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‘San Francisco will receive pandas from China’
Beijing, April 19: San Francisco is the latest US city preparing to receive a pair of pandas from China, in a continuation of Beijing’s famed “panda diplomacy.” San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced the panda loan in Beijing on Friday, alongside officials from China Wildlife Conservation Association, or CWCA. It will be San Francisco’s first time hosting the beloved animals long-term – the result of a yearlong advocacy campaign, Breed said. San Diego previously announced it was receiving two pandas back in February.
China is home to the only natural habitat for pandas and owns most of the black-and-white bears in the world. Beijing loans the animals to other countries as a tool for diplomacy and wildlife conservation.
“San Francisco is absolutely thrilled to be welcoming giant pandas to the San Francisco Zoo,” Breed said after signing a letter of intent for international cooperation on giant panda conservation.
Breed said the city had been working with its Chinese and Asian communities to advocate for the pandas for almost a year leading up to an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting in San Francisco last November, during which the US and Chinese presidents met.CWCA Secretary General Wu Minglu said the association will work with San Francisco officials to prepare for the pandas’ arrival and to ensure the technical standards for their conservation.
“We look forward to a pair of giant pandas being in San Francisco in 2025,” he said.
When San Diego broke the news in February that it would receive a pair of pandas, it was the first time in more than two decades that China had agreed to send pandas to the United States.
Only four giant pandas are currently in the US, all at the zoo in Atlanta. China in recent years has not renewed loan agreements at zoos in Washington, D.C., and Memphis, Tennessee, sparking fears it was ending its historic panda diplomacy with Western nations due to geopolitical tensions. (AP)

Brazil gets two new Indigenous territories
Sao Paulo, April 19: President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Thursday announced the creation of two new Indigenous territories for Brazil, bringing the total number of new reserves during this term to 10.
The Cacique Fontoura reserve will be in Mato Grosso state and the Aldeia Velha territory will be in Bahia state. They will cover a combined total area of almost 132 square miles (342 square kilometers).
Speaking at a ceremony in Brasilia, Lula’s said Indigenous peoples should be patient as he seeks to fulfill his pledge of creating 14 new territories.
Lula’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, had encouraged widespread development of the Amazon – both legal and illegal – and made good on his pledge to not demarcate a single centimeter of additional Indigenous land.
Lula took office in 2023 pledging to change that, but Indigenous rights activists hoped he would move faster. Last year, he demarcated six territories in April and two more in September. The Brazilian president said during his speech that the latest two new territories would not be enough. He cited legal issues for the delay in setting aside additional lands. “I know you have some concern because you were expecting six Indigenous lands. We decided to authorize two, and that frustrated some of our friends,” Lula said. (AP)

Professor honoured for outstanding contribution in energy
Houston, April 19: An award-winning Indian-origin distinguished professor at the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering has been elected as an International Fellow of the Engineering Academy of Japan, the university said in a statement.
Originally from a small village in Karnataka, Professor Kaushik Rajashekara has been recognised for his contributions to power conversion and electrification of transportation, the statement said on Thursday.
According to the academy, Rajashekara’s election as an international fellow specifically honours his “outstanding scientific research and scientific-technical developments in the field of energy which promote greater efficiency and environmental security for energy sources on the Earth in the interests of all mankind”.
Rajashekara, 73, stands among an elite group of fewer than 10 fellows from the US, out of a distinguished group comprising 800 fellows and 15 international fellows.
“I am deeply honoured to have been chosen as an International Fellow of the Engineering Academy of Japan, a distinction that I hold in high regard’. (AP)

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