The Telegraph 2024-03-15 01:00:37


Fears for patients as NHS rolls out net zero electric ambulances

The NHS is to introduce electric ambulances, raising concerns that its drive for net zero is being put above patient safety…

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Farmer faces jail for breeding ‘massive mutant sheep’

A farmer has been caught illegally breeding “massive” mutant sheep to sell to private hunting reserves for up to $10,000, a court in Montana heard.

Arthur “Jack” Schubarth, 80, who owns a 215-acre ranch in Vaughn, Montana, pleaded guilty to criminal charges of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to traffic wildlife at a court in Great Falls on Tuesday.

Prosecutors say he illegally used tissue and testicles from wild sheep killed by hunters in Central Asia, and the US, to breed hybrid sheep for sale.

According to court documents, Schubarth conspired with at least five other people between 2013 and 2021 to create a larger hybrid species of sheep that would generate high prices from shooting reserves, where people pay to hunt captive trophy game animals.

Schubarth’s ranch specialises in the purchase, sale and breeding of “alternative livestock” such as mountain sheep, mountain goats and various ungulates, according to prosecutors.

They claimed that Schubarth secretly brought parts of the largest sheep in the world, the Marco Polo argali sheep from Kyrgyzstan, into America.

Marco Polo males, which are native to the mountains of the Pamir region of Central Asia, can weigh more than 22 stone with horns that span more than 5ft.

They are protected species internationally and the court also heard how they are prohibited in Montana to protect native sheep from disease and hybridisation.

Prosecutors say Schubarth sent genetic material from the Marco Polo’s body parts to a lab to create cloned embryos. He then implanted the embryos in ewes on his ranch, resulting in a single, pure genetic male Marco Polo that he named “Montana Mountain King” or MMK, the court heard.

Court documents stated that Schubarth worked with the others to use the Montana Mountain King’s semen to artificially impregnate various other species of ewes and create hybrid animals. He agreed to sell one offspring to two people in Texas for $10,000, the court heard.

To move the prohibited sheep in and out of Montana, Schubarth and others forged veterinary inspection certificates, falsely claiming that the sheep were legally permitted species, the court heard. Prosecutors said Schubarth also sold semen from the Montana Mountain King directly to sheep breeders in other states.

“This was an audacious scheme to create massive hybrid sheep species to be sold and hunted as trophies,” said Todd Kim, assistant attorney general. “In pursuit of this scheme, Schubarth violated international law and the Lacey Act, both of which protect the viability and health of native populations of animals.”

The Lacey Act prohibits trade in wildlife that has been taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of federal or state law.

Schubarth also illegally purchased genetic material from a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, the largest wild sheep in North America which stand around three feet tall and can weigh over 21 stone, to traffic to buyers in other states.

He paid $400 to a hunter for the testicles from one of the wild sheep, which had been shot in Montana, to breed more of the species and crossbreed with the argali sheep.

“The kind of crime we uncovered here could threaten the integrity of our wildlife species in Montana,” Ron Howell, head of state wildlife enforcement, said.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for Schubarth is set for July 11.

On a Facebook page in his name which features numerous photos of livestock, Schubarth wrote two days ago: “We have not been able to sell sheep for about three years now. First time in 80 plus years I’m broke.”

In 2019, Donald Trump Jr, the son of the former president, was condemned by animal rights groups when he went to hunt argali sheep in Mongolia, where they are considered a national treasure.

He reportedly shot one of the creatures, which are on the list of near-threatened species, using a laser-sighted rifle.

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Watch: Meghan bakes and poses in ballgown to debut lifestyle business

The Duchess of Sussex has launched a new lifestyle venture, American Riviera Orchard, that is set to sell jams, cutlery and nut butters.

The website for the business was launched on Thursday with a holding page inviting supporters to join a waiting list to be kept updated about “products, availability and updates”.

An Instagram profile under the same handle, @americanrivieraorchard, features the same gold logo, featuring decorative A and R initials, and states that the page was “by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex⁣⁣⁣”.

It features a short video set to Nancy Wilson’s I Wish You Love, which shows the Duchess arranging flowers, baking in a kitchen and posing in a doorway, at what appears to be her Montecito home, in a ballgown.

A trademark application for American Riviera Orchard was filed on Feb 2 and is awaiting approval.

It suggests that the Duchess intends to manufacture a range of domestic items from tableware and cutlery to cookbooks, place name card holders and placemats.

Jellies, jams and marmalades

It also covers a range of preserves, from jellies, jams and marmalades to various vegetable-based spreads, nut butters and fruit butters.

The business name appears to be based on the Sussexes’ location. Their Montecito home boasts an orchard featuring orange, lemon and almond trees, while Santa Barbara is known as the “American Riviera” due to its climate, food and wine culture.

The launch follows claims that the Duchess is planning to “take on America’s most famous lifestyle queens” such as Ina Garten, Martha Stewart and Joanna Gaines and even plans to launch a “lifestyle/food show” on Netflix.

The Duchess has been working on the initiative for more than a year.

Previously billed as a lifestyle and wellness brand, the commercial venture had been heavily trailed for last autumn, but was delayed as it evolved and “took different shapes”.

There had been much speculation that it would be a version of Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s multi-million dollar lifestyle business, but aides said otherwise.

The initiative is considered highly personal and “genuine to who she is”.

The brand is likely to evolve and slowly expand. If successful, it is thought to be likely to become the Duchess’s primary focus in the longer term.

It is owned by a company called Mama Knows Best LLC, which is registered at the same Beverly Hills address as Archewell Productions.

The new website was designed by Canada-based digital agency Article, which Meghan has previously used to help construct The Tig, Archewell and Sussex.com sites.

She said in February: “There is a reason I have worked with Ryan and the talented team at Article for a decade: their attention to detail, their creativity and care, and the thoughtful approach to design as well as to the user experience.”

The Duchess hinted at her plans in a 2022 interview with The Cut magazine in which she said: “Do you want to know a secret? I’m getting back… on Instagram.”

She also gave writer Allison P Davis “a harvest basket” filled with fruit and vegetables from her garden and a jar of jam from the “Lili Bunny Garden + Larder” named after her daughter, Princess Lilibet, for which she had labels made on Etsy.

Davis wrote that as she left the house, she wondered “if somehow I’d missed everything she was trying to say”.

In 2017, the Duchess was forced to shut down The Tig, the successful lifestyle blog that she ran before meeting Prince Harry.

She described the blog as “a hub for the discerning palate – those with a hunger for food, travel, fashion & beauty”.

It was closed shortly before the announcement of her engagement to Prince Harry, but the Duchess has long been keen to create something in a similar realm.

“It wasn’t just a hobby, it became a really successful business,” she said in the Netflix series Harry & Meghan.

In one post on the now defunct website, the Duchess admitted that as much as she loved the ritual of cooking, she was not such a fan of baking.

“There’s something about the technicality of it that stifles my inner rebel; no dash of this or extra spoonful of that,” she wrote.

Regardless, the Duchess has often made a virtue of her baking capabilities.

Last March, she shared a lemon olive oil cake recipe for a cookbook in aid of the World Central Kitchen.

And during a royal tour to Australia in 2018, she took her own banana bread for a picnic with a farming family in Dubbo, near Sydney.

Last month, the Duchess was photographed cooking traditional Afghan food during a visit to the Southern California Welcome Project for “an evening of cooking and storytelling”.

The Sussexes made clear when they stepped back from their public duties to move abroad that they wanted to become financially independent.

Since then, they have signed various lucrative commercial deals, many of which have not been as successful as they might have hoped.

The couple’s five-year Netflix deal is due to expire at the end of 2025, with a contract renewal looking increasingly unlikely, while a deal with Spotify came to a premature end last summer amid reports of disappointing audiences.

The Duchess’s first solo venture after relocating to the US was an investment in Clevr Blends, a small Californian startup that makes “wellness lattes”.

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Thousands of children exposed to toxic cricket balls in ECB programmes

Toxic cricket balls containing banned chemicals have been used by up to 100,000 primary school children in England & Wales Cricket Board youth programmes…

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Dutch king pokes fun at Princess of Wales’s photo-editing row

The King of the Netherlands has waded into the royal Photoshop row by making a joke at the Princess of Wales’s expense.

King Willem-Alexander was greeting members of the public in Zutphen, one of the country’s oldest cities, on Tuesday. As he bent down to speak to a group of flag-waving schoolchildren wearing orange paper crowns, a little girl made a reference to “a photograph with your whole family”.

The King replied: “Really? At least I didn’t Photoshop it.”

The joke was not lost on the adults standing behind the children, who burst out laughing as the grinning monarch moved on to greet another group of onlookers.

‘He appears to joke about Kate-gate’

The Dutch Telegraph (De Telegraaf) described it as a “striking moment during a work visit by King Willem-Alexander in Zutphen, where he appears to joke about Kate-gate”.

It comes after the Princess was forced to admit that she had edited a photograph of herself and her three children released to mark Mothering Sunday.

The portrait was recalled by five of the world’s biggest picture agencies – Getty, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Shutterstock and Reuters – because it had been “manipulated”.

The joke exchange was caught on camera by Rick Evers, the Dutch royal reporter, who first revealed that King Charles and the Princess of Wales had been named as the alleged “royal racists” in the Dutch translation of Omid Scobie’s book, Endgame.

Mr Evers posted photographs of the extracts on social media, prompting a row about how the names had found their way into the public domain. The book alleged that both the King and the Princess had made comments about Prince Archie’s skin tone.

Close-knit royal families

King Willem-Alexander and his wife, Queen Maxima, are understood to be on friendly terms with the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The two couples were photographed together at the Order of the Garter service and at Ascot in 2019.

The Dutch royals also attended the King’s Coronation in May last year.

Their daughter, Princess Alexia, studied for the International Baccalaureate at UWC Atlantic College, a boarding school in Wales popular with European royals.

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We spend too long on our phones, says Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales voiced concerns about the amount of time people spend on their mobile phones as he toured a youth club in the midst of the social media storm about a doctored Royal family photo.

The Prince, 41, continued with business as usual during the opening of a youth facility in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, amid the row over a “manipulated” picture issued by Kensington Palace.

Speaking to teenagers who confessed to spending too much time scrolling on the phone, he told them: “The grown-ups are guilty of it too.” He said “we have got to be better at it”, with people across the generations spending “ages on our phones”.

During the visit to West Youth Zone, he turned his hand to shooting basketball hoops and icing biscuits, saying during biscuit-making: “My wife is the arty one.”

It was always intended to be a solo engagement, as the Princess of Wales recovers from surgery at home.

In a speech at an award show on Thursday the Prince said that he and his wife, the Princess of Wales, want to focus on continuing the legacy of his late mother to help young people change the world as he marked the 25th anniversary of the Diana Award.

The Prince said Diana, Princess of Wales, taught him that “everyone has the potential to give something back; that everyone in need deserves a supporting hand in life”.

“That legacy is something that both Catherine and I have sought to focus on through our work,” he said. “As have the 50,000 young people who have received a Diana Award over the past 25 years.”

Prince William spoke live at the event at the Science Museum, London. His brother Prince Harry was due to hold a congratulatory call with 20 of the award winners via videolink after the event finished.

During a ceremony hosted by Cel Spellman, an actor and presenter and Diana Chao, a former award winner, Prince William presented awards to each of the 20 award recipients who had flown in from around the world.

Each winner had been asked beforehand to choose their own song for the moment at which they walked onto the stage.

Prince William picked AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, saying at the end of the night: “that’s George’s song”.

Speaking to the winners afterwards before posing for a group picture, William said: “I’m amazed, honestly. The topic you all do. I’m trying to keep up with everything you all do – inventors, everything. It’s incredible. Well done, honestly. I’m so blown away by everything you’re doing. It’s a lot of committment to get where you are.”

The Prince and Princess have faced significant pressure and criticism this week after it emerged a photograph he had taken of his wife and three children had been digitally edited.

After the world’s major photography agencies issued a “kill notice” on it, the Princess offered a public apology for the “confusion” caused. The Prince is not yet known to have addressed the Kensington Palace “Photoshop fail” in public.

On Thursday morning, he visited West, a youth club named by young people, with the name standing for “Where Everyone Sticks Together”.

The new facility will soon be open to local teenagers, with dedicated youth workers on site to support them in developing the “skills and confidence they need to achieve their dreams”. Its facilities include a sports hall, fitness suite, indoor climbing wall, performing arts studio and cafe.

It has been developed by OnSide, a national youth centre charity, which has 14 “youth zones” across the country and seven more due to open, with a mission to empower young people to lead positive, fulfilling lives.

Prince William returned to the topic of mobile phone use twice during the engagement, in which he found himself in the middle of a crowd of excited children and teenagers, shaking hands and taking a selfie.

His first stop was around an art table, where a group of young people who had helped design West told him about their vision. “It’s such a great space isn’t it?” he told them. “What do you like most about it?”

As the conversation turned to what they would be doing if they were not at the facility, one young woman told him she would otherwise be scrolling on her phone.

“How much time do you all spent on your phones a day?” he asked, looking around and joking: “Everyone in this room has got something to be honest about here!”

Hearing that it could be up to 15 hours, William said: “I bet you feel better coming here, not on your phone.”

He later returned to the topic, asking: “Are all of you on your phone quite a lot? Do you know how long you spend on your phones? “Do you think it’s a good idea to be on your phone all day?”, adding, in mock outrage: “Who said yes!?”

“The grown-ups are guilty of it too,” he added. “We have got to be better at it, our phones, too. We spend ages on our phones.”

He made a visit to a gym and then made his way to the basketball court, where he heard from adult coaches before young players gathered around him to shake hands and chat.

Conversation inevitably turned to football, as he asked them “What do you prefer, basketball or football?”  He also quizzed them on which teams they supported before an in-depth chat about Jurgen Klopp leaving Liverpool.

Gesturing to the adult staff members who will be on hand at the centre to support them, he added: “Ask these guys all the questions you want to ask please, not just basketball. Talk about anything, they’re here to help you.”

Agreeing to try and shoot a hoop, it was fifth time lucky for the Prince before he finally scored.

He then attempted to walk past a pool table before getting drawn in, asking his team whether he had time for a few shots.

“Ooooh, so close!” he said, as one of his young opponents missed a shot after he successfully potted a ball. He cheerfully agreed to a selfie before members of staff moved him on for fear of getting swamped.

Upstairs, he was invited to join a biscuit-icing session in a kitchen, and said: “My wife is the arty one. Even my children are artier than me.” Asked about his favourite biscuit, he plumped for chocolate digestives or a KitKat. “Other biscuits are available,” he added, laughing.

Choosing how to decorate his plain biscuit, he wondered aloud about writing a “big W” before settling on “WEST”, the name of the centre.

When he arrived at the site, William was greeted by a line-up of civic dignitaries and congratulated them on their achievement in helping the young club to get off the ground.

“What you’ve done here is incredible,” he said. “I really like the concept. It ticks all the boxes – it’s fun, safe, educational. It’s great.”

The Prince then met supporters of the project, thanking them for helping to bring it to life. Hearing how one young adult credited a youth club she visited at 13 with transforming her life, he said he hoped more people could learn “confidence, conversation, social skills and public speaking” at a young age.

“It’s interesting how many people have had role models they looked up to,” he added. “I think you’re going to have quite a few of them here, which is amazing. It’s incredible the energy out there. Everyone, everywhere, needs a place like this.”

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EasyJet halts trips to zoos in holiday packages over animal welfare concerns

EasyJet has said it will no longer offer trips to zoos and marine parks as part of its holiday packages because of animal welfare concerns.

The tour operator said the new policy was aimed at promoting responsible travel for its customers.

EasyJet holidays will no longer offer or promote any “harmful” animal-based attractions within its tours and activities programme, including sites where creatures are held in captivity such as zoos and marine parks, along with animal performances, animal rides and sporting events involving animals.

The company said it was committed to offering experiences that do not threaten the welfare or conservation of animals and their important role in the global environment.

The tour operator said it would work closely with hotelier partners on the importance of animal welfare.

Matt Callaghan, the firm’s chief operating officer, said: “As one of the largest tour operators, we’re committed to being an industry leader when it comes to responsible travel.

“Our own research tells us that sustainable travel experiences are important to our customers, so we want to make it easy for them to holiday better.

“We’re passionate about the protection and respect of all forms of nature in the destinations we offer holidays to, which is why we’ve made the decision to not offer or promote attractions that exploit animals within our tours and activities programme.”

He added: “We know tours and activities are a brilliant way to experience our holiday destinations, so we look forward to continuing to offer sustainable and responsible experiences for our customers.”

‘Strong and ambitious’

The new policy incorporates animal welfare guidelines from ABTA, the trade association for UK travel agents and operators, and was created in consultation with animal rights organisations including World Animal Protection.

Katheryn Wise, the wildlife campaigns manager at World Animal Protection UK, said: “EasyJet holidays has really stepped up for animals with this strong and ambitious animal welfare policy.

“From the outset, easyJet holidays have been clear that they are committed to offering their customers responsible, wildlife-friendly travel options and it has been a pleasure to work with a company focused on listening to their customers and choosing not to profit from captive wildlife entertainment.

“It is through working together and commitment like this that we can truly expect to see lasting change for wild animals across the world.”

Thomas Cook stopped selling tickets to animal attractions that include killer whales in 2019, which led to SeaWorld in Florida and Loro Parque in Tenerife being removed from the holiday firm’s website and brochures. 

SeaWorld previously announced in 2016 that it would stop breeding orcas.

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