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California wild poppies.
‘Super Bloom’ draws visitors to California hills
28 February 2019, 9:47 AM

It’s a natural phenonmenon tailor-made for the digital era. This explosion of wild poppies in Southern California has turned towns like Lake Elsinor into instant tourist attractions, as visitors rush to capture the perfect selfie.

California resident, Debbie Briant says, “I absolutely love the flowers, I love the bloom and I love the colour of it. It is pretty bright, as you can see, but it is beautiful.”

This is Southern California’s second Super Bloom in recent years, thanks to a combination of wildfires to clear the undergrowth and a whole lot of rain.

“It was a lot more than I expected. I thought it was just going to be maybe just a little bush here and there but they are all over the place and I keep walking and walking and every time I make a turn it is just more beautiful than the last one” says Francis Silva a Los Angeles resident.

Meawhile, local officials have launched a “preserve while you observe” campaign, urging visitors to please stay off the flowers.

IEC's Mosotho Moepya.
Voters’ roll officially closed
28 February 2019, 9:37 AM

On Tuesday February, 26th 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared that the 6th general elections will be held on the May, 8th 2019 and stated the day will be a public holiday.

One has to be registered on the voters’ roll to elect a new National Assembly and new provincial legislatures in each province.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) closed the voters’ roll on Wednesday.

IEC Commissioner Moepya Moepya says the IEC is anticipating just over 26, 7-million voters – an increase from the previous general elections.

“We do have 26, 7-million, we will finalise those numbers. I’m sure we will issue them because persons who have registered on Tuesday will still go through the verification process with the National Populations Register and we will then validate that and we will issue final figures but we are anticipating that it will be just over 26, 7-million.”

Moepya says 82% of the excess of at least 1-million are first time voters.

“The majority of those, in access of 82% of those are persons who are young, first time voters but you do have persons who fall between the age of registration since the last elections.”

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SABC building.
Committee to start shortlisting SABC board candidates on Thursday
28 February 2019, 9:30 AM

Parliament’s Committee on Communications will start to shortlist candidates for the SABC board on Thursday.

It will no longer conduct exit interviews with the board members who have resigned. The shortlisted candidates will be chosen from among the 233 received nominations.

On Tuesday, the committee put the shortlisting process of SABC board nominees on hold.

When the committee held its first meeting to start the short listing process on Tuesday, it decided to call the board members who resigned to conduct exit interviews with them next Tuesday. It would only have been after the exit interviews when the committee would have decided on the way forward.

One of the options was to dissolve the current four member board and appoint an interim.

It says it will now shortlist the 24 candidates, publish the names on the parliamentary website and start with the interviews from March 5 – 7 next week. The successful candidates will be recommended for appointment to fill eight vacancies.

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Barcelona celebrating victory.
Madrid lack killer instinct against ruthless Barcelona
28 February 2019, 9:29 AM

Real Madrid are likely to be relying on the Champions League again for another trophy this season but there was room for encouragement against Barcelona on Wednesday beyond their resounding defeat.

Barca’s 3-0 victory, 4-1 on aggregate, means they go through to meet either Valencia or Real Betis in the Copa del Rey final, while their lead at the top of La Liga already makes them heavy favorites for another domestic double.

Madrid have been unable to match the consistency of their rivals this term but there was enough in their performance at the Santiago Bernabeu to suggest they can do them damage when the sides meet again on Saturday in the league for a second Clasico in four days.

“We are sad because we wanted to play in the final but we go out with our heads held high,” Madrid coach Santiago Solari said.

“We did everything we could. We didn’t take our chances and they took theirs.”

Midfielder Casemiro said Real were already looking forward to Saturday’s rematch.

“We played well,” said the Brazilian. “The result was not good but we will be waiting for them on Saturday. The result was not a fair reflection of the game.”

Vinicius Junior was Madrid’s brightest spark but he also missed a hateful of chances before Barca’s Luis Suarez scored twice, either side of a Raphael Varane own goal.

The worry for Solari is not that his side were unable to put Barcelona under pressure but that they failed to kill them off, with some again pointing to the absence of a predator like Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Scoring one goal in 180-minutes of football is not enough to knock out Barcelona,” said sports website AS on Wednesday. “Without pointing the blame, the truth is Los Blancos miss Cristiano Ronaldo in these types of games.”

Karim Benzema had helped fill the void during a golden streak earlier this year but he has faded, while Gareth Bale’s patchy displays since returning from injury have seen him reduced to a role on the bench.

Vinicius is lively but the 18-year-old lacks composure in front of goal. “Vinicius does not have the precision to finish,” said newspaper El Pais. “He is a reflection of the team he plays for, who are halfway to nobody knows where.”

Solari defended the youngster. “The more you play, the more you learn,” he said.

In contrast, Suarez had barely touched the ball in the first half but came alive in the crucial moments and would have had a hat-trick had Varane not beaten him to Ousmane Dembele’s cross to bundle in an own-goal.

“When he is in the area he is at 200 per cent,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said. “He has a sense for where the goal is.”

Suarez and Lionel Messi had both faced accusations of dips in recent weeks but the pair have now scored five goals in Barca’s last two games, following Messi’s hat-trick against Sevilla on Saturday.

Their surge is timely given a second leg against Lyon in the Champions League is just around the corner, with the tie goalless and delicately poised heading into the return at the Camp Nou.

“We want to win everything,” Valverde said. “That is what our fans want.”

Some have suggested going far in the Copa del Rey harms Barca’s chances in Europe but Valverde picked his strongest side against Madrid, and is likely to do so again on Saturday.

Barcelona lead Real by nine points in La Liga, with Atletico Madrid seven points behind and still the closest challengers.

“They both seem far away but they are not,” said Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. “We have to come here with our batteries fully charged again.”

M2 Motorway.
M2 motorway closed from Thursday morning
28 February 2019, 6:25 AM

The M2 motorway will be closed from Thursday morning to motorists as work to repair and restore the road gets underway.

Authorities have advised motorists using the M2 to use alternative routes. The motorway will remain closed until at least October this year.

Johannesburg MMC for Transport Nonhlanhla Makuba says while the plan was initially just for the closure of the M2 east-bound between Joe Slovo and Maritzburg Road, the structural damage to the carriageway has prompted more drastic action.

“Engineers have discovered that part of the support structure has moved and that it is affecting the structural stability of some of the bridges on the M2 motorway. We have no option now but to close M2 fully between crown interchange and Maritzburg road. We humbly request residents and motorists to bear with us during this time and to understand that we are doing this to ensure their safety, which is a priority to the city.”


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