Nepal

In Pictures: Protest against govt’s ineffective response to COVID-19 crisis

The Himalayan Times - 1 ora 22 min fa

Kathmandu, July 2

Youths hold placards while maintaining safe distance as they take part in a protest at Patan on Thursday demanding better and effective response from the government in handling COVID-19 outbreak.

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Categorie: Nepal

Botswana investigating mystery deaths of 275 elephants

The Himalayan Times - 1 ora 26 min fa

GABORONE: The number of elephants found dead in Botswana‘s Okavango Panhandle has risen to 275 from 154 reported two weeks ago, the government said on Thursday.

Authorities are investigating the unexplained deaths over the past months. Poaching has been ruled out as the carcasses were found intact.

“Three laboratories in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Canada have been identified to process the samples taken from the dead elephants,” the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism said in a statement.

In early May, Elephants without Borders (EWB), a conservation organisation, reported that its own aerial survey showed elephants of all ages appeared to be dying.

“Several live elephants that we observed appeared to be weak, lethargic and emaciated. Some elephants appeared disorientated, had difficulty walking, showed signs of partial paralysis or a limp,” EWB director Mike Chase said in a report seen by Reuters.

“One elephant was observed walking in circles, unable to change direction although being encouraged by other herd members.”

In the report, EWB put the death toll at 356 and Chase said urgent action was needed to establish if the deaths were caused by disease or poisoning.

Africa’s overall elephant population is declining due to poaching but Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent’s elephants, has seen numbers grow to 130,000 from 80,000 in the late 1990s.

However, they are seen as a nuisance by some farmers, whose crops have been destroyed.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted a five-year ban on big game hunting in May last year but the hunting season failed to take off in April as global travel restrictions meant hunters from many coronavirus-hit countries could not enter Botswana.

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Categorie: Nepal

People rally in support of PM as opposition asks him to quit

The Himalayan Times - 1 ora 28 min fa

KATHMANDU: At a time when tensions are rife in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) over senior leaders asking PM KP Sharma Oli to step down from his post, supporters of PM Oli today took to streets demanding continuity of his tenure.

The people staged demonstrations in support of PM Oli, who is currently under increasing pressure to quit, slamming his critics while using slogans reinforcing his continuity.

PM Oli is under fire as he has been asked to quit government reasoning that the Oli-government has failed to deliver, while accusing him of promoting and papering intra-party factions.

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Categorie: Nepal

PM Oli at HAMS hospital to take stock of health of activists on Satyagraha

The Himalayan Times - 1 ora 56 min fa

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has visited the HAMS hospital to take stock of health of youth activists who have been staging a fast-unto-death Satyagraha for the last six days.

Activist Iih along with others have been staging the Satyagraha demanding that the government correct its course of action in terms of handling the current crisis, the response to which, according to the protesters, has not been anything but ineffective.

Iih and Pukar Bam’s health started to deteriorate on day six without water or food, they were rushed to the Mandikatar based hospital this evening.

Iih, along with a group, had launched the recent series of Enough is Enough demonstrations in Kathmandu, which later spread across various parts of the country.

Prime Minister Oli made a surprise visit to the hospital where he talked to the protesters and heard their grievances, a source said.

Image credit: Twitter

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Categorie: Nepal

Thailand’s migrant sex workers fear for the future

The Himalayan Times - 1 ora 58 min fa

BANGKOK: Bua used to earn up to 40,000 baht ($1,300) a month as a sex worker in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai when the coronavirus forced entertainment venues to close, leaving her jobless.

Since March, the 32-year-old single mother, who is Burmese, has racked up debts of more than 15,000 baht to pay for her daughter’s education and rent.

Bua survived on handouts from the sex worker group Empower Foundation, which ranged from rice to tampons, since government handouts required her to show a Thai identification card.

“If it wasn’t for Empower, I would have committed suicide,” said Bua, who asked in a phone interview not to use her real name and requested anonymity so family members did not find out about her work.

While Thailand has announced plans for bars, pubs and karaoke venues to re-open from Wednesday this week after being closed for four months, sex workers fear there will be few clients as most are foreigners and the borders remain closed.

A 2014 UNAIDS report estimated there were 123,530 sex workers in Thailand but advocacy groups put the figure at more than twice that number, including tens of thousands of migrants from neighbouring Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Many young women are now among the 2 million Thais the state planning agency believes may be made unemployed this year because of the impact of the virus.

In Thailand, prostitution is illegal and punishable by a fine of 1,000 baht, and customers who pay for sex with underage workers can be jailed for up to six years.

But over the years, the country has come to be known for sex tourism, with large numbers frequenting bars, massage parlours and karaoke lounges that have multiplied as tourist numbers soared as the law is not enforced. The coronavirus crisis has forced many sex workers to turn to new types of work, from selling goods to becoming waitresses. But for migrant workers, there are fewer options.

LEFT OUT

Activists say migrant or stateless sex workers are among the hardest hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus.

When Bua applied for a job at a grocery store, she was told they preferred to hire Thai staff despite her perfect Thai.

“We have been abandoned. We have been made invisible, even though we face more hardship than others and were the first (to be unemployed after the coronavirus),” said Mai Junta, a representative from Empower Foundation in Chiang Mai.

Thailand has introduced a raft of measures to help workers affected by the coronavirus, including financial aid for informal Thai workers and for Thai and foreign workers registered under the social security system.

But a survey by Empower in April found only 5% of sex workers are part of the social security system, and 35% have no access to government aid. The rest could access cash relief.

“The government should help all nationalities, since at the end of the day we are all human beings who have suffered (from the outbreak). The government shouldn’t discriminate,” Mai told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development said it provides relief supplies and job training for sex workers and plans to amend the prostitution law to allow them to access social welfare benefits.

The Service Workers in Group (SWING), a support organisation for sex workers, conducted a survey in May that found some sex workers in Bangkok were refused financial aid after they indicated they were sex workers.

“But some got the 5,000 baht (aid) because they lied (about their occupation). There’s no place for sex workers in this government’s policy,” SWING president Chalidaporn Songsamphan told a livestream discussion hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in May.

“The Thai state has had this ambivalence towards sex work and sex workers. This is a factor that explains why so many of them can’t access any assistance from the state.”

Despite entertainment venues re-opening, 50-year-old Mint – not her real name – doubts business will be back to normal with the country’s borders still closed, crippling tourism in Bangkok which was the world’s most visited city for four years.

After losing her job in Chiang Mai, the Burmese sex worker moved in with a friend to split the rent, selling her jewellery to pay for the housing.

She applied for a job as a masseuse but was rejected by several places even though she was trained, because Thai law prohibits foreigners from working in certain jobs.

When she applied as a chef at a restaurant, she was told she was too old.

“I’m so stressed out … with no money left and I can’t go back home,” said Mint, who requested anonymity in a phone interview because of the shame associated with prostitution.

“I guess I’ll just have to grin and bear it. I don’t know what else to do.”

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Categorie: Nepal

Health Minister says ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign justifiable

The Himalayan Times - 2 ore 58 min fa

KATHMANDU: Activists of ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign today held a discussion with the Minister of Health and Population, Bhanubhakta Dhakal, to draw the government’s attention towards the demands put forth by the campaigners.

They have insisted that the government take the demands seriously and act on them with priority to contain transmission of COVID-19, which is on the rise. They especially drew the Ministry’s attention towards the ongoing hunger strike being carried out by some of the campaigners demanding government’s efficient response to the present crisis.

Nayan Tara Gurung Kakshyapati, Aalok Subedi, Sanjay Adhikari, Pritim Subedi, and Brabim Kumar represented the group and presented the demands of the campaigners.

Photo Courtesy: Enough is Enough Nepal Campaign/Twitter

In response, Minister Dhakal showed positive affirmation that the ongoing protests and ‘satyagraha’ are meaningful and that he would take their demands to the government.

The Ministry is also holding a meeting this evening for further discussion. The representatives from the campaign have addressed their demands and have asked the government to hold a meeting or discussion to reflect on their wants.

Since the peaceful protests carried out by the campaigners didn’t lead to any conclusive results, four activists have been on a hunger strike since June 26. The campaigners have strictly sought government’s attention stating that consequences of the coronavirus crisis will directly be government’s responsibility, and therefore, action on their part is imperative.

Photo Courtesy: Enough is Enough Nepal Campaign/Twitter

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Categorie: Nepal

Novak Djokovic and his wife test negative for coronavirus

The Himalayan Times - 3 ore 25 min fa

BELGRADE: Novak Djokovic and his wife have tested negative for the coronavirus, his media team said Thursday, 10 days after announcing they had contracted the disease.

The top-ranked player tested positive for the virus after playing in an exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia amid the pandemic. No social distancing was observed at the matches in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia.

“Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena are negative for COVID-19. That was shown by the results of the PCR tests that both had in Belgrade,” his media team said in a statement.

Both Djokovic and his wife had no symptoms and were in self-isolation in the Serbian capital since testing positive, the statement said.

The news comes amid a new spike of coronavirus cases in Serbia and the reintroduction of some restrictive measures, such as compulsory wearing of masks and social distancing.

Djokovic was the fourth player to come down with the virus after participating in the matches in Belgrade and Zadar. The others were three-time Grand Slam semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki.

Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, has also said he has the virus.

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Categorie: Nepal

Sudurpaschim yet to discuss budget as opposition continues obstruction

The Himalayan Times - 3 ore 25 min fa

DHANGADHI: Sudurpaschim Province has not been able to hold any discussion on budget even after unveiling it more than two weeks ago.

The deliberation on budget could not proceed even after 17 days since the parties in opposition have been obstructing the Provincial Assembly meeting. Main opposition Nepali Congress and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N) obstructed two sessions of the PA meeting on June 24 and 26.

Furthermore, the Province Assembly meeting was put off on June 28 and 30 after the opposition issued a notice on blocking of house proceedings.

In a joint press meet organised in Dhangadhi, the opposition parties said they would not let the house proceed until the government presented the programme to control the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

NC lawmaker Rana Bahadur Rawal alleged that the government has not been able take any concrete measures to control the spread of novel coronavirus. Opposition parties have also demanded that the government increase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and stop sending the quarantined people home without taking the test for the coronavirus contagion.

Rawal told mediapersons, “The province has spent Rs 570 million in the pretext of controlling the spread of novel coronavirus, but nothing has been done.” He said that there was only one PCR machine in the province.

He further added that the provincial government could not even implement its decision to purchase a PCR machine, while it had boasted about setting two PCR machines, one each for Doti and Baitadi two months ago.

Likewise, the opposition provincial lawmakers have also demanded that the government expenditures be made transparent.

Meanwhile, Speaker Arjun Bahadur Thapa has expressed his dissatisfaction with the continuous obstruction of the assembly created by the opposition. Likewise, the Province government spokesperson and Minister for Internal Affairs and Law, Prakash Bahadur Shah expressed his view that it was not practical to obstruct the assembly over irrelevant matters. He assured that the provincial government had been working to contain the spread of COVID-19 and claimed that the government, in coordination with the local government, had been carrying out the treatment of the infected and managing well to send them home.

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Categorie: Nepal

Sane close to completing permanent Bayern move, says Guardiola

The Himalayan Times - 3 ore 58 min fa

LONDON: Manchester City winger Leroy Sane has decided to move on from the club and is likely to begin his next chapter with German champions Bayern Munich, manager Pep Guardiola said on Wednesday.

British and German media reported on Tuesday that Bayern had reached an agreement with City to sign Sane in a deal worth 45 million euros ($50.47 million) plus add-ons, with the winger poised to a sign a five-year deal with the German club.

Guardiola confirmed that there were a few kinks that needed to be ironed out before the deal could be announced.

“It looks like it but it’s not already done. There are some little issues but it looks like he is going to go to Munich. We wish him all the best and thanks for our years together,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of Thursday’s Premier League clash against Liverpool.

“He will have another chapter at a fantastic club in Bayern. He wanted to leave. Everyone has their own life and he decided to move on. I would have loved for him to stay but he believed he would be better and happier there.”

City’s reign as Premier League champions came to an end after last week’s 2-1 defeat by Chelsea gave Liverpool an insurmountable 23-point lead at the top of the standings with seven games to play.

Guardiola admits City, who were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool at Anfield earlier in the season, have a point to prove when they welcome Juergen Klopp’s side to the Etihad.

“We are incredibly satisfied with what we have done, but with athletes that is never enough. The past is the past… the show must go on,” he said.

Guardiola, 49, insists his side will be back in top form next season.

“We’re going to make Liverpool feel (the heat) next season and the other opponents as well, try to fight with them for the next chapters in the league,” the Spanish manager said, adding that he has a healthy respect for his Liverpool counterpart Klopp.

“I don’t know him that well but I admire him and the way that his teams play football. He wants to win, I want to win but when it is finished the game is over,” Guardiola said.

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Categorie: Nepal

Isolation wards, quarantine centres lying empty in Manang

The Himalayan Times - 4 ore 13 min fa

MANANG: Temporary quarantines and isolation centres established for accommodating persons suspected of COVID-19 and those testing positive for the infection are lying empty in Manang.

These centres have remained empty ever since the only infected person, a 57-year-old man, returned home after a complete health recovery on Monday.

According to District Health Office Chief Badri Acharya, the person returned home after staying for eleven days in the hospital. He tested negative for COVID-19 infection, Acharya added.

A total of 30 people were tested using the PCR method. Among them, 29 persons tested negative for the infection.

93-bed quarantine facilities and seven-bed isolation centres are lying empty in the district.

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Categorie: Nepal

Brazil to test Sinovac’s potential vaccine against COVID-19 in six states

The Himalayan Times - 4 ore 21 min fa

SAO PAULO: A potential coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac will be tested in Brazil by 12 research centers in six Brazilian states, the governor of Sao Paulo state, Joao Doria, said on Wednesday, adding the trials still need to be approved by local health vigilance agency Anvisa.

The study – first announced on June 11 – is led by Instituto Butantan, a research center funded by the state of Sao Paulo. The agreement with Sinovac includes not only trials but also the transference of technology to produce the coronavirus vaccine locally.

“The 12 research centers that will carry out the trials for the coronavirus vaccine have already been chosen here in Brazil,” Doria said in a news conference.

Besides Sao Paulo, the tests with a total of 9,000 volunteers will also be conducted in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul and Parana, he added.

For Dimas Covas, director at Instituto Butantan, Sinovac’s potential vaccine is one of the most promising studies to fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and results of clinical trials are expected later this year.

Brazil’s health vigilance agency Anvisa said in a statement that its technical team is in contact with Butantan and Sinovac, adding its analysis is at an advanced stage and is expected to be concluded soon.

“The matter is receiving top priority, as well as all studies and products related to fighting COVID-19,” Anvisa said.

Besides Sinovac, Brazil is also testing a potential vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca with researchers at Oxford University, which the World Health Organization (WHO) says is the world’s leading candidate and most advanced in terms of development.

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Categorie: Nepal

Altitude Air felicitates NAC board member Sherpa

The Himalayan Times - 4 ore 22 min fa

KATHMANDU: Altitude Air today felicitated its board chairperson Phurba Gyalzen Sherpa on his appointment as the board director of Nepal Airlines Corporation.

According to a statement issued by Altitude Air, board directors including company’s Managing Director Nima Nuru Sherpa and other staff members congratulated Sherpa for making it to a prestigious position at the management board of the national flag carrier.

Amidst a function organised here, MD Sherpa congratulated the company chairperson and wished him a successful tenure in the NAC board. “We are fully confident that his experience and dedication would help the NAC gain a new height in the future,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Sherpa thanked the Altitude Air family for their warm wishes and also expressed his commitment to taking the national flag carrier to a new height. “Being on the board committee, I will try my best to improve the managerial and functional capacities of the national flag carrier,” he said.

Board members including Jiban Ghimire, Mingma Gelu Sherpa, Jyoti Adhikari, Ram Prasad Sapkota, and captain Sobit Gauchan among others were present at the event.

Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai appointed Sherpa and Prakash Poudel on the board committee of NAC on June 28.

Tourism entrepreneur Sherpa had earlier worked as a member of executive committee of Nepal Tourism Board. He has also worked as a former general secretary of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal.

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Categorie: Nepal

Abrupt prorogation of House unfortunate: Nepali Congress

The Himalayan Times - 4 ore 28 min fa

KATHMANDU: In the wake of recent political developments, main opposition party Nepali Congress has said that it is seriously observing the sudden decision forwarded by the government to end the ongoing Parliamentary session.

‘The move made by the government to abruptly end the session without prior notification to or consultation with the main opposition party is unfortunate,” NC said in a statement issued today.

Read: President prorogues ongoing House session on recommendation of the government

“There are established procedures to summon and end Parliamentary sessions. Prorogation of house without reaching a decision on important pending bills, and that too without following procedures is unfortunate.”

NC, expressing dissent, further stated that ruling party’s internal disputes affecting parliamentary procedures, that too at a time when the country is grappling with a global pandemic, is condemnable.

“People’s lives or politics for power – which is of prior value?”, Party’s spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma questioned PM KP Sharma Oli in the statement.

 

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Categorie: Nepal

Kathmandu reports a big jump in number of daily cases, Valley’s COVID-19 tally hits 154

The Himalayan Times - 5 ore 22 min fa

KATHMANDU: Kathmandu valley’s coronavirus-infection tally has been on a gradual rise since the daily case figures entered double-digits for the first time on Tuesday.

The valley reported 32 cases in the last 24 hours, making it the highest single-day case count, yet. Of the newly detected cases, 28 cases (17 female, 11 male) were reported in Kathmandu, while two cases each (all of them males) were recorded in Bhaktapur and Lalitpur.

As of today, 154 cases have been reported in the three districts.

On Wednesday, 17 new cases were added to the tally while 14 cases were detected on Tuesday.

With this, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Kathmandu has climbed to 109 while Bhaktapur has seen 28 cases. Likewise, Lalitpur has reported 18 cases as of today.

473 cases were added to the national coronavirus-infection tally on Wednesday taking the total number of cases to 14519. In grim milestone, Nepal logged the 31st Covid-19 fatality, that of an infant, today.

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Categorie: Nepal

Nationwide tally hits 14,519 with 473 new coronavirus cases on Thursday

The Himalayan Times - 5 ore 57 min fa

KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Health and Population has recorded 473 new cases of the coronavirus infection on Thursday taking the country’s total infection count to 14,519.

Of the newly infected, 364 are males and 109 females. In total, 12,636 males and 1,883 females have contracted the disease.

In the last 24 hours, 664 people have been discharged from health facilities following recovery, taking the total cases to recovery to 5,320.

Meanwhile, yet another COVID-19 fatality has been confirmed by the Ministry, which has taken the total death-toll from the disease to 31.

On Wednesday, the Ministry reported 482 new cases of coronavirus-infection with which the country’s COVID-19 tally hit 14,046.

COVID-19 has spread to all 77 districts of the country.

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Categorie: Nepal

Australian scientists discover ancient underwater Aboriginal sites

The Himalayan Times - 6 ore 50 min fa

SYDNEY: Australia’s first underwater archaeological sites off its west coast dating to more than 7,000 years ago will help with the understanding of the cultural and technology development of its first peoples, scientists said Thursday.

Archaeologists in Western Australia discovered hundreds of stone tools made by aboriginal people when the seabed was dry, at two ancient sites now submerged in the Dampier Archipelago.

While the region is well known for its rich ancient history and its rock-art carvings, the two sites are the first confirmed underwater locations holding evidence of human civilization on Australia’s continental shelf.

“The future work that we will be doing is … to look at the skill, the technology, how they made these tools, to see if they represent a different cultural approach to tool making that we haven’t yet identified in Australia,” marine geoscientist Mick O’Leary, a co-director of the project, told Reuters.

Divers from Flinders University plunge into the water on the Pilbara Coast to retrieve the aboriginal objects from what was once dry land, at a depth of between 2.4 metres and 11 metres (8-36 feet).

They have found cutting and grinding tools and hammer stones that date back thousands of years, said archaeologist Jonathan Benjamin, leader of the project.

“You can start to recreate what the people were doing and how they were making their life way in their economy,” Benjamin said.

Data from the find is being analysed for precise dating, however radiocarbon dating and analysis of sea-level changes show the site is at least 7,000 years old.

Benjamin said the vast majority of artefacts remain on the seabed. The ones taken have been scanned for further research and then handed to the indigenous land owners, the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation.

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Categorie: Nepal

After PM Oli, ruling NCP’s co-chair Dahal meets President Bhandari

The Himalayan Times - 7 ore 12 min fa

KATHMANDU: Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP)’s co-chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal has visited President Bidya Devi Bhandari following the latter’s seal of approval to government’s proposal to prorogue ongoing House session.

‘Interesting’ political developments have been unfolding on Thursday which began with the Prime Minister and ruling party chair KP Sharma Oli’s morning visit to Sheetal Niwas, the President’s official residence, what can now be understood as, to brief the President about the government’s decision.

The party’s standing committee meeting which was scheduled for 11:00 am could not take off at the slated time as the PM was in a meeting with the President at the time. The meeting was later cut-short after a while of commencement as the Prime Minister had summoned another meeting, that of the Council of Ministers, at noon.

NCP Co-chair Dahal, upon learning of the government decision to recommend prorogation of parliament, decided to end the meeting and discuss the developments with PM Oli, a source said.

Dahal later headed to Sheetal Niwas to hold discussions with the President regarding the recent developments.

The ruling party is in a conundrum of sorts given the mounting tensions within, as top-rung leaders recently asked the PM to step down from his post given the government’s failure to deliver, and inefficient handling of the crisis.

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Categorie: Nepal

Meghan felt ‘unprotected’ by UK royal family while pregnant: court papers

The Himalayan Times - 7 ore 17 min fa

LONDON: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, felt “unprotected” by the British royal family while she was pregnant with her son Archie, according to London High Court documents filed as part of her legal action against a tabloid newspaper.

Meghan, wife of Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry, is suing publisher Associated Newspapers over articles its Mail on Sunday newspaper printed last year which included parts of a handwritten letter she had sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.

Markle and his daughter have not spoken since he pulled out of appearing at her wedding to Harry in May 2018 after undergoing heart surgery and following news he had staged photos with a paparazzi photographer.

The Mail justified publishing the letter by saying five unnamed friends of Meghan, who gave birth to Archie in May 2019, had put her version of events in interviews with the U.S. magazine People.

Her legal team say it was untrue she had authorised or arranged for her friends to tell People about the letter.

“The Claimant had become the subject of a large number of false and damaging articles by the UK tabloid media, specifically by the Defendant, which caused tremendous emotional distress and damage to her mental health,” her lawyers said in a submission to the High Court.

“As her friends had never seen her in this state before, they were rightly concerned for her welfare, specifically as she was pregnant, unprotected by the Institution, and prohibited from defending herself.”

The couple are now living in Los Angeles after stepping down from royal duties at the end of March. Harry said he had fallen out with his elder brother, Prince William, and Meghan has spoken of a lack of support when pregnant and as a new mother.

They have also said media intrusion, and what they believe are some newspapers’ racist coverage towards Meghan, whose mother is African-American and father is white, were behind their decision.

The trial for Meghan’s case is not expected this year. But in May, the judge rejected part of her claim that the paper had acted dishonestly and stoked the rift with her father.

On Wednesday, Harry said he regretted racism was “still endemic” in society in comments for The Diana Award, established in memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in 1997 while fleeing paparazzi.

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Categorie: Nepal

How to rid East Africa of locusts? Serve them in a kebab or drive them to cannibalism

The Himalayan Times - 7 ore 23 min fa

NAIROBI: Eat them, poison them, and use scent to drive them to cannibalism – as a second wave of locusts threatens to devour East Africa‘s crops, scientists in a Nairobi lab are experimenting with novel ways to kill them.

Swarms are the worst for three generations, encouraged by unseasonably wet weather and dispersed by a record number of cyclones. The destructive pests could cost East Africa and Yemen $8.5 billion this year, the World Bank has said.

Locusts are usually controlled by spraying them with pesticides before they can fly, but the chemicals can damage other insects and the environment.

So scientists at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) are experimenting with biopesticides and the use of locusts as human and animal food as they look for environmentally-friendly extermination methods.

ICIPE researchers were a part of a group that discovered an isolate from a fungus, Metharizium acridum, could kill locusts without harming other creatures. The isolate is now being used across East Africa.

Now researchers are pouring through 500 other fungi and microbes in their bio bank in the hope of discovering another locust poison.

ICIPE scientist Baldwyn Torto’s research has mostly focused on locust smells and pheromones.

Before locusts can fly they have a certain chemistry and therefore a unique smell that allows them to remain in a group, he said. That smell changes as locusts mature.

Disseminating the scent of an adult among the young can help destroy swarms.

“They get disoriented, the group breaks into pieces, they cannibalize each other and they become even more susceptible to biopesticides,” he said.

A lower-tech, but still environmentally-friendly way of combating locusts is eating them.

ICIPE is developing nets and backpack-vacuums to capture large numbers of locusts. The protein-rich insects can then be cooked or crushed into meal or oil suitable for animal feed or human consumption. ICIPE organizes regular events to normalize the consumption of insects.

Researcher Chrysantus Tanga eats the insects himself. In the ICIPE cafe, the heads, legs and wings have been removed.

“They have to make it presentable for a first-timer,” Tanga said motioning towards colourful plates of locust-based meals prepared by ICIPE chefs, ranging from deep fried with tartar sauce, to skewered among vegetables in a kebab.

“For me, I’ll eat 100% of it… whatever is crunchy.”

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Categorie: Nepal

Dangerous lightning kills four in Bara; injures 10 others

The Himalayan Times - 7 ore 26 min fa

BARA: As many as four persons have lost their lives while 10 others have been injured due to a lightning strike early Thursday morning, in Bara district. All of the deceased are women.

Two of the four — Aasha Devi Mahato (35) and Halika Khatun (45) — were residents of Sitalpur, Kalaiya Sub Metropolitan City-12. They were working at the field. While two others — Indu Devi Mahato (30) and Sunarpati Dev Mahato (40) — were from Tribeni, Pheta Rural Municipality-1.

Indu and Sunarpati were at their homes while the lightning struck and they were killed on the spot, informed Chief District Officer Rudra Prasad Pandit.

Among the injured, two are from wards 10 and 12 of Kalaiya, seven from Pheta, and one from Subarna Rural Municipality, informed Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Gautam Mishra.

One of the injured is critical while condition of the remaining persons are normal, said DSP Mishra.

According to Bara Police, the injured people are receiving treatment at Kalaiya Hospital and Narayani Hospital, Birgunj.

Bodies of the deceased have been brought to Kalaiya Hospital for post mortem.

CDO Pandit has grieved over the loss of lives and advised people to stay alert during such times.

Meanwhile, Pheta Rural Municipality has decided to provide financial support to the families of the deceased. Chief of rural municipality said that the families will be provided with Rs 50,000 each.

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Categorie: Nepal