease, a genetic condition hindering normal bone growth that has meant he rarely leaves his home in Zarqa, 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Jordan’s capital Amman.
“It is true that I have never played football in my life, and have never attended any match, but for me football is everything,” Abu Nawas told AFP.
With no schools in the country catering to his needs, Abu Nawas grew up spending much of his time watching football matches, analizing the teams and playing football video games.
“This always made me feel like it is taking me from this world to a different one,” he said.
His relatives noticed his passion and encouraged him to publish his match analyzes online.
In 2017, he launched his Facebook account, which now counts more than 243,000 followers.

Filmed on a phone in his bedroom, Abu Nawas’s videos usually feature him wearing a football jersey, excitedly commenting on matches and news from the world of football.
Discussing leagues from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, he sometimes uses a football pitch-shaped board to explain tactical nuances.
One of Abu Nawas’s latest videos reached more than 1.4 million viewers and he has started posting on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.
He said he was grateful for modern technology allowing him to connect with so many people.
“From this room, from this small place isolated from the world, I was able to cross these walls, reach people, communicate with them, create content, and become what I am today,” he said.
He expressed sadness at sometimes seeing people attack each other in comments to his posts, and said his relationship with his followers was “like a family.”
“This family is growing day by day, and I hope it will reach as many followers as possible,” he added.
Abu Nawas’s own family do their best to provide him with a comfortable life.
He is the youngest of three brothers and his father is a doctor and his mother a pharmacist.
Inside his room are shelves with a PlayStation, a computer and plastic baskets keeping items he might need.
On his bed are phones, remote controls, headphones and a long stick used to reach distant items.

“He has his own world, in a room with a temperature of 27 degrees to avoid cold and pneumonia. He can operate anything using the remote control,” his father Yussef told AFP.
He said his son has friends who occasionally visit.
“When he feels bad, they take him out for a tour in a minibus,” he said.
Abu Nawas lamented that in Jordan “nobody cares” about people with diseases like his, and said he wished he had had the opportunity to attend school.
“The conditions for people with special needs are catastrophic,” he said.
“I could not learn because there are no special schools for people like me.”
Last year, the organizers of the football World Cup invited him to attend the tournament in Qatar.
But due to travel difficulties linked to his condition, he arrived late and missed the matches he was scheduled to attend.
Even so, Abu Nawas said it was “the best 10 days of my life.”
“I know my condition, I learned to be content, and I will remain so,” he said.
“Disability need not be an obstacle to success.”

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

Updated 03 February 2023

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

CHICAGO: A Chicago woman has been accused of keeping her mother’s dead body in a freezer for nearly two years while living in a nearby apartment.
Eva Bratcher, 69, appeared in court Thursday on charges of concealing her 96-year-old mother’s death and possessing a fraudulent identification card.
Regina Michalski’s body was discovered this week in a freezer in the garage near the apartment they had shared, police said. Investigators believe she died in March 2021. The cause won’t be determined until the body is thawed.
The allegations are “very disturbing,” Judge David Kelly said in setting a $20,000 bond for Bratcher.
Kelly turned down a defense lawyer’s request for a lower bond to get Bratcher out of jail.
She has past convictions for forgery, and investigators said they were trying to determine if Bratcher was collecting her late mother’s Social Security benefits, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Bratcher’s daughter, who lives in Kentucky, asked police to check the home after losing contact with her grandmother.
“What could go wrong? Apparently, everything,” Sabrina Watson said.

‘Dances with Wolves’ actor arrested over sex trafficking and abuse raps

Updated 02 February 2023

‘Dances with Wolves’ actor arrested over sex trafficking and abuse raps

  • Police report says Nathan Chasing Horse is accused of leading a cult and sexually abusing women followers
  • He was also accused of instructing his wives to 'shoot it out' with police, and 'take suicide pills' as a last resort

LAS VEGAS: Nathan Chasing Horse trained his wives to use firearms, instructing them to “shoot it out” with police officers if they ever tried to “break their family apart,” according to records obtained by The Associated Press. If that failed, the wives were to take “suicide pills.”
The abuse that authorities said spanned two decades led Tuesday to the arrest of Chasing Horse following a monthslong investigation by Las Vegas police. He was taken into custody as he left the home he shares with his five wives in North Las Vegas. SWAT officers were seen outside the two-story home in the evening as detectives searched the property.
Known for his role as the young Sioux tribe member Smiles a Lot in the Oscar-winning Kevin Costner film “Dances With Wolves,” Chasing Horse gained a reputation among tribes across the United States and in Canada as a so-called medicine man who performed healing ceremonies. But police said he abused his position, physically and sexually assaulting Indigenous girls and women, taking underage wives and leading a cult.
Chasing Horse, 46, will be charged with at least two counts of sex trafficking and one count each of sexual assault of a child younger than 16, child abuse or neglect and sexual assault, according to court records. Authorities have not said when he will be formally charged.
He was booked before midnight into Clark County’s jail, where he remained held without bail on the sexual assault charges as he awaits his first court appearance, expected Thursday in North Las Vegas. There was no lawyer listed in court records for Chasing Horse who could comment on his behalf, and Las Vegas police said he was “unable” to give a jailhouse interview Wednesday.
According to a 50-page search warrant obtained by the AP, Chasing Horse is believed to be the leader of a cult known as The Circle.
At least two women told police that Chasing Horse had shown his wives a stash of “small white pills” that he called “suicide pills” sometime in 2019 or 2020, years before his arrest.
The women were instructed to “take a pill to kill themselves in the event he dies or law enforcement tries to break their family apart,” according to the warrant.
One of Chasing Horse’s former wives also told police that she believed his current wives would “carry out the instructions” to take the pills and open fire on law enforcement if officers came to the home to arrest Chasing Horse.
Police noted in the warrant that Chasing Horse was believed to have long rifles and handguns inside his home, including a loaded rifle in the home’s entry way, and a handgun in his vehicle.
Las Vegas police said in the document they have identified at least six sexual assault victims, some who were as young as 14 when they say they were abused, and traced the sexual allegations against Chasing Horse to the early 2000s in multiple states, including Nevada, where he has lived for about a decade, and South Dakota and Montana.
“Nathan Chasing Horse used spiritual traditions and their belief system as a tool to sexually assault young girls on numerous occasions,” detectives wrote in the warrant, adding that his followers referred to him as “Medicine Man” or “Holy Person” because they believed he could communicate with higher beings.
One of Chasing Horse’s wives was offered to him as a “gift” when she was 15, according to police, while another became a wife after turning 16.
Chasing Horse also is accused of recording sexual assaults and arranging sex with the victims for other men who paid him.
He was arrested nearly a decade after he was banished from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana, amid allegations of human trafficking.
Fort Peck tribal leaders had voted 7-0 to ban Chasing Horse from stepping foot again on the reservation, citing the trafficking allegations in addition to accusations of drug dealing, spiritual abuse and intimidation of tribal members, Indian County Today reported.
State attorneys general and lawmakers around the US are looking into creating specialized units to handle cases involving Native American women.
In South Dakota, where police said Chasing Horse committed some of his crimes, the attorney general’s office has put a new focus on crimes against Native American people, including human trafficking and killings.
Chasing Horse was born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, which is home to the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota nation.


Pakistani actress Sajal Aly to play lead role in series adaptation of classical Urdu novel

Updated 30 January 2023

Pakistani actress Sajal Aly to play lead role in series adaptation of classical Urdu novel

  • 'Umrao Jaan Ada' is an 1899 Urdu novel that follows a courtesan's life
  • Producer hopes eight-part series will 'develop different characters' from novel

KARACHI: Pakistani actress Sajal Aly has been roped in to play the lead role in an upcoming series based on the classical Urdu novel from 1899, 'Umrao Jaan Ada', the producer of the show confirmed on Monday, saying that the series would spotlight more original characters from the novel.   

Penned by renowned author Mirza Hadi Ruswa, Umrao Jaan Ada has been hailed as one of the most renowned Urdu-language novels of all time. The novel chronicles the life of a courtesan named Umrao Jaan and has garnered critical acclaim for its portrayal of culture in the 19th-century century subcontinent. 

The hit novel has been adapted numerous times over the decades. Pakistani director Hasan Tariq turned the novel into a film in 1972 while private news channel Geo Entertainment aired a TV adaptation of the same novel in 2003. 

The most renowned adaptation of the novel came in 1981 when Indian director Muzaffar Ali helmed a movie on the famous character, starring popular Bollywood actress Rekha. Indian writer, director and producer Jyoti Prakash Dutta also directed an Umrao Jaan movie in 2006 starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. 

The upcoming Pakistani series will be packaged and produced by Abu Dhabi-based South Asian celebrity management agency, Action Consultancy. 

“The makers of this project feel that Sajal [Aly] will do justice to the complex character of Umrao [Jan]," Hamid Hussain, producer and chief executive officer of Action Consultancy, told Arab News. "Our project has two primary female characters, one of which is Umrao Jaan.”

Hussain acknowledged that Ali's 1981 Umrao Jaan adaptation was the most "remembered" one. However, he said film adaptations always have always been "rushed" versions of original works of art. 

"Unfortunately, film adaptations have to narrate the entire story in a short time and thus have always been rushed," Hussain said. “As an eight-part series, we have time to develop the different characters from the original novel.”

Aly, who has starred in a string of hit Pakistani drama serials and movie projects, confirmed she would play Umrao Jaan in the series adaptation.

“Can’t say anything about it right now but the news is right,” Aly confirmed to Arab News on Sunday.  

Hussain said the names of other cast members would be announced at the "right time."

“The series adaptation relies heavily on the original Urdu version of the novel, unlike the film adaptations that had taken creative liberties to fit the story into a film narrative," he said.  

"There is a lot in the novel that has never been shown in an audiovisual project.”

Pakistan's Dawn reported that the series was going to stream on a major online service but the producer declined to confirm which one, when asked by Arab News.

Nigerian artist uses AI to re-imagine life for the elderly

Updated 30 January 2023

Nigerian artist uses AI to re-imagine life for the elderly

LAGOS: A Nigerian artist is using artificial intelligence to re-imagine life for African elderly people by showcasing near real-life pictures and videos of them walking down the fashion ramp and on the beach.
Malik Afegbua, who is also a film maker, said because many elderly people were marginalized in society, especially in the fashion world, he began to imagine how they would look if they were models.
Afegbua started posting some of his work on social media and it went viral.
He came up with “Elders Series,” a catalogue of pictures and videos showing white-haired women and bearded men strutting the runway for a virtual fashion show in Afrocentric attire, including ornamental neck and arm bands.
“So I wanted to ... imagine the elderly people in a place that is not either in a sad space or in a suppressed state,” Afegbua told Reuters.
“However, when I was making it, I kind of knew there was something there. I was like this is dope. I’m loving what I’m seeing.”
Afegbua was not always an artist. He studied business in university but stepped into the world of filming after a friend bought him a camera in 2011.
He said the idea to explore a different world for old people came when his elderly mother fell ill. Using an artificial intelligence app, he started creating content showing a brighter side of old age.