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  1. S.Africa mine union leader shot dead

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    February 17, 2019 by admin

    A senior union official at a Lonmin mine in Marikana has been shot dead in South Africa in the latest violence to hit the country’s platinum belt, a spokesman says.


    “A branch chairperson of the union was shot last night and killed,” Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers said.

    “He was attacked and a colleague of his was shot on the leg and is currently in hospital.”

    Police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane confirmed that a man was murdered in the informal residential area on Thursday night near the site where police gunned down 34 striking mining in August 2012.

    “He was on the way to visit his girlfriend. He was then gunned down by four men who came out of nowhere,” he said.

    Ngubane said the victim was shot seven to eight times after his vehicle came under fire from four shooters and he got out of the car. He died instantly on the scene.

    “The motive for the killing is unknown as this point,” he said.

    The man was chairman of the NUM’s branch at Western Platinum which is one of four operations run by Lonmin in the Marikana area.

    The north-western platinum belt has been the scene of a battle for supremacy between rival unions but the NUM did not want to speculate on what was behind the shooting.

    “We do not know yet what the reasons are,” said Seshoka.

    The NUM was muscled out as the recognised union in July by the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

    Seshoka appealed for calm and for the police to be given the opportunity to investigate the killing.

    “Of course there may be a resurgence of violence, and this is what we don’t want to see,” he said.

    Several union leaders have been killed since last year, with the most recent being another NUM local leader in August.

  2. Youth, experience on Labor frontbench

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    February 17, 2019 by admin

    Labor’s first shadow ministry in six years will blood a new generation of federal leaders while keeping experienced hands in key battleground portfolios.


    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was keen to emphasise the energy and youth of his team (29 out of 30 are aged under 60) when he unveiled the line-up in Canberra on Friday.

    Shorten’s decision to take small business into his own portfolio is aimed at helping Labor win back support from the expanding entrepreneurial sector that swung behind Tony Abbott in the election.

    Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek’s decision to take on foreign affairs and trade pits her against Liberal deputy Julie Bishop, and will allow Labor to highlight concerns with the coalition’s proposed cuts to overseas aid.

    Stephen Conroy’s shift from communications under Gillard to defence under Shorten will allow him to directly face off across the Senate chamber with Defence Minister David Johnston.

    There are shadow parliamentary secretary appointments for former Rudd staffer Jim Chalmers, Andrew Leigh, Ed Husic, Matt Thistlethwaite, Michelle Rowland, Lisa Singh and Stephen Jones that should pave their way into ministry spots in coming years.

    Carbon pricing, asylum seekers and changes to the national broadband network are expected to be key areas of the political debates over the next year.

    So it was prudent of Shorten to put former ministers Mark Butler (climate), Richard Marles (immigration) and Jason Clare (communications) in these posts.

    Leadership runner-up Anthony Albanese kept his transport and infrastructure portfolio and adds tourism, which will allow the popular former minister to get around the country and win back support.

    What Shorten can’t easily explain is why South Australian senator Don Farrell, who lost his spot at the election and will step down on June 30 next year, has been given two portfolios – one of which includes the Centenary of Anzac in 2015.

    Farrell, who also has veterans’ affairs, was one of Labor’s so-called faceless men behind the 2010 coup against Kevin Rudd and a key figure in the Right faction, so the expectation is he’ll replace a future retiring Labor senator.

    The decision marred an otherwise sound line-up which should give Labor a solid start in the new parliament.

  3. Heritage NSW town ‘apocalyptic’ after fire

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    February 17, 2019 by admin

    Residents of a heritage seaside town devastated by fire on the NSW central coast have described the scene as “apocalyptic”.


    A bushfire ripped through the quaint Catherine Hill Bay village near Lake Macquarie on Thursday, burning five historical buildings.

    Wallarah House, built in 1887, was reduced to charred remains.

    Residents were evacuated ahead of the fire’s arrival and are still waiting to learn when they will be allowed back in to the town.

    Resident of 23 years Wayne Demarco inspected the town after the fire had passed and said the jetty master’s house and the historic jetty were either destroyed or damaged.

    Also burned was the historic police cell, located at the rear of Mr Demarco’s residence.

    “It looks very apocalyptic,” he told AAP.

    “It looks horrible with telephone poles burned to the ground and things just destroyed.”

    Mr Demarco said he stayed at his home for as long as possible before the fire hit.

    “We stayed there until as late as we could until the fire came over,” he said.

    “It was huge… strong southerly winds and flames as high as trees.”

    He said it was a shame to lose historic buildings.

    “It’s a shame because so many of these things that have survived fires over the years,” he said.

    Catherine Hill Bay Progress Association president Sue Whyte had been creating a heritage brochure for the town and the now-destroyed historical structures were to be star features.

    As someone who had passionately dedicated her time to Catherine Hill Bay’s heritage, Ms Whyte said she felt wounded.

    She said the police cell was one of only two left in NSW.

    “I have an account for the last person who occupied the police house,” Ms Whyte told AAP.

    “But then when that building is gone, you can’t just stand and look at something that’s not there.”

    She said she was evacuated at 6pm (AEDT) on Thursday and is waiting to get back into town and assess the damage.

  4. India digs for treasure on holy man’s tip

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    February 17, 2019 by admin

    Archaeologists have begun digging for treasure beneath a 19th century fort in northern India, after a popular Hindu holy man said a former king appeared to him in a dream and told him of the cache.


    The treasure hunt began after Hindu swami Shobhan Sarkar relayed his dream to an Indian government minister who was visiting the swami’s ashram last month.

    The swami said the spirit of King Rao Ram Baksh Singh, who was hanged in 1858 after rising up against British colonial forces, told him to take care of the 1000-ton treasure worth almost $US50 billion ($A52.02 billion) hidden under the late king’s fort in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

    Indian geological and archaeological officials surveyed the area on Sunday and found evidence of heavy metal about 20 metres underground, District Magistrate Vijay Karan Anand said. Digging, which began on Friday, would the only way to confirm which type of metal.

    The Archaeological Survey of India said it would begin digging under a temple contained within the ruins of the old fort.

    A host of interested parties have already lined up to stake a claim to the treasure, believed to be in gold, silver and precious gems.

    One of the king’s descendants, Navchandi Veer Pratap Singh, said: “If gold is really found there, we should get our share.”

    Uttar Pradesh state authorities, as well as local officials, also said they had a right to the wealth.

    “The treasure trove should be used for the development of the state,” local MP Kuldeep Senger said. Uttar Pradesh, with a staggering population of 200 million, is one of the poorest and least developed states in India.

    Authorities have set up barricades against thousands of people who have since thronged to the village in hopes of seeing the treasure, or possibly taking a small piece home. People were offering prayers at the temple within the fort’s ruins.

  5. Eddie Jones to miss coaching Test

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    February 17, 2019 by admin

    Former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones will miss Japan’s upcoming game against the All Blacks following a stroke which has left him with mobility difficulties, the Japan Rugby Football Union said Friday.


    The 53-year-old Australian, who now coaches the Japanese national team, has developed minor difficulties moving his left limbs after suffering a stroke earlier this week.

    Although he can talk and has left intensive care, he will nonetheless miss out on his squad’s Test against the All Blacks in Tokyo on November 2, the national rugby body said in a statement.

    He was hospitalised on Tuesday night after complaining of a headache following a flight back to Tokyo from an inspection of the Brave Blossoms’ domestic training camp.

    Jones was released from the intensive care unit of the hospital but will require further check-ups, the Union said.

    “I feel sorry for causing such worries at an important time as we prepare for a game against All Blacks and a tour,” he said in a Japanese-language statement released from the Union.

    While he focuses on his health, the Japanese squad will be coached by Scott Wisemantel, a former Wallabies skills coach who serves as a technical adviser for the Japan squad, the Union said.

    The All Blacks will play Japan at Tokyo’s Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, in their first Test on Japanese soil.

    The Brave Blossoms will then leave for their European tour the day after the Test.

    They will take on Scotland on November 9, Gloucester on November 12 and Russia in Colwyn Bay on November 15.

    They will finish the tour with a Test against Spain in Madrid on November 23.