China clones ‘Sherlock Holmes’ police dog to cut training times

Beijing-based Sinogene Biotechnology Company and the Yunnan Agricultural University, with support from the Ministry of Public Security, are leading the project. (File/Reuters)
Updated 20 March 2019
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China clones ‘Sherlock Holmes’ police dog to cut training times

  • China is hoping to make it possible to achieve “volume production” of cloned police dogs to reduce training times
  • The dog was cloned from a police sniffer dog

SHANGHAI: Scientists in southwest China’s Yunnan province have cloned what they called the “Sherlock Holmes of police dogs” in a program they hope will help cut training times and costs for police dogs, state media reported on Wednesday.
The dog, named Kunxun, was cloned from a police sniffer dog by the Beijing-based Sinogene Biotechnology Company and the Yunnan Agricultural University, with support from the Ministry of Public Security, the state-owned tabloid Global Times reported.
Sinogene is hoping to make it possible to achieve “volume production” of cloned police dogs in order to significantly reduce training times, the company’s deputy general manager Zhao Jianping told the Global Times, but he added that cloning costs remain a major obstacle.
Kunxun, now three months old, will undergo extensive training in drug detection, crowd control and searching for evidence, and will become a fully fledged police dog when it is about 10 months old, the official China Daily said.
Training usually takes about five years and costs as much as 500,000 yuan, with no guarantee of success, the paper said, citing an animal expert at the Yunnan Agricultural University. The paper did not say how much a cloned dog would cost.
South Korean scientists created the world’s first cloned dog in 2005, and two years later the country began employing cloned Labrador retrievers to sniff out drugs for the customs service, China Daily said.


Why ‘Gone With the Wind’ eclipses both ‘Avengers’ and ‘Avatar’

Updated 22 July 2019
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Why ‘Gone With the Wind’ eclipses both ‘Avengers’ and ‘Avatar’

  • The $402 million taken in by “Gone with the Wind” after its 1939 release places it in a paltry 285th position in raw dollar terms
  • That compares to $2.7902 billion for “Avengers: Endgame,” which this weekend just squeaked past the “Avatar” total of $2.7897

NEW YORK: Even as Disney confirmed Sunday that “Avengers: Endgame” had become the top-grossing movie ever, film historians noted that “Gone With the Wind” still has a strong case for being the most successful film of all time.
The $402 million taken in by “Gone with the Wind” after its 1939 release places it in a paltry 285th position in raw dollar terms. But that ignores the huge role of price inflation over time.
The epic historic romance, set during and after the US Civil War, sold the enormous 215 million tickets in the United States, far and away the record in that category, according to the Internet Movie Database. It’s box office was boosted by seven national releases between 1939 and 1974.
“Gone with the Wind” would have sold $1.958 billion worth of tickets today in the US market alone, based on what the National Association of Theatre Owners says was an average US ticket price in 2018 of $9.11.
Worldwide, and with inflation taken into account, the film would have taken in a stunning $3.44 billion, the Guinness Book of World Records has estimated.
That compares to $2.7902 billion for “Avengers: Endgame,” which this weekend just squeaked past the “Avatar” total of $2.7897.
Consider also that the US population in 1939 was a mere 130 million, roughly 200 million less than today.
For some, however, the success of the epic film — it runs three hours and 58 minutes — is troubling.
With a story line based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, some historians see it as one of the most ambitious and successful examples of Southern revisionism.
Immediately after the Civil War (1861-1865), there was a broad push in the US South to cast the formerly slave-holding region in a softer light.
Those purveying the so-called “Lost Cause” ideology insisted that the Southern states had fought not to preserve slavery, but because the North was infringing on their political independence.
Yet in their declarations of secession from the Union, the Southern states were clear about their primary motive: the Northern states’ refusal to extradite escaped slaves and their “increasing hostility... to the institution of slavery,” as South Carolina’s declaration stated.
“Slavery is not even a critical issue in the movie,” said Kathryn Stockett, author of “The Help,” about black maids in the South in the early 1960s.
“You have these African-Americans that are working for these white families, and it’s as if it’s just their job... something they chose to do,” Stockett says in the documentary “Old South, New South.”
For Randy Sparks, a Tulane University history professor, “Gone With the Wind” exemplifies the way Southerners were able to impose their version of events.
“There aren’t many cases in history,” Sparks said, “where the losers write the history.”
It was thanks to “Gone With the Wind” that in 1940 Hattie McDaniel, who plays Scarlett O’Hara’s faithful slave “Mammy,” won the first Oscar awarded to a black actress.
But racial segregation was still deeply rooted in Hollywood, as in many parts of American society, and on Oscar night McDaniel had to sit at a small table in the rear of the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub in the Ambassador Hotel, far from the film’s big stars, Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable.
Producer David O. Selznick had to intervene personally to secure her a room in the Ambassador, which refused to admit black customers until 1959.