The Miami Heat are bringing back some fans, with help from some dogs.
The Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs at AmericanAirlines Arena to screen fans who want to attend their games. They’ve been working on the plan for months, and the highly trained dogs have been in place for some games this season where the team has allowed a handful of guests — mostly friends and family of players and staff.
Started this week, a limited number of ticket holders will be in the seats as well, provided they get past the dogs first.
“If you think about it, detection dogs are not new,” said Matthew Jafarian, the Heat’s executive vice president for business strategy. “You’ve seen them in airports, they’ve been used in mission critical situations by the police and the military. We’ve used them at the arena for years to detect explosives.”
The Heat have sold out 451 consecutive games, the sixth-longest streak in NBA history. Sellouts obviously aren’t happening this year. The Heat will keep attendance under 2,000 for now, or less than 10% of the arena’s typical capacity.
The coronavirus-sniffing dog idea has been put into place at airports in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Helsinki, Finland, in recent months. At Heat games, fans arriving for the game will be brought to a screening area and the detection dogs will walk past. If the dog keeps going, the fan is cleared; if the dog sits, that’s a sign it detects the virus and the fan will be denied entry.
Other protocols the Heat will use: A health screening questionnaire will be mandatory for all guests, masks must be worn continually and only soda and water will be sold. All transactions will be cashless and if a fan feels ill during a game, isolation rooms will be available.
And if a fan is allergic to or afraid of dogs, the Heat are offering an option to skip the dog screening and submit to a rapid antigen test instead. The Heat say those tests can be processed in less than 45 minutes.
Dogs have a superior sense of smell, which is why they’re often used by law enforcement to find everything from drugs to bombs to missing people. Medical researchers have long reaped the benefit of canine sniffing, training some dogs to detect when a human is dealing with things like too much stress, too little blood sugar and even certain cancers.
“Researchers are finding that specially trained dogs can detect COVID on humans quickly and accurately,” Jafarian said.
The last known female Swinhoe's softshell turtle—the most endangered turtle species in the world—died in April 2019, leaving the last known male without a mate and the species headed for extinction, reports Harry Baker for Live Science. In a positive turn of events, researchers discovered a wild female in Dong Mo Lake in Vietnam last October, offering a glimmer of hope for saving the species.
Swinhoe’s softshell turtles, also known as the Hoan Kiem turtle or Yangtze giant softshell turtle, were pushed to the brink of extinction by habitat destruction and by hunters who sought the turtles' meat and eggs. As a result, the government legally protected the species in 2013, reports the Guardian's Damian Carrington.
While monitoring the lake, the team of conservationists managed to capture the nearly 190-pound giant, examine her, collecte blood samples and insert a microchip. To their relief, she was in great shape, and they later released her back into the lake that day, according to a press release.
"In a year full of bad news and sadness across the globe, the discovery of this female can offer all some hope that this species will be given another chance to survive," Hoang Bich Thuy, the country director for the Wildlife Conservation Society Vietnam, says in the press release.
The team spent weeks monitoring the lake, hoping to find a Swinhoe's softshell turtle—and their efforts paid off. Not only did they discover and capture the female, but they also spotted a second, larger turtle in the same lake, which they believe is a male. Plus, they suspect a third turtle may lurk in the nearby Xuan Khanh lake, reports the Guardian.
"Once we know the sex of the animals in Vietnam, we can make a clear plan on the next steps, hopefully we have a male [and a] female, in which case breeding and recovery of the species becomes a real possibility," Timothy McCormack, the program director of the Asian Turtle Program of Indo-Myanmar Conservation, says in the press release.
There had been previous efforts to breed the last remaining male, who lives at the Suzhou Zoo in China, with the last female. They had been together since 2008 but never produced offspring naturally, so conservationists attempted to artificially inseminate the female in 2019. Both turtles were deemed healthy for the procedure, but the female died of complications, bringing breeding efforts to a screeching halt, the Indo-Asian News Service reports.
"This is the best news of the year, and quite possibly the last decade, for global turtle conservation," Andrew Walde, the chief operating officer of the Turtle Survival Alliance, says in the press release. "As the most endangered turtle on Earth, a tremendous amount of energy and resources have been dedicated to the preservation of Swinhoe’s softshell turtle. Following the loss of the only known female at the time in 2019, the confirmation of this wild specimen as female is a cause for celebration for all those who have worked tirelessly to see this turtle species survive."
An elephant was burned alive after thugs set it on fire when it approached a private resort in southern India.
Two men have been arrested and a third is wanted, after they allegedly threw burning rags at the elephant, with the disturbing scenes being captured on video.
Police have said an investigation has been launched into the attack, that occurred in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu in southern India.
It took place near a private resort, where a group described as 'miscreants' tried to shoo the elephant away that was in the middle of a street by throwing burning cloth.
As a video showed, recorded from a balcony of a nearby house, the fire catches on the right side of the elephant before it runs towards the jungle, trumpeting in pain.
Within moments, the panicked elephant disappears into the wilderness, but the fire can still be seen burning bright through the darkness.
People can be heard shouting in the video, although it is unclear if they are shouting because the elephant is on fire, or in an attempt to shoo it away.
Tragically, the 40-year-old elephant suffered serious burn injuries near its ears and died on Tuesday while it was being transported on its way for treatment by officials.
It was reportedly found by forest rangers in a very weak condition, and was being transported to an elephant sanctuary when it died.
Two people, identified as Prasath and Raymond Dean, both natives to Mavanallah, were taken into custody.
A further man, identified as Ricky Rayan, is also involved in the case but out of town and the police are trying to locate him and make an arrest.
Asian elephants have been listed as endangered since 1986, with the wild population having decreased by an estimated 50 percent since the 1930s and 1940s.
The estimated 27,000 - 31,000 elephants in India are threatened by loss of their habitat, environmental degradation and habitat fragmentation.
With over 80 percent of India's population being Hindu - a religion that considers elephants a sacred animal - the news of the attack is likely to spark outrage.
Elephants are seen as the living incarnation of one of their most important gods, called Ganesh, an elephant-headed deity.
Franchise Group Inc. announced plans to acquire Pet Supplies Plus for $700 million.
The group (NASDAQ: FRG) is buying Pet Supplies Plus, a retail chain and franchisor of pet supplies and services, from affiliates of Sentinel Capital Partners in an all-cash transaction. The deal is expected to close in March.
Founded more than 30 years ago, Pet Supplies Plus is “a mature and rapidly growing pet industry franchisor with a footprint of more than 500 locations, of which almost 60 percent are franchised,” according to a press release announcing the acquisition. It’s described as “the leading franchisor in the pet industry, with superior unit economics and a turnkey franchise system driving a backlog of more than 185 new stores in various stages of development nationwide.”
“We look forward to welcoming Pet Supplies Plus, its management team, employees, franchisees and neighbors to Franchise Group when this Transaction closes,” said Brian Kahn, president and CEO of Franchise Group. “PSP adds another franchise concept with strong unit economics, diversification into an economically resilient and secularly growing pet industry, and a brand that has and will continue to experience robust unit expansion from its franchise system. The additional scale and diversification that PSP will afford Franchise Group is expected to immediately lead to lower costs of capital and expanded free cash flow generation. We look forward to partnering with PSP’s outstanding and long tenured management team to accelerate their already ambitious expansion plans while leveraging Franchise Group’s best practice functions to drive incremental efficiencies.”
Franchise Group’s other business lines include Liberty Tax Service, Buddy’s Home Furnishings, American Freight and The Vitamin Shoppe.
Now, they believe it would have been less like an otter, and more like a huge, flightless stork or heron.
Rather than hunting fish in the water, the massive dinosaur would have likely caught prey out of the water from a position on the shoreline, researchers from Queen Mary University of London and the University of Maryland found in a study published Tuesday.
Spinosaurs were a group of large-bodied theropods that were bigger than both Tyrannosaurus rex and Giganotosaurus, growing to around 15 meters (49.2 feet) in length. These dinos lived during the Cretaceous period -- between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago.
The study compared Spinosaurus fossils with skulls and skeletons of dinosaurs and reptiles that lived both in and out of the water, concluding that a wading, heronlike behavior was the most likely.
Spinosaurus material has been recovered in modern-day Egypt and Morocco.
This behavior has been debated since the Spinosaurus was first discovered in 1915.
"Some recent studies have suggested that it was actively chasing fish in water but while they could swim, they would not have been fast or efficient enough to do this effectively," lead study author David Hone, senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, said in a news statement.
"Our findings suggest that the wading idea is much better supported, even if it is slightly less exciting."
Spinosaurus has proven hard to understand because it's "a bizarre animal even by dinosaur standards, and unlike anything alive today," said study coauthor Tom Holtz, a paleontologist and principal lecturer at the University of Maryland's department of geology, in a statement.
"We sought to use what evidence we have to best approximate its way of life. And what we found did not match the attributes one would expect in an aquatic pursuit predator in the manner of an otter, sea lion, or short-necked plesiosaur."
The researchers compared Spinosaurus to crocodiles in order to illustrate its relatively poor adaptation to aquatic life.
Crocodiles are excellent in water compared to land animals, Hone said, but they can't actively chase fish.
"If Spinosaurus had fewer muscles on the tail, less efficiency and more drag then it's hard to see how these dinosaurs could be chasing fish in a way that crocodiles cannot," Hone said.
There remains a lot to learn about Spinosaurus, said Hone, who explained that there is a lack of good fossils.
There is still some debate as to whether there were distinct species of Spinosaurus that preferred different environments, or a single species that adapted, Hone told CNN.
The best way to start solving some of these mysteries is to carry out more digs, said Hone, who added that there is good Spinosaurus material in Egypt, Morocco and possibly Algeria.
The study was published in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica.
The patter of paws is being heard in the White House again following the arrival of President Joe Biden's dogs Champ and Major. The two German shepherds are the first pets to live at the executive mansion since the Obama administration. Major burst onto the national scene late last year after Biden, then president-elect, broke his right foot while playing with the dog at their home in Wilmington, Delaware. The Bidens adopted Major in 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association. Champ joined the family after the 2008 presidential election that made Joe Biden vice president. The dogs moved into the White House following Biden's inauguration last week. "The first family wanted to get settled before bringing the dogs down to Washington from Delaware," said Michael LaRosa, spokesperson for first lady Jill Biden. "Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace and Major loved running around on the South Lawn."
Last week, the Delaware Humane Association cosponsored an "indoguration" virtual fundraiser to celebrate Major's journey from shelter pup to first dog. More than $200,000 was raised. Major is the first shelter dog to ever live in the White House and "barking proof that every dog can live the American dream," the association said. The Bidens had promised to bring the dogs with them to the White House. They plan to add a cat, though no update on the feline's arrival was shared on Monday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki predicted, while on video answering questions from members of the public, that the cat will "dominate the internet" when it arrives.
Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, a self-described germaphobe, does not own any pets and had none with him at the White House. Just like they do for ordinary people, pets owned by the most powerful people in the world provide their owners with comfort, entertainment, occasional drama and generally good PR. President Theodore Roosevelt had Skip, who is described by the White House Historical Association as a "short-legged Black and Tan mongrel terrier brought home from a Colorado bear hunt." Warren G. Harding had Laddie Boy, who sat in on meetings and had his own Cabinet chair. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had his beloved terrier Fala. At night, Fala slept in a special chair at the foot of the president's bed. More recently, George H.W. Bush's English springer spaniel Millie was featured on "The Simpsons" and starred in a bestseller, "Millie's Book: As dictated to Barbara Bush." Hillary Clinton followed Bush's lead with a children's book about family dog Buddy and cat Socks: "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets."
When he declared victory in the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama told his daughters: "You have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House." Several months later, Bo joined the family, a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy. A few years later, fellow Portuguese water dog Sunny arrived. Among the stranger White House pets was Calvin Coolidge and first lady Grace Coolidge's raccoon Rebecca. She was given to the Coolidge family by a supporter who suggested the raccoon be served for Thanksgiving dinner, according to the White House Historical Association. But instead she got an embroidered collar with the title "White House Raccoon" and entertained children at the White House Easter Egg Roll. Some notable pets belonged to first kids, including Amy Carter's Siamese cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang, and Caroline Kennedy's pony Macaroni. The Kennedy family had a veritable menagerie, complete with dogs, cats, birds, hamsters and a rabbit named Zsa Zsa. President Harry Truman famously said that "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog" — and many successors have followed Truman's advice. The first President Bush once said, "There is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog to help you get through the rough spots." ----------------------------------------------------
Cloris Leachman, a character actor of extraordinary range, Leachman defied typecasting. In her early television career, she appeared as the mother of Timmy on the Lassie series. She played a frontier prostitute in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a crime spree family member in Crazy Mama, and Blücher in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, in which the very mention of her name made horses whinny. Her most indelible role was Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Her Emmy haul over the years totaled eight, including two trophies for Moore's sitcom, tying her with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the top Emmy winners among performers. She was 94 when she died in her sleep of natural causes this week.
Also this week, A onetime model, Cicely Tyson began her screen career with bit parts but gained fame in the early 1970s when Black women were finally starting to get starring roles. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role as the sharecropper’s wife in Sounder, a Tony Award in 2013 at age 88 and touched TV viewers’ hearts in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Tyson’s death at 96 was announced by her family, via her manager Larry Thompson, who did not immediately provide additional details.
And, Freddy, a Great Dane who held the Guinness World Records title of “tallest dog living (male),” has died at age 8. He was measured at 3 feet, 4 inches from foot to withers. His record was announced in 2016. The Guinness World Records website noted: “Standing on his hind legs – not a measurement that GWR officially counts – his height was an imposing 226 cm (7 ft 5.5 in).” The dog’s owner, Claire Stoneman of Essex, U.K., was quoted saying, “He was not just the tallest dog but the dog with the most love and the biggest heart. A total soppy bugger who was hand fed.” Oddly enough, Freddy was the runt of his litter. “I had no idea he was going to get this big at all,” Stoneman said.
Climate change could add around $100 billion (77 billion pounds), or more than 20%, to the global cost of extreme weather events such as floods, heatwaves and droughts by 2040, research from Cambridge University showed on Wednesday.
The findings come from the university’s Climate Change Business Risk Index, which uses climate modelling data to quantify extreme weather event risks and their potential to disrupt business operations and supply chains globally.
Average direct costs of around $195 billion a year could rise to $234 billion by 2040, the report said, an increase of $39 billion a year at today’s values, with the remainder taken up by indirect costs such as those from supply chain disruption.
Andrew Coburn, chief scientist at the Centre for Risk Studies, said companies were struggling to get to grips with the long-range weather forecasts and how their businesses would be affected by the transition to a low-carbon economy.
“Accurately quantifying this kind of information on business-relevant timescales will help businesses plan for their increased exposure to heatwaves and other climate-related risks,” the researchers said in a statement.
The following is a statement from Mark Magaña, Founding President & CEO of GreenLatinos, in response to President Biden’s new Climate Executive Actions:
“After four years of destructive policies under Trump, it is a relief to finally have a leader eager to take meaningful action on climate change and other issues that are disproportionately affecting Latino communities - our health, livelihoods, and families. President Joe Biden’s new executive actions get us one step closer toward our mission of preserving public lands and oceans, securing clean air and clean water for our families and communities, restoring science-based policy-making, creating a sustainable economy, and recommitting the country to international climate leadership. Climate change poses an imminent threat to our national security and public health and environmental justice must be at the forefront of any action we take. These groundbreaking executive orders are just the beginning from an Administration that understands the urgency to act on the climate crisis.”
GreenLatinos is a national non-profit organization that convenes a broad coalition of Latino leaders committed to addressing national, regional and local environmental, natural resources and conservation issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community in the United States.
A snowy owl was spotted strolling around New York City's Central Park on Wednesday, delighting witnesses and experts who say there hasn't been a recorded sighting in over a century.
The white owl was seen on the North Meadow ballfield, according to several witnesses. Wildlife experts say it's unusual for the creature to appear in the city. They're more often seen at the beach on Long Island and other habitats similar to the tundra where they breed.
If you're lucky enough to see the bird up close, the director of development at the NYC Audubon Society, Kellye Rosenheim, says the most important thing is to not disturb the owl.
“You've got to keep a respectful distance. They're easily spooked and it is absolutely essential to their survival that they're able to rest during the day," Rosenheim said.
"Snowy owls prefer a lot of personal space and are best viewed through scopes or binoculars. Please keep your distance so everyone can enjoy and share this magic moment," the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation said in a tweet.
Snowy owls typically hunt during the day, according to the Audubon Society. Their diet consists of mammals and other birds.
New York City rats better watch out!