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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

New York lawmakers are proposing rules to humanely drive down the population of rats and other rodents, eyeing contraception and a ban on glue traps as alternatives to poison or a slow, brutal death.

Politicians have long come up with creative ways to battle the rodents, but some lawmakers are now proposing city and statewide measures to do more.

In New York City, the idea to distribute rat contraceptives got fresh attention in city government Thursday following the death of an escaped zoo owl, known as Flaco, who was found dead with rat poison in his system.

City Council Member Shaun Abreu proposed a city ordinance Thursday that would establish a pilot program for controlling the millions of rats lurking in subway stations and empty lots by using birth control instead of lethal chemicals. Abreu, chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, said the contraceptives also are more ethical and humane than other methods.

The contraceptive, called ContraPest, is contained in salty, fatty pellets that are scattered in rat-infested areas as bait. It works by targeting ovarian function in female rats and disrupting sperm cell production in males, The New York Times reported.

New York exterminators currently kill rats using snap and glue traps, poisons that make them bleed internally, and carbon monoxide gas that can suffocate them in burrows. Some hobbyists have even trained their dogs to hunt them.

Rashad Edwards, a film and television actor who runs pest management company Scurry Inc. in New York City with his wife, said the best method he has found when dealing with rodents is carbon monoxide.

He tries to use the most humane method possible, and carbon monoxide euthanizes the rats slowly, putting them to sleep and killing them. Edwards avoids using rat poison whenever possible because it is dangerous and torturous to the rodents, he said.

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Some lawmakers in Albany are considering a statewide ban on glue boards under a bill moving through the Legislature. The traps, usually made from a slab of cardboard or plastic coated in a sticky material, can also ensnare small animals that land on its surface.

Edwards opposes a ban on sticky traps, because he uses them on other pests, such as ants, to reduce overall pesticide use. When ants get into a house, he uses sticky traps to figure out where they’re most often passing by. It helps him narrow zones of pesticide use “so that you don’t go spray the entire place.”

“This is not a problem we can kill our way out of,” said Jakob Shaw, a special project manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “It’s time to embrace these more common sense and humane methods.”

Two cities in California have passed bans on glue traps in recent years. On the federal level, a bill currently in committee would ban the traps nationwide.

“It ends a really inhumane practice of managing rat populations,” said Jabari Brisport, the New York state senator who represents part of Brooklyn and sponsored the bill proposing the new guidelines. “There are more effective and more humane ways to deal with rats.”

Every generation of New Yorkers has struggled to control rat populations. Mayor Eric Adams hired a “rat czar” last year tasked with battling the detested rodents. Last month, New York City reduced the amount of food served up to rats by mandating all businesses to put trash out in boxes.

While the war on rats has no end in sight, the exterminator Edwards said we can learn a lot from their resilience. The rodents, he said, can never be eradicated, only managed.

“They’re very smart, and they’re very wise,” he said. “It’s very inspiring but just — not in my house.”

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct Iranian attack involving hundreds of drones and missiles, calling the coordinated response a starting point for a “strategic alliance” of regional opposition to Tehran.

But Israel’s War Cabinet met without making a decision on next steps, an official said, as a nervous world waited for any sign of further escalation of the former shadow war.

The military coalition, led by the United States, Britain and France and appearing to include a number of Middle Eastern countries, gave Israel support at a time when it finds itself isolated over its war against Hamas in Gaza. The coalition also could serve as a model for regional relations when that war ends.

“This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” said the Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

One unknown is which of Israel’s neighbors participated in the shooting down of the vast majority of about 350 drones and missiles Iran launched. Israeli military officials and a key War Cabinet member noted additional “partners” without naming them. When pressed, White House national security spokesman John Kirby would not name them either.

But one appeared to be Jordan, which described its action as self-defense.

“There was an assessment that there was a real danger of Iranian marches and missiles falling on Jordan, and the armed forces dealt with this danger. And if this danger came from Israel, Jordan would take the same action,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said in an interview on Al-Mamlaka state television. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday.

The U.S. has long tried to forge a regionwide alliance against Iran as a way of integrating Israel and boosting ties with the Arab world. The effort has included the 2020 Abraham Accords, which established diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries, and having Israel in the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East and works closely with the armies of moderate Arab states.

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The U.S. had been working to establish full relations between Israel and regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack sparked Israel’s war in Gaza. The war, which has claimed over 33,700 Palestinian lives, has frozen those efforts due to widespread outrage across the Arab world. But it appears that some behind-the-scenes cooperation has continued, and the White House has held out hopes of forging Israel-Saudi ties as part of a postwar plan.

Just ahead of Iran’s attack, the commander of CENTCOM, Gen. Erik Kurilla, visited Israel to map out a strategy.

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, on Sunday thanked CENTCOM for the joint defensive effort. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are under the CENTCOM umbrella. While neither acknowledged involvement in intercepting Iran’s launches, the Israeli military released a map showing missiles traveling through the airspace of both nations.

“Arab countries came to the aid of Israel in stopping the attack because they understand that regional organizing is required against Iran, otherwise they will be next in line,” Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said he had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and that the cooperation “highlighted the opportunity to establish an international coalition and strategic alliance to counter the threat posed by Iran.”

The White House signaled that it hopes to build on the partnerships and urged Israel to think twice before striking Iran. U.S. officials said Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not participate in any offensive action against Iran.

Israel’s War Cabinet met late Sunday to discuss a possible response, but an Israeli official familiar with the talks said no decisions had been made. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing confidential deliberations.

Asked about plans for retaliation, Hagari declined to comment directly. “We are at high readiness in all fronts,” he said.

“We will build a regional coalition and collect the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us,” said a key War Cabinet member, Benny Gantz.

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Iran launched the attack in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel that hit an Iranian consular building in Syria this month and killed two Iranian generals.

By Sunday morning, Iran said the attack was over, and Israel reopened its airspace. Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, claimed Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned that “any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation would be met with a heavier and regretful response from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The foes have been engaged in a shadow war for years, but Sunday’s assault was the first time Iran launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran said it targeted Israeli facilities involved in the Damascus strike, and that it told the White House early Sunday that the operation would be “minimalistic.”

But U.S. officials said Iran’s intent was to “destroy and cause casualties” and that if successful, the strikes would have caused an “uncontrollable” escalation. At one point, at least 100 ballistic missiles were in the air with just minutes of flight time to Israel, the officials said.

Israel said more than 99% of what Iran fired was intercepted, with just a few missiles getting through. An Israeli airbase sustained minor damage.

Israel has over the years established — often with the help of the U.S. — a multilayered air-defense network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats, including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.

That system, along with collaboration with the U.S. and others, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already deeply engaged in Gaza as well as low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.

While thwarting the Iranian onslaught could help restore Israel’s image after the Hamas attack in October, what the Middle East’s best-equipped army does next will be closely watched in the region and in Western capitals — especially as Israel seeks to develop the coalition it praised Sunday.

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In Washington, Biden pledged to convene allies to develop a unified response. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would hold talks with allies. After an urgent meeting, the Group of Seven countries unanimously condemned Iran’s attack and said they stood ready to take “further measures.”

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s war in Gaza. In the Oct. 7 attack, militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, also backed by Iran, killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Hamas welcomed Iran’s attack, saying it was “a natural right and a deserved response” to the strike in Syria. It urged the Iran-backed groups in the region to continue to support Hamas in the war.

Hezbollah also welcomed the attack. Almost immediately after the war in Gaza erupted, Hezbollah began attacking Israel’s northern border. The two sides have been involved in daily exchanges of fire, while Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have launched rockets and missiles toward Israel.

___

Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Michelle L. Price in Washington; Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Samy Magdy in Cairo; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan; and Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A small earthquake shook the Southern California desert Saturday near Coachella, where the famous music festival is being held this weekend. No damage or injuries were reported.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 3.8, hit at 9:08 a.m. about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Borrego Springs in Riverside County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter was about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Coachella. It struck at a depth of about 7 miles (11 kilometers), the USGS said.

A dispatcher with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said there were no calls reporting any problems from the quake.

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10 years after armed standoff with feds, Bundy cattle still grazing disputed land…

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10 years after armed standoff with feds, Bundy cattle still grazing disputed land…

BUNKERVILLE, Nev. (AP) — The words “Revolution is Tradition” stenciled in fresh blue and red paint mark a cement wall in a dry river wash beneath a remote southern Nevada freeway overpass, where armed protesters and federal agents stared each other down through rifle sights 10 years ago.

It was just before noon on a hot and sunny Saturday when backers of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, including hundreds of men, women and children, made the U.S. Bureau of Land Management quit enforcing court orders to remove Bundy cattle from vast arid rangeland surrounding his modest family ranch and melon farm.

Witnesses later said they feared the sound of a car backfiring would have unleashed a bloodbath. But no shots were fired, the government backed down and some 380 Bundy cattle that had been impounded were set free.

“Since then, we’ve relatively lived in peace,” Ryan Bundy, eldest among 14 Bundy siblings, said in a telephone interview. “The BLM doesn’t contact us, talk to us or bother us.”

“The BLM does not have any comment on this subject,” agency spokesman John Asselin said in response to email inquiries about the standoff, Bundy cattle grazing today in Gold Butte National Monument and the more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees and penalties the BLM said Bundy owed in 2014.

At the ranch, Cliven Bundy greeted guests this week while cradling one of 74 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren that he has with his wife, Carol Bundy.

“We’re all a little bit older,” he said, “but we’re still doing the same thing: ranching.”

Later, watching two of his sons and a friend rope yearling bulls in a pen, the plainspoken and photogenic rancher — who rallied followers through a bullhorn that day saying, “Let’s go get those cattle” — recalled being arrested, jailed for nearly two years and brought to a trial that was dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct.

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Ranch hands rope a bull on the Bundy ranch, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Bunkerville, NV. Ten years have passed since hundreds of protesters including armed riflemen answered a family call for help which forced U.S. agents and contract cowboys to abandon an effort to round up family cattle in a dispute over grazing permits and fees. Despite federal prosecutions, no family members were convicted of a crime. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)

 

Ranch hands rope a bull on the Bundy ranch, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Bunkerville, NV. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)

 

“I’ve had that dot on my forehead and on my chest, and I’ve had my family with dots on their foreheads,” the 77-year-old family patriarch said of the feeling of being in target crosshairs. Courtroom evidence later revealed that federal agents with rifles had camped for days in hills around Bundy’s ranch before and during the showdown on April 12, 2014.

His family and followers were unfairly targeted by heavy-handed government agents, Bundy said, but rescued by backers including militia members and supporters he calls “we the people.”

“They were announcing on their bullhorn: ‘You’re defying a federal court order. We demand you to disperse or we will fire on you,’” said Mike Bronson, 68, a family friend from Midway, Utah, who recalled kneeling in a prayer ring in front of the corral beneath the overpass. “That’s exactly what they said. Time after time.”

The outcome of the tense confrontation reverberated. In January 2016, Bundy’s eldest sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and several other men who were at the Bundy ranch in 2014 led a weekslong standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. It ended with their arrests after a protest spokesperson, LaVoy Finicum, was shot dead by state police at an FBI roadblock.

 
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“Revolution is Tradition” appear freshly stenciled on a cement wall, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Mesquite, NV beneath a freeway overpass where armed protesters and federal government agents stared each other down through rifle sights 10 years ago. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)

 

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Some heard echoes of Bunkerville and Malheur when rioters clashed with police on Jan. 6, 2021, outside and inside the halls of Congress and temporarily blocked certification of the 2020 presidential election.

“Bunkerville was an early warning sign of the MAGA/Trump movement,” said Ian Bartrum, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, law professor who has studied and written about the standoff and federal land policy. He cited “a growing militia movement looking for someone to fight.”

“I think we can safely say, 10 years later, the Bundys won that fight, and federal regulators don’t seem at all eager to try again,” Bartrum said. “We have bigger problems than cattle on public land at this point.”

In court, federal prosecutors cast the Bunkerville confrontation as an insurrection against the U.S. government. Nineteen people from 11 states, including Bundy and four sons, were arrested in 2016 on charges including conspiracy, assault on a federal officer and firearms counts. Most remained jailed for nearly two years.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mike Bronson speaks from the Bundy ranch, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Bunkerville, NV. Ten years have passed since hundreds of protesters including armed riflemen answered a family call for help which forced U.S. agents and contract cowboys to abandon an effort to round up family cattle in a dispute over grazing permits and fees. Despite federal prosecutions, no family members were convicted of a crime. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)

 

Mike Bronson speaks from the Bundy ranch, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Bunkerville, NV. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)

 

Five defendants pleaded guilty before trial, several were acquitted of all counts and some were convicted of lesser charges. One remains in federal prison. No Bundy family member was convicted of a crime.

Today, family members estimate that more than 700 Bundy cattle graze widely in the scrubby green Virgin River valley surrounding the 160-acre (64.7-hectare) Bundy ranch and in Gold Butte, a scenic and archaeologically rich Mojave Desert expanse half the size of the state of Delaware that then-President Barack Obama designated a national monument in December 2016.

Conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project are suing to prod the government to remove cattle and protect the desert tortoise, a species deemed in 1990 to be threatened by habitat loss that advocates blame on grazing.

“The desert tortoise is at the heart of it,” said Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds executive director. “Cattle continue to graze illegally … causing irreversible damage to ecological values.”

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A motorist enters the Gold Butte National Monument near the Bundy ranch, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Bunkerville, NV. Ten years have passed since hundreds of protesters including armed riflemen answered a family call for help which forced U.S. agents and contract cowboys to abandon an effort to round up family cattle in a dispute over grazing permits and fees. Despite federal prosecutions, no family members were convicted of a crime. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)

 

A motorist enters the Gold Butte National Monument near the Bundy ranch, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Bunkerville, NV. (AP Photo/Ty ONeil)
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“I think you can look at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 and draw a straight line to Malheur and Bunkerville,” Molvar added, “as emblematic of insurrectionist movements in the United States and the failure of federal prosecutors to fully enforce the laws.”

Bundy argues the federal government does not have authority to regulate lands his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints family settled some 150 years ago. He insists questions of local sovereignty have never been answered to his satisfaction. He says he believes a jury would agree.

Arden Bundy, the youngest son at age 26, has a social media following with YouTube videos titled “The Bundy Ranch.” Wearing body cameras, he and brother Clancy Bundy and cowhand Cache Burnside ride hard on horseback roping bulls across the scrubby range, aided by the family dog, Kaylie. They call it “gully jumping.”

The April 2014 standoff was a victory, Arden Bundy said, because “nobody got killed and the cows came back.”

Asked what would happen if the government tried again to round up Bundy cattle, he was direct.

“If we have to call people, we’ll call all our followers from YouTube and social media,” Arden Bundy said.

“There was 1,000 there last time,” Cliven Bundy said. “There’ll be 10,000 there next time.”

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