Month: June 2024

Space Pioneer says part of rocket crashed in central China

Beijing — Beijing Tianbing Technology Company said Sunday that the first stage of its Tianlong-3 rocket under development had detached from its launch pad during a test due to structural failure and landed in a hilly area of the city of Gongyi in central China.

There were no reports of casualties after an initial investigation, Beijing Tianbing, also known as Space Pioneer, said in a statement on its official WeChat account.

Parts of the rocket stage were scattered within a “safe area” but caused a local fire, according to a separate statement by the Gongyi emergency management bureau.

The fire has since been extinguished and no one has been hurt, the bureau said.

The two-stage Tianlong-3 (“Sky Dragon 3”) is a partly reusable rocket under development by Space Pioneer, one of a small group of private-sector rocket makers that have grown rapidly over the past five years.

Falling rocket debris in China after launches is not unheard of, but it is very rare for part of a rocket under development to make an unplanned flight out of its test site and crash.

According to Space Pioneer, the first stage of the Tianlong-3 ignited normally during a hot test but later detached from the test bench due to structural failure and landed in hilly areas 1.5 km (0.9 mile) away.

A rocket can consist of several stages, with the first, or lowest, stage igniting and propelling the rocket upward upon its launch.

When the fuel is exhausted, the first stage falls off, and the second stage ignites, keeping the rocket in propulsion. Some rockets have third stages.

Space Pioneer says the performance of Tianlong-3 is comparable to SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which is also a two-stage rocket.

In April 2023, Space Pioneer launched a kerosene-oxygen rocket, the Tianlong-2, becoming the first private Chinese firm to send a liquid-propellant rocket into space.

Chinese commercial space companies have rushed into the sector since 2014 when private investment in the industry was allowed by the state.

Many started making satellites while others including Space Pioneer, focused on developing reusable rockets that can significantly cut mission costs.

The test sites of such companies can be found along China’s coastal areas, located by the sea due to safety reasons.

But some are also sited deep in the country’s interior such as Space Pioneer’s test center in Gongyi, a city of 800,000 people in the central province of Henan.

LGBTQ+ Pride Month culminates with parades in New York, San Francisco and beyond

New York — The monthlong celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride reached its exuberant grand finale on Sunday, bringing rainbow-laden revelers to the streets for marquee parades in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere across the globe.

The wide-ranging festivities functioned as both jubilant parties and political protests, as participants recognize the community’s gains while also calling attention to recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws, such as bans on transgender health care, passed by Republican-led states.

“We’re at a time where there’s a ton of legislation, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation,” Zach Overton, 47, said at the New York parade. “It feels like we’re taking a step backwards in the fight for equality and so it’s a great moment to come out and be with our community and see all the different colors of the spectrum of our community and remind ourselves what we’re all fighting for.”

Thousands of people gathered along New York’s Fifth Avenue to celebrate Pride. Floats cruised the street as Diane Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” played from loudspeakers. Pride flags filled the horizon, and signs in support of Puerto Rico, Ukraine and Gaza were visible in the crowd.

This year, tensions over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza are also seeped into the celebrations, exposing divisions within a community that is often aligned on political issues.

Protesters temporarily blocked the New York parade on Sunday, chanting: “Free, free, free Palestine!” Police eventually took some of them away.

Pro-Palestinian activists disrupted pride parades earlier in June in Boston, Denver, and Philadelphia. Several groups participating in marches Sunday said they would seek to center the victims of the war in Gaza, spurring pushback from supporters of Israel.

“It is certainly a more active presence this year in terms of protest at Pride events,” said Sandra Perez, the executive director of NYC Pride. “But we were born out of a protest.”

The first pride march was held in New York City in 1970 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising, a riot that began with a police raid on a Manhattan gay bar.

Nick Taricco, 47, who was at the New York parade with Overton, said he attended Friday’s opening of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, where President Joe Biden spoke. Taricco said he has concerns about politics in the U.S., including the presidential election.

“Even given how old he is, I still think that’s the direction we need to go in,” Taricco said of Biden. “But it’s a very uncertain time in general in this country.”

Ireland Fernandez-Cosgrove, 23, celebrated at the New York parade.

“New York City is a great place to live, but this is one of the only days where you can come out and be openly queer and you know you’re going to be OK and safe about it,” she said. “I came out here today with my partner to be able to be ourselves in public and know that other people are going to be supporting us.”

In addition to the NYC Pride March, the nation’s largest, the city also played host Sunday to the Queer Liberation March, an activism-centered event launched five years ago amid concerns that the more mainstream parade had become too corporate.

Another one of the world’s largest Pride celebrations also took place Sunday in San Francisco.

Tens of thousands of revelers packed sidewalks along Chicago’s parade, a scaled-back event from previous years. City officials shortened the North Side route and the number of floats this year from 199 to about 150 over safety and logistical concerns, including to better deploy police into evening hours as post-parade parties have become more disruptive in recent years. Chicago’s parade, one of the largest in the U.S., routinely draws about 1 million people, according to the city. Sunday’s crowd estimates were not immediately available.

Additional parades were scheduled in Minneapolis and Seattle.

On top of concerns about protests, federal agencies have warned that foreign terrorist organizations and their supporters could target the parades and adjacent venues. A heavy security presence was expected at all of the events.

Hurricane Beryl strengthens into Category 4 storm as it nears southeast Caribbean 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Beryl strengthened into what experts called an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm as it approaches the southeast Caribbean, which began shutting down Sunday amid urgent pleas from government officials for people to take shelter.

Hurricane warnings were in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Beryl’s center is expected to pass about 112 kilometers south of Barbados on Monday morning, said Sabu Best, director of Barbados’ meteorological service.

“This is a very serious situation developing for the Windward Islands,” warned the National Hurricane Center in Miami, which said that Beryl was “forecast to bring life-threatening winds and storm surge.”

Beryl was located about 570 kilometers east-southeast of Barbados. It had maximum sustained winds of 215 kph and was moving west at 33 kph. It is a compact storm, with hurricane-force winds extending 30 kilometers from its center.

Beryl is expected to pass just south of Barbados early Monday and then head into the Caribbean Sea as a major hurricane on a path toward Jamaica. It is expected to weaken by midweek, but still remain a hurricane as it heads toward Mexico.

Historic hurricane

Beryl had strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane on Sunday morning, becoming the first major hurricane east of the Lesser Antilles on record for June, according to Philip Klotzbach, Colorado State University hurricane researcher.

It took Beryl only 42 hours to strengthen from a tropical depression to a major hurricane — a feat accomplished only six other times in Atlantic hurricane history, and with Sept. 1 as the earliest date, according to hurricane expert Sam Lillo.

Beryl is now the earliest Category 4 Atlantic hurricane on record, besting Hurricane Dennis, which became a Category 4 storm on July 8, 2005, hurricane specialist and storm surge expert Michael Lowry said.

“Beryl is an extremely dangerous and rare hurricane for this time of year in this area,” he said in a phone interview. “Unusual is an understatement. Beryl is already a historic hurricane and it hasn’t struck yet.”

Hurricane Ivan in 2004 was the last strongest hurricane to hit the southeast Caribbean, causing catastrophic damage in Grenada as a Category 3 storm.

“So this is a serious threat, a very serious threat,” Lowry said of Beryl.

Reecia Marshall, who lives in Grenada, was working a Sunday shift at a local hotel, preparing guests and urging them to stay away from windows as she stored enough food and water for everyone.

She said she was a child when Hurricane Ivan struck, and that she doesn’t fear Beryl.

“I know it’s part of nature. I’m OK with it,” she said. “We just have to live with it.”

Forecasters warned of a life-threatening storm surge of up to 3 meters in areas where Beryl will make landfall, with up to 15 centimeters of rain for Barbados and nearby islands.

Long lines formed at gas stations and grocery stores in Barbados and other islands as people rushed to prepare for a storm that has broken records and rapidly intensified from a tropical storm with 35 mph (56 kph) winds on Friday to a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday.

Warm waters were fueling Beryl, with ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic the highest on record for this time of year, according to Brian McNoldy, University of Miami tropical meteorology researcher. Lowry said the waters are now warmer than they would be at the peak of the hurricane season in September.

Beryl marks the farthest east that a hurricane has formed in the tropical Atlantic in June, breaking a record set in 1933, according to Klotzbach.

“Please take this very seriously and prepare yourselves,” said Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “This is a terrible hurricane.”

Bracing for the storm

Thousands of people were in Barbados for Saturday’s Twenty20 World Cup final, cricket’s biggest event, with Prime Minister Mia Mottley noting that not all fans were able to leave Sunday despite many rushing to change their flights.

“Some of them have never gone through a storm before,” she said. “We have plans to take care of them.”

Mottley said that all businesses should close by Sunday evening and warned the airport would close by nighttime.

Kemar Saffrey, president of a Barbadian group that aims to end homelessness, said in a video posted on social media Saturday night that those without homes tend to think they can ride out storms because they’ve done it before.

“I don’t want that to be the approach that they take,” he said, warning that Beryl is a dangerous storm and urging Barbadians to direct homeless people to a shelter.

Echoing his comments was Wilfred Abrahams, minister of home affairs and information.

“I need Barbadians at this point to be their brother’s keeper,” he said. “Some people are vulnerable.”

Meanwhile, St. Lucia Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre announced a national shutdown for Sunday evening and said that schools and businesses would remain closed on Monday.

“Preservation and protection of life is a priority,” he said.

Looking ahead

Caribbean leaders were preparing not only for Beryl, but for a cluster of thunderstorms trailing the hurricane that have a 70% chance of becoming a tropical depression.

“Do not let your guard down,” Mottley said.

Beryl is the second named storm in what is forecast to be an above-average hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 in the Atlantic. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Alberto came ashore in northeastern Mexico with heavy rains that resulted in four deaths.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the 2024 hurricane season is likely to be well above average, with between 17 and 25 named storms. The forecast calls for as many as 13 hurricanes and four major hurricanes.

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 14 named storms, seven of them hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Want to follow swimming in Paris? Then get up to speed on WADA, doping and China

TOKYO — The Paris Olympics open next month and the agency that oversees doping enforcement is under scrutiny following allegations it failed to pursue positive tests of Chinese swimmers who subsequently won medals — including three gold — at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

The focus on the World Anti-Doping Agency and China’s swimmers raises questions for athletes about the fairness of the competitions and the effectiveness of doping control at the Olympics.

“It’s hard going into Paris knowing that we’re going to be racing some of these athletes,” American swimmer Katie Ledecky, a seven-time Olympic champion, said in a television interview. “I think our faith in the system is at an all-time low.”

Rob Koehler, who worked as a deputy director of WADA until 2018, offered a similar tone.

“Athletes have zero confidence in the global regulator and World Aquatics,” Koehler, the director general of athletes’ advocacy body Global Athlete, told The Associated Press. “Transparency is needed more than ever. Without it, the anti-doping movement will crumble and athletes will never feel they have a level playing field.”

The background

From January 1-3, 2021, 23 elite Chinese swimmers tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine — a heart medication known as TMZ — while competing in the Chinese city of Shijiazhuang and staying in a local hotel.

Chinese authorities investigated but did not sanction the swimmers and said they had unwittingly ingested the banned substance. They blamed food/environmental contamination and said the drug had gotten into spice containers in the hotel kitchen.

The investigation was carried out by the Chinese Minister of Public Security, China’s national police force.

WADA accepted the explanation and argued, in part, it was not possible to send its own investigators to China during what officials said was a “local COVID outbreak.”

Several of those athletes later won medals at the Tokyo Olympics, including gold medals in three events.

Eleven of the 23 Chinese swimmers were named this month on the country’s national team to compete in Paris, including Zhang Yufei, who won gold in the 200-meter butterfly and the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay. She also won two silver medals in Tokyo.

Also on the list for Paris is 200 individual medley Olympic gold-medalist Wang Shun, and 200 breaststroke world-record holder Qin Haiyang.

The criticism of WADA

WADA has been criticized for seeming to look the other way at aspects of the Chinese anti-doping agency’s investigation and reporting. It has also not published any of the science behind its decision.

The Chinese agency, known as CHINADA, did not report the positive tests to WADA until mid-March. And in early April 2021 it told WADA it had begun an investigation. On June 15 of that year, it told WADA that environmental contamination was the cause and said it was not pursing an ADRV — an anti-doping rules violation.

Had an anti-doping rules violation been found, CHINADA should have filed a mandatory provisional suspension with a public disclosure forthcoming.

Many questions have been asked since the case became public this year, including by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators. Why did it take 2 1/2 months to report the findings, and why was the investigation begun even later? WADA attributes the “certain delays” to COVID restrictions.

Why was there an apparent delay in inspecting the hotel kitchen? Why was the residue still around, particularly in light of China’s tough sanitation rules during the pandemic? And where did the TMZ come from and how did it land in a spice container? Why were the national police involved in a sports doping case?

The New York Times and German broadcaster ARD broke the story in April of this year.

WADA’s defense

Basically, WADA says it had no grounds to challenge the findings of CHINADA. WADA did say, however, it did not agree with all of CHINADA’s investigation “for largely technical reasons.”

WADA says it accepted the contamination theory because: the levels of TMZ were very low; the swimmers were from different regions of China; and the swimmers were in the same place when the positive tests occurred. Also, competing swimmers stayed in another hotel. Three were tested and none tested positive.

Legally, WADA argued that it could have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but was advised not to by external lawyers. It would have been a narrow appeal that would not have kept the athletes from competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

WADA has appointed retired Swiss prosecutor Eric Cottier to review the handling of the case. Fairly or not, his impartiality has been questioned.

The banned medication

Trimetazidine is listed as a “metabolic modulator” and is banned by WADA — in competition and out of competition. It is believed to help endurance and recovery time after training. One of the best-known TMZ cases involved Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, who was suspended for three months in 2014 after testing positive for the substance. He also served a four-year suspension for a separate doping violation.

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for TMZ weeks before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. She said the substance had belonged to her grandfather and had accidentally contaminated her food. She was allowed to skate in Beijing, but was was eventually handed a four-year suspension.

WADA said Valieva’s contamination scenario “was not compatible with the analytical results.” In the case of the Chinese swimmers, WADA said “the contamination scenario was plausible and that there was no concrete scientific element to challenge it.”

Strict Liability

The principle of “Strict Liability” — athletes are responsible for what they ingest — is at the heart of the WADA code, and is there to ensure all athletes are treated equally. Some question if the principle was followed in this case.

WADA’s rules specify that a “mandatory provisional suspension” should have taken place after the positive tests, which were carried out at a WADA-approved laboratory in Beijing. The local anti-doping agency — in this case, CHINADA — should have issued the suspension.

“CHINADA’s handling of the case, and WADA’s subsequent response, did not adhere to the most essential rule in the code — the principle of Strict Liability,” Steven Teitler, the legal director of the Netherlands doping agency, wrote in a white paper examining the case.

WADA further muddied the water in a fact sheet it published. It said “even for mandatory provisional suspensions there are exceptions.” It said there were multiple precedents for the decision to exonerate the Chinese athletes, precedents that did not seem to have been widely known.

This has raised more questions about how the agency follows its own rules.

The anti-doping system relies on national agencies like CHINADA to enforce the rules, which can clash with the wishes of high-profile athletes and the prestige they might bring to a country and its government.

Parties, protests mark the end of Pride month in US and beyond

NEW YORK — The monthlong celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride reaches its exuberant grand finale on Sunday, bringing rainbow-laden revelers to the streets for marquee parades in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere across the globe.

The wide-ranging festivities will function as both jubilant parties and political protests, as participants recognize the community’s gains while also calling attention to recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws, such as bans on transgender health care, passed by Republican-led states.

This year, tensions over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza are also seeping into the celebrations, exposing divisions within a community that is often aligned on political issues.

Already this month, pro-Palestinian activists have disrupted pride parades held in Boston, Denver, and Philadelphia. Several groups participating in marches Sunday said they would seek to center the victims of the war in Gaza, spurring pushback from supporters of Israel.

“It is certainly a more active presence this year in terms of protest at Pride events,” said Sandra Pérez, the executive director of NYC Pride. “But we were born out of a protest.”

The first pride march was held in New York City in 1970 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising, a riot that began with a police raid on a Manhattan gay bar.

In addition to the NYC Pride March, the nation’s largest, the city will also play host Sunday to the Queer Liberation March, an activism-centered event launched five years ago amid concerns that the more mainstream parade had become too corporate.

Another one of the world’s largest Pride celebrations will also kick off Sunday in San Francisco. Additional parades are scheduled in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

On top of concerns about protests, federal agencies have warned that foreign terrorist organizations and their supporters could target the parades and adjacent venues. A heavy security presence is expected at all of the events.

San Francisco store is shipping LGBTQ+ books to places where they are banned

SAN FRANCISCO — In an increasingly divisive political sphere, Becka Robbins focuses on what she knows best — books.

Operating out of a tiny room in Fabulosa Books in San Francisco’s Castro District, one of the oldest gay neighborhoods in the United States, Robbins uses donations from customers to ship boxes of books across the country to groups that want them.

In an effort she calls “Books Not Bans,” she sends titles about queer history, sexuality, romance and more — many of which are increasingly hard to come by in the face of a rapidly growing movement by conservative advocacy groups and lawmakers to ban them from public schools and libraries.

“The book bans are awful, the attempt at erasure,” Robbins said. She asked herself how she could get these books into the hands of the people who need them the most.

Beginning last May, she started raising money and looking for recipients. Her books have gone to places like a pride center in west Texas and an LGBTQ-friendly high school in Alabama.

Customers are especially enthusiastic about helping Robbins send books to places in states like Florida, Texas and Oklahoma, often writing notes of support to include in the packages. Over 40% of all book bans from July 2022 to June 2023 were in Florida, more than any other state. Behind Florida are Texas and Missouri, according to a report by PEN America, a nonprofit literature advocacy group.

Book bans and attempted bans have been hitting record highs, according to the American Library Association. And the efforts now extend as much to public libraries as school libraries. Because the totals are based on media accounts and reports submitted by librarians, the association regards its numbers as snapshots, with many bans left unrecorded.

PEN America’s report said 30% of the bans include characters of color or discuss race and racism, and 30% have LGBTQ+ characters or themes.

The most sweeping challenges often originate with conservative organizations, such as Moms for Liberty, which has organized banning efforts nationwide and called for more parental control over books available to children.

Moms for Liberty is not anti-LGBTQ+, co-founder Tiffany Justice has told The Associated Press. But about 38% of book challenges that “directly originated” from the group have LGBTQ+ themes, according to the library association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Justice said Moms for Liberty challenges books that are sexually explicit, not because they cover LGBTQ+ topics.

Among those topping banned lists have been Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, George Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

Robbins said it’s more important than ever to makes these kinds of books available to everyone.

“Fiction teaches us how to dream,” Robbins said. “It teaches us how to connect with people who are not like ourselves, it teaches us how to listen and emphasize.”

She’s sent 740 books so far, with each box worth $300 to $400, depending on the titles.

At the new Rose Dynasty Center in Lakeland, Florida, the books donated by Fabulosa are already on the shelves, said Jason DeShazo, a drag queen known as Momma Ashley Rose who runs the LGBTQ+ community center.

DeShazo is a family-friendly drag performer and has long hosted drag story times to promote literacy. He uses puppets to address themes of being kind, dealing with bullies and giving back to the community.

DeShazo hopes to provide a safe space for events, support groups and health clinics, and to build a library of banned books.

“I don’t think a person of color should have to search so hard for an amazing book about history of what our Black community has gone through,” DeShazo said. “Or for someone who is queer to find a book that represents them.”

Robbins’ favorite books to send are youth adult queer romances, a rapidly growing genre as conversations about LGBTQ+ issues have become much more mainstream than a decade ago.

“The characters are just like regular kids — regular people who are also queer, but they also get to fall in love and be happy,” Robbins said.

Antelope poaching on rise in South Sudan

BADINGILO and BOMA NATIONAL PARKS, South Sudan — Seen from the air, they ripple across the landscape — a river of antelope racing across the vast grasslands of South Sudan in what conservationists say is the world’s largest land mammal migration.

The country’s first comprehensive aerial wildlife survey, released Tuesday, found about 6 million antelope. The survey over a two-week period last year in two national parks and nearby areas relied on spotters in airplanes, nearly 60,000 photos and tracking more than a hundred collared animals over about 120,000 square kilometers.

The estimate from the nonprofit African Parks, which conducted the work along with the government, far surpasses other large migratory herds such as the estimated 1.36 million wildebeests surveyed last year in the Serengeti straddling Tanzania and Kenya. But they warned that the animals face a rising threat from commercial poaching in a nation rife with weapons and without strong law enforcement.

“Saving the last great migration of wildlife on the planet is an incredibly important thing,” said Mike Fay, a conservation scientist who led the survey. “There’s so much evidence that the world’s ecosystems are collapsing, the world resources are being severely degraded and it’s causing gigantic disruption on the planet.”

The east African nation is still emerging from five years of fighting that erupted in 2013 and killed nearly 400,000 people. Elections scheduled for last year were postponed to this December, but few preparations are in place for those. Violence continues in some areas, with some 2 million people displaced and 9 million — 75% of the population — reliant on humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations.

The migration is already being touted as a point of national pride by a country trying to move beyond its conflict-riddled past. Billboards of the migration recently went up in the capital of Juba, and the government has aspirations that the animals may someday be a magnet for tourists.

South Sudan has six national parks and a dozen game reserves covering more than 13% of the terrain. The migration stretches from east of the Nile in Badingilo and Boma parks into neighboring Ethiopia — an area roughly the size of the U.S. state of Georgia. It includes four main antelope, the white-eared kob — of which there are some 5 million — the tiang, the Mongalla gazelle and bohor reedbuck.

The survey said some animals have increased since a more limited one in 2010. But it described a “catastrophic” decline of most non-migratory species in the last 40 years, such as the hippo, elephant and warthog. Associated Press journalists flying over the stunning migration of thousands of antelope last week saw few giraffes and no elephants, lions or cheetahs.

Trying to protect the animals over such a vast terrain is challenging.

In recent years, new roads have increased people’s access to markets, contributing to poaching. Years of flooding have meant crop failures that have left some people with little choice but to hunt for food. Some 30,000 animals were being killed each month between March and May this year, African Parks estimated.

The government hasn’t made a priority of protecting wildlife. Less than 1% of its budget is allocated to the wildlife ministry, which said it has few cars to move rangers around to protect animals. Those rangers say they haven’t been paid a salary since October and are outgunned by poachers.

South Sudan President H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit said the country is committed to turning its wealth of wildlife into sustainable tourism. He called on the Ministry of Wildlife to prioritize training and equipping rangers to fight poaching.

Matthew Kauffman, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and a professor of zoology at the University of Wyoming, said the work fits a growing global effort “to map these migrations.” One benefit is to be smarter when landscapes are developed to make way for these seasonal movements, he said.

Villagers near the parks told AP they mostly hunted to feed their families or to barter for goods.

A newly paved road between Juba and Bor — the epicenter of the illegal commercial bushmeat trade — has made it easier for trucks to carry large quantities of animals. Bor sits along the Nile, about 45 kilometers from Badingilo Park. In the dry season, animals coming closer to the town to drink are vulnerable to killing.

Officials at the wildlife ministry in Bor told AP the killing of animals had doubled in the last two years.

Even when those involved in the industry are caught, the consequences can be minor. A few years ago, when wildlife rangers came to arrest Lina Garang for selling animals, she said they let her go, instead telling her to conduct business more discreetly. Garang, 38, said her competition has only grown, with 15 new shops opening along her strip to buy and sell animals.

Part of the challenge is that there is no national land management plan, so roads and infrastructure are built without initial discussions about where best placed. The government’s also allocated an oil concession to a South African company in the middle of Badingilo that spans nearly 90% of the park.

African Parks is trying to square modernizing the country with preserving the wildlife. The organization has been criticized in the past for not engaging enough with communities and taking an overly militarized approach in some of the nearly two dozen areas it manages in Africa.

The group says its strategy in South Sudan is focused on community relations and aligning the benefits of wildlife and economic development. One plan is to create land conservancies that local communities would manage, with input from national authorities.

African Parks has set up small hubs in several remote villages and is spreading messages of sustainable practices, such as not killing female or baby animals.

Peter Alberto, undersecretary for the ministry of wildlife, conservation and tourism, said the government hopes the migration can become a point of pride, and reshape how the world thinks of South Sudan.

As for tourism, that may take a while. There aren’t hotels or roads to host people near the parks, and the only option is high-end trips for what one tour company official called a “high-risk” audience. There’s fighting between tribes and attacks by gunmen in the area, and pilots told AP they’ve been shot at while flying.

Will Jones, chief exploration officer for Journeys by Design, a U.K.-based tour company, charges roughly $150,000 per person for a weeklong tour in South Sudan. He said there isn’t strong demand.

Locals trying to protect the wildlife say it’s hard to shift people’s mentality.

In the remote village of Otallo on the border with Ethiopia, young men have started buying motorbikes. What had been an all-day trip on foot to cross the border to sell animals now takes just five hours, allowing them to double the number of animals they take and make multiple trips.

One of them, Charo Ochogi, said he’d rather be doing something else but there are few options, and he’s not worried about the animals disappearing.

“The kob isn’t going to finish. They’ll reproduce,” he said.

Beryl strengthens into a hurricane, forecast to become major storm

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Beryl strengthened into a hurricane Saturday as it churned toward the southeast Caribbean, with forecasters warning it was expected to strengthen into a dangerous major hurricane before reaching Barbados late Sunday or early Monday. 

A major hurricane is considered a Category 3 or higher, with winds of at least 178 kph. Beryl is now a Category 1 hurricane. 

A hurricane warning was issued for Barbados, and a hurricane watch was in effect for St. Lucia, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while a tropical storm watch was issued for Martinique, Dominica and Tobago.  

“It’s astonishing to see a forecast for a major (Category 3+) hurricane in June anywhere in the Atlantic, let alone this far east in the deep tropics. #Beryl organizing in a hurry over the warmest waters ever recorded for late June,” Florida-based hurricane expert Michael Lowry posted on X. 

Beryl’s center is forecast to pass about 45 kilometers (about 28 mi) south of Barbados, said Sabu Best, director of the island’s meteorological services. 

On Saturday, Beryl was about 1,160 kilometers (about 721 mi) east-southeast of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 120 kph. It was moving west at 35 kph. 

“Rapid strengthening is now forecast,” the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said. 

Warm waters are fueling Beryl, with ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic the highest on record for this time of year, according to Brian McNoldy, University of Miami tropical meteorology researcher. 

Beryl is the strongest June tropical storm on record that far east in the tropical Atlantic, noted Philip Klotzbach, Colorado State University hurricane researcher. 

“We need to be ready,” Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley said in a public address late Friday. “You and I know when these things happen, it is better to plan for the worst and pray for the best.” 

She noted that thousands of people were in Barbados for the Twenty20 World Cup cricket final in the capital, Bridgetown, on Saturday.  

Some fans, such as Shashank Musku, a 33-year-old physician who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were rushing to change their flights to leave before the storm. 

Musku has never experienced a hurricane: “I don’t plan on being in one, either.” 

Meanwhile, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in a public address Saturday that shelters will open Sunday evening as he urged people to prepare. He ordered officials to refuel government vehicles and asked grocery stores and gas stations to stay open later before the storm. 

Beryl is the second named storm in what is predicted to be a busy hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30 in the Atlantic. Earlier this month, Tropical Storm Alberto came ashore in northeast Mexico with heavy rains that resulted in four deaths. 

Mark Spence, manager of a hostel in Barbados, said in a phone interview that he was calm about the approaching storm. 

“It’s the season. You can get a storm any time,” he said. “I’m always prepared. I always have enough food in my house.” 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the 2024 hurricane season is likely to be well above average, with between 17 and 25 named storms. The forecast calls for as many as 13 hurricanes and four major hurricanes. 

Beryl is expected to drop up to 15 centimeters (about 6 inches) of rain in Barbados and nearby islands, and a high surf warning of waves up to 4 meters (13 feet) was in effect. A storm surge of up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) is also forecast. 

Taiwan singer urges awards audience to remember Tiananmen

taipei, taiwan — Taiwanese singer and activist Panai called Saturday — at one of the most prestigious entertainment events in the Chinese-speaking world — for people not to forget China’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square. 

Chinese artists in recent years have largely stayed away from Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards given renewed tension between democratically governed Taiwan and China, which views the island as its own territory, and the reference to Tiananmen is unlikely to endear Beijing to the ceremony. 

Taking the stage after winning for best Taiwanese language album at the ceremony in Taipei, Panai said this was the 35th anniversary of the awards. 

“The Tiananmen Square incident is also exactly 35 years old, let’s not forget,” she said. 

Chinese tanks rolled into the square before dawn on June 4, 1989, to end weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations by students and workers. Public discussion of what happened is taboo in China, though it is freely talked about in Taiwan. 

China says it “long ago” reached a clear conclusion about the events of 1989, and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Panai has campaigned for years for the rights of Taiwan’s Indigenous people. 

“Democracy is a lengthy and not an easy journey, we are pressured as we don’t know if we will be bullied by a ‘bigger’ power,” she told reporters backstage after her win. 

“The reason why I mentioned that event on stage is because Taiwan’s democracy is a process that all of us need to cherish; our freedom and freedom of speech is what we need to protect.” 

No Chinese singers attended this year’s awards, despite several high-profile nominations, including Xu Jun winning for best composer. 

Another Chinese singer, Jude Chiu, did arrive in Taiwan but returned to the country before the awards for health reasons, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported. 

While Taiwan has only 23 million people, its pop music scene has an outsized cultural influence across East Asia, especially in China, in part due to creativity unencumbered by censorship. 

The awards celebrate not only Mandopop but artists singing in Taiwanese — also known as Hokkien — Hakka and Indigenous languages like Bunun, a visible sign of the Taiwan government’s efforts to promote once suppressed tongues. 

What is a Gutenberg Bible? And why is it relevant 500 years after its printing?

NEW YORK — It’s not just a book.

Back in the 1450s, when the Bible became the first major work printed in Europe with moveable metal type, Johannes Gutenberg was a man with a plan.

The German inventor decided to make the most of his new technology — the movable-type printing press — by producing an unprecedented version of the scripture for wealthy customers who could interpret Latin: leaders of the Catholic Church.

Though he planned on printing 150 Bibles, increasing demand motivated him to produce 30 extra copies, which led to a total of 180. Currently known as the “Gutenberg Bibles,” around 48 complete copies are preserved.

None is known to be kept in private hands. Among those in the United States, a paper Bible can be seen at the Morgan Library & Museum, in New York City. Two more copies in vellum lie in the underground vaults, next to 120,000 other books.

Why should anyone — religiously observant or not — feel compelled to see a Gutenberg Bible up close? Here’s a look at how its printing influenced the history of books and the religious landscape. And what a 500-year-old volume can still reveal.

What is a Gutenberg Bible?

The term refers to each of the two-volume Bibles printed in Gutenberg’s workshop around 1454.

Before that, all existing Bibles were copied by hand. The process could take up to a year, said John McQuillen, associate curator at the Morgan Library. In contrast, it is believed that Gutenberg completed his work in about six months.

Each Gutenberg Bible has nearly 1,300 pages and weighs around 60 pounds. It’s written in Latin and printed in double columns, with 42 lines per page.

Most were printed on paper. A few others on animal skin.

When a Bible came off the press, only the black letters were printed. Hand decorations and bindings were added later, depending on each buyer’s taste and budget.

Some ornamentations were added in Germany. Others in France, Belgium or Spain.

Therefore, each Gutenberg Bible is unique, McQuillen said.

Why were these Bibles a turning point?

Gutenberg’s invention produced a massive multiplication of complete copies of biblical texts.

The first impact was among scholars and learned priests who had easier access than ever before, said Richard Rex, professor of Reformation History from the University of Cambridge.

“This massive multiplication even led to the wider adoption of the term ‘Bible’ (Biblia) to describe the book,” Rex said. “Medieval authors and others do speak sometimes of ‘the Bible’, but more commonly of ‘scripture.'”

Psychologically, Rex said, the appearance of the printed text — its regularity, precision and uniformity — contributed to a tendency to resolve theological arguments by reference to the biblical text alone.

Later on, the printing of Bibles in vernacular languages — especially from Luther’s Bible (early 1520s) and Tyndale’s New Testament (mid 1520s) onwards — affected the way that ordinary parishioners related to religion and the clergy.

The limits of literacy still meant that access to the Bible was far from universal. Gradually, though, religious leaders stopped being its main interpreters.

“The phenomenon of lay people questioning or interpreting the biblical text became more common from the 1520s onwards,” Rex said. “Although the early Protestant Reformers, such as Luther, emphasized that they did not seek to create an interpretative ‘free for all,’ this was probably the predictable consequence of their appeal to ‘scripture alone.'”

More than a book

Three times per year, a curator from the Morgan Library turns the page of the Gutenberg Bible on display. It’s leaves not only tell a tale of scripture, but of those who possessed it.

A few years ago, by studying its handmade initials, McQuillen was the one to figure out the origin of its decoration: a German monastery that no longer exists.

Similarly, in the 2000s, a Japanese researcher found little marks on the surface of the Old Testament’s paper copy. Her findings revealed that those leaves were used by Gutenberg’s successors for their own edition, printed in 1462.

“For as many times as the Gutenberg Bible have been looked at, it seems like every time a researcher comes in, something new can be discovered,” McQuillen said.

“This book has existed for 500 years. Who are the people that have touched it? How can we talk about these personal histories in addition to the greater idea of what printing technology means on a European or global scale?” he said.

Among the thousands of Bibles that J. P. Morgan acquired, owners made various annotations. Individual names, birth dates, details that reflect a personal story.

“A Bible is now sort of a book on the shelf,” McQuillen said. “But at one point, this was a very personal object.”

“In a museum setting, they become art and a little bit distanced, but we try to break that distance down.”

New Indigenous holiday comes of age in New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — When Ngarauru Mako told her family she was calling off Christmas festivities in favor of celebrating Matariki, the Māori new year holiday that’s experiencing a renaissance in New Zealand, her children didn’t believe her.

“We grew up with Christmas because it was just what you did, but I realized it wasn’t my thing,” said Mako, who is Māori, a member of New Zealand’s Indigenous people. “I just decided myself to cancel Christmas, be the Grinch, and take on Matariki.”

Now in its third year as a nationwide public holiday in New Zealand, Matariki marks the lunar new year by the rise of the star cluster known in the Northern Hemisphere as the Pleiades. The holiday is seeing a surge in popularity, even as political debates about race in New Zealand have grown more divisive. Accompanying the holiday’s rise is a tension between those embracing Indigenous language and culture, and a vocal minority who wish to see less of it.

“For much of our past, since the arrival of settlers to this land, mostly out of Great Britain, we’ve really looked to mimic and build our identity off Great Britain,” said Rangi Mātāmua, professor of Mātauranga Māori -– Māori knowledge — at Massey University and an adviser to the government on Matariki.

“But I think as we’ve moved a number of generations on, Aotearoa New Zealand is starting to come of age in terms of our understanding of our identity,” he added, using both the Māori and English names for the country.

When New Zealand established the national day in 2022, it became the first nation in the world to recognize an Indigenous-minority holiday, scholars including Mātāmua believe. But many did not know what it was. Even so, 51% of people did something to mark the day, official figures show, and that number grew to 60% in 2023. Matariki falls on a different midwinter date each year based on the Māori lunar calendar; in 2024 it was officially celebrated June 28.


A 700-year-old tradition that fell out of observance in modern times — even among the 1 million Māori who make up New Zealand’s population of 5 million -– the fortunes of Matariki changed over the past few decades, as Māori language, culture and traditions saw a passionate resurgence.

“Māori culture has been oppressed for a long, long time. We lost our reo — our language — nearly, we nearly lost our identity,” said Poropiti Rangitaawa, a musician who performed Māori songs this month at a family Matariki celebration outside of Wellington, the capital city. “But with the hope of our people, our old people, our ancestors, they have brought it up and now it’s really strong.”

The carnival day at Wainuiomata where Rangitaawa played was one of many events New Zealanders of all ethnicities attended to mark Matariki. Some attended predawn ceremonies where steam from food is released to “feed the stars” and lists of names are read remembering the dead and those born since the last celebration.

Dotted around Wellington were remembrance spots — in the back room of a church, in a garden -– where visitors displayed notes to those they had lost: a dad, an aunt, a cat.

“It’s only just now that I’m realizing Matariki is about the stars, and I love the fact that they’ve got a star for the ones we’ve lost in the year,” said Casey Wick, attending a celebration with her family.

For many, a growing knowledge of the holiday has come through their children, which is typical of New Zealand’s Indigenous movement. Protests in the 1970s seeking recognition of the language gave rise to Māori language pre-schools whose first generation of graduates are fluent speakers.

Every elementary school in New Zealand now recognizes Matariki, and many this month hosted shared meals for families to celebrate. Children come home singing the names of the nine Matariki stars to the tune of the Macarena.

“I learn more from her about Matariki than I could ever give to her,” said Liana Childs, whose daughter Akaylia, 9, recited the stars of the cluster perfectly. The family is not Māori, Childs said, but they studied the Māori seasons, which guide the planting of crops and when to hunt.

“I think it’s just brought us closer together as a family,” she said.

The political climate for Māori language and culture, however, is complicated.

Words in the language are now commonplace in conversations, but Māori has its detractors, too. Matariki was established as a national day under New Zealand’s previous center-left government, which urged the country to embrace Māori culture. The government, however, was often decried for doing little to address woeful economic, health and justice issues for Māori that became entrenched after New Zealand was colonized in the 19th century.

A change of government last October meant a new era for Matariki. The party leading the current center-right coalition supports the day, but one of its coalition partners does not. The government has also pledged to scrap some policies recognizing Māori that were passed by its predecessors, getting rid of a Māori health agency that prioritized Indigenous New Zealanders, who die younger than people of non-Maori descent; reversing a movement to grant Māori names to government agencies, some of which have already reverted to their English titles; and halting plans for shared management of public utilities with Māori tribes.

One of the governing parties has provoked a fresh debate about New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi -– signed between Māori tribes and the British Crown in 1840 -– with the suggestion that modern interpretations have given Māori too many rights. The rumblings about a revisited treaty have prompted protest marches.

“Governments will come and governments will go,” said Mātāmua, the professor. “Matariki existed before government, and it will continue to exist after the current government.”

Māori language and culture almost died out when earlier politicians opposed their expression, Mātāmua said, but in a nation where many are now enthusiastic about it, any government trying to curtail the celebration would learn “that perhaps trying to put this genie back in the bottle would be very, very difficult.”

At the Matariki celebration in Wainuiomata, Tash Simpson stood with friends at a stall that fused Māori and Kenyan crafts.

“We’re stronger now. Our people are more knowledgeable now,” she said of political threats to Māori. “But now we know what’s coming and we’re ready.”

More African nations focus on HPV vaccination against cervical cancer

ABUJA, Nigeria — Yunusa Bawa spends a lot of time talking about the vaccine for the human papillomavirus that is responsible for nearly all cases of cervical cancer. But on most days, only two or three people allow their daughters to be vaccinated in the rural part of Nigeria where he works.

The challenge in Sabo community, on the outskirts of the capital of Abuja, is the unfounded rumor that the HPV vaccine will later keep young girls from giving birth.

“The rumor is too much,” said Bawa, 42.

As more African countries strive to administer more HPV vaccines, Bawa and other health workers tackle challenges that slow progress, particularly misinformation about the vaccine. The World Health Organization’s Africa office estimates that about 25% of the population still has doubts about it — reflecting concerns seen in some other parts of the world in early campaigns for the vaccine.

A common sexually transmitted virus, HPV can cause cervical cancer, certain other cancers and genital warts. In most cases, the virus doesn’t cause any problems, but some infections persist and eventually lead to cancer.

Across Africa, an average of 190 women died daily from cervical cancer in 2020, accounting for 23% of the deaths globally and making it the leading cancer killer among women in the WHO Africa region of 47 countries. Eighteen of the 20 countries with the highest rate of cervical cancer cases in the world are in Africa. Yet the region’s HPV vaccination rate has been low.

More than half of Africa’s 54 nations – 28 – have introduced the vaccine in their immunization programs, but only five have reached the 90% coverage that the continent hopes to achieve by 2030. Across the region, 33% of young girls have been vaccinated with HPV.

It’s a stark contrast to most European countries, where both girls and boys have been receiving HPV shots.

Part of why Africa has a high burden of cervical cancer is because of limited access to screening for women, said Emily Kobayashi, head of the HPV Program at the vaccines alliance Gavi.

“The elimination strategy is a long game … but we know that vaccination is the strongest pillar and one of the easiest to implement,” Kobayashi said.

But “it is one thing to introduce the vaccine, but if the vaccine remains in the fridge, it doesn’t prevent cervical cancer,” said Charles Shey Wiysonge, head of the vaccine-preventable diseases program in the WHO’s Africa region. He said information must be provided by people “who are trusted, people who are close to the communities.”

There is a long history of vaccine hesitancy in many African countries that is sometimes linked to a lack of trust in government, as one study published in the Nature science journal in May found, giving room for conspiracy theories and misinformation from social media influencers and religious leaders.

In Zimbabwe, where cervical cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, a group of mostly women known as Village Health Workers have been trained to raise awareness about cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine in rural areas. But they fight a high level of hesitancy among religious sects that discourage followers from modern medicines, asking them to rely instead on prayers and “anointed” water and stones.

The women who eventually agree to be screened for cervical cancer do so in secret, said Zanele Ndlovu, one of the health workers on the outskirts of Bulawayo city.

For a deeply religious country like Zimbabwe, “the spiritual leaders have so much influence that a lot of our time is taken trying to educate people about the safety of vaccines, or that they are not ungodly,” Ndlovu said.

There are also success stories in Africa where authorities have achieved up to a 90% vaccination rate. One example is Ethiopia, which relies heavily on religious leaders, teachers and hotline workers.

In Rwanda, the first African country to implement a national HPV vaccination program in 2011, the coverage rate has reached 90%. Hesitancy is less of an issue due to vigorous awareness work that has relied on school-based campaigns and community outreach programs, said Dr. Theoneste Maniragaba, director of the cancer program at Rwanda Biomedical Center.

Mozambique has deployed school-based programs, a door-to-door approach and mobile outreach for girls in hard-to-reach areas that has helped it reach 80% coverage rate with the first of two doses. In Tanzania, where the HPV vaccine has been in use since at least 2018, authorities in April launched a campaign to target over 5 million girls and further raise coverage, which has reached 79% of girls with the first dose.

One of Africa’s largest HPV vaccination drives targeting girls recently kicked off in Nigeria, which has procured nearly 15 million doses with the help of the U.N. children’s agency. It will target girls ages 9–14 with single doses that the WHO’s African immunization advisory group has said is as effective as the regular two doses.

One challenge is explaining the HPV vaccination to girls ahead of the onset of sexual activity, especially in conservative societies, said Dr. Aisha Mustapha, a gynecologist in northern Kaduna state.

Mustapha has been successfully treated for cervical cancer. She said the experience helps in her meetings with religious leaders and in community outreach programs in Kaduna, where she leads the Medical Women Association of Nigeria.

They try to make the girls feel comfortable and understand why the vaccine is important, she said. That sometimes requires comic books and lots of singing.

“The (cervical) cancer … is no respecter of any identity,” she said. “The vaccine is available, it is free, it is safe and effective.”

Palestinians face summer heat surrounded by sewage, garbage

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza — Children in sandals trudge through water contaminated with sewage and scale growing mounds of garbage in Gaza’s crowded tent camps for displaced families. People relieve themselves in burlap-covered pits, with nowhere nearby to wash their hands.

In the stifling summer heat, Palestinians say the odor and filth surrounding them is just another inescapable reality of war — like pangs of hunger or sounds of bombing.

The territory’s ability to dispose of garbage, treat sewage and deliver clean water has been virtually decimated by eight brutal months of war between Israel and Hamas. This has made grim living conditions worse and raised health risks for hundreds of thousands of people deprived of adequate shelter, food and medicine, aid groups say.

Hepatitis A cases are on the rise, and doctors fear that as warmer weather arrives, an outbreak of cholera is increasingly likely without dramatic changes to living conditions. The U.N., aid groups and local officials are scrambling to build latrines, repair water lines and bring desalination plants back online.

COGAT, the Israeli military body coordinating humanitarian aid efforts, said it’s engaging in efforts to improve the “hygiene situation.” But relief can’t come soon enough.

“Flies are in our food,” said Adel Dalloul, a 21-year-old whose family settled in a beach tent camp near the central Gaza city of Nuseirat. They wound up there after fleeing the southern city of Rafah, where they landed after leaving their northern Gaza home. “If you try to sleep, flies, insects and cockroaches are all over you.”

More than a million Palestinians had been living in hastily assembled tent camps in Rafah before Israel invaded in May. Since fleeing Rafah, many have taken shelter in even more crowded and unsanitary areas across southern and central Gaza that doctors describe as breeding grounds for disease — especially as temperatures regularly reach 32 degrees Celsius.

“The stench in Gaza is enough to make you kind of immediately nauseous,” said Sam Rose, a director at the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

Conditions are exacting an emotional toll, too.

Anwar al-Hurkali, who lives with his family in a tent camp in the central Gazan city of Deir al-Balah, said he can’t sleep for fear of scorpions and rodents. He doesn’t let his children leave their tent, he said, worrying they’ll get sick from pollution and mosquitoes.

“We cannot stand the smell of sewage,” he said. “It is killing us.”

Basic services breakdown

The U.N. estimates nearly 70% of Gaza’s water and sanitation plants have been destroyed or damaged by Israel’s heavy bombardment. That includes all five of the territory’s wastewater treatment facilities, plus water desalination plants, sewage pumping stations, wells and reservoirs.

The employees who once managed municipal water and waste systems have been displaced, and some killed, officials say. This month, an Israeli strike in Gaza City killed five government employees repairing water wells, the city said.

Despite staffing shortages and damaged equipment, some desalination plants and sewage pumps are working, but they’re hampered by lack of fuel, aid workers say.

A U.N. assessment of two Deir al-Balah tent camps found in early June that people’s daily water consumption — including drinking, washing and cooking — averaged under 2 liters, far lower than the recommended 15 liters a day.

COGAT said it’s coordinating with the UN to repair sewage facilities and Gaza’s water system. Israel has opened three water lines “pumping millions of liters daily” into Gaza, it said.

But people often wait hours in line to collect potable water from delivery trucks, hauling back to their families whatever they can carry. The scarcity means families often wash with dirty water.

This week, Dalloul said, he lined up for water from a vendor. “We discovered that it was salty, polluted, and full of germs. We found worms in the water. I had been drinking from it,” he said. “I had gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea, and my stomach hurts until this moment.”

The World Health Organization declared an outbreak of hepatitis A that, as of early June, had led to 81,700 reported cases of jaundice — a common symptom. The disease spreads primarily when uninfected people consume water or food contaminated with fecal matter.

Because wastewater treatment plants have shut down, untreated sewage is seeping into the ground or being pumped into the Mediterranean Sea, where tides move north toward Israel.

“If there are bad water conditions and polluted groundwater in Gaza, then this is an issue for Israel,” said Rose, of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. “It has in the past prompted actions by Israel to try and ameliorate the situation.”

COGAT said it’s working on “improving waste management processes” and examining proposals to establish new dumps and allow more garbage trucks into Gaza.

Where can garbage go?

Standing barefoot on a street in the Nuseirat refugee camp, 62-year-old Abu Shadi Afana compared the pile of garbage next to him to a “waterfall.” He said trucks continue to dump rubbish even though families live in tents nearby.

“There is no one to provide us with a tent, food, or drink, and on top of all of this, we live in garbage?” Afana said. Trash attracts bugs he’s never seen before in Gaza — small insects that stick to his skin. When he lies down, he said, he feels like they’re “eating his face.”

There are few other places for the garbage to go. When Israel’s military took control of a 1-kilometer buffer zone along its border with Gaza, two main landfills east of the cities of Khan Younis and Gaza City became off-limits.

In their absence, informal landfills have developed. Displaced Palestinians running out of areas to shelter say they’ve had little choice but to pitch tents near trash piles.

Satellite images from Planet Labs analyzed by The Associated Press show that an informal landfill in Khan Younis that sprung up after October 7 appears to have doubled in length since January. Since the Rafah evacuation, a tent city has sprung up around the landfill, with Palestinians living between piles of garbage.

Cholera fears

Doctors in Gaza fear cholera may be on the horizon.

“The crowded conditions, the lack of water, the heat, the poor sanitation — these are the preconditions of cholera,” said Joanne Perry, a doctor working in southern Gaza with Doctors Without Borders.

Most patients have illnesses or infections caused by poor sanitation, she said. Scabies, gastrointestinal illnesses and rashes are common. More than 485,000 diarrhea cases have been reported since the war’s start, WHO says.

“When we go to the hospital to ask for medicine for diarrhea, they tell us it is not available, and I go to buy it outside the hospital,” al-Hurkali said. “But where do I get the money?”

COGAT says it’s coordinating delivery of vaccines and medical supplies and is in daily contact with Gaza health officials. COGAT is “unaware of any authentic, verified report of unusual illnesses other than viral illnesses,” it said.

With efforts stalled to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Dalloul says he’s lost hope that help is on the way.

“I am 21 years old. I am supposed to start my life,” he said. “Now I just live in front of the garbage.” 

India thumps England by 68 runs, will face South Africa in T20 World Cup final

PROVIDENCE, Guyana — India thumped defending champion England by 68 runs to reach the final of the Twenty20 World Cup on Thursday.

India will face South Africa on Saturday at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados in a battle of the two unbeaten teams of the tournament.

Captain Rohit Sharma’s (57) second half-century helped India compile 171-7 and Suryakumar Yadav also blunted the England pace and spin with a vital knock of 47 off 36 balls after more than 2-1/2 hours of second semifinal was lost due to rain and wet outfield.

Spinners Axar Patel and the Kuldeep Yadav then combined in for 6-42 through some sharp turners as England got bowled out for 103 in 16.3 overs on a skiddy, low pitch devoid of grass to bow out of the tournament.

“If bowlers and batters adapt, things fall in place,” a beaming Sharma said. “Axar and Kuldeep are gun spinners. (It was) tough to play shots against them in these conditions (and) they were calm under pressure.”

Captain Jos Buttler smashed four boundaries in his 23 off 15 balls, but once he top-edged reverse sweep off left-arm spinner Patel’s first ball inside the power play and lobbed a simplest of catches to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, England kept on losing wickets with regular intervals.

“I’ve bowled in the powerplay in the past many times,” Patel said after being adjudged player of the semifinal. “Knew the wicket was assisting and didn’t try too many things.”

England had collapsed to 88-9 when Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid both got run out but Jofra Archer hit 21 off 15 balls before Jasprit Bumrah (2-12) finished off England by having Archer leg before wicket.

The win was sweet revenge for India, which got hammered by England by 10 wickets in the 2022 World Cup semifinal at Adelaide, Australia.

“India outplayed us,” Buttler said. “We let them get 20-25 runs too many on a challenging surface … they had an above-par total and it was always a tough chase.”

Earlier, Sharma and Yadav combined in a 73-run third wicket stand on a wicket where batters struggled to negotiate the variable bounce of pace and spin.

Virat Kohli’s below-par tournament continued after a wet outfield delayed the toss for 80 minutes and Buttler won the toss and elected to field.

Kohli took his run tally to disappointing 75 runs in seven games with run-a-ball knock of nine before Reece Topley cramped him for a big shot and hit the top of leg stump.

“We understand his (Kohli’s) class,” Sharma said in defense of his ace batter. “Form is never a problem when you’ve played for 15 years, probably saving for the final.”

Sharma continued his sublime form in the tournament on difficult pitches and countercharged on a yet another tough wicket for batters before heavy rain took the players off the field for another 73 minutes when India had reached 65-2 after eight overs.

Sharma reached his 50 after resumption of play with a swept six over fine leg off Sam Curran, and Yadav hammered the left-arm fast bowler to point for a six before both exited in successive overs.

Sharma was undone by a googly from Adil Rashid (1-25) in his last over and was clean bowled, while Yadav was deceived by Archer’s slower ball and ballooned a catch to long off.

Chris Jordan picked up 3-37 that included the wickets of Hardik Pandya (23) and Shivam Dube off successive balls, but India had piled up enough runs for its spinners to defend.

Russian satellite breaks up, forces space station astronauts to shelter

WASHINGTON — A defunct Russian satellite has broken up into more than 100 pieces of debris in orbit, forcing astronauts on the International Space Station to take shelter for about an hour and adding to the mass of space junk already in orbit, U.S. space agencies said. 

There were no immediate details on what caused the breakup of the RESURS-P1 Russian Earth observation satellite, which Russia declared dead in 2022. 

U.S. Space Command, tracking the debris swarm, said there was no immediate threat to other satellites. 

The event took place about noon EDT (1600 GMT) Wednesday, Space Command said. It occurred in an orbit near the space station, prompting U.S. astronauts on board to shelter in their spacecraft for roughly an hour, NASA’s Space Station office said. 

Russian space agency Roscosmos, which operated the satellite, did not respond to a request for comment or publicly acknowledge the event on its social media channels. 

U.S. Space Command, which has a global network of space-tracking radars, said the satellite immediately created “over 100 pieces of trackable debris.” 

By Thursday afternoon, radars from U.S. space-tracking firm LeoLabs had detected at least 180 pieces, the company said.  

Large debris-generating events in orbit are rare but of increasing concern as space becomes crowded with satellite networks vital to everyday life on Earth, from broadband internet and communications to basic navigation services, as well as satellites no longer in use. 

The satellite’s breakup was at an altitude of roughly 355 km (220 miles) in low-Earth orbit, a popular region where thousands of small to large satellites operate, including SpaceX’s vast Starlink network and China’s station that houses three of its astronauts. 

“Due to the low orbit of this debris cloud, we estimate it’ll be weeks to months before the hazard has passed,” LeoLabs said in a statement to Reuters. 

The some 25,000 pieces of debris bigger than 10 cm (4 inches) in space caused by satellite explosions or collisions have raised concerns about the prospect of a Kessler effect — a phenomenon in which satellite collisions with debris can create a cascading field of more hazardous junk and exponentially increase crash risks. 

Russia sparked strong criticism from the U.S. and other Western countries in 2021 when it struck one of its defunct satellites in orbit with a ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) missile launched from its Plesetsk rocket site. The blast, testing a weapon system ahead of Moscow’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, created thousands of pieces of orbital debris. 

In the roughly 88-minute window of RESURS-P1’s initial breakup, the Plesetsk site was one of many locations on Earth it passed over, but there was no immediate indication from airspace or maritime alerts that Russia had launched a missile to strike the satellite, space tracker and Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell said. 

“I find it hard to believe they would use such a big satellite as an ASAT target,” McDowell said. “But, with the Russians these days, who knows.” 

He and other analysts speculated the breakup more likely could have been caused by a problem with the satellite, such as leftover fuel onboard causing an explosion. 

What happens to old satellites?  

Dead satellites either remain in orbit until they descend into Earth’s atmosphere for a fiery demise years later, or in widely preferred — but less common — circumstances, they fly to a “graveyard orbit” some 36,000 km (22,400 miles) from Earth to lower the risk of crashing into active satellites. 

Roscosmos decommissioned RESURS-P1 over onboard equipment failures in 2021, announcing the decision the following year. The satellite has since appeared to be lowering its altitude through layers of other active satellites for an eventual atmospheric reentry. 

The six U.S. astronauts currently on the space station were alerted by NASA mission control in Houston late Wednesday evening to execute “safe haven” procedures, where each crew member rushes into the spacecraft they arrived in, in case an emergency departure is required. 

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams boarded their Starliner spacecraft, the Boeing-built capsule that has been docked since June 6 in its first crewed test mission on the station. 

Three of the other U.S. astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut went into SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule that flew them to the station in March, while the sixth U.S. astronaut joined the two remaining cosmonauts in their Russian Soyuz capsule that ferried them there in September last year. 

The astronauts emerged from their spacecraft roughly an hour later and resumed their normal work on the station, NASA said. 

The prospects of satellite collisions and space warfare have added urgency to calls from space advocates and lawyers to have countries establish an international mechanism of managing space traffic, which does not currently exist.