BERLIN – A senior German diplomat is in Tehran to press Iran to continue to respect the landmark nuclear deal, despite the unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. and increasing pressure from Washington.
The Foreign Ministry says Political Director Jens Ploetner is meeting with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on Thursday.
The visit comes amid mounting tensions in the region. It also follows Iran’s declaration earlier this month that the remaining signatories to the deal — Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — have two months to develop a plan to shield Iran from American sanctions.
The ministry says there’s a “window for diplomacy to persuade Iran to continue its full compliance” with the deal and warns “there’s a real risk of escalation — including due to misunderstandings or an incident.”
Source: Fox News World
BARCELONA, Spain – Animal rights activists in Barcelona are celebrating a victory after the Spanish city ordered its municipal zoo to restrict the reproduction of captive animals unless their young are destined to be reintroduced into the wild.
Barcelona’s town council voted on May 3 to modify the zoo’s bylaws to include a rule by which any of its breeding programs will be stopped unless there is a plan to eventually release the offspring into nature.
“We want zoos to stop breeding animals that do not respond to an environmental strategy, breeding them just so they can be in front or inside a cage,” said activist Leonardo Anselmi, who coordinates ZOO XXI, the animal rights group that successfully pushed for the new mandate.
The mandate was passed along with a new strategic plan for the zoo crafted by its staff that will task a committee of scientists and ethical experts with one year to determine a conservation plan for each of the 300 different species housed at the zoo. Those resulting plans will have to be implemented within three years. Any animals the committee thinks should leave the zoo will, in theory, be reintroduced into the wild or relocated at other zoos or sanctuaries.
The bylaw says it is adopting a stance of “compassionate conservation” that sees “animals are beings deserving our respect.”
The goal is to convert the zoo, which was built inside a park in the city center in 1892, into a center focused on education and research, and a refuge for animals that can no longer survive in liberty. Currently the zoo hosts several animals in this condition, including elephants, tortoises and Pedro, a 45-year-old rhinoceros who eats baguettes for breakfast.
But some zookeepers are worried that reproduction restrictions could do more harm than good and held a strike early this month to voice their concern.
These zookeepers argue that responsibly reproducing animals in captivity is key to maintaining a healthy genetic pool of several species that are endangered. They point to a recent United Nations report that found that over one million species face extinction.
“The problem is not the philosophy of deeper and more sincere (understanding of) animal welfare, which we all agree on, but rather how to apply it,” said Damia Gibernet, the head of the local zookeeper’s union who led the strike.
Gibernet said the zoo had already stopped the breeding of certain animals such as elephants and rhinoceroses. Other species such as lions, giraffes, and great apes were being bred in captivity up until now. But fewer than a dozen animals are part of conservation programs that eventually lead to repopulation in the wild, which zookeepers say is not as simple as it sounds. For example, the six hand-picked Saharan Dorcas gazelles born in the zoo must first go through an adaption period before they can be released in the Ferlo Nord Wildlife Reserve in Senegal. Such programs take enormous amounts of time, research, money and secured habitats to create programs that safely release animals bred in captivity back into nature, they say.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums says that more than 85% of the species housed at Barcelona Zoo are included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and over the last few years, nearly 30% of the animals born in the zoo were released into wild habitats.
“The reproduction limitation in some cases for us is very serious because it prevents the reproduction of species that are in a great risk of extinction and we cannot allow them to disappear,” said Gibernet.
Both sides of the debate recognize it will take years, even decades, to see visible change, while admitting this may be the last generation of lions, giraffes and many other species at the Barcelona zoo.
Zoo director Antoni Alarcon said the new plan includes 65 million euros of investment, half of which will go to better enclosures.
“Good zoos are not about keeping animals in captivity for spectacles or other objectives that are not related to conservation projects or research and education,” Alarcon said.
According to the new plan, the zoo will prioritize the Mediterranean and nearby North African fauna over large exotic mammals from other continents. The new centerpiece animals include Dorcas Gazelles, birds and amphibians. They will continue breeding certain critically endangered species such as the Bornean orangutans, which is part of the European Endangered Species Program.
But the zookeeper caring for the tiny endangered Montseny newt admits visitors don’t spend more than a few seconds at its exhibit; they come here to see the large or dangerous animals.
“Nowadays people must understand that the role an insect plays, or in our case that the Montseny newt, probably the most threatened amphibian in all of Europe, is as important and the gorilla’s or orangutan’s,” Alarcon said. “All animals play their specific role in the ecosystem.”
AP writer Joseph Wilson contributed.
Source: Fox News World
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s claim that the world will “end in 12 years” unless climate change is tackled was accepted as a fact by two-thirds of Democrats, even though she said herself that only those with the “social intelligence of a sea sponge” could actually believe it.
The New York Democrat drew mockery from Republicans after she made the doomsday warning in a bid to convince people that radical action against climate change is needed.
“Millennials and people, you know, Gen Z and all these folks that will come after us are looking up and we’re like: ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?’” Ocasio-Cortez said. A few months later she repeated the claim again.
Earlier this month, however, Ocasio-Cortez backtracked on the gloomy forecast and instead blamed the Republican Party for taking her humor and sarcasm literally.
“This is a technique of the GOP, to take dry humor + sarcasm literally and ‘fact check’ it,” she wrote.
But it appears that more than two-thirds of surveyed Democrats took her literally.
A Rasmussen poll, conducted earlier this week, found 67 percent of Democrats believing that the U.S. has only 12 years to avert the “disastrous and irreparable damage to the country and the world” stemming from climate change. Out of all total likely voters, 48 percent of respondents believed the apocalyptic claim.
Ocasio-Cortez has emerged as the key Democratic voice on how to tackle climate change, proposing the Green New Deal resolution that seeks to radically reorganize the economy to ensure climate change is tackled.
The proposal was endorsed by a number of 2020 presidential candidates even before the disastrous rollout of the proposal, which included the now-infamous FAQ document that suggested making air travel obsolete and supporting those “unwilling to work.”
Senate Democrats in March failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to begin debate on the Green New Deal proposal, with 42 Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., voting “present.”
The lawmakers said they didn’t vote for the proposal because it was brought to a vote by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for political purposes.
Source: Fox News Politics
MILAN – Italy’s defense minister says an Italian who had been held hostage in Syria for three years has been released and returned to Italy.
Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta late Wednesday confirmed Alessandro Sandrini’s arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport and thanked Italian intelligence services for their role in his liberation. Details were not disclosed.
Sandrini, who is in his early 30s, disappeared after traveling to Turkey in October 2016, and wasn’t heard from for over a year. In July 2018, a dramatic video showed Sandrini wearing an orange jumpsuit flanked by masked men brandishing automatic weapons, appealing to Italy to help free him as quickly as possible.
A local government in Syria affiliated with the al-Qaida-linked militant group Hayat Tahir-al Sham said he had been kidnapped by a criminal gang.
Source: Fox News World
On this day, May 23 …
1934: Notorious bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde — Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow — are shot to death in a police ambush in Bienville Parish, La.
Also on this day:
- 1911: The New York Public Library constructed at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street is dedicated by President William Taft.
- 1915: Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary during World War I.
- 1939: The Navy submarine USS Squalus sinks during a test dive off Portsmouth, N.H.
- 1940: Frank Sinatra, singing with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, records “I’ll Never Smile Again,” the first of several No. 1 hits while performing with Dorsey.
- 1958: Wilt Chamberlain announces he’s leaving the University of Kansas to turn pro. Since he is unable to sign with an NBA team for another year, he choose to play with the Harlem Globetrotters to prepare for his pro career.
- 1984: Surgeon General C. Everett Koop issues a report saying there is “very solid” evidence linking cigarette smoke to lung disease in non-smokers.
Source: Fox News National
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she checked to see if pigs could fly after she found a rare moment of common ground with House Republicans on Wednesday over the protection of Americans from surveillance.
During a House Oversight Committee hearing, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed the need for legislation to regulate the increasingly widespread use of facial recognition software to track members of the public.
“Check the sky for flying ? bc Rep. Meadows, much of the Freedom Caucus & I are in agreement on preventing total surveillance of Americans without their knowledge,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter following the hearing. “Whether it’s Amazon or Gov, no one should be tracked w/o consent or a warrant,” she wrote.
Both law enforcement agencies and private companies have been using the technology to identify people’s faces in public and private settings. Amazon’s “Rekognition” software has been aggressively marketed to law enforcement groups, including the FBI and the Orlando Police Department, BuzzFeed News reported.
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the Freedom Caucus, described facial recognition as a “sweet spot that brings progressives and conservatives together.”
“When you have a diverse group on this committee, as diverse as you might see on the polar ends, I’m here to tell you, we’re serious about this and let’s get together and work on legislation and it is the time is now, before it gets out of control,” Meadows said at the hearing.
“When you have a diverse group on this committee, as diverse as you might see on the polar ends, I’m here to tell you, we’re serious about this and let’s get together and work on legislation and it is the time is now, before it gets out of control.”
Lawmakers argued that Americans’ civil liberties are in jeopardy, as inaccuracies in the technology could misidentify suspects and disproportionally target minorities. Republicans and Democrats agreed that Congress must draft new legislation to increase oversight and further regulate organizations that utilize the new tech.
“When government surveillance attacks civil liberties, Congress must step in and defend Americans,” U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, wrote on Twitter. He included a video of himself questioning Neema Singh Guliani, a senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, at the hearing.
“Our concerns about privacy rights aren’t theoretical. We’ve seen it happen!” he wrote.
All five of America’s top tech companies — Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft — are developing their own facial recognition platforms, BuzzFeed News reported. Amazon’s board voted this week to block two proposals from shareholders who wanted to curb the sale of its facial recognition technology to law enforcement and conduct a study on how the tech might infringe on a person’s right to privacy, according to Reuters.
“We’ve never seen anything like this technology before,” Guliani said during her testimony on Wednesday. “The U.S. reportedly has over 50 million surveillance cameras. This, combined with face recognition threatens, to create a near-constant surveillance state.”
“We’ve never seen anything like this technology before. The U.S. reportedly has over 50 million surveillance cameras. This, combined with face recognition threatens, to create a near-constant surveillance state.”
“It’s urgent that Congress act now,” she said.
“I just got word that the shareholders did not end up passing a ban on the sale of Rekognition,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., said at the hearing. “That just means that it’s more important that Congress acts.”
“We think it’s important for Congress to exercise oversight on this important issue and continue to support the creation of a national legislative framework covering facial recognition,” Amazon said, according to the Hill.
Source: Fox News Politics
LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May is hunkered down with close allies as she considers whether to give in to relentless pressure to resign, or fight on to save her Brexit plan and her premiership.
May’s fate looked sealed on Thursday after the resignation of Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom, who quit saying she could not support the EU withdrawal bill that May plans to introduce to Parliament.
Conservative lawmakers want May to agree Friday that she will quit. If not, they are likely to try to topple her.
Lawmakers have already rejected May’s divorce deal with EU three times, and Britain’s long-scheduled departure date of March 29 passed with the country still in the bloc.
Many Conservatives blame May for the delay, and believe she is now an obstacle to Brexit.
Source: Fox News World
BEIJING – China is seeking to support from some of its Asian neighbors and Russia in its escalating tariff fight with the U.S.
Speaking Wednesday at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kyrgyzstan, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said representatives of the eight-nation grouping had expressed “broad support” for China’s position.
Wang reiterated China’s stance that it would never accept unequal trading arrangements. He said Beijing will match “extreme pressure” from the U.S. with its own measures.
Beijing has already responded to Trump’s tariff hikes on $250 billion of Chinese imports by slapping penalties on $110 billion of American goods. Based on last year’s trade, that leaves about $45 billion in imports from the U.S.
That includes semiconductors and other critical inputs needed by fledgling Chinese tech industries.
Source: Fox News National
A 13-year-old missing Massachusetts girl was dumped at a hospital there — possibly by a much older man — and pronounced dead shortly afterward, according to a disturbing new report.
Chloe Ricard, 13, of Amesbury, was dropped off at the emergency room of Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Mass., around 4:45 p.m. Monday, Boston 25 News reported.
“[The police officers] said she was lifeless,” the girl’s stepfather, Brian Dolan, told Boston 25 News. “No pulse, no nothing, they just drove in and dropped her off. She didn’t even have a pulse when they pushed her out of the car.”
Dolan said he was told a man in his 40s was responsible.
“The only thing I was told earlier from another agency is … someone 47 years old dropped her off,” the distraught stepdad told the station. “Whoever did this to my little stepdaughter, trust me, I hope there’s hell to pay because they threw her out of the car like a bag of trash. If that was your kid, if that was your sister, if that was your brother, or your mother, or your father, what would you do? I’m beside myself.”
Chloe’s mother, Deborah Goldsmith-Dolan, told the paper that her daughter was at a friend’s house the day before. She called the friend, who said the girl was safe.
But by late Monday afternoon, she started to worry when she still hadn’t heard from her daughter — and filed a missing person’s report at the police station. Again, she was misled.
“I’m sitting at the police station, and one girl told me she is safe and someone dropped her off,” Goldsmith-Dolan said.
Soon, the panic-stricken mom learned her daughter was dropped off at the emergency room.
“It was awful,” Goldsmith-Dolan told the station. “They asked me how to identify her. My husband had to identify her by the scars. She just dyed her hair, and she looked amazing.”
An autopsy was scheduled to be performed Tuesday, but officials said it would take time to officially determine the cause of death, according to the report. No arrests have been made.
“No matter what the story is,” the grieving mom added, “she is dead.”
Source: Fox News National
After a tornado ripped through Jefferson City, Mo. late Wednesday, residents have flooded social media with images and video showing the wrath of the storm.
One resident shared a video showing that her apartment’s balcony had been ripped off of the building and flung onto the roof of her mother’s car by the twister.
“My bedroom window is completely blown through with bricks everywhere. It’s bad guys,” Kayleigh De Rosa can be heard saying in the video.
KRCG reporter Elyse Smith shared De Rosa’s video to social media, claiming that it shows severe “structural damage to the Hawthorne Apartments in Jefferson City.”
Another user shared snap chat video with a 12:14 a.m. timestamp from the Jefferson City area. The clip shows debris littering the streets that appear to be illuminated by the red and blue lights of emergency vehicles.
“Very heartbreaking. Many prayers for everyone impacted tonight,” wrote Christopher Pipkin, who is an aspiring meteorologist at Missouri State University, according to his Twitter bio.
A video that claimed to show the tornado’s funnel was shared by another resident.
The Jefferson City Police Department has yet to confirm any fatalities but said several injuries have been reported, according to Kansas City’s Fox 4.
The Missouri Task Force One is asking residents not to call 9-1-1 unless they are reporting a traumatic injury, Kansas City’s Fox 4 reported. The task force is asking residents not to assist in cleaning up the storm at this point.
Source: Fox News National