Daily News Roundup

July 23, 2019

Britain is calling on its European allies to help create a maritime protection mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel in what London said was an act of “state piracy”.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the Stena Impero in the Strait on Friday, two weeks after British Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks ago.

“Under international law Iran had no right to obstruct the ship’s passage — let alone board her. It was therefore an act of state piracy,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament.

“We will now seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to support safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region.”

He said Britain had constructive discussions with a number of countries in the past 48 hours over the mission.

British Royal Marines seized the Iranian tanker off Gibraltar in a daring landing in darkness off the coast of the British territory on July 4 because it was suspected of smuggling oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.

Iran has repeatedly called for the ship’s release, denies the allegation that the tanker was taking oil to Syria in violation of sanctions and says Gibraltar and Britain seized the vessel on the orders of Washington.

The move to create the protection force comes after Britain’s Defence Secretary Tobias Ellwood acknowledged that the Royal Navy — once the world’s largest — was “too small” to manage Britain’s global interests.

Mr Hunt also said he would discuss how the maritime mission would complement US proposals in the area, but that Britain would not join the US plan as it wanted to preserve a nuclear deal reached with Iran.

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A miniature chihuahua weighing around 1.3 kilos is believed to have been taken from its owners back yard in the UK by a swooping seagull.

A family member was reportedly hanging the washing when she said the bird snatched the teacup chihuahua called Gizmo.

The claim has resulted in scepticism in some circles and on line put downs but the owner  Becca Hill, 24, from Paignton, Devon, is adamant Gizmo was grabbed by a seagull.  

Wayne May, coordinator for DogsLost, a lost and found dog service in the UK working with Ms Hill to find Gizmo, confirmed the incident to the ABC.

Mr May said a family member was hanging washing when “a large seagull came down and carried the teacup chihuahua out of the garden”.

Mr May added that in his nearly 30 years of working with wildlife, he had not encountered such an “unusual” disappearance.

“Even though seagulls are apex predators of the sea, this is actually the first case I’ve heard of them taking a small dog,” he said.

“It’s really unexpected. Living in Devon, you just wouldn’t expect that to happen.”

In spite of the unusual circumstances of Gizmo’s disappearance, Mr May said there was still hope the chihuahua would be found.

“The nature of gulls in general is that normally they do hunt alone, even though you’ll often see them in large flocks,” he said.

“What we’re hoping is that, normally when one seagull catches an item of prey, then other seagulls mob them.

“Hopefully, it wasn’t too high and the particular seagull has dropped Gizmo. So, we’re asking members of the public to search their gardens, public spaces, anywhere, for any signs of Gizmo at all.”

The coordinator said Ms Hill was having a difficult time talking about the incident, and the reaction of some had made the process more difficult for her.

“This is obviously an extremely distressing time for her, and not knowing exactly what’s happened to her dog has just increased the anguish and the anxiety that she’s going through at the moment,” Mr May said.

“There’s a small minority of the public that’s mocking [the owner] because it’s a seagull that’s taken her dog.

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds told Devon Live: “This must be extremely upsetting for the dog’s owner. Fortunately these types of incidents are very rare and not typical gull behaviour.”

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Australian Olympic gold medallist Mack Horton will receive an official warning from world swimming bosses after refusing to stand on the podium with a rival he has labelled a “drug cheat”.

On the opening night of the FINA swimming world championships in South Korea, Horton refused to share the podium with Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, who beat him in the 400 metres freestyle final.

During the medal presentation, the 23-year-old Victorian stood behind the dais, as Sun — who was suspended for three months for doping in 2014 — claimed the gold. Italy’s Gabriele Detti picked up bronze.

In a statement, FINA said its executive group met in Gwangju to analyse the situation and decided to send a warning letter to Swimming Australia and Horton.

“While FINA respects the principle of freedom of speech, it has to be conducted in the right context,” the statement read.

“As in all major sports organisations, our athletes and their entourages are aware of their responsibilities to respect FINA regulations and not use FINA events to make personal statements or gestures.

“The matter over which Mack Horton was allegedly protesting is currently under review by CAS and therefore it is not appropriate for FINA to prejudice this hearing by commenting further.”

The feud between the two swimmers may not go away in a hurry, with Horton and Sun set to feature in Tuesday’s 800m freestyle heats.

Sun faces fresh allegations of doping rules violations which could see him banned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

He was, however, cleared by FINA to swim at the world championships.

Sun himself responded strongly to Horton’s protest during the post-race press conference.

“Disrespecting me was OK, but disrespecting China was unfortunate,” he said.

Horton’s stance against Sun, who he called a “drug cheat” at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was met with a swift response from Sun’s supporters.

Many of the messages left on his Instagram page have included death threats, not only towards Horton but also his family and girlfriend.

Horton’s decision not to stand on the podium prompted rapturous applause from his fellow swimmers when he arrived back at the athletes’ village.

Horton’s teammate Mitch Larkin voiced a familiar concern among swimmers about a clean playing field.

Larkin estimated that 99 per cent of swimmers at the world championships were backing Horton.

The Australian’s decision to not take his place on the victory dais was applauded by other Olympians on social media.

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