Saudi Electronic University Signs MoU with the University of Strathclyde

Saudi Electronic University Signs MoU with the University of Strathclyde
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Saudi Electronic University Signs MoU with the University of Strathclyde

Saudi Electronic University Signs MoU with the University of Strathclyde

President of the Saudi Electronic University (SEU), Dr. Mohammed Mardi, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.

The MoU aims to strengthen cooperation in the fields of research and postgraduate programs by establishing the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, exchanging scientific and academic expertise, and supporting student exchange, SPA reported.

Dr. Mardi noted that this MoU consolidates the university's keenness to strengthen international partnerships with global universities according to strategic directions.

He also said it aims to exchange experiences in all aspects that serve the development of the academic, research, and community fields at the university in a way that ensures excellence, quality, and academic and institutional efficiency.

The MoU comes within the framework of SEU's delegation tour of several UK universities to discuss strengthening partnerships, enhancing international partnerships, and contributing to the exchange of knowledge and expertise on a global level.



Moderna Puts Kenya Plant Plans on Hold as COVID Vaccine Demand Slumps

FILE PHOTO: Moderna logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Moderna logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
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Moderna Puts Kenya Plant Plans on Hold as COVID Vaccine Demand Slumps

FILE PHOTO: Moderna logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Moderna logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Moderna said on Thursday it had paused its plans to build a vaccine manufacturing facility in Kenya, following a post-pandemic decline in demand for COVID-19 vaccines.
The company had said in 2022 that it would invest about $500 million in the Kenyan facility and supply as many as 500 million doses of its mRNA vaccines to the continent each year.
It also had plans to start filling doses of its COVID vaccine in Africa as early as 2023.
However, demand for COVID vaccines has since then waned following the end of the pandemic and Moderna has not received any vaccine orders for Africa since 2022, the company said, according to Reuters.
The drugmaker said it had taken more than $1 billion in losses and write-downs related to the cancellation of previous orders.


Russia Launches Angara-A5 Space Rocket

FILE PHOTO: The Angara-A5 rocket is seen on its launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, April 8, 2024. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: The Angara-A5 rocket is seen on its launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, April 8, 2024. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS
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Russia Launches Angara-A5 Space Rocket

FILE PHOTO: The Angara-A5 rocket is seen on its launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, April 8, 2024. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: The Angara-A5 rocket is seen on its launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, April 8, 2024. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS

Russia test launched its Angara-A5 rocket from the Far Eastern Vostochny Cosmodrome on Thursday after technical glitches prompted officials to abort missions at the very last minute for two days in a row.

The launch of the Angara is intended to showcase Russia's post-Soviet space ambitions and the growing role played by Vostochny.

On Wednesday the test launch of the space rocket was cancelled due to a malfunction of the engine launch control system.

The first attempt on Tuesday also failed because the automatic safety system registered a flaw in the oxidizer tank pressurization system, said National space agency Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov.

Thursday’s launch was the fourth for the Angara-A5, a heavy-lift version of the new Angara family of rockets that has been developed to replace the Soviet-designed Proton rockets.

The previous three launches were carried out from the Plesetsk launchpad in northwestern Russia.

After the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia leased the Baikonur Cosmodrome from Kazakhstan and continued to use it for most of its space launches. The agreement with Kazakhstan allows Russia to keep leasing Baikonur for $115 million a year through 2050.


Japanese Astronaut to be 1st Non-American to Set Foot on Moon

MARTIN, OHIO - APRIL 08: The moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse on April 08, 2024 in Martin Ohio. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP
MARTIN, OHIO - APRIL 08: The moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse on April 08, 2024 in Martin Ohio. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP
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Japanese Astronaut to be 1st Non-American to Set Foot on Moon

MARTIN, OHIO - APRIL 08: The moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse on April 08, 2024 in Martin Ohio. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP
MARTIN, OHIO - APRIL 08: The moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse on April 08, 2024 in Martin Ohio. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

A lucky Japanese astronaut will become the first non-American to set foot on the Moon during one of NASA's upcoming Artemis missions, US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday.

The offer to Japan -- an opportunity many nations have long dreamed of -- came as part of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's state visit, and as Washington seeks to strengthen ties with its key Asian ally.

"Two Japanese astronauts will join future American missions, and one will become the first non-American ever to land on the Moon," Biden said in a press conference with Kishida, according to Agence France Presse.

Kishida hailed the announcement as a "huge achievement" and announced that Japan would in return supply a rover for the program.

NASA's Artemis program seeks to return humans to the Moon for the first time in over 50 years, and to build a sustained lunar presence ahead of potential missions to Mars.

Between 1969 and 1972, the US Apollo program saw 12 Americans -- all white men -- walk on the Moon.

NASA previously announced that the Artemis program would see the first woman and the first person of color land on the Moon.

"America will no longer walk on the Moon alone," NASA chief Bill Nelson said in a video published on social media.

"Diplomacy is good for discovery. And discovery is good for diplomacy," he added.

The first mission to take astronauts to the lunar surface, Artemis 3, is planned for 2026. China meanwhile has said it seeks to put humans on the Moon by 2030.

Japan's space agency JAXA is "extremely happy" about the announcement, a spokesman told AFP.

"We will do our best to implement the agreement," including developing the rover for the program, he said.


Russia, Kazakhstan Battle Record Floods as Rivers Rise Further

An aerial photo taken with a drone shows the flooded residential area of the outskirts of Orenburg, Orenburg region, Russia, 10 April 2024. EPA/STRINGER
An aerial photo taken with a drone shows the flooded residential area of the outskirts of Orenburg, Orenburg region, Russia, 10 April 2024. EPA/STRINGER
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Russia, Kazakhstan Battle Record Floods as Rivers Rise Further

An aerial photo taken with a drone shows the flooded residential area of the outskirts of Orenburg, Orenburg region, Russia, 10 April 2024. EPA/STRINGER
An aerial photo taken with a drone shows the flooded residential area of the outskirts of Orenburg, Orenburg region, Russia, 10 April 2024. EPA/STRINGER

The Russian city of Orenburg battled rising water levels on Thursday after major rivers across Russia and Kazakhstan burst their banks in the worst flooding seen in the areas in nearly a century.
The deluge of meltwater has forced over 110,000 people from their homes in Russia's Ural Mountains, Siberia and Kazakhstan as major rivers such as the Ural, which flows through Kazakhstan into the Caspian, overwhelmed embankments, Reuters reported.
Residents in the city of Orenburg said the waters of the Ural rose very swiftly and to far beyond breaking point, forcing them to flee with just their children, pets and a few belongings.
"It came very quickly at night," Taisiya, 71, told Reuters in Orenburg, a city of 550,000 about 1,200 km (750 miles) east of Moscow. "By the time I got ready, I couldn't get out."
Whole areas of the city were underwater, and the Ural rose another 32 cm (13 inches) to 10.54 meters (34.6 ft), 124 cm (49 inches) above the level considered by local authorities as safe. Officials warned the river would rise further.
The flooding has struck Russia's Urals and the northern Kazakhstan worst, though waters are also rising southern parts of Western Siberia, the largest hydrocarbon basin in the world, and in some places near the Volga, Europe's biggest river.
Water levels were also rising in Siberia's Tomsk, which sits on the Tom River, a tributary of the Ob, and in Kurgan, which straddles the Tobol river.
After the Ural burst through dam embankments in Orsk, upstream from Orenburg, on Friday, some residents expressed anger over how local officials had handled the situation, demanding greater compensation and begging for help from President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin said Putin was being updated regularly on the situation but had no current plans to visit the area while emergency services tried to deal with rising waters.
In Orenburg, some residents expressed disappointment that local officials had not done enough to prepare for the annual snow melt.
"There is a lot of excitement, indignation and strong emotions that I understand and share," Orenburg Mayor Sergei Salmin said. "The issue of receiving compensation and the procedure for processing payments is one of the main ones."
SNOW MELT
Spring flooding is a usual part of life across Russia - which has an area equal to the United States and Australia combined - as the heavy winter snows melt, swelling some of mighty rivers of Russia and Central Asia.
This year, though, a combination of factors triggered unusually severe flooding, according to emergency workers.
They said soils were waterlogged before winter and then was frozen under deep snow falls which melted very fast in rising spring temperatures and heavy rains.
Climate researchers have long warned that rising temperatures could increase the incidence of extreme weather events, and that heavily forested Russia is of major importance in the global climate equation.
In Kurgan, a region which straddles the Tobol river, water levels rose in Zverinogolovkoye beyond the critical 10 meter (33 foot) mark, said Governor Vadim Shumkov who was shown visiting evacuated families.
Kazakhstan has been badly hit.
The emergencies ministry said on Thursday morning that the number of evacuees stood at over 97,000, unchanged from Wednesday, and a state of emergency remained in effect in eight regions of the country.
Emergency workers have removed 8.8 million cubic meters (310 million cubic feet) of water from flooded areas, the ministry said. The Kazakh government also said movement was restricted on hundreds of kilometers of roads in the Aktobe, Akmola, Atyrau, Kostanai, Mangistau and North Kazakhstan regions.


Scientists Are Grasping at Straws While Trying to Protect Infant Corals from Fish

This  July 26, 2023 image provided by phade® by WinCup, Inc., shows a "Coral Fort," made of biodegradable drinking straws that researchers are using to prevent laboratory-grown coral from becoming really expensive fish food, off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  (Chris Gug/phade® by WinCup, Inc. via AP)
This July 26, 2023 image provided by phade® by WinCup, Inc., shows a "Coral Fort," made of biodegradable drinking straws that researchers are using to prevent laboratory-grown coral from becoming really expensive fish food, off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Chris Gug/phade® by WinCup, Inc. via AP)
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Scientists Are Grasping at Straws While Trying to Protect Infant Corals from Fish

This  July 26, 2023 image provided by phade® by WinCup, Inc., shows a "Coral Fort," made of biodegradable drinking straws that researchers are using to prevent laboratory-grown coral from becoming really expensive fish food, off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  (Chris Gug/phade® by WinCup, Inc. via AP)
This July 26, 2023 image provided by phade® by WinCup, Inc., shows a "Coral Fort," made of biodegradable drinking straws that researchers are using to prevent laboratory-grown coral from becoming really expensive fish food, off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Chris Gug/phade® by WinCup, Inc. via AP)

South Florida researchers trying to prevent predatory fish from devouring laboratory-grown coral are grasping at biodegradable straws in an effort to restore what some call the rainforest of the sea.
Scientists around the world have been working for years to address the decline of coral reef populations. Just last summer, reef rescue groups in South Florida and the Florida Keys were trying to save coral from rising ocean temperatures. Besides working to keep existing coral alive, researchers have also been growing new coral in labs and then placing them in the ocean.
But protecting the underwater ecosystem that maintains upwards of 25% of all marine species is not easy. Even more challenging is making sure that coral grown in a laboratory and placed into the ocean doesn't become expensive fish food.
Marine researcher Kyle Pisano said one problem is that predators like parrot fish attempt to bite and destroy the newly transplanted coral in areas like South Florida, leaving them with less than a 40% survival rate. With projects calling for thousands of coral to be planted over the next year and tens of thousands of coral to be planted over the next decade, the losses add up when coral pieces can cost more than $100 each.
Pisano and his partner, Kirk Dotson, have developed the Coral Fort, claiming the small biodegradable cage that's made in part with drinking straws boosts the survival rate of transplanted coral to over 90%.
"Parrot fish on the reef really, really enjoy biting a newly transplanted coral," Pisano said. “They treat it kind of like popcorn."
Fortunately the fish eventually lose interest in the coral as it matures, but scientists need to protect the coral in the meantime. Stainless steel and PVC pipe barriers have been set up around transplanted coral in the past, but those barriers needed to be cleaned of algae growth and eventually removed.
Pisano had the idea of creating a protective barrier that would eventually dissolve, eliminating the need to maintain or remove it. He began conducting offshore experiments with biodegradable coral cages as part of a master’s degree program at Nova Southeastern University. He used a substance called polyhydroxyalkanoate, a biopolymer derived from the fermentation of canola oil. PHA biodegrades in ocean, leaving only water and carbon dioxide. His findings were published last year.
The coral cage consists of a limestone disc surrounded by eight vertical phade brand drinking straws, made by Atlanta-based WinCup Inc. The device doesn't have a top, Pisano said, because the juvenile coral needs sunlight and the parrot fish don't generally want to position themselves facing downward to eat.
Dotson, a retired aerospace engineer, met Pisano through his professor at Nova Southeastern, and the two formed Reef Fortify Inc. to further develop and market the patent-pending Coral Fort. The first batch of cages were priced at $12 each, but Pisano and Dotson believe that could change as production scales up.
Early prototypes of the cage made from phade's standard drinking straws were able to protect the coral for about two months before dissolving in the ocean, but that wasn't quite long enough to outlast the interest of parrot fish. When Pisano and Dotson reached out to phade for help, the company assured them that it could make virtually any custom shape from its biodegradable PHA material.
“But it’s turning out that the boba straws, straight out of the box, work just fine,” Dotson said.
Boba straws are wider and thicker than normal drinking straws. They're used for a tea-based drink that includes tapioca balls at the bottom of the cup. For Pisano and Dotson, that extra thickness means the straws last just long enough to protect the growing coral before harmlessly disappearing.
Reef Fortify is hoping to work with reef restoration projects all over the world. The Coral Forts already already being used by researchers at Nova Southeastern and the University of Miami, as well as Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources.
Rich Karp, a coral researcher at the University of Miami, said they've been using the Coral Forts for about a month. He pointed out that doing any work underwater takes a great deal of time and effort, so having a protective cage that dissolves when it's no longer needed basically cuts their work in half.
"Simply caging corals and then removing the cages later, that’s two times the amount of work, two times the amount of bottom time," Karp said. "And it’s not really scalable.”
Experts say coral reefs are a significant part of the oceanic ecosystem. They occupy less than 1% of the ocean worldwide but provide food and shelter to nearly 25 percent of sea life.


Russia Aborts Angara-A5 Space Rocket Launch from Far East for 2nd Time

This handout picture released by the Russian Roscosmos space agency on April 9, 2024 shows a heavy-class Angara-A5 rocket at the launch pad of the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region after its launch was rescheduled due to technical issues. (Photo by Handout / ROSCOSMOS / AFP)
This handout picture released by the Russian Roscosmos space agency on April 9, 2024 shows a heavy-class Angara-A5 rocket at the launch pad of the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region after its launch was rescheduled due to technical issues. (Photo by Handout / ROSCOSMOS / AFP)
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Russia Aborts Angara-A5 Space Rocket Launch from Far East for 2nd Time

This handout picture released by the Russian Roscosmos space agency on April 9, 2024 shows a heavy-class Angara-A5 rocket at the launch pad of the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region after its launch was rescheduled due to technical issues. (Photo by Handout / ROSCOSMOS / AFP)
This handout picture released by the Russian Roscosmos space agency on April 9, 2024 shows a heavy-class Angara-A5 rocket at the launch pad of the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region after its launch was rescheduled due to technical issues. (Photo by Handout / ROSCOSMOS / AFP)

The test launch of Russia's Angara-A5 rocket from the Far Eastern Vostochny Cosmodrome was aborted on Wednesday for the second time this week.

An announcement made over a livestream mere seconds before takeoff said the launch would be cancelled.

State news agency RIA-Novosti said the cause was failure of the pressurization system of the oxidizer tank of the central block of the rocket.

National space agency Roscosmos said another launch attempt will be postponed for at least one day.

The first attempt on Tuesday also failed because the automatic safety system registered a flaw in the oxidizer tank pressurization system, said Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov.

The launch was to be the fourth for the Angara-A5, a heavy-lift version of the new Angara family of rockets that has been developed to replace the Soviet-designed Proton rockets.

The previous three launches were carried out from the Plesetsk launchpad in northwestern Russia.

After the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia leased the Baikonur Cosmodrome from Kazakhstan and continued to use it for most of its space launches. The agreement with Kazakhstan allows Russia to keep leasing Baikonur for $115 million a year through 2050.


Elephant Deaths Trigger Kenyan Call for Tanzania to Curb Hunts

 Elephants walk at the Amboseli National Park in Kajiado County, Kenya, April 4, 2024. (Reuters)
Elephants walk at the Amboseli National Park in Kajiado County, Kenya, April 4, 2024. (Reuters)
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Elephant Deaths Trigger Kenyan Call for Tanzania to Curb Hunts

 Elephants walk at the Amboseli National Park in Kajiado County, Kenya, April 4, 2024. (Reuters)
Elephants walk at the Amboseli National Park in Kajiado County, Kenya, April 4, 2024. (Reuters)

In the rolling grasslands of the Amboseli wildlife park, conservationists fret about an emerging threat to Kenyan elephants that are crucial to its tourism business: licensed hunters across the border in Tanzania.

The two East African neighbors manage elephant herds differently. Tanzania issues some trophy hunting licenses to wealthy sport hunters every year, while Kenya gets all its revenue from wildlife safaris.

Tanzania's way of supervising elephant herds is aligned with many southern African nations like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, while Kenya's zero tolerance of wildlife hunting or sale of ivory mirrors that of Gabon.

Conservationists and Kenyan officials, however, are now urging Tanzania to restrict trophy hunters to its heartland, to protect Kenyan elephants, after three of them were shot across the border in recent months.

"It is not right to license trophy hunting near the border with Kenya," said Joseph Ole Lenku, the governor of Kenya's Kajiado county, which relies on tourism.

Tanzania's wildlife regulator, and its government, did not comment.

Last September, a Kenyan elephant with tusks that weighed 50 kg (110 lb) each was shot by licensed hunters some 23 km (14 miles) inside the border with Tanzania, conservationists said.

The killing broke an unofficial moratorium on hunting elephants near the Kenyan border. The ban was agreed in 1995 after an outcry over the shooting of four Kenyan elephants on the Tanzanian side in 1994, conservationists said, although the prohibition did not set out detailed regulations.

After the first Kenyan elephant was gunned down in September in the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area, two more have been shot, all belonging to a group known as "super-tuskers" due to their large tusks, the wildlife campaigners said.

"The Amboseli bloodline of tuskers is probably one of the best in the world, so from a genetics perspective it is really important," said Richard Bonham, co-founder and executive chairman of Big Life Foundation in Kenya, a conservation group.

Visitors from around the world flock to Amboseli every year to see the huge elephants, he said, making them valuable from a tourism perspective.

Tourism is one of the top foreign exchange earners for Kenya and the sector employs millions of people directly and indirectly.

The conservationists say they now want Tanzania to reinstate the trophy hunting moratorium, reinforcing it with more definite terms on land within 40 km (25 miles) of the Kenyan frontier.

Tanzania charges a fee of $10,000-$20,000 for a license to hunt an elephant trophy, which is split between the government and the community if the trophy is hunted in conservation areas run by local groups.

Conservationists said they were not calling for a hunting ban in all of Tanzania, but for protection of precious Kenyan tuskers that wander back and forth across the border.

"The problem is that the hunted elephants were among the very few elephants with such large ivory," they said.


Floods Swamp Scores of Settlements in Russia and Kazakhstan

 An aerial picture taken from behind a plane window shows a flooded area near the city of Orenburg, Russia April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
An aerial picture taken from behind a plane window shows a flooded area near the city of Orenburg, Russia April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
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Floods Swamp Scores of Settlements in Russia and Kazakhstan

 An aerial picture taken from behind a plane window shows a flooded area near the city of Orenburg, Russia April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
An aerial picture taken from behind a plane window shows a flooded area near the city of Orenburg, Russia April 10, 2024. (Reuters)

Floods gripped cities and towns across Russia and Kazakhstan on Wednesday after Europe's third-longest river burst its banks, forcing over 100,000 people to evacuate and swamping parts of the Russian city of Orenburg.

The deluge of melt water overwhelmed scores of settlements in Russia's Ural Mountains, Siberia, Volga and areas of Kazakhstan after major rivers such as the Ural, which flows into the Caspian, rose more 66 centimeters (2.17 ft) beyond its bursting point.

In Orenburg, a city with a population of 550,000 about 1,200 km (750 miles) east of Moscow, hundreds of homes were flooded and at least 7,700 people were evacuated as the Ural river rose swiftly beyond the critical level of 9.3 meters (30 feet).

"The water level in the Ural is rising," said Alexei Kudinov, the first deputy head of Orenburg. Reuters footage showed swathes of areas near the city under water.

Sirens and special television announcements ordered residents in the flood zones to evacuate, though some people decided to stay and were shown remaining in the attics of their houses.

The flood situation was acute in parts of Western Siberia, the largest hydrocarbon basin in the world, where the peak is expected in three to five days, and some areas around the Volga, Europe's largest river, the emergencies ministry said.

Residents in Orenburg said it was the worst flooding in living memory while Russian officials said it was the worst flooding in the area since record began. Kazakhstan said 96,000 people had been evacuated.

Russia said 10,500 houses were flooded across 37 regions, most in the Orenburg region. Upstream on the Ural, which flows into Kazakhstan, floodwaters burst through an embankment dam in the city of Orsk on Friday.

In Kazakhstan, people worked through the night to build up dykes and strengthen embankments.

Pope Francis expressed his sympathy for the victims of the floods.

"I also want to convey to the people of Kazakhstan my spiritual closeness at this time, when a massive flood has affected many regions of the country and caused the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes," Pope Francis said during his Wednesday weekly audience in St Peter's Square.

"I invite everyone to pray for all those who are suffering the effects of this natural disaster."

RECORD FLOODING

Spring flooding is a usual part of life across Russia as the harsh winter snows melt, swelling some of mighty rivers of Russia and Central Asia. This year, though, a combination of factors triggered unusually severe flooding.

Russian emergency officials said the soil was waterlogged before winter and then was frozen under very high snow falls which then melted very fast in swiftly rising spring temperatures and heavy rains.

One Russian official, the Presidential Plenipotentiary in the Urals Region, Vladimir Yakushev, was quoted by Russian media as suggesting that Kazakhstan was to blame for not coordinating the discharge of water more effectively.

President Vladimir Putin spoke to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan about the floods on Tuesday. The Kremlin said the worst was still to come for the Siberian region of Tyumen and the Urals region of Kurgan.

The Kremlin said Putin was getting updated on the situation but had no immediate plans to visit the flood zone as local and emergency officials were doing their best to tackle the deluge.

Sirens in Kurgan, a city on the Tobol river, a tributary of the Irtysh, warned people to evacuate immediately.

Local authorities said they had closed several roads to traffic to quickly deliver soil to strengthen a dam there as water levels in the Tobol River quickly rose 23 centimeters (9 inches). The governor of the Kurgan region said 4,500 people had been evacuated from their homes in the province.


Saudi Broadcasting Authority Announces Winner of 'Read and Rise' Competition

Embellished and decorated Qurans highlight the depth of Islamic arts (King Abdulaziz Public Library)
Embellished and decorated Qurans highlight the depth of Islamic arts (King Abdulaziz Public Library)
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Saudi Broadcasting Authority Announces Winner of 'Read and Rise' Competition

Embellished and decorated Qurans highlight the depth of Islamic arts (King Abdulaziz Public Library)
Embellished and decorated Qurans highlight the depth of Islamic arts (King Abdulaziz Public Library)

The CEO of the Saudi Broadcasting Authority, Mohammad bin Fahd Al-Harithi, announced the winners of the 10th season of the "Read and Rise" competition, organized by Nida Al-Islam Radio to promote memorization, tajweed, and intonation among the contestants.
The General Manager of Nida Al-Islam, Hani bin Nafea Al-Sulami, stated that the number of applicants for the competition exceeded 5,000 contestants from 35 countries worldwide, with a total of SAR 115 thousand in prizes, SPA reported.

The competition comprised three phases, concluding with the announcement of 10 winners.

The radio station selected a group of Quran reading lecturers from the Islamic World League to serve as jury members.


Istanbul Airport Provides Anxious Travelers With Paw-Sitive Experience by Hiring 5 Therapy Dogs

A Turkish Airlines plane takes off from the city's new Istanbul Airport in Istanbul, Türkiye, April 6, 2019. (Reuters)
A Turkish Airlines plane takes off from the city's new Istanbul Airport in Istanbul, Türkiye, April 6, 2019. (Reuters)
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Istanbul Airport Provides Anxious Travelers With Paw-Sitive Experience by Hiring 5 Therapy Dogs

A Turkish Airlines plane takes off from the city's new Istanbul Airport in Istanbul, Türkiye, April 6, 2019. (Reuters)
A Turkish Airlines plane takes off from the city's new Istanbul Airport in Istanbul, Türkiye, April 6, 2019. (Reuters)

Five new hires are selflessly roaming the halls of one of the world’s busiest transportation hubs, hoping to provide a paw-sitively stress-free travel experience for anxious passengers.

Meet Istanbul Airport’s therapy dogs — always ready to offer support with snuggles, belly rubs and sloppy kisses.

The Associated Press caught up with Kuki and Alita, two of the dogs taking part in the pet-friendly airport’s new pilot project aimed at easing stress and anxiety among travelers.

All four-legged members of the program are certified therapy dogs, professionally trained and conditioned to comfort humans.

The “Therapy Dog Team” has been on duty since late February following months of preparation and intensive training, learning desensitization to distracting stimuli, like sounds and people.

“We have to ensure that they are safe and they are 100% adapted to all environments,” said Kadir Demirtas, Istanbul Airport’s customer experience manager.

Kuki, a Lagotto Romagnolo, an Italian retriever breed, is team captain. He works hard to please but likes his breaks and sometimes plays hooky.

That's OK, however.

The team’s veterinarian said each dog’s temperament dictates their hours on the job each day.

“They walk around the airport led by their handlers who are also responsible for their care,” said Volkan Arslan.

The dogs, who are airport employees with official badges and uniforms, have a set schedule and work during peak travel hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Alita, a border collie, is Kuki’s teammate. Her intense gaze and dedication to her handler are striking, as is her ability to soothe and calm nerves.

“We are always surrounded by people who are constantly petting her," said Volkan Gul, Alita’s dedicated handler, adding that she helps them relax.

Airport officials said they already have plans to expand the pilot project following initial positive feedback from travelers.

Associated Press