Philippines’ Duterte pestered again as gecko stalls speech

Philippines’ Duterte pestered again as gecko stalls speech
President Rodrigo Duterte has been attracting small creatures while lashing out at his critics. (REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr./File Photo)
Updated 20 September 2019

Philippines’ Duterte pestered again as gecko stalls speech

Philippines’ Duterte pestered again as gecko stalls speech
  • In a previous speech lambasting the Catholic clergy, a fly kept buzzing around him and landed on his forehead
  • While attacking the political opposiion during an election campaign, a big cockroach crawled up his shoulder and down his shirt

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte just keeps getting bugged during his public speeches.
A noisy gecko was the latest wildlife contributor to an address by Duterte, interrupting the leader on Thursday evening just as he launched another tirade at human rights groups critical of his bloody war on drugs.
The reptile’s persistence caused laugher in the crowd of mostly soldiers, causing Duterte stop mid-sentence, turn to his left and pause for a while to see what the off-camera commotion was.
“You brought a gecko here?” he asked an official sitting behind him, drawing laughs.
Geckos are common across Southeast Asia. The small lizard-like reptiles are known for their ability to produce various loud sounds, from barks to chirps, to communicate or when threatened.
While activists accuse Duterte of cowing his opponents into silence, reptiles and insects have no qualms about pestering him during his often hours-long, televised addresses.
A big cockroach crawled up his shoulder and down his shirt during a speech in May when he was lambasting an opposition party ahead of a national election. He joked the cockroach was its supporter.
Two months later, a fly kept buzzing around him and landing on his forehead, just as he was berating his rivals in the Catholic clergy. He said in jest that the fly was acting on their orders.


Madame Tussauds to open in Dubai later in 2021

Madame Tussauds to open in Dubai later in 2021
Updated 22 June 2021

Madame Tussauds to open in Dubai later in 2021

Madame Tussauds to open in Dubai later in 2021
  • The attraction will feature 7 rooms including a Bollywood-themed area
  • There will be 60 statues of global stars including new faces from the Middle East

DUBAI: Dubai is already known for its manmade islands, iconic sky scrapers, and the world’s first seven-star hotel – the Burj Al Arab, and now it’s getting its own version of the popular tourist attraction Madame Tussauds.

The world-famous waxwork museum is opening its first Middle East venue in Dubai’s Bluewaters Island later this year, Merlin Entertainments Ltd (Merlin), announced Tuesday.

Visitors will be able to take pictures with a selection of wax statues of 60 global stars, including 16 new wax figures from the Middle East region.

The attraction will feature seven themed rooms, including a Bollywood movie, featuring the Badshah of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan.

Other figures will include Kylie Jenner, Cara Delevingne and footballing legend, Christiano Ronaldo.

“In addition to well-known global figures, the new Madame Tussauds will also be home to figures celebrated in the Middle East including Nancy Ajram and Maya Diab, alongside other figures which we will announce very soon,” said Meike Lippert, Senior Divisional Director Midway Europe and Global New Openings, Merlin Entertainments.

It takes sculptors 12 weeks to create each wax statue, and during that time they document 500 precise body measurements, insert real hair strand by strand, apply countless layers of paints to build up the skin tones.

And it can cost up to $208,000 to create a wax figure, depending on the work involved.

The first Madame Tussauds was opened in 1835 in London, and has remained a popular destination with tourists in the British capital ever since.

There are also branches in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Shanghai, Wuhan and New York.

“It is a thrilling experience to bring the iconic Madame Tussauds to the UAE,” said Sanaz Kollsrud, General Manager of Madame Tussauds Dubai.

“This will be the 25th edition of our wax attraction and will be a first in the GCC. We intend to bring a whole new entertainment experience to the exciting portfolio of attractions in Dubai and cement Bluewaters’ position as a global tourist destination.” Kollsrud added.


Outgoing Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gets his first smartphone

Outgoing Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gets his first smartphone
Updated 21 June 2021

Outgoing Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gets his first smartphone

Outgoing Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu gets his first smartphone
  • Netanyahu was probably one of the few people who didn’t own a smartphone
  • Former prime minister’s new phone number will remain unknown to many

BEIRUT: Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now owns a smartphone for the first time in 12 years, Israeli media reported on Monday.
Unseated as premier in early June, Israel Today said Netanyahu was probably one of the few people who didn’t own a smartphone across the country, highlighting that “today he is proud of the smartphone he has.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett succeeded in cobbling together a government in the aftermath of Israel’s fourth consecutive election in two years.
Netanyahu, who served for 12 years as prime minister until Bennett’s government was sworn in last week, has yet to move out of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.
The former prime minister’s new phone number will remain unknown to many except for a select few, the newspaper said.
Mentioning the issue of owning smartphones in 2014, Netanyahu was reportedly overheard exclaiming to his entourage prior to filming and interview with an American TV channel: “I do not understand the new world where everybody wants to click photos! When do you live?”
Reporters cited him as saying “everybody takes pictures, that is all what they do! Don’t take pictures, live your life! I lived mine without taking photos. I am the only person, who doesn’t have electronic devices. I am a free man and you are all slaves to your devices.”
According to the newspaper, a friend of Netanyahu claimed that the last time he owned a personal phone was in 2009.
Despite the fact that he has not used a smartphone for more than a decade, he remains one of the most followed people on social media, with over 2 million followers on Twitter and over 2.6 million followers on Facebook.


UK’s Queen Elizabeth II beams as she returns to Ascot after COVID-19 hiatus

UK’s Queen Elizabeth II beams as she returns to Ascot after COVID-19 hiatus
Updated 20 June 2021

UK’s Queen Elizabeth II beams as she returns to Ascot after COVID-19 hiatus

UK’s Queen Elizabeth II beams as she returns to Ascot after COVID-19 hiatus
  • Dressed in a mint-green outfit and matching hat, the queen was applauded by the crowd
  • She smiled broadly as she inspected one of her horses, after it finished a close second

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II was smiling broadly as she attended the final day of the Ascot races on Saturday, where environmental protesters urged the monarch to press politicians to act faster against climate change.
The 95-year-old queen, a keen racing fan and racehorse owner, has attended Ascot almost every year of her seven-decade reign. She was absent last year, when the event was held without spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic. Her return came two months after the death of her husband, Prince Philip, at 99.


Dressed in a mint-green outfit and matching hat, the queen was applauded by the crowd as she arrived to cheer on four horses she owns that were racing on Saturday. She smiled broadly as she inspected one of her horses, Reach for the Moon, after it finished a close second.
The annual racing meeting west of London is a heady mix of horses, extravagant headwear, fancy dress, champagne and strawberries with cream.
Protesters from environmental group Extinction Rebellion unfurled a banner reading “Racing to Extinction” at the racecourse on Saturday. The group said four women glued themselves to their banner and chained themselves to the fence in a protest intended to be seen by the queen. She was not nearby at the time.


Jordan battles to save rare tiny Dead Sea carp

Jordan battles to save rare tiny Dead Sea carp
Updated 18 June 2021

Jordan battles to save rare tiny Dead Sea carp

Jordan battles to save rare tiny Dead Sea carp
Jordan is racing against time to save a tiny rare fish from extinction as falling water levels partly triggered by global warming threaten to dry up its last habitat.
The Dead Sea toothcarp — scientific name Aphanius dispar richardsoni — has been on the red list of the International Union for Conversation of Nature since 2014.
The IUCN warns that the “exploitation of spring waters and climate change” are major threats facing the four-centimeter-long, silver-colored fish.
“This fish is threatened with extinction at the global level. It is endemic here and does not exist elsewhere,” said Ibrahim Mahasneh, the manager of the fish’s last home, the Fifa Nature Reserve.
Lying some 140 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of Amman in the Jordan Rift Valley and 60 kilometers south of the Dead Sea, the area is the lowest wet reserve on Earth.
Established in 2011, the reserve consists of some 20 square kilometers. It is located some 426 meters (1,400 feet) below sea level and is managed by an independent body, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN).
Even though the Hashemite kingdom is primarily desert, this area of wetlands is criss-crossed by streams and is home to a variety of plant and wildlife species including birds.
“We have a plan to save and breed this fish... to create a natural habitat for it to breed and at the same time to mitigate the existing threat,” added Mahasneh.
“The reserve is the last home for this endangered species of fish,” said environmental researcher Abdallah Oshoush who works in the reserve.


The male fish also has a streak of blue along its sides, while the female has incomplete black stripes.
It is not known how many still remain, but “monitoring programs have warned of a clear decline in the presence of this fish in recent years,” Oshoush said.
Among the environmental threats causing numbers to drop is the “lowering water level due to low rainfall and the change in its environment, as well as the presence of other fish that feed on it and its eggs.”
Researchers are now preparing to open an artificial pond just for the toothcarp so they can grow safely and their eggs are not devoured by predators. Each season, a female produces around 1,000 eggs.
The aim is then to release the young fish back into the natural environment.
“In Jordan live two unique species of fish that do not exist anywhere else in the world. These are our precious treasures and they must be preserved for our ecosystem,” said RSCN spokesperson Salem Nafaa.
Two decades ago the RSCN succeeded in saving the endangered Aphanuis Sirhani fish in its only habitat in the Azraq reserve, about 110 kilometers (65 miles) east of Amman.
It got its scientific name from the Wadi Sirhan, which extends from the Arabian Peninsula to Azraq, but is commonly known in English as the Azraq killifish.
Only about six centimeters long, it is also silver but the female is spotted while the male has black stripes.

“In the year 2000, there were no more than 500 Azraq killifish in the oasis, which means it was on the verge of extinction,” said Nashat Hmaidan, the director of the RSCN Biodiversity Monitoring Center.
“It was declining sharply, and it reached just 0.02 percent of the number of fish in the oasis,” he said, blaming other predatory fish and migratory birds as well as a fall in water levels.
The RSCN studied the fish’s life cycle and determined it needed shallow water to lay eggs, and should be isolated from other species for the best chance of survival.
“We collected 20 fish over two years and put them in a concrete pond designated for breeding.”
After the first fish were released back into the waters the team saw its presence had increased from 0.02 percent to nearly 50 percent. It “was a great success,” he added.
Twenty years on, the Azraq killifish accounts for almost 70 percent of the fish in the waters. But he cautioned the goal now is that the numbers should “never drop below 50 percent.”
Hazem Hrisha, the director of the Azraq Wetland reserve, highlighted its important biodiversity, with more than 133 plant species and more than 163 species of invertebrates.
The reserve “is located on the most important bird migration paths,” he said, adding two thirds of the bird species found in the kingdom had been recorded in Azraq.

International Camel Organization announces North American association

International Camel Organization announces North American association
Updated 17 June 2021

International Camel Organization announces North American association

International Camel Organization announces North American association
  • Decision comes amid growth in camel ranches in the US

RIYADH: The International Camel Organization (ICO) announced on Thursday the establishment of the North American Camel Ranch Owners Association (NACROA) in the US.

Sheikh Fahd bin Falah bin Hithleen, the ICO’s founder and president, said the step was part of efforts to develop the camel sector.

It follows the setting up of the European Camel Ranch Owners Association in 2019.

 

 

The owners of camel ranches in America decided last year to unify their efforts in developing the camel sector through the ICO.

Aaron Scott Wendell, president of the association, said the increasing number of camel ranches in the US prompted them to establish the association.

He thanked Sheikh Fahd for his efforts and encouragement to establish the association.

His work will be reflected in the development of various aspects in the economic, cultural, medical and sports activities of camels, Wendell said.

Founded by Sheikh Fahd in March 2019, the ICO is a non-profit organization based in Riyadh. Currently it includes about 105 member countries from all continents and aims to develop and serve everything related to camels as a heritage.