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Watch: Inquiry into Social Grants crisis
2 February 2018, 9:53 AM
Amcu slams Sibanye mine over power supply
2 February 2018, 8:00 AM

Questions are being asked about the power supply at the Sibanye Beatrix mine in the northern Free State, now that over 900 miners have been safely rescued.

The rescue began slowly because of the lack of electricity in some of the shafts.  The miners had been trapped underground following a power outage at four shafts caused by a violent storm on Wednesday night.

Mining union Amcu’s president Joseph Mathunjwa has slammed mine management for the lack of power delaying the rescue.

He says, “We have been saying that these mines are not investing in prevention, and the reason for that is very simple, is because they pay low wages. So to get a high quality of safety measures is too expensive for them, so there is no investment when it comes to prevention, and there is no contingency plan, no generators. If there were generators, they’re not in a working condition. They had to go to other mine Harmony to go and borrow generators. These mines are pushing production at the expense of the lives of the workers.”

Fukushima operator aims to double visitors by Tokyo Olympics
2 February 2018, 6:41 AM

Fukushima’s nuclear power operator is hoping to double the number of visitors to its tsunami-ravaged facilities by 2020, seeking to use the Olympic spotlight to clean up the region’s image.

A massive undersea earthquake on March 11, 2011 sent a tsunami barrelling into Japan’s northeast coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing and sparking the Fukushima crisis, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Initially, visitors to Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant were strictly limited to a handful of nuclear experts, lawmakers, government officials and selected media.

Visitor numbers have gradually increased as levels of radiation in most of the compound have dropped low enough to allow workers to operate without special protective equipment.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which runs the plant, is now accepting requests for tours from groups of local residents, embassy officials and school students, although it has yet to accept individual applications.

The number of visitors for the fiscal year to March last year rose to around 10,000 — a figure the operator aims to double to 20,000 in 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Summer Games, said Takahiro Kimoto, a TEPCO official.

“Our objective is not to send a message saying ‘It’s safe. It’s secure’,” Kimoto told AFP.

“It is more important for us to have people watch what’s really going on… without a prejudiced eye,” he said.

“The inspections will help revitalise the region and reduce reputational damage,” Kimoto said, adding that the company would be happy to show around International Olympic Committee officials.

Fukushima is expected to be in the spotlight during the Games as it will stage Olympic baseball and softball matches as part of Japan’s effort to regenerate the area.

TEPCO also hopes that a football training centre used as a base for the plant’s workers after the disaster will host teams competing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Kimoto stressed that the company is responsible for not only reviving the region but also conveying bitter lessons to future generations.

Decontamination work is under way inside the plant, with thousands of workers enjoying hot meals, taking showers and buying sweets at a convenience store.
However, levels of radiation in areas around the three melted-down reactors remain extremely high, hampering the plant’s decommissioning process, which is expected to take decades.
The scars of the catastrophe remain visible — steel frames are gnarled and walls are missing, ripped off by the tsunami and hydrogen explosions.

With the seventh anniversary of the disaster looming, AFP journalists given exclusive access to the roof of the plant’s No. 3 reactor saw stagnant water stored inside a deep pool under which lay more than 560 fuel rods.

Each worker is required to wear a protective suit, three sets of gloves and a heavy-duty mask and carry a dosimeter, used to measure exposure to radiation.

Workers only stay a maximum of two hours per day on the roof where electric gauges showing current radiation levels hang on every corner.

A gigantic steel dome is now being built on the roof to prevent radiation leaking when the fuel rods are transferred from the pool to remote storage later this year.

As the initial stages of decommissioning the plant draw to a close, the biggest challenge is a protracted battle against high radiation, said Daisuke Hirose, a plant official.

“We have to lower radiation exposure to workers, but this prevents them from working for a long time up there,” Hirose said.
“We want them to work under strictly controlled exposure plans. That’s the big difference from working conditions at ordinary sites,” he said.

The total costs for decommissioning, decontamination and compensation are estimated to reach 21.5 trillion yen ($194 billion) and TEPCO aims to dismantle the plant in three to four decades.

India win easily in first ODI
2 February 2018, 6:23 AM

India continued there fight back from the Test series against the Proteas in the first One Day International (ODI) in Kingsmead in Durban,  beating the home team by six wickets. The Indians cruised home with more than five overs to spare chasing what was thought to be a competitive 269 posted by South Africa.

Captain Faf du Plessis was the mainstay of the Proteas innings with a well played century (120). But it was the Indian captain Virat Kohli (112) that stole the night, with a another century in the series, and together with Ajinkya Rahane (79) took the game away from the Proteas. The two shared a 189 third wicket record partnership.

This was the first ODI win for the Indians at Kingsmead versus the Proteas.  The Indians take a one-nil lead in the six match series.

Rihanna presses leaders to fund global education
2 February 2018, 6:06 AM

Rihanna on Thursday used her star power to urge key governments to commit to ensuring education for the world’s poorest as she takes part in an international conference in Senegal.

The chart-topping singer arrived in the capital Dakar where she on Friday will join the Global Partnership for Education talks co-hosted by Senegalese President Macky Sall and French leader Emmanuel Macron.

Rihanna, the fourth most followed person on Twitter with 86 million followers, took to social media to urge Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ensure specific funding levels.

In her tweet to Macron, Rihanna — who met with him in Paris in July — thanked the French leader for leading the conference but pressed him to commit firmly to 250 million euros ($313 million) for the effort.

Speaking to Turnbull, she urged funding as part of Australia’s entry onto the UN Human Rights Council.

Some 264 million school-age children and youths are living without any education owing to poverty, conflict and social barriers including bias against girls, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

The Dakar conference, which brings together governments and the private sector, aims to raise $3.1 billion over the coming three years to support education for 870 million children.

The conference in turn asks partner countries to devote 20 percent of public expenditure to education — a level that can be particularly difficult for countries battling jihadists or civil conflicts.

Rihanna, who serves as an ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education, will meet in Dakar with government officials as well as educators and students, representatives said.

She has frequently been active in pressing for development funding as part of Global Citizen, the anti-poverty campaign that includes policy events and concerts in New York and a growing number of other cities.

The Barbados-born singer — whose hits include “Diamonds” and “Only Girl (In the World”) — has also set up the non-profit Clara Lionel Foundation, which includes a scholarship fund for students to learn at US universities.

With her Twitter account, she has repeatedly approached leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise development issues.

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