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China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

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China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

SAN DIEGO — China is to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo, renewing its traditional gesture of friendship with the United States after nearly all of the famed bears on loan to U.U.S.oos were returned as relations between the two countries worsened.

San Diego Zoo officials told The Associated Press that if all licences and other criteria are fulfilled, two male and female bears should arrive by the end of the summer, about five years after the zoo’s last pandas were transferred back to China.

“We’re very excited and hopeful,” said Megan Owen, VP of Wildlife Conservation Science at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “They’ve expressed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to re-initiate panda cooperation starting with the San Diego Zoo.”

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China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

The China Wildlife Conservation Association announced Thursday that it has signed cooperation agreements with zoos in Madrid, Washington, D.D.C., and Vienna.

According to the organisation, the relationship will encompass illness prevention and habitat protection research, as well as contributions to the creation of China’s national panda park.

“We look forward to further expanding the research outcomes on the conservation of endangered species such as giant pandas, as well as promoting mutual understanding and friendship among peoples through the new round of international cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stated in Beijing.

Fears over the future of so-called panda diplomacy grew last year when the zoos in Washington, D.C., and Memphis, Tennessee, sent their pandas to China, leaving only four pandas in the United States, all at the Atlanta Zoo. That financing agreement will expire later this year.

However, in November, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed hope that his country will resume sending pandas to the United States after he and President Joe Biden met in Northern California for their first face-to-face encounter in a year and agreed to work to ease tensions.

According to Owen, a panda behaviour expert who has worked in San Diego and China, China is considering a pair that includes a female descendant of Bai Yun and Gao Gao, two of the zoo’s past residents.

Bai Yun was born in captivity in China and spent more than 20 years at the zoo, where she gave birth to six cubs. She and her son were the last pandas at the zoo, and they returned to China in 2019.

Gao Gao was born in the wild in China and resided at the San Diego Zoo from 2003 to 2018 before being returned.

Decades of wild conservation efforts and captive research spared the giant panda species from extinction, boosting its number from less than 1,000 to more than 1,800 in the wild and captivity.

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China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

The black-and-white bears have long been associated with the relationship between the United States and China, dating back to 1972, when Beijing donated a pair of pandas to the National Zoo in Washington, D.D.C., ahead of normalising diplomatic relations. China later lent pandas to zoos to assist in breeding cubs and increasing the population.

According to 2022 research by America’s Congressional Research Service, zoos normally pay a $1 million fee yearly for two pandas, with the money going towards China’s conservation efforts.

According to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, the United States, Spain, and Austria were among the first countries to collaborate with China on panda conservation, with 28 pandas born in those countries.

Demands for the return of giant pandas, dubbed China’s “national treasure,” surged among the Chinese public as unverified reports of mistreatment by USU.S.oos inundated Chinese social media.

Many loan agreements were for ten years and were frequently extended much longer. However, last year’s attempts to prolong the agreements or send more pandas failed. China observers claimed that Beijing was progressively withdrawing its pandas from Western countries due to poor diplomatic relations with the United States and other nations.

Then, on November 15, 2023, a week after the National Zoo’s pandas left for China, Xi spoke at a dinner with American business executives in downtown San Francisco, hinting that more pandas would be sent. He stated that the San Diego Zoo and the people of California are “very much looking forward to welcoming pandas back.”

“I was told that many American people, especially children, were really reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas and went to the zoo to see them off,” he said.

Even after it no longer housed pandas, the San Diego Zoo continued collaborating with Chinese colleagues.

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China Plans To Send San Diego Zoo More Pandas This Year, Reintroducing Panda Diplomacy

According to Owen, China is particularly interested in exchanging information about the zoo’s successful captive panda breeding programme. Giant pandas are difficult to reproduce, partly because the female’s reproductive window is extremely limited, lasting only 48 to 72 hours per year.

Bai Yun’s first child, Hua Mei, was also the first panda born through artificial insemination to live to adulthood outside of China, and she went on to have 12 cubs on her own after being sent to China.

Meanwhile, Bai Yun stayed at the zoo and gave birth to two more girls and three males. Researchers followed her in her den using webcams, providing a better understanding of maternal care behaviour, according to Owen.

“We have a lot of institutional knowledge and capacity from our last cooperative agreement, which we will be able to parlay into this next chapter, as well as training the next generation of panda conservationists,” she said.

Owen said Chinese experts would accompany the bears to San Diego for several months.

She stated that the bears’ return benefits San Diego and the giant panda’s recovery as a species.

“We do talk about panda diplomacy all the time,” Owen said. “Diplomacy is an essential component of conservation in a variety of circumstances…. If we can’t learn to collaborate in often tough conditions or situations beyond the control of conservationists, we won’t succeed.”

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

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Kiev, Ukraine — Ukraine’s air force claimed on Friday that it shot down a Russian strategic bomber, but Moscow officials said the plane landed in a sparsely populated area due to a malfunction following a combat mission.

Neither of the claims could be independently verified. Previous Ukrainian claims of shooting down Russian jets throughout the more than two-year conflict were met with silence or denials from Moscow.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

Meanwhile, Russian missiles attacked cities in Ukraine’s central Dnipro area, killing eight people, including a 14-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy, and wounded 28, according to local officials.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated Kyiv authorities’ almost daily calls for more Western air defense systems, citing a similarity to how Israel countered a recent Iranian attack.

Missile and drone assaults can be prevented, he said on social media site X: “This has been demonstrated in the skies over the Middle East, and it should also work in Europe.”

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated, “Children must not be killed in airstrikes in modern Europe.”

Russia’s air force is far more powerful than Ukraine’s, but sophisticated missile systems supplied by Kyiv’s Western allies pose a significant threat to Russian aviation as the Kremlin’s forces slowly advance along the approximately 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line in what has become a grinding war of attrition. Ukrainian officials say they expect a strong Russian onslaught this summer.

Ukraine says the air force and military intelligence worked together to shoot down the Tu-22M3 bomber using anti-aircraft missiles. Russia frequently utilizes the bomber to launch Kh-22 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets from within its own airspace. The plane can also transport nuclear warheads.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

The Russian military ministry reported that the warplane crashed “in a deserted area” in the southern province of Stavropol, hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the Ukrainian border.

According to the ministry, three crew members were rescued after ejecting from the aircraft, while a fourth is still missing. However, Stavropol Governor Vladimir Vladimirov reported one of the rescued pilots died.

On Christmas Eve, Ukraine reported that it had shot down two Russian fighter jets. In January, the Ukrainian air force claimed to have shot down a Russian early warning and control plane as well as a crucial command center aircraft that feeds intelligence to ground troops, appearing to deal a serious blow to the Kremlin’s forces. The following month, Ukraine claimed it had shot down another early warning and control plane.

In January, Moscow accused Kyiv of shooting down a Russian military transport plane carrying Ukrainian POWs bound for a prisoner swap.

Russian forces launched a joint aerial attack overnight, using 22 different types of missiles and 14 Shahed drones, according to the Ukrainian air force. It stated that all of the drones and 15 missiles had been intercepted.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

Ukraine’s National Railway Operator reported that the attack targeted both metropolitan areas and train infrastructure in the Dnipro region. Employee Oksana Storozhenko, mother of two teenage sons, was among those slain in the strikes, according to reports.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

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WASHINGTON – With rare bipartisan support, the House advanced Friday on a $95 billion foreign aid plan for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and humanitarian aid, as a coalition of members helped it cross a procedural hurdle and reach final votes this weekend. Friday’s vote delivered an unusual outcome in the generally hyper-partisan House, with Democrats voting 316-94 in support of Republican Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan. The final House approval might come this weekend, when the package is delivered to the Senate.

It was a success for Speaker Mike Johnson’s strategy, which he put into action last week after agonizing over the legislation for two months. Nonetheless, Johnson has spent the past 24 hours making the rounds on conservative media, attempting to salvage support for wartime funding, particularly for Ukraine as it faces a critical moment in its battle with Russia, but also for his own job, as the restive right flank threatens to oust him over the effort.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

“There’s a lot of misinformation about what we’re doing here and why,” Johnson said to The Mark Levin Show’s conservative host.

“Ukrainians urgently require lethal aid right now. “We cannot allow Vladimir Putin to roll through another country and take it,” he stated of the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine. “These are very serious matters with global implications.”

After months of delay, the House moved slowly but methodically this week after Johnson decided to move forward. President Joe Biden quickly endorsed the speaker’s plan, and Donald Trump, the Republican assumed presidential nominee who opposes most foreign aid to Ukraine, has not slowed the speaker’s progress.

“The world is watching what Congress does,” the White House stated. “Passing this legislation would send a powerful message about the strength of American leadership at a pivotal moment.”

In an extremely rare move, members of the House Rules Committee banded together late Thursday in a near-midnight vote, with four Democrats supporting a procedural step, to push the package past the Republican majority’s three hardline holdouts and send it to the House floor for debate, 9-3. It was a moment unlike any other in recent House history.

Johnson will need to rely on Democrats again on Friday to pass the next procedural vote and block Republican amendments that might kill the plan. One proposed by extreme Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene would cut Ukraine’s funding to zero.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

Greene has filed a “motion to vacate” the speaker from office, which has at least one Republican co-sponsor, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky. It may initiate a bid to oust Johnson from the speaker’s office if she calls it up for a vote, similar to how Republicans removed Kevin McCarthy from the job last November.

With one of the most slender House majorities in modern history, Johnson can only afford to lose one or two Republican votes to pass any legislation. That dynamic has pushed him into the arms of Democrats as he seeks votes to enact the legislation.

Johnson cannot tailor the plan as the ultra-conservatives seek without risking losing Democratic support. It has prompted him to abandon severe security measures to control migrants at the US-Mexico border, among other goals.

At best, Johnson has been able to divide a Senate-passed version of the bill into different portions, as House Republicans prefer, and the final votes will be on various measures — for Ukraine, Israel, and Indo-Pacific partners.

The plan would also include a fourth clause, which incorporates several Republican demands that Democrats support or are ready to accept. Proposals include allowing the United States to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine, imposing sanctions on Iran, Russia, China, and fentanyl trafficking criminal organizations, and potentially banning the video app TikTok if its Chinese owner does not sell its stake within a year.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

Passing each package, which is set to be voted on Saturday, would require Johnson to establish intricate bipartisan coalitions, with Democrats assuring Ukraine funding is authorized but some left-leaning progressives refusing to support military aid for Israel due to the destruction of Gaza.

The components would then be automatically stitched back together into a single package and delivered to the Senate, where hardliners are plotting procedural measures to postpone final passage.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina formally sought on Thursday to join NATO as a worldwide partner, paving the stage for further political and security cooperation at a time when President Javier Milei’s right-wing government seeks to strengthen ties with Western powers and attract investment.

The request came as NATO Deputy General Secretary Mircea Geoana met with visiting Argentine Defense Minister Luis Petri in Brussels to discuss regional security problems.

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

Geoana said he supported Argentina’s bid to become an accredited partner in the alliance, which is a valuable role short of “ally” for nations outside NATO’s geographical territory and not compelled to participate in joint military actions. NATO membership is currently confined to European countries, Turkey, Canada, and the United States.

The classification may provide Argentina with access to modern technology, security systems, and training that it did not previously have, according to the Argentine presidency.

“Argentina plays an important role in Latin America,” Geoana stated at NATO headquarters. “Closer political and practical cooperation could benefit us both.”

Milei has been promoting a radical libertarian agenda aimed at undoing years of protectionist trade policies, overspending, and debilitating international debt that have thrown the country’s economy into disarray.

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

Over the last four months as president, he has reshaped Argentina’s foreign policy to one of almost unconditional support for the United States, as part of an effort to restore Argentina’s global economic prominence after previous administrations allowed relations with Washington and European allies to deteriorate.

Milei’s government is likewise looking for security gains from improved ties with Western countries. On Thursday, the US government revealed that it would provide Argentina with $40 million in foreign military financing for the first time in more than two decades, allowing critical US allies such as Israel to purchase American weapons.

The money, meant to assist Argentina equip and modernize its military, will help cover the cost of 24 American F-16 fighter aircraft purchased from Denmark earlier this week. Defense Minister Petri described the acquisition of the upgraded jets as “the most important military purchase since Argentina’s return to democracy” in 1983. Milei’s political opponents have criticized the $300 million price tag, which comes as he lowers government expenditure.

Formal partnership with NATO requires the agreement of all 32 NATO countries. Argentina’s relations with crucial NATO partner Britain have been strained since 1982, when the two went to war over the disputed Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

The Alliance’s other global partners include Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, and Pakistan. Colombia is now NATO’s lone partner in Latin America.

Giving a country the title of “global partner” does not guarantee that NATO allies will defend it in the case of an attack. That pledge, outlined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s founding treaty, is limited to full members of the alliance.

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

NATO’s conversation with Argentina began in the early 1990s. Former President Bill Clinton labeled Argentina a “major non-NATO ally” in 1998, partly as a symbolic gesture to reward the pro-American government at the time for contributing soldiers on peacekeeping operations in Bosnia.

SOURCE – (AP)

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