Giant great white shark swims with Hawaii divers

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In this Jan. 15, 2019 photo provided by Juan Oliphant, Ocean Ramsey, a shark researcher and advocate, swims with a large great white shark off the shore of Oahu. (AP)
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Diver Ocean Ramsey (@oceanramsey) swims next to a female great white shark off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii on January 15, 2019. (AFP)
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Diver Ocean Ramsey (@oceanramsey) swims next to a female great white shark off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii on January 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2019
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Giant great white shark swims with Hawaii divers

HALEIWA, Hawaii: Two shark researchers who came face to face with what could be one of the largest great whites ever recorded are using their encounter as an opportunity to push for legislation that would protect sharks in Hawaii.
Ocean Ramsey, a shark researcher and conservationist, told The Associated Press that she encountered the 20-foot (6-meter) shark Tuesday near a dead sperm whale off Oahu.
The event was documented and shared on social media by her fiancé and business partner Juan Oliphant.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said it was aware of photos of the great white and that tiger sharks also have been feeding on the whale.
Oliphant, who photographed the now-viral images, said it’s unclear if the shark is the famed Deep Blue, believed to be the largest great white ever recorded.
“She looks the part right now,” Oliphant said about the shark spotted Tuesday. “Maybe even more exciting that there is another massive, you know, super-size great white shark out there. Because their populations are so dwindling.”
Ramsey, who operates Oahu-based One Ocean Diving and Research with Oliphant, said she has been pushing for several years for a bill that would ban the killing of sharks and rays in Hawaii, and hopes this year the measure will become law.
She said the images of her swimming next to a huge great white shark prove the predators should be protected, not feared.
Still, the veteran shark diver doesn’t think the general public should recklessly get into the water with the giants, especially around a food source like a rotting whale carcass.
Ramsey said extensive training and time spent studying shark behavior has kept her team and customers safe. She teaches people about how to act and, more importantly, not act when they encounter a shark in the water.
Ramsey and her team observe behavior, identify and tag sharks and share that data with researchers as well as state and federal officials. She said she previously swam with the huge shark on research trips to Guadalupe Island, Mexico.
She also leads cage-free shark diving tours.
Unlike many marine mammals, sharks are not a federally protected species, though there are laws against the sale of their fins.
“There’s not a lot of sympathy for sharks because of the way they’re portrayed in media and they don’t have the cute cuddly appearance,” Ramsey said. “You can’t hate them for being predators. We need them for healthy marine ecosystems.”
Ramsey and Oliphant want to make sure that people realize that shark bites are uncommon.
“The idea that they see people as a food source, that is rubbish and that needs to go away because really that’s ultimately leading to the demise of these animals,” Oliphant said.
State Sen. Mike Gabbard sponsored the shark protection legislation last session and plans to reintroduce it this year. The bill died in the House when it wasn’t heard by the House Judiciary Committee.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said the decomposing whale carcass had drifted to about eight miles (13 kilometers) south of Pearl Harbor after being towed 15 miles (24 kilometers) offshore days earlier.
Officials say there have been reports that people are climbing onto the carcass to take its teeth as souvenirs, which may be a violation of state and federal laws.
The agency’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Chief Jason Redull said people should stay out of the water around the dead whale.
“Understandably, some people want to get into the water either out of fascination or to get photographs, but it is truly dangerous to be around this carcass with so much shark activity,” he said.
Ramsey said it’s impressive that the great white has survived a “gauntlet of human death traps.”
“I don’t know how old she is,” Ramsey said. “But for her to survive through so many longline fisheries and,. you know, gill nets and team nets and fishermen who might just kill her because they think that she is a monster ... it’s very special.”


Singer R. Kelly, facing sex abuse charges, gets $1 million bail

This booking photo obtained from the Chicago Police Department on February 23, 2019, shows singer R. Kelly. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2019
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Singer R. Kelly, facing sex abuse charges, gets $1 million bail

  • Two women who had previously publicly accused him of abuse came to court to observe the proceedings

CHICAGO: A US judge set $1 million bail for R&B superstar R. Kelly on Saturday after prosecutors laid out graphic details of charges that he sexually abused four victims, three of them minors.
Kelly, known for hits like “I Believe I Can Fly,” surrendered to police late Friday after decades of allegations of sexual abuse, especially of underage girls, led to the first sexual assault charges against him.
Kelly was acquitted in a child porn trial more than a decade ago, and had maintained a steady fan base and continued to perform.
But his fortunes changed after a docuseries last month led Chicago prosecutors to publicly seek out any potential victims.
A Chicago grand jury on Friday charged him with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four females, the youngest 14 years old at the time of the alleged crimes, which spanned between 1998 and 2010.
The charges carry three to seven years of prison per count.
A grave-faced Kelly appeared in a packed courtroom in a black hooded sweatshirt with his hands handcuffed behind his back.
Two women who had previously publicly accused him of abuse came to court to observe the proceedings.
In setting bail, Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. ordered Kelly to have no contact with anyone under 18 years old, and to have no contact with any of the alleged victims or witnesses.
The singer also was required to relinquish his passport.
“He’s devastated,” Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg said. “Here is someone who at one point was a huge star. Now he is sitting behind bars.”

In the bail hearing, prosecutors offered new details of their case — including a shocking accusation that Kelly met one underage victim while giving autographs during his 2008 trial.
They described a video showing Kelly repeatedly having sex with a 14-year-old, DNA evidence from another victim’s shirt that they said matched Kelly’s and semen from yet another victim’s clothes that preliminary tests showed appeared to be his.
Prosecutor Kimberly Foxx told reporters that a witness, not publicly identified, had provided the video showing Kelly having oral and vaginal sex with the youngest girl sometime between 1998 and 2001, when he would have been in his early 30s.
“In the video,” the prosecutor said, “the victim repeatedly, repeatedly, says she is 14 years old.”
In 1998, Kelly allegedly met another girl at a restaurant where she was celebrating her 16th birthday party, invited her to his studio knowing her age, and had sex with her several times after that, each time giving her an envelope with “a large amount of money,” Foxx said.
In 2008, he allegedly met a girl who was under 17 years old while giving autographs during his criminal trial on child pornography charges, and had sex with her multiple times until 2010.
“At times, Robert Kelly would spit on her, slap her on her face and choke her,” the prosecution alleged in court.
Illinois outlaws sex with those under 17 when the partner is at least five years older. Kelly is now 52 and was 31 at the time of the earliest alleged abuse.
In the only case not involving minors, Kelly is accused of trying to force a 24-year-old hairdresser to provide him with oral sex in 2003. When she resisted, he “ejaculated onto the victim and spit in her face several times,” Foxx said.
DNA on the hairdresser’s shirt, tested by police, was found to match Kelly’s DNA profile, prosecutors said.

Although his bail was set at $1 million, Kelly needs to put up only a tenth that amount, or $100,000, to be let out of jail. But Kelly’s attorney was unsure when the singer would be able to pay.
“His finances are a mess,” Greenberg told the judge in court.
After the hearing, he told reporters Kelly would likely put up bail by Monday at the latest and poked holes in the prosecution’s case.
“He’s entitled to a presumption of innocence,” Greenberg said.
“He did not force anyone to have sex. He’s a rock star. He doesn’t have to have non-consensual sex.”
Kelly is next due in court Monday, at which time a trial judge will be assigned to his case. He is scheduled for a March 8 arraignment, when he will have an opportunity to enter a plea.
Allegations of child pornography, sex with minors and sexual battery have dogged Kelly for decades, yet he still managed to enjoy a successful music career.
The musician’s fortunes turned after last month’s broadcast of the docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which once again brought accusations against him to the fore.
High-profile lawyer Michael Avenatti and prominent women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred are representing clients linked to Kelly.
Kelly married his protege Aaliyah in 1994, when the late R&B star was 15 and Kelly was 27. He had produced the teenage singer’s debut album titled “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.”
Their marriage was later annulled, and Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.