7th December 2019

In_pictures In Pictures: The Fashion Awards 2019

In_pictures In Pictures: The Fashion Awards 2019

In_pictures

in_pictures Naomi CampbellImage copyright
Getty Images

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Naomi Campbell was the star of the show

Big names from around the entertainment world trod the red carpet at The Fashion Awards 2019 on Monday, as Naomi Campbell was crowned fashion icon.

The event at London’s Royal Albert Hall was hosted by actress Tracee Ellis Ross – the daughter of Diana Ross.

Another pop legend, Janet Jackson, was on hand to give singer-come-Fenty brand designer Rihanna her first major fashion award – for Urban Luxe.

Jackson posted her congratulations online, alongside a picture of them both looking suitably chuffed.

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Campbell, one of the original supermodels from the 90s, wore an Alexander McQueen dress in the so-called “nearly naked” trend and was presented with her icon award by Sir Jony Ive.

in_pictures Naomi Campbell arrives for the Fashion Awards 2019Image copyright
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Naomi Campbell and co arrive for The Fashion Awards 2019

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in_pictures (Left to right) Karen Elson, Daniel Lee and Donatella VersaceImage copyright
Getty Images

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(Left to right) Karen Elson, designer of the year Daniel Lee, and Donatella Versace

Designer of the year went to Englishman Daniel Lee for his work on the Bottega Veneta brand, while model of the year was won by South Sudanese-Australian star Adut Akech. She took the opportunity in her winners’ speech to call for greater diversity in the fashion industry.

“It is important for all of us to remember that someone like me winning this award is a rarity,” she said, according to The Independent.

“This is for the young women and men who found representation and validation in my work. I want them to never be afraid of dreaming big like I once did.”

in_pictures Adut Akech and Winnie HarlowImage copyright
Getty Images

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Model of the year Adut Akech, and Winnie Harlow

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures (Left to right) Roberta Armani, Cate Blanchett, Giorgio Armani and Julia RobertsImage copyright
Getty Images

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(Left to right) Roberta Armani, Cate Blanchett, outstanding achievement winner Giorgio Armani, and Julia Roberts

Elsewhere on the night, Giorgio Armani was also recognised for his outstanding achievement in the fashion industry and he was given his award by actresses Cate Blanchett and Julia Roberts, who were both wearing his designs.

Check out some more pictures from the red carpet below, then try to replicate them at your Christmas party this year… if you’re feeling brave.

in_pictures Rihanna and ASAP RockyImage copyright
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Rihanna and ASAP Rocky

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures Lily James and Lewis HamiltonImage copyright
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Lily James and Lewis Hamilton

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in_pictures Little Simz and Mollie KingImage copyright
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Little Simz and Mollie King

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures Kylie Minogue and Sergio PizzornoImage copyright
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Kylie Minogue and Sergio Pizzorno

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures Boy George and Naomi WattsImage copyright
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Boy George and Naomi Watts

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures Rita Ora and Emilia ClarkeImage copyright
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Rita Ora and Emilia Clarke

in_pictures Presentational white space

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

7th December 2019

In_pictures Bug busters: The tech behind new vaccines

In_pictures Bug busters: The tech behind new vaccines

In_pictures

in_pictures A healthcare member inoculates a man for Ebola in Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 27, 2019.Image copyright
Getty Images

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The ebola vaccine was not ready in time for the 2014 outbreak

“Infectious diseases are evolving much faster than we are, and much faster than our defences are.

“I think it’s profoundly naive to think we have a handle on them,” says Richard Hatchett, the chief executive of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

His organisation was set up after the Ebola epidemic of 2014, when a vaccine was developed, but too late to have any impact on the outbreak.

With more than $750m (£571m) from governments and organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it is funding promising new vaccine technologies.

In particular, CEPI wants vaccines that can be produced quickly. “In most circumstances that we have an epidemic, speed becomes really, really important,” Mr Hatchett says.

Traditionally, vaccines are made by taking the original virus or bacteria and disabling it in some way.

The idea is to degrade the microbe so that it is no longer a health threat, but can still trigger a response from immune system. The body can then use that immune response if it ever comes into contact with the real infection.

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Frederic Garzoni is one of many companies and researchers working on new vaccines

That kind of approach has been terrifically successful, saving millions of lives. The trouble is that developing and manufacturing vaccines that way is slow and expensive.

Frederic Garzoni is one of many scientists hoping to change all that.

He spent years in France working on proteins, examining and tweaking the building blocks of bodies.

But in 2016 he came across something he thinks is very special. A protein structure that self-assembles into a football-like molecule, that can be easily manipulated and be produced in large quantities, and can perhaps be used to vaccinate against a host of diseases.

More Technology of Business

“I thought that is the best protein I have seen in 15 years. I’m quitting my job and I’m going to focus on this,” he said.

Mr Garzoni, and others, are manipulating all sorts of microbes, often at the level of DNA, to make particles that spur the immune system into action.

His research has been helped by powerful tools, including cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM), a procedure that lowers samples to extremely low temperatures and then bombards then with electrons.

The resulting pictures render almost atomic detail, allowing scientists to identify useful properties, that would have been unknown before cryo-EM came along.

At the University of Bristol, those images have been combined with powerful cloud-computing services provided by US tech giant Oracle, which allow detailed pictures to be created more quickly and cheaply than ever before.

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Cryogenic electron microscopy can show molecules in almost atomic detail

With that kind of detail, researchers can identify all sorts of useful properties.

There are dozens of different research groups developing new technologies to create vaccines in different ways.

Jon Cuccui is an associate professor of microbiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

His research has focused on vaccines to tackle bacterial infections. The approach has been to use a safe strain of the escherichia ecoli bacterium as a molecular factory to produce a sugar-protein complex, that can train the host to recognise many dangerous infections.

“You end up with an infinite quantity of vaccine, that is scaleable… and therefore much cheaper to produce,” he said.

Several vaccines produced using this technology are already in clinical trials.

Mr Cuccui says the ability to quickly determine the genetic blueprint of an organism and then tweak that blueprint has made a big difference to his research.

“We can go and target an organism and develop a prototype vaccine at a much faster rate than we could 10 to 20 years ago.”

In_pictures The long road to vaccine approval

Once scientists have developed a promising vaccine, they conduct pre-clinical trials on mice and larger animals. That stage alone can take years of research. But if the treatment is promising then it will be tested on humans.

  • Phase I clinical trials. Small-scale trials (up to 100 people) to assess whether the vaccine is safe in humans and what the best dose should be.
  • Phase II clinical trials are larger (several hundred) and look mainly to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine against artificial infection and clinical disease. Vaccine safety, side-effects and the immune response are also studied.
  • Phase III clinical trials are studied on a large scale (up to thousands of subjects across several sites) to see how the vaccine performs under natural disease conditions. If the vaccine retains safety and efficacy over a defined period, the manufacturer is able to apply to the regulatory authorities for a licence to market the product for human use.
  • Phase IV happens after the vaccine has been licensed and introduced into use. Also called post-marketing surveillance, this stage aims to detect rare adverse effects as well as to assess long-term efficacy.

Being able to develop and manufacture vaccines more cheaply is the goal of Mr Hatchett’s organisation, CEPI.

“We don’t want to just develop high-price vaccines that can only be afforded by the one percenters in the developed world… the epidemic diseases we are focused on are much more likely to emerge in lower and middle-income countries,” he says.

Giant pharmaceutical companies are some of the most important operators in the vaccine business.

GSK is one of the biggest players in the field, making vaccines that protect against 21 diseases.

“This is a new golden age of vaccines as far as I’m concerned,” says William “Rip” Ballou, head of US vaccine research at pharmaceuticals giant GSK.

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GSK

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GSK is working on a technology whereby it can find vaccines more quickly

He is particularly excited about a technology, called self-amplifying mRNA (SAM), which starts with part of the genetic code of a virus, converting that into messenger RNA (molecules which carry instructions for the body about how to build proteins).

Once injected into the body, the molecule can use the body’s own systems to trigger an immune response to the original virus.

Potentially it allows GSK to find candidate vaccines more quickly, which could be vital when responding to an outbreak.

It could also revolutionise the way vaccines are manufactured. At the moment each vaccine has its own dedicated production line, but SAM could see the same equipment used to make different vaccines – which would be much cheaper and faster.

“This is really mind blowing technology,” says Mr Ballou.

  • Follow Technology of Business editor Ben Morris on Twitter

7th December 2019

In_pictures England flooding: More than 60 warnings in place

In_pictures England flooding: More than 60 warnings in place

In_pictures

in_pictures Rescuers using a boat to get around RotherhamImage copyright
AFP/Getty Images

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Rescuers used boats to reach people trapped in Rotherham

Almost 50 flood warnings are in place across England after days of persistent rain.

Five severe warnings – deemed a threat to life – remain on South Yorkshire’s River Don, with flooding in that area likely to continue until Wednesday.

Towns and cities across Yorkshire and the Midlands have faced disruption and in some cases emergency evacuations.

Former High Sherriff of Derbyshire Annie Hall was swept to her death by the flooded River Derwent near Matlock.

In addition to the severe warnings, the Environment Agency earlier issued a further 43 warnings – meaning flooding is expected – and 103 alerts.

It said water levels were still very high on stretches of the River Don and expected flooding in that area until midweek.

A military helicopter would be used on Sunday evening to drop sandbags at Bentley Ings by the river.

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A flooded field 100 metres from the River Don on the outskirts of Kirk Bramwith in South Yorkshire

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Roads to Fishlake have been closed, cutting off the South Yorkshire village

On Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited flood-hit Derbyshire on Friday, said he was “in awe of the community’s spirit and resilience in the face of this awful ongoing event”.

He said he was receiving regular briefings on the situation and added the government’s emergency Bellwin scheme had been activated to reimburse eligible councils for certain costs they incur.

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PA Media

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Boris Johnson visited Matlock on Friday where he met emergency workers

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RAF Odiham

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A military helicopter has been delivering sandbags to flood-hit Doncaster

Doncaster Council reiterated its call to evacuate Fishlake and has set up a rest centre in nearby Stainforth “for as long as is needed”.

According to the Salvation Army, some people had been rescued from their homes by boat since the early hours of Saturday morning but others remained in their properties.

Damian Allen, chief executive of Doncaster Council, said: “We are concerned over reports that some residents remain in the Fishlake area.

“South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue crews are on hand to evacuate any Fishlake residents who may be stuck in their homes, and we would urge everybody to take advantage of this.

“The council are unable to offer on-the-ground support to residents who are in severe flood warning areas, based on advice from the Environment Agency.”

The authority said it expected it would be “at least 48 hours until you can return to your homes, if not longer” and was told by the Environment Agency that flood waters in the village would “not start to go down for at least the next 24 hours”.

Helen Batt, from the agency, said 4,000 properties had been protected by flood defences in the village, but added 300 had been flooded, with more than 1,200 evacuated.

BBC reporter Richard Cadey said some roads around Fishlake had been closed and the village was “effectively cut off because of flooding”.

Many parts of the area remain under 3ft (1m) of water and only tractors are able to get in by some roads.

He said people on the ground had told him 90% of the homes there had been flooded.

Pam Webb, who owns a spa in Fishlake, said: “We’ve got blue skies, it looks picturesque until you actually get in to the village and you see the devastation that’s been caused to homes and businesses.

“Devastating is an easy word to use but it’s completely devastating and it’s heartbreaking.”

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Pam Webb

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Pam Webb’s business in Fishlake is among the many that have been flooded in the village

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Many parts of Fishlake remain under 3ft (1m) of water

In_pictures At the scene

By Richard Cadey, BBC Radio Sheffield reporter

Trying to get to Fishlake seemed like an impossible task. The village has suffered severe flooding and I was constantly met by road and bridge closures.

In nearby Stainforth people had collected food in the local pub and taken it to those stranded in Fishlake by tractor. But now even this has become impractical.

Richard Pashley’s family farm in neighbouring South Bramwith dates to 1910.

The 63-year-old told me he had never seen flooding as bad as this in his lifetime. He put it down to a number of different factors, including torrential rainfall and the lack of dredging on the River Don.

This was a recurring concern from a number of residents and they all echoed Mr Pashley’s call for dredging to begin again on this section of the river.

The fields surrounding these villages were like lakes and Mr Pashley’s field of potatoes was submerged by up to five feet of water, just two weeks before he was due to harvest them.

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Kirk Bramwith has also seen flooding

National Rail said a number of routes were affected by flooding and advised those travelling by train to check before setting out.

Some train routes between Doncaster and Sheffield were closed and Northern Rail has warned commuters they are likely to remain shut until further notice.

In Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, 12 properties remained evacuated after a landslide at an old quarry site saw debris and soil fall onto Band End Close.

Bassetlaw District Council said it was being removed and “temporary safety measures” had been put in place.

Natalie and Jonathan Palmer were evacuated from their home in Mansfield, along with their children, and are staying in a hotel.

They said they had been told they would not be able to return to their property for at least a fortnight, adding they were “disgusted and angry” at the prospect.

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Media captionWatch: Aerial views of Mansfield mudslide

In Newark, people living in mobile homes were evacuated on Saturday evening as river levels peaked in the town.

“Major incidents” were declared on Friday in Worksop after the River Ryton burst its banks and in South Yorkshire as a result of wide-spread flooding.

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Boats were used in Worksop town centre to help evacuate flooded premises

Parts of Worksop were without power on Saturday.

Firefighters evacuated 25 homes, and a community information point has been set up for those affected by the floods.

In Derby city centre, officials considered a city-wide evacuation as authorities saw the River Derwent swell to record levels of 3.35m (11ft).

Communities around Matlock, Derbyshire, where flood victim Annie Hall was swept away, are cleaning up after the flooding.

Rowsley Church of England Primary School is trying to raise £5,000 after its classrooms were heavily damaged.

Governor Marianne Quick said: “The school will remain closed until it has been expertly assessed but the likelihood of our children getting back into their much loved classrooms anytime soon is unlikely.”

Resident Sarah Sutcliffe said: “Parents, teachers and especially the children are all distraught about the damage which has been caused.”

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Sarah Sutcliffe

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Rowsley Church of England School, which sits on the confluence of the River Wye and the River Derwent, was extensively damaged

One of the most severely hit areas has been Bentley in Doncaster, where flooding affected many homes 12 years ago.

One resident told BBC Radio Sheffield: “The worry is our insurance policies are expensive as it is because of the 2007 floods, so now we’re all worried whether we’re going to get reinsured.”

Some residents were “angry and frustrated” at Doncaster Council – claiming it had not provided sandbags early enough to prevent properties from flooding, the station reported.

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Media captionDrone footage filmed from Matlock shows the extent of the floodwater

Homes in Stainforth, Thorpe in Balne and Trumfleet have also been evacuated.

South Yorkshire Police said it had extra officers out on patrol to “protect the evacuated areas and support those affected by the floods”.

“There is no suggestion of any criminality resulting from the floods but we hope our extra patrols can offer at least a little reassurance to those worst affected.”

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Derbyshire Police

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Annie Hall’s family said they were “in great shock”

Have you been affected by the floods? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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7th December 2019

In_pictures Leeds’ thieves caught after posing on Instagram with cars

In_pictures Leeds’ thieves caught after posing on Instagram with cars

In_pictures

in_pictures Allwork poses with a wrench and stolen AudiImage copyright
West Yorkshire Police

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Frankie Allwork posted a picture of him posing with a stolen Audi on a site called Mr Dingers

A gang of thieves who stole luxury cars in Leeds and posted photographs of themselves posing with the vehicles on social media have been detained.

West Yorkshire Police said images were posted on an Instagram account called Mr Dingers – where thieves anonymously brag about their crimes.

One of the gang, Frankie Allwork, 21, posted a picture of himself standing in front of a stolen £60,000 Audi A6.

James Holroyd and Bryn Kerry, both 20, also posed in photographs.

All admitted burglary or car theft charges at Leeds Crown Court and were sentenced to between 32 months and four years and six months.

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West Yorkshire Police

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The gang also posted pictures of a £30,000 Seat Leon FR

West Yorkshire Police said the images provided vital evidence as part of an investigation into the theft of £568,000 worth of luxury cars in the city.

Allwork’s face was obscured with an emoji when the picture appeared on Mr Dingers – slang for stolen vehicles – but officers found the original unedited image of him on a mobile phone.

A video was also posted on the site showing the gang brandishing tools and driving along in the stolen Audi, which was taken from a house in Shadwell, on 7 January.

The Audi and a £30,000 Seat Leon FR, which was stolen the same night from Woodlesford, were also photographed by the gang.

Acting Detective Inspector Naeem Khan said: “It is clear from the way they bragged about their offences on social media these offenders had absolute contempt for their victims.”

Image copyright
West Yorkshire Police

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Frankie Allwork, James Holroyd and Bryn Kerry were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court

Allwork, of Kentmere Avenue, Seacroft, was sentenced to four years and six months in a young offenders institute.

He also admitted his involvement in another burglary in January where a £100,000 Mercedes was stolen from Scholes.

Holroyd, of Halton Moor Road, Leeds, was sentenced to 34 months

Kerry, of Ingelwood Drive, Seacroft, was sentenced to 32 months

More news from across Yorkshire

Follow BBC Yorkshire on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to yorkslincs.news@bbc.co.uk.

7th December 2019

Technology Sydney Zoo: Does the world still need big zoos?

Technology Sydney Zoo: Does the world still need big zoos?

Technology

Technology Elephants eating leaves at Taronga ZooImage copyright
Getty Images

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There is continuing debate about animal welfare in zoos

Sydney’s first new major zoo in more than 100 years will open on Saturday. With such debate about animal welfare these days, can zoos still be a force for good? Gary Nunn reports from Sydney.

Zoos have evolved significantly since they were first created.

Their original purpose was braggadocio: a way for the wealthy to display their power in private collections. Later, they helped with science research. Then they became tourist attractions the public would pay to view. It wasn’t until the 1970s onwards that conservation emerged as a priority.

Some animal welfare academics argue that zoo enclosures have vastly improved in the past 50 years – but dissenters remain impassioned and vocal.

One academic told the BBC: “We don’t need more zoos.”

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SYDNEY ZOO

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The grounds of Sydney Zoo in the city’s west

Sydney Zoo, about 40km (25 miles) west of the centre, is marketing itself on attractions such as Australia’s largest reptile and nocturnal house.

Among the animals on show will be African lions, Sumatran tigers, cheetahs and chimps as well as native Australian wildlife.

“My father had the original idea in the ’80s whilst managing Sydney Aquarium,” says Jake Burgess, the managing director of the new zoo. “Together we refreshed it after finding the perfect plot of land in western Sydney.”

Its main rival is Taronga Zoo, a hugely popular tourist attraction which opened in 1916 near the city centre. With temperatures hotter away from the coast, the Sydney Zoo has invested in climate control technology both to encourage guests to visit and to keep animals cool.

“Many exhibits feature air conditioned back-of-house spaces which allow animals to rest comfortably, as well as misting stations and shade structures,” Mr Burgess says.

Technology The anti-zoo arguments

The new zoo says animal welfare is “the primary consideration“. Nevertheless, ardent opponents remain.

“My simple response would be: we don’t need more zoos,” said Marc Bekoff, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado and an outspoken critic.

Prof Bekoff’s research into the sentience of animals reported on the stress, fear and boredom animals experience when confined in claustrophobic zoo enclosures that can be one millionth the size of their natural ranges.

“They’ll feel the exact same emotions as companion animals – dogs and cats – if they’re just kept locked up,” he says.

This is backed up by a study which found that elephants in zoos often endure stress and have significantly shorter life spans than wild elephants.

Then there are the horror-story incidents: Harambe the gorilla was shot and killed in 2016 after dragging a toddler who’d climbed into an enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo; Tilikum the orca killed trainer Dawn Brancheau at Sea World Orlando; London Zoo keeper Jim Robson was killed by an elephant in front of a packed crowd in 2001.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionLooking back at Harambe – the gorilla death which sparked memes

Ben Pearson, from World Animal Protection, says he has an additional concern: “What happens if this private zoo goes bankrupt? Zoos Victoria [in Melbourne] and Sydney’s Taronga Zoo are publicly funded so they’re able to to maintain high welfare standards.

“If Sydney Zoo goes bust, the elephant they shipped all the way from Dublin will likely have to be shipped back, adding to its distress.”

Animal rights group Peta has said the new zoo is “nothing to celebrate” and that “Australians passionate about wild animals” should donate to organisations supporting animals in the wild instead.

Technology Where zoos are doing good

Sydney University’s David Phalen is considered a pragmatist on zoos. The veterinary science professor concedes that zoos will never replicate wild habitats, and has released studies showing captive cheetahs are more likely to develop arthritis.

But he adds: “When more countries are becoming increasingly urbanised, zoos make people more aware of the wider environment. They may watch David Attenborough, but that’s no comparison to actually seeing a tiger up close.”

The impact of this experience can encourage an enthusiasm for animal welfare and other things, such as boycotting products containing palm oil which destroy the habitats of animals like orangutans.

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SYDNEY ZOO

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Sydney Zoo says it has the nation’s biggest reptile and nocturnal house

Many zoos put some profits into conservation. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums encourages members to spend 10% of operational expenditure on conservation projects. Sydney Zoo is in the process of receiving accreditation.

Sydney’s 103-year-old Taronga Zoo is widely considered a leader in everything positive a zoo can be – promoting conservation, education, and animal welfare.

Nick Boyle leads a team of 66 people at the zoo who focus on animal welfare and conservation.

He names seven species that he says would be extinct without Taronga’s intervention: the Bellinger River turtle, the Lister’s gecko, the Christmas Island blue-tailed skink, the Northern Corroboree frog, the Southern Corroboree frog, the yellow-spotted bell frog, the Booroolong frog.

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Getty Images

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Sydney’s Taronga Zoo is considered to be among the world’s best

Mr Boyle lists several other actions by the zoo, including: “We rehabilitate about 50 marine turtles a year. Often they’re admitted for marine entanglement or ingestion of plastic – so we can show our visitors this to encourage them to make better choices around recycling and littering.”

Technology What the priorities should be

So if a zoo is going to open, what can it learn from best practice?

Prof Phalen says Portland Zoo is one place leading innovation. “Their big cat enclosure has set up a contraption that throws mince balls in the air,” he says. When the big cats hear a click, they go into hunt mode. It keeps them engaged and reduces distressing boredom.”

Other zoos now use robots to clean enclosures so animals aren’t regularly transferred to small holding cages.

For zoo opponents like Prof Bekoff, stopping captive breeding and shipping animals around the world as “breeding machines” are among the bare minimums.

“Give the animals as much choice and control over their environment as possible, particularly with things like social groupings,” he says.

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SYDNEY ZOO

Image caption

Research has shown that cheetahs in zoos can develop arthritis

Taronga – which employs a behavioural expert to monitor animals and ensure their welfare – does have a breeding programme, but argues Australia’s location makes alternatives difficult.

“Australia is isolated from Europe and the US and has very strict bio-security parameters so it’s not impossible to participate in global breeding programmes, but it needs to be done right,” Mr Boyle says.

Australia’s newest zoo insists it’s taking this all on board.

“Our habitats have been designed with animal welfare as a priority,” says managing director Jake Burgess.

“We’ve used moats to create a sense of openness and space which improves animal welfare and guest experience.”

Sydney Zoo’s opening weekend had sold out well ahead of time, suggesting there’s no shortage of public interest in visiting such facilities.

But asked whether zoos are a good way of connecting people in cities to the welfare of wildlife in the bush, Prof Bekoff says there’s “little evidence they educate in a meaningful way”.

“People can get a good enough education watching wildlife TV shows. The lesson zoos teach? It’s OK keeping animals in cages.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionHow Misha the polar bear changed zoos forever

7th December 2019

In_pictures South Western Railway strike: Union in fresh talks call

In_pictures South Western Railway strike: Union in fresh talks call

In_pictures

in_pictures Commuters crowded on a South Western Railway trainImage copyright
Taler Kelly

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Passengers faced packed carriages on the second day of disruption

Union leaders have called for fresh talks with rail bosses on the second day of strike action in a row over train guards.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said its members on South Western Railway (SWR) were “standing firm” on the second of 27 planned strikes.

On new trains due to start running next year, SWR wants drivers to operate the doors at every stop to save time.

Union members want guards to decide when to close the doors.

In_pictures ‘Only Bublé can save me’

The two sides have not budged on the matter during more than two years of strikes.

The strike means hundreds of services are being cancelled each day and many passengers have complained about overcrowded trains.

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Jane Curtis

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A number of people were reported to have been taken ill on overcrowded trains

Trainee solicitor Taler Kelly said: “Only Michael Bublé singing ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ in my ears can save me a little from feeling sad.”

Describing her commute to work from Stoneleigh to Waterloo on an overcrowded train she said: “Patience is low. To have to deal with a train not running at all between 06:10 and 07:40 due to cancellations, in addition to only half a service, is impossible. People need to get in to work.”

Jess Cowper, who travels from Wimbledon to Vauxhall every day, told BBC News: “We’re very much sardines in a can when these strikes happen.

“We pay a lot for our season tickets so at the very least I feel we should have space to breathe.

“These strikes don’t seem to solve anything and only serve to frustrate their customers who are just trying to use the service they have paid for.”

Adding to the issues on Tuesday, a signal failure between Fulwell and Shepperton means services running to and from these stations may be cancelled, delayed or changed at short notice, with disruption expected until 12:00 GMT.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBBC Transport Correspondent Paul Clifton explains the background to the strikes

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members are solidly supporting the second day of this phase of strike action.

“It is frankly ludicrous for the company to simply jam their heads in the sand rather than getting back round the table to get the same deal back on track that they pulled away from at the last minute in earlier negotiations.

“A deal is there to be done which would cost the company nothing and which would give the safety and accessibility guarantees at the platform/train interface that we have been seeking.

“SWR need to get out of the bunker and get back into talks.”

The train company said it has given the union guarantees about having guards on its trains.

Image copyright
Becky Bartlett

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The morning rush hour on Monday meant a crowded platform at Wokingham station

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RMT

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Union members took part in a picket at Waterloo Station

SWR released a revised timetable and said it would provide longer trains to increase capacity where possible.

The operator runs services between London Waterloo and Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth as well as Reading, Exeter and Bristol. It also operates suburban commuter lines in south-west London, Surrey, Berkshire, and north-east Hampshire.

Strike days are as follows:

  • From 00:01 GMT on Monday 2 December until 23:59 on Wednesday 11 December
  • From 00:01 on Friday 13 December until 23:59 on Tuesday 24 December
  • From 00:01 on Friday 27 December 2019 until 23:59 on 1 January

Has your journey been affected? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

7th December 2019

Environment General election 2019: Labour ‘beats other parties on climate change’

Environment General election 2019: Labour ‘beats other parties on climate change’

Environment

environment Plane silhouette and contrailsImage copyright
Reuters

Labour has the strongest policies to protect nature and combat climate change, a Friends of the Earth (FoE) survey suggests.

Its election pledges narrowly beat the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats – with the Conservatives far behind.

One key climate policy area is aviation, and Labour has now announced plans for a levy on people who take frequent flights.

The FoE league table marks the parties on 45 policy points.

Its scores are:

  • Labour – 33
  • Greens – 31
  • Lib Dems – 30
  • Conservatives – 5.5

FoE spokesman Dave Timms said: “Environmental issues have been given greater priority in this election than ever before – and with the world in the midst of an ecological and climate crisis this must be the next government’s top priority.

“Many of the policies that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Green Party have put forward are commensurate with, or striving to meet, the challenges we face.

“It is disappointing we have not seen the same urgency, ambition or consistency from the Conservative Party.”

The result will be a shock to the Green Party, whose overriding concern is protecting the planet and who typically top the environment policy charts by a wide margin.

The Greens complained the scoring should only have included commitments made in manifestos.

But in a bid for the youth vote, Labour has challenged the Greens by devoting the top section of its manifesto to tackling the environment crisis.

One high-scoring policy in the FoE survey is on aviation. Labour has been under pressure from trades unions to safeguard jobs in the industry.

But after correspondence with Friends of the Earth, the party strengthened its position by backing a frequent flyer levy on the 15% of people who take 70% of flights.

A letter to the group from four Labour shadow cabinet ministers also promised to review its Aviation National Policy Statement against much tougher carbon targets.

What about Heathrow?

Labour said expansion at Heathrow would be cancelled if it was not consistent with climate targets.

A Labour government would also divert funds from the roads programme for public transport, the party says.

The Greens did not provide any more clarification or policies to strengthen their manifesto.

Mr Timms said: “Labour’s manifesto contains strong, funded policies on home energy efficiency and renewables. This was boosted by significant additional pledges during the campaign on plans for tree planting, food policy, public transport and cycling.

“The Lib Dems and Greens both scored well, and had policies roughly commensurate with the scale of the crisis.”

He added: “The Conservatives have some good policies – especially on agriculture – but in sector after sector its commitments were invariably weaker than the other parties’, entirely absent or just plain bad.”

The Conservatives are committed to a £28.8bn road-building programme that experts say is not compatible with carbon targets because, even if the cars of the future are electric, gathering the resources to make the cars will still generate emissions.

The Tories said their climate targets were world-leading but road congestion had to be tackled.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

7th December 2019

In_pictures LNER delays after trains collide at Leeds depot

In_pictures LNER delays after trains collide at Leeds depot

In_pictures

in_pictures A picture of damage to the front of a trainImage copyright
YappApp

Image caption

The incident involved one of London North Eastern Railway’s new Azuma trains

Commuters are facing major delays after a train derailed in Leeds.

Services between Leeds, Lincoln and Kings Cross are affected after an empty passenger service struck a stationary train at the Neville Hill depot.

Train operator London North Eastern Railway (LNER) said an investigation was under way after the “very low-speed” collision on Wednesday night.

No-one was injured but disruption is expected on the network until about 18:30 GMT.

In a statement, LNER said: “We apologise to any customers who may have their journeys disrupted.”

Image copyright
Sophie Wormald

Image caption

Train operator London North Eastern Railway described it as a “low-speed derailment”

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Cancellations are expected with customers advised to check before they travel

Network Rail said the disruption was because access was restricted to the depot which is used by a number of train operators.

A spokesperson said: “We are working with train operators to run the best possible service and passengers can check their specific journey on National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator before travelling.”


Are you in the area? Have you been affected by delays? You can share your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Follow BBC Yorkshire on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to yorkslincs.news@bbc.co.uk.

7th December 2019

In_pictures Branson South African launch marred by Twitter row

In_pictures Branson South African launch marred by Twitter row

In_pictures

in_pictures Sir Richard BransonImage copyright
VIRGIN

Sir Richard Branson has apologised for a photo he used to mark the launch his new Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa.

The entrepreneur tweeted a photo which was criticised for failing to reflect the diversity of South Africa.

One of the critics is South African fashion designer Thula Sindi, who says: “Where did you find so many white people in South Africa?”

Sir Richard tweeted an apology, saying it “clearly lacked diversity”.

A Virgin Group spokesperson added the image in Sir Richard’s tweet did not reflect “the diverse make-up of attendees” at the launch event.

In the intial tweet, Sir Richard said: “Wonderful to be in South Africa to help launch the new Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. We aim to become the heart of entrepreneurship for Southern Africa.”

It sparked a series of responses, including from Mr Sindi – whose designs were worn by South Africa’s minister of communications and telecommunications, Stella Ndabeni-Abraham on the day she was sworn in.

He remarks that it must have “Really taken an honest effort for exclude the majority of the population which is just as skilled and talented”.

Sir Richard later tweeted: “Apologies. I hope you will take a look at my blog which does far better justice to the amazing work of the Centre and its team.”

In the link to his blog, Sir Richard writes: “We will play a more meaningful role in entrepreneurs’ lives than your average accelerator, supporting companies to not just survive, but thrive, and make business a real force for good in society, for the environment and the economy.”

One individual had told critics they were wrong. “This is one of many pictures, most of which are diverse,” he tweeted.

South Africa’s population of almost 58 million is 80% black African, and Sir Richard writes in his blog that the “economy is dependent on entrepreneurial activity for creating future economic growth and jobs”.

“But the economic contribution to South Africa’s entrepreneurial sector is below the developing country norm. I believe that increasing entrepreneurship in this country is the golden highway to economic democracy,” he adds.

Sir Richard’s Virgin Group has a wide range of interests from gyms to planes and the entrepreneur’s space company, Virgin Galactic, listed on the New York Stock Exchange last month.

A spokesperson for Virgin said: “The tweet linked to a blog about the launch of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship South Africa, which assists aspiring entrepreneurs of all backgrounds with the skills, opportunities and inspiration they need to succeed.

“We apologise for the poorly chosen image, but would like to emphasise that this does not reflect the diverse make-up of attendees.

“As the video, other social posts and other images of the event show, many of the diverse group of Branson Centre entrepreneurs, trustees and team were present and the image attached to that particular tweet should have reflected this too.”

7th December 2019

In_pictures ‘Scotland’s photograph album’ goes on display

In_pictures ‘Scotland’s photograph album’ goes on display

In_pictures

in_pictures Forth Bridge under constructionImage copyright
NLS/NGS

Image caption

Forth Bridge, 1888

Photographs from what was once thought to be the largest privately-held collection in Scotland are going on display to the public.

The MacKinnon Collection, which contains more than 14,000 images, was bought by the National Library of Scotland (NLS) and the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) for £1m in 2018.

The pictures, which date from the earliest days of photography in the 1840s through to the 1940s, are being shown in an exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh called Scotland’s photograph album.

It includes family portraits, working life, street scenes, sporting pursuits, shops, trams, tenements, mountains and monuments.

in_pictures Ferry boatImage copyright
NLS/NGS

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Ferry Boat at Kyle of Lochalsh, 1870s-1880s

Another exhibition at the National Library of Scotland – called ‘At the Water’s Edge’ – looks at photographs from the collection which show Scotland’s coasts and waterways.

The display was put together by photography enthusiast Murray MacKinnon, who established a successful chain of film-processing stores in the 1980s, starting from his pharmacy in Dyce, near Aberdeen.

He published a book of highlights from his collection in 2013, shortly before he sold it on to a private buyer.

It includes many of the pioneers of photography such as William Henry Fox Talbot, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson as well as Julia Margaret Cameron, Thomas Annan, Roger Fenton and George Washington Wilson.

in_pictures Men playing curling on iceImage copyright
NLS/NGS

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Strathmore Curlers Defeat the Thaw, 1935

in_pictures Street sceneImage copyright
NLS/NGS

Image caption

Close No. 37, High Street, 1860s

in_pictures Farm workersImage copyright
NLS/NGS

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Leading Hay, 1864

in_pictures Woman and child at a spinning wheelImage copyright
NLS/NGS

Image caption

Woman Spinning Wool, 1890

in_pictures Football teamImage copyright
NLS/NGS

Image caption

West of Scotland Football Club, 1891 – 1892

in_pictures Highland CowsImage copyright
NLS/NGS

Image caption

Highland Cows, 1890

in_pictures Women and children on St KildaImage copyright
NLS/NGS

Image caption

A Group, St Kilda, 1870s

The images are on display in the ‘At the Water’s Edge’ exhibition at the National Library of Scotland, and in ‘Scotland’s Photograph Album: The MacKinnon Collection’ at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, from 16 November until 16 February.

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