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Arctic walrus spotted in Kerry reappears in Wales



An Arctic walrus that washed up on the rocks at Valentia Island in Co Kerry last Sunday has now been spotted in Wales.

Seal Rescue Ireland did not specify the exact location of the mammal to avoid attracting onlookers. Marine Life Rescue is said to be keeping an eye on the walrus as it is undoubtedly tired after another long journey.

The animal appeared to be “extremely tired and emaciated” when last seen in Kerry, a local marine biologist said.

The walrus, likely to have originated in Greenland and been guided towards Ireland by the Gulf Stream, was spotted by a father and his daughter while walking on Valentia Island last Sunday afternoon.

Alan Houlihan said he and his daughter Muireann knew it was a walrus within seconds of spotting it.

“It is the size of a cow or a bull in the water… I hadn’t seen anything like it before in Ireland,” he told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

“I went down this morning and there was no sign of him so I hope he is out feeding on scallop and getting nice and strong to make his journey back,” he said last Monday, adding that Muireann has named it Isabelle or Cian, depending on its gender.

Atlantic walruses inhabit coastal areas from northeastern Canada to Greenland.

‘Very unusual’

Marine biologist and director of Dingle’s OceanWorld Aquarium, Kevin Flannery, told the Irish Times it is “very unusual” for a walrus to be spotted in this part of the world, although there have been potential sightings from surfers and fishermen in Ireland in the past.

Given the pattern of the Gulf Stream, Mr Flannery said the animal is likely from Greenland. He said he suspects the sea mammal fell asleep on a sheet of ice that broke away and drifted towards Ireland’s south-west coast.

“By the time he realised he was probably far from home… He has no GPS so he probably just swam away and didn’t realise the direction until he found Valentia,” Mr Flannery said, adding the animal is lucky to have survived the journey.

Videos of the walrus show it is “extremely tired and emaciated”, he added. The animal’s ivory tusks have not yet fully grown out, suggesting it is still young.

“He has lost an awful lot of body fat and blubber… If he can regain his energy he will get back up [to Greenland],” Mr Flannery went on.

Human interference has created issues for walruses. The species was hunted for its valuable ivory tusks, while global warming has melted away much of the ice caps they rely on, the marine biologist said.

“It is awfully hard now for them to find somewhere safe to rest… Global warming is having an effect on them. There is no doubt that human action has caused problems for them,” he added.

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Germany’s flood zones spared severe storms on Saturday



In the west of the country, the fire brigade reported a quiet night in the flood areas in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine Westphalia.

The situation remains tense, however, with local thunderstorms forecast in some parts of Germany from midday on Sunday — most likely south of the Danube.

Further heavy rain and hail were also possible again, according to the German Weather Service (DWD), which publishes storm warnings.

READ ALSO: WEATHER: German flood zones at risk of further storms

The latest storms came just days after parts of the country were hit by devastating floods after torrential rains that ravaged entire villages and left 180 people dead, hundreds injured and with many still missing.

The flooding also caused damage in Belgium, where 37 people died, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

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Prosecutors allege R Kelly had sexual contact with under-age boy



US prosecutors in R Kelly’s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an under-age boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming sex-trafficking trial to hear those claims.

Federal prosecutors aired a wide-ranging raft of additional allegations – but not new charges – against the R&B singer in a court filing on Friday.

Jury selection is due to start August 9th in a New York federal court for Kelly, who denies ever abusing anyone.

The Grammy Award-winning singer is charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him to recruit women and girls for sex and pornography and to exercise control over them.

The charges involve six different women and girls, who are not named in court filings.

Now, prosecutors would also like jurors to hear about more than a dozen other people whom the government alleges that Kelly sexually or physically abused, threatened or otherwise mistreated.

Among them, the government says, was a 17-year-old boy and aspiring musician whom Kelly met at a McDonald’s in December 2006 and later invited to his Chicago studio.

According to the prosecutors’ court filing, after asking the boy what he would do to make it in the music business, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still under-age.

And when Kelly was about to go on trial on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the same youth told the singer he had access to a juror, and Kelly asked him to contact the juror and vouch he was a “good guy”, prosecutors wrote.

The filing does not say whether the youth did so. Kelly was acquitted in that case.

The boy also introduced Kelly to a 16- or 17-year-old male friend, with whom prosecutors say the singer began a sexual relationship several years later.

Kelly also filmed the two youths in sexual encounters with other people, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the filing.

Prosecutors wrote that the accounts of the boys and others would help show that the actual charges “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern”.

The multiplatinum-selling singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is known for work including the 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly and the cult classic Trapped In The Closet, a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.

Kelly’s private life has drawn scrutiny since the 1990s, and he currently is also facing sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He has pleaded not guilty.– AP

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Fears mount in western Germany as fresh rain falls



For some areas, the German Weather Service has forecast heavy showers or storms, bringing between 30 and 40 litres per square metre.

Amid further rainfall on Saturday afternoon, evacuation services to emergency accommodation were offered to communities in Rheinland-Palatinate who had been particularly badly affected by the flooding, German news site Merkur reported.

“The people will have to make the decision themselves,” said Begona Hermann, head of the relief teams in the west German state, explaining that the forecast rainfall was not expected to be as severe as that which devastated parts of Germany last week.  

READ ALSO: German floods death toll hits 180, with 150 still missing

However, even lower levels of rainfall could still be a problem because sewage and drainage systems were not working properly because of the flooding.

Earlier on Saturday, police requested all volunteers working on the clean-up operation in the Ahr area to leave as quickly as possible for their own safety because of the difficult conditions.

This came after the police and the crisis management team asked the public not to travel to Rhineland-Palatinate to help out because there were too many people there.

“The population’s willingness to help continues to be undiminished and overwhelming,” read a Kassel police statement on Saturday. Due to the large number of volunteers who came to help out, however, roads in the area are now congested, it said.

Heavy machinery required for road and bridge construction, and for the restoration of the area’s water supply, was getting stuck in traffic jams, the press release said.

Vehicles for removing rubbish and construction debris, as well as emergency and rescue vehicles, were also unable to get through.

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