‘Passionate’ UK Zookeeper Killed by Tiger in ‘Freak Accident’


Described by her colleagues as a “shining light,” Rosa King, a zookeeper at Hamerton Zoo Park in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire in the UK, died after a tiger entered an enclosure she was working in on Monday and attacked her.

According to Cambridgeshire Police, the incident, deemed a “freak accident” by park officials, is “not believed to be suspicious.” The zoo nevertheless has begun its own investigation into what happened.

“At no point during the incident did any animals escape their enclosures and at no point was public safety affected in any way,” a zoo spokesperson said in a statement after the accident. “All our thoughts and sympathies are with our colleagues, friends and families at this dreadful time.”

Park-goers were quickly evacuated before keepers realized the tiger had not escaped, but many visitors recalled hearing a disturbance near the enclosure where the attack took place.

“There’s no doubting it was a girl’s scream and something terrible had happened,” Pete Davis, on a visit with his family at the zoo, told the Telegraph. “It sounds like a tiger turned on her.”

Recalling that she ducked into a nearby office amid the ruckus, Victoria Holmes told CNN she could see fellow handlers making their way to the accident.

“We could see staff members on the other side of the fence with pieces of meat trying to get [the tiger’s] attention. It was heartbreaking seeing them trying to help.”

One visitor made it a point to note how staff members were “a real credit” to the zoo as they managed the evacuation.

“Staff were calm and professional. All visitors around us were leaving in a very calm manner — no running, shouting or anything similar,” Cambridgeshire visitor Jeff Knott told Press Association.

Responding to the growing fear on Twitter surrounding what would happen to the tiger, the Cambridgeshire Constabulary announced that the cat in question was believed to fine.

The park, closed until further notice, houses Malaysian tigers, Bengal tigers, cheetahs, wolves, corsac foxes and kangaroos, as well as a variety of birds, reptiles and domestic animals.

The last time Hamerton Zoo made headlines was when one of its three-year-old cheetahs escaped its enclosure, and was later found by a then-nine-year-old boy in his backyard. Officials blamed a faulty electrical fence for that incident.

It is not known how the tiger ended up in the enclosure with King.

Source: sputniknews

What Russia’s Military Will Look Like by 2035 (PHOTO)

An S-400 Triumf air defense missile system, seen here during the military parade in Moscow marking the 72nd anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

Last week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington held a discussion on the armament program of the Russian military and the shape of the Russian Armed Forces by 2035.

Experts suggested that the future capability of the Russian military would largely depend on how successfully Moscow can replace its Soviet-era weapons with modern ones. Meanwhile, they agreed that Russia is making progress in the modernization of its military force and relies not only on nuclear deterrence.

The discussion involved Michael Kofman, a Russian military affairs specialist at the Center for Naval Analyses, Tomas Malmlöf, a political scientist with the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI) and Olga Oliker, CSIS’s director for its Russia and Eurasia program.

Next-Gen Weapons

Western analysts underscore that currently Russia continues to use weapon systems originating in the Soviet era, including the Kalibr cruise missile and the Iskander missile defense system.

However, by 2035, the Russian military expects to receive truly next-generation weapons, including the S-500 missile defense systems, the Tsirkon hypersonic missile, the PAK-DA stealth bomber and new engines for the T-50 (PAK FA) 5th generation jet fighter.

Yan Novikov, CEO of Russia’s Almaz-Antey defense manufacturer, recently said that in the near future the company will complete tests of new target-seeking warheads for the S-350 Vityaz missile system and naval air defense systems. Moreover, the company is conducting tests of a guided interceptor missile for the S-500 missile defense system.

In April, it was reported that newest Tsirkon 3M22 hypersonic anti-ship missile reached speeds of Mach 8 (eight times faster than the speed of sound) during tests. The production of the missile is expected to be launched in 2017. The Admiral Nakhimov and the Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered missile cruisers will be the first to receive the new weapons.

On May 20, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that Russia has begun the development of the PAK DA long-range bomber, with the first test flight scheduled for 2025-2026.

As for the new engine of the T-50 jet, Alexander Artyukhov, deputy CEO of United Engine-Manufacturing Corporation, said that its tests were expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2017. Its flight tests are scheduled for 2020.

“The analysis that I have seen on the PAK-FA indicates a pretty sophisticated design that is at least equal to, and some have said even superior to US fifth-generation aircraft,” former US Air Force intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula told National Interest in 2014.

Long-Range Strikes

In the future, Russia will focus on developing long-range striking weapons, including missile and precision guided weapons. The idea is to be able to strike a potential aggressor at long ranges.

“They’re working on deterrence by punishment, which is what all this long-range strike potential is about. The ability to retaliate and to strike with conventional weapons, not nuclear weapons,” Kofman was quoted as saying by National Interest.

Last year, Boris Obnosov, CEO of Tactical Missile Weapons Corporation, said that the company was developing missiles with a striking range longer than that of Kalibr cruise missiles, used against terrorists in Syria.

A Russian Navy ship launches a Kalibr cruise missile at the Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorist groupfrom the Mediterranean Sea. File photo

A Russian Navy ship launches a Kalibr cruise missile at the Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorist groupfrom the Mediterranean Sea. (File photo)  

Moreover, the Kh-101 long-range cruise missile is currently undergoing modernization. The missile is expected to have a longer striking range and increased precision.

Obnosov also said that the decision had been made to resume production of a modernized bomber, which was reported by media under the name “Tu-160M2.” The aircraft will receive new electronic systems, modernized launchers and upgraded engines.

Drones and Robots

According to Kofman, Russia is currently behind the West in terms of unmanned technology, but Moscow is investing heavily into the industry.

Compared to the Western military, Russia is much less focused on large combat drones. Instead, Russia is focused on cheap and disposable drones that can be used for reconnaissance to provide targeting capabitilies for heavy artillery.

The Russians “are trying to enable our surface-to-surface long-range fires,” Kofman said. “There, they very quickly started adapting drones to the way the Russian Army would like to fight. And the Russian Army would like to fight with face-melting firepower.”

Malmlöf estimated that during the period between 2026-2035 Russia may turn the T-14 Armata tank fully robotic. Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry already announced a plan to start developing an unmanned version of the tank.

Demonstration of T-14 Armata tankDemonstration of T-14 Armata tank. (Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation)

Electronic Warfare

The Swedish expert also noted that Russia is investing heavily in electronic warfare (EW).

The US military has long been concerned about Russia’s EW capability, seeing it as a major potential threat. Last year, the Pentagon established the Army Rapid Capabilities Office. Then-commander Gen. Walter Piatt said that the new office would focus on countering Russia in EW and cyber operations.

Krasukha 4 electronic warfare system

Krasukha 4 electronic warfare system. (© Photo: ROSTEC)

According to Kofman, Russia is very likely either a peer or near-peer competitor to the US in the field. Meanwhile, Oliker pointed to the fact that cyber capabilities are very difficult to measure.

“It’s a different challenge to study that particular set of tools. Even with all the talk, it’s still very poorly defined,” Oliker said.

Not Only Nuclear Deterrence

Summing up, according to Western experts, Russia is abandoning the concept of using a massive military force and by 2035 will rely on long-range high-precisions strikes, while retaining its capability to cause area effects.

They noted that Russia is actively developing high-precisions weapons and will integrate them in its military doctrine.

However, an economic downturn and Western sanctions, including a ban on importing equipment and microelectronics, could negatively affect the pace of Russia’s military modernization.

“Ultimately, Russia is not the threat that the Soviet Union once was. But nor is Moscow quite as weak as it was in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union where the Kremlin had to rely solely on its nuclear arsenal for deterrence. Modern Russia has the means to strike back conventionally against potential threats,” according to National Interest.

Kofman noted: “Russia now has a really decent conventional standing force. They no longer dependant on nuclear weapons as their only deterrent.”

Source: sputniknews


China’s overweight population reaches 440 million

There are currently 440 million overweight people in China, with 130 million classified as obese, according to a blue paper recently issued by the Chinese Nutrition Society.

About 40 percent of the world’s population is dealing with the issue of obesity, and the growth of obesity – especially childhood obesity – is bound to result in increased chronic illness, the paper explained.

According to the blue paper, multiple factors contribute to obesity. In addition to fixed factors such as genetics, environment and behavior are among the biggest causes of the health issue. Improper dietary habits and a lack of physical exercise are major problems. Obesity can lead to severe cardiovascular and cerebrovascular issues, endocrine and metabolic diseases, and disorders of the respiratory, digestive and motor systems.

Experts suggest that adults work to control their waistlines below 90 and 85 centimeters for men and women respectively. If need be, the blue paper encourages people to change their lifestyles to prevent obesity. With regards to diet, proteins and carbohydrates that are naturally low in fat are recommended.

High-speed rail to link 80% of major Chinese cities by 2020: Official

China will increase the distance covered by its high-speed railway tracks, planning by 2020 to connect more than 80 percent of the country’s major cities by high-speed rail.

The country has earmarked over 15 trillion RMB ($2.2 trillion) to develop domestic transportation from 2016 to 2020, according to Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng at the 2017 China Civil Aviation Development Forum on May 25. Railways, highways and airports will almost fully cover Chinese cities with populations of over 200,000 people by 2020, Li disclosed. China’s transportation network had reached 5 million kilometers by the end of 2016, with 22,000 kilometers of high-speed rail and 130,000 kilometers of expressways.

Li noted that certain weaknesses in facilities and technical management can be bolstered as the country carries out supply-side structural reform in its transportation industry.

China to build 3 world-class airport clusters

Beijing Capital International Airport

China is planning to construct three world-class airport clusters in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta. These three regions boast the country’s most dynamic economies, highest levels of openness and strongest capacity for innovation. They also account for 36 percent of China’s total GDP, though they are just 2.8 percent of the area and 18 percent of the population of the entire country.

China’s future airport clusters aim to pave the way for world-class city clusters, Feng Zhenglin, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said during a forum on the country’s civil aviation industry on May 25. In 2016, airports in the three regions reported a total passenger volume of 473 million people and a total cargo volume of 14.69 million tons.

City clusters, the major form that China’s new urbanization will take, are home to 62 percent of the country’s population. They attract 70 percent of the country’s total fixed-asset investment and 98 percent of foreign investment.

Giant panda population on rise thanks to effective protection

Panda cubs born in the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in 2015.

Giant panda populations have been on the rise in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, as the region has taken effective measures to protect the rare species.

According to Sichuan’s fourth giant panda survey in 2015, the province was home to 1,387 wild giant pandas, accounting for almost 74.4 percent of the country’s total. That number was a 15 percent increase compared with 15 years before.

The province had over 2 million hectares of natural habitat for giant pandas in 2015, 78.7 percent of the country’s total, the surveyed indicated. Giant pandas are mainly distributed across 37 counties in Sichuan, the provincial forestry department said. About 61.5 percent of wild giant pandas and 49.5 percent of their natural habitat are under effective protection, thanks to the creation of 46 natural reserves.

Shi Xiaogang, head of the Mujiangping protection area in Wolong National Nature Reserve, estimates the number of wild giant pandas living within the protection station to be around 70. Shi, 45, has been doing wild animal protection work for 25 years. The Mujiangping protection station, where he has worked for the past three years, covers a total area of 73,600 hectares. It has 18 employees responsible for the protection of its panda residents.

Shi said he and his coworkers station themselves in the wild every month except February, carrying out research on the distribution areas, growth and decline, habitat changes and conditions of giant panda corridors.

Great progress has been made in protection over over the past 25 years, Shi said. Now, GPS, infrared cameras, a giant panda DNA database and other advanced methods can provide more accurate information about the lives and status of giant pandas, he added.

By the end of 2016, Sichuan had trained 13 captive-bred pandas to survive in the wild, and released seven of them. In October of last year, Hua Yan and Zhang Meng, two female captive-bred giant pandas, were released into the wild, the first case of two such pandas being released at the same time.

Sichuan has taken effective measures to address the breeding and survival rates of giant panda cubs. Now the province is home to 407 captive-bred giant pandas, ranking first in the country. The China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda has 231 pandas in residence, while 176 live at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

Experts say Moody’s credit rating a ‘misjudgment’

Moody’s Investors Service on May 24 downgraded China’s long-term local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings from Aa3 to A1, but changed the outlook from “negative” to “stable.” Experts said the move showed the rater’s lack of knowledge about China’s policy arrangement for government debt.

Last March, the company lowered its outlook on China’s sovereign credit rating from “stable” to “negative,” a move then-Finance Minister Lou Jiwei dismissed, saying, “We don’t much care about the ratings.”

Last year, China’s debt-to-GDP ratio stood at around 36.7 percent, far below the EU’s warning line at 60 percent and lower than the level of major market economies and emerging economies. The risks were generally controllable.

According to China’s Budget Law, the only legal way to raise funds for local governments is by issuing government bonds within a quota. Approved by the National People’s Congress, this year’s quota for added local government bonds was 1.63 trillion RMB ($240 billion), only slightly higher than last year’s 1.18 trillion RMB ($172 billion), indicating that there won’t be big changes in the debt-to-GDP ratio this year.

For that reason, experts have disregarded Moody’s prediction that the Chinese government’s direct debt burden will rise to 40 percent of its GDP in 2018, and edge closer to 45 percent in 2022.

Moody’s also turned a blind eye to advances in the country’s supply-side structural reform. The agency stated that deleveraging measures didn’t perform as expected, but didn’t disclose specific figures for the core indicators. Therefore, the rationale behind the analysis should be reconsidered, said Chen Daidi, general manager of China Bond Rating Co.

The Chinese economy maintains stable and positive momentum in 2017, with the first quarter GDP up to 6.9 percent, further accelerating the growth rate by 0.2 percent year on year. Moody’s rating was far too simplistic to reflect the real conditions of China’s economic development and government credit, according to Zheng Chunrong of the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Chinese government debts are largely allocated to infrastructure construction, which is fundamentally different from other world governments that use debts for consumptive purposes, Zheng added.

China to implement first ever law on internet security in wake of ransomware attack

In the wake of the WannaCry ransomware incident, China plans to implement a special law to enhance the protection of internet security, Economic Information Daily reported. The law, set to go into effect on June 1, is the first of its kind in China.

The ransomware attacked in more than 100 countries, including China, by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in Bitcoin cryptocurrency starting from May 12. The IP addresses of at least 29,372 agencies in China were attacked, mainly in the energy, transportation, medical, education, and science and technology sectors.

“Although the fallout of the WannaCry ransomware has subsided, we cannot take lightly other new cyber worms,” said an official at the National Research Center for Information Technology Security.

Experts disclosed that almost all sectors and enterprises unaffected in this incident adopted risk control ahead of time. A critical patch was issued by Microsoft to remove underlying vulnerabilities for supported systems nearly two months before the attack, though many organizations failed to apply it.

In addition, the concept of network isolation as the most effective method to maintain internet security should be revisited, as intranet without any protective measures would be more vulnerable, experts said.

Astronomers Create ‘Supermassive’ Map of the Universe

An international team of astronomers has created one of the largest maps of the universe ever put together, and they did it through the use of bright supermassive black holes known as quasars.

A quasar is a supermassive black hole surrounded by a gaseous accretion disk. Many large celestial bodies have accretion disks, where materials being pulled in by the object’s gravity gain spin and from a ring or bubble around it.

When a supermassive black holes gains an accretion disk, the gas moves so quickly and becomes so hot that it gives off unthinkable amounts of power, making quasars extremely bright and easy to spot.

“Because quasars are so bright, we can see them all the way across the universe. That makes them the ideal objects to use to make the biggest map yet,” said Ashley Ross of the Ohio State University in a statement.

“These quasars are so far away that their light left them when the universe was between three and seven billion years old, long before the Earth even existed,” added Gongbo Zhao from the National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The experiment was done through the use of the Sloan Foundation Telescope in New Mexico as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s (SDSS) Extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS), which mapped the locations of more than 147,000 quasars.

Once they located the quasars, they then dated them through the study of “baryon acoustic oscillations’ (BAOs). BAOs were formed in the early universe: matter moving through the early universe at high speeds that was suddenly slowed and frozen in place by rapid changes in pressure and temperature.

“You have meters for small units of length, kilometers or miles for distances between cities, and we have the BAO for distances between galaxies and quasars in cosmology,” explained Pauline Zarrouk, a PhD student at the University Paris-Saclay who participated in the research, in a press release.

Quasar activity was more extensive in the early universe, and so the team cross-referenced the quasar placement with the BAOs to map distant corners of the stars. “Our results are consistent with Einstein’s theory of general relativity,” said French researcher with Laboratoire de Physique Nucleaire et de hautes Energies and study co-author Hector Gil-Marin. “We now have BAO measurements covering a range of cosmological distances, and they all point to the same thing: the simple model matches the observations very well.”

“Even though we understand how gravity works, we still do not understand everything — there is still the question of what exactly Dark Energy is. We would like to understand Dark Energy further. Not with alternative facts, but with the scientific truth, and surveys such as eBOSS are helping us to build up our understanding of the universe,” said eBOSS head scientist and Professor of Cosmology at the University of Portsmouth Will Percival.

(Source: sputniknews)