Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue

The beluga whale swam into France's Seine river and reached a lock some 70 kilometres from Paris. (AFP/File)
The beluga whale swam into France's Seine river and reached a lock some 70 kilometres from Paris. (AFP/File)
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Updated 11 August 2022

Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue

Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue
  • A team of 80 people tried to save the animal’s life by transporting the cetaceous into a refrigerated truck to the port in Ouistreham, in Normandy region.

PARIS: A beluga whale that became a French celebrity after a wrong turn took it up the Seine River had to be euthanized Wednesday after experiencing health complications during an urgent rescue operation, authorities said.
The sparkling white marine mammal appeared deep inside France last week, having accidentally veered off the normal ocean migration route that takes belugas to and from Arctic waters.
Fearing the malnourished creature would not survive in the Seine much longer, a wildlife conservation group and veterinarians planned to move the lost whale to a saltwater port in Normandy, from where they hoped to return it to the open sea.
A team of 80 people assembled to try to save the animal’s life, and it was successfully moved Tuesday night from a river lock in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris, into a refrigerated truck for the 60-kilometer (99-mile) journey to the port in Ouistreham.
But during the drive, the 4-meter-long (13-foot-long) whale started to breath with difficulty, according to Florence Ollivet Courtois, a French veterinarian who worked on the rescue operation.
“During the journey, the veterinarians confirmed a worsening of its state, notably in its respiratory activities, and at the same time noticed the animal was in pain, not breathing enough,” Courtois said.
“The suffering was obvious for the animal, so it was important to release its tension, and so we had to proceed to euthanize it,” she added.
Environmentalists had acknowledged the plan to move the beluga risked fatally stressing the mammal. But marine conservation group Sea Shepherd said that it couldn’t have survived much longer in the Seine’s fresh water.
The group and veterinarians noted the whale had responded to a cocktail of antibiotics and vitamins over the last few days, making them hopeful it would recover once it was back in a saltwater environment.
A necropsy is planned on the whale, which weighed about about 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds).
Rescuers had hoped to spare the whale the fate of an orca that strayed into the Seine and died in May. In 2006, a bottlenose whale — nicknamed “Willy” — swam up the Thames River as far as London and died during a its attempted rescue.
Another complicating factor during the beluga’s rescue attempt was the extreme heat gripping France. Authorities tried to keep it cool and wet with soaked towels and moved it at nightfall when temperatures are at their lowest.
The sad end to a saga that gripped France in recent days came after experts determined the whale “was too weakened to be put back into water,” Guillaume Lericolais, the sub-prefect of France’s Calvados region, said.
Rescuers tried to feed the whale fish without success since Friday. Sea Shepherd France said veterinary exams after the beluga’s removal from the river showed it has no digestive activity.


Drugs seized in special needs center are medical treatments

Drugs seized in special needs center are medical treatments
Updated 06 October 2022

Drugs seized in special needs center are medical treatments

Drugs seized in special needs center are medical treatments
  • The Ministry of Social Development has been carrying out periodic trips since September 2021
  • Social development minister formed an investigation team for the case

AMMAN: Jordanian authorities have revealed that drugs seized earlier this week from a disability center were found to have been dispensed per medical prescriptions.
The Ministry of Social Development has been carrying out periodic trips since September 2021, on government, private and voluntary centers concerned with providing care to persons with disabilities to monitor drugs dispensed to beneficiaries, reported the Jordan News Agency (Petra) on Thursday.
Monitoring campaigns are carried out, in partnership with Ministry of Health, Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Jordan Food and Drug Administration, the ministry’s spokesperson told Petra.
The 28 types of medicine seized at the disability center were given per medical prescriptions, with a number of 4,718 excess pills, including five types of listed dangerous drugs, totaling 1, 333 tablets, according to the ministry.
The total number of beneficiaries, who have already received medicines, stood at 76 patients, out of 107 at a monthly rate of up to 1,000 pills, per medical prescriptions.
Based on the committee’s report, the social development minister decided to arrest several officials involved and formed an investigation team for the case.
On Sept. 26, 2021, the minister commissioned teams to carry out field visits to disability centers to monitor drugs dispensed to beneficiaries at Jordan’s government and private disability facilities, asking institutions to submit their reports within 72 hours.


Shaquille O’Neal is face of new Abu Dhabi Calendar campaign

Shaquille O’Neal is face of new Abu Dhabi Calendar campaign
Updated 03 October 2022

Shaquille O’Neal is face of new Abu Dhabi Calendar campaign

Shaquille O’Neal is face of new Abu Dhabi Calendar campaign
  • O’Neal’s comedic talents are showcased in a series of promotional sketches to be released in the coming months

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism has unveiled former professional basketball player Shaquille O’Neal as the face of a “Breaking News”-style digital campaign to promote upcoming events in the emirate.

As the new face of Abu Dhabi Calendar, the four-time NBA champion shows off his comedic talents in a series of sketches due to be released over the next five months to showcase entertainment highlights including sporting events, immersive cultural festivals, live interactive family shows and concerts.

O’Neal, known by the nickname “Shaq,” made a surprise on-screen appearance last month at the official launch of the Abu Dhabi Calendar winter season. He is set to visit the emirate this month for the NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022, a special event at Etihad Arena on Yas Island on Oct. 6 and 8 during which NBA teams the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks will play two preseason games.

 


Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot at event

Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot at event
Updated 01 October 2022

Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot at event

Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot at event
  • Musk says Optimus will be an “extremely capable robot,” unlike other humanoid robots that don’t have the intelligence to navigate the world by themselves

SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcased his much-touted humanoid robot ‘Optimus’ at the electric vehicle maker’s “AI Day” event on Friday.
The billionaire has said a robot business will be worth more than its cars, hoping to expand beyond self-driving cars that have not yet become a reality despite his repeated promises.
A prototype of the robot walked on stage and waved to the seated audience. A video of the robot carrying a box, watering plants and moving metal bars in the automaker’s factory was shown.
“Our goal is to make a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible,” Musk said at the event being held at a Tesla office in Palo Alto, California.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and prove it.”
Musk said currently humanoid robots are “missing a brain,” saying they don’t have the intelligence to navigate the world by themselves, and they are also very expensive and made in low volume.
By contrast, he said, the Optimus will be an “extremely capable robot,” to be made in very high volume, probably, ultimately millions of units and is expected to cost much less than a car, at under $20,000.
Musk is also expected to discuss Tesla’s long-delayed self-driving technology. In May, Musk said that the world’s most valuable car maker would be “worth basically zero” without achieving full self-driving capability, and it faces growing regulatory probes, as well as technological hurdles.
“There will be lots of technical detail & cool hardware demos,” Musk wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday, adding the event was aimed at recruiting engineers.

Tesla’s live demonstration record is mixed. Launches typically draw cheers, but in 2019 when Musk had an employee hurl a steel ball at the armored window of a new electric pickup truck, the glass cracked.
The key test for the robot is whether it can handle unexpected situations.
Musk announced Tesla’s plan for humanoid robots at its AI day in August last year and delayed this year’s event from August to have its robot prototype working, with a plan to start production possibly next year.

Tesla teased the unveiling of the bot on social media with an image of metallic robotic hands making a heart shape. But building human-like, versatile hands that can manipulate different objects is extremely challenging, said Heni Ben Amor, a robotics professor at Arizona State University.
Initially, Optimus, an allusion to the powerful and benevolent leader of the Autobots in the Transformers media franchise, would perform boring or dangerous jobs, including moving parts around Tesla factories or attaching a bolt to a car with a wrench, according to Musk.
“There’s so much about what people can do dexterously that’s very, very hard for robots. And that’s not going to change whether the robot is a robot arm or whether it’s in the shape of a humanoid,” Jonathan Hurst, chief technology officer at Agility Robotics, a humanoid robot firm, told Reuters.
Musk has said that in the future robots could be used in homes, making dinners, mowing the lawn and caring for the elderly, and even becoming a “buddy” for humans or a sex partner.
He is due at Friday’s event to give updates on Tesla’s much-delayed plan to launch self-driving cars, and on its high-speed computer, Dojo, which was unveiled last year and the company has said is integral to its development of self-driving technology.
Musk has said he expects Tesla will achieve full self-driving this year and mass produce a robotaxi with no steering wheel or pedal by 2024.
At an “Autonomy” event in 2019, Musk promised 1 million robotaxis by 2020 but has yet to deliver such a car. 


Qatar World Cup organizers reject Danish sportswear maker’s laborers’ rights criticisms

Qatar World Cup organizers reject Danish sportswear maker’s laborers’ rights criticisms
Updated 03 October 2022

Qatar World Cup organizers reject Danish sportswear maker’s laborers’ rights criticisms

Qatar World Cup organizers reject Danish sportswear maker’s laborers’ rights criticisms
  • Hummel announced Danish players would wear ‘toned down’ kit at this year’s FIFA World Cup
  • Qatari Supreme Committee accused sportswear brand of ‘trivializing’ Doha’s efforts to improve migrant workers’ conditions

DUBAI: Qatar World Cup organizers have expressed their commitment to the protection of laborers’ rights, strongly rejecting accusations made against them by Danish sportswear maker Hummel.
The brand announced on Wednesday that Danish players would wear a “toned down” kit at this year’s FIFA World Cup in protest at migrant deaths.
The logo of the Danish sportswear brand and the Danish national badge are both barely visible on the shirts designed for the World Cup that kicks off next month.
In addition to the main red strip and a second jersey in white, a black and grey third strip was a sign of “mourning,” the kit company said.
Denmark’s training jerseys will carry “critical messages” after two sponsors agreed to have their logos replaced.
In an Instagram post referring to reports of alleged casualties among migrant laborers working on Qatar’s mega infrastructure projects, Hummel said the new jerseys were “a protest against Qatar and its human rights record.”
In a statement on Thursday responding to the accusations and protest, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said: “Since winning the right to host the FIFA World Cup, the SC has worked diligently alongside the Qatari government to ensure that the tournament delivers a lasting social legacy.
“Our commitment to this legacy has contributed to significant reforms to the labor system enacting laws protecting the rights of workers and ensuring improved living conditions for them.
“Through our collaboration with the UEFA Working Group and various other platforms led by FIFA and other independent groups, we have engaged in robust and transparent dialogue with the DBU (Danish Football Association).
“This dialogue resulted in a better understanding of the progress made, the challenges faced, and the legacy we will deliver beyond 2022.”
The committee disputed Hummel’s claim that the tournament had cost thousands of people their lives. It also rejected the “trivializing” of genuine commitment to protect the health and safety of the 30,000 workers who had built FIFA World Cup stadiums and other tournament projects.
That same commitment now extended to 150,000 workers across various tournament services and 40,000 workers in the hospitality sector, the statement added. “The onus should always be on countries to do more to protect the rights of peoples all over the world, including in Denmark.”
The statement noted that the SC’s work was recognized by numerous entities within the international human rights community as a model that had accelerated progress and improved lives.
“We urge the DBU to accurately convey the outcome of their extensive communication and work with the SC, and to ensure that this is accurately communicated to their partners at Hummel,” it added.

*With AFP

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Hold your horses! Colombian senator rides through Congress

Hold your horses! Colombian senator rides through Congress
Updated 29 September 2022

Hold your horses! Colombian senator rides through Congress

Hold your horses! Colombian senator rides through Congress
  • Colombia Congress has allowed members to bring their pets 

BOGOTA, Colombia: Members of Colombia’s Congress can now bring their pets to work, in a world first, and for one senator, wild horses couldn’t have dragged him away from marking the first day of the new rule.
Alirio Barrera showed up to work astride his white horse. 
He first rode through the capital Bogota before steering his steed into the halls of Congress, to make a statement about the importance of horses for the Colombian countryside.
“It is a tribute to the farmers, to the men and women, to the herdsmen who live with horses. To all those people who work in the fields,” he told AFP, holding his horse — named Pasaporte — by the bridle.
Senate president Roy Barreras announced the new policy last week, with his dog lounging in his lap. This makes the Colombian Congress “the first in the world to be pet-friendly,” he said.
For Barrera, “my pet is my horse.”
“If the law is for one, let it be for all.”
But his ride to work rubbed some colleagues the wrong way. Senator Andrea Padilla criticized what she called “an immature attitude with which he wanted to ridicule a good decision.”
“It is not the same thing to take a dog to the office as a horse,” she said. “A horse suffers on the asphalt, on the sidewalk, it suffers on these waxed floors.”