Thomas Cook axes trips to SeaWorld over animal welfare concerns – BBC News

Thomas Cook axes trips to SeaWorld over animal welfare concerns – BBC News

Image copyright SeaWorld Holiday giant Thomas Cook has announced it will stop selling trips to animal parks that keep killer whales.
The firm said more than 90% of its customers were concerned about animal welfare.
The two parks it will stop selling tickets to as a result are SeaWorld, in Florida, and Loro Parque in Tenerife.
“This was not a decision we took lightly,” chief executive Peter Fankhauser said as he announced the new policy.
In a blog post, he acknowledged that both parks had met standards and had made improvements to how animals were kept.
But, he said: “From next summer, we will no longer sell any animal attractions that keep orcas in captivity.
“We have actively engaged with a range of animal welfare specialists in the last 18 months, and taken account of the scientific evidence they have provided.
Can orcas ever be healthy in captivity? The killer whale that can say ‘hello’ and ‘bye bye’ Orca spotted pushing dead calf for two days “We have also taken feedback from our customers, more than 90% of whom told us that it was important that their holiday company takes animal welfare seriously.
“And when so many of our customers are so clear in their view, I could not allow our business to ignore them,” Mr Fankhauser said.
“I am clear about the kind of business that we want to be. That’s why we introduced our animal welfare policy 18 months ago, and that’s why we’ve taken this decision today.”
‘Incredible care’ SeaWorld said it no longer bred killer whales, but the ones it already had “will be with us and our visitors for many years”.
It said “millions of UK guests” had visited its parks and that it would continue to “welcome the public” to them.
“They have seen first-hand the incredible care we provide all of our animals and learned about how we are protecting and saving species in the wild,” it said in a statement.
Criticism of keeping orcas in captivity has intensified since a 2013 Netflix documentary Blackfish about a performing killer whale called Tilikum.
SeaWorld’s visitor numbers fell, although the theme park described Blackfish as “manipulative”.
Last year, Thomas Cook began an audit of 49 animal parks to see if they met its policy on animal welfare, based on standards set by ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents). Some 29 failed, and the travel firm stopped selling tickets.
The latest ban was announced on Sunday.
Mr Fankhauser said: “We will work with both [theme parks] over the next 12 months to prepare for our exit…. We will also continue to work ourselves to identify more sustainable alternatives.”

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Trump golf resort wrecked special nature site, reports reveal | US news

The spectacular dunes system picked by Donald Trump for his golf resort in Aberdeenshire has been “partially destroyed” as a result of the course’s construction, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed. Scottish Natural Heritage, which has been under pressure for years to speak out on the issue, now acknowledges that serious damage has been done to the site of special scientific interest (SSSI) at Foveran Links on the Menie estate, north of Aberdeen, since the course opened in 2012, the documents show. As a result, Foveran’s SSSI status – given because of its unusual shifting sands and diverse plant life – now hangs in the balance. “Construction of the new golf course involved earthworks, planting of trees, greens and fairways, drainage, irrigation and grass planting,” states one of the reports released by Scottish Natural Heritage inspectors. “This has affected the natural morphology of the dunes and interfered with natural processes. Most of its important geomorphological features have been lost or reduced to fragments. Nearby marine terraces have also been reduced to fragments.” “These documents show that considerable damage has been done to Foveran Links, and that it is very unlikely that it will retain its SSSI status,” said Bob Ward, the policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, who obtained the reports under FoI. Ward has also asked the Scottish government to investigate whether proper environmental monitoring has been carried out at the site since 2012. A decision to remove the scientific status of the links could affect the US president’s recently announced plans to invest a further £150m in the resort. Scottish Natural Heritage has been reviewing the state of the lengthy stretch of mobile dunes partly covered by the course for several years and had promised to publish its findings late last year. However, the group has still to outline its views in public. Trump originally won approval for his “Trump Estate” encompassing the protected dunes because he pledged to create up to 6,000 jobs by building a five-star hotel with 450 rooms, shops, a sports complex, timeshare flats, two golf courses and housing estates there. However, so far he has constructed only one 18-hole course, which is open seven months a year, a practice range, and a small clubhouse with a restaurant and shop; he also converted Menie’s manor house into a boutique hotel with 16 rooms. Many local residents and councillors believe that the development did not justify destroying the delicate ecosystem at Foveran. They say Trump failed to honour promises he made in 2008 to protect the site as much as possible when he encouraged a planning inquiry to ignore the dunes’ SSSI status. Normally the site’s conservation status would have prevented any significant development. But Trump said that, if he was refused permission to develop on the southern end of the SSSI, he would withdraw from the entire scheme. He also claimed that, when completed, the land there would be “environmentally enhanced and better than it was before”. The Trump Organization said last year its environmental approach to the course had been “first class”. That view is disputed by conservationists. “It’s been ruined from a virgin, undeveloped wilderness site into something that’s relatively manicured,” said Dr Jim Hansom, a specialist in coastal ecology at Glasgow University. He told a recent BBC Scotland documentary the site had lost the key features that led to it being given protection. The decision to approve the course was met with anger by conservation groups. “It appears that the desires of one high-profile overseas developer, who refused to compromise one inch, have been allowed to override the legal protection of this important site. And we fear this sets a precedent that will undermine the whole protected-sites network in Scotland,” Aedán Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland , told the Times . Trump – whose visit to his other Scottish golf course at Turnberry this month triggered protests – infuriated conservationists in the US this month by proposing to weaken the landmark law that saved the bald eagle, the wolf and other species from extinction .

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Trump tweets he’d ‘shut down’ government if Democrats don’t fund US-Mexico wall | Fox News

close Video Bill Bennett: Border crisis was a political win for Trump President Trump hits back at Democrats after Republican immigration bill fails in the House.
DEVELOPING – President Trump said on Sunday that he would be willing to shut down the federal government if the Democrats do not agree to Republican demands about funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump wrote on Twitter that border security “includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!”
The White House has been embroiled in controversy over the ongoing efforts to reunite families separated at the border who were attempting to enter the United States illegally.
I would be willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018 During his most recent weekly address, Trump cited the 9/11 terrorist attacks to justify strong enforcement of immigration laws and the continued necessity of Immigration Customs & Enforcement, the agency which has come under fire from Democrats in recent months.
“One of the critical lessons of 9/11 is that immigration enforcement saves lives,” he said in the address. “We must enforce the rules against visa fraud, illegal overstay, illegal entry and other immigration violations and crimes, and crimes they are. Believe me, crimes they are.”
A recent House bill would devote $5 billion to a southern border wall, but its passage in the Senate, where it would need the support of Democrats to reach the required 60-vote threshold, remains a longshot.
PORTLAND TO CAMP
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is the majority whip, told the Washington Examiner that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was once ready to offer $25 billion in border security funding in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
However, Schumer has since withdrawn that offer, which at the time was rejected by Republicans and President Trump, who wanted additional immigration reforms.
Democratic lawmakers and candidates, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, have called for the abolishment of ICE.
In April, Trump threatened to shut down the government during a rally in Michigan, stating that more money was needed to fund the border wall.
“We come up again on September 28th and if we don’t get border security we will have no choice, we will close down the country because we need border security,” he said, according to Reuters.
Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell won’t include Trump’s border wall in the September funding bill pic.twitter.com/nTdn7jvd8P
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) July 29, 2018 During an interview on iHeart Radio Friday, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said border wall funding will probably have to wait until after the midterms.
The federal government shut down briefly for three days in January after lawmakers could not agree on funding for immigration reform, border security and disaster relief.
Trump, who made security and building a border wall a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign, also said that Mexico would pay for the new wall.
Christopher Carbone is a reporter and news editor covering science and technology for FoxNews.com. He can be reached at christopher.carbone@foxnews.com. @christocarbone .

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Arkansas woman shoots, kills husband over pornography, police say | Fox News

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Patricia Hill, 69, shot and killed her husband Frank after he bought pornography, according to police. (Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office) An Arkansas woman was arrested Saturday after telling police she shot and killed her husband because he bought pornography, officials said. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release it received a call around 2:30 p.m. from 69-year-old Patricia Hill, who told dispatchers she just shot her 65-year-old husband, Frank.
When police arrived at the home, located about 36 miles south of Little Rock, they found Frank Hill dead in a shed on the property. Hill sustained two gunshot wounds to the upper and lower body, according to police.
The sheriff’s office said that during an interview with Hill, she told investigators she arrived home and went to the shed on her property to confront her husband, but there had never been any physical altercations between the couple.
Frank Hill’s body was found in a shed on the couple’s property. (FOX16)
“However, Mrs. Hill stated that she disagreed with her husband’s purchase of video pornography via the television guide, which she canceled upon discovering the purchase, but Mr. Hill managed to place a subsequent order,” Maj. Lafayette Woods, Jr. said. “Mrs. Hill stated that she entered the shed and asked her husband to leave but he refused.”

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Trump 2020 Says Banners Are All Made in the U.S., Anything Else Is ‘Fake News

75 Best-Selling Albums in U.S. History
This photo taken on July 13, 2018 shows a Chinese employee sewing a banner declaring US President Donald Trump’s re-election intentions that reads ‘Trump 2020: Keep America Great’ at a factory in Fuyang in China’s eastern Anhui province. -/AFP/Getty Images
“They are preparing in advance, they are taking advantage of the fact that the tariffs haven’t gone up yet, with lower prices now,” she said. But the manager could not confirm if the buyers were affiliated to the official Trump 2020 campaign or the Republican Party, Reuters added.
While the facility also creates material for other clients, including U.S. states and gay pride, Jiahao Flag Co. Ltd has pumped out banners for Trump since 2015, Yao said. She warned that a U.S.-China trade war— seemingly on the cards —would be bad for business. Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now
“If he [president Trump] continues to demand tariff increases as he has been, or if he continues to agree with those who are against China, I definitely would not be able to accept [more orders],” she said. “Everyone can have a patriotic heart, but this won’t improve his economy,” Yao added.
Snopes, the fact checking website, concluded that it is unclear just how close the links between Trump 2020 and the Chinese merchandise really are. A search of the Federal Election Commission for spending related to the flags or banners brought up no solid results, it noted. But it is still possible the sales are designed to pass through third party firms, the site added.
US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hand with China’s President Xi Jinping at the end of a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
On Friday, Bernie Sanders hit out at Trump over the speculation his trademark products are being created in foreign factories, allegedly on the cheap. “Given the choice between hiring American workers at a living wage or hiring much less expensive workers from China that he can exploit, Trump opts for the low-cost overseas labor day in and day out,” Sanders wrote on Facebook .
It is not the first time products associated with the president have been made in China. On Monday (July 23), it emerged that White House guests at Trump’s”Made in America” product showcase were served with cutlery manufactured in China.
This photo taken on July 13, 2018 shows a Chinese employee sewing a US flag at a factory in Fuyang in China’s eastern Anhui province. – As the Sino-US trade war rages, a factory set amid corn and mulberry fields in central China stitches together US and ‘Trump 2020’ flags — and business is good. AFP/Getty Images

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