Ammon News, Panorama

Nobel science laureates stress urgency of addressing climate


[12/7/2019 7:34:01 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Three of this year's Nobel Prize laureates say addressing climate change is of great importance. Winners of the prizes in physics, chemistry and economics made the assessment Saturday at a news conference ahead of next week's presentation of the prizes. The remarks come as a global summit on climate change takes place in Madrid. Didier Queloz, who shared the physics prize for discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star, took issue with people who shrug off climate change on the grounds that “anyway we're going to leave the Earth at some point." “I think this is just irresponsible because the stars are so far away, I think we should not have any serious hope to escape the Earth,” he said. “Also keeping in mind that we are a species that has evolved and developed for this planet. We're not built to survive on any other planet than this one. We'd better spend our time and energy trying to fix it.” Esther Duflo, one of the economics laureates, cautioned that dealing with climate change “will require a change in behavior, particularly in the rich countries” that are heavy consumers of goods and energy. While some believe that there is no need to consume less provided consumption is fueled by renewable energy, “it would be great if that were the case, but I don't think we can count on it necessarily,” Duflo said. M. Stanley Whittingham, who shares the chemistry reward for helping develop lithium-ion batteries, said “to help solve the climate issue, the time is right now, but we have to be pragmatic. ... We can't just turn off all the CO2.” *AP

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Indian border officials on lookout for fugitive cosmic guru


[12/7/2019 7:32:26 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Indian border officials and embassies have issued an alert for a fugitive guru accused of rape, the government said, days after the holy man announced the creation of his own “cosmic” country. Swami Nithyananda – one of many self-styled Indian “godmen” with thousands of followers and a chequered past – is wanted by police for alleged rape, sexual abuse, and abduction of children. Earlier this week, he announced online that he has created his own new country – reportedly off Ecuador’s coast – complete with cabinet, golden passports, and even a department of homeland security. Asked about the guru’s whereabouts on Friday, the foreign ministry said Nithyananda’s passport had been cancelled and that India had issued an alert for “all our missions and posts”. Local governments had also been put on alert, spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters in New Delhi, adding: “We have never said he’s in Ecuador.” Confusion reigns about the location of the new country, known as Kailaasa, which the 41-year-old claimed was the “biggest Hindu nation without boundaries”. Indian media reports initially said it was off the Ecuadorean coast, but in a rambling YouTube video the holy man said it exists “in the cosmos”. The Kailaasa website details different government departments and agencies in his make-believe state, offering “free food” and promising a “strong diplomatic network” to work with other countries. Previously, Nithyananda has claimed he would make cows speak Sanskrit and Tamil and that he succeeded in delaying sunset by 40 minutes. The website says he is “regarded & worshipped as the Living Avatar (incarnation) of super-consciousness by millions”. Though not convicted, he first made headlines in 2010 after he was arrested and jailed for 53 days over a sex scandal involving an actress. Last month, a case was registered against him in the western Indian state of Gujarat on charges of wrongful confinement of children. Nithyananda is one of several Indian gurus to face charges ranging from murders, sexual assaults, rapes and financial fraud in recent years. In 2017, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, another self-styled godman, was arrested and charged over raping two of his female disciples. His arrest led to widespread rioting and clashes in northern Haryana state that killed at least three dozen people. *AFP

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Woman tries to pry open mountain lion’s jaws to save her dog


[12/7/2019 7:29:38 AM]

AMMONNEWS - A Southern California woman punched a mountain lion Thursday and tried to pry its jaws open to save her dog from an attack in her backyard, but the pet was killed, officials said. The woman suffered a minor cut after the mountain lion attacked her miniature Schnauzer in the city of Simi Valley, police Sgt. Keith Eisenhour told KNBC-TV. The woman’s name was not released. “She obviously cared about her dog very much, as all dog owners do,” Eisenhour said. “She tried to fend the animal off by punching it, elbowing it and tried to pry its jaws open.” Police Cmdr. Adam Darough told the Ventura County Star that responding officers saw the mountain lion eating the dog in the backyard but it quickly took off into the hills. The attack happened about 56 kilometers northeast of downtown Los Angeles in a neighborhood adjacent to wildlands. It followed a report that another dog was injured by a mountain lion in the same area late Wednesday. Earlier Wednesday, there were mountain lion sightings in the area that led to a search by police, a Ventura County sheriff’s helicopter and animal control officers. Nothing was found and police said at the time that it was believed the animal had fled back into the hills. Many mountain lions in the area and in wildlands to the south are being studied by biologists with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to determine how they survive in habitat increasingly fragmented by development and freeways. Darough said the mountain lion seen Wednesday had a tracking collar but officers could not see if the animal that attacked the dog had a collar. Ana Beatriz Cholo, a spokeswoman for the national recreation area, told the Star that the animal was not one of the mountain lions being tracked with a working collar but may be an adult female that was living in the area before her collar stopped working. The National Park Service installed a tracking collar on that female in 2014 when she was 4 or 5 years old and was mostly living around the highest peak in the Santa Susana Mountains. Now, she would be fairly old for a female mountain lion in the wild. *AP

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Video game maker to pay $10 million in gender bias case


[12/3/2019 10:17:17 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The maker of popular video game League of Legends has agreed to pay $10 million to female employees to settle a broad gender discrimination case. Court documents show that Los Angeles-based Riot Games will pay about 1,000 current and former female employees who worked at the company in the last five years. The lawsuit claimed the company paid women less than men, passed them over for promotions and fostered a “bro culture” that excluded them. The lawsuit said that culture led to sexual harassment and misconduct. Allegations of misconduct against women have plagued the video game industry for years. Riot Games, which is owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The court is expected to confirm the settlement this week. *AP

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Rescued tigers leave Poland for Spain


[12/3/2019 10:14:46 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Five of nine tigers that narrowly survived a grueling journey across Europe set off on Saturday for their new home at a Spanish animal refuge after weeks of recovery at a Polish zoo. “The tigers have left. We’re very happy that in just 24 to 30 hours they will arrive,” said Malgorzata Chodyla, spokeswoman for the zoo in Poznan, western Poland. Their destination is the Primadomus Wildlife Refuge in the southeastern Spanish town of Villena. Chodyla said there was a brief scare, as two of the tigers did not want to sleep, despite the sedatives they were given. “When the whole team has to enter the enclosure to carry out the tiger and it suddenly lifts its head up, those are some tense moments. But everything happened safely,” she told AFP. She added that the vehicle had heating and the tigers had enough room to switch positions. In late October, Polish border authorities found 10 emaciated and dehydrated big cats in the back of a truck taking them from Italy to a zoo in Russia’s Dagestan Republic. Polish prosecutors charged two Italian truck drivers and a Russian man believed to have organized the journey with animal abuse after the truck got stuck for days on Poland’s border with Belarus. Prosecutors also charged a Polish border service veterinarian for failing to properly examine the tigers when they first arrived at the Koroszczyn crossing, where one of them died. The surviving nine tigers were taken to two Polish zoos. The Poznan zoo described them as “emaciated, dehydrated, with sunken eyes, excrement stuck to their fur, urine burns, in a total state of stress, without the will or desire to live” when they were first discovered. According to animal rights organizations, there are only between 3,200 and 3,900 tigers in the wild worldwide. Another 7,000 are held in captivity, mainly in Asia. *AFP

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Smog shuts schools, universities in Iran


[11/30/2019 5:13:25 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Air pollution forced the closure of schools and universities in parts of Iran on Saturday, including Tehran, which was cloaked by a cloud of toxic smog, state media reported. The decision to shut schools and universities in the capital was announced late Friday by deputy governor Mohammad Taghizadeh, after a meeting of an emergency committee for air pollution. “Due to increased air pollution, kindergartens, preschools and schools, universities and higher education institutes of Tehran province will be closed,” he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA. An odd-even traffic scheme was imposed to restrict the number of private vehicles on roads of the capital city and trucks were banned outright in Tehran province, IRNA reported. The young and elderly and people with respiratory illnesses were warned to stay indoors and sporting activities were suspended on Saturday, the start of the working week in the Islamic republic. Schools were also closed on Saturday in the northern province of Alborz and in the central province of Esfahan, IRNA reported, citing officials. Other areas where schools were shut included the northeastern city of Mashhad, Orumiyeh city in northwestern Iran and Qom, south of Tehran. In Tehran, average concentrations of hazardous airborne particles reached 146 micrograms per cubic metre on Saturday, according to air.tehran.ir, a government-linked website. The pall of pollution has shrouded the sprawling city of eight million for days and is only expected to dissipate on Monday when rain is forecast. Air pollution was the cause of nearly 30,000 deaths per year in Iranian cities, state media reported earlier this year, citing a health ministry official. The problem worsens in Tehran during winter, when a lack of wind and the cold air traps hazardous smog over the city for days on end -- a phenomenon known as thermal inversion. Most of the city’s pollution is caused by heavy duty vehicles, motorbikes, refineries and power plants, according to a World Bank report released last year. *AFP

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French activists protest against Amazon in Black Friday backlash


[11/30/2019 5:12:15 AM]

AMMONNEWS - Activists staged protests against online retailer Amazon around France on Friday, denouncing the rampant consumerism typified by the annual Black Friday shopping frenzy. French companies have embraced Black Friday, named for the sales held on the first Friday after the US Thanksgiving holiday when retailers typically heavily discount their goods to spur business. However, there has been a backlash against the event driven in part by environmental concerns. Several dozen protesters gathered at dawn outside an Amazon headquarters building in the Clichy district of Paris and staged a sit-in outside the front gates. They held up a sign saying: “No to Amazon and its world.” Manon Aubry, a left-wing member of the European parliament, said the protest was intended to “denounce the social, environmental and fiscal damage from Amazon.” “From the streets to parliament, we continue to fight against the impunity of the multinationals,” she wrote on Twitter. According to social media posts from Attac, a group that campaigns for more democratic globalization, there was also a sit-in outside an Amazon logistics center near Lyon, in eastern France. Video posted online by Attac showed police in riot helmets picking up activists and hauling them away. The Lyon protesters had erected a sign saying: “Amazon... Stop expansion, Stop Over-production!” In a e-mailed statement Amazon France said it respected the rights of people to express their opinions but that does not extend to organizing violent demonstrations where people work. “The demonstrators and Attac are throwing around untrue allegations based on factual errors and are pointing the finger at Amazon for political ends,” it said. Francois Momboisse, president of French online retail association Fevad, condemned the protests. “Black Friday is one of the top sales days of the year and it allows us to smooth out Christmas shopping over a longer period rather than compressing all those sales in the December 10 to 24 period. It does not necessarily lead to more consumption,” he told French broadcaster BFM TV. French lawmakers on Monday passed a legislative amendment to ban abusive advertising and misleading promotions during sale periods, taking aim at Black Friday campaigns in particular. The amendment is part of a new law aimed at cracking down on waste and which will push companies to recycle unsold goods. It is not clear how misleading advertising will be defined or penalized. The text of the amendment described Black Friday as a “vast operation for the glorification of consumerism imported from the United States.” *Reuters

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