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A South African paraglider has made the first legal flight off Mount Everest, an expedition organizer said Tuesday, opening doors for "climb and fly" adventurers on the world's highest mountain.
Pierre Carter, 55, leapt off near the summit at an altitude of nearly 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) last week, cruising above the Himalayas as other mountaineers descended on foot.
Carter flew down at a top speed of 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour, taking only 20 minutes to land near the small settlement of Gorakshep at 5,164 meters.
"It was a beautiful flight down. Above the clouds and then through the clouds and down," Carter told AFP.
Weather conditions dissuaded Carter from climbing all the way to the top of Everest's 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) summit before his flight from the South Col ridge around noon.
"Once you're in the air it is all relative," Carter said.
"But the take off's always difficult the higher you are... your glider doesn't want to fly as easily."
Carter began climbing as a teenager and soon became interested in paragliding.
Since 2005, he has flown off five of the seven mountains that make up the tallest summits on their respective continents, beginning with Russia's Mount Elbrus.
Carter reached the summit of Alaska's Denali in 2016 but was not permitted to fly. He next aims to repeat the feat off Mount Vinson in Antarctica.
There have been only three recorded flights off Everest, all without government permits.
French alpinist and pilot Jean-Marc Boivin was the first person to paraglide down from Everest in 1988.
A French couple made a tandem flight from the summit in 2001 in a feat that was repeated a decade later by a pair of Nepali climbers.
"This is the first time Nepal has issued a flight permit on its mountains," Dawa Steven Sherpa of Asian Trekking told AFP.
Sherpa said he expected more climbers to follow Carter next season, now that Nepali authorities have shown a willingness to permit flights off the Himalayas.
"Many climbers are also paragliders and the idea of climbing and flying down is gaining popularity," Sherpa said.
"Authorities now see this can boost Nepal's tourism industry, especially after Covid," Sherpa said.
The country only reopened its peaks to mountaineers last year after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the industry in 2020.
A rare window of good weather has already allowed hundreds of climbers and guides to reach the Everest summit since a team of Nepali climbers opened the route on May 7.
At least three climbers, including a Russian and two Nepalis, have died on Everest since the season began.
© 2022 AFP
A long-simmering battle between former Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone and the IRS could yield a treasure trove of information for the House select committee investigating the "Stop the Steal" rally and subsequent Jan 6th insurrection.
According to a report from the Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger, attorneys for the Justice Department made an appeal to a judge in federal court on Monday that would force Sone and his wife to turn over all of their financial records dating back to 2017.
The latest legal move is related to a tax evasion lawsuit brought by the government against the conservative political gadfly last year who has been accused of hiding his income sources.
According to the report, "The judge’s order would force the Stones to disclose a potential treasure trove of evidence. Prosecutors would obtain records of any financial activity of Stone tied to the Jan. 6 riot and “Stop the Steal” efforts, as well as potential payments from pardon-seekers, politicians, and private boosters—and, possibly, information about accounts that the Stones haven’t yet disclosed," adding, "So far, however, the Stones have refused to comply."
As Sollenberger explained, Stone and the government just ended mediation talks that did not go well and both parties have now "come out of those negotiations swinging."
At the center of the battle is Stone's political consulting business, Drake Ventures LLC, with DOJ investigators claiming it is beingh used to hide unreported income and expenses over the years that should be taxable.
"Those records could verify the Stones’ finances, corroborate statements from their accountants, and possibly reveal activity related to other entities or accounts. Those would include the Roger Stone Defense Fund, organizations that financed events surrounding the Jan. 6 rallies, and any payments for pardon advocacy in the waning weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency," Sollenberger wrote. "The request means the DOJ also wants to see how Stone used Drake Ventures over the last year, while he was knowingly under the legal microscope."
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Relatives of more than 180 jailed opponents of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government on Monday denounced the ill treatment they said had been inflicted on the detainees, while Catholic leaders complained of "repression" and harassment by authorities.
Five organizations representing relatives of imprisoned opposition figures launched an "urgent appeal" for their immediate release because of their "extreme physical and mental deterioration."
The imprisoned opponents are victims of a "policy of ill-treatment (...) in order to exhaust, exterminate or mutilate" them, said a joint press release.
More than 40 opposition figures accused of "undermining national integrity" and money laundering were arrested in the months running up to last November's presidential election.
Seven of them were Ortega's rivals in the presidential election, and their detention gave him an easy return to power for a fourth consecutive term.
The election was slammed as a "pantomime" in Brussels and Washington.
Since February, at least 45 opponents of the government have been sentenced to terms of up to 13 years in prison on charges of plotting to overthrow Ortega with US backing.
Relatives of the prisoners have frequently criticized conditions inside the prisons that sap the detainees' health to the point where they need emergency hospitalization.
In February, Hugo Torres, a hero of the Sandinista guerrilla movement who fought with Ortega against the dictatorship of the Somoza dynasty but later turned against his old comrade in arms, died in hospital custody.
The organizations of prisoners' relatives expressed particular concern over the health of Nidia Barbosa, a 66-year-old activist who suffers from "serious heart problems" and who was hospitalized last week.
The relatives also voiced solidarity with Rolando Alvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa in the north, who has been holed up in his church since Thursday and who started a hunger strike to protest the police surveillance he says he's been the target of since denouncing the repression of the opposition.
Harvy Padilla, a parish priest in the southern city of Masaya, said that police are also preventing him from leaving his church, and that on Sunday they banned his congregation from attending mass.
© 2022 AFP