Dog rescued from collapsed house 6 days after landslide

Dog rescued from collapsed house 6 days after landslide
Screenshot taken from rescue video posted on Seattle Fire Department’s twitter handle shows a firefighter carrying the black Labrador, Sammy, to hand it over to its owner Didi Fritts. (@SeattleFire)
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Updated 15 January 2022

Dog rescued from collapsed house 6 days after landslide

Dog rescued from collapsed house 6 days after landslide
  • A person emerged from the house Thursday carrying her alert black Labrador named Sammy
  • The Seattle Fire Department said firefighters had responded to reports of a dog possibly trapped inside the wreckage of the house

SEATTLE: A dog that was trapped for six days inside a house that collapsed last week in a landslide has been rescued, officials said.
“My baby. My baby,” home owner Didi Fritts said when a person emerged from the house Thursday carrying her alert black Labrador named Sammy, KING-TV reported.
The Seattle Fire Department said on Twitter Thursday that firefighters had responded to reports of a dog possibly trapped inside the wreckage of the house.
Veterinarians at the scene examined the dog, who seemed alert and wagged her tail after seeing Fritts, video from the TV station showed. The fire department described Sammy’s condition as stable.
The landslide on Jan. 7 caused the house to slide off its foundation, leaving James Fritts trapped inside, while his wife Didi crawled to safety.
Their other dog Lilly died in the collapse, The Seattle Times reported. Family members said they had returned daily to their house, hoping to hear the missing dog.
Rescue workers heard the dog when they arrived, David Cuerpo, a spokesperson for the Seattle Fire Department, told the newspaper.
They used chainsaws to cut through the home’s walls and flooring to get to the dog, working cautiously amid worries that the unstable home could suffer another collapse.
Rescue workers proceeded cautiously on Thursday, worried the house might suffer another collapse.


Afghan tradition allows girls to access the freedom of boys

Afghan tradition allows girls to access the freedom of boys
Updated 14 January 2022

Afghan tradition allows girls to access the freedom of boys

Afghan tradition allows girls to access the freedom of boys
  • Under the practice, a girl dresses, behaves and is treated as a boy, with all the freedoms and obligations that entails
  • Once a bacha posh reaches puberty, she is expected to revert to traditional girls’ gender roles

KABUL, Afghanistan: In a Kabul neighborhood, a gaggle of boys kick a yellow ball around a dusty playground, their boisterous cries echoing off the surrounding apartment buildings.
Dressed in sweaters and jeans or the traditional Afghan male clothing of baggy pants and long shirt, none stand out as they jostle to score a goal. But unbeknown to them, one is different from the others.
At not quite 8 years old, Sanam is a bacha posh: a girl living as a boy. One day a few months ago, the girl with rosy cheeks and an impish smile had her dark hair cut short, donned boys’ clothes and took on a boy’s name, Omid. The move opened up a boy’s world: playing soccer and cricket with boys, wrestling with the neighborhood butcher’s son, working to help the family make ends meet.
In Afghanistan’s heavily patriarchal, male-dominated society, where women and girls are usually relegated to the home, bacha posh, Dari for “dressed as a boy,” is the one tradition allowing girls access to the freer male world.
Under the practice, a girl dresses, behaves and is treated as a boy, with all the freedoms and obligations that entails. The child can play sports, attend a madrassa, or religious school, and, sometimes crucially for the family, work. But there is a time limit: Once a bacha posh reaches puberty, she is expected to revert to traditional girls’ gender roles. The transition is not always easy.
It is unclear how the practice is viewed by Afghanistan’s new rulers, the Taliban, who seized power in mid-August and have made no public statements on the issue.
Their rule so far has been less draconian than the last time they were in power in the 1990s, but women’s freedoms have still been severely curtailed. Thousands of women have been barred from working, and girls beyond primary school age have not been able to return to public schools in most places.
With a crackdown on women’s rights, the bacha posh tradition could become even more attractive for some families. And as the practice is temporary, with the children eventually reverting to female roles, the Taliban might not deal with the issue at all, said Thomas Barfield, a professor of anthropology at Boston University who has written several books on Afghanistan.
“Because it’s inside the family and because it’s not a permanent status, the Taliban may stay out (of it),” Barfield said.
It is unclear where the practice originated or how old it is, and it is impossible to know how widespread it might be. A somewhat similar tradition exists in Albania, another deeply patriarchal society, although it is limited to adults. Under Albania’s “sworn virgin” tradition, a woman would take an oath of celibacy and declare herself a man, after which she could inherit property, work and sit on a village council — all of which would have been out of bounds for a woman.
In Afghanistan, the bacha posh tradition is “one of the most under-investigated” topics in terms of gender issues, said Barfield, who spent about two years in the 1970s living with an Afghan nomad family that included a bacha posh. “Precisely because the girls revert back to the female role, they marry, it kind of disappears.”
Girls chosen as bacha posh usually are the more boisterous, self-assured daughters. “The role fits so well that sometimes even outside the family, people are not aware that it exists,” he said.
“It’s almost so invisible that it’s one of the few gender issues that doesn’t show up as a political or social question,” Barfield noted.
The reasons parents might want a bacha posh vary. With sons traditionally valued more than daughters, the practice usually occurs in families without a boy. Some consider it a status symbol, and some believe it will bring good luck for the next child to be born a boy.
But for others, like Sanam’s family, the choice was one of necessity. Last year, with Afghanistan’s economy collapsing, construction work dried up. Sanam’s father, already suffering from a back injury, lost his job as a plumber. He turned to selling coronavirus masks on the streets, making the equivalent of $1-$2 per day. But he needed a helper.
The family has four daughters and one son, but their 11-year-old boy doesn’t have full use of his hands following an injury. So the parents said they decided to make Sanam a bacha posh.
“We had to do this because of poverty,” said Sanam’s mother, Fahima. “We don’t have a son to work for us, and her father doesn’t have anyone to help him. So I will consider her my son until she becomes a teenager.”
Still, Fahima refers to Sanam as “my daughter.” In their native Dari language, the pronouns are not an issue since one pronoun is used for “he” and “she.”
Sanam says she prefers living as a boy.
“It’s better to be a boy ... I wear (Afghan male clothes), jeans and jackets, and go with my father and work,” she said. She likes playing in the park with her brother’s friends and playing cricket and soccer.
Once she grows up, Sanam said, she wants to be either a doctor, a commander or a soldier, or work with her father. And she’ll go back to being a girl.
“When I grow up, I will let my hair grow and will wear girl’s clothes,” she said.
The transition isn’t always easy.
“When I put on girls’ clothes, I thought I was in prison,” said Najieh, who grew up as a bacha posh, although she would attend school as a girl. One of seven sisters, her boy’s name was Assadollah.
Now 34, married and with four children of her own, she weeps for the freedom of the male world she has lost.
“In Afghanistan, boys are more valuable,” she said. “There is no oppression for them, and no limits. But being a girl is different. She gets forced to get married at a young age.”
Young women can’t leave the house or allow strangers to see their face, Najieh said. And after the Taliban takeover, she lost her job as a schoolteacher because she had been teaching boys.
“Being a man is better than being a woman,” she said, wiping tears from her eye. “It is very hard for me. ... If I were a man, I could be a teacher in a school.”
“I wish I could be a man, not a woman. To stop this suffering.”


Lebanese government apologizes for mistaking Kuwait’s flag for UAE

Lebanese government apologizes for mistaking Kuwait’s flag for UAE
Updated 14 January 2022

Lebanese government apologizes for mistaking Kuwait’s flag for UAE

Lebanese government apologizes for mistaking Kuwait’s flag for UAE

The Lebanese government apologized on Thursday for mistaking the Kuwaiti flag for that of the UAE during the opening of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Hospital Center for treating coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the capital Beirut.

The apology, posted on the official Twitter page of the Lebanese prime minister’s office, came after a picture of the incorrect flag circulated on social media. 

The former Lebanese Ambassador to Jordan Tracy Chamoun slammed the government for the debacle, saying in a tweet: “Unfortunately, some people running the state today are without a brain.” 

 

Lebanon’s Directorate of Protocols and Public Relations at the Presidency of the Lebanese Council of Ministers said in a statement that the incident “required clarification and apology.”

It stated that the error occurred due to the confusion of an employee who had placed the flag of Kuwait next to the Lebanese flag instead of the UAE flag.

6 debacles and diplomatic goofs that happened

1. Bahrain welcomed Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi by playing the chords of Egyptian musician Raafat Al-Hagan instead of the Egyptian national anthem during his official visit in 2018.

 

2. The Egyptian military band mangled the Russian national anthem during President Vladimir Putin visit to Egypt in 2015. The performance went viral on social media and was labeled a “train wreck.”

 

3. During the Rio Olympics in 2016, the wrong Chinese flag was used several times. The wrong flag used during the opening ceremony and two medal ceremonies. Chinese state TV posted this picture of the wrong flag's first outing with the caption: "The national flag is a symbol of a country! No mistakes are allowed!"

4. A group of Turkish demonstrators were mocked after a video of them setting what they thought was a Dutch flag on fire circulated online. Social media users were quick to reveal it was actually a French flag.

 

 

5. US President Bush took the podium in Nashville in 2002 to speak before a group of schoolchildren, parents and teachers where he gets a famous saying completely wrong. He says “There's an old saying in Tennessee,” then after a series of awkward pauses he continues with: “I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on ... shame on you. Fool me... You can't get fooled again!’” For the record, the correct rendering of the aphorism is: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

 

6. British Prime Minister David Cameron and his delegation offended Chinese officials by wearing poppies during a visit in 2010. In Britain this is a symbol of those who have died fighting for their country. However, Chinese officials asked the delegates to remove the poppies before Cameron’s official welcome at Beijing’s Great Hall because the flower symbolises their defeat against Britain in the Opium War fought from 1839 to 1842. Awkwardly, the British officials refused. 

Visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) walks beside Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) while wearing a poppy on his lapel to honor British war dead at a review of the honour guard welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2010. (AFP)

 


Prince Andrew gives up military titles, patronages: Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II's second son Prince Andrew, who is facing a US civil case for sexual assault, has given up his honorary military and charitable roles, Buckingham Palace said. (AFP/File Photo)
Queen Elizabeth II's second son Prince Andrew, who is facing a US civil case for sexual assault, has given up his honorary military and charitable roles, Buckingham Palace said. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 13 January 2022

Prince Andrew gives up military titles, patronages: Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II's second son Prince Andrew, who is facing a US civil case for sexual assault, has given up his honorary military and charitable roles, Buckingham Palace said. (AFP/File Photo)
  • The move comes a day after his lawyers failed to persuade a US judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit against him

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II’s second son Prince Andrew, who is facing a US civil case for sexual assault, has given up his honorary military and charitable roles, Buckingham Palace said on Thursday.
“With The Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” a statement said.
“The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”
The announcement came after a judge in New York on Wednesday ruled against the 61-year-old prince, who had tried to have the case against him thrown out.
Andrew, a former Royal Navy helicopter pilot who flew in the 1982 Falklands War, is accused of sexually assaulting Virginia Giuffre when she was 17.
Giuffre alleges the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein lent her out for sex with his wealthy and powerful associates.
Andrew, who is ninth in line to the throne, was forced to step back from royal duties in late 2019, after a disastrous television interview in which he tried to defend his links to Epstein.
Public outrage at the time saw several charities and associations distance themselves from him, and he has since repeatedly denied Giuffre’s allegations.
He has rarely been seen in public since the television interview.
On Thursday, he was seen being driven from his house near Windsor Castle, west of London, an AFP photographer said.
The announcement came after more than 150 Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and British Army veterans wrote to the Queen, calling on her to strip Andrew of his ranks and titles in the armed forces.
The 95-year-old head of state is commander-in-chief of the army, navy and air force.
“Were this any other senior military officer it is inconceivable that he would still be in post,” the veterans wrote in a joint letter made public by the anti-monarchy pressure group Republic.
“Officers of the British armed forces must adhere to the very highest standards of probity, honesty and honorable conduct.
“These are standards which Prince Andrew has fallen well short of,” they wrote, adding that he had “brought the services he is associated with into disrepute.”
Senior members of the British royal family have typically been appointed as honorary heads of military units, with the Queen’s approval.
Andrew was honorary colonel of the Grenadier Guards, whose soldiers guard Buckingham Palace in their distinctive bearskin hats and red tunics.
Royal patronages are associations with charities and other organizations.


Like a fish out of water? Israeli team trains goldfish to drive

 A goldfish navigates on land using a fish-operated vehicle developed by a research team at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel, January 6, 2022. (REUTERS)
A goldfish navigates on land using a fish-operated vehicle developed by a research team at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel, January 6, 2022. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 January 2022

Like a fish out of water? Israeli team trains goldfish to drive

 A goldfish navigates on land using a fish-operated vehicle developed by a research team at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel, January 6, 2022. (REUTERS)
  • Six goldfish, each receiving around 10 driving lessons, took part in the study

BEERSHEBA, Israel: Goldfish are capable of navigating on land, Israeli researchers have found, after training fish to drive.
The team at Ben-Gurion University developed an FOV — a fish-operated vehicle. The robotic car is fitted with lidar, a remote sensing technology that uses pulsed laser light to collect data on the vehicle’s ground location and the fish’s whereabouts inside a mounted water tank.
A computer, camera, electric motors and omni-wheels give the fish control of the vehicle.
“Surprisingly, it doesn’t take the fish a long time to learn how to drive the vehicle. They’re confused at first. They don’t know what’s going on but they’re very quick to realize that there is a correlation between their movement and the movement of the machine that they’re in,” said researcher Shachar Givon.
Six goldfish, each receiving around 10 driving lessons, took part in the study. Each time one of them reached a target set by the researchers, it was rewarded with food.
And some goldfish are better drivers than others.
“There were very good fish that were doing excellent and there were mediocre fish that showed control of the vehicle but were less proficient in driving it,” said biology professor and neuroscientist Ronen Segev.
Showing that a fish has the cognitive capability to navigate outside its natural environment of water can expand scientific knowledge of animals’ essential navigation skills.
“We humans think of ourselves as very special and many think of fish as primitive but this is not correct,” said Segev. “There are other very important and very smart creatures.”

 


Cambodia’s land mine-sniffing ‘hero’ rat Magawa dies in retirement

 Magawa, the recently retired mine detection rat, sits on the shoulder of its former handler So Malen at the APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap, Cambodia, June 10, 2021. (REUTERS)
Magawa, the recently retired mine detection rat, sits on the shoulder of its former handler So Malen at the APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap, Cambodia, June 10, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 January 2022

Cambodia’s land mine-sniffing ‘hero’ rat Magawa dies in retirement

 Magawa, the recently retired mine detection rat, sits on the shoulder of its former handler So Malen at the APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap, Cambodia, June 10, 2021. (REUTERS)
  • It has among the highest number of amputees per capita, with more than 40,000 people having lost limbs to explosives
  • The African giant pouched rat even received a gold medal in 2020 from Britain’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals for “lifesaving bravery and devotion to duty”

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia’s land mine-sniffing rat Magawa, who found more than 100 land mines and explosives during a five-year career, has died at the age of 8, leaving a lasting legacy of saved lives in the Southeast Asian nation.
Magawa, who died over the weekend, was the most successful “HeroRAT” deployed by international charity APOPO, which uses African giant pouched rats to detect land mines and tuberculosis.
“Magawa was in good health and spent most of last week playing with his usual enthusiasm, but toward the weekend he started to slow down, napping more and showing less interest in food in his last days,” the non-profit organization said in a statement.
Scarred by decades of civil war, Cambodia is one of the world’s most heavily land mined countries, with more than 1,000 sq km (386 sq miles) of land still contaminated.
It has among the highest number of amputees per capita, with more than 40,000 people having lost limbs to explosives.
Illustrating the extreme risks involved, three Cambodians working to clear mines died on Monday in Preah Vihear province, bordering Thailand.
The three from the Cambodia Self-Help Demining group were killed by blasts from anti-tank mines, which also wounded two others, said Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center.
APOPO said Magawa’s contribution allowed communities in Cambodia to live, work, and play more safely.
“Every discovery he made reduced the risk of injury or death for the people of Cambodia,” APOPO said.
The African giant pouched rat even received a gold medal in 2020 from Britain’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals for “lifesaving bravery and devotion to duty.”
Magawa, who retired in June 2021, was born in Tanzania and moved to Siem Reap in Cambodia in 2016 to begin clearing mines.
“A hero is laid to rest,” APOPO said.