On brink of extinction, a new hope for Kenya’s forest antelope

On brink of extinction, a new hope for Kenya’s forest antelope
An adult female Mountain Bongo feeds from a trough in a breeding pen at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy where five of the antelopes were released into protected sanctuary. (Tony Karumba/AFP)
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Updated 10 March 2022

On brink of extinction, a new hope for Kenya’s forest antelope

On brink of extinction, a new hope for Kenya’s forest antelope
  • A combination of disease, poaching and loss of forest habitat from illegal logging and agriculture have left fewer than 100 mountain bongos in the wild

MAWINGU, Kenya: Still dizzy from the transquilizer, a mountain bongo made its first uncertain steps outside captivity as conservationists in Kenya opened a sanctuary they hope can bring the endemic forest antelope back from the brink of extinction.
A combination of disease, poaching and loss of forest habitat from illegal logging and agriculture have left fewer than 100 mountain bongos in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
But this week conservationists released five of the large chestnut-colored antelopes, which is native to the equatorial forests of Kenya, into the 776 acre (3.1 square kilometer) Mawingu Mountain Bongo Sanctuary in the foothills of Mount Kenya.
“The mountain bongo is one of Kenya’s most important iconic animals,” said Najib Balala, minister of tourism and wildlife, after cutting the ribbon at the sanctuary’s opening ceremony on Wednesday.
The bongo’s release is the culmination of a breeding and rewilding program that began in 2004, which aims to have 50-70 fully rewilded bongos in the sanctuary by 2025, and 750 by 2050, according to the government.
“This is like the first step in the recovery,” said Isaac Lekolool, head of veterinary services at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
Mountain bongos once roamed widely in large numbers, but the few remaining animals, whose coats are streaked with distinctive thin white stripes, live in isolated pockets of forest scattered around Kenya.
Among the threats, the IUCN says there has been an increase in hunting of mountain bongo by local people, including hunting with dogs.
“This species is being driven to extinction in the wild unless something is done quickly,” said Robert Aruho, head of vetinary services at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy (MKWC), a charity.
MKWC has set up community conservation, education, and empowerment programs to raise awareness and help reduce human threats to the animal.
MKWC has also involved local communities in planting over 35,000 indigenous tree species around Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak, to restore the degraded forest ecosystem.
To help maintain genetic diversity in the breeding program, approval has been given to import bongos from Europe and America, Aruho said.


Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer
Updated 50 min 54 sec ago

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

CHICAGO: A Chicago woman has been accused of keeping her mother’s dead body in a freezer for nearly two years while living in a nearby apartment.
Eva Bratcher, 69, appeared in court Thursday on charges of concealing her 96-year-old mother’s death and possessing a fraudulent identification card.
Regina Michalski’s body was discovered this week in a freezer in the garage near the apartment they had shared, police said. Investigators believe she died in March 2021. The cause won’t be determined until the body is thawed.
The allegations are “very disturbing,” Judge David Kelly said in setting a $20,000 bond for Bratcher.
Kelly turned down a defense lawyer’s request for a lower bond to get Bratcher out of jail.
She has past convictions for forgery, and investigators said they were trying to determine if Bratcher was collecting her late mother’s Social Security benefits, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Bratcher’s daughter, who lives in Kentucky, asked police to check the home after losing contact with her grandmother.
“What could go wrong? Apparently, everything,” Sabrina Watson said.


Jordan’s Queen Rania, US First Lady Biden meet in Washington

Jordan’s Queen Rania and US First Lady Dr. Jill Biden are pictured at the White House. (Queen Rania)
Jordan’s Queen Rania and US First Lady Dr. Jill Biden are pictured at the White House. (Queen Rania)
Updated 02 February 2023

Jordan’s Queen Rania, US First Lady Biden meet in Washington

Jordan’s Queen Rania and US First Lady Dr. Jill Biden are pictured at the White House. (Queen Rania)
  • The two have now met twice since US President Joe Biden took office

AMMAN: Jordan’s Queen Rania met with US First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the White House on Wednesday.

The queen is accompanying King Abdullah II and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah on a working visit to Washington DC.

During their meeting, Queen Rania and the first lady discussed issues of mutual interest, Jordan News Agency reported.

Queen Rania donned a royal blue long-sleeve dress and pointed heels while Biden opted for a belted red short-sleeve dress with heels in the same colour.

The queen posted a picture of the two of them on Instagram, with the caption: “It was a pleasure catching with the US First Lady Dr. Jill Biden yesterday.”

The pair have now met twice since US President Joe Biden took office, Jordan News Agency reported.


Not voting for Saudi Arabia to host 2027 Asian Cup was ‘a mistake’, says Palestinian official

Not voting for Saudi Arabia to host 2027 Asian Cup was ‘a mistake’, says Palestinian official
Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association. AFP
Updated 02 February 2023

Not voting for Saudi Arabia to host 2027 Asian Cup was ‘a mistake’, says Palestinian official

Not voting for Saudi Arabia to host 2027 Asian Cup was ‘a mistake’, says Palestinian official
  • Palestine was criticized on social media for failing to vote for Saudi Arabia in its bid to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027

Riyadh: Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, has apologized after his country was criticized on social media for failing to vote for Saudi Arabia in its bid to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027.

The Kingdom will be hosting the competition for the first time in its history in an outcome confirmed on Wednesday during the 33rd Asian Football Confederation Congress held in Manama, Bahrain.

Rajoub admitted the decision not to vote for Saudi Arabia’s bid was a “mistake.”

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “It is clear that a technical issue occurred from our representative’s side during the voting process.

“I, personally, left after electing the representatives of West Asia at the executive office, for urgent health reasons.

“Palestine was and still is biased towards any Arab candidate in the matter of hosting [the Asian Cup], let alone if it was Saudi Arabia.”

Rajoub added that he believed it must have been the Palestinian representative’s first time participating in the conference.

Saudi TV channel Al Ekhbariya later announced that the Iranian Football Association had voted for Saudi Arabia while the Palestinian organization had not, sparking reactions on social media.

Twitter user Mohammed Alzahrani posted: “Let him apologize. Saudi Arabia won with 43 votes. We don’t need their vote. It won’t make any difference.”

Abdullah Alsaeed, another Twitter user, said: “Almost everything they do is wrong — historically. Their alliances are wrong, their media is misdirected, their policies towards the Palestinian cause are wrong.”

The user added that the problem was with Palestinian leaders and not its people.

Others on social media demanded the dismissal of the head of the Palestinian delegation at the vote.

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‘Dances with Wolves’ actor arrested over sex trafficking and abuse raps

‘Dances with Wolves’ actor arrested over sex trafficking and abuse raps
Updated 02 February 2023

‘Dances with Wolves’ actor arrested over sex trafficking and abuse raps

‘Dances with Wolves’ actor arrested over sex trafficking and abuse raps
  • Police report says Nathan Chasing Horse is accused of leading a cult and sexually abusing women followers
  • He was also accused of instructing his wives to 'shoot it out' with police, and 'take suicide pills' as a last resort

LAS VEGAS: Nathan Chasing Horse trained his wives to use firearms, instructing them to “shoot it out” with police officers if they ever tried to “break their family apart,” according to records obtained by The Associated Press. If that failed, the wives were to take “suicide pills.”
The abuse that authorities said spanned two decades led Tuesday to the arrest of Chasing Horse following a monthslong investigation by Las Vegas police. He was taken into custody as he left the home he shares with his five wives in North Las Vegas. SWAT officers were seen outside the two-story home in the evening as detectives searched the property.
Known for his role as the young Sioux tribe member Smiles a Lot in the Oscar-winning Kevin Costner film “Dances With Wolves,” Chasing Horse gained a reputation among tribes across the United States and in Canada as a so-called medicine man who performed healing ceremonies. But police said he abused his position, physically and sexually assaulting Indigenous girls and women, taking underage wives and leading a cult.
Chasing Horse, 46, will be charged with at least two counts of sex trafficking and one count each of sexual assault of a child younger than 16, child abuse or neglect and sexual assault, according to court records. Authorities have not said when he will be formally charged.
He was booked before midnight into Clark County’s jail, where he remained held without bail on the sexual assault charges as he awaits his first court appearance, expected Thursday in North Las Vegas. There was no lawyer listed in court records for Chasing Horse who could comment on his behalf, and Las Vegas police said he was “unable” to give a jailhouse interview Wednesday.
According to a 50-page search warrant obtained by the AP, Chasing Horse is believed to be the leader of a cult known as The Circle.
At least two women told police that Chasing Horse had shown his wives a stash of “small white pills” that he called “suicide pills” sometime in 2019 or 2020, years before his arrest.
The women were instructed to “take a pill to kill themselves in the event he dies or law enforcement tries to break their family apart,” according to the warrant.
One of Chasing Horse’s former wives also told police that she believed his current wives would “carry out the instructions” to take the pills and open fire on law enforcement if officers came to the home to arrest Chasing Horse.
Police noted in the warrant that Chasing Horse was believed to have long rifles and handguns inside his home, including a loaded rifle in the home’s entry way, and a handgun in his vehicle.
Las Vegas police said in the document they have identified at least six sexual assault victims, some who were as young as 14 when they say they were abused, and traced the sexual allegations against Chasing Horse to the early 2000s in multiple states, including Nevada, where he has lived for about a decade, and South Dakota and Montana.
“Nathan Chasing Horse used spiritual traditions and their belief system as a tool to sexually assault young girls on numerous occasions,” detectives wrote in the warrant, adding that his followers referred to him as “Medicine Man” or “Holy Person” because they believed he could communicate with higher beings.
One of Chasing Horse’s wives was offered to him as a “gift” when she was 15, according to police, while another became a wife after turning 16.
Chasing Horse also is accused of recording sexual assaults and arranging sex with the victims for other men who paid him.
He was arrested nearly a decade after he was banished from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana, amid allegations of human trafficking.
Fort Peck tribal leaders had voted 7-0 to ban Chasing Horse from stepping foot again on the reservation, citing the trafficking allegations in addition to accusations of drug dealing, spiritual abuse and intimidation of tribal members, Indian County Today reported.
State attorneys general and lawmakers around the US are looking into creating specialized units to handle cases involving Native American women.
In South Dakota, where police said Chasing Horse committed some of his crimes, the attorney general’s office has put a new focus on crimes against Native American people, including human trafficking and killings.
Chasing Horse was born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, which is home to the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota nation.


Nigerian artist uses AI to re-imagine life for the elderly

Nigerian artist uses AI to re-imagine life for the elderly
Updated 30 January 2023

Nigerian artist uses AI to re-imagine life for the elderly

Nigerian artist uses AI to re-imagine life for the elderly

LAGOS: A Nigerian artist is using artificial intelligence to re-imagine life for African elderly people by showcasing near real-life pictures and videos of them walking down the fashion ramp and on the beach.
Malik Afegbua, who is also a film maker, said because many elderly people were marginalized in society, especially in the fashion world, he began to imagine how they would look if they were models.
Afegbua started posting some of his work on social media and it went viral.
He came up with “Elders Series,” a catalogue of pictures and videos showing white-haired women and bearded men strutting the runway for a virtual fashion show in Afrocentric attire, including ornamental neck and arm bands.
“So I wanted to ... imagine the elderly people in a place that is not either in a sad space or in a suppressed state,” Afegbua told Reuters.
“However, when I was making it, I kind of knew there was something there. I was like this is dope. I’m loving what I’m seeing.”
Afegbua was not always an artist. He studied business in university but stepped into the world of filming after a friend bought him a camera in 2011.
He said the idea to explore a different world for old people came when his elderly mother fell ill. Using an artificial intelligence app, he started creating content showing a brighter side of old age.