Wayward wallaby gets the jump on Australian police at Sydney tourist spot

In this image released by Taronga Zoo Conservation Society, Dr. Larry Vogelnest, senior veterinarian at Taronga Zoo, checks a wallaby is checked at Taronga Wildlife Hospital in Sydney Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP)
Updated 16 January 2018
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Wayward wallaby gets the jump on Australian police at Sydney tourist spot

SYDNEY: Australians often joke that tourists expect to see kangaroos hopping across the Sydney Harbor Bridge but the joke was on police on Tuesday when a wayward wallaby led them in an early-morning chase across the famous landmark.
Police said they chased the mysterious marsupial on foot and in a car over the bridge before dawn before catching it in a downtown park and taking it to the city’s Taronga Zoo.
“Officers took the startled macropod into police custody ... with the police mounted unit arriving on scene soon after to take it to the zoo for veterinary assessment,” New South Wales Police said in a statement.
Video filmed from a pursuing patrol car showed the meter-high wallaby, which looks like a small kangaroo, hopping across the famous bridge.
A policeman stifled a laugh as he drove behind.
“Sydney’s got the best harbor in the world, so I’d imagine he was taking in the view,” police inspector Kylie Smith later told reporters. “We actually do have wallabies or kangaroos that jump down the main street of Sydney.”
Nicknamed “The Coathanger,” Sydney’s famous arch-span bridge opened in 1932 and, with 8 traffic lanes, 2 railway lines and a footpath and cycleway, is the main harbor crossing linking the city with its northern suburbs.
While wallabies and kangaroos are found in both rural and leafy suburban areas, it is highly unusual to see them in the middle of a major city.
“I’m from the ‘bush’ (rural Australia), so I’m used to see them running around all over the place but I’ve never seen one so close to the city before,” said a driver who gave his name as Ray, one of several people who called Sydney radio station 2GB.
Police said the wallaby probably began its city-bound journey at a golf club on the harbor’s north shore before it was spotted hopping south across the bridge in lane 8 at about 5 a.m. (1800 GMT Monday).
“Traffic controllers ... monitored the wallaby as it hopped across to lane 1 and, without indicating, exited onto Cahill Expressway then to Macquarie Street,” police said in a statement.
Larry Vogelnest, senior veterinarian at Taronga Zoo, said X-rays showed the wallaby had not suffered any serious injuries.
“The swamp wallaby remains in a stable condition at Taronga Wildlife Hospital’s intensive care unit ... our hope is that the wallaby will be able to be released back into the wild,” he said in a statement.


No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Updated 21 January 2019
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No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

  • The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths
  • With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw

BAGHDAD: Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.
Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons — a rare and expensive brand in Iraq — while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.
“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal Al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.
That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics.
“It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members,” Bayati told Reuters as he sat with fellow bikers in a shisha cafe, a regular hangout for members.
“Whenever politics is mentioned, the members are warned once or twice and then expelled. We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them,” he said, referring to sectarian violence.
With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw.
But while their style is unmistakably US-inspired — at least one of Bayati’s cohorts wears a helmet emblazoned with the stars and stripes — these bikers fly the Iraqi flag from the panniers of their machines.
The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths. One of their most recent events was taking part in Army Day celebrations.
Some are in the military, the police and even the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias which have taken part in the fight to oust Islamic State from Iraq in the last three years.
“It is a miniature Iraq,” said member Ahmed Haidar, 36, who works with an international relief agency.
But riding a chopper through Baghdad is quite different from Route 101. The bikers have to slow down at the many military checkpoints set up around the city to deter suicide and car bomb attacks.
And very few can afford a top bike.
“We don’t have a Harley Davidson franchise here,” said Kadhim Naji, a mechanic who specializes in turning ordinary motorbikes into something special.
“So what we do is we alter the motorbike, so it looks similar ... and it is cheaper.”