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Wednesday, October 17 2018 @ 12:26 pm UTC

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3 Dead as strong quake hits Indonesia

A 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in September, killing more than 2,000 people.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS - An earthquake Thursday killed three people in Indonesia and rattled hotels where IMF delegates are attending a major summit, a fortnight after a quake-tsunami killed more than 2,000 elsewhere in the archipelago.

The 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia's Bali and Java islands in the early hours, jolting residents awake and sending them rushing into the streets.

Some attendees in Bali for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings this week evacuated their hotels as the quake shook the island.

"I felt the quake for at least 30 seconds and I panicked. At first I didn't want to go out but then I decided to leave," Katharina Sudiyono, an Indonesian attendee at the summit, told AFP.

Peter Jacobs, head of the Indonesian Central Bank's IMF-World Bank taskforce, said delegates in Bali's Nusa Dua district for the summit were quickly informed of the situation.

"Many summit participants woke up and asked questions, but we immediately sent out information to them that there had been an earthquake and the impact in Nusa Dua," he told AFP.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in Bali and the summit proceeded Thursday uninterrupted.

"We send our condolences to those affected by the earthquake. Here in Bali, the earthquake has not caused significant damage nor any disruption to the meetings," an IMF spokesman said.

The conference centre was designed to withstand seismic events, and participants had been told to remain there in the event of a quake.

In case of tsunami risk, attendees would be evacuated to a nearby building.

Holidayers in the island's popular tourist districts also rushed into the streets as buildings swayed.

"Wow, that was really strong and it lasted a long time," said one woman who took refuge in a hotel parking lot in Nusa Dua, a few kilometres from where the IMF and World Bank are holding their meetings.

Others in Nusa Dua, south of Bali's main international airport, also panicked.

"The quake was very big. I immediately woke up and took my little kids out of the house," Ni Komang Sudiani told AFP.

"All my neighbours were also running, said the mother of two.

Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia's geophysics agency who was also in Nusa Dua for the IMF summit, said no tsunami warning was issued.

"I felt the quake too," she told AFP. "We are also still gathering data from our team in East Java.'

In East Java, three people were crushed to death in their sleep when the quake brought down buildings in Sumenep district and sent people fleeing their homes.

"Everybody panicked and the entire village ran outside. We have never experienced an earthquake as strong as last night," Zainurrohman, a 21-year-old from the district told AFP.

"We stayed outside until dawn," he said. Many Indonesians go by one name.

The tremor's epicentre was in the Bali Sea around 40 kilometres (25 miles) off the eastern end of Java island, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The tremor comes after a 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi last month - around 1,000 kilometres northeast of the latest quake's epicentre - killing more than 2,000 people.

Thousands more remain missing since the twin disaster ravaged the city of Palu and surrounding areas. The search for the dead is expected to end Thursday.

A string of earthquakes in Lombok in eastern Indonesia killed more than 550 people over the summer.

Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and many of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
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Italian bridge company under fire as rescuers toil for third day

INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Italy's populist government was on a war footing Thursday with the Italian operator of the bridge that collapsed and killed dozens in the port city of Genoa as desperate efforts to find survivors in the rubble went into a third day.

Shares in Atlantia, the holding company of infrastructure giant Autostrade per L'Italia, plummeted after the government said it would seek to revoke its lucrative contracts.

On the ground, rescue workers toiled among bulldozers and cranes to find survivors amid the ruins of a vast span of the Morandi bridge that collapsed on Tuesday, sending about 35 cars and several trucks plunging 45 metres (150 feet) onto railway tracks below.

"We were unlucky last night, we did not find anyone. We are still looking for cavities that can hide people, living or not," said fire official Emanuele Gissi, adding that the unstable rubble has made the search operation "dangerous".

"We are trying to cut the big pieces of concrete that fell off the bridge, after which we will move them with the cranes and send in search dogs. Then our personnel will try to see if there are any positive signs."
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Fresh tension as Israel reimposes Gaza fuel blockade

INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Israel reimposed a blockade on fuel deliveries to Gaza on Thursday citing a resurgence in kites carrying firebombs over the border and signalling a brief pause in tensions may be ending.

After two deadly military flare-ups in the Gaza Strip and a ceasefire brokered by Egypt and UN officials last month, the number of firebombs being launched over the border to burn Israeli farmland had diminished.

But Wednesday saw seven fires started by the incendiaries, and Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman later announced Israel's Kerem Shalom goods crossing with Gaza would be closed for fuel deliveries "until further notice."

"The decision was made in light of the continued terror with Molotov cocktails and the friction on the fence," Lieberman's office said, referring to months of clashes along the Gaza border between the army and Palestinian protesters.

A previous ban on fuel deliveries last month had resulted in warnings from UN officials that emergency fuel supplies were running low and the shortage was beginning to affect hospitals and water sanitation.

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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS - Due to a change in the actor’s schedule, Comic-Con attendees won’t get to meet Aquaman.

In news that will likely have nerds, geeks and cosplayers wailing and gnashing their teeth, Comic Con Africa has announced that Jason Momoa won’t be attending the event.

In a tweet sent out earlier, Comic Con Africa said that the Game Of Thrones and Aquaman star regrets he won’t be able to come to the convention due some film shoot rescheduling.

The news is something of a body blow for Comic Con Africa, since Momoa was easily the biggest draw on the convention’s line-up card.

Celebrities that are still on for the show are actors Kevin Sussman (from The Big Bang Theory and Ugly Betty) and Rick Worthy (Supernatural), Andy Diggle (comic book writer) and international cosplay star Yaya Han.

Comic Con Africa’s organisers have said that there will be ‘an additional celebrity guest’ announced soon, but whether they’ll be able to make up for Momoa’s absence is unknown at this stage.
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First lake of liquid water is discovered on Mars

This photo obtained from the European Space Agency (ESA) on July 25, 2018, shows an artist's impression of the Mars Express spacecraft over a background based on an actual image of Mars taken by the spacecraft's high resolution stereo camera. A massive underground lake has been detected for the first time on Mars. (European Space Agency/AFP)

This photo obtained from the European Space Agency (ESA) on July 25, 2018, shows an artist's impression of the Mars Express spacecraft over a background based on an actual image of Mars taken by the spacecraft's high resolution stereo camera. A massive underground lake has been detected for the first time on Mars. (European Space Agency/AFP)

Tampa - A massive underground lake has been detected for the first time on Mars, raising the possibility that more water - and maybe even life - exists there, international astronomers said on Wednesday.

Located under a layer of Martian ice, the lake is about 20 km wide, said the report led by Italian researchers in the US journal Science.

It is the largest body of liquid water ever found on the Red Planet.

"This is a stunning result that suggests water on Mars is not a temporary trickle like previous discoveries but a persistent body of water that provides the conditions for life for extended periods of time," said Alan Duffy, an associate professor at Swinburne University in Australia, who was not involved in the study.
1m 40s

This Major Discovery Just Made Colonizing Mars a Lot More Feasible

Have you heard the news? Mars has ice, and that ice is made from clean water. With this discovery we're one step closer to colonizing Mars.

Mars is now cold, barren and dry but used to be warm and wet. It was home to plenty of liquid water and lakes at least 3.6 billion years ago.

Scientists are eager to find signs of contemporary water, because such discoveries are key to unlocking the mystery of whether life ever formed on Mars in its ancient past, or if it might persist today.

Being able to access water sources could also help humans survive on a future crewed mission to Earth's neighboring planet.

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The US dollar and stock prices are surging, prompting a flight from speculative investments.

We’ve had a number of financial crises in recent years and gold still hasn’t responded.
BUSINESS NEWS - The simple answer to the question why gold is falling is the strength of the US dollar, up nearly 10% against the Euro since February this year. That, and the resilience of the US stock market. The S&P 500 index regained nearly 6% in the last two months after a nasty sell-off in January, proving the doomsayers wrong yet again.

Perhaps the real question is why the dollar is so strong? The US economy is on a tear. Corporate profits are the best they’ve been in seven years due to tax cuts, encouraging jobs reports and resilient consumer spending. That has hurt gold’s vaunted status as a hedge against risk, though technical analysts point out that it remains within the lower ranges of a rising wedge formation and should bounce. If it breaks below this level, there could be further sharp drops. Another reason gold is low is the prospect of higher US interest rates, which raises the opportunity cost of buying gold.

The gold price hit US$ 1 276 an ounce last Wednesday (June 20), a drop of nearly 6% since April. More concerning is the nearly 17% drop in platinum prices to US$ 861/oz since January. Palladium traded at US$961/oz, marginally up over the same period.

David Shapiro, deputy chairman at Sasfin Securities, says the strength of the US dollar, which has an inverse correlation to commodity prices, is one of the reasons for the drop in the gold price.

“The gold price has been relatively flat for nearly five years now and no-one has really got to the bottom of it,” he says. “Gold is supposed to be a hedge against crisis, but there are so many other hedges out there now. We’ve had a number of financial crises in recent years and gold still hasn’t responded.”

Platinum and palladium face an entirely different set of challenges. South African platinum producers are being squeezed on both sides: they have a low dollar platinum price to contend with, and high unit costs, says Victor von Reiche, portfolio manager at Citadel.

“As a result the majority of the SA producers are cash burning at current spot prices. Above-inflation wage increases, high electricity prices and a lack of investment in the industry over a number of years have all taken their toll on the miners.”

As price takers, SA platinum producers are beholden to the ruling market price, squeezed lower by the growing threat of low-cost supply from Russia and Zimbabwe. Other factors weighing on the price are the continued growth in recycled platinum group metals (PGM) supply, growth in the market share of electric cars over PGM-consuming diesel cars (the latter are big consumers of platinum, which is used in catalytic converters to reduce noxious emissions), and changes in consumer trends.
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Deaths from bites are rare despite Australia being home to 20 of the world's 25 most venomous snakes
INTERNATIONAL LIFESTYLE NEWS - An Australian nurse has spoken about how he survived a bite from one of the world's deadliest snakes by using medical training to instruct his rescuers as he passed in and out of consciousness.

Christian Wright, 33, was bitten on his foot by a brown snake at the bottom of a gorge in a remote part of Karijini National Park some 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) north of Perth in Western Australia last month.

"I looked at my foot, there was no puncture marks. No blood, no swelling, no nothing," Wright told commercial broadcaster Channel Seven Saturday.

"I started losing my vision. I knew I was going to pass out."

The hospital midwife shouted to his friend Alex Chia, who caught him as he passed out.

"His eyes were rolling back in his head, he was shaking and sweating, and then he went totally limp and heavy," Chia told The West Australian newspaper.

"We were down a deep gorge, 30 metres (100 feet) tall, there was no one in sight. The hardest part was being in front of his lifeless body."

A nearby Austrian couple heard their cries for help and called emergency services with their satellite phone as they tended to Wright's leg using his own instructions.

"I was just coming and going. I started getting really agitated as the neurotoxins started getting to my head, I was writhing all over the place and yelling out from the pain in my head," Wright told The West Australian.

A ranger was the first to arrive at the scene, followed by paramedics and other rescuers.

But Wright's ordeal was not yet over, with the ranger having to enlist the help of 20 nearby tourists to carry the nurse out of the challenging terrain on a stretcher while keeping his head above his legs.

It took more than an hour to carry him to an ambulance before he was driven to a hospital some 75 kilometres away and given anti-venom to counter the poison.

Brown snakes, whose bite is often painless, are known as nervous reptiles that strike with little hesitation.

Deaths from bites are rare despite Australia being home to 20 of the world's 25 most venomous snakes.

According to official estimates there are about 3,000 snakebite cases in Australia every year, with 300-500 needing anti-venom treatment. Only an average of two a year prove fatal.
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Australian stores limit baby formula as China demand hits stocks
Coles says some stores have moved the milk supplement from isles to behind counters
BUSINESS NEWS - One of Australia's biggest supermarket chains said Wednesday some stores were moving baby formula behind counters and restricting sales as it emerged customers were clearing shelves and selling it online in China for more than double the price.

Coles' decision to take the milk product off aisles follows complaints from worried mothers over supplies and after Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported one kilogram tins bought for up to Aus$35 (US$26) were being resold to Chinese parents for around Aus$100.

"Coles is committed to ensuring that our customers with a genuine need for infant formula have access to this product," Coles said in a statement.

"To make sure we have formula available for customers, in some stores we are keeping infant formula behind the service desk or using specially designed electronic article surveillance lids that can only be removed at the register."

The supermarket giant is restricting sales to two tins per customer and working with suppliers to improve availability.

Woolworths said it had no plans to remove the product from shelves but has also tightened restrictions to two units per customer.

In 2015 an Australian company apologised to mothers after its premium organic baby milk formula was wiped off supermarket shelves ahead of China's Singles Day.

Demand for foreign infant milk products has soared following a series of food scares in China, including a 2008 scandal over locally produced tainted formula that left six children dead and made more than 300,000 ill.

Simon Hansford, owner of producer Milk Powder Solutions said the strong Chinese demand reflected the quality of Australian produce, but also welcomed restrictions to protect local supply.
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The Gladiolus sempervirens was found close to where an ecological burn had taken place in the mountains.

GEORGE NEWS - The teams in the Garden Route National Park are excited about the discovery of two threatened plant species in Goudveld and Millwood near Knysna.

They were discovered by SANParks scientist Johan Baard, who consulted Wilderness resident Di Turner of the local Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (Crew) group. She visited Goudveld and confirmed that the plants belong to species whose existence is threatened.

Discorea burchelli is indicated as threatened by Sanbi (South African National Biodiversity Institute) and as vulnerable by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). IUCN has described this species as endemic to the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa, occurring from George to the Kareedouw pass.

According to IUCN, the species is threatened by degradation from development and competition from an increase of invasive alien species.

Gladiolus sempervirens is a Sanbi threatened species. According to the Red List of South African plants, this is a "rare species that occurs only in favoured habitats in the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains".

Baard says both plants are located in areas of the park that used to be plantations and are "exit areas" - that is, where commercial forestry is exiting or in negotiations with SANParks to exit to rehabilitate the areas for inclusion into the Garden Route National Park.

Baard found the Discorea burchelli and referred Crew to its GPS location. Crew had been looking for a specimen of the plant for a long time and members were elated that one was eventually tracked down.

The Gladiolus sempervirens was found close to where there had been an ecological burn.

Baard says the plants were found because they are now getting light and not growing in the shade under tall trees.

According to Baard, of the 2 200 plant species recorded in the Garden Route National Park, 240 are invasive alien species and 1 960 are indigenous.

Goudveld is a popular hide-away situated 22km from Knysna. Back in 1876, James Hooper discovered gold along the Karatara River. In 1887, more discoveries were made in the nearby Millwood area. Millwood in those days had hotels, a church, a shop, a surgery, a bank, school and a post office.

Nestled in the lower slopes of the Outeniqua mountains, the area has a magnificent variety of fynbos, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammal species.
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London to host new World Cup

Sebastian Coe. Photo: Twitter
ATHLETICS NEWS - London will host a new World Cup event this summer featuring eight top nations including the United States and Jamaica, British Athletics announced on Monday.

Britain, the United States, Poland, China, Germany, France, Jamaica and South Africa will compete at the London Stadium on July 14-15.

The tournament follows last year's world athletics championships in the British capital, which also hosted the Olympics in 2012.

The competition format will feature all field events and track events up to and including the 1500m, with just one man and one woman from each nation in each event.

Each nation will be competing for a $2 million prize pot over two evening sessions of athletics under the lights.

"It's great to see such an exciting head-to-head event confirmed to be taking place in London this summer – the concept is one that will excite everyone in athletics and is sure to attract new fans to the sport," said Olympic and world 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk.

Sebastian Coe, president of athletics' world governing body the IAAF, hailed the "innovative" event.

"We have eight lanes, eight top nations, eight teams and a host of world-class athletes lining up in each event to win the trophy and prize pot. This will be a fast-paced and exhilarating experience for athletes and fans."

UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos told AFP he was confident the event would capture the attention of the sporting world, even though it clashes with the World Cup final in Russia and the Wimbledon finals.
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