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Now-former Burlington firefighter accused of

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BURLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) – A now-former Burlington firefighter who also used to run a dog training facility appeared in court on Wednesday to face animal abuse charges after customers said their dogs were abused at “Falco K9” in South Boston.

Tyler Falconer, 30, faced a judge on charges he abused and neglected the animals that were in his care – three counts of animal cruelty by a custodian and three counts of improperly tethering or confining an animal.

According to court documents, Lindsay Foster’s dog “Watch” was one of three animals Falconer is accused of abusing. She said she brought her five-month-old dog to the facility to be house trained in February, only to discover her puppy became emaciated when she picked him up two weeks later.

“He could barely pick his head up because he was so hungry and so exhausted,” Foster told reporters.

She went on to report the situation to the Animal Rescue League and later came across other dog owners with similar complaints.

Several people who dropped their dogs off at the facility said they found their pets injured and emaciated afterwards, which led to the charges Falconer now faces.

“It’s not going to change the fact that [Watch] was starved, maimed and abused for two weeks and it’s not going to erase the suffering of all of the other dogs that he hurt,” Foster said.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, one of the dogs lost 20 pounds while another suffered a foot puncture wound that required medical attention.

Court paperwork revealed that investigators spoke with people who worked at Falco K9, who described deplorable conditions at the kennel.

“On multiple occasions I saw dogs in crates that were too small for them,” part of the statements read. “The basement flooded multiple times. Sometimes dogs were brought upstairs, sometimes they were left down there.”

“There was a case where a dog was impregnated on the daycare floor – owners were not notified, even after they reached out questioning what occurred,” another statement read.

“Thank you for all of the staff members who are coming forward with this information but where the hell have you been?” Foster said. “You could have prevented at least some of this.”

In a statement, District Attorney Kevin Hayden thanked the Animal Rescue League for its work, while stating the following:

“Dogs bring so much joy to the lives of the families who care for them and love them. They return that love, enormously. When necessary to board it’s vital for the families to know that their dogs are in a safe, healthy environment and are treated with kindness and care. That was clearly not the case here, as these disturbing facts make quite clear.”

The court entered a “not guilty” plea on Falconer’s behalf on Wednesday, with a judge releasing him on personal recognizance.

He was ordered to return to court on July 18 for a pre-trial hearing.

In a statement received by 7NEWS, Burlington Town Administrator Paul Sagarino said Falconer had also resigned from his position with the town’s fire department.

(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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House panel rejects abolishing death penalty

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Gov. John Bel Edwards came out publicly against the death penalty in April.   (Photo by Francis Dinh/LSU Manship School News Service)

A House committee on Wednesday rejected a bill, 11-4, to abolish the death penalty.
Rep. Kyle M. Green, Jr., D-Marrero, presented House Bill 228 to the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice, citing the “racial bend” toward African Americans, the financial benefits to the state and the risk of wrongful conviction in his arguments for abolishing the death penalty.
“It is my personal…

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BYD New Zealand launches new Dolphin EV – cheaper,

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BYD Auto New Zealand has announced a new entry-level battery electric vehicle (BEV) that fits underneath the big-selling Atto 3: the Dolphin hatchback.

With prices from $49,990-$55,990, the Dolphin stops just $3k short of the larger Atto 3. The base version has a 45kWh battery giving 340km range (WLTP), while the more expensive “extended range” has a 60kWh battery for 427km. Its main rival will be the forthcoming MG4, also a BEV-hatch.

Both Dolphin models qualify for the maximum Government Clean Car Discount, although that will be $7015: orders open June 5, but the first cars will not be delivered until September, after the rebate has reduced from the current $8625.

While some (us included) theorised this model might be called Atto 2 for NZ, it sticks with the “Dolphin” name, as used in China. It will probably not surprise that it’s part of BYD’s “Ocean” series (there’s a Tesla Model 3 sedan rival called Seal also on the way), with marine-inspired design cues that feature dolphins in “figurative and imaginative forms”, says the company.

The interior is supposed to give the impression that occupants are “wrapped in waves”. The upholstery is vegan leather, with the heated front seats featuring six‐way electric adjustment for the driver and a four‐way power adjustment for the front passenger.

The cabin includes a 12.8in rotating touch screen, voice integration and BYD owner app. 

The Dolphin has a panoramic sunroof made of acoustic and thermally insulated double‐layer grey glazing. It’s also equipped with a 97 per cent sunshade.

Customers can choose from four colour options – Sand White, Urban Grey, Coral Pink and Maldive Purple. The extended range model features two‐tone finish in Ski White, Surf Blue or Coral Pink paired with an urban grey roof. or Atlantis Grey with a black roof.

Like the Atto 3, Dolphin is built on BYD’s e‐Platform 3.0, using the company’s Blade battery technology.

All models feature Forward Collision Warning, Driver Fatigue Monitoring, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Rear Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Brake, Lane Departure Prevention and Emergency Lane Keeping Assist.  

Child Presence Detection is available in both models, alerting the owner of a presence in the vehicle once the owner has left the vehicle.

Dolphin also has vehicle-to-load (VTOL) discharge-back technology, with 3.3kW external discharge, allowing the car to become a mobile power station. 

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Suspected Russian Spy Whale Spotted Near Coast Of

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A male beluga suspected of being trained to be a Russian spy reappeared off the coast of a yet another country, according to a group that tracks the whale.

Hvaldimir, as the whale is known, swam around Norway and showed up in the waters of neighboring Sweden where local authorities are helping to look after the creature, the OneWhale organization announced in a statement Monday.

“After four years of swimming south down the coast of Norway, Hvaldimir – known worldwide as the ‘Russian spy’ beluga whale – is now in Swedish waters,” the group said.

The whale first made headlines in 2019 when it was spotted in Norwegian waters wearing a harness with GoPro camera mounts and clips that said, “Equipment off St Petersburg,” according to CNN.

Norwegian intelligence officials conducted an investigation and told the BBC the whale was likely trained by the Russian military. Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied the existence of programs to train sea mammals for surveillance purposes, even though The Washington Post notes that it published an advertisement several years back seeking to recruit dolphins.

In the years since Hvaldimir showed up in Norwegian waters, the beluga has become a local celebrity. As reported by the BBC, Hvaldimir’s name combines the Norwegian word for whale, “hval,” and the first name of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

OneWhale says on its website that Hvaldimir likes to hang around industrial salmon farms, but a “dramatic” increase in unregulated tourism aimed at the whale has led to the creature being injured by boat propellers and fishing hooks.

Hvaldimir “is a friendly, tamed, displaced, formerly captive whale who relies on humans for social interaction. Belugas are highly social whales and he has been living all alone the past four years,” the group said in its Monday statement.

Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with OneWhale, told The Guardian that Hvaldimir, who is believed to be between 13 and 14 years old, is at an age where hormones are “very high” and therefore the whale may be searching for other belugas.

Now, according to the OneWhale, there are plans to move the whale north to arctic waters and the group is working with the Norwegian port city of Hammerfest to create a reserve to hold Hvaldimir until he can be released back into a wild beluga population.

“Hvaldimir’s situation remains an extremely vulnerable one as Sweden is a highly populated country, but we are very grateful Swedish authorities have quickly taken action to care for the whale,” said OneWhale President Rich German.

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Yellowstone Park: Hawaii man pleads guilty to

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Clifford Walters of Hawaii pleaded guilty to one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife on May 31, 2023, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Hambrick, according to Yellowstone National Park.

Walters was given a $500 fine, a $500 community service payment to Yellowstone Forever Wildlife Protection Fund, a $30 special assessment, and a $10 processing fee, said the news release from the park.

Citing the violation notice, the park said on May 20, 2023, Walters approached a struggling newborn bison calf in Lamar Valley near the confluence of the Lamar River and Soda Butte Creek. The calf had been separated from its mother when the herd crossed the Lamar River.

As the calf struggled, the man pushed the calf up from the river and onto the roadway, the park said. Visitors later observed the calf walk up to and follow cars and people. Park rangers tried repeatedly to reunite the calf with the herd, but their efforts were unsuccessful. The calf was later euthanized by park staff because it was abandoned by the herd and causing a hazardous situation by approaching cars and people along the roadway, the news release said.

There was nothing in the report that revealed Walters acted maliciously.

Yellowstone National Park wants to remind the public that approaching wild animals can drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival. Park regulations require that people stay at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all wildlife (including bison, elk and deer) and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury and even death. The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules. Follow these links to learn more information on wildlife preservation in the park including when Yellowstone staff intervene in a natural process and why and why the bison calf was euthanized.

This case was investigated by Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christyne M. Martens, the park said.

For questions relating to Yellowstone National Park, please contact the Public Affairs Office at (307) 344-2015 or [email protected].
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Golf: Six area players named to GHSGCA All-State

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Six Northeast Georgia players were named to the Georgia High School Golf Coaches Association All-State teams, which was released on Wednesday.

Gainesville’s Henry Kopydlowski and Colin Henderson both were named to the first team in Class 6A after helping lead the Red Elephants to a runner-up finish.

Dawson County’s Samantha Dewendt was named to the first team in Class 3A after finishing third in the individual standings.

Jake Dalton of Banks County was named to the first team in Class 2A.

In Class 4A, Lillie Mallis and MaKayla Jones both named Honorable Mention selections after helping the Lady Trojans to a fourth place finish in the girls tournament

Below is the full list of All-State selections for all eight GHSA classifications:


CLASS AAAAAAA
BOYS
Mason Fundingsland (Milton) – Player of the Year (POY)
Rohan Gopaldes (North Gwinnett)
Jack Darke (Forsyth Central)
Luke Able (Carrollton)
Rahul Rajendran (Milton)
Sahish Reddy (Lambert)
Drew Sacia (Milton)
Pride Dyer (West Forsyth)
Wesley Hu (Lambert) – HM 
Bryant Vail (North Paulding) – HM 

GIRLS
Sara Im (Lambert) – POY
Georgia Blount (Camden County)
Athena Yoo (Lambert)
Hannah Mun (Lambert)
Catherine Odom (Lowndes)
Saanvi Venkatesh (Walton)
Annika Gomeyac (Walton)
Zoe Duval (Lambert)
Lindsey Pak (Peachtree Ridge) – HM
Adeline Laney (Carrollton) – HM


CLASS AAAAAA
BOYS
Williamson Mosher (Glynn Academy) – POY 
Henry Kopydlowski (Gainesville) 
Glover Amick (Woodward Academy) 
Brant Carman (South Paulding)
James Baker (Johns Creek)
Colin Henderson (Gainesville)
Matt Calhoun (Creekview)
A.J. Salierno (Newnan)
James Henry (Johns Creek) – HM 
Griffin Tully (Blessed Trinity) – HM 

GIRLS
Macy Fulton (Alexander) – POY 
Chanley Box (Glynn Academy)
Mahima Vurupatur (Alpharetta)
Ella York (Johns Creek)
Makena Dubois (Creekview)
Emma Hill (Glynn Academy)
Elizabeth Sullivan (St. Pius X)
Jocelyn Zeng (Johns Creek)
Bronwyn Comlish (Blessed Trinity) – HM 
Julia Geis (Blessed Trinity) – HM 


CLASS AAAAA
BOYS
Trace Carter (Ware County) – POY
Andrew Korytoski (Harris County)
Cole Stockard (Dalton)
Brody Tidwell (Cartersville)
Riley Ruby (Midtown)
Kane Carver (Coffee County)
Walker Gantt (Greenbrier)
Jackson Cavanaugh (Northgate)
Clay Taylor (Cambridge) – HM
Landon Noble (Northgate) – HM 

GIRLS
Ella Manley (Calhoun) – POY
Keely Johnson (Union Grove)
Sydney Himes (Northside-Columbus)
Adyson Lukich (Greenbrier)
Hannah Jung (Northview)
Reagan Henderson (Greenbrier)
Keegan Goins (Jones County)
Brooklyn Heath (Cartersville)
Sophia Choe (Northview) – HM 
Anna Kate Patton (Jefferson) – HM 


CLASS AAAA
BOYS
Zidan Ajani (Lovett) – POY
Ryan Ohde (Lovett)
Matthew Young (Westminster)
Frederick Chappell (North Oconee)
Saxon Chastain (LaGrange)
Antonio Juarbe (Wayne County)
Jack Shaifer (Lovett)
Hamp Threlkeld (Benedictine)
Michael Krevolin (Westminster) – HM
Jacob Wood (Westminster) – HM

GIRLS
Jessy Young (Westminster) – POY
Haven Ward (Holy Innocents’)
Camryn Wright (North Oconee)
Kyra Dube (Westminster)
Nathariya Phimsouthham (McDonough) 
Grace Crockett (Starr’s Mill)
Kate Belote (West Laurens)
Alisa Pressley (Cherokee Bluff)
MaKayla Jones (North Hall) – HM
Lillie Mathis (North Hall) – HM


CLASS AAA
BOYS
Brycen Jones (Thomasville) – POY
Andy Scott (Wesleyan)
Alex Holcomb (Wesleyan)
Grant Langford (LaFayette)
Charlie Miller (Savannah Christian)
Austin Porubsky (Richmond Academy)
Beau Jackson (Wesleyan)
Evan Rogers (Hebron Christian)
Ananth Thomas (Columbus) – HM
Jacob Fortner (Hebron Christian) – HM 

GIRLS
Mary Miller (Savannah Christian) – POY
Kate Barber (Savannah Country Day)
Samantha Dewendt (Dawson County)
Ava Cottis (Savannah Christian)
Emma Marshall (Bremen)
Bryn Sorge (Savannah Country Day)
Dani Zeigler (Pickens County)
Makenzie Hicks (Mary Persons)
Emma McCormick (Oconee County) – HM
Maclaine Donovan (Ringgold) – HM


CLASS AA
BOYS
Brody McQueen (Mount Paran) – POY
Jace Butcher (Mount Paran)
J.B. Knight (North Cobb Christian)
George Barkley (Athens Academy)
Jake Dalton (Banks County)
Zach Peterson (Mount Paran)
Bo Shuler (ELCA)
John Manuel Newland (Athens Academy)
Tucker Thompson (Mount Paran) – HM
Sam Schueren (Walker) – HM

GIRLS
Mackenzie Connell (Pierce County) – POY
Christina Surcey (North Cobb Christian)
Addyson Walker (Pierce County)
Madelyn Taylor (Appling County)
Kathryn DeLoach (Athens Academy)
Lily Spivey (Pierce County)
Morgan McKenzie (Mount Paran)
Kayla Silvers (Gordon Central)
Jenna Miles (Jeff Davis) – HM
Mary Knox Brewer (Dodge County) – HM

CLASS A (Division I)
BOYS
Will Baker (Prince Avenue) – POY
Maddox Drake (Prince Avenue)
Will Orr (Padeia)
Brady Starrett (Elbert County)
Rocco Lopez (Darlington)
Andres Morales (Darlington)
Ryan Callaham (Mount Pisgah)
Everett Horne (Lamar County)
Jeremiah Stuart (Screven) – HM
Luke Hylton (Brooks County) – HM

GIRLS 
Ther Kotchasanmanee (Darlington) – POY
Abby Bryant (Elbert County) 
Claire Bradford (Prince Avenue)
Agatha Blocker (Darlington)
Elizabeth Morris (Whitefield Academy)
Elle Adelman (Mount Pisgah)
Madeline Tabeau (Prince Avenue)
Ava Dye (Elbert County)
Mallory Higgins (Tallulah Falls) – HM
Phoebe Koch (Mount Pisgah) – HM

CLASS A (Division II)
BOYS
Colby Bennett (Lake Oconee Academy) – POY 
Jake Eason (Christian Heritage)
Charlie Hargrove (Aquinas)
K.T. Seo (Christian Heritage)
Clayton Shenk (Aquinas)
Rhett Smith (Lake Oconee Academy) 
Drew Williams (Lake Oconee Academy)
Garin Williford (McIntosh County Academy)
Halsey Bosart (Lake Oconee Academy) – HM 
Josh Walker (GMC) – HM

GIRLS
Kallyn Black (Lake Oconee Academy) – POY
Georgia Bosart (Lake Oconee Academy)
Shelby Clark (Portal)
Savanna Dokey (Hawkinsville) 
Willa Kent (Lake Oconee Academy)
Riley Lancaster (Hawkinsville)
Madi Grace Simmons (GMC)
Kensley Windham (Lake Oconee Academy)
Reese Brown (Christian Heritage) – HM
Natalie Overton (Christian Heritage) – HM

 

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Glide Across the Galaxy to Discover PETA’s ‘Dark

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Determined to discover a “dark side” of PETA? Hold on tight to your lightsaber! The shadowy voyage to the truth may surprise you—and even involves space flight and time travel.

Not So Long Ago in Our Galaxy, a ‘Dark Side’ Took Flight

Buuuuuut it’s not quite the dark side you’d expect. First, let’s leap back in time through PETA’s many milestones to 1981: Poof! As we board PETA’s starship to explore those earliest days, one thing is certain: It’s not launching from a “Death Star”—it’s soaring toward one in the hope that animals’ lives could be spared.

outer space background with the Star Wars Death star on the left and a PETA bunny made of stars leaping toward the Death Star

Still, a clever “cloak of darkness” helps the budding organization go undercover to investigate the use and abuse of monkeys for vivisection at a laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland. We observe as this leads to the first-ever criminal conviction of a U.S. experimenter on cruelty-to-animals charges. Rather than hiding anything in shadow, PETA aims to illuminate.

a monkey at the Institute of Behavioral Research, a laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland, where the experimenter cut the spinal nerves of monkeys, rendering one or more of their limbs useless

Suddenly, it’s clear: PETA’s “dark side” is, in fact, a kind of “Rebel Alliance” bent on ending the “Galactic Empire” of speciesism and its use of animals for experimentation, food, clothing, entertainment, or any other human purpose. Shining an animal rights lightsaber on the dark corners of exploitative industries—starting at Silver Spring, Maryland, over 40 years ago—is PETA’s intent, and “the Force” of compassion compels the organization’s witty campaigns forward.

PETA ad with alien holding up a finger and the text "AFRAID OF BEING PROBED? Animals are, too. Buy only cruelty-free cosmetics."

From here, we blast through multiple “meteor showers” of PETA’s efforts to spare animals used in vivisection often funded by unaware taxpayers through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We view whistleblowers and PETA’s undercover investigators witnessing—often for weeks or months on end—egregious abuse of animals in laboratories, leading to litigation to stop it. Far from displaying a typical dark side, PETA’s practically glowing like the twin suns of Tatooine by giving animals a chance at better lives.

Zooming through the years, we slow our pace to pass into PETA’s work to end tests on dogs, guinea pigs, monkeys, and other animals for space travel.

Reflecting on the tragic death of the dog Laika on Sputnik 2, we learn how PETA got NASA’s plan to irradiate monkeys scrapped. Humans in the present day can help animals forced into experiments by supporting our Research Modernization Deal.

guinea pig with speech bubble saying "Please don't send me into space!", looking up at crossed-out rocket taking off

Next, we observe Star Wars sequel trilogy actor Daisy Ridley take a strong stand for the marmosets being exploited and killed in cruel experiments at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst (UMass).

Starwars parody of UMass lab

Gliding up to PETA’s current campaign to end cruel, wasteful monkey fright tests, we watch NIH experimenter Elisabeth Murray suck out or burn parts of monkeys’ brains, confine the animals to a metal box, and then terrorize them with realistic-looking rubber snakes and spiders. Is it just us, or does she sound like a close cousin of Jabba the Hutt, who favors torturing captive individuals over showing kindness?

Since PETA supporters have done all they can over the years to be guardians of animals in these ways, it’s very encouraging that there’s a similar anti-vivisection theme in the recent film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Spar Wars’: Dispelling Doubts Over PETA’s ‘Dark Side’

PETA is working tirelessly against the speciesist “dark side,” despite any Spar Wars that persist. But in case some doubts linger after that main leg of our voyage, let’s fly a bit longer to dissipate them with a few more strong examples of what PETA’s up against:

‘Aliens’ Feast on ‘Human Flesh’ as Part of PETA’s Veganuary Push

*****

area 51-suggestive illustration that shows a UFO beaming someone up, and includes the text "GET IN LOSER, WE'RE GOING VEGAN"

Now that any “shroud of the [real] dark side has fallen,” we hope you’ll feel like a Jedi when you willingly hop aboard again soon for an enlightening mode of “abduction”—like our virtual-reality experience touring U.S. campuses. Next time, we may even glide by Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge—which earned PETA’s Vegan Superstar Award in honor of the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi—for stellar treats.

This concludes your first galactic tour. PETA thanks you for joining and urges you to stay tuned and get active—starting below as you alight from the starship.

3 attendees (including social media influencer Jessica Killings pictured on the right) of a PETA "Abduction" event in Los Angeles, in which humans had a VR experience to learn what it's like to be an animal used for experimentation

How to Summon Your Inner ‘Yoda’ to Help Animals

With the “Empire” of speciesism constantly striking back, PETA relies on you as a supporter to summon your inner Yoda and take action for animals. Now that you’ve flown through time and space to get a glimpse of what PETA’s actually up to, take a few moments to help our “Rebel Alliance” achieve more victories by telling UMass to stop cruel testing on marmosets:

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Cape York Crocodile Attack: Australian Man

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A crocodile attack occurred last week off the northern coast of Queensland, Australia, where a snorkeler was able to survive by forcefully opening the reptile’s jaws locked on his head.

Local reports said this is the fifth crocodile attack in the country in the past two months. While some previous cases did not end well, the latest attack resulted in a favorable outcome on the side of the Australian snorkeler.

The attack was reported to have transpired in the open sea just off the coast of Cape York in the far northern part of the Australian state. The victim is none other than 55-year-old Marcus McGowan, who was reportedly in the area with his wife and friends. The Australian man initially thought what bit him from behind was a shark but it turned out to be something else.

This year alone, multiple crocodile attacks have been reported across Australia, especially in Queensland, where the reptiles can be found both in shallow or open waters near the coast. The most common victims of such encounters involve locals involved in activities like fishing, swimming, and snorkeling, resulting in either deaths or injuries.

Cape York Crocodile Attack

Cape York Crocodile Attack

(Photo : Image by Angelo Giordano from Pixabay)

The predator involved in the Cape York incident was a saltwater crocodile that attacked McGowan multiple times on Saturday, May 27.

The first attack mentioned earlier ended when the McGowan “pried” open the crocodile’s jaws and found a small opening but enough to free his head from its tight grip, Fox News reported, citing from The Guardian. The second attack occurred when the man was fleeing to a rescue boat but was bitten on his hand after scaring off the pursuing croc.

In the report, McGowan said in a statement that he realized it was a crocodile, describing it was likely at a young age with a length of 2 to 3 meters or 6 to 10 feet. He also acknowledged the potential risks of encountering dangerous animals like sharks and crocodiles once entering the marine environment.

McGowan, a resident of the Gold Coast, was transported to a hospital 45 minutes away for treatment of his wounds. The incident happened on Haggerston Island in the middle of Cape York, according to 9 News Australia.

Also Read: Missing Fisherman Prompts Widespread Australia Crocodile Hunt for Two Monster Reptiles

Recent Australian Crocodile Attacks

Australia is no stranger to bizarre yet dangerous animals, let alone wild crocodiles. It is for this reason that several crocodile encounters have occurred in previous years.

In early May, a missing fisherman’s body in Queensland was found inside a crocodile. The man suddenly vanished while fishing with his friends at Kennedy Bend, which is a well-known habitat of saltwater crocodiles, the BBC reported.

In mid-May, a female tourist sustained injuries after being bitten by a saltwater crocodile in a remote part of northwestern Australia. The incident occurred in an area of Kimberley Creek near Gumboot Bay, Australia’s ABC News reported.

Related Article: Robert Irwin, Son of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin Nearly Attacked by 12-Foot-Long Crocodile


© 2023 NatureWorldNews.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.



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Walmart shareholders approve directors, discuss

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Wednesday’s (May 31) annual business meeting for Walmart Inc. shareholders went as expected. The meeting was held virtually and lasted about an hour, and included a question-and-answer session with shareholders.

Having gone public in 1970, the first meeting of shareholders took place in Bentonville, with 16 attending the public offering 53 years ago. Wednesday’s meeting was called to order by board chairman Greg Penner at 10:32 a.m.

Shareholders had positive news to celebrate. For fiscal 2023, Walmart reported record revenue of $611.3 billion, up 6.7% year over year. Net income was $11.68 billion, down 14.6% from the prior record pandemic year. But stronger than expected first-quarter results reported in early May included Walmart upgrading its earnings guidance for fiscal 2024 that will end Feb. 1, 2024. The retail giant said it expects net sales growth of 3.5% this year with adjusted earnings per share between $6.10 to $6.20, better than previous $5.99 per share expectations from analysts.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the retailer had posted annual sales growth of 6.5% in the past six years, excluding divestitures. He said Walmart continues its transformation to a leading omnichannel retailer, with 15% of sales that began in a digital format to start this year.

With a virtual quorum present, shareholders approved a slate of 11 directors to one-year terms, approved the 1-year frequency of voting for executive compensation, approved executive compensation, and ratified the appointment of Ernst & Young as the company’s independent accountant for fiscal 2024.

There were nine proposals brought by shareholders that were not approved. Walmart advised shareholders in the proxy filing to vote against outside proposals. The proposals dealt with more equity in pay across the company, more disclosure into company policies and procedures on reporting human rights issues, discrimination in hiring and firing based on race and sex, changing bylaws on how directors are chosen, and more clarity on how Walmart plans to protect privacy on reproductive health choices of customers now that abortion has been criminalized in many states.

Shareholders also asked Walmart to provide updates on workplace safety policies and procedures and human rights violations in China. Also, there was a floor proposal asking the retailer to report funding to any political action committees that incited the Jan. 6, 2021, violence in Washington, D.C.

Walmart said the company already has safeguards, policies and procedures in place that address each of the proposals.

It’s easy for Walmart to block proposals brought by outside shareholders, given that the board, executives and Walmart family members control more than 50% of the outstanding voting stock. The institutional owners of Walmart shares include the Vanguard Group at roughly 4.6%, Blackrock Fund at 2.39% and SSgA Funds at 2.23%. Walmart is one of the most widely-held common stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange, with 2.696 billion shares outstanding.

In the question-and-answer session, Walmart executives were again asked about protecting workers against gun violence in its U.S. stores. The execs said protecting workers and customers is a top priority. Given the rise in gun violence, McMillon said the company is seeking additional third-party input to address store safety.

A study by Guns Down America between Jan. 1, 2020, and Nov. 22, 2022, identified 363 shootings at Walmart stores, resulting in 112 deaths. The study found 536 shooting incidents resulting in 186 deaths in the nation’s 12 largest grocery chains. Kroger followed Walmart with 45 gun incidents resulting in 20 deaths.

Following are the directors elected for one-year terms.
Cesar Conde, age 49, chairman of NBCUniversal News Group
Timothy Flynn, 66, retired chairman of KPMG
Sarah Friar, 50, CEO of Nextdoor Holding
Carla Harris, 60, senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley
Thomas Horton, 61, retired chairman of American Airlines
Marissa Mayer, 47, founder of Sunshine Products, former CEO of Yahoo!
Doug McMillon, 58, CEO of Walmart
Greg Penner, 53, CEO of Denver Broncos, son-in-law of Rob Walton
Randall Stephenson, age 62, retired chairman AT&T
Rob Walton, 78, retired Walmart chairman, owner Denver Broncos
Steuart Walton, 41, founder RZC Investments, grandson of Helen and Sam Walton

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What foreign students love about Ahmedabad and

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Garba, street food, Bollywood – foreign students in Ahmedabad seem to have embraced the city and its culture even as the language barrier remains a challenge.

Between classes and everyday routine, students like Kurukulasuriya Lakshanth Malinka Mariyo Fernando, 21, from Sri Lanka, also take out time to watch movies like Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan.

A journalism student at the Institute of Journalism and Communication affiliated to Gujarat University, Fernando prefers staying in a hostel block closer to a metro station. While exploring the city and nearby areas, he has already visited Sabarmati Ashram, Kankaria Lakefront, and Adalaj Stepwell in Gandhinagar. Now he is keen on learning Garba, the Gujarati folk dance. “I like Indian movies. I watched Pathaan recently. I love Garba. But I don’t know the steps too well. So I usually try to imitate the steps of anyone I am dancing with, and then, I go with the flow,” he shares.

A large number of international students in Ahmedabad who have come under the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarship programmes say they are impressed by “the way Ahmdabadis preserve their culture”. Students come from more than 65 countries through ICCR. Many of the students in Gujarat are from Africa, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iraq, Fiji, Yemen and Myanmar.

As per Gujarat University’s School of International Studies and Diaspora, there are currently 538 foreign students enrolled in various programmes for the academic session 2022-23, highlights co-ordinator Jyoti Joshi.

Nametso Bulayani, 23, has been in India for two years and stays in a rented flat. Apart from Delhi and Mumbai, she has also visited Manali. “People from Ahmedabad are conservative and culturally-oriented, which is a good thing. As times are changing, we (youth) are slowly losing the connection with our roots. But the elders here ensure their culture is respected and preserved,” says Bulayani, a student at JG College of Business Administration.

Bulayani, who is from Botswana, says she was studying Public Health in her country before she got the opportunity to study BBA in Ahmedabad through the ICCR scholarship. Because she wanted to experience Indian culture, she quit her course and came to India.

But when she got to Ahmedabad, she was faced with a language barrier, which hindered her from exploring the city and culture to the fullest. “You go to hospitals, government offices, shops, and college… you go basically everywhere and language is a problem,” she says as she talks about not being able to converse in English with locals.

Language barrier seems to be the most pressing issue with international students, sometimes even in classrooms.

“Even in our school, you will find that all the lecturers teach in Gujarati.  It’s like they don’t see us in the class,” says Dineo Anacletta Lesuhlo, 28, from South Africa’s Lesotho. Lesuhlo, who has spent two years in India has finished her studies. Apart from the Sabarmati Ashram, she has been to Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh.

Many of these students also confess their love for Indian food, including typical Gujarati delicacies. “I like dhokla because it is soft,” says Fernando.

For Christopher James Omoegble, 21, from Nigeria, chholey bhature tops the list. “If you have an open mind to trying new foods, you’ll come to realise that most Indian dishes are nice,” says Omoegbele, who also studies at JG College.

He loves vegetarian food as much as non-vegetarian dishes. “Chicken tikka and tandoori chicken remind me of food back home,” adds Omoegble.

Lawrence Isago Mophakedi, 28, from Botswana admits he earlier thought racism could be an issue but he later figured Indians “are only curious and friendly”. He enjoys his breakfast of Vada Pav and Poha “because they’re nutritious”.

A student of Shri Chimanbhai Patel Institute of Management and Research, now Sardar Vallabhbhai Global University, Mophakedi says he “now understands Indians properly”. He has been living in the country for about eight months.’ “I like Indian movies. I watched ‘RRR’”

Devine Akachukwu, 20, from Nigeria, has been in India since he was 18. He has visited Shamlaji in north Gujarat. “I don’t like movies. But I watched ‘RRR”, says the student from MG Science Institute.

(Tankeh Kingsley Webora is an intern at The Indian Express; with inputs from Ritu Sharma)



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