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40 crew members and 6,000 cows feared dead as rescue operation ends and second typhoon nears

The search for 40 missing crew members from the cargo ship that sunk near southwestern Japan has been called off.

Elias Marat

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The search for 40 missing crew members from the cargo ship that sunk near southwestern Japan has been called off as Typhoon Haishen is approaching the region.

The termination of the search comes after three people have been recovered from the capsized vessel, which had a crew of 43 people and a load of nearly 6,000 live cattle before it sunk in the East China Sea on Wednesday after being caught in the violent conditions of Typhoon Maysak.

On Friday, Japanese authorities announced that its coast guard had rescued a third crew member from the Gulf Livestock 1. The 30-year-old Filipino seafarer was spotted waving for help alone in a life raft a mile away from Kodakarajima, a small island in the southern Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima, reports The Guardian.

According to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the sailor is “conscious and able to walk,” reports Filipino news portal the Inquirier. Reports have identified him as Jay-nel Rosals, who served as the deckhand on the ship.

The rescue comes after another crew member was found on Friday, unconscious and floating near Japan’s Amami Oshima Island, which lies between Okinawa and Kyushu. The sailor was taken to a hospital, but died shortly thereafter. His identity and nationality remain unconfirmed.

The crew of the freighter included 39 seamen from the Philippines, two from Australia and two from New Zealand.

The Panamanian-flagged Gulf Livestock 1 had embarked from Napier in New Zealand on Aug. 14 and was bound for the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China, in a journey that was meant to last 17 days before it was tragically cut short by extreme weather conditions.

The first person rescued from the ship was 45-year-old chief officer Sareno Edvardo of the Philippines, who said that the ship’s engine was lost before the entire ship was capsized after being struck by a wave.

“When it was capsizing, an onboard announcement instructed us to wear a life jacket,” Edvardo later told the Japanese coast guard. “So I wore a life jacket and jumped into the sea.”

Sareno didn’t see any of his fellow crew members while he watched the ship sink prior to his rescue by Japan’s coast guard. Sareno was rescued after the coast guard spotted him adrift while wearing his life jacket.

Filipino seafarers are one of the most vulnerable workforces in the global economy, often suffering grave injuries, negligence, and wage theft in the often lawless open waters.

Family members of the missing Filipino seafarers are also grieving since learning about the sinking of the ship via social media. According to Liezyl Pitogo and Justine Marie Payas, whose husbands were crewmen on the ship, they have not been receiving any updates from authorities.

“It’s difficult for someone like me for a day to get by without hearing any news. I hope that [officials] could give us a little hope, your help,” Pitogo told ABS-CBN. Due to coronavirus lockdown measures in the Philippines, Pitogo is unable to reach officials, she said.

“I know that there is a pandemic, but if I were only near, I would be the one looking out for him,” she added. “We need to find them.”

Undated photo shows Andren Payas, far right, one of the Filipino crewmen of Gulf Livestock 1. | Photo: Justine Marie Payas

Some 500,000 Filipino seafarers are employed on vessels ranging from cruise ships to cargo liners and oil tankers, and their remittances are crucial for the economy of the Philippines.

Known for being cheerful, resourceful, and extremely hard-working – as well as less expensive than their European counterparts – Pinoy sailors make up a quarter of international seafarers but are often deprived of basic labor rights. Under Philippine law, they are unable to sue ship owners or managers in cases of severe negligence.

The Gulf Livestock 1 is a 456-foot (139 meter) vessel registered in Panama that was built as a livestock carrier in 2002 and is registered as being owned by the Amman-based Rahmeh Compania Naviera SA, according to public data. The ship’s manager is Hijazi & Ghosheh Co.

Animal rights organizers are also up in arms over the death of the nearly 6,000 cows, and they say that the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 is a clear example of the risks of transporting livestock by sea. The export of cattle and sheep generates major profits for meat and livestock producers in Australia and New Zealand.

Images of cattle floating in the area where the cargo ship sank have emerged amid the search-and-rescue attempts.

“This is a high-risk trade that puts the lives of animals at risk which is why the export of live animals must be banned,” Marianne Macdonald of New Zealand animal rights organization SAFE said in a statement Thursday.

Corruption

Derek Chauvin Found GUILTY of Murdering George Floyd

Elias Marat

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man whose death at Chauvin’s hands last May sparked a long period of unrest and major protests against policing and racism in America.

After deliberating for about 10 hours over two days, the jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of Floyd on a street corner last year on Memorial Day.

The second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. The third-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, and second-degree manslaughter can carry up to 10 years.

In harrowing video footage from the May 25, 2020, incident that has been seen billions of times across the globe, Chauvin could be seen kneeling on the neck of Floyd for over nine minutes while fellow Minneapolis officers Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane stood by. Meanwhile, a horrified crowd of bystanders filmed and pled with officers as the event transpired.

On Monday, the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments to the jury.

Prosecutors argued that Chauvin’s actions directly led to Floyd dying from low oxygen, or asphyxia. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said that Chauvin “chose pride over policing,” calling his actions “unnecessary, gratuitous and disproportionate.” He also reminded the jury that Chauvin’s hundreds of hours of training over the course of 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department should have led to a different outcome than Floyd’s death during a crisis.

The prosecution also focused on the fact that Chauvin knee was on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

The defense, however, argued that Floyd’s use of illegal drugs and a pre-existing heart condition were to blame and that “the totality of the circumstances,” including exposure to carbon monoxide, led to his death in police custody.

38 witnesses were called by prosecutors, including the teenager who recorded the widely seen video that has been played endlessly over the past year. She and other bystanders testified that they remain haunted by Floyd’s death. The defense called seven witnesses, including two experts.

Floyd’s death rekindled a long-seething anger over police brutality and racial oppression in the United States, with cities across the U.S. and the world rising up in protest over his killing and the killings of other victims of law enforcement.

President Joe Biden had expressed his wish for “the right verdict” without specifying explicitly whether the verdict would be guilty or not guilty. Biden had been careful not to comment on a potential outcome in Chauvin’s trial while urging calm.  

Residents, activists and journalists descended on the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis when the announcement was made at 2:30 pm local time that the verdict has been reached. The crowd greeted the judge’s announcement of Chauvin’s guilty charges with applause and cheers.

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Good News

Cliffhanger: Mountain Biker Saved From “Imminent Death” After Falling Into Canyon

Elias Marat

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A Southern California mountain biker is likely counting his blessings after he was rescued from what authorities describe as “imminent death”” after falling from the side of a cliff in the Angeles National Forest.

The mountain biker, described as an older man, fell into the canyon at Mt. Wilson on Thursday morning and was dangling hundreds of feet above the ground before his fellow bikers, and eventually a special team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, rescued him.

For some time the man dangled by a thin cord around his ankle that was tied to his bicycle while hanging on for dear life “like a cat,” Capt. Tom Giandomenico of the LASD special enforcement bureau told the Los Angeles Times.

“He knew he was in such a precarious situation. He was just scared to even rotate his head to look at us. He just didn’t want to move a muscle,” LASD Deputy Richard Thomsen told CBSLA.

Additionally, when the helicopter team arrived it wasn’t just a matter of simply hoisting the man to safety, as the air generated by the helicopter’s rotor would have sent the man plummeting to “imminent death,” Giandomenico added.

“Because he was head-down on the rock face there, that dropped probably a good 40 feet before it hit some soft dirt and a boulder,” Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Helbring said. “And beyond that was hundreds of feet down to the bottom of the canyon.”

Instead, one of the members of the special enforcement team composed of former SWAT officers devised a plan to rappel down to the man and move him to a ledge below, from which the two could be airlifted to safety.

However, due to a lack of boulders or trees, there was nothing to tie a rope to – and thus no way to rappel down to anything.

So instead, the special enforcement team used the man’s brother and another friend to be their anchor, a plan that ultimately succeeded.

Giandomenico called the rescue “one of the more significant, courageous maneuvers I’ve seen.”

“Heroic, in my opinion,” he added.

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Bizarre

Scientists Create First-Ever Embryos With Monkey and Human Cells

Elias Marat

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For the first time, scientists have created embryos in a lab that contain the cells of both humans and monkeys.

Scientists hope that by creating chimeric embryos – embryos containing cells from two distinct species – they might be able to create organs for people who desperately need transplants.

Over 100,000 people in the United States lone are currently on a waiting list for organ transplants crucial to saving their lives, but the supply of donor organs has dropped significantly since the pandemic began unfolding.

Researchers have attempted to inject human stem cells into the embryos of pigs and sheep in recent years in hopes of growing organs for transplants, but this hasn’t yielded positive results. Scientists are hoping that by turning to macaque monkeys, which share a greater genetic similarity to humans, they may have more success.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, researchers in the U.S. and China injected 25  pluripotent stem cells from humans into embryos from macaque monkeys.

After one day, the researchers detected human cells beginning to grow in 132 of the embryos. They embryos ultimately survived for 19 days.

However, bioethicists have raised concerns about the potential for abusing medical regulations that currently govern the treatment of animal and human subjects, as well as the possibility that a rogue scientists might potentially spike living creatures with human cells.

“My first question is: Why?” Kirstin Matthews, a science and technology fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told NPR. “I think the public is going to be concerned, and I am as well, that we’re just kind of pushing forward with science without having a proper conversation about what we should or should not do.”

Researchers insist that the study serves purely humanitarian goals that could save countless lives in the future.

“This work is an important step that provides very compelling evidence that someday when we understand fully what the process is we could make them develop into a heart or a kidney or lungs,” said University of Michigan professor Jeffrey Platt, who was not involved in the study.

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