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Anti-nuclear group receives Nobel Prize as NKorea crisis escalates
10 December 2017, 5:06 PM

The winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), on Sunday voiced alarm about an “extremely dangerous situation” in North Korea, shortly before receiving the award in Oslo.

“We are seeing right now an extremely dangerous situation that makes a lot of people very uncomfortable,” ICAN head Beatrice Fihn told AFP hours before the Nobel ceremony.

“But if you are worried about Donald Trump having nuclear weapons or Kim Jong-un, you’re probably worried about nuclear weapons because you are recognising that deterrents are not always going to work,” she added.

The US and North Korean leaders “are just humans who have the control to end the world, nobody should have that.”

Pyongyang has in recent months increased its number of missiles and nuclear tests, while exchanging warlike threats with Trump, who has ordered a military show of force.

ICAN, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs around the world, has worked for a treaty banning nuclear weapons, adopted in July by 122 countries.

Although historic, the text was weakened by the absence of the nine nuclear powers among the signatories.

Only three countries, the Holy See, Guyana and Thailand, have so far ratified the treaty, which requires 50 ratifications to come into force.

In an apparent snub of the ICAN-backed treaty, the three western nuclear powers — the US, France and Britain — will be represented by second-ranking diplomats rather than by their ambassadors at the ceremony, in a break with tradition.

But several survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, which killed more than 220,000 people 72 years ago, will attend the event starting at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) in the Oslo City Hall.

One of them, Setsuko Thurlow, will receive the Nobel on behalf of ICAN jointly with Fihn.    Speaking to AFP, Thurlow recalled the horrific aftermath of the first atomic bomb striking Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 when she was 13 years old.

Thurlow described corpses lying on the ground, the injured and dying calling for help and the survivors looking like “a procession of ghosts”.   “I couldn’t call them human beings. They simply looked like ghosts. The hair was standing up and they were all burned on the skin and their flesh was hanging from their bones,” Thurlow said.

“Some were carrying their eyeballs. It just was like hell on earth,” added the 85-year-old who now lives in Canada and uses a wheelchair.

Although the number of nuclear weapons has dropped since the end of the Cold War, there are still around 15,000 atomic bombs on earth with more nations getting hold of them.

“I think people must take responsibility. Don’t just leave it to the politicians. For that we have to study, each and every one of us has to study what the nuclear weapons are, how they destroy our lives,” Thurlow said.  “We deserve a much better life than this.”

The Nobel prizes in literature, physics, chemistry, medicine and economics, will be awarded later on Sunday at a separate ceremony in Stockholm.

Each prize consists of a diploma, a gold medal and a cheque for 9 million Swedish kroner (900,000 euros).


SA Airforce helicopter crashes in Western Cape
10 December 2017, 4:28 PM

The Du Toitskloof Pass has been closed to traffic after a South African Airforce helicopter crash landed on the N1 on the Worcester side of the Huguenot tunnel in the Western Cape.

The Oryx helicopter was en route to Ysterplaat from the Langebaanweg Airforce base.

Western Cape Traffic Chief, Kenny Africa, says the chopper crashed into overhead power cables. The eight crew members were slightly injured.

Africa says there are power lines still laying in the road. He says alternative routes from Worcester to Cape Town is via Villiersdorp, Grabouw or Wolseley.

The helicopter was taking part in a three-day expo at Langebaanweg, organised by the Department of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority  and the Western Cape government to celebrate International Civil Aviation Day.

Mourners praise SABC cameraman Frank Phoshoko
10 December 2017, 4:22 PM

Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha has described veteran Sabc cameraman, Frank Phoshoko, as a revolutionary camera person who helped destitute communities through the lens of his camera. Speaking at the the funeral service in Polokwane, Mathabatha told hundreds of mourners that Phoshoko’s work of unraveling news stories in the province and the country at large helped countless people from the days of apartheid. Phoshoko spent 37 years working for the public broadcaster before suffering a fatal injury while on assignment.

“I met him early back 1984/85 with friends who were also working for the Sabc . I knew Fran as this quite silent guy but will make his camera to talk for him , ” said Mathabatha.

Sabc representative at the funeral service, Jerry Malahlela, says the public broadcaster has lost a dedicated soldier who died with his boots on.

Family spokesperson, Stan Mokgawa, says the family has accepted his death and thanked the community for the support during the period of mourning.

“If God says yes no one can say no and we feel so comforted by all the people who came here. As a Christian family we have accepted everything and we strongly hope and believe that our brother will rest in peace, and we are so thankful of the support that we got starting from the entourage of the Sabc and the provincial government. I’m so happy and even when I look at the children they so comforted and have accepted the situation.”

Phoshoko is survived by his wife and three sons. He was left with only 14 months before going on retirement when he met his untimely death.


Mali expects record 9.5 mln tonnes of grain in 2017/18
10 December 2017, 4:03 PM

Mali expects to produce a record9.5 million tonnes of grain in the 2017/18 season that started in April, owing to more land being cultivated and increased use of tractors, the statistics office said on Sunday.

Rice, maize and millet make up the bulk of the West African country’s grain output.

This season’s expected production marks a 7.5% increase on last season but is slightly below forecasts madeearlier in the year because of lower than expected rainfall,Balla Keita, deputy director of the Planning and Statistics Unit, told reporters.

Of the total, 4.1 million tonnes of grain has been exported,he said.

Blitzbokke on a winning streak
9 December 2017, 8:54 PM

The Blitzbokke continued where they left off in Dubai by winning their first two Pool A matches in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Cape Town on Saturday. South Africa convincingly beat Russia and France to record back to back victories.

Meanwhile, Seabelo Senatla became the fastest player in World Sevens Rugby to score 200 tries in 35 tournaments.  He is the only fifth player to  ever reach that milestone.

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell retained the same team that won the opening tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai last weekend for the Cape Town leg.

The Blitzboks won 40-5, after leading 26-5 at half-time. Speedster Seabelo Senatla scored a hat-trick of tries to come within one score of reaching the 200-try milestone on the World Rugby Sevens Series circuit.

Senatla‚ who will only be involved in the first four tournaments of the 10-event circuit before moving back to fifteens moved to fifth on the all time sevens try-scoring list last weekend.

Other try scorers for South Africa were Branco du Preez, Tim Agaba, and Rosko Specman.

In the second match of the day South Africa met France who were also looking for their second win in a row after they brushed aside Kenya 21-14 earlier in the day.

France offered a lot of resistance, allowing the Blitzbokke only a single try in the entire first half scored by Kwagga Smith. However,it did not take long for France to also score a try with just over a minute before the break.

The Blitzbokke moved up a gear in the second half scoring four tries to record another convincing victory, the first through Phillip Snyman. Chris Dry scored the next try for the home side.

But Senatla was not going to be denied his 200th sevens try that came in the final minute of the match.

The final try of the match was scored by Ruhan Nel giving the Blitzbokke a comfortable 31-5 victory.



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