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Showing posts with label world news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label world news. Show all posts

Saturday, December 26, 2020

A New Population of Blue Whales Was Discovered Hiding in the Indian Ocean

Weighing up to 380,000 pounds and stretching some 100 feet long, the blue whale — the largest creature to have ever lived on Earth — might at first seem difficult for human eyes and ears to miss. But a previously unknown population of the leviathans has long been lurking in the Indian Ocean, leaving scientists none the wiser, new research suggests. The covert cadre of whales, described in a paper published last week in the journal Endangered Species Research, has its own signature anthem: a slow, bellowing ballad that’s distinct from any other whale song ever described. It joins only a dozen or so other blue whale songs that have been documented, each the calling card of a unique population. “It’s like hearing different songs within a genre — Stevie Ray Vaughan versus B. B. King,” said Salvatore Cerchio, a marine mammal biologist at the African Aquatic Conservation Fund in Massachusetts and the study’s lead author. “It’s all blues, but you know the different styles.” The find is “a great reminder that our oceans are still this very unexplored place,” said Asha de Vos, a marine biologist who has studied blue whales in the Indian Ocean but was not involved in the new study. Dr. Cerchio and his colleagues first tuned into the whales’ newfound song while in scientific pursuit of a pod of Omura’s whales off the coast of Madagascar several years ago. After hearing the rumblings of blue whales via a recorder planted on the coastal shelf, the researchers decided to drop their instruments into deeper water in the hopes of eavesdropping further. “If you put a hydrophone somewhere no one has put a hydrophone before, you’re going to discover something,” Dr. Cerchio said. A number of blue whale populations, each with its own characteristic croon, have long been known to visit this pocket of the Indian Ocean, Dr. Cerchio said. But one of the songs that crackled through the team’s Madagascar recordings was unlike any the researchers had heard. By 2018, the team had picked up on several more instances of the new whales’ now-recognizable refrain. Partnerships with other researchers soon revealed that the distinctive calls had been detected at another recording outpost off the coast of Oman, in the Arabian Sea, where the sounds seem particularly prevalent. Another windfall came later that year when Dr. Cerchio learned that colleagues in Australia had heard the whales crooning the same song in the central Indian Ocean, near the Chagos Archipelago. Data amassed from the three sites, each separated from the others by hundreds or thousands of miles, painted a rough portrait of a pod of whales moseying about in the Indian Ocean’s northwest and perhaps beyond. Using acoustic data to pin down a new population is, by nature, indirect, like dusting for fingerprints at the scene of a crime. But Alex Carbaugh-Rutland, who studies blue whales at Texas A&M University and was not involved in the study, said the results “were very sound, no pun intended.” The researchers ruled out the possibility that the songs could be attributed to other species of whales. And side-by-side comparisons of the new blue whale tune with others showed convincingly that the northwestern Indian Ocean variety was distinct, Mr. Carbaugh-Rutland said. “I think it’s really compelling evidence,” he said, drawing a comparison to linguistic dialects. Genetic samples would help clinch the case, he added. But blue whales, which spend most of their time far from shore, are difficult to study. Whaling in the 19th and 20th centuries also culled hundreds of thousands from their ranks; an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 blue whales are thought to remain. Not much is known about blue whale songs, although most researchers think that they help males woo their mates, as is the case with closely-related species. That can make any modifications to a cetacean melody fairly high stakes, Dr. de Vos said: “If two populations can’t talk to each other, over time, they’re going to grow apart.” Eventually, populations with different takes on a tune might splinter into subspecies, with their own behaviors and quirks. There’s not yet evidence to show that has happened with these blue whales, nor much information on what might have driven them apart from their southerly kin. But even if the whales in this new group don’t yet formally occupy a new branch on the tree of life, they are worth getting to know. “What things like this show us is that there are different populations, with different adaptations, with potentially different needs,” Dr. de Vos said. To conserve the world’s blue whales, she said, “there’s not one single protection measure that’s going to work.”

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Myth of 'crocodile men' promotes rough justice in C. Africa

Myth of 'crocodile men' promotes rough justice in C. Africa Stéphane Obam, a Cameroonian "phythotherapist" and traditional doctor, in Bangui, Central African Republic. [AFP] A sickening stench has wafted of late across a busy road in Bangui that runs alongside the Central African Republic’s biggest waterway. In the reeds growing on the bank of the Ubangui River, fishermen have found grossly mutilated corpses wrapped in sackcloth. In just one week last month, three bodies — all handcuffed and beheaded — were found, humanitarian sources have told AFP. Others have had organs sliced out. Gruesome discoveries are not uncommon in this poor landlocked state, where violence is part of life’s daily backdrop. But whenever corpses are fished out of the murky Ubangui, the “talimbi” — crocodile men — are often the prime suspects. Some say the talimbi are humans who metamorphose into reptiles. Others believe they are witchcraft practitioners, able to wield powers without ever leaving the river bank. Either way, the talimbi exercise a decades-long grip on the local mind. The way they are deemed to kill is always the same: they lure their victims below the surface of the river and kill them in punishment for some perceived transgression. Read More Fear of the talimbi is deeply rooted among residents of Bangui, the CAR capital, including people who have been educated abroad. People believe that the mutilations found on recovered bodies are clues to the purported offence. “A tongue is torn out to punish those who talk too much,” says a Bangui fisherman. Subscribe to Our Newsletter Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated on the latest developments and special offers! Social regulator “If the penis is cut off, the man was an adulterer. The ears are for those who didn’t listen.” Anthropologist Aleksandra Cimpric, a specialist in modern African witchcraft, says the superstition is meant to dissuade unacceptable conduct — it acts “like a regulator of the norms of good behaviour and morality.” The judicial system in the CAR is woefully deficient in a nation long dogged by poverty and corruption. In contrast, the talimbi are held to have their own tribunals in which people cannot be falsely accused. “Whoever the talimbi is will verify if what you say is true,” says Jean-Claude Beta, the chair of the Association of Tradipractitioners, whose members are traditional healers initiated into the secrets of the spirit world. To find out, a stick or a plant is thrown into the water. If it floats, the accusation is a lie. But if it sinks, the talimbi passes sentence and the victim is mystically summoned to the riverside. “When you are called, you will be drawn to the water, even if you are 100 kilometres (60 miles) away,” Beta says. “There’s no remedy. You are going to die.” No-one, it is believed, falls victim to the talimbi without having first been ritually denounced. But fear of the crocodile men is so entrenched that it offers an easy solution for murderers, say some. “It’s enough to throw a corpse into the river and the story about the talimbi shields those responsible,” says Joseph Bindoumi, the chair of the Centrafrican League of Human Rights and a former public prosecutor. “Investigations are not carried out with a desire to uncover the truth.” One of the latest victims found in the Ubangui was a young woman. Her body was never claimed by family or friends. Her case was closed after young people buried her remains nearby, placing a crooked wooden cross on top as gawking locals looked on. The police say her body was the only one plucked from the river, not one of three, and bore no signs of violence — contradicting the accounts by humanitarian sources. “The corpse was in an advanced state of decomposition,” says Inspector Mathurin Koh of the Criminal Brigade, who could not give a precise cause of death as no autopsy had been carried out. Koh, who authored a study of magical metamorphoses, knows plenty about the talimbi phenomenon, but says “practices of charlatans and sorcery” are partly beyond his official remit, though severely punished by law. Belief in crocodile men persists across central Africa, but it resonates in particular in CAR, where three civil wars have devastated the public education system and undermined traditional authority structures.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Here's the list of most admired men and women across the world

Barack Obama is the most admired man in the world, according to a survey by market research and data analytics firm YouGov

TopicsBarack Obama | Michelle Obama | Bill Gates

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Last Updated at September 25, 2020 17:54 IST

#1 Barack Obama

#1 Barack Obama

1 / 10

Barack Obama is the most admired man in the world, according to a survey by market research and data analytics firm YouGov. For the first time, the former US president has reached the top of the mens rankings since the survey was launched in 2014.

#2 Bill Gates

#2 Bill Gates

2 / 10

American billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates is now ranked the second most admired man, after being in first place last year.

#3 Michelle Obama

#3 Michelle Obama

3 / 10

Michelle Obama holds on to her position as the world’s most admired woman. The survey was conducted between May and September 2020.

#4 Angelina Jolie

#4 Angelina Jolie

4 / 10

Actor and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has risen one place since last year to be the second most admired woman. More than 45,000 people in 42 countries and territories were being interviewed for this survey.

#5 Queen Elizabeth II

#5 Queen Elizabeth II

5 / 10

Queen Elizabeth II has also risen one rank to become the world’s third most admired female.  

#6 Oprah Winfrey

#6 Oprah Winfrey

6 / 10

Last year, US presenter Oprah Winfrey came second while this year she is the fourth most admired women. Entertainers dominate the female list, with 12 of the most admired women being actresses, singers or TV presenters.

#7 Xi Jinping

#7 Xi Jinping

7 / 10

Chinese president Xi Jinping is in third place once again, from fourth place last year. He previously held the third rank from 2015-2017. US president Donald Trump ranks 15th.

#8 Narendra Modi

#8 Narendra Modi

8 / 10

Narendra Modi continues to rule people’s hearts, being India’s most admired man. Other Indian figures include Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Amitabh Bachchan, Virat Kohli, and Indian charity head Sudha Murthy.

#9 Jackie Chan

#9 Jackie Chan

9 / 10

Actor and martial artiste Jackie Chan, was last year the third most admired men. This year he is at fifth place.

#10 Cristiano Ronaldo

#10 Cristiano Ronaldo

10 / 10

Football’s greatest rivalry continues to be won by Cristiano Ronaldo, ranked as the world’s 6th most admired man, compared to Lionel Messi, who is at 11th place. The list of most admired men contains more people from political, business and sporting backgrounds.

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Nova Scotia Shooting: Suspected Gunman Evaded Police For About 12 Hours After Killing 16 People

Nova Scotia authorities have begun investigating the shooting of a gunman who may have been disguised as a police officer and went on 12-hour rampage that left 16 people dead in a small town.

A confrontation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police began after a manhunt for the fleeing suspect overnight Saturday. Multiple crime scenes and hours of evasion later, the gunman was killed Sunday in a shootout with police. Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) took over the investigation into the death, according to a statement from SiRT.

Gabriel Wortman, 51, was identified as the suspect and was confirmed dead by RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather.

The motive behind the shooting, one of Canada's deadliest, is still under investigation, Leather said. Some victims, he said, "appeared not to have a relationship with the assailant shooter."

The chaos began when police were first called to a property around 10:30 p.M. Saturday. "When police arrived at the scene the members located several casualties inside and outside of the home," Leather said.

One of those killed was Constable Heidi Stevenson, a mother of two and 23-year veteran of the RCMP. Another officer is in the hospital receiving treatment for non-life-threatening injuries he suffered in the incident, the RCMP said on Facebook.

RCMP were led to several crime scenes miles apart beginning in Portapique and stretching to Enfield, where the suspect was found, Leather said. Wortman was believed to have been wearing part of what looked to be an RCMP uniform, and may have been driving a vehicle made to look like a police car, Leather said.

"The fact that this individual had a uniform and a police car at his disposal certainly speaks to it not being a random act," Leather said.

Police told the public on Twitter the gunman may have been wearing a RCMP uniform and driving a silver Chevrolet Tracker that appeared to be a police vehicle, but had a specific number -- 28B11. They clarified that he was not employed by the RCMP.

The gunman was considered "armed and dangerous," so RCMP told people to stay indoors. The suspect was ultimately found at a truck stop in Enfield between 11 a.M. And noon on Sunday, about 12 hours after the initial 911 call came in to police.

Ontario truck driver Tom Nurani told CNN media partner CTV News that he was at the truck stop when he heard a staff member shouting.

"She goes, 'Oh my God, lock the doors, he's here! And I peek out of the window and I saw some RCMP vehicles and there was four or five uniforms with guns," Nurani said.

Witness Glen Hines was driving past and told CTV he heard gunfire.

"All I could hear was gunshots and my wife, I thought I was going to call 911, because she was going into panic, it scared her so bad," Hines said.

Politicians respond to shooting rampage

Stephen McNeil, the premier of Nova Scotia, called the shooting spree "one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province's history."

"I never imagined when I went to bed last night that I would wake up to the horrific news that an active shooter was on the loose in Nova Scotia," McNeil said.

a group of police officers riding on the back of a car: Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers prepare to take a suspect into custody at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia on Sunday April 19, 2020. Canadian police arrested a suspect in an active shooter investigation after earlier saying he may have been driving a vehicle resembling a police car and wearing a police uniform. (Tim Krochak/The Canadian Press via AP)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers prepare to take a suspect into custody at a gas station in Enfield, Nova Scotia on Sunday April 19, 2020. Canadian police arrested a suspect in an active shooter investigation after earlier saying he may have been driving a vehicle resembling a police car and wearing a police uniform. (Tim Krochak/The Canadian Press via AP)

© Tim Krochak/The Canadian Press via AP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted "our hearts go out to everyone affected by the shooting," adding "we're keeping all of you in our thoughts."

"To the Portapique community, we're keeping all of you in our thoughts. And on behalf of all Canadians, I want you to know that we're here for you - and we'll be here for you in the days and weeks ahead," he said.

National Police Federation President Brian Sauvé said the NPF was "working hard to ensure all our Members and their families are supported."

"We are there for them now and will be there for them for the coming days and months as they work through this tragedy," Sauvé said. "As Canadians, we are extremely fortunate these incidents are not common."

Canada's Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Sunday was "a truly heartbreaking day in Canada."

"Tragedies like today are horrific and should never happen," Blair said. "I know the people of Nova Scotia will band together to heal and mourn those who were lost. All Canadians will stand with them."

FG give guidelines as schools resumes on monday

The Federal Government, on Thursday, banned overcrowding and large gatherings such as assemblies and visiting days, as schools reopen on Mon...