x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Cloned dogs and tailbacks

Lorry drivers sweltered for days in a 30km traffic jam at the Saudi border and five puppies are bred from a Sept 11 rescue dog's DNA.

A driver takes shelter from the sun under his lorry while waiting at the Al Ghuwaifat border crossing to enter Saudi Arabia.
A driver takes shelter from the sun under his lorry while waiting at the Al Ghuwaifat border crossing to enter Saudi Arabia.

Iran's presidential election led to days of protests on the streets of Tehran after the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected with two thirds of the vote. Supporters of Hossein Mousavi, the main opposition candidate, claimed massive electoral fraud and demanded an annulment, with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei eventually agreeing to a recount next week.

Clashes, sometimes violent, were reported to have left at least eight dead, with many other reformists and journalists believed to have been arrested. The government also attempted to block the international media, telling journalists they could not leave their offices and jamming services like the BBC. Supporters of Mr Mousavi held spontaneous rallies in major cities, while at least six members of the Iranian national football team sported green wristbands, the colour of the opposition, during a World Cup qualifying game in South Korea.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, offered to support an independent Palestinian state, but with such strict conditions that Palestinian officials said it had "closed the door" on future negotiations. He demanded that an independent Palestine must agree to demilitarise and recognise Israel as a Jewish state, saying Jerusalem must also remain under Israeli authority. While the US called Mr Netanyahu's speech an "important step forward", Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, said he had ruined the chances of peace.

A queue of lorries trying to enter Saudi Arabia was gradually reduced after negotiations with Saudi authorities. At one stage the queue stretched back 30km from the crossing at Al Ghuwaifat, after Saudi Arabia introduced new checks to combat smuggling. A number of drivers suffered severe health problems in the heat, with the Red Crescent distributing aid to those stranded for up to a week. After talks, lorries began to move again, with the queue almost eliminated with 24 hours of negotiations.

The bodies of three women from a group of nine kidnapped foreigners were found in northern Yemen. The two German nurses and a South Korean national had been picnicking in a remote area when they were abducted by what the Yemen government claimed were rebels. Those missing include a family of five with three children. There have been conflicting reports about their fate.

Fidel Castro's son was lured into an eight-month-long cyber romance in which he was tricked into revealing details of his private life. Antonio Castro, 40, believed he was exchanging messages with "Claudia", an attractive 27-year-old Columbian sport journalist, sharing details of his life that included a forthcoming trip to Mexico and the fact that he had no bodyguards. In fact, the woman was created by a Cuban exile, Luis Dominguez, who said he wanted to expose the opulent lifestyle of the Castro family.

Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea Football Club, unveiled his latest toy at a shipyard in Germany. At almost 170 metres long, the Eclipse is the largest private yacht in the world, and is rumoured to be fitted with a missile defence systems and a submarine that can enter the vessel unseen through an underwater hatch, The Eclipse is believed to have cost around Dh1.8 billion and joins a fleet of three other yachts owned by the tycoon. The ship is 11 metres longer than the current largest private yacht, the Dubai, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

A memorial service was held for a brother and sister who died of suspected food poisoning after eating at a Chinese restaurant in Dubai. Nathan D'Souza, five, and his sister Chelsea, four, became ill along with their mother Anne-Sophie and the family maid, both of whom recovered. Mrs D'Souza told a gathering of 500 mourners at St Mary's Catholic Church: "It is hard to let go of you my darlings, but I know you are with the Lord." Health officials have closed the restaurant while an investigation is conducted.

The head of the Somalian navy confessed that he has no ships and that he has not been to sea for 23 years.

Farah Ahmed Omar was put in charge of his country's navy in 1982 but admits that his government has little control of the coastline, which is plagued with piracy. In an interview with the BBC, Mr Omar said he was "ashamed" by Somalia's failure to deal with the pirates. The navy chief says a recent radio advertisement produced 500 new recruits but has no ships for them to crew. Mr Omar lamented: "We used to be among the top navies in Africa, with ships carrying deadly missiles and 10 battalions covering the coast."

British Airways asked its 40,000 employees to work without pay for up to a month to cut costs. The airline posted a record loss of Dh2.8 billion last year, and wants staff to volunteer for between one and four weeks unpaid work in what Willie Walsh, the chief executive, called a "fight for survival". Mr Walsh has also said he will give up his Dh367,000 monthly salary for July.

Somali pirates hijacked a cargo ship off the coast of Oman in what Nato said was the first such attack in the area. The German-owned MV Charelle, which sails under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda, was boarded 60 nautical miles south of Sur. The ship is now believed to be heading towards Somali waters.

Scientists have cloned a rescue dog who pulled the last survivors from the ruins of the World Trade Center. The five puppies are genetically identical copies of Trakr, a German Shepherd rescue dog from Nova Scotia, who pulled the last victim alive from the rubble of the twin towers. Trakr died last year from multiple diseases, but his owner, James Symington, extracted DNA which was used by BioArts of California to create the clones.

A four-year-old boy escaped with minor injuries after falling more than five metres down an open manhole at Dubai Mall. Zayn Mahmood suffered bruising to his face and a cut finger but escaped more serious injuries when a ladder broke his fall. His father, Shahid, believes the cover was removed for maintenance work on a fountain but that safety barriers had not been put in place. Dubai Police and inspectors from the municipality are investigating. jlangton@thenational.ae