Sunday, October 26, 2014

Beggars Sink To A New Low In China

Photographs of a maimed camel have sparked uproar on social media in China after suggestions that beggars had cut the animal’s hooves off to elicit cash donations.

Two beggars were photographed kneeling in front of the skinny camel, holding it by the reins as it crawled along the road in Foshan, Guangdong province.  The microblogger who originally uploaded the photos said the “camel’s limbs are maimed” and suggested the injuries were sustained in a deliberate act by the beggars.

The posting quickly went viral on China’s biggest social networking site with many posters condemning the beggars’ alleged cruelty and others expressing sympathy for the animal.

Nuerjiang Maidier, an associate professor from Xinjiang Agricultural University, who studies camel rearing, said the lower parts of the camel’s four limbs had been cut off.  “The operations it seems were carried out by a veterinarian,” Nuerjiang said after viewing the photos. “This is so brutal,” he said.

The two men in the latest incident were reported begging on a street in Fuzhou, Fujian province, around six months ago. News reports at that time cited local police as saying the camel’s hooves were missing and suspected it was a result of amputation.

Though wild camels are listed as one of China’s first-class nationally protected animals, those belonging to beggars are often identified as domestic camels, thus they are not protected by law.  China’s animal protection laws only cover wild animals that are considered endangered species, or animals of scientific use.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chinese Get In Shape To Throw Their Health Away

Thousands of runners have took part in the 34th Beijing International Marathon, many wearing face masks amid concerns about pollution.

The organizers warned runners to expect slight or moderate smog, but the U.S. embassy in Beijing said air quality early on the day of the race was "hazardous".  One resident in the city told reporters that the air smelt like burnt coal.

 The World Health Organization says daily pollution levels should not exceed an average of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of fine particulate matter.  The U.S. embassy's monitor reported peaks of up to 400 micrograms per cubic meter on the day of the race, which would be hazardous if a human was exposed to it over a 24-hour period.

Some athletes gave up the race altogether because of the pollution.  British runner Chas Pope tweeted that he was only able to do 10km (6 miles) of the race in a pollution mask before he was forced to pull out.  He said that race should have been cancelled because the air quality was "not suitable for outdoor activities".

Beijing resident Neil Holt told reporters that although the air quality was better than last year, it was still very polluted.  "You can hardly see [the stadium] through the smog. It's really hard to breathe when it is like this," he said.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Northern White Rhinos A Step Closer To Extinction

A Czech zoo says a 34-year-old northern white rhinoceros has died in Kenya, further reducing the world's dwindling population of the critically endangered animal.

Suni was born at the zoo in Dvur Kralove in June 1980. The zoo says Suni was found dead on October 17 in the Ol Pejeta animal sanctuary. The cause of death wasn't immediately clear, but the zoo has ruled out death by poachers.  He was one of the four northern white rhinos that the Czech zoo moved to Africa in December 2009 in an attempt to save the species from extinction. The zoo hoped it could be easier for them to breed at the conservancy in Kenya rather than in captivity.

Poachers had originally reduced the population or northern white rhinos from 500 to 15 by the end of the1980's.   From the early 1990s through mid-2003, the population recovered to almost three dozen animals.  But since then,  poaching intensified and reduced the wild population to only four animals as of 2005.  Ground and aerial surveys conducted in August of that year found only four animals-- a solitary adult male and a group of one adult male and two adult females.   In June 2008, it was concluded that the species had likely gone extinct in the wild, since none of these four known remaining animals had been seen in the previous two years.

There are now six remaining northern white rhinoceros on the planet-- all living in captivity.  San Diego has two animals-- a non-breeding pair: Angalifu (male) and Nola (female), and the Dvur Kralove zoo has a 30-year old female named Nabire.  The remaining three animals-- Sudan(male), Najin (female) and Fatu (female, and the last to be born in captivity in 2000)-- survive at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

With Allies Like Saudi Arabia, Who Needs ISIS?

Since January of this year, 59 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia under the country's antiquated legal system based primarily around sharia law.  In September alone, Saudi Arabia beheaded at least 8 people—twice the number of Western hostages featured in ISIS' barbaric execution videos.

In August those executed in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to death for crimes such as adultery, "sorcery," and leaving the Islam religion.  In one case, four members of the same family were executed for "receiving large quantities of hashish," a sentence imposed  on the basis of "forced confessions extracted through torture."  The executions of people accused of petty crimes and on the basis of 'confessions' extracted through torture has become shamefully common in Saudi Arabia," according to Amnesty International's Said Boumedouha.

Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said that "beheadings as a form of execution is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and prohibited under international law under all circumstances."  But Saudi Arabia has oil and is the ally of the U.S. . . . in the meantime, ISIS pales in comparison but still garners infinitely more outrage.


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