Renowned Moroccan Plastic Surgeon Arrested for Human Trafficking, Fraud

Renowned Moroccan Plastic Surgeon Arrested for Human Trafficking, Fraud
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Renowned Moroccan Plastic Surgeon Arrested for Human Trafficking, Fraud

Renowned Moroccan Plastic Surgeon Arrested for Human Trafficking, Fraud

Authorities in Casablanca have arrested famous plastic surgeon Hassan Tazi, his wife, and a number of employees from his clinic on April 2. The doctor is accused of falsifying official documents and embezzling charity money.

The General Prosecution moved the files of the five arrested suspects to the appeal court in Casablanca.

The charges include human trafficking and luring vulnerable people to exploit them in illegal practices, fraud, falsification of official documents, issuance of fake certificates, and illegal increases of medical services’ prices. The doctor and his partners have been also accused of ‘capturing and sharing photos of patients without their consent,” including photos of women who underwent liposuction surgeries posted on Facebook.

The General Directorate of National Security said in a statement that the National Force of Judiciary Police transferred eight people including a woman, a business owner, and a number of employees to the General Prosecution in Casablanca’s Appeal Court, for involvement in fraud, embezzlement, and forgery.

The investigations showed the suspects are involved in forming a criminal group that collects donations from philanthropists for alleged surgeries performed in the clinic where work most of the suspects. They are also accused of illegally increasing the prices of medical services to collect bigger donations, the statement added.

The national security forces arrested the main suspect responsible for contacting patients and exploiting their pictures in donations collection, as well as falsifying bills and medical reports in compliance with other suspects.

The general prosecution conducted a judicial inspection of the eight suspects and decided to keep five of them under arrest and release the rest until their trial.



Flower or Power? Campaigners Fear Lithium Mine Could Kill Rare Plant

A Tiehm's buckwheat plant starts to bud in its native habitat in the Silver Peak Range in Esmeralda County, Nevada beside Rhyolite Ridge, the site of a proposed lithium mine. Robyn Beck / AFP
A Tiehm's buckwheat plant starts to bud in its native habitat in the Silver Peak Range in Esmeralda County, Nevada beside Rhyolite Ridge, the site of a proposed lithium mine. Robyn Beck / AFP
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Flower or Power? Campaigners Fear Lithium Mine Could Kill Rare Plant

A Tiehm's buckwheat plant starts to bud in its native habitat in the Silver Peak Range in Esmeralda County, Nevada beside Rhyolite Ridge, the site of a proposed lithium mine. Robyn Beck / AFP
A Tiehm's buckwheat plant starts to bud in its native habitat in the Silver Peak Range in Esmeralda County, Nevada beside Rhyolite Ridge, the site of a proposed lithium mine. Robyn Beck / AFP

Delicate pink buds sway in the desert breeze, pregnant with yellow pompoms whose explosion will carpet the dusty corner of Nevada that is the only place on Earth where they exist.
Under their roots lie vast reserves of lithium, vital for the rechargeable electric car batteries that will reduce planet-heating pollution, AFP said.
But campaigners fear the extraction of the precious metal could destroy the flower's tiny habitat.
"This mine is going to cause extinction," says Patrick Donnelly, an environmentalist who works at the Center for Biological Diversity, a non-governmental organization.
"They somehow claim that they're not harming the (plant). But can you imagine if someone built an open-pit mine 200 feet from your house? Wouldn't that affect your life profoundly?"
The plant in question is Tiehm's buckwheat.
There are only around 20,000 known specimens, growing in a few very specific places on a total surface area equivalent to around five soccer fields.
In 2022, the wildflower was classified as endangered by US federal authorities, with mining cited as a major threat to its survival.
The plant and the lithium reserve on which it grows embody one of the key challenges and contradictions of the global climate struggle: how much damage can we inflict on the natural world as we seek to halt or reverse the problems we have already created?
- 'Coexist' -
Bernard Rowe, boss of Australian miner Ioneer, which holds the mineral rights to the area, says the lithium produced at Rhyolite Ridge "will be sufficient to provide batteries for about 370,000 vehicles" a year.
"We'll do that year-on-year for 26 years," he said.
Those nearly 10 million vehicles will go a long way towards meeting the goal President Joe Biden has set of cutting down the nation's fleet of gas-guzzlers as a way to slash US production of planet-warming pollutants.
So-called zero-emission cars make up around 7.5 percent of new vehicle sales in the United States today -- more than double the percentage just a few years earlier.
In California, the figure is more than 20 percent.
And while expansion in the sector has slowed, the category remains the fastest-growing, according to Kelley Blue Book.
And it's not only in the United States: Global demand for lithium will increase five to seven times by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.
The difficulty for US manufacturers is that much of the world's lithium supply is dominated by strategic rival China, as well as Australia and Chile.
"The United States has very, very little domestic production," said Rowe.
"So it's important to develop a domestic supply chain to allow for that energy transition, and Rhyolite Ridge will be an integral part of that."
Ioneer's plans show that over the years the mine is in operation -- it is projected to start producing lithium in late 2027 -- around a fifth of the plant's habitat will be directly affected.
But the company, which has spent $2.5 million researching the plant, says mining will not affect its survival; it is already growing well in greenhouses and biologists think it can be replanted.
"We're very confident that the mine and Tiehm's buckwheat can coexist," Rowe said.
- 'Greenwashing' -
Donnelly counters that Ioneer is "basically greenwashing extinction."
"They're saying. 'We're going to save this plant,' when actually they are going to send it to its doom," he said.
Under the company's plans, the strip mine will use hundreds of trucks, which Donnelly says will raise clouds of dust that will affect photosynthesis and harm the insects that pollinate the plants.
Ioneer says it has already planned mitigation methods, like dust curtains, and keeping the roads wet.
Still, Donnelly says, why not just move the mine? But Rowe counters that it's not as simple as just digging somewhere else.
Ioneer has invested $170 million since 2016 to demonstrate the feasibility of this site, which it believes is one of the best around.
"Many of these other deposits haven't had that amount of work, so they're not viable alternatives to a project like this," he said.
The US Department of Energy has offered Ioneer a $700 million loan for the project, if the Bureau of Land Management signs off on an operating permit.
Donnelly insists the issue is not just the future of one obscure wildflower, but rather just one example of large-scale biodiversity loss that is threatening millions of plants and animals.
"If we solve the climate crisis, but we drive everything extinct while we do it, we're still going to lose our world," he said.


SDRPY Accelerates Work on Yemen's Heijat Al-Abed Road Rehabilitation Project

The road lacks essential traffic safety elements (Photo by SPA)
The road lacks essential traffic safety elements (Photo by SPA)
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SDRPY Accelerates Work on Yemen's Heijat Al-Abed Road Rehabilitation Project

The road lacks essential traffic safety elements (Photo by SPA)
The road lacks essential traffic safety elements (Photo by SPA)

The rehabilitation project for Heijat Al-Abed Road, a vital route connecting Taiz with other governorates, is progressing rapidly under the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY). This road is crucial for the lives of 5 million Yemenis, and the project aims to improve its efficiency, implement safety measures, reduce accidents, and alleviate the daily challenges faced by commuters, SPA reported.
Rehabilitating this essential road will ensure safe traffic flow and facilitate the movement of people and goods, including essential supplies like food and medicine, while reducing costs and travel time. Additionally, the project will create immediate employment opportunities and benefit various sectors, including the economy, services, education, and more.
With a significant elevation difference of 1,000 meters from the highest to the lowest point, the road lacks essential traffic safety elements, such as concrete barriers for vehicle protection, and is prone to rockfalls.
Rehabilitating the rain drainage system and constructing new drainage channels are also essential to prevent water penetration into the road pavement layers.

This project is part of 229 projects and initiatives implemented by SDRPY across various Yemeni governorates. These initiatives serve the Yemeni people in key sectors, including education, healthcare, water, energy, transportation, agriculture and fisheries, development and support of Yemeni government capacities, and developmental programs.


Woman Refuses to Straighten Her Hair for Friend’s Wedding

Woman questions whether she was wrong after refusing to straighten hair for friend’s wedding (Getty Images)
Woman questions whether she was wrong after refusing to straighten hair for friend’s wedding (Getty Images)
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Woman Refuses to Straighten Her Hair for Friend’s Wedding

Woman questions whether she was wrong after refusing to straighten hair for friend’s wedding (Getty Images)
Woman questions whether she was wrong after refusing to straighten hair for friend’s wedding (Getty Images)

A woman has questioned whether she was in the wrong after she defied a bride’s wishes by keeping her hair curly.

Whether it’s a dress code or a drink limit, weddings tend to come with their own set of rules to follow a certain aesthetic or ensure the event goes smoothly. In this case, one wedding required all guests to show up with straight hair, The Independent reported.

Taking to Reddit’s popular confession forum, a candid woman questioned whether she was in the wrong for not abiding by her cousin’s hairstyle rule. The 24-year-old started by explaining that the “straightened hair” rule came from her cousin’s 25-year-old partner. His now-wife wanted everyone who didn’t have natural curly or wavy locks to forget their usual hairdo and straighten everything out.

Oddly enough, the bride has been working for a hair brand that specializes in protecting and enhancing natural curls.

“She’s gotten into the brand overtime and often wears her hair curly, and wants everyone else to not make the same mistake she did by straightening it and ruining her curls for a period of time,” the Reddit user admitted.

But when it came time for the wedding, the Reddit writer decided to keep her hair curly. However, she wrote that her cousin and his wife had no idea her natural hair wasn’t straight.

“When I showed up to the wedding with my naturally curly hair, his wife went ballistic [and] said that only people with naturally curly hair were supposed to keep their hair curled. She claims I’ve never had curly hair,” the original poster confessed.

She continued: “I tried to tell her the calmest way possible that [that is] simply not true and I would rarely wear my hair naturally. But followed the rules for the wedding.”

The bride didn’t believe she was telling the truth, according to the post. Instead, her cousin’s partner assumed the Reddit user was trying to “ruin” the wedding by making a mockery of the rule. Unfortunately, her cousin thought she was lying too.

“As a present I bought them a very nice TV for their new house,” the Redditor went on to say. “I ended up getting kicked out for not following ‘dress code’ on my way out so I grabbed my TV and left. Once my cousin figured out it was the TV he and his wife had been wanting, he tried to convince her to let me back in.”

When the bride caught wind of what was at stake, she apologized to the writer and told her she “believed” her, according to the Reddit post. The Reddit user said the apology encouraged her to return to the party. However, once she’d returned, she said she was again judged for her hair choice.

“Halfway through the night one of her bridesmaids poured water on my head to see if my hair would straighten when it didn’t and I was sopping wet and my $400 dress. I picked up my TV and left,” she said.

Since then, the woman said her cousin and his wife have been badgering her, arguing she shouldn’t have left and taken the TV – but readers disagreed.

The overwhelming majority of Reddit readers thought the cousin and his wife were completely in the wrong.

“You get called a liar for following an asinine wedding rule. They wanted you back for the gift,” one person proclaimed.


Australian Researchers Turn Morning Coffee Waste into Greener Concrete

Coffee beans are seen as they are being packed for export in Medan, Indonesia's North Sumatra province April 25, 2013. (Reuters)
Coffee beans are seen as they are being packed for export in Medan, Indonesia's North Sumatra province April 25, 2013. (Reuters)
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Australian Researchers Turn Morning Coffee Waste into Greener Concrete

Coffee beans are seen as they are being packed for export in Medan, Indonesia's North Sumatra province April 25, 2013. (Reuters)
Coffee beans are seen as they are being packed for export in Medan, Indonesia's North Sumatra province April 25, 2013. (Reuters)

Your morning coffee could help the planet.

That's the promise of an Australian university turning used coffee grounds into a material that can be added to concrete to make it stronger and more sustainable, potentially lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Concrete production, which involves mixing sand and gravel with cement and water, is a major producer of greenhouse gases, responsible for around 7% of the world's emissions, according to the United Nations.

Researchers at Melbourne's RMIT University heated coffee waste without oxygen, a process known as pyrolysis, to create a substance called biochar that can replace up to 15% of the sand used in concrete.

The inclusion of the biochar makes the concrete 30% stronger and reduces the amount of cement needed by up to 10%, said lead researcher Rajeev Roychand.

"This ticks all the boxes," he said. "You preserve carbon and you are getting significantly higher strength."

Roughly 50 billion metric tons of sand is dug up each year, mostly for use in concrete, a 2022 UN report said. Its extraction is often environmentally destructive and it is in increasingly short supply, the report said.

Cement production, which involves heating a mixture of limestone and clay to around 1,500  degrees Celsius (2,732°F), is responsible for most of concrete's emissions.

BIOCHAR COMPANY

The Macedon Ranges Shire Council near Melbourne used the coffee concrete earlier this month to construct a footpath.

RMIT is talking with several construction firms and concrete makers and with Starbucks to take its waste coffee grounds, and could form a company to make biochar, Roychand said. Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment.

Australian infrastructure company Bild Group said it planned to trial the concrete and hoped to use it on major road projects. Construction giant Arup supported the research.

Millions of tons of used coffee grounds are produced globally and most are sent to landfills where they emit methane as they break down.

Australia generates around 75,000 tons of waste coffee grounds a year and biochar made from this could replace up to 655,000 tons of sand in concrete because it is a denser material, Roychand said. Globally, coffee-waste biochar could replace up to 90 million tons of sand in concrete, he said.

Food waste accounts for around 3% of Australia's emissions, according to the government, and most could eventually be made into biochar, Roychand said.

"We anticipate that about 60-70% (of organic waste) we can divert from landfill into concrete applications," he said.

Other international universities are also researching the potential of biochar and other bio-engineering in concrete. RMIT was the first to use waste coffee grounds in this way, Roychand said.


Sun’s Magnetic Field May Form Close to the Surface, Research Finds

 This image provided by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a solar flare, right, on May 14, 2024, captured in the extreme ultraviolet light portion of the spectrum colorized in red and yellow. (NASA/SDO via AP)
This image provided by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a solar flare, right, on May 14, 2024, captured in the extreme ultraviolet light portion of the spectrum colorized in red and yellow. (NASA/SDO via AP)
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Sun’s Magnetic Field May Form Close to the Surface, Research Finds

 This image provided by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a solar flare, right, on May 14, 2024, captured in the extreme ultraviolet light portion of the spectrum colorized in red and yellow. (NASA/SDO via AP)
This image provided by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a solar flare, right, on May 14, 2024, captured in the extreme ultraviolet light portion of the spectrum colorized in red and yellow. (NASA/SDO via AP)

New research indicates the sun’s magnetic field originates much closer to the surface than previously thought, a finding that could help predict periods of extreme solar storms like the ones that slammed Earth earlier this month.

The magnetic field appears to generate 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometers) beneath the sun’s surface. Previous calculations put the roots of this process more than 130,000 miles (209,000 kilometers) below, an international team reported Wednesday.

The sun’s intense magnetic energy is the source of solar flares and eruptions of plasma known as coronal mass ejections. When directed toward Earth, they can create stunning auroras but also disrupt power and communications.

"We still don’t understand the sun well enough to make accurate predictions" of space weather, lead author Geoffrey Vasil of the University of Edinburgh said in an email.

The latest findings published in the journal Nature "will be an important step toward finally resolving" this mysterious process known as solar dynamo, added co-author Daniel Lecoanet of Northwestern University.

Galileo was among the first astronomers to turn a telescope skyward and study sunspots, back in the early 1600s. Solar flares and coronal mass ejections tend to occur near sunspots, dark patches as big as Earth that are located near the most intense portions of the sun’s shifting magnetic field.

Vasil and his team developed new models of the interaction between the sun’s magnetic field and the flow of plasma, which varies at different latitudes during an 11-year cycle. They fed their calculations into a NASA supercomputer in Northern California — the same one used in the 2015 movie "The Martian" to verify the best flight path to rescue the main character. The results suggested a shallow magnetic field and additional research is needed to confirm this.

The modeling was "highly simplified," University of Wisconsin-Madison's Ellen Zweibel, who was not part of the team, said in an accompanying editorial.

The results are intriguing and "sure to inspire future studies," Zweibel said.

The new knowledge should improve long-term solar forecasts, allowing scientists to better predict the strength of our star's future cycles. The sun is approaching its peak level of activity in the current 11-year cycle, thus the recent flareups.

Strong solar flares and outbursts of billions of tons of plasma earlier this month unleashed severe solar storms that produced auroras in unexpected places. Last week, the sun spewed out the biggest solar flare in almost 20 years, but it steered clear of Earth.

Better understanding of the sun can ensure "we are prepared for when the next storm — potentially much more dangerous — hits Earth," Lecoanet said.


Judge in Tennessee Blocks Effort to Put Elvis Presley's Former Home Graceland Up for Sale

The granddaughter of Elvis Presley is fighting plans to publicly auction his Graceland estate in Memphis after a company tried to sell the property based on claims that a loan using the king of rock ’n’ roll’s former home as collateral was not repaid. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)
The granddaughter of Elvis Presley is fighting plans to publicly auction his Graceland estate in Memphis after a company tried to sell the property based on claims that a loan using the king of rock ’n’ roll’s former home as collateral was not repaid. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)
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Judge in Tennessee Blocks Effort to Put Elvis Presley's Former Home Graceland Up for Sale

The granddaughter of Elvis Presley is fighting plans to publicly auction his Graceland estate in Memphis after a company tried to sell the property based on claims that a loan using the king of rock ’n’ roll’s former home as collateral was not repaid. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)
The granddaughter of Elvis Presley is fighting plans to publicly auction his Graceland estate in Memphis after a company tried to sell the property based on claims that a loan using the king of rock ’n’ roll’s former home as collateral was not repaid. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)

Judge in Tennessee blocks effort to put Elvis Presley's former home Graceland up for sale, The AP reported.

Earlier, actress and model Riley Keough - Elvis's granddaughter - has reportedly been able to get a temporary restraining order against any sale before a court rules on her application for an injunction.

The former home and burial site of Elvis Presley is set to be sold at a foreclosure auction on Thursday - but his granddaughter is attempting to halt the court-approved sale of Graceland, according to Sky News.

The case stems from a 2018 deed of trust Keough's late mother - Elvis's only child - allegedly signed, securing a $3.8m loan from Naussany Investments and Private Lending LLC in Missouri.

The company says Graceland was used as collateral in the loan, which was never paid back.

But in new court filings, Keough is fighting the sale of the Memphis, Tennessee, compound - claiming her mother never signed over anything and never borrowed any money.


Female White House Chef Duo Has Dished up Culinary Diplomacy at State Dinners for Nearly a Decade

 Demale chef duo of Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison who take care of the culinary diplomacy at the White House - The AP
Demale chef duo of Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison who take care of the culinary diplomacy at the White House - The AP
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Female White House Chef Duo Has Dished up Culinary Diplomacy at State Dinners for Nearly a Decade

 Demale chef duo of Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison who take care of the culinary diplomacy at the White House - The AP
Demale chef duo of Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison who take care of the culinary diplomacy at the White House - The AP

A house-cured smoked salmon, red grapefruit, avocado and cucumber starter. Dry-aged rib eye beef in a sesame sabayon sauce. Salted caramel pistachio cake under a layer of matcha ganache.

While President Joe Biden and his guest of honor at a White House state dinner chew over foreign policy, the female chef duo of Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison take care of the culinary diplomacy. They pulled off the above menu for Japan's leader in April, and they'll have a new array of delicacies for Kenya's president on Thursday night.

Comerford, the White House executive chef, and Morrison, the executive pastry chef, are the first women to hold those posts, forming a duo that has tantalized the taste buds of guests at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with their culinary creations for nearly a decade. Comerford is also the first person of color to be executive chef.

“Both are just exceptional examples of success in their field,” said Bill Yosses, who was the executive pastry chef for seven years before his departure in 2014 cleared the way for Morrison to be promoted. “They excel at what they do.”

Comerford and Morrison get to do it again Thursday when Biden and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, host the administration's sixth state dinner, for Kenyan President William Ruto and his wife, Rachel. It will be the first such honor for an African head of state since 2008 and the first for Kenya since 2003.

A lavish state dinner is a tool of US diplomacy, a high honor reserved for America's longstanding and closest allies. In the case of Kenya, Biden wants to elevate a relationship that he sees as critical to security in Africa and far beyond.

Jill Biden planned to preview the dinner setup for the news media on Wednesday afternoon.

State dinner planning is done by the first lady's staff and the White House social office, and starts months in advance. Ideas are kicked around before the chefs propose a few different menus. The meals are prepared, plated as they would be served and tasted by the social secretary and the first lady, who makes the final call on what will be served.

The menus change, but the overarching goal has stayed the same, The AP reported.

“We're trying to showcase American food, American regions, American farmers,” while incorporating small tributes to the guest of honor, Yosses said. “It would be rare that we would really try to imitate something from the guest's country.”

Ingredients for April's state dinner for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife, Yuko, came from California, Maryland, Oregon and Ohio. The wines were from Oregon and Washington state.

At the media preview for that glitzy event, Comerford explained that the diets of the Bidens and the visiting dignitaries are factored into the preparations, along with those of other guests.

“When we formulate and we create the state dinner menu, we take into consideration all the principals and most of our guests,” she said. “We also take into consideration the season because this is the perfect time for some beautiful bounties right now, with the spring coming up, with all the morels and the mushrooms, and Susie's cherries and all the stuff she has on her plate.”

The chefs contact their regular purveyors to find out what's in season, and go from there.

The salmon appetizer served in April was inspired by the California roll, which Comerford said was invented by a Japanese chef.

Morrison's dessert highlighted Japan's gift of cherry trees to the United States, many of which are planted in Washington, and its matcha tea. She decorated the pistachio cake with sugary mini cherry blossoms.

“We wanted to bring a little bit of the cherry blossoms that are here on the Tidal Basin right here to our dessert in order for everyone to enjoy the cherry blossoms that we enjoy every year,” she said.

Serving dinner to hundreds of guests at once comes down to timing. Thursday's event will be held in an expansive pavilion put up on the South Grounds of the White House.

Sam Kass, who was an assistant chef during President Barack Obama's administration, said tradition holds that the president is the first one served and that plates are cleared away when he is finished eating.

“You have to have a service that is so efficient and quick to get those plates out so that the last table has a chance to eat,” he said.

Comerford, 61, sharpened her culinary skills while working at hotels in Chicago and restaurants in Washington before the White House brought her on in 1995 as an assistant chef. A naturalized US citizen and Filipino native, she was named executive chef in 2005. Her responsibilities include designing and executing menus for state dinners, social events, holiday functions, receptions and official luncheons.

Morrison, 57, started at the executive mansion as a contract pastry employee in 1995 while she was working at a hotel in northern Virginia. She was named an assistant pastry chef in 2002 and became the executive pastry chef in November 2014 — just in time to sweat over the details of that year's gingerbread White House for the holiday season.

The pair has worked together at the White House for nearly 30 years.

Yosses recalled at least one instance where the honoree's wishes dictated the menu selections.

In 2015, China's Xi Jinping wanted a very American menu, “which I think was a polite way for him to say that he didn't think we could do Chinese food very well," Yosses said.

The Chinese leader was served butter-poached Maine lobster and grilled Colorado lamb.


Nepali Reaches Summit of Everest for Record 30th Time 

Veteran Sherpa guide Kami Rita returning after scaling Mount Everest for the 28th time arrives at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 25, 2023. (AP)
Veteran Sherpa guide Kami Rita returning after scaling Mount Everest for the 28th time arrives at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 25, 2023. (AP)
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Nepali Reaches Summit of Everest for Record 30th Time 

Veteran Sherpa guide Kami Rita returning after scaling Mount Everest for the 28th time arrives at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 25, 2023. (AP)
Veteran Sherpa guide Kami Rita returning after scaling Mount Everest for the 28th time arrives at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 25, 2023. (AP)

Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa broke his own record Wednesday as the person to have scaled Mount Everest the most times, achieving the milestone 30th ascent of the world's highest peak.

The 54-year-old, known as "Everest Man", reached the summit for the 29th time earlier this month, before climbing to the top again.

"Kami Rita reached the summit this morning. Now he has made a new record with 30 summits of Everest," Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, his expedition organizer, told AFP.

A guide for more than two decades, Sherpa first stood on the 8,849-meter (29,000-foot) peak in 1994 when working for a commercial expedition.

Since then he has climbed Everest almost every year, guiding clients.

"I am glad for the record, but records are eventually broken," he told AFP after his 29th climb on May 12.

"I am more happy that my climbs help Nepal be recognized in the world."

Last year, Sherpa climbed Everest twice to reclaim his record after another guide, Pasang Dawa Sherpa, equaled his number of ascents.

Kami Rita Sherpa previously said that he has been "just working" and did not plan on setting records.

He has also conquered other 8,000-meter peaks including the world's second-highest mountain, K2 in Pakistan.

- Romanian climber dies -

His success on reaching the top came as the season's death toll climbed to five.

A Romanian climber died during a bid to scale Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain, his expedition organizer said.

"He was found dead in his tent on Camp Three on Monday morning by his guide," said Mohan Lamsal of Makalu Adventure, naming the climber as Gabriel Viorel Tabara.

Everest and Lhotse share the same route until diverting at 7,200 meters.

"We are making efforts to bring his body down," he said.

Earlier this week, two Mongolian climbers went missing and were later found dead after summiting Everest.

Two more climbers, one French and one Nepali, have died this season on Makalu, the world's fifth-highest peak.

Nepal has issued more than 900 permits for its mountains this year, including 419 for Everest, earning more than $5 million in royalties.

Around 500 climbers and their guides have already reached the summit of Everest after a rope-fixing team reached the peak last month.

This year, China also reopened the Tibetan route to foreigners for the first time since closing it in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Nepal is home to eight of the world's 10 highest peaks and welcomes hundreds of adventurers each spring, when temperatures are warm and winds typically calm.

Last year more than 600 climbers made it to the summit of Everest, but it was also the deadliest season on the mountain, with 18 fatalities.


Sick of Tourists, Japan Town Blocks View of Mt Fuji

Workers install a barrier to block the sight of Japan's Mount Fuji emerging from behind a convenience store to deter badly behaved tourists, in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi prefecture on May 21, 2024. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)
Workers install a barrier to block the sight of Japan's Mount Fuji emerging from behind a convenience store to deter badly behaved tourists, in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi prefecture on May 21, 2024. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)
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Sick of Tourists, Japan Town Blocks View of Mt Fuji

Workers install a barrier to block the sight of Japan's Mount Fuji emerging from behind a convenience store to deter badly behaved tourists, in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi prefecture on May 21, 2024. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)
Workers install a barrier to block the sight of Japan's Mount Fuji emerging from behind a convenience store to deter badly behaved tourists, in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi prefecture on May 21, 2024. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)

A Japanese town mounted a large mesh barrier at a popular viewing spot for Mount Fuji on Tuesday, to deter photo-taking by an ever-growing number of tourists, Agence France Presse reported.

Japan's most famous sight can be seen for miles around, but Fujikawaguchiko locals are fed up with streams of mostly foreign visitors littering, trespassing and breaking traffic rules in their hunt for a photo to share on social media.

Parking illegally and ignoring a smoking ban, they would cram a pavement to shoot the snow-capped mountain, which soars photogenically into the sky from behind a convenience store, residents said.

Workers began putting the black netting measuring 2.5 by 20 meters in place on Tuesday, and by late morning they were already done, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

"I hope that the net will prevent dangerous activities," resident Michie Motomochi, 41, who runs a traditional Japanese sweet shop, told AFP.

"I think it's disappointing that they are putting it up. It's obviously an iconic shot," said Christina Roys, 36, a tourist from New Zealand.

"But it's completely understandable. We were here last night, managing to get the last shot before they were putting up the wall, and there were so many people," she said.

"It's quite dangerous because of the traffic coming through. There are other spots where you can get the shot of the mountain."

- Online bookings -

Record numbers of overseas tourists are coming to Japan, where monthly visitors exceeded three million for the first time in March and then again in April.

But as in other tourist hotspots, such as Venice -- which recently launched a trial of entry fees for day visitors -- the influx has not been universally welcomed.

In Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto, locals have complained of tourists harassing the city's famed geisha.

And hikers using the most popular route to climb Mount Fuji this summer will be charged 2,000 yen ($13) each, with entries capped at 4,000 to ease congestion.

A new online booking system for the mountain's Yoshida trail opened on Monday to guarantee hikers entry through a new gate, although 1,000 places a day will be kept for day-of entries.

Mount Fuji is covered in snow most of the year, but during the July-September hiking season, more than 220,000 visitors trudge up its steep, rocky slopes.

Many climb through the night to see the sunrise, and some attempt to reach the 3,776-meter (12,388-foot) summit without breaks, becoming sick or injured as a result.

Regional officials have raised safety and environmental concerns linked to overcrowding on the active volcano, a symbol of Japan and a once-peaceful pilgrimage site.

Residents near other popular photo spots in the region, including the so-called Fuji Dream Bridge, have also reportedly complained about overtourism in recent weeks.

One tour operator that offers day trips from Tokyo to the Mount Fuji area told AFP they are taking visitors to another Lawson store nearby where a similar view can be seen, but there are fewer nearby residents.


Tourism Authority Launches Saudi Summer Program 2024

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA
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Tourism Authority Launches Saudi Summer Program 2024

Photo by SPA
Photo by SPA

The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) launched the Kingdom's summer program for 2024, in an event held under the patronage of the Minister of Tourism and Chairman of the STA Board of Directors Ahmed Al Khateeb.
The program will run for four months until the end of September across seven destinations and includes over 550 tourism products and more than 150 special offers and packages curated for families and children across different segments such as adventure lovers, those seeking luxury retreats, and culture and heritage enthusiasts.
The Saudi Summer Program 2024 launch event was attended by World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, over 250 key strategic partners from the public and private sectors, significant media, and key opinion leaders.
The summer program will take place in seven destinations: Aseer, Al Baha, Taif, the Red Sea, Jeddah, Riyadh, and AlUla. This year, the program will also see the return of the Jeddah Season and the launch of the Aseer Season, featuring numerous family activities and events.