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Raven chicks in the Tower ward off prophecy of doom for Brexit Britain

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FILE PHOTO: The Tower of London is seen in London, Britain July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s political establishment is in chaos over Brexit and Prime Minister Theresa May’s days in office are numbered but the kingdom and the Tower of London appear safe from legendary doom after the birth of four raven chicks at the famous fortress.

Legend has it that should the six resident ravens ever leave the almost 1,000-year-old Tower, home to the crown jewels and now a popular tourist attraction, then the castle and the kingdom will fall.

It is believed that since the reign of King Charles II in the 17th Century a small group of the birds have been kept there to prevent this from happening and the current group of seven ravens have now been joined by four newcomers, the Tower said.

“We are very, very pleased to say here at the Tower of London that we have now got four magnificent chicks, the first time they have been born at the Tower of London for over 30 years,” said Yeoman Warder Christopher Skaife, the Tower’s Ravenmaster.

“We decided that it would be a really good idea to see if we could actually breed ravens ourselves at the Tower of London to secure our future, after all legend tells us that should the ravens leave the Tower of London it will crumble into dust and a great harm befall the kingdom.”

Only one of the chicks will be kept at the Tower and will be named George or Georgina as the baby birds were born on St George’s Day, which remembers England’s patron saint, Skaife said.

(The story refiles to correct spelling of prophecy in headline)

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Cambodia’s royal oxen predict plentiful rice harvest amid EU tariffs

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Cambodia’s royal oxen eat during a royal ploughing ceremony in Takeo province, Cambodia, May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – Cambodia’s royal oxen predicted a plentiful harvest of rice, the country’s biggest crop, at an ancient plowing ceremony on Wednesday.

King Norodom Sihamoni presided over the televised annual ritual in which two oxen are given offerings after plowing a field, marking the start of the rice-growing season in the Southeast Asian country.

Dressed in ornate robes and colorful headdresses, the oxen ate 85% of the rice and beans on offer and 90% of the corn in decorated bowls – indicating a bountiful harvest.

Palace astrologers make their predictions each year depending on the oxen’s choice of crops and the amount they eat.

“I pray … for seasonal rain and regular weather,” Korng Ken, a Brahmin priest dressed in traditional white robes, said at the ceremony in Takeo province.

He prayed that “Cambodia avoid any natural disasters that would destroy the agriculture harvests which are the lives of the people and country.”

The good omen will be welcomed in Cambodia after the European Union imposed tariffs in January on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar in a bid to protect EU producers. Cambodia has since seen a surge in rice exports to China.

Cambodia’s ceremony mirrors similar traditions in nearby Thailand and Myanmar in which oxen ceremonially plow the ground and then choose between eating bowls of rice, beans, corn water, grass, sesame seeds or alcohol.

Thailand’s royal oxen predicted a good harvest at a plowing ceremony this month presided over by newly crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his queen.

Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by James Pearson and Darren Schuettler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Polish sextuplets surprise parents and doctors expecting five

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A nurse checks an incubator at the University Hospital in Krakow, Poland, 21 May 2019. Polish woman gave birth to four baby girls and two boys on Monday, the first sextuplets to be born in Poland. Agencja Gazeta/Adrianna Bochenek/via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s first sextuplets on record, two boys and four girls, were born in the southern city of Krakow on Monday to the surprise of parents and doctors who had expected five babies.

“Imagine this: we were prepared from early in the morning to help deliver five tiny citizens. So we are in the operating room, there are five teams of doctors ready to take care of five children”, Ryszard Lauterbach, head of Clinical Neonatology at the University Hospital in Krakow said.

“They are being delivered one after another until all five places were occupied. And then all of a sudden it turns out there’s another one waiting in there.”

He said the children, born at 29 weeks, were in “surprisingly good condition” for sextuplets, but they showed symptoms of immaturity of the respiratory system and the central nervous system that were typical for premature babies.

Doctors said they hoped the babies would be able to go home when they were between 2-1/2 to three months old.

“We have already made some preparation at home with five children in mind so now we’ll have to rearrange things a bit,” said the children’s mother Klaudia Marzec.

She said the babies would be named Filip, Tymon, Zofia, Kaja, Nela and Malwina.

Their father, Szymon Marzec, told a news conference at the hospital on Tuesday that he would soon introduce their first son Oliwier, a toddler, to his new siblings.

Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Edmund Blair

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Belgian monks resurrect brewery after two century break

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GRIMBERGEN, Belgium (Reuters) – Belgian monks at the Grimbergen abbey are on the verge of brewing beer again after a break of more than 200 years.

Norbertine Father Karel tastes a Grimbergen beer, symbolised by a phoenix, in the courtyard of the Belgian Abbey of Grimbergen before announcing that the monks will return to brewing after a break of two centuries, in Grimbergen, Belgium May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The abbey, whose emblem is a phoenix with the Latin motto “Ardet nec consumitur”, meaning “Burned but not destroyed”, was ransacked and had its brewery smashed in 1795 by French troops.

But a tradition of beer making that had dated back to the 13th century will be revived with plans to build a new brewery at the monastic complex in Grimbergen, a town north of Brussels.

It expects to produce its first ales in late 2020.

“For us, it’s important to look to the heritage, to the tradition of the fathers for brewing beer because it was always here,” Father Karel Stautemas told Reuters on Tuesday, a day after the local council approved the brewery plan.

“Brewing and religious life always came together,” said Karel, one of 11 Norbertine canons living in the abbey.

After a course at the Scandinavian School of Brewing in Copenhagen begun this year, he will become one of five to six workers in the new brewery.

Marc-Antoine Sochon, an expert at Carlsberg who will be the project’s brewmaster, said the 10,000 hectolitre-per-year facility aimed to make limited edition versions of beer already brewed on a commercial scale under the Grimbergen name.

“We will keep the same yeast, which will bring all the fruitiness and spiciness and we will start to dig into more innovations, such as barrel-ageing, dry-hopping,” Sochon said, adding special edition batches could be just 60 hectolitres.

The abbey, founded in 1128, has been tied to commercial brewers since the 1950s when local brewer Maes asked the monks to use the Grimbergen name and emblem on its “abbey beer”.

About 1.5 million hectolitres of that brand are now produced globally, with Heineken unit Alken-Maes making and selling it in Belgium, while Carlsberg brews it largely in France for other markets. The abbey earns royalties.

The project, which Carlsberg will finance, aims to focus on using locally produced crops. The abbey has planted hops in its garden. There will also be a visitors’ center.

Grimbergen’s monks will follow the rules of Belgium’s Trappist beer makers, even if they are not a Trappist order, requiring them to brew within the abbey walls, control the brewing and steer profits toward maintaining the abbey and supporting charitable causes.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Edmund Blair

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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