With no tourist handouts, hungry Bali monkeys raid homes

Made Mohon, the operation manager of Sangeh Monkey Forest, feeds macaques with donated peanuts during a feeding time at the popular tourist attraction site in Sangeh, Bali Island, Indonesia, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. (AP)
Made Mohon, the operation manager of Sangeh Monkey Forest, feeds macaques with donated peanuts during a feeding time at the popular tourist attraction site in Sangeh, Bali Island, Indonesia, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 04 September 2021

With no tourist handouts, hungry Bali monkeys raid homes

Made Mohon, the operation manager of Sangeh Monkey Forest, feeds macaques with donated peanuts during a feeding time at the popular tourist attraction site in Sangeh, Bali Island, Indonesia, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. (AP)
  • The Sangeh Monkey Forest typically had about 6,000 visitors a month, but as the pandemic spread last year and international travel dropped off dramatically, that number dropped to about 500

SANGEH, Indonesia: Deprived of their preferred food source — the bananas, peanuts and other goodies brought in by tourists now kept away by the coronavirus — hungry monkeys on the resort island of Bali have taken to raiding villagers’ homes in their search for something tasty.
Villagers in Sangeh say the gray long-tailed macaques have been venturing out from a sanctuary about 500 meters (yards) away to hang out on their roofs and await the right time to swoop down and snatch a snack.
Worried that the sporadic sorties will escalate into an all-out monkey assault on the village, residents have been taking fruit, peanuts and other food to the Sangeh Monkey Forest to try to placate the primates.
“We are afraid that the hungry monkeys will turn wild and vicious,” villager Saskara Gustu Alit said.
About 600 of the macaques live in the forest sanctuary, swinging from the tall nutmeg trees and leaping about the famous Pura Bukit Sari temple, and are considered sacred.
In normal times the protected jungle area in the southeast of the Indonesian island is popular among local residents for wedding photos, as well as among international visitors. The relatively tame monkeys can be easily coaxed to sit on a shoulder or lap for a peanut or two.
Ordinarily, tourism is the main source of income for Bali’s 4 million residents, who welcomed more than 5 million foreign visitors annually before the pandemic.
The Sangeh Monkey Forest typically had about 6,000 visitors a month, but as the pandemic spread last year and international travel dropped off dramatically, that number dropped to about 500.
Since July, when Indonesia banned all foreign travelers to the island and shut the sanctuary to local residents as well, there has been nobody.
Not only has that meant nobody bringing in extra food for the monkeys, the sanctuary has also lost out on its admission fees and is running low on money to purchase food for them, said operations manager Made Mohon.
The donations from villagers have helped, but they are also feeling the economic pinch and are gradually giving less and less, he said.
“This prolonged pandemic is beyond our expectations,” Made Mohon said, “Food for monkeys has become a problem.”
Food costs run about 850,000 rupiah ($60) a day, Made Mohon said, for 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of cassava, the monkeys’ staple food, and 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of bananas.
The macaque is an omnivore and can eat a variety of animals and plants found in the jungle, but those in the Sangeh Monkey Forest have had enough contact with humans over the years that they seem to prefer other things.
And they’re not afraid to take matters into their own hands, Gustu Alit said.
Frequently, monkeys wander into the village and sit on roofs, occasionally removing tiles and dropping them to the ground. When villagers put out daily religious offerings of food on their terraces, the monkeys jump down and make off with them.
“A few days ago I attended a traditional ceremony at a temple near the Sangeh forest,” Gustu Alit said. “When I parked my car and took out two plastic bags containing food and flowers as offerings, two monkeys suddenly appeared and grabbed it all and ran into the forest very fast.”
Normally, the monkeys spend all day interacting with visitors — stealing sunglasses and water bottles, pulling at clothes, jumping on shoulders — and Gustu Alit theorizes that more than just being hungry, they’re bored.
“That’s why I have urged villagers here to come to the forest to play with the monkeys and offer them food,” he said. “I think they need to interact with humans as often as possible so that they do not go wild.”


Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition
Updated 21 October 2021

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition
  • Japan’s Kyohei Sorita came joint-second with Italian-Slovenian Alexander Gadjiev. Spain’s Martin Garcia Garcia came third

WARSAW, Poland: Canadian pianist Bruce Xiaoyu Liu was awarded first prize in the Chopin piano competition in Warsaw on Thursday, clinching one of the world’s most prestigious music awards.
“Being able to play Chopin in Warsaw is one of the best things you can imagine,” 24-year-old Liu said as the jury announced their decision at the Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall.

The first prize in the 18th Frederic Chopin international piano competition comes with a 40,000-euro ($45,000) award.

Japan’s Kyohei Sorita, 27, came joint-second with 26-year-old Italian-Slovenian Alexander Gadjiev.
Spain’s Martin Garcia Garcia, 24, came third.

The winner will receive a gold medal and the financial prize funded by the office of Poland’s president, as well as prestigious recording and concert contracts.
The second prize is worth 30,000 euros ($35,000,) third prize is 20,000 euros ($23,000,) and the fourth is 15,000 euros ($17,000.) There are also prizes for the fifth, sixth and seventh place as well as other awards for the finalists, funded by Poland’s government, music institutions and by private donors.
Held every five years since 1927, the Chopin competition would normally have been held last year, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic — a first since World War II.
“It was challenging to get all the competitors into Poland,” Artur Szklener, director of the National Institute of Frederic Chopin, which organizes the competition, had told AFP.
But one of the 17 jury members, Argentinian concert pianist Nelson Goerner, said that pandemic-related lockdowns helped raise the standard of this year’s competition.
“The level this year is remarkable,” Goerner told AFP earlier in the competition.
“The pianists have had more time to prepare and I think the pandemic has awakened in all of us a desire to go further, to surpass ourselves,” he said.
“You can hear it in how these young pianists are playing.”

Born in Paris, Liu graduated from Montreal Conservatoire.
He has performed with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and has been on two tours in China.
“The pandemic actually made this kind of meeting for me more special,” Liu said after his victory.
Liu said he had to be “really careful all the time” during the coronavirus crisis, so as to be able to keep up his competition and concert schedule, and as a result had “not met many people” in the past two years.
He also said he hoped the competition would be “just a start” in his musical journey.
“It’s hard to keep the freshness, to continuously find new ideas so I hope this is not the last point,” he told reporters.
He added that he was looking forward “to be finally able to sleep and party.”
This year’s event drew 87 pianists from across the globe, including 22 from China, 16 from Poland and 14 from Japan.
Broadcast live on YouTube and via a bespoke mobile app, the contest attracted record online interest.
Some 70,000 people watched the result streamed online.
Among previous winners are Maurizio Pollini of Italy, Argentina’s Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson from the United States, Poland’s Krystian Zimerman and Artur Blechacz, and Seong-Jin Cho of South Korea.
Chopin, Poland’s best known and beloved classical music composer and pianist, was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw to a Polish mother and a French father. He left Poland at 19 to broaden his musical education in Vienna and then in Paris, where he settled, composing, giving concerts and teaching the piano. He died on Oct. 17, 1849, in Paris and is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery. His heart is at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.
The auditions can be followed live on the Chopin Institute YouTube channel and on Polish state radio.

 


Egyptian thief sets social media abuzz after swiping livestreaming reporter’s phone

Egyptian thief sets social media abuzz after swiping livestreaming reporter’s phone
Updated 20 October 2021

Egyptian thief sets social media abuzz after swiping livestreaming reporter’s phone

Egyptian thief sets social media abuzz after swiping livestreaming reporter’s phone

CAIRO: No one was unluckier on Tuesday from the thief who stole a reporter’s mobile phone which was being used to livestream a report on an earthquake in Egypt.

A reporter for Egyptian news outlet Youm7 was filming live when a man on a motorbike snatched his phone and sped away with it on his bike.

Viewers of the broadcast watched the incident as the phone’s camera was left recording, with the camera pointed up toward the thief’s face.

Youm7 has shared the Facebook live with the thief's face, saying "tens of thousands" of people were watching live as it was stolen.

Police identified and arrested the man on the same day.

Now social media platforms in Egypt have started buzzing with humorous commentary on the thief’s misfortune.

 

 

 


US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say

US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say
Updated 19 October 2021

US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say

US train riders held up phones as woman was raped, police say
  • Police say the people who recorded the attack and failed to intervene could possibly be charged
  • Arrest records show Fiston Ngoy, 35, was charged with rape and related offenses

PHILADELPHIA: A man charged with raping a woman on a commuter train just outside of Philadelphia harassed her for more than 40 minutes while multiple people held up their phones to seemingly record the assault without intervening, authorities said.
More than two dozen train stops passed as the man harassed, groped and eventually raped the woman, the police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said at a news conference Monday.
Police do not believe a single witness on the train dialed 911. They are investigating whether some bystanders filmed the assault.
Both the man and woman got on the train at the same stop Wednesday night in North Philadelphia. Officers pulled the man off of the woman at the last stop. They responded within about three minutes of a 911 call from a transportation authority employee, authorities said.
“What we want is everyone to be angry and disgusted and to be resolute about making the system safer,” SEPTA Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said at the news conference.
Arrest records show Fiston Ngoy, 35, was charged with rape and related offenses.
The affidavit of arrest for Ngoy detailed times of the assault, including that during those 40 minutes the woman appears to repeatedly push Ngoy away.
Nestel would not give an approximate number of witnesses and it was unclear from the affidavit how many passengers were present for those 40 minutes. Authorities have not released the surveillance video.
“I can tell you that people were holding their phone up in the direction of this woman being attacked,” he said.
Elizabeth Jeglic, a psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, researches sexual violence prevention. She said if people feel uncomfortable physically intervening, there are other options like calling the police.
“When we have multiple people, people don’t necessarily intervene,” she said. “However, more recent research actually suggests that looking at video footage of more extreme circumstances that up to 90 percent of cases we do see people intervening. So it was actually somewhat of an aberration in this case that somebody did not step forward to help this individual.”
Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt, of the Upper Darby Police Department, has said surveillance footage showed other riders were on the train and someone “should have done something.” Messages for Bernhardt were left Monday.
The New York Times reported that Bernhardt said that people who recorded the attack and failed to intervene could possibly be charged, but that would be up to the Delaware County District Attorney’s office to determine.
There were no calls made to 911 in Philadelphia. Nestel said police were still waiting for Delaware County 911, which covers the last two train stops, to determine if it received any calls.
Investigators said in the affidavit that Ngoy sat down next to the woman about a minute after he boarded the train car, shortly after 9:15 p.m. The video shows her pushing him away multiple times until he is seen ripping her pants down at about 9:52 p.m.
Bernhardt said officers arrived at the 69th Street terminal on the Market-Frankford Line, the busiest route on SEPTA, around 10 p.m.
A SEPTA employee who was in the vicinity as the train went past called police to report that “something wasn’t right” with a woman aboard the train, Bernhardt said.
SEPTA police waiting at the next stop found the woman and arrested Ngoy, who they had pulled off of the woman. She was taken to a hospital.
According to the court documents, the woman told police that Ngoy ignored her pleas to go away.
Ngoy claimed in his statement to police that he knew the victim, but couldn’t remember her name and said the encounter was consensual.
Ngoy, who listed his last address as a homeless shelter, remained in custody on $180,000 bail. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 25. Court records show he had not requested a public defender as of Monday.
SEPTA issued a statement calling it a “horrendous criminal act” and urged anyone witnessing such a thing to report it to authorities by calling 911, pressing an emergency button on every train car or using the authorities emergency safety app.
“There were other people on the train who witnessed this horrific act, and it may have been stopped sooner if a rider called 911,” the authority said.

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Haute cuisine: Lebanon has the most expensive McDonald’s menu in the world

Haute cuisine: Lebanon has the most expensive McDonald’s menu in the world
Updated 20 October 2021

Haute cuisine: Lebanon has the most expensive McDonald’s menu in the world

Haute cuisine: Lebanon has the most expensive McDonald’s menu in the world

BEIRUT: Looking to flex your deep pockets for a hot date? Perhaps impress some swanky onlookers by enjoying an expensive meal? Well, look no further, as McDonald’s Lebanon — the world’s most expensive — is the place to go.

According to a new study by Expensivity, a financial aggregator website, the crisis-ridden, tiny Mediterranean country boasts the most expensive McDonald’s menu — setting consumers back as much as $44.45 for a Big Mac meal with a large fries and a large coke.

Opting to get around the big price tag for a big meal? A kid’s meal — known as a happy meal — goes for $21.89; also the most expensive happy meal in the world.

These exorbitant prices comes as Lebanon experiences an unprecedented economic and financial crisis, with its local currency having lost over 80 percent of its value on the black market, and inflation at an all-time high. Food and medicine shortages in supermarkets and pharmacies have become familiar sights as the country’s latest government attempts to handle the situation.

In an ironic twist, Lebanon was the holder of the world’s cheapest Big Mac in July when it cost just $1.68 for those earning anything but Lebanese pounds, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Now, however, the American fast food chain’s best-seller goes for $21.89. Many, then, will decide to go for the locally-sourced and cheaper shawarma to quell their fast food appetite.

The infographics in this article were originally published by Expensivity.


Assad’s cousin boasts Ferrari and Israeli girlfriend in US while Syrians continue suffering

Assad’s cousin boasts Ferrari and Israeli girlfriend in US while Syrians continue suffering
Updated 17 October 2021

Assad’s cousin boasts Ferrari and Israeli girlfriend in US while Syrians continue suffering

Assad’s cousin boasts Ferrari and Israeli girlfriend in US while Syrians continue suffering
  • This is not the first time the Makhloufs’ lavish lifestyles, and their business ties to the Assad regime, have come to light

LONDON: A viral video showing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s millionaire cousin Ali Makhlouf cruising around Los Angeles in his $300,000 Ferrari 488 Spider has highlighted the stark divisions in a war-torn country where many people do not have enough to eat.

The video, which was apparently caught randomly, showed popular vlogger Daniel Mac standing near a traffic light in LA when Makhlouf rolled by in his luxurious car alongside his Israeli model girlfriend Michal Idan.

As per Mac’s standard, he asked Makhlouf what he did for a living, to which the latter replied that he worked, before saying that he was at an internship after further playful prodding by the vlogger. At the end, he said that the car was a rental before driving off.

What is even more telling is that Makhlouf is seemingly dating an Israeli model.

Syria’s Golan Heights have been occupied by the Israelis for years; the US recognized them as Israeli in 2019. And Israel has continuously attacked Iranian troops and Iran’s proxies across Syria with fighter jets, and so Makhlouf’s dealing with — even dating — the enemy could be regarded as treason.

Past lavish living

This is not the first time the Makhloufs’ lavish lifestyles, and their business ties to the Assad regime, have come to light. However, ties between Assad and his cousin, Rami Makhlouf — Ali’s father — are said to be strained after the US-sanctioned Syrian businessman revealed last year that he had set up a web of offshore front companies to help Assad evade Western sanctions.

Strained or not, the Makhloufs’ splurging has repeatedly caught the media’s eye and placed them under severe scrutiny, with Ali seemingly lacking any sense of moral responsibility when posting items on his social media accounts.

During the pandemic, Ali took to his Instagram account to show a video of him celebrating his birthday in Dubai by blowing out a cake in front of at least four MacBooks and two iPads — one for each of his friends beaming in via Zoom.

Other posts to his page include collections of luxury cars, mansions and even a couple of jet skis.

The average Syrian earns between $70 and $130 per month and, with the country still reeling from its decades-long war and with Assad firmly in power, this may not be the last the world hears of Makhlouf’s lavish spending.