South Dakota Man Gets $190 Fine for Snake Without Leash

South Dakota man gets $190 fine for snake without leash

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A man who was fined for allowing his pet snake to slither freely in a South Dakota park said an animal control officer suggested he use a leash to restrain the reptile.

Jerry Kimball said he initially thought the recommendation was a joke because it was April Fool’s Day when he was fined $190 and ticketed last week for “animals running at large,” told the Argus Leader ( ).

“He was literally asking me to put a rope around my snake,” Kimball said. “I was like, ‘Dude, no.’ I was dumbfounded.”

Kimball was approached by the officer after a woman complained that his Fire Bee Ball Python was roaming freely at Falls Park in Sioux Falls.

Animal Control Supervisor Julie DeJong said a city ordinance requires all pets to be leashed or restrained in public. She said pet snakes can be held or kept in a container to comply.

“If it’s in public and it’s not on a leash, it’s at large. The ordinance doesn’t really distinguish between animals,” she said.

DeJong added that snake lovers should be more sensitive to the aversion many people feel toward the animal. While non-venomous snakes are legal to own, not all park visitors will welcome a python in a park.

But Kimball said he considers it his mission to rid the public’s fear of snakes.

“That’s my purpose in life: To let people know that snakes aren’t killers,” he said. “What better way to give back than to help people understand these misunderstood creatures?”

Kimball said he plans to fight the ticket in court.

Man proves, once again, that kindness can be a calling

LOS ANGELES — By any logical standard, two years ago Eugene Yoon made the craziest decision of his life.

“I remember kind of just like looking up at the sky and being like, ‘God, are you sure about this? ‘Cause I’m pretty happy right now,’” Eugene said. “It felt like a calling.”

What Eugene felt called to do was one really big random act of kindness. He didn’t know who he was supposed to help or how, all he knew was that he had to help someone and it had to be life-altering.

And that’s when a video came across his Facebook page.

As we first reported in 2015, it was a video of a guy he never met named Arthur Renowitzky. After being mugged, shot and paralyzed 10 years ago, Arthur vowed that he would walk again someday. And when Eugene heard about that, he called Arthur immediately.

“He wasn’t going to give up until I was walking again,” Arthur said.

And Eugene did not have a medical degree. “I have a film degree,” he said.

Which makes you wonder then, how was Eugene going to make him walk again? “This is the part… I had no idea,” he said.

Eventually though, he learned about an exoskeleton device that can help some people walk again. Unfortunately, it costs about $80,000.

So, to pay for it, Eugene quit his job at a research company in Northern California, to hike from the California-Mexico border to Canada.

Along the way he posted videos of the adventure and asked people to donate on social media. Until, ‘round about mid-Washington state, Eugene learned that he had reached his fundraising goal.

A few weeks later, Arthur did walk — right into the arms of the total stranger who made it all possible.

“I call him my brother now. We are brothers. I’m just very thankful to have a friend like him.” Arthur said.

Since his story first aired, Eugene has been looking for another total stranger to help with another huge act of kindness.

And here he is: Alberto Velasquez lives in poverty with 24 family members under one roof.

Eugene met Alberto’s family on Skid Row in Los Angeles and then hired Alberto, a skilled seamster, to help start a clothing line called KIN LOV GRA. Proceeds will guarantee Alberto and his family a living wage and fund many other kindness projects to come.

Eugene may have started with a walk, but is now clearly up and running.

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Britney Spears Inadvertently Delays An Election In Israel

Sometimes, highly anticipated live concerts knock other priorities right off the calendar — in the case of Britney Spears and Israel, even an election.

According to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published today, Britney Spears’ July 3 concert in Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park is delaying the Labor Party’s leadership vote by a day. The election was originally scheduled to take place on the same day at the Convention Center for Labor, which is adjacent to the park.

The biggest issues at hand are entirely logistical: a “senior party source” told Haaretz that there don’t seem to be enough security guards available to work during the Labor primary; many of them were already booked to work at the Spears show.

Even so, according to the Haaretz piece, “the source did admit to some consideration for the party faithful who want to vote in the primary and then watch Britney do her thing.”

Man Accidentally Shoots Himself at NRA Headquarters

A National Rifle Association employee accidentally shot himself while doing firearms training at the organization’s headquarters, according to police.The 46-year-old man’s pistol accidentally discharged Thursday afternoon as he holstered the gun in Fairfax County, Virginia, police said.The accidental shooting happened at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum at 11250 Waples Mill Road in Fairfax.The employee suffered a minor wound to his lower body and was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.Officers worked with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and no charges are expected, according to police.News4 has reached out to the NRA for comment, but has not received an immediate response.Published 51 minutes ago | Updated 13 minutes ago

Mississippi governor proclaims Confederate Heritage Month

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has again proclaimed April to be Confederate Heritage Month.The proclamation does not specifically mention slavery, and is similar to ones previously issued by Republican Bryant. Other Mississippi governors, Democrat and Republican, have made similar proclamations.The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans posted Bryant’s proclamation on its website during the weekend.Bryant spokesman Knox Graham confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that the document was signed and issued by the second-term governor on Friday — the same day Bryant was on the Gulf Coast for a state bicentennial celebration that drew a crowd of thousands.”As I’ve said in the past, I believe Mississippi’s history deserves study and reflection, no matter how unpleasant or complicated the matter may be,” Bryant said in a statement Monday. “Like other governors before me who issued similar proclamations for over the last two decades, I also believe gaining insight from our mistakes and successes will help us move forward.”Bryant proclaimed last October to be Racial Reconciliation Month, at the request of Mission Mississippi, a Christian group that has been working since 1993 to break down barriers in a state with a troubled history of race relations. The state’s population is about 60 percent white and 38 percent black.In Georgia last week, a white lawmaker drew criticism from the Legislative Black Caucus after he filed a resolution that proposed recognizing April as Confederate History Month. The resolution died when the Georgia legislative session ended.Without naming the Civil War, Bryant’s resolution notes that the “Confederate states began and ended a four-year struggle” in April.Mississippi has the last state flag in the nation that prominently features the Confederate battle emblem. The state has had the same flag since 1894, and voters chose to keep it in 2001. Bryant has said if the flag design is to be reconsidered, it should be done by another statewide election.

Men all over The Netherlands are holding hands in solidarity with a gay couple who were brutally attacked

Men all over The Netherlands are holding hands in solidarity with a gay couple who were viciously attacked over the weekend.

Gay couple Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes were attacked by a group of six to eight men who saw them holding hands in the eastern city of Arnhem during the early hours of Sunday morning (April 2).

Ronnie lost four teeth after being beaten with a pair of bolt cutters, while Jasper suffered injuries to his chest, back and legs, RTL Nieuws reports.

The brutal homophobia attack has sparked outrage in The Netherlands, which became the first country in the world to legalise equal marriage back in 2001, and has been condemned by public including Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Two leading politicians went one better on Monday, however, publicly holding hands as they arrived at talks on the formation of a new Dutch government in The Hague in solidarity with the couple.

Alexander Pechtold, leader of the liberal D66 party, arrived hand in hand with party colleague Wouter Koolmees, telling reporters: “We think it is quite normal in the Netherlands to express who you are.”

The touching display came as the spreading throughout The Netherlands, encouraging men to share pictures of themselves holding hands in support of Jasper and Ronnie.

A protest is also set to take place in Arnhem this weekend calling for an end to anti-gay violence and intimidation.

Images shared over the last 24 hours show men from all walks of life, gay and straight alike, proudly showing affection for one another to in public to show that homophobia will never win the day.

Three teenagers aged 16, two aged 14 and one man aged 20 have been arrested in connection with the attack, and police are encouraging people with any information to come forward.

The editor of Attitude Holland, Martijn Tulp, praised the #allemannenhandinhand campaign for drawing attention to the incident, but stressed that politicians in The Netherlands need to do more as violence and intolerance against LGBT people increases in the country.

“It’s great to see pictures on social media, not just of politicians or celebrities, but anyone in general, of two men holding hands to show their support for this couple in Arnhem,” he said.

“Unfortunately this wasn’t just an isolated incident; just a day earlier two guys who had just left a gay bar in Eindhoven were also harassed and beaten, though luckily not resulting in any serious injuries.”

He continues: “It’s a bit disappointing to see how only this incident is getting so much attention in the media and even by our Minister for Education, Culture and Science, because this problem is a structural one.

“There are several reports of hate crimes in The Netherlands a year. Many of them don’t get as publicised. Our climate seems to slowly but surely become more and more intolerant and violent towards LGBT [people].”

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Kylie Minogue refused to cut gay kisses from ‘All the Lovers’ music video, director reveals

17,000 Indian doctors to deliver baby girls free of charge to challenge sexism in society

Delhi: An Indian doctor’s decision to alter society’s negative attitude towards girls by delivering baby girls free of charge is inspiring other doctors.

Since Dr Ganesh Rakh started his free deliveries seven years ago, his example has prompted thousands of other doctors to pledge that they too will either deliver baby girls gratis or offer a heavy discount to the parents.

It was one particularly upsetting bedside scene in his obstetrics ward that prompted Dr Rakh to take the step. A young woman had given birth to a baby girl and her parents were by her bedside, enjoying the moment. Her husband walked in and, on hearing it was a girl, fell into a rage.

“He gave her a big slap, abused her parents and told them to take her home to their house. He was wild. He said he was going to leave her and marry a woman who could give him a son,” Dr Rakh said.

The more “routine” version of this scene used to play out every day in his small hospital in Pune in the western state of Maharashtra. The husband and his relatives used to start crying and getting upset, showing their displeasure to the mother, and becoming livid when confronted with the bill.

Dr Rakh was so dismayed by the disparity between this welcome and the euphoria surrounding the birth of a boy – smiling faces, tips for the nurses, sweets distributed around the ward and a jaunty paying of the bill – that he decided to forfeit the fee of around 15,000-25,000 rupees ($300-$504) for a delivery.

It was decision he took to make his contribution to changing attitudes towards girls. Apart from not charging any fee, he celebrates the birth of every girl. The staff all gather around the bed with a cake, candles and roses to make the mother feel special and to shame the scowling relatives into behaving. More than 400 girls have been delivered without the parents being charged a fee.

As news of his mission spread, other doctors and medical students became interested. Dr Rakh says that, when his office updated the figures last week, a total of 17,000 doctors had pledged to reduce fees, or charge nothing at all, when delivering baby girls.

One such doctor is Dr Satish Andhale Patil of Mauli Hospital near Pune who has been delivering baby girls gratis, whether by normal delivery or Caesarian section, since last June. “I have seen 15 suicides of women who had given birth to their second daughter and were in despair. When Dr Rakh started, I knew I had a social responsibility to do the same,” said Dr Patil.

In Gurgaon, outside New Delhi, social worker Sunil Sainiji, inspired by Dr Rakh, visited hospitals and has persuaded two to deliver girls free and one to offer a 50 per cent discount. He is also persuading chemists and medical labs to knock off a few rupees for prescriptions and tests for baby girls.

“A few rupees damages no one but makes a difference to changing people’s mentality,” he said.

Dr Rakh, 41, is the son of a coolie and has experienced hardship and discrimination, a fact that made him feel compassion for the mothers-to-be growing increasingly anxious as their delivery date approached.

“They are so tense during their check-ups that their haemoglobin and blood pressure levels fluctuate. It’s the fear of hearing the words ‘it’s a girl’,” he said.

The cultural preference for boys remains entrenched in India. The result has been female foeticide and neglect of baby girls. Activists say that millions of female fetuses have been aborted over the past few decades.

The law bans ante-natal ultrasound tests showing the sex of a fetus but some unscrupulous doctors and technicians still tell the expecting parents surreptitiously. They often use code phrases such as “your child will like football” or “your baby will like blue skies” so that they can’t be reported for doing so.

“We obviously don’t tell our patients the sex of the fetus, it’s against the law. In fact, I do the opposite. I tell families from the start that it’s a baby girl even though I don’t know the gender of the baby. I keep saying this and the effect is that it prepares them mentally so that they are not so upset when it happens,” he said.

According to the 2011 census, for every 1000 boys born in India, only 927 girls were born. The latest figures, published last year, showed that this had fallen to 918 girls for every 1000 boys with some states having as low a figure as 836.

Dr Rakh, who has a daughter, says that he will continue not charging a fee until society ends its attitude towards girls.

“Of course I am losing out financially but how will anything change unless we all do our bit?”

He has also persuaded thousands of doctors around India to support his campaign. “They might not deliver free of charge but some give a 10 per cent discount, others a 40 per cent discount. It’s a gesture of solidarity,” he said.

His work has won him the praise of Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan who has been approached by the Maharashtra government recently to campaign against the evil of female foeticide. Bachchan called the doctor a “real hero”.

Dr Rakh says that, finally, he is starting to see a slight change in attitudes.

“The reaction is definitely less negative these days. I’m looking forward to the day when I can stop ordering  so many cakes.”

Cats Are Actually Nice, Scientists Find

Let me tell you about my handsome son, Mizue. He’s a cat. He cuddles up beside me and pushes his little furry head against me when he wants to be petted. He purrs and rubs up on everyone he meets. He’s the best dude, is what I’m saying here, and I am goddamn sick of people saying that cats aren’t nice.

But don’t take my word for it. Thanks to new research from Oregon State University, published on Friday in Behavioural Processes, there is scientific evidence that cats are, according to empirical study, nice. In fact, the study concluded, cats like interacting with humans more than they like eating food. Let that sink in: more than food. I don’t like anybody more than food.

The motivation for the study was to apply cognitive tests that have already be tried out on dogs and tortoises on cats, in order to clear up some misconceptions around cats’ bad reputation for being unsociable.

“Increasingly cat cognition research is providing evidence of their complex socio-cognitive and problem solving abilities,” the authors wrote in the paper. “Nonetheless, it is still common belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable. This disconnect may be due, in part, to a lack of knowledge of what stimuli cats prefer, and thus may be most motivated to work for.”

The test took 50 cats both from people’s homes and from a shelter and deprived them of food, toys, and people for a few hours. Then, researchers presented the cats with different stimuli within four categories: human socialization, food, scent, and toys.

The researchers concluded that there were no significant differences between the homed and the shelter cats, and that most cats preferred human socialization to any of the other categories. Half of the cats preferred social interaction to every other stimulus type, while only 37 percent preferred food.

“While it has been suggested that cat sociality exists on a continuum, perhaps skewed toward independency,” the authors wrote, “we have found that 50% of cats tested preferred interaction with the social stimulus even though they had a direct choice between social interaction with a human and their other most preferred stimuli from the three other stimulus categories.”

So, what does this mean? Basically, that cats are nice. But, the authors write, individual cat preferences for socialization may be influenced by life history or even breed.

A study of a few dozen cats might not be grounds for concrete conclusions, but this rings true for me. My cat doesn’t spend every minute of the day with me when I’m around. More often than not, he’s skulking around or chilling out on a sofa. But he’s friendly with everybody and we have our moments. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to spend every waking moment with the person I live with, either. And for the people who think cats are standoffish—are you immediately open and friendly with random humans you meet?

Your cat loves you. Love it back.

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‘Sightings’ of extinct Tasmanian tiger prompt search in Queensland

“Plausible” possible sightings of a Tasmanian tiger in north Queensland have prompted scientists to undertake a search for the species thought to have died out more than 80 years ago.

The last thylacine is thought to have died in Hobart zoo in 1936, and it is widely believed to have become extinct on mainland Australia at least 2,000 years ago.

But sightings of large, dog-like animals that are neither dingos nor foxes have persisted over the decades, despite widespread scepticism.

Recent eyewitness accounts of potential thylacines in far north Queensland have spurred scientists from James Cook University to launch a search for the animal long considered extinct.

Professor Bill Laurance said he had spoken at length to two people about animals they had seen in Cape York peninsula that could potentially be thylacines, and that they had given plausible and detailed descriptions.

One was a long-time employee of the Queensland National Parks Service and the other was a frequent camper in the north of the state.

Laurance said all the potential sightings to date had been at night. “In one case four animals were observed at close range – about 20 feet away – with a spotlight.”

Descriptions of their eyes, size, shape and behaviour were inconsistent with known attributes of other large species in north Queensland such as dingoes, wild dogs or feral pigs.

The sightings were at two separate locations on Cape York peninsula, but the specifics were being kept confidential, said Laurance. “Everything is being handled with strict confidence.”

He said people who claimed to have seen a thylacine were “very nervous about relating their tales for fear of being branded kooks or fringe types”.

Richard Dawkins had tweeted hopefully of news of the study.

“Can it be true? Has Thylacinus been seen alive? And in mainland Australia not Tasmania? I so want it to be true.”

Sandra Abell, a researcher with James Cook University’s Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science who was leading the field survey, said they had been contacted with more possible sightings since their intentions were publicised.

She was in the process of deciding on sites for the more than 50 “camera traps” to be set up on Cape York peninsula, with the survey due to get under way when the dry season begins in April or May.

Abell said even if a thylacine was not detected, the survey would inform the centre’s understanding of the status of rare and endangered mammal species on the peninsula.

Many mammals, including the northern bettong, were at risk from introduced predators, she said.

“It is a low possibility that we’ll find thylacines, but we’ll certainly get lots of data on the predators in the area and that will help our studies in general.”

It was “not impossible” there were thylacines to be found, she said. “It’s not a mythical creature. A lot of the descriptions people give, it’s not a glimpse in the car headlights. People who say they’ve actually seen them can describe them in great detail, so it’s hard to say they’ve seen anything else.

“I’m not ruling it out at all, but to actually get them on camera will be incredibly lucky.”

Thylacine truthers active on Facebook were emboldened by the recent rediscovery of the night parrot in Western Australia, presumed extinct, but photographed this month.

“Maybe old stripey next?” commented one member of the Thylacine Awareness Group.