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Alba the albino orangutan returned to jungle in Indonesia

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Andi Jatmiko, The Associated Press


Published Friday, December 21, 2018 7:57AM EST

BUKIT BAKA BUKIT RAYA, Indonesia — The world’s only known albino orangutan climbed trees, foraged for food and began building a nest after being released into a remote Borneo jungle more than a year after conservation officials found her starving and dehydrated in an Indonesian village.

The Borneo Orangutan Survival foundation says the great ape, called Alba after thousands worldwide responded to an appeal for a name, has tripled in weight since being rescued in April last year. Her name means “white” in Latin and “dawn” in Spanish.

Alba and another rehabilitated orangutan, Kika, were released inside Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park on Wednesday after a more than 24-hour journey from their rehabilitation centre by vehicle, boat and hiking.

The foundation originally planned to create a 5-hectare (12-acre) “forest island” for Alba rather than a release into truly natural habitat because of health issues related to her albinism including poor sight and hearing and the possibility of skin cancer.

But the government’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency and other agencies decided it was appropriate to release Alba into the wild because of her strong physical condition and intrinsically wild behaviour.

She will be electronically tracked and regularly monitored by a medical team.

“Alba has no inferiority complex as we imagined before. She is very confident compared to other orangutans,” said veterinarian Agus Fathoni.

“I think the real threat actually comes from humans. What we’re worried about is poaching where this very special condition makes her a target,” he told The Associated Press.

Patrols of Alba’s new home by national park and conservation agency staff will aim to deter poachers, though they admit the number of personnel is limited.

“We don’t have enough to cover all the area of the national park but we’re confident of covering all the patrol lines that we have set,” said national park official Wirasadi Nursubhi

Orangutans, reddish-brown primates known for their gentle temperament and intelligence, are critically endangered and only found in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and on Borneo, which is divided among Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which declared Borneo’s orangutans critically endangered in 2016, says their numbers have dropped by nearly two-thirds since the early 1970s as plantation agriculture destroyed and fragmented their forest habitat.

The Sumatran orangutan is a separate species and has been critically endangered since 2008.

Alba, approximately five years old, was given final medical tests and anesthetized for the journey to Bukit Baka Bukit Raya.

Workers shouted “Alba’s going home” as her cage was lifted onto a truck at the Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation Center in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo.

“It’s true this is a big gamble but we hope that with our collaboration we will win the big bet we have made today” said the orangutan foundation’s chief executive Jamartin Sihite after releasing Alba from her cage.

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University of Windsor establishes first Canadian transportation cybersecurity centre

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The University of Windsor will be the site of Canada’s first organization dedicated to countering threats to the connected transportation marketplace.

The SHIELD Automotive Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence will focus on developing the skills, innovations and policy to secure connected and autonomous vehicles.

Researchers will partner with industry, government and community stakeholders.

Co-founding and heading up the centre will be Dr. Mitra Mirhassani of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dr. Ikjot Saini of the School of Computer Science.

In the past year, the two University of Windsor professors were both recognized as being among Canada’s top talents in the automotive cybersecurity field.

“Hardware and software vulnerabilities could put personal information and vehicle safety in jeopardy,” said Mirhassani.

“Transportation systems are especially susceptible to attacks from malicious actors due to the complexity, implementation costs and lifecycles of equipment and platforms.”

The SHIELD centre is a continuation of the Windsor region’s focus on developing its cybersecurity ecosystem.

The province has already designated the area as the regional tech development centre for cybersecurity and border logistics.

The cybersecurity centre got a further boost this week with the announcement of a memorandum of understanding with the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association (APMA).

APMA and SHIELD will collaborate to develop market-based technologies to meet the needs of producers and consumers and build academic programs to address industry’s evolving requirements.

“We hope that this partnership will help to advance a cybersecurity culture shift in the industry in Canada,” said APMA president Flavio Volpe.

“There is much work to be done to protect our collective interest in advancing this country’s globally competitive automotive sector.”

The centre will also promote the sharing of knowledge among parties to advance standards and enhance policies in the field.

Part of the plan is to offer micro credentialing through the university’s Continuing Education programs.

“We plan to offer consultation and test services to small- and medium-sized Canadian companies that will help them stay up to date,” said Dr. Saini.

“Open-access publications and public webinars will widely share the latest information.”

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Hamilton police charge ‘Hugs Over Masks’ protest organizers in two separate events

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TORONTO — Hamilton, Ont., police say they have charged two organizers of an anti-mask protest group for holding events that allegedly violated public health rules.

Police say the events were held in downtown Hamilton on Jan. 3 and Jan. 10.

The force alleges that 40 people attended first event and 60 attended the second.

Current provincial restrictions limit gatherings to a maximum of 10 people outdoors.

Police say they informed the “Hugs Over Masks” organizers that the planned Jan. 10 gathering would result in charges, but they went ahead with the event.

They say a 27-year-old man and 38-year-old woman are facing charges under the Reopening Ontario Act that carry a minimum fine of $10,000 if convicted.

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Ontario issues stay-at-home order to start Thursday as Ford declares state of emergency

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Premier Doug Ford is declaring another state of emergency, effective immediately, in response to surging COVID-19 infection rates.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Ford announced Ontario is issuing a stay-at-home order, effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

It requires people to stay home except for essential activities such as accessing health care or shopping for groceries.

The new measures also include restricting the hours of operation for non-essential retail stores such as hardware stores to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Addressing big box stores, which are allowed to remain open, Ford said an inspection blitz is coming to ensure they are following proper protocols.

“I’m going to come down on them like an 800-pound gorilla,” he said.

Schools in Hamilton, Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex will not return to in-person learning until Feb. 10.

Other public health regions, including Halton and Niagara, will find out when students can return to class by Jan. 20.

Schools will now require students in grades 1-3 to wear masks and masks will be required outside where physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Child-care centres for non-school aged children will remain open.

The premier announced the restrictions shortly after the province released new projections that show the virus is on track to overwhelm Ontario’s health-care system.

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