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Twins! Toronto Zoo Welcomes 2 Baby Pandas

Friday, 16 October 2015 00:00 Written by

Two giant-panda cubs were born today (Oct. 13) at the Toronto Zoo, becoming the first pandas ever born on Canadian soil.

The zoo's female giant panda, Er Shun, gave birth to the first cub early this morning, at 3:31 a.m. EDT. A second cub followed at 3:44 a.m. EDT, according to zoo staff. The first cub weighed 6.6 ounces (187.7 grams), and its slightly younger twin weighed 4 ounces (115 g).

John Tracogna, CEO of the Toronto Zoo, called the births "historical," and praised the organization's successful reproduction program. [Photos: World's Cutest Baby Wild Animals]

"We are so proud to be contributing to the ongoing survival of this endangered species," Tracogna said in a statement.

The twin cubs have bulbous heads, and their tiny, pink bodies are covered in fuzzy, white hair. Giant pandas are typically born blind, and zoo representatives say it could be months before they are able to determine the sex and paternity of the cubs.

Shortly after the first cub was born, Er Shun's maternal instincts kicked in, and she began cradling and cleaning the tiny fur ball. Both cubs have been bonding with their mother, according to zoo staff, but they'll remain in the maternity area, away from public view, for the next several months.

The Toronto Zoo is working with panda experts from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China. Er Shun and her male companion, Da Mao, are currently on loan to the Toronto Zoo from China, as part of a long-term conservation and breeding program. The giant pandas will remain in Toronto until 2018, and then will relocate to the Calgary Zoo in Alberta.

"We look forward to sharing our learnings with scientists around the world in the hope this will help us save this endangered species," Councillor Raymond Cho, chairman of the Toronto Zoo Board of Management, said in a statement.


British-born gunman Chris Harper-Mercer kills 9 after 'targeting Christians' in Oregon college shooting

Sunday, 04 October 2015 00:00 Written by

Chris Harper Mercer, who was killed in a shootout with police, was born in England before moving to the States as a young boy, according to reports in America


A British-born gunman killed at least nine people in a US college before being fatally shot in a stand-off with police.

Chris Harper-Mercer was born in England before moving to the United States as a young boy, according to reports in America.

The 26-year-old, whose social media profiles featured content supporting the IRA, apparently demanded to know his victims' religious beliefs before opening fire.

The killer burst into Umpqua Community College in Roseburg before slaying nine people and injuring seven.

Terrified students told how they cowered behind desks fearing for their lives as a gun maniac went on a murderous college rampage.

Eye-witnesses said the gunman asked his victims' faith, before shooting those who answered Christian.

Kortney More, 18, saw her teacher shot in the head in writing class.

She said: “The shooter was inside at that point, and he told people to get on the ground.

"The shooter was asking people to stand up and state their religion and then started firing.”

As the killer picked off targets, student Kayla Marie tweeted: “There’s someone shooting on campus. Students are running ­everywhere. Holy God.”

Police said Harper-Mercer was shot dead after he killed 9 people in the 45th mass school shooting in the US this year.

The gunman's dad Ian Mercer told reporters outside his home he is 'as surprised as anyone' at the tragedy.

He said: "Obviously, it's been a devastating day. Devastating for me and my family.

"I'm just as shocked as everybody at what happened today. I've just been talking to the police and the FBI.

"That's all the details I have right now, is what you know already."

Authorities, who initially refused to name the gunman, shed no light on his motive and said they were investigating.

Several people remain injured in hospital.

One message read: "Some of you guys are alright. Don't go to school tomorrow if you're in the northwest."

Harper-Mercer began his killing spree at 10.38am local time. Police were reportedly going from room to room at the college checking for possible booby traps following the massacre.

Special agents were on the scene and canine teams rushed to the college to search for explosives, firearms casings and ­ammunition.

The scene was described as "utter chaos" with witnesses saying how one student was carried out in a bloodied blanket.

Student Jodi Sonka said: "We heard something happening in the middle of our biology lab. And then we heard 'we need to get back in the room immediately'."


Last night a visibly shaken Barack Obama paid tribute to the victims and called for stricter gun laws.

Seething with anger the President told a White House press conference: “We are the only advanced country on earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.

“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine, my response here at this podium ends up being routine. We become numb to this.

“It cannot be this easy for someone who wants inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.” He was referring to the latest in a long line of college massacres.

The Virginia Tech University killing spree in 2007 remains the worst mass shooting in the nation’s history.

Seung-Hui Cho, 23, shot dead 33 people and injured 25 in April 2007.

He later killed himself. In 2012, the nation was rattled by the slayings of 20 students and six staff at an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother before the rampage and killed himself shortly after.

­And the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado left 13 dead and 21 injured after 18-year-old Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, 17, killed 12 students and a teacher before ­committing suicide.

Umpqua has roughly 3,300 full-time students and 16,000 part-time ones.

It is not a traditional seat of learning as during the 2013-14 school year the average age of its students was 38.

33-year-old mother throws new-born from 7th floor

Wednesday, 30 September 2015 00:00 Written by

A-33-year-old woman, Berry Jennifer, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter for allegedly throwing her new born baby out of a seventh-floor window in the courtyard of the Bronx apartment on W. 183rd Street, New York City, Daily News reports.

Jennifer allegedly told the law enforcement officials on interrogation, that she gave birth to a stillborn baby in the shower, then threw the child out of her boyfriend’s bathroom window in The Bronx on Monday afternoon.

However, according to the city’s Chief Medical Examiner, Barbara Sampson, the child was still alive when her mother tossed her, revealing that an autopsy carried out, confirmed that the infant was still breathing in the apartment. The autopsy reportedly ruled the death a homicide.

Dr Sampson said, “The cause of death is multiple blunt force injuries. The dead infant’s umbilical cord was still attached. There was air in the lungs, this was a healthy baby girl,” he added.

Soon after Jennifer tossed the child, her 28-year-old boyfriend, Giovanni Johnson, reportedly discovered her sitting in the shower next to a pool of blood, which she insisted was from her menstrual cycle, cops sources reveal.

Johnson told cops that he asked if she was pregnant, and she told him she’d had an abortion about four months ago.

Jennifer’s mother, speaking on the incident, said ironically, her daughter used to work for Child Protective Services and one may wonder why such act should come from her, as she is expected to know better.

She further said she suspected her daughter was pregnant, but didn’t know for sure, adding that she had been waiting for Jennifer to say something to her.

Jennifer was reportedly charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter after an autopsy determined the death was a homicide caused by multiple blunt-force trauma.

She was remanded without bail. She next appears in court October 5.

Caitlyn Jenner legally a woman

Saturday, 26 September 2015 00:00 Written by

A US judge on Friday approved a request by Olympic gold medallist Caitlyn Jenner to have her name and gender legally changed.

Los Angeles Superior Court judge Gerald Rosenberg issued the ruling during a brief hearing that was not attended by Jenner.

The transgender Olympian formerly known as Bruce Jenner sought the court ruling earlier this month but asked that much of her file remain under seal to protect her privacy and safety.

"I believe the widespread dissemination of my personal information will compromise both my privacy and my safety given the public interest in my transition, which is not all positive, and will significantly increase the likelihood I would receive further threatening attention," Jenner, 65, said.


Friday's ruling means that Jenner's birth name William Bruce Jenner will now be replaced by Caitlyn Marie Jenner.

Jenner became an American sports hero by setting a world record in the decathlon at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

But it was through marriage to the former Kris Kardashian — matriarch of the television reality show empire with whom he had two daughters — that Jenner once again became a household name.

Jenner came out as a transgender woman in a television interview in April, when she discussed how she had been grappling her gender identity since childhood.

She unveiled her new first name and look in June.


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Pastor arraigned For defiling 9-Year-Old Girl On Father’s Grave

Wednesday, 23 September 2015 00:00 Written by

An Alabama pastor of a conservative congregation is being accused of defiling a 9-year-old girl on her father’s grave, reports. Mack Charles Andrews, a pastor at the heavily conservative United Pentecostal Church is accused of defiling “Jane,” a pseudonym to conceal the identity of the victim, along with multiple other minors. Andrews allegedly started “grooming” her for s*xual abuse when she was only 7.
Jane described how Andrews allegedly terrorized her. “He told me if I didn’t say anything, he would come back and put flowers on the grave,” she told “If I did, he said demons would come and get me from my bed.” Jane accuses Andrews of defiling her with multiple objects, including drumsticks, a letter opener, pens, a flashlight and a figurine, in a warrant obtained by She says it was Andrews’ way of “preparing” her for s*xual abuse. She says the church Andrews led was “like a cult” where girls weren’t allowed to wear make-up and had to wear floor-length skirts.
Andrews is being held on $500,000 bond and was arraigned on Tuesday. He was arrested in 2013 on counts of s*xual torture, r*pe, s*xual abuse, attempted r*pe and sodomy, and the county prosecutor said he is aware of nine victims who were allegedly violated by Andrews in the ’80s and ’90s. The abuse allegedly went on for years. Jane told authorities hers lasted 5 years until she left the church. She says it resulted in a painful life in which she “made a lot of wrong decisions” and spent time in jail.
“He was the leader, and we were the sacrifices,” Jane said, according to “I think there were a lot of people who were ashamed to come forward.”

Sudanese politician's son arrested in US for clock gets White House invite

Monday, 21 September 2015 00:00 Written by



A Muslim teenager arrested after a Texas teacher mistook his homemade clock for a bomb won invitations to the White House, Google and Facebook Wednesday in a surge of public support.

President Barack Obama congratulated Ahmed Mohamed, 14, on his skills in a pointed rebuke to school and police officials — who defended his arrest — amid accusations of Islamophobia.

"Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great," Obama tweeted.

Mohamed is the son of Sudanese immigrants. His father, Mohamed ElHassan Mohamed, is a politician who contested against Sudan President Omar Al Bashir in the country’s last elections.

A photo of Mohamed standing in handcuffs while wearing a T-shirt with the US space agency NASA's logo was retweeted thousands of times in a matter of hours and "#IStandWithAhmed" became the top trending hashtag on Twitter.

Mohamed told the Dallas Morning News he hoped to impress teachers by bringing the clock to school on Monday.


"My hobby is to invent stuff," the teen said in a video posted on the paper's website, filmed in his electronics-filled bedroom.

"I made a clock. It was really easy. I wanted to show something small at first... they took it wrong so I was arrested for a hoax bomb."

The son of Sudanese immigrants who live in a Dallas suburb, Mohamed loved the 120robotics club in middle school and was hoping to find something similar at MacArthur High School. He did not get the reaction he hoped for when he showed the clock to his engineering teacher.

"He was like, 'That's really nice,'" Mohamed said. "'I would advise you not to show any other teachers.'"

When the clock's alarm went off in another class, the teacher told him it looked like a bomb and confiscated it. The school called police and Mohamed was taken away in cuffs amid suspicion he intended to frighten people with the device.

Police said Wednesday they had determined that Mohamed had no malicious intent and it was "just a naive set of circumstances".

Irving police chief Larry Boyd insisted that Mohamed's ethnicity had nothing to do with the response.

"Our reaction would have been the same either way. That's a very suspicious device," Boyd told reporters.

"We live in an age where you can't take things like that to school."

A school district spokeswoman also stood by the establishment's response, telling reporters that anyone who saw the homemade clock would understand that "we were doing everything with an abundance of caution".

A photo provided by police showed a flat, rectangular red digital clock face screwed into the dark plush interior of a silver case along with a circuit board and some wires.

"My son is a very brilliant boy," said Mr Mohamed.


White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the incident an opportunity to "search our own conscious for biases that might be there".

"At least some of Ahmed's teachers failed him," he said, adding that "this has the potential to be a teachable moment".

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the heavy-handed response was suspicious given the political climate in Irving — where mayor Beth Van Duyne has claimed that Muslims are plotting to impose Sharia law — and across the nation.

"Clearly we believe it's the result of the rising level of anti-Muslim sentiment in our society," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told AFP.

"It's clear that if it was some student who wasn't named Ahmed Mohamed and didn't have brown skin, he would not have been forced to do a perp walk in front of his fellow students in handcuffs."

Wired magazine was among those who responded to the incident with a mixture of humour and horror, posting an article entitled "How to Make Your Own Homemade Clock That Isn't a Bomb."


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told Mohamed to "keep building," saying: "I'd love to meet you."

Along with the invitation to astronomy night at the White House next month, Mohamed also got invitations to drive NASA's Opportunity rover, tour MIT, intern at Twitter and visit Google. "Hey Ahmed- we're saving a seat for you at this weekend's Google Science Fair...want to come? Bring your clock!" the online giant tweeted.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield invited Mohamed to his science variety show, and the Four Seasons hotel responded with an offer of a free room in Toronto.

Mohamed's family launched a Twitter account to thank his supporters using @IStandWithAhmed as his handle.

"Thank you fellow supporters. We can band together to stop this racial inequality and prevent this from happening again," read a tweet that included a photo of the smiling boy in his NASA T-shirt holding two fingers up in the sign of victory.

The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed had been tweeted more than 800,000 times by Wednesday afternoon, according to analytics site

Canadian bank robber bust in Geneva

Thursday, 17 September 2015 00:00 Written by


Geneva/Montreal - Geneva police have arrested a man suspected of being the most wanted bank robber in Canada, known as “The Vaulter” for leaping over tellers' counters during his many heists, police said on Wednesday.

The French-American dual national, identified by Canadian police as Jeffrey James Shulman, 53, is believed to have robbed 22 banks in Canada between 2010 and 2015.

Shulman was residing in France, a press release from the York Regional Police in Ontario said.

He was arrested on Tuesday on an international warrant issued on behalf of six Canadian police services in connection with 21 robberies over the last five years in Ontario and Alberta, the release said.

The Canadian Bankers' Association had offered a $76 000 (C$100 000) reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction, Geneva police said in a statement.

“As far as we know, he (The Vaulter) is the individual who committed the largest number of bank robberies in Canadian history,” said Malcolm Chivers, director of corporate security for the Canadian Bankers Association

Police spotted Shulman driving through Geneva on Tuesday and arrested him without incident. They said they would begin the process of extraditing him to Canada, where he could face a life sentence.

“We're definitely pleased with the news that an arrest has been made,” said Andy Pattenden, a York Police spokesman.

“Collectively we have all been working on sharing information and his images.”

Chivers said there were about 400 bank robberies in Canada in 2014.


How advertising research explains Donald Trump’s profound appeal

Wednesday, 16 September 2015 00:00 Written by


Politics and advertising are closely intertwined. Like a good advertisement, a good politician needs to present a compelling case for why the voter should check his or her box on the ballot over all the other options.

Many good ads or politicians will make a direct appeal to viewers' emotions – and of all the candidates in recent memory, Donald Trump may be the best at doing this.

While some pundits and late-night comedians have eviscerated Trump’s campaign, calling it all flair and no substance, this might not matter to voters. Whether you’re trying to get someone to buy a product or vote for a candidate, studies have shown that appealing to emotion is nearly twice as effective as presenting facts or appearing believable.

As academics who study what makes advertisements successful and engaging, we believe Trump’s allure can be boiled down to three key factors, one of which – empowerment – encourages voters to actually work on his behalf.

Emotions influence behavior

But first, some background on the current understanding of emotional response in people.

Studies have shown that humans interpret what they hear and see through an emotional lens that is made up of three mechanisms: appeal, engagement and empowerment.

In a world where we’re bombarded with stimuli, from advertisements to buzzing phones, these mechanisms influence what we pay attention to, and how we react.

  • Appeal is simply the degree to which we judge something to be positive or negative.

  • Engagement is fairly self-explanatory: the extent to which an object or idea produces active or passive feelings – in other words, the level of emotional intensity it produces.

  • Lastly – and maybe most important – is empowerment, which is the amount of control someone feels in a given situation.

Until recently, researchers didn’t seem all too interested in empowerment. The lack of interest seems to have stemmed from a misunderstanding about this dimension, and insufficient empirical support of its effects.

And while appeal and engagement are pretty self-explanatory, empowerment is a bit more abstract. When we ask people how they feel, they can easily describe their current emotional state as either positive or negative and, to some extent, how intense that emotion feels.

In contrast, people can have a tough time delineating their feelings of empowerment, because being “in control” can’t exactly be expressed or felt in a direct or obvious way.

But this doesn’t mean that empowerment is irrelevant. Think about the emotions anger and fear. They’re both low in appeal (no one wants to feel angry or fearful) but have high levels of engagement.

So what makes these two emotions so distinctive from each other? Empowerment. When you’re scared, you feel like you’re not in control. But when you’re angry, you feel the irresistible urge to speak out and take action.

Empowerment’s potency

When it comes to the emotional appeal of an advertisement or politician, empowerment may be more important than we think.

We recently conducted a study on empowerment, and presented it at the Association in Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) conference this past August.

Analyzing an array visual ads and public service announcements, the research indicated that appeals to fear (like images of dead bodies on a battlefield) were associated with feelings of uncertainty and a lack of control.

People felt a sense of danger and became acutely aware of the cruelties of war, but didn’t feel like there was anything they could do about it. Therefore, they reported low empowerment.

In contrast, messages focusing on anger (like a PSA showing a healthy body being harmed by secondhand smoke) evoked appraisals of certainty and individual control among viewers, who felt a sense of responsibility to take action and help the victims. Therefore, people expressed high empowerment on the emotional response measure.

But perhaps most importantly, the study also showed that empowerment is in some situations a better predictor of behavioral intentions than appeal or engagement. In other words, high levels of empowerment trigger action, since people are motivated to seek solutions to the problems presented.

The findings revealed an important fact: feeling in control is highly related to people’s attitudes and behaviors on social, political and health-related issues.

In the case of communicating to the public – whether through television or social media – this study recommended that speakers and messengers attempt to tap into empowerment’s potency, using rhetoric and imagery that make audiences feel in control and able to enact change.

In most cases, that means appealing to or eliciting a sense of anger or indignation.

The Trump effect

It goes without saying that there’s a level of manipulation involved. The speaker must be adept at formulating a persona and message that resonates with audiences. Whether or not the message is grounded in reality – well, that’s almost beside the point.

Enter Donald Trump, who seems to have an innate mastery of this process. He is an ad-man’s dream, a political consultant’s perfect plaything.

Maybe he honed these skills during his years on network television; either way, he’s shown the ability to easily appeal to and engage with audiences, which he’ll do directly (“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created”) or indirectly (“the other candidates are dull and weak”).

But it’s the third and key element – empowerment – where he shines.

He’s able to consistently evoke issues in a way that makes people feel anger, rather than fear. (Some of his opponents use fear; for example, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ted Cruz told the crowd that the IRS “would start going after Christian schools, Christian charities, and…Christian churches.”)

And though Trump frequently raises issues that could elicit fear – terrorism, crime, economic collapse – he does so with indignation, which suggests that the audience should feel that way, too.

He’s angry, but not fearful.

That’s why he’s said that he favors soldiers that have been wounded over those that were captured: to Trump, surrendering under any circumstance connotes fear.

Then there’s Trump’s solution to the illegal immigrants who are supposedly overrunning the country: “throw the bums out, build a wall.”

As for China, he’ll argue that China is “stealing” jobs from the US (there’s the indignation) – and if he were in office, he wouldn’t let the nation “have its way with us.”

Furthermore, the feelings of anger he evokes lead to action on his behalf. Outraged voters are all too eager to post his videos on Facebook, retweet his tweets and promote his candidacy to friends and family.

Note what’s going on here: he simplifies complex issues, framing them in a way that’s intended to get a rise out of voters and infuriate them. But he presents solutions (often simplified, often unfeasible) in a way that comes across as clear – even obvious – and has the added benefit of making him appear in control.

In the end, it’s a calculated image that makes him an incredibly appealing candidate.

Look at what happens when you hold empowerment and engagement high for a person or product, while varying the level of appeal (click to zoom).


Author provided


When moving a person’s appeal from “low” to “high,” a shift occurs in the way they’re described.

At the lower end, they’re called angry and defiant. But then, as their appeal rises, they become aggressive, daring and bold. Near the top, they’re described as masterful.

And when appeal’s at its highest?




Authors: Jon D Morris: Professor of Advertising at University of Florida and Taylor Wen:  PhD Candidate in Communications at University of Florida

Credit link:<img alt="The Conversation" height="1" src="" width="1" />


The article was originally published on The Conversation ( and is republished with permission granted to


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