Ammon News, Panorama

Man dies after competing in California taco-eating contest

[8/15/2019 6:39:57 AM]

AMMONNEWS - A man died shortly after competing in a taco-eating contest at a minor league baseball game in California, authorities said Wednesday. Dana Hutchings, 41, of Fresno, died Tuesday night shortly after arriving at a hospital, Fresno Sheriff spokesman Tony Botti said. An autopsy on Hutchings will be done Thursday to determine a cause of death, Botti said. It was not immediately known how many tacos the man had eaten or whether he had won the contest. Fresno Grizzlies spokesman Paul Braverman said in a statement that the team was “devastated to learn” of the fan’s death and that the team would “work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested.” Tuesday night’s competition came ahead of Saturday’s World Taco Eating Championship to be held at Fresno’s annual Taco Truck Throwdown. The team on Wednesday announced that it was canceling that taco-eating contest, though a “taco truck throwdown” featuring food trucks and musical entertainment would go ahead as planned. Matthew Boylan, who watched Tuesday’s taco eating contest from his seat in Section 105, told the Fresno Bee he quickly noticed Hutchings because “he was eating so fast compared to the other two (contestants).” “It was like he’d never eaten before,” Boylan said. “He was just shoving the tacos down his mouth without chewing.” He said Hutchings collapsed and hit his face on a table about seven minutes into the contest, then fell to the ground. The eating contest ended immediately. During the 2018 Taco Eating Championship in Fresno, professional eater Geoffrey Esper downed 73 tacos in eight minutes, KFSN-TV reported. Competitive-eating contests have become major attractions at festivals and other events. Among the most popular is the annual Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest on New York’s Coney Island, where Joey Chestnut this year’s champion ate 71. Esper finished third. *AP

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Al-Ula airport to transform by end of 2019 to meet tourism goals

[8/15/2019 6:37:45 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that the transformation of al-Ula’s Prince Abdulmajeed bin Abdulaziz Airport and the Maraya Concert Hall will be finished by the end of 2019 in order to meet its tourism goals. The expansion plans aim to transform al-Ula’s domestic airport into an aviation hub that can welcome a marked increase in tourists, from its current capacity of 100, 000 passengers to over 400, 000 a year. This an important step towards the Royal Commission for al-Ula’s (RCU) overall goal of accommodating two million tourists by 2035, a statement said. The airport development will include the construction of an extended apron area to accommodate more aircraft, a new executive suit, and new digital information systems for both the departure and arrival areas. Further interior and exterior design changes are also due to be made to the terminal buildings using local materials from al-Ula. A new taxiway is planned to be completed in Q1 2020 to further aid meeting growing demand for access to al-Ula. Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture and Governor of RCU Prince Badr bin Farhan Al-Saud in a statement said, “Expanding critical infrastructure, such as AlUla’s Prince Abdulmajeed Bin Abdulaziz Airport, in a sensitive and sympathetic way, is a central part of encouraging a diverse and dynamic tourism experience for the county in line with Vision 2030, enabling easier access to enable us to showcase our treasures to the world.” “It will transform the airport facilities from a purely domestic airport to one that in the future has the infrastructure systems in place to welcome international flights,” Prince Badr added. Maraya Concert Hall is also due to see some structural improvements and renovations, the venue of the Winter at Tantora season. These changes aim to create a larger, permanent facility with upgraded acoustics that can seat 500 people. In tandem, a 500-seat restaurant is also being created, along with an art exhibition space and a new rooftop terrace. “The Maraya Concert Hall has already proven its credentials as a world-class venue during the first Winter at Tantora season,” said Prince Badr. “The enhancements taking place this year will cement this reputation still further, truly establishing it as a dynamic venue of choice for leading artists and performers nestled amongst an extraordinary natural backdrop.” *Al Arabiya

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Climbers must be trained to tackle Everest, panel says after deaths

[8/15/2019 6:36:19 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Nepal must make training and experience in high altitude climbing mandatory for all climbers on Mount Everest and other high peaks, a government panel said on Wednesday, following the deadliest climbing season in four years. Eleven climbers were killed or went missing on the 8,850 meter mountain in May - nine on the Nepali side and two on the Tibetan side. The Nepali panel - made up of government officials, climbing experts and agencies representing the climbing community - was set up after climbers and guides criticized officials after the deaths for allowing anyone who paid $11,000 to climb Everest. Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, and mountain climbing is a key source of employment and income for the cash strapped nation. But the numbers attempting the climb in May led to crowding in the so-called death zone, where there are very low oxygen levels. That put lives at risk as oxygen cylinders ran out while up to 100 people waited in the queue. Nepal issued 381 permits for Everest for this year’s climbing season, which tends to culminate in May, when the daylight and weather is the most forgiving. “Climbers to Sagarmatha and other 8,000 meter mountains must undergo basic and high altitude climbing training,” the panel said in a report submitted to the government, referring to the Nepali name of Mount Everest. The report said those hoping to climb Everest must climb at least one Nepali peak above 6,500 meters before getting a permit. Climbers must also submit a certificate of good health and physical fitness, and be accompanied by a trained Nepali guide, it said. Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, a senior Tourism Ministry official, said the recommendations would be implemented. “The government will now make the required changes in laws and regulations guiding mountain climbing,” he told Reuters. Mira Acharya, a member of the panel said “climbers died due to altitude sickness, heart attack, exhaustion or weaknesses and not due to traffic jams.” She said the compulsory provision of guides for each climber was to discourage solo attempts which put lives at risk. A reliable weather forecasting system should be in place and rope fixing should be done in time, giving enough space for the climbers to use a window of good weather to reach the summit, the report said. *Reuters

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A$AP Rocky trial to get underway in Sweden

[7/30/2019 10:28:21 AM]

AMMONNEWS - American rapper A$AP Rocky and two other men believed to be members of his entourage are going on trial Tuesday in Sweden in a high-profile legal case that has caught the attention of US President Donald Trump and rallied music and entertainment celebrities among others. The trial of the recording artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, starts in Stockholm District Court, which also has set aside Thursday and Friday for the case. Swedish prosecutors allege that the Grammy-nominated rapper and the two other suspects “deliberately, together and in agreement” attacked the alleged victim, Mustafa Jafari, in central Stockholm on June 30. The charges carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Mayers has been in custody since July 3 and has said he acted in self-defense. The trial will be arranged in a secure courtroom “because of the large interest from the media and the public,” the Stockholm court said, noting that no photographing or filming was to take place inside the courtroom. Prosecutors alleged in more than 500 pages of court documents that the three suspects beat and kicked Jafari while on the ground and that he was hit by parts of or a whole bottle. Prosecutors also said that Mayers pushed Jafari to the ground and the court documents include numerous photos of Jafari’s cuts, bruises and blood-stained clothes. The rapper’s lawyer, Martin Persson, told Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Monday that he would present the court with new evidence, including showing that “no bottle has been used to hit or injure anyone” and that the violence used was “within the limits of the law.” A lawyer for Jafari, Magnus Stromberg, told The Associated Press on Friday the beating started when one of A$AP Rocky’s guards “grabbed him (Jafari) by the neck and dragged him away” and that Jafari didn’t provoke the assault. Mayer’s arrest prompted Trump to intervene on behalf of the jailed rapper and sparked an unusual diplomatic spat when Swedish prosecutors charged the 30-year-old artist last week. The case has also drawn the attention of American celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Mayer’s fellow recording artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Justin Bieber, and created the movement #JusticeForRocky soon after the rapper’s arrest. *AP

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Abu Dhabi creates $163 mln fund for ‘mega-events’

[7/30/2019 10:27:18 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Abu Dhabi launched a new 600 million dirhams ($163.4 million) “mega events” fund to finance potential global entertainment partners as part of its strategy to boost tourism and diversify the economy away from oil. The capital of the United Arab Emirates is already spending billions of dollars on industry, tourism and infrastructure to move away from oil dependence, but remains far behind nearby Dubai in attracting visitors. “This initiative will work to attract the best entertainment and business event organizers from across the world to consider Abu Dhabi as a place to invest their time and efforts,” said Saif Saeed Ghobash, under-secretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism, in a statement on Tuesday. The fund is part of a wide-ranging 50 billion dirham investment and reform initiative known as Ghadan 21. Ghadan means tomorrow in Arabic. Abu Dhabi’s existing attractions include Formula One, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and a Warner Bros. theme park. Two new museums - the Guggenheim and Zayed National Museum - are being built. *Reuters

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India’s tiger population rises to nearly 3,000 animals

[7/30/2019 10:26:10 AM]

AMMONNEWS - India’s tiger population has grown to nearly 3,000, making the country one of the safest habitats for the endangered animals. Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the tiger count for 2018 on Monday, describing it as a “historic achievement” for India as the big cat’s population had dwindled to 1,400 about 14-15 years ago. India estimates its tiger population every four years. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the tiger population was 2,226 in the last count, in 2014. The tiger is India’s national animal and it is categorized as endangered under the Wildlife Protection Act. The human conflict with tigers has gradually increased since the 1970s, when India started a tiger conservation program that carved out sanctuaries in national parks and made it a crime to kill them. “With around 3,000 tigers, India has emerged as of one of the biggest and safest habitats for them in the world,” Modi said and praised all the stakeholders involved in the country’s tiger conservation exercise. “Nine years ago, it was decided in St. Petersburg (Russia) that the target of doubling the tiger population would be 2022. We in India completed this target four years in advance,” he said. He also said that the number of protected areas in the country has risen to 860 last year from 692 in 2014. Similarly, the number of community reserves has gone up to 100 from 43 in 2014. Belinda Wright, founder of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, based in New Delhi, said India should be very proud of its conservation achievement as the latest study was a much larger and more thorough estimation of the tiger population than done before. “But we still have a long way to go to secure a long-term future for wild tigers,” she cautioned, adding that human-tiger conflict was one of the biggest conservation challenges because India has so many people. The conflict between wildlife, confined to ever-shrinking forests and grasslands, and India’s human population is deadly. Government data show about one person is killed every day by tigers or elephants. Last week, some enraged villagers chased and killed a tigress with sticks after it killed a woman working in a farm in the northern Indian village of Khiri. The region is part of the Pilibhit Tiger Range, forest officer Vivek Tiwari said. Tiwari said the police have arrested four villagers. The area is nearly 350 kilometers (215 miles) east of New Delhi. Wright said the government should not relax any protection measure and should avoid “huge linear intrusions, including highways, railways, electric power line and canals through protected areas as this leads to increased human-tiger conflict.” India’s elephants and tigers are some of the most hunted animals in the country, sought for their ivory tusks or bones that are sold on the black market for use in unproven, traditional Chinese medicine. Elephants are also threatened by moving trains. *AP

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Jordan airport opens 12 new visa counters

[7/22/2019 8:15:40 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Reaffirming its commitment to continually improving its passenger experience, Jordan's Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) has installed 12 new counters dedicated to visa processing and purchasing, divided equally between the southern and northern arrival corridors. The latest additions were inaugurated by representatives from relevant security entities and members of Airport International Group executive management. The new visa processing and purchasing counters will be solely designated for non-Jordanian passengers in need of an entry visa, with a counter specifically allocated for assisting those with disabilities. On the other hand, passport control counters serving both Jordanians and non-Jordanians were increased from 18 to 25. “With the number of passengers passing through Queen Alia International Airport growing steadily, we continuously strive to take effective measures that elevate the quality of services we offer. For this reason, and to facilitate travel procedures, we have set up the new counters for those who require entry visas and raised the number of passport control counters in order to reduce passenger waiting times, ultimately enhancing passenger satisfaction and providing a positively memorable experience,” said Airport International Group CEO, Kjeld Binger. In turn, Border and Residence director of QAIA, Colonel Dr. Emad Al Zo’ubi from the Public Security Directorate, commented: “By incepting the 12 new visa counters, we are actively expediting travel procedures at Queen Alia International Airport, thus consequently reflecting a positive image of Jordan. Over the years, we have been working closely with Airport International Group to implement projects that bring us closer to our mutual goal, which is to further cement the kingdom’s position as a prime aviation hub on the global map.” * TradeArabia News Service

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