(NEW YORK) -- Scientists are racing to determine what will happen as a result of melting glaciers before the repercussions of climate change on communities become a reality.
Researchers are especially worried about the increased risk of flood outbursts from glacial lakes, which can pose threats to residents who live downstream, according to a new study published Thursday in Nature Climate Change.
A glacial lake is a body of water that forms when a glacier erodes into land and then its water melts into the depression that forms. An outburst flood occurs when one of the naturally occurring dams break, sending a tidal wave of water out of the depression.
The risk is especially profound in the Third Pole, the region that encompasses the Hindu Kush Himalayan mountain range, the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding areas. It has the largest number of glaciers outside of the polar regions, according to the study.
The Third Pole has distinctly higher warming rates than the Northern Hemisphere, and warming in the region is leading to rapid loss of ice and the formation and expansion of glacial lakes, which then pose a severe threat to communities that reside downstream, scientists said.
"Particularly, when water is suddenly released, glacial lake outburst floods can devastate lives and livelihoods up to hundreds of kilometers downstream of their source," the study states.
The highest risk is in the eastern Himalayas, and the overall risk in the region is expected to triple as a consequence of more lakes developing, according to the study. The outbursts can be triggered by a number of mechanisms, including intense precipitation and snow or, most commonly, from the impact of ice or rock avalanches into a lake.
Glaciers across the Himalayas have experienced significant ice loss over the past 40 years, with the average rate of ice loss doubling in the 21st century compared to the end of the 20th century, according to a study published in Science Advances in 2019.
A glacial lake outburst flood was initially blamed for the "water monster" of rushing water and sediment that plunged down a steep flank in the Himalayas and into a hydroplant in northern India in February, killing dozens of people and leaving more than 100 missing.
The results of the study highlight the need for urgent, "forward-thinking" and collaborative approaches to mitigate future impacts of climate change, the researchers said.
(NEW YORK) -- Archie Sussex, the oldest child of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, is turning 2.
The young royal and great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth and the late Prince Philip is expected to celebrate his second birthday in California, where his family moved last year from the United Kingdom.
Archie received birthday wishes on social media from his family members in the U.K., including his great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, his uncle and aunt, Prince William and Duchess Kate, and his grandparents, Prince Charles and Camilla, duchess of Cornwall.
Wishing Archie Mountbatten-Windsor a very happy 2nd birthday today.
(LONDON) -- Prince William and Duchess Kate are adding YouTubers to their list of royal responsibilities.
On Wednesday, the duke and duchess of Cambridge, announced on social media that they're now on YouTube by sharing a video about some of their most memorable moments together as a couple, including the time Kate showed off her archery skills during a trip to Bhutan in 2016 and their red carpet appearance at the BAFTA Awards in 2019.
The YouTube announcement also features one of the most playful moments between the couple yet.
At the start of the video, William is seen warning Kate about the cameras and to be careful what she says.
"Be careful what you say now, because these guys are filming everything," he tells Kate.
It's unclear what kind of content the couple will share, but so far their YouTube channel, which shares the name of their updated Instagram handle, The duke and duchess of Cambridge, includes videos from royal tours, speeches and virtual visits and chats that were conducted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, William and Kate, who have three children together -- Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 3 -- celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. To commemorate their milestone, the couple shared two new royal portraits, which were taken at Kensington Palace, and a home video that showed them enjoying the outdoors with their kids.
(NEW YORK) -- A new species of turtle that roamed Earth alongside dinosaurs and flying reptiles has been discovered in Madagascar.
The near-complete fossil of the quick-mouthed frog turtle, or Sahonachelys mailakavava, was found in the Maevarano Formation in northwestern Madagascar, according to a study published in Royal Society Open Science. The formation "has yielded a series of exceptional fossils" over the last three decades, and in 2015 archaeologists discovered the turtle's skeleton while removing overburden -- rock or soil overlying a mineral deposit -- from the formation.
The freshwater turtle is noted for its frog-like appearance -- an unusually flattened skull, a slender lower jaw and enlarged tongue bones -- and researchers said it was likely a "suction feeder" that ate small-bodied living prey, such as insect larvae and tadpoles by using quick strikes.
The fossil researchers found was "unusual for its fragility and completeness" and displayed numerous morphological adaptions consistent with specialized suction feeding, according to the study.
It likely lived during the late Cretaceous period -- 66 million to 100.5 million years ago -- and would have existed around the same time as the triceratops and the flying reptile pterosaur, researchers said.
The formation where the fossil was found likely would have formed during a time when northwestern Madagascar had pronounced wet and dry seasons. The island already was isolated in the Indian Ocean after having been separated from the African mainland about 165 million years ago and from Antarctica and Australia about 124 million years ago, scientists said.
(LONDON) -- Meghan, the duchess of Sussex, won her final copyright claim in her lawsuit against a U.K. tabloid publisher over the publication of her handwritten letter to her estranged father.
Associated Newspapers Limited, the publisher of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, had argued in court that it believed Prince Harry and Meghan's former communications secretary, Jason Knauf, was a co-author of the letter, which Associated Newspapers argued meant the letter belonged to the Crown.
But on Wednesday, Knauf, through his lawyers, denied co-writing the letter, according to the BBC.
High Court Justice Mark Warby ruled in February that the Mail on Sunday invaded Meghan's privacy by publishing large parts of the personal letter she sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle before her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry.
Meghan's 2018 handwritten letter to her father, which addressed the breakdown in their relationship, was reproduced by Associated Newspapers in five articles in February 2019.
Meghan sued Associated Newspapers for alleged copyright infringement, misuse of private information and breach of the Data Protection Act.
Meghan, who now lives in California with Harry and their son Archie, said after the court's ruling in February that she hopes her case "creates legal precedent."
“After two long years of pursuing litigation, I am grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanizing practices. These tactics (and those of their sister publications MailOnline and the Daily Mail) are not new; in fact, they’ve been going on for far too long without consequence. For these outlets, it’s a game. For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep," Meghan said in her statement. “The world needs reliable, fact-checked, high-quality news. What The Mail on Sunday and its partner publications do is the opposite."
"We all lose when misinformation sells more than truth, when moral exploitation sells more than decency, and when companies create their business model to profit from people’s pain," she said. "But for today, with this comprehensive win on both privacy and copyright, we have all won. We now know, and hope it creates legal precedent, that you cannot take somebody’s privacy and exploit it in a privacy case, as the defendant has blatantly done over the past two years."
“I share this victory with each of you—because we all deserve justice and truth, and we all deserve better," Meghan concluded her statement. "I particularly want to thank my husband, mom, and legal team, and especially Jenny Afia for her unrelenting support throughout this process.”
(LONDON) -- The Indian delegation at the G-7 meetings in the U.K. will not be in face-to-face meetings after "exposure to possible COVID positive cases," the Indian Foreign Minister said, although officials said the summit itself is not at risk.
"Was made aware yesterday evening of exposure to possible Covid positive cases," Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India's minister of External Affairs, posted on Twitter. "As a measure of abundant caution and also out of consideration for others, I decided to conduct my engagements in the virtual mode. That will be the case with the G7 Meeting today as well."
Although the Indian delegation has not yet attended the G-7 meeting of foreign ministers at Lancaster House in London, they did meet with their U.S. counterparts on Monday. It is not yet clear whether any of the attendees in that meeting had tested positive.
"The U.S. delegation was advised, including by the U.K.'s public health professionals, that our stringent masking, social distancing, and daily testing protocols would permit us to continue with our G-7 activities as planned," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. "We have no reason to believe any of our delegation is at risk. We will continue to follow the guidance of public health professionals going forward and abide by the same strict COVID-19 protocols."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was pictured alongside Jaishankar on Monday, has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Other delegates will not be asked to self-isolate as officials said that strict social distancing was observed.
Attendees to the summit are tested daily, although at the Monday meeting between Blinken and Jaishankar, delegates did take off their masks while divided by sheets of plexiglass. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 would be required to self-isolate in line with U.K. government guidelines.
“We deeply regret that Foreign Minister Dr. Jaishankar will be unable to attend the meeting today in person and will now attend virtually, but this is exactly why we have put in place strict Covid protocols and daily testing," a senior U.K. diplomat said.
While not formally a member of the G-7, India was invited to attend a series of meetings between the foreign ministers of G-7 countries in London this week.
A dozen countries have delegations at this week's meetings ahead of the G-7, which President Joe Biden hopes to attend with other world leaders, in the U.K. in June. The withdrawal from face-to-face meetings will be a serious blow to the proceedings, which promised to be the first in-person G-7 meetings in two years.
(WASHINGTON) — Despite an increasingly vocal chorus of condemnations from the Biden administration and U.S. lawmakers of both parties, El Salvador's president and his allies are pushing ahead with what critics call a power grab.
The growing political crisis in the central American country presents a stark challenge for the U.S. government, especially Vice President Kamala Harris who President Joe Bidentapped to lead efforts at boosting the region, combatting poverty and corruption, and stemming migration to the U.S.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has not spoken to Harris -- even as she's called leaders in Guatemala and Mexico -- and the popular populist president has criticized the Biden administration's plans for the region.
Despite Biden and Harris' talk of cooperation, Bukele's tightening grip on power is alarming U.S. officials, with Congress now raising calls for penalties like visa bans or restricting financing to El Salvador's government.
"Just this weekend, we learned that the Salvadoran parliament moved to undermine its nation's highest court. An independent judiciary is critical to a healthy democracy and a strong economy. On this front, on every front, we must respond," Harris said Tuesday.
On Saturday, the country's legislature, known as the National Assembly, voted to dismiss all five judges on the Constitutional Court, as well as the attorney general, hours after its new members were sworn in. The body is now dominated by Bukele's New Ideas political party, who with its allies has an absolute majority after winning big in February's elections.
The Constitutional Court, a top division of the country's Supreme Court, had repeatedly ruled that Bukele has exceeded his constitutional authorities during the coronavirus pandemic, while the attorney general had recently opened corruption cases into several of his ministers.
Within hours of the legislature's vote to dismiss them, all were replaced by picks allied with Bukele. The Constitutional Court's sitting judges ruled the dismissals were done in an unconstitutional manner -- setting up a constitutional crisis that has been condemned by the U.S., the Organization of American States, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"Unfortunately, what we see in El Salvador is the deepening of an alarming trend towards the concentration of power. I remind all state authorities of the need to comply with their obligations under international law, to restore the rule of law and the separation of powers," said Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. envoy, on Tuesday.
The Biden administration has similarly denounced the moves, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling Bukele directly on Sunday to express their "grave concern."
But those efforts have been ignored -- demonstrating that the U.S. partnerships in the region that the Biden administration has touted are, at best, troubled. Wildly popular in his country and throughout the region, Bukele is consolidating power in precisely the way that Harris and others say they are working against.
"No matter how much effort we put in on curbing violence, on providing disaster relief, on tackling food insecurity -- on any of it -- we will not make significant progress if corruption in the region persists," Harris said Tuesday at the Washington Conference on the Americas. "If corruption persists, history has told us, it will be one step forward and two steps back, and we know corruption causes government institutions to collapse from within, preventing people from getting their children educated, from getting a business started, from getting a fair trial."
But any entreaties to Bukele has so far been lukewarm. When Biden first unveiled his plans for the region, the young president, who tweets himself, wrote dismissively, "A recycled plan that did not work in 2014 will not work now."
The administration has faced similar challenges with Juan Orlando Hernandez, the president of Honduras who has been accused in U.S. federal court of bribery and narcotrafficking. Harris has yet to call Hernandez, and when she makes her first overseas trip next month, she will visit Mexico and Guatemala, but skip Honduras and El Salvador.
As she finished her remarks, Harris did not respond to a question from ABC News about whether developments in El Salvador would make it more difficult to work with the government there on migration.
"The actions by President Bukele and his allies in the Assembly make it clear that the Salvadoran government is not acting as a reliable ally in strengthening democratic institutions or governance and that the Biden Administration won't be able to cooperate with him and his government in addressing these problems," according to Adriana Beltran of the Washington Office on Latin America, a D.C. think tank.
The administration has not said whether they agree with that. Asked if they are weighing punitive action, State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter told ABC News she has "nothing to read out, nothing to announce at this time."
In the meantime, Bukele has been celebrating the strength of his political party, which he founded in 2018. In a tweet after midnight on Tuesday, he said he was "proud" of the party, adding, "Our country has a great future with young people like this (and a couple not so young)," with a crying laughing emoji.
In the face of the international outcry, including from the U.S., he also tweeted on Sunday to "our friends in the International Community... with all respect, we are cleaning our house... and that's none of your business."
But there's rising anger in the U.S. Congress that may make it America's business. Top lawmakers from both parties have urged Biden and Blinken to penalize Bukele's government, including by imposing U.S. visa bans on senior officials or restricting financial support through institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
Sen. Bob Menendez and Patrick Leahy, both top Democrats, warned the Salvadoran National Assembly in a statement Monday "to immediately reverse this anti-democratic power grab and avoid any weakening of our bilateral relations at this consequential moment for the region."
ABC News' Sarah Kolinovsky and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report from the White House.
(NEW YORK) -- Duchess Meghan is adding a new role to her resume in her post-royal life.
Meghan has written her first children's book, The Bench, that will be published in June.
The book, described by its publisher, Random House Children's Books, as being about "the special bond between father and son -- as seen through a mother’s eyes," is based on a Father's Day poem that Meghan wrote to Harry.
The couple share a son, Archie, who will turn 2 on May 6.
“The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born,” Meghan said in a statement. “That poem became this story."
Speaking of the book's illustrations, done by Christian Robinson, Meghan added, "Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy, and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life; this representation was particularly important to me, and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens."
"My hope is that 'The Bench' resonates with every family, no matter the makeup, as much as it does with mine," she said.
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are raising Archie in Montecito, California, where they moved after stepping down last year from their roles as senior working members of Britain's royal family. The Sussexes will welcome their second child, a girl, this summer.
Since moving to California, the Sussexes have taken on a broad portfolio of new ventures, most recently Harry's new job at a tech start-up.
Harry and Meghan also have a multiyear partnership with Spotify that will see them both hosting and producing podcasts.
The couple signed a deal with Netflix last year to produce films and series, including docu-series, documentaries, features and children's programming, according to a source close to the couple.
The Archewell Foundation is the Sussexes' organization that oversees their nonprofit work as well as their audio and production ventures.
Meghan's new children's book marks the first project she has announced since she and Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a tell-all interview that aired in March.
(MEXICO CITY) -- At least 23 people were killed and dozens more were injured after an overpass for the Mexico City Metro collapsed on Monday night, sending a subway car plunging toward a busting boulevard below.
The collapse occurred on the newest of Mexico City's subway lines, Line 12, which runs underground through more central areas but then emerges onto elevated structures along the outskirts. A support beam "gave way" just as the train passed over it, according to Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.
Footage from the scene shows a crane working to hold up one subway car left hanging from the collapsed section of the overpass, with various cars buried under the rubble on the road about 16 feet below.
"We don’t know if they are alive," Sheinbaum said at a press conference early Tuesday, speaking about the people possibly trapped inside the train and cars.
Emergency crews worked through the night to remove people -- dead and alive -- from the scene. By early morning, authorities confirmed that there were no more bodies as they began to remove the wreckage.
At least 49 of the approximately 65 people injured were transported to hospitals, including seven who were in serious condition and undergoing surgery, according to Sheinbaum
"There are, unfortunately, children among the dead," she said, without specifying how many.
Mexico City Attorney General’s Office has opened an investigation into the incident.
Authorities will inspect the rest of the subway line near where the collapse happened later Tuesday morning.
"This is an unfortunate and serious accident," Sheinbaum said. "We will report the truth."
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who was Mexico City's mayor from 2006 to 2012, when Line 12 was built, called the incident "a terrible tragedy." Soon after Ebrard left office as mayor, the subway line became plagued by structural issues, technical faults and corruption allegations, leading to a partial closure in 2013 so tracks could be repaired.
"Of course, the causes should be investigated and those responsible should be identified," Ebrard wrote on Twitter. "I repeat that I am entirely at the disposition of authorities to contribute in whatever way is necessary."
(NEW YORK) -- A bomb exploded near a school in Farah, in western Afghanistan, on Monday and wounded 21 people. At least 10 of those injured were students as young as 7, a provincial official said.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack comes two days after the U.S. began withdrawing the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 troops from Afghanistan, following President Joe Biden's plan to be out of the country by Sept. 11 at the latest.
In the last two days there have been almost 300 Taliban attacks in more than two dozen provinces across Afghanistan, according to the Afghan Ministry of Defense.
Former Defense Minister Tamin Asey told ABC News that the Taliban have not changed, as many fear the group's violent resurgence amid troop withdrawal.
"The ideology haven't changed. Their global claim to jihad haven't changed. They are more confident of their victory and they think that they have defeated the United States and NATO," Asey said.
(NEW YORK) — With restrictions on travel to the U.S. from India taking effect Tuesday, the Biden administration, private companies and nonprofits are working to send supplies and aid to help the country ravaged by the pandemic.
There are several exceptions, including for lawful permanent residents, spouses or children of U.S. citizens and green card holders, parents or siblings of a U.S. citizen or green card holder under 21 years old, health care and aid workers, and certain government officials with visas. The U.S. policy also says that flights that take off before the end of the day Monday will still be permitted to land after Tuesday.
The travel ban comes after the case count in India continues to grow rapidly. In 24 hours, the country reported more than 368,000 news cases bringing the total number of cases to more than 19 million, while the total number of deaths is more than 219,000.
The U.S. has sent six air shipments, four of which have already arrived, an official on the National Security Council said Monday. U.S. shipments, which will total $100 million according to the White House, included 125,000 vials of the antiviral drug remdesivir, which is used in the treatment of COVID-19, arrived in India Sunday night.
The State Department, in addition to coordinating U.S. government supplies, has also been urging private businesses to provide support for India in the wake of the crisis.
In a meeting last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a virtual meeting with business leaders "to discuss how the United States and India can leverage the expertise and capabilities of the U.S. private sector to support urgent COVID-19 relief efforts in India," a press release from State Department spokesperson Ned Price said last week.
Private businesses have been responding to the crisis. Dr. Albert Bourla, the chief executive officer of Pfizer, announced Sunday that the company would donate medicines "valued at more than $70 million."
"Right now, Pfizer colleagues at distribution centers in the U.S., Europe and Asia are hard at work rushing shipments of Pfizer medicines that the Government of India has identified as part of its COVID treatment protocol," Bourla said in a letter posted to LinkedIn. "We are donating these medicines to help make sure that every COVID19 patient in every public hospital across the country can have access to the Pfizer medicines they need free of charge."
The statement also said that Pfizer's foundation was providing funding for other needed supplies like oxygen concentrators and ventilators.
"Pfizer stands in solidarity with all those currently affected by COVID-19 in India and around the world and will continue to do everything possible to provide assistance," Bourla said. "As we work to meet the public health need and to be a partner with the Government of India to establish a path forward for our vaccine, please know you and your loved ones are foremost in our thoughts and prayers.”
Businesses are also working with NGOs and nonprofits to provide necessary supplies and funds. Sewa International, a faith-based nonprofit based in Houston, Texas, fundraised enough to send more than 2,000 oxygen concentrators to New Delhi last week. The UPS Foundation joined with the organization to send the shipments free of charge, Sewa International said in a statement Thursday.
"In the midst of this health crisis in India, we are absolutely thrilled to have the support of so many organizations and people in enabling this quick shipment of oxygen-concentrators to India," Arun Kankani the president of Sewa International said in the statement.
ABC News' Conor Finnegan, Sarah Kolinovsky and Joseph Simonetti contributed to this report.
Since the pandemic began, CARE India has aided more than 400,000 people in the most marginalized sections of the country with PPE and dry ration support, a CARE spokesperson told ABC News.
“The unabated spread of COVID-19 has placed immense strain on organizations and communities dealing with this humanitarian crisis," CARE India told ABC News. "Marginalized communities face the greatest risk since they are already struggling to meet their daily needs. We at CARE know that the poor communities, as well as women and girls, are at highest risk."
Currently, the CARE India team is in Bihar and is coordinating with COVID-19 designated hospitals across the country to collect data, administer IT services and support the well-being of health care workers.
On the organization’s website, there are ways to donate to the India COVID-19 emergency.
Sewa International, a nonprofit organization, announced it sent an initial shipment of 400 oxygen concentrators and other emergency medical devices to India through its “Help India Defeat COVID-19 campaign,” according to a press release.
“Naturally, in the current situation, many Americans are concerned about the safety of their extended families and friends living in India. Hundreds of volunteers from Sewa and our partnering organizations are working on the ground in India,” Arun Kankani, president of Sewa International, said in a statement. “Right now, our top priority is to quickly acquire oxygen concentrators and ship them to India as it can save lives.”
Indian health care officials have reported an astounding number of COVID-19 cases, hovering around 400,000 new cases in a single day, along with more than 3,600 deaths. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pledged that the U.S. would immediately help India with the crisis.
(LONDON) -- South Africa announced Sunday it plans to end its multimillion-dollar captive lion industry and said it won’t oppose the international ban on the rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory trade.
The announcement was made alongside the release of a nearly 600-page report by a special government-appointed advisory committee tasked with reviewing the country’s policies, legislation and practices related to the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephants, lions, leopards and rhinos.
"The panel identified that the captive lion industry poses risks to the sustainability of wild lion conservation," South African Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy said in a statement Sunday. "The panel recommends that South Africa does not captive-breed lions, keep lions in captivity, or use captive lions or their derivatives commercially. I have requested the department to action this accordingly and ensure that the necessary consultation in implementation is conducted."
The committee also recommended that Creecy consult with other countries in the region to determine under what conditions current stockpiles of rhino horn and elephant ivory can be disposed.
Creecy said her department will move to adopt all recommendations in the report that were supported by the majority of the 25-strong High-Level Panel, which was established in October 2019. The committee came to a consensus on all recommendations except those for captive lion and rhino breeding, for which Creecy said she will take the majority view.
She stressed the recommendations were not against the hunting industry and that implementing them "will result in both protection and enhancement of South Africa’s international reputation, repositioning the country as an even more competitive destination of choice for ecotourism and responsible hunting."
"Preventing the hunting of captive lions is in the interests of the authentic wild hunting industry and will boost the hunting economy and our international reputation and the jobs that this creates," Creecy said.
South Africa has drawn criticism in recent years for commodifying its captive-bred lions at every stage of life, from birth to death. There are hundreds of facilities across South Africa that are legally breeding and raising thousands of lions as well as other big cats, sometimes in tiny enclosures and unsatisfactory conditions. Cubs are separated from their mothers just days after birth, so the adult females can be continuously bred.
The animals are then hand-reared so they grow up to be tame and used to humans. Cubs are used in petting attractions while they're very young and small. Adolescent lions are used in other tourist activities, such as walking with lions.
When they get too big to safely interact with tourists, the lions are either recycled back into the breeding industry or sold to other facilities where they will be gunned down in canned trophy hunts or killed for their bones. Lion bones, teeth and claws are typically shipped to East and Southeast Asia, where they are often used in jewelry or falsely advertised as tiger parts for luxury products.
Critics say it's a poorly-regulated and cruel business that exploded into an increasingly lucrative industry amid the rising demand for lion parts and at a time when the African lion, which is classified as "vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, is already in steep decline across the continent.
Conservationists say they have seen the detrimental impact that South Africa’s legal lion bone trade is having on the conservation of the region’s wild lion populations, because poachers have caught on to the growing market for lion parts. The South African government had previously raised concerns that bones would be sourced illegally from wild lions to satisfy demand if the trade in captive-bred ones was prohibited.
"Thousands of farmed lions are born into a life of misery in South Africa every year in cruel commercial breeding facilities," Edith Kabesiime, Africa wildlife campaign manager for World Animal Protection, a global animal welfare nonprofit organization, said in a statement Sunday. "This latest move by the government of South Africa is courageous -- taking the first steps in a commitment to long-lasting and meaningful change. This is a win for wildlife."
(LONDON) -- An American businessman with a penchant for loud suits. The actor with an “anti-woke” agenda. YouTubers with ironic campaigns. An intergalactic “space politician” who wears a trash can on his head. The incumbent Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is seeking re-election against 19 other candidates in a vote on May 6, and it is fair to say the field of prospective mayors is the weirdest, as well as the largest, the U.K. capital has ever seen.
Khan, representing the Labour Party, which is in opposition to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the central government, is well known for his clashes with former U.S. President Donald Trump and marshaling the city through a number of devastating terrorist attacks. He is set to be comfortably re-elected -- if recent polling is to be believed -- with Khan promising to “renew, rebuild and refresh London” in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic should he win another term.
His main rival, the Conservative Shaun Bailey, is polling only 28%, compared to Khan’s 41%, according to the most recent polls. Bailey has attacked Khan’s record on housing and combating crime but has consistently lagged behind the incumbent mayor in opinion polls and has a record of making controversial statements compared to Khan’s more conciliatory public messaging.
Elsewhere, however, the field of candidates from outside Britain’s mainstream political parties looks increasingly bizarre.
The most successful of those is the YouTuber Nico Omilana, who boasts 3.3 million subscribers and 1.7 million Instagram followers. Standing as an Independent candidate with no party affiliation, Omilana told the BBC he has “more knowledge, strength and integrity than any other candidate” and that the “system was broken for young people.”
Polling at 5%, according to ITV, Omilana may just meet the threshold of enough votes to get his £10,000 ($13,900) deposit back, which candidates are required to put down in order to stand.
He is joined by fellow YouTuber Max Fosh, with 419,000 subscribers, who is running “just to get more votes” than Laurence Fox, an actor running on an anti-lockdown, “anti-woke” ticket.
Fox made headlines in the U.K. in January 2020 when he denied that the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, had been a victim of racism in the media and regaled against being called a “white privileged male” in a controversial appearance on the current affairs program Question Time.
Since then he has formed his own political party, lamented social distancing restrictions and is campaigning on promises to never return the capital to lockdown and “reclaim your freedom to speak.” Like Fosh, he is at 1% in the opinion polls.
Also standing is "Count Binface" -- a satirical candidate who has been a fixture of the last few election cycles, having stood against Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the 2019 general election. Prior to that, he stood against former Prime Minister Theresa May as "Lord Buckhethead," but was forced to rebrand due to copyright issues.
“I am standing in the 2021 Elections in the Earth Capital, London, to bring voters a touch of intergalactic class and some ingenious policies that will PUT LONDON ON THE MAP,” according to his website. One of his manifesto commitments is for “loud snacks to be banned in theaters.”
Then, there is representation originating from across the Atlantic in the form of Brian Rose, an American businessman who has lived in London for the past 21 years. He claims to have put "seven figures" of his own cash into his campaign, and has placed several bets on himself to win the mayoralty.
“The first thing you need is awareness, if they don't know who you are, then they can't engage with your policy," Rose told ABC News in a recent interview. "So I always joke they come for the suit, they stay for the policies, and then they show up on May 6."
“I think we're going to shock a lot of people with the amount of support we have from Londoners," he added.
The eccentricities of U.K. politics are in full swing as Khan looks like the favorite to win the vote and become London’s mayor for the next three years, even if Count Binface believes he is “more qualified” than the other candidates.
(JERUSALEM) -- Multiple Americans were among those killed and injured in a stampede in Israel that's killed dozens, the State Department said Friday.
The State Department has not released the number of Americans involved, but the Consulate General of Israel in New York said four of the 45 people reported dead were American citizens.
Among the Americans killed was 19-year-old Daniel "Donny" Morris of Bergenfield, New Jersey, said his uncle, Rabbi Yechiel Morris.
He said his nephew was studying in Israel for the year on a gap program.
"We are all shocked and devastated," Yechiel Morris said. "There are no words."
"Our Embassy and Department of State will provide all necessary support to any U.S. citizens and their family members affected," President Joe Biden said earlier on Friday.
In addition to those killed, at least 150 others were hospitalized -- nearly two dozen in critical condition -- after the stampede around midnight Friday at Mount Meron during Lag BaOmer festivities, according to the Israeli Health Ministry.
"The Meron disaster is one of the worst disasters in the history of Israel. We mourn the dead, our hearts go out to the families of those wounded, to them we wish a full recovery," Prime Ministry Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Friday.
"We have seen here heart-breaking sights, people who were crushed to death, including children," he said. "A large number of the fatalities have not yet been identified."
"I have to point out here the speedy rescue effort of the police and the other security and rescue organizations, we are grateful to them. Their work prevented an even larger disaster," he continued. "We will conduct a thorough investigation so such a disaster will not happen again."
The MDA said helicopters were sent to work with ambulances to bring victims to Ziv Hospital in Safed and Galil Medical Center in Nahariya.
Lag BaOmer is an annual celebration on the anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a 2nd century sage who was buried in a tomb at Mount Meron in northern Israel. The festivities include pilgrimages to bar Yochai's tomb and lighting bonfires and celebrating throughout the night.
Netanyahu declared Sunday a national day of mourning.
Biden said he spoke with Netanyahu to offer his "profound condolences" and said the U.S. was offering assistance to Israel.
"Our prayers are with those who were injured and all those who lost loved ones," Biden said. "May their memories be a blessing."
ABC News' Bruno Nota, Molly Nagle, Christine Theodorou, Aaron Katersky and Rashid Haddou contributed to this report.