London, Jan 28 (AP/UNB) — Officials say a rare red panda is safe and sound, a day after it escaped from Belfast Zoo in Northern Ireland.
The animal went missing on Sunday, and Belfast City Council had urged members of the public to report any sightings to the zoo.
The council said Monday that the mammal had been found, adding that "it is safe and well and has been returned to the zoo."
Two red panda cubs were born at the zoo in June, bringing the population there to four.
A small tree-dwelling mammal native to the Himalayas, the red panda is not closely related to the better-known giant panda.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature says the red panda faces a very high risk of extinction due to habitat loss.
New Delhi, Jan 26 (AP/UNB) — Thousands of Indians have converged on a ceremonial boulevard to watch a display of the country's military power and cultural diversity amid tight security during national day celebrations.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was the chief guest Saturday at the Republic Day parade, which celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of India's Constitution in 1950. India had first invited President Donald Trump but U.S. officials declined, citing a scheduling issue.
Schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through the capital's parade route on a cold morning, followed by the military hardware display.
The spectacle ended with Indian air force aircraft whizzing past the saluting base.
The theme of the parade was the 150th birthday of India's independence leader, Mohandas Gandhi.
Washington, Jan 24 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Greenland has gone through an "unprecedented" period of mass ice loss within the last two decades, according to a latest study.
The study, published earlier this week in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested that the largest sustained acceleration in ice loss from early 2003 to mid-2013 occurred in southwest Greenland, a region about which scientists were not concerned before.
Based on data collected by Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) satellites in 2003-2013, the study found a four-fold increase in mass being lost from Greenland's ice sheet.
Grace, consisted of two Earth-orbiting satellites, was launched in March 2002. It is a jointed mission between NASA and the German Aerospace Center.
"Continued atmospheric warming will lead to southwest Greenland becoming a major contributor to sea level rise," the study said.
According to the study, the decadal acceleration in mass loss in south-west Greenland arose due to the combination of sustained global warming and positive fluctuations in temperature.
Los Angeles, Jan 24 (AP/UNB) — After five decades, Jimmy Page's dragon has re-emerged from its lair.
Fender instruments on Wednesday gave the public its first look at its recreation of a Telecaster guitar that Page once painted with a dragon, a long-lost piece of six-string history that marked the guitar hero's last days in the Yardbirds and first days in Led Zeppelin.
The instrument with the psychedelic green-and-red serpent on its body represents "a pivotal moment for the guitar and music," said Paul Waller, the master builder who worked side-by-side with Page to make him a spot-on match of the guitar before making 50 more by hand to sell to the public.
The reboot was hatched when Page was looking through photographs for a book celebrating last year's 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin. The dragon guitar, which he says was once his "Excalibur," kept popping up in them, and he started to think it was time to get past his bitterness about its fate.
The 1959 Telecaster, pre-paint, had been a cherished gift from his fellow former Yardbird bandmate Jeff Beck.
"It was given to me with so much affection," Page told The Associated Press in October. "I really wanted to customize the instrument, almost consecrate the instrument."
Page first decorated it with mirrors, then pulled out poster paints and used his art-school skills to summon the dragon.
He would use the guitar to write and record songs like "Dazed and Confused" for the first Led Zeppelin album, work as significant as any in the history of the electric guitar.
But a clueless house-sitter, not thinking much of Page's painting, put his own mosaic artwork over the dragon and presented it to Page as a gift. Page said it was all he could do not to hit the guy over the head with it. Instead, he stripped it bare and angrily threw it into storage, where it sat for 50 years.
The guitar-makers at Fender had thought about remaking the instrument long before Page himself came forward, because of its historic significance and as a way to claim for Fender a piece of Page, who among guitar nerds is associated with rival Gibson guitars.
"A lot of people were surprised to hear all of Led Zeppelin One was recorded on a Telecaster, that's kind of mind-blowing," said Waller, who has been building guitars since high school woodshop and whose creations have included a Telecaster for Keith Richards and a fully functioning Stratocaster made of cardboard.
Page wanted to recreate not just the design, but the form, feel and sound of the original, so Waller went to his house in London and the two took out the old guitar and took it apart piece-by-piece so they could recreate each part for the rebuild.
"Best day at work ever," Waller said.
Page even made a trip to Fender's California plant — the rocker's first time inside a guitar factory — to inspect and help with the finished products.
"All the employees lost their minds," Waller said with a laugh, "to watch somebody like Jimmy Page be totally enthralled with the machinery and act like a kid and be taking pictures."
The 75-year-old Page painted at least a stroke on each of the 50 instruments Waller built.
"He was adamant about applying paint to every one," Waller said.
Fender is also selling assembly-line models of the guitar that are more affordable than the many thousands the handmade ones are likely to bring in.
Waller said he had been a bundle of nerves when the first of the recreations was sent to Page in England, and was deeply relieved when he heard back from Page that it was a dead ringer for his original.
"As soon as he opened the case he knew," Waller said.
Page agreed, telling the AP that "If anything, the colors were just slightly richer."
Dhaka, Jan 22 (AP/UNB) -This is not a new trend. The rankings have changed little over the last quarter century. What’s causing residents of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana and other southern states to live such short lives, while experiencing higher rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease?
As a researcher who’s worked on state health promotion in Hawaii and Texas, it’s clear to me that there are a variety of factors behind people’s poor health in southern states – and none will be an easy fix.
People in southern states die earlier from a variety of chronic conditions than people in the rest of the U.S. Infectious diseases including whooping cough, salmonella and chlamydia are high across the south, particularly in Louisiana and the Carolinas.
According to America’s Health Rankings, an annual report by the nonprofit United Health Foundation, someone living in Kentucky is 55 percent more likely to die from cancer than a person living in Utah. A resident of Mississippi is 85 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than someone living in Minnesota. If you live in West Virginia, you are more than twice as likely to have diabetes as someone living in Colorado.
Overall, premature death occurs almost twice as often in many of the southern states compared to Minnesota and California.
A July study found a 20-year difference in life expectancy by county, with most of the counties with lower life expectancy located in the Southeast. The life expectancy gap is also growing year to year.
Health behaviors also contribute quite strongly to the development of chronic diseases.
People living in many areas in the south are twice as likely to be smokers and be sedentary than people living in Utah. Every southern state except Florida has an adult obesity rate higher than 30 percent. This lack of fitness has led to the highest rates of injury in the Army basic training across the region.
Poor lifestyle behaviors don’t explain everything, though. For example, West Virginia and Kentucky have very high rates of drug overdose deaths related to the opioid epidemic. However, rates in many southern states – including Mississippi, Georgia and Arkansas – are lower than the rest of the country.
What is causing these poor health outcomes? As a public health researcher, I look to the physical and social conditions in which people live, including education levels, access to health care, air and water quality, housing, culture and many other factors. These can be the root causes of health and illness.
All of these states are relatively poor, with Kentucky, Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas and Mississippi having the lowest household median incomes in the county. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Idaho, for example, is ranked 40th in household income and 14th in health.
Education is often viewed as an important indicator of health – but Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri are all in the top 10 for high school graduation rates.
Air pollution – which is linked to heart attacks, bronchitis and asthma – falls somewhere in the middle for most southern states. Violent crime tends to be higher, with the exception of Mississippi.
Of the 26 states have comprehensive statewide indoor air smoking bans, none are in the South.
According to Walkscore, a site that calculates the walkability of cities, nine of the least walkable cities in the U.S. are in the South. Only one, Miami, is in the top 10.
Limited access to care
It can be hard to find a health care provider in the South. Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi all fall in the bottom 10 for the number of primary care physicians per capita. Mental health providers and dentists are also in short supply across the South. In fact, Alabama only has 85 mental health care providers per 100,000 people. Compare that to 547 per 100,000 in Massachusetts.
Lack of routine health care can lead to an increase in preventable hospitalizations. For instance, a diabetic who is routinely seen by a physician can avoid more serious complications that lead to hospitalizations. Infant mortality and low birth weight babies are prevalent across the region.
Funding for public health differs across the region, with West Virginia providing more per capita than any other state and Missouri spending a fifth of that. The uninsured population is also a mix, with Kentucky and West Virginia having low rates and Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma having some of the highest.
In the end, the data is clear: Americans living in the southern United States live shorter, sicker lives. The region needs a comprehensive strategy to improve health.
At Texas A&M, we’ve banded together with 13 universities in the Southeastern Conference to discuss ideas that can reach communities outside the universities.
One of our initial ideas is to leverage the mass gatherings around football games to promote positive health activities. The largely rural makeup of these states along with attendance at football games exceeding 78,000 people per game provides a unique southern strategy to change health in these states.
However, no single intervention will change several decades of poor health.