Global wildlife populations down by half since 1970

The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles fell overall by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, far faster than previously thought, the World Wildlife Fund said on Tuesday.

The conservation group's Living Planet Report, published every two years, said humankind's demands were now 50 percent more than nature can bear, with trees being felled, groundwater pumped and carbon dioxide emitted faster than Earth can recover.

"This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live," Ken Norris, director of science at the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement.

However, there was still hope if politicians and businesses took the right action to protect nature, the report said.

"It is essential that we seize the opportunity – while we still can – to develop sustainably and create a future where people can live and prosper in harmony with nature,” said WWF international director General Marco Lambertini.

Preserving nature was not just about protecting wild places but also about safeguarding the future of humanity, "indeed, our very survival," he said.

The report's finding on the populations of vertebrate wildlife found that the biggest declines were in tropical regions, especially Latin America.

The WWF's so-called Living Planet Index is based on trends in 10,380 populations of 3,038 mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish species.

The average 52 percent decline was much bigger than previously reported, partly because earlier studies had relied more on readily available information from North America and Europe, WWF said. The same report two years ago put the decline at 28 percent between 1970 and 2008.

The worst decline was among populations of freshwater species, which fell by 76 percent over the four decades to 2010, while marine and terrestrial numbers both fell by 39 percent.


Photos: Reuters

ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT

The main reasons for declining populations were the loss of natural habitats, exploitation through hunting or fishing, and climate change.

"Given the pace and scale of change, we can no longer exclude the possibility of reaching critical tipping points that could abruptly and irreversibly change living conditions on Earth," the report said. - Reuters

UK man jailed for 18 weeks for trolling MP via Twitter

A man in the UK was jailed for 18 weeks on Monday for a campaign of rape threats and other abuse that he carried out on Twitter against a Member of Parliament.

Keyboard warriors, Internet trolls, think twice before you post a vile comment. You're not as safe behind your computer screens as you think.

A man in the UK was jailed for 18 weeks on Monday for a campaign of rape threats and other abuse that he carried out on Twitter against a Member of Parliament.

Among the tweets was one discussing the "best way to rape a witch". 

Peter Nunn, 33, also wrote: “If you can’t threaten to rape a celebrity, what is the point in having them?”

Widespread Twitter abuse

The part-time delivery driver targeted opposition Labour MP Stella Creasy in July and August last year after she backed a campaign to put author Jane Austen on the £10 British banknote.

Creasy and feminist Caroline Criado-Perez, who led the campaign, said they were terrified after being subjected to widespread Twitter abuse for their views.

Nunn denied a charge of sending indecent, obscene or menacing messages, but was found guilty earlier this month.

He had claimed he sent the messages to exercise his right to freedom of speech and to “satirise” the issue of online trolling, and declared himself in his trial to be a feminist.

'Distress and fear'

Judge Elizabeth Roscoe said his behaviour was “entirely unacceptable", and imposed a restraining order banning him from contact with either Ms Creasy or Ms Criado-Perez.

Ms Creasy welcomed his sentencing as “a step forward in recognising the distress and fear online harassment can cause", but urged better training for police to ensure they identified the risks of online “trolls”.

Ms Criado-Perez wrote on a blog: "This man made me fear for my life as no-one ever has before. I felt he was a clear and present threat to me."

"He made me scared to go outside, to appear in public. He stopped me being able to sleep; being able to work. He seemed obsessed enough to carry out his threats."

Source: AFP

Actor Tracy Morgan was not wearing seat belt in crash, Wal-Mart says

Tracy Morgan.

Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by a Wal-Mart truck in a June highway accident, the retailer said on Monday.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc made its contention in a court filing responding to a lawsuit by Morgan and three other plaintiffs over the crash on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Known for his work on NBC’s “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live,” Morgan spent several weeks in rehabilitation following the June 7 accident, which killed his friend and fellow comedian James McNair.

Walmart: Injuries caused by failure to wear seatbelts

In its filing, Wal-Mart said the injuries suffered by surviving passengers were caused in whole or in part by their "failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device.”

Wal-Mart said that by failing to use seat belts, the passengers “upon information and belief, acted unreasonably and in disregard” of their best interests.

Other plaintiffs include comedian Ardley Fuqua Jr, Morgan’s assistant Jeffrey Millea and Millea’s wife, Krista Millea.

“It’s not a defence. They’re trying to mitigate their damages,” Benedict Morelli, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview.

“Any time a lawyer says ‘upon information and belief,’ it means they don’t know,” he added.

“Maybe they want to play hardball. If so, I’m ready.” - Benedict Morelli, a lawyer for the plaintiffs

Screengrab CNN

Driver had been awake 24 hours

In their July 10 lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that Wal-Mart knew or should have known its truck driver, Kevin Roper, had been awake for more than 24 hours before the crash, which under the law meant he should not have been on the road.

Federal investigators have said Roper was driving roughly 20 miles per hour (32 kmh) over the speed limit just before the crash.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the company remains “willing to work with Mr. Morgan and the other plaintiffs” to resolve the lawsuit.

Wal-Mart has said it was sorry that one of its trucks was involved.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer declined in its filing to address many of the plaintiffs’ claims, citing a pending probe by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Roper has been charged with vehicular homicide and assault-by-auto and pleaded not guilty. - Reuters

Related reports:  Comedian Tracy Morgan struggling to recover after deadly accident

                              Tracy Morgan looking good in first sighting after accident

                              Comedian Tracy Morgan in better condition

                              Actor Tracy Morgan critically injured after fatal car crash

Look: China blocks Instagram but HK protesters still posting photos and videos

Pro-democracy demonstrators gather in front of the Mandarin hotel during a protest in the Central district of Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy demonstrators gather in front of the Mandarin hotel during a protest in the Central district of Hong Kong.

Unlike Sunday evening where Hong Kong protesters clashed with riot police over their use of tear gas and pepper spray, Monday's protests were comparably more peaceful.

Riot police have stood down.

Yet, many more demonstrators have since joined the protests - considered to be the biggest challenge to Beijing since the 1989 Tiananmen protests.

But it must be noted that they have come together to take part in mostly peaceful sit-in protests and and mass sing-a longs and chanting.

Here are some of the best Instagram photos and videos from Hong Kong demonstrators.

Sunday's protests were chaotic because of the surprise use of tear gas. Below is a video of demonstrators caught off-guard by the force and run away, screaming.

 

 

 

On Monday however, protests became peaceful again with sit-in chanting and sing-a-longs.

 

Protesters have been urging Hong Kong's chief executive Leung Chun-ying to join them on the protest stage and have a dialogue with the students.

 

Even supporters of democracy need some rest. They are resting for another day of protests ahead. 

Streets and traffic continue to be blocked by the protesters and there is no sign of the protests quelling anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

 

After the umbrella became an indispensable weapon for supporters against riot police's use of tear gas and pepper spray, it quickly became the symbol of the protest with many coining it "Umbrella revolution".

 

 

While force is not longer being used, the number of protesters appears to be growing.

 

 

It was reported that supporters, after seeing police using force on unarmed students and activists, brought food, bottled water and medical equipment for the protesters. Here, supplies pile up on the sidewalks.

 

Related reports: Hong Kong police used tear gas on protesters 87 times; China blocks Instagram

                              ​HK police surprise protesters with tear gas

Source: Reuters, LA Times, Geofeedia

Diplomat opens fire at Ethiopian Embassy protest in US

The U.S. Secret Service detained a possible shooter after a report that shots were fired on Monday near the Ethiopian embassy in Washington.
The U.S. Secret Service detained a possible shooter after a report that shots were fired on Monday near the Ethiopian embassy in Washington.

A gunman opened fire during a protest on the Ethiopian Embassy grounds in Washington on Monday, but no injuries were reported.

A spokesman for the US Secret Service said it had detained a possible shooter after a report at about 12.15 pm EDT  (12.15am Tuesday Singapore time) that shots were fired near the embassy in northwest Washington, DC. 

It was later revealed that the man had diplomatic immunity.

Witnesses said the gunfire took place inside the embassy compound during a protest against the Horn of Africa nation's government.

"About half a block from the embassy, I heard at least four shots, and I thought there were people killed," demonstrator Tesfa Simagne told Reuters Television.

 

 

A video taken inside the embassy gates and carried by the website of Ethiopian Satellite Television shows a man wearing a dark suit and brandishing a silver handgun.

He points the weapon at others who argue with him and fires a single shot.

Still waving the gun and arguing with protesters, the man backs up to an embassy door and goes inside.

A separate video made by a protester and provided to Reuters showed a bullet hole in the windshield of a car protesters said was outside the embassy gates.


Photos: Reuters, YouTube

A State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said that no one was hurt.

The person believed to have fired the shots turned himself in to the authorities, and no arrests were made because he has diplomatic immunity, the official said.

Repeated phone calls to the embassy went unanswered. - Reuters

Stoke beat Newcastle to heap pressure on Pardew

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is under pressure after losing to Stoke City.
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is under pressure after losing to Stoke City.

An early Peter Crouch goal gave Stoke City a 1-0 home win against Newcastle United in the Premier League on Monday to pile more pressure onto beleaguered Toon boss Alan Pardew.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley had played down comments he made last week that Pardew would have to go if he lost at Stoke, but the home fans still tormented the manager with chants of “sacked in the morning’ ringing out at the Britannia Stadium.

 Newcastle United fans hold "Sack Pardew" posters before the their English Premier League soccer match against Stoke City. Photo: Reuters

Towering striker Crouch rose highest to nod Victor Moses’s cross into the top corner of the visitor’s goal and give Stoke the lead after 15 minutes.

 Stoke City's Peter Crouch (C) celebrates after scoring a goal against Newscastle.
Stoke City's Peter Crouch (C) celebrates after scoring a goal against Newcastle. Photo: Reuters

Pardew’s team rarely offered any encouragement to their manager but looked liked they might snatch a draw six minutes from time when the ball dropped to midfielder Jack Colback in front of the Stoke goal.

He squandered the chance, firing against the bar in an inexplicable miss that typified Newcastle’s miserable start to the season.

They are second from bottom in the league table with three points and without a win from their opening six games.

“I think we’ll have some serious conversations before Saturday because he (Ashley) doesn’t want to lose and neither do I,” Pardew told Sky Sports.

 

“I’m here to lead the team. I’ve never a really been in this situation before but I’m a football manager, that’s what I do and will continue to do. It’s slight margins in the game but another defeat. We can’t keep getting beat and we’ll have to address that.”

NO RESPITE

Pardew is the league’s second longest-serving current manager but there was no respite from the criticism on Monday, with the visiting fans most vocal while displaying banners calling for him to be fired.

The Stoke players looked much more determined to answer their own critics after a shaky start to their campaign, with just one win from their opening five games.

Nigeria winger Moses’s direct running threatened throughout the game and after creating Crouch’s goal was unlucky not to win a penalty seven minutes later when Newcastle midfielder Yoan Gouffran barged Moses down as he surged into the box.

Despite looking continually vulnerable to the counter attack the visitors nearly equalised against the run of play just before half time but Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic pulled off a brilliant save to deny full back Daryl Janmaat.

Marko Arnautovic nearly added to Stoke’s lead when his volley struck the far post four minutes after the break.

The visitors offered a brief fight back in the final 10 minutes with substitute Gabriel Obertan causing Stoke problems down the wing.

The victory was Stoke’s first home win this season and moved Mark Hughes’ side six places up to 11th on eight points.

“We deserved the win on balance of play. In terms of chances created we always looked a threat when we broke quickly with pace,” Hughes told BBC radio. - Reuters

“I wish Alan Pardew well. It’s not easy, I’ve been in that situation. All you can do is work hard and he will be working with his staff to turn things around.”  - Stoke manager Mark Hughes

 

Zlatan to miss Barca visit

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out of PSG's Champions League clash against Barcelona due to injury.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out of PSG's Champions League clash against Barcelona due to injury.

Paris Saint-Germain captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out from Wednesday's morning Champions League clash against former club Barcelona due to injury.

A statement from the French champions read: "As the different tests carried out this morning on the problem with his left heel were not satisfactory, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out of the match against Barcelona."

Ibrahimovic's absence is a major blow for PSG, who struggled in a 1-1 draw against Tolouse on Saturday without the talismanic Swede, who played one season for Barca after joining them in 2009 from Inter Milan.

However, the striker failed to see eye-to-eye with then-coach Pep Guardiola and was shipped out on loan in 2010 to AC Milan before sealing a permanent move there.

Prepared

While PSG have been put under pressure to get points off Barca following their opening 1-1 draw with Ajax - another former club of Ibrahimovic - in Group F two weeks ago, coach Laurent Blanc believes his side have enough firepower to cope against the Catalans.

The former French international defender said: "This morning he was having treatment but in truth I had already started to prepare for this game knowing that he probably wouldn't be there.

"It certainly won't be easy, we know that. Last year we played difficult games without Ibra.

"We have other attacking players of great quality and we will need to compensate for his absence by producing an even better team performance."

Source: AFP

Amanda Bynes in trouble again after she is arrested for driving under influence of drugs

Amanda Bynes was arrested after highway patrol found her to be driving under the influence of drugs.
Amanda Bynes was arrested after highway patrol found her to be driving under the influence of drugs.

After evading headlines for more than a year, former teen star Amanda Bynes is at it again.

The 28-year-old troubled star was arrested over the weekend on a misdemeanour charge of driving under the influence of drugs in Los Angeles.

The California Highway Patrol did not say what drugs Bynes was suspected of using. But they added that Bynes was arrested "based on the observed driving and her evaluation."

Bynes, who had her own Nickelodeon show when she was just 13, was in her Mercedes-Benz sport-utility vehicle when she was stopped in the middle of an intersection in Los Angeles.

According to the arrest report, Bynes appeared dishevelled at the time of the traffic stop.

The actress was released from jail on Sunday after posting US$15,000 (S$19,112) bail.

Frequent legal troubles

Bynes was first arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2012 and was placed on three years probation.

Following a series of subsequent legal troubles that included driving-related arrests, she was placed in psychiatric care in 2013 after she set a smal fire in her parent's neighbour's driveway.

She also seeked treatment at a rehab facility and was released after six months in December last year.

It was reported that she had been making great improvements to her life and even enrolled at the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. 

Source: Reuters, E Online

Related report: Bong-throwing case against actress Amanda Bynes dismissed 

THE JUDGES

Premium content not available

Wet, wild and winning

FUN: Mr Lim Yaohui's photo of children playing with water guns during the Songkran festival at Golden Mile Complex is last week's winner.
Premium content not available

Pages