Home' Greymouth Star : December 9th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
South Africa is preparing a
sweeping, emotional farewell for
Nelson Mandela and a funeral to
underline the anti-apartheid icon's
transcendent in uence with a stellar
gathering of world leaders and
As Mandela's family expressed their
sense of grief and loss, government
o cials eshed out details of the
memorial events that will culminate
in the prisoner-turned-president's
burial on December 15 in his
boyhood home of Qunu.
Presidents and foreign heads of
government, religious dignitaries and
cultural gureheads are all expected
to y in and pay their respects to the
man who transformed his country
and became a global symbol of hope
e scale of the event and the
level of attention and emotion
surrounding it has had observers
searching for a precedent, with some
going as far back as the funeral of
India's independence hero Mahatma
For a second straight day, thousands
of ordinary South Africans, black and
white, and from all walks of life, paid
personal tribute at the Johannesburg
residence where Mandela died late
on ursday, aged 95, surrounded by
friends and family.
A large police barrier blocking
the road was transformed into a
multi-coloured bank of owers, ags,
photos and messages remembering
the country's rst black leader,
known a ectionately as Madiba.
While some focused on his role in
dismantling apartheid and forging
the modern, multi-racial South
African state, others recalled the
common touch that was one of
Mandela's particular political gifts.
"I am here because we have lost our
friend," domestic worker Temperance
On a nearby lawn, a makeshift
shrine had been set up with candles
burning on a square of blackened
grass, surrounded by a horseshoe of
On the other side of the road, a
hawker ogged yellow T-shirts with
the slogan Nelson Mandela, our hero
has fallen --- 1918-2013 for $25.
In an intimate ceremony in Qunu
on Saturday, residents lit a metre-
high candle, remembering Mandela
as the "light of the universe".
" e pillar of the family is gone,"
Mandela family spokesman Temba
Matanzima told journalists in
Mandela's body will lie in state for
three days from Wednesday, with the
co n taken in a cortege through the
streets of Pretoria each morning.
Formal memorial events begin
yesterday, with South Africans
invited to go to churches, mosques,
synagogues and other places of
"We should, while mourning, also
sing at the top of our voices, dance
and do whatever we want to do, to
celebrate the life of this outstanding
revolutionary," President Jacob Zuma
Tomorrow, about 80,000 people
are expected to attend a memorial
service in the Soweto sports stadium
that hosted the nal of the 2010
e organisational and security
logistics for all the events are
daunting, and the military cancelled
leave for troops and reser vists to help
with crowd control.
United States President Barack
Obama and his wife Michelle will
travel to South Africa together with
former rst couple George W and
Another former US leader, Bill
Clinton, who was in o ce when
Mandela became South Africa's rst
black president, will also attend.
In a tribute shortly after the revered
statesman's death was made public,
Obama mourned Mandela as a
"profoundly good" man who "took
history in his hands and bent the
arc of the moral universe towards
justice". --- AFP
8 - Monday, December 9, 2013
South Africans pay homage outside the house of the late former President Nelson Mandela in Houghton, Johannesburg.
South Africa prepares
for Mandela funeral
British pop icon Elton John has
escaped serious criticism in Russia
after using a sold-out Moscow concert
to challenge a highly contentious
law banning the "propaganda of
homosexuality" to minors.
e 66-year-old singer is the rst
western star known for ghting
gay prejudice to tour Russia since
it adopted a measure in June
making it illegal to explain same sex
relationships to children.
e law has already been condemned
on Russian stages by superstars such
as Lady Gaga and Madonna. Both
now face calls from conservative
politicians and some Orthodox
Church leaders to be barred from
ever entering the country again.
Sir Elton --- openly gay and in a civil
partnership with lmmaker David
Furnish since 2005 --- performed in
Moscow on Friday and is due to play
in the heart of the Muslim region of
Tatarstan on Saturday night.
He had been urged by some gay
rights advocates to cancel the concerts
as a form of protest against President
Vladimir Putin's 13-year rule.
But Sir Elton explained ahead of his
appearances that he felt that Russia's
gay and lesbian couples would feel
abandoned if big-name performers
did not come for visits and o er them
Friday's concert in Moscow began
with Sir Elton --- settled behind a
black grand piano in a theatre popular
with Russia's super-rich --- reading
a monologue in which he called
for harmony and inclusion for
"You've always embraced me and
you have never judged me," he
said in reference to a long line of
visits to Moscow that began with a
groundbreaking concert in 1979.
at Soviet-era performance
transformed the music icon into a
household name --- an impact still
felt in Russia to this day.
Sir Elton was careful not to criticise
either Putin or his supporters directly
for fast-tracking the measure in the
span of a few short weeks.
But neither did he hide his
disappointment with the law as a
video of the concert showed.
"I am deeply saddened and
shocked over the current legislation
that is now in place against the
(homosexual) community here in
Russia," he said to a scattering of
"In my opinion, it is inhumane
and it is isolating. Harmony is what
makes a happy family and a strong
He concluded the speech by
dedicating his concert to Vladislav
Tornovoi --- a 23-year-old Russian
whose naked body was dumped in the
city of Volgograd after he had been
raped with beer bottles and had his
A witness told the police at the time
of the May attack that Tornovoi was
targeted for being gay.
Russia's gay propaganda ban has
turned into a lightning rod of criticism
of Putin and what many see as his
increasingly authoritarian streak.
Such prominent rights campaigners
as the openly gay British actor
Stephen Fry have called for a boycott
of February's Winter Olympic Games
Sir Elton's speech made barely a
ripple in the Russian media and
escaped condemnation from the
west's usual critics in parliament.
Elton John challenges Russian gay ban
ree Chinese ships have brie y
entered disputed waters o Tokyo-
controlled islands in the East China
Sea, the Japanese coastguard says,
the rst such incident since Beijing
announced an air defence zone in the
e vessels entered the 12-nautical-
mile territorial waters overnight o one
of the Senkaku islands, which China
also claims and calls the Diaoyus, the
Japanese coastguard said. ey left the
area shortly afterwards.
It was the rst time that Chinese
coastguard ships had been spotted
sailing through the waters since
Beijing raised regional tensions with
its declaration of an air defence
identi cation zone in November.
Chinese vessels have sailed in and
out of contiguous waters around the
islands but stayed away from entering
territorial waters since November 22, a
Japanese coastguard o cial said.
Japan's conservative Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe has vowed no compromise
on sovereignty of the islands and
stepped up defence spending, believing
that China is trying to change the status
quo through growing sea incursions.
Chinese State-owned ships
and aircraft have approached the
Senkakus on and o to demonstrate
Beijing's territorial claims, especially
after Japan nationalised some of
the islands in September last year.
Prince Harry's race to the South Pole may
have been suspended for safety reasons but the
group is more determined than ever to make it
to the end together.
Harry had started o on the gruelling charity
trek with a team of injured British servicemen
and women against groups from the United
States and the Commonwealth in an
expedition organised by the charity Walking
With e Wounded.
Ed Parker, the expedition director, said on
Saturday he had taken the decision to suspend
the race to the Pole, but is determined that
everyone will make it to the South Pole as one
On the charity's website, he said: "We have
had a tricky couple of days. e weather
remains good but the terrain is very di cult,
far harder than we were anticipating and
because of various factors, I have decided to
suspend the race.
" e reasons for this are entirely safety based.
I am looking at the three teams. ey are going
really well but people are beginning to get very,
"With our doctor here, who I am in constant
contact with, we just feel we are beginning
to push people a little too hard, so I have
suspended the race."
e charity's website said this is "certainly
not the end" for the challenge, but added that
steps have been put into place to ensure that
all of those involved are kept safe.
e team members are determined to prove
their strength and courage but this must be
done without jeopardising anyone's well-
being, the charity said.
e nal leg of the challenge will begin
on Sunday from the team's second allotted
checkpoint, 112km from the South Pole.
e team will be driven to this point and,
over the course of the next seven days, will
move as one whole allied team to reach the
South Pole together.
A post on the charity's website said that on
day ve of the challenge, as the teams arrived
at their rst checkpoint, it "became obvious
that underneath the concrete determination of
all the team members, the harsh reality of the
Antarctic was starting to take its toll". --- PA
Pole trek goes on as race suspended
Chinese ships sail
through disputed waters
Scottish singer Susan
Boyle has revealed she
has been diagnosed with
Asperger's syndrome, a
Boyle, a 52-year-
old church volunteer
who became a global
singing sensation, has
told Britain's Observer
newspaper she was
diagnosed a year ago
and spoke of her relief
after years of bullying for
her learning di culties.
"It was the wrong diagnosis when I
was a kid," she said.
"I was told I had brain damage. I
always knew it was an unfair label. Now
I have a clearer understanding of what's
wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more
relaxed about myself."
Boyle shot to fame on the tv show
Britain's Got Talent, in 2009.
A devout Catholic and lifelong
singleton who lived on welfare handouts,
she became an overnight sensation after
her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream,
from the musical Les Miserables went
viral on the internet.
Her rst appearance on the show has
racked up nearly 140 million views on
You Tube. She has since recorded four
smash-hit albums and sung for the
Boyle's quirky sense
of humour and golden
voice won her legions of
fans, but her rapid rise
to fame and the huge
press attention drove
her close to breakdown.
Su erers have di culty
picking up on social
cues and gauging
Boyle was deprived
of oxygen at her birth
and was bullied throughout her school
years, nicknamed Susie Simple by her
But recent tests have revealed that she
has above-average intelligence, she told
"I was told my IQ was above average,"
Boyle said her Asperger's diagnosis
would not make any di erence to her
life, insisting: "It's just a condition that
I have to live with and work through".
"I think people will treat me better
because they will have a much greater
understanding of who I am and why I
do the things I do."
Fox Searchlight is reportedly
interested in making a lm of Boyle's
rise to stardom from her humble life
in the village of Blackburn, near the
Scottish capital Edinburgh. --- AFP
reveals she has
International critics are praising Sir
Peter Jackson's second instalment of the
e Hobbit: e Desolation of Smaug
has premiered in Los Angeles and will
be released at Australian cinemas on
e rst Hobbit movie was widely
criticised for its slow pace.
e Hollywood Reporter writer Todd
McCarthy said nearly everything about
the second movie was an improvement
over the rst.
"Jackson gets the drama in gear
here from the outset with a sense of
storytelling that possesses palpable
energy and purpose."
However, he said towards the end
of the 161 minute lm the director's
"tendency to let bloat creep in reasserts
itself ... he has a hard time knowing
when enough is enough even as
the three-hour goalpost looms dead
Empire magazine gave the lm ve
"A huge improvement on the previous
instalment, this takes our adventurers
into uncharted territory and delivers
spectacle by the ton," Nick de Semlyen
e Guardian's Peter Bradshaw gave
the lm four out of ve stars describing
it as a "cheerfully entertaining and
exhilarating adventure tale".
Variety's Justin Chang said: "After a
bumpy beginning with An Unexpected
Journey, Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy
nds its footing in this much more
exciting and purposeful second chapter."
Time Magazine said the movie was
one of the top ten lms of the year
describing it as a "vigorous and thrilling
However, not all reviews were
Robbie Collins of the Telegraph
gave the lm two out of ve stars and
described it as a "weary take on J R R
Tolkien's playful children's book".
ough, he said Jackson's recreation
of Middle Earth was "unimpeachable".
second Hobbit film
minister says she is willing to call
an election to end the political crisis
gripping the country --- but only if
protesters seeking her overthrow
accept the result.
Bangkok is bracing for
another major anti-government
demonstration, with protest leaders
vowing a nal showdown in e orts
to topple Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra and curb the political
in uence of her brother aksin.
e kingdom has been rocked
by several episodes of political
bloodshed since aksin, a billionaire
tycoon-turned-prime minister, was
ousted by royalist generals in a coup
seven years ago.
His sister's government has been
shaken by more than a month of
rolling rallies by demonstrators,
sometimes numbering in their tens
of thousands, who want to suspend
the country's democracy in favour of
an unelected "People's Council".
Yingluck yesterday renewed her
o er of elections if the protesters
--- a mix of royalists, middle class
ais and other aksin opponents
--- agree to respect the democratic
" e government is ready to
dissolve the house if the majority
wants it," she said in a televised
address, noting that under the
kingdom's laws an election would
have to be held within 60 days.
"If protesters or a major political
party do not accept that or do not
accept the result of the election, it
will just prolong the con ict," she
e protest leaders have said that
they would not be satis ed with new
elections, leaving the two sides locked
in a stalemate that risks scaring o
foreign investors and tourists.
"An unelected government would
a ect the country's reputation and
stability," Yingluck warned. "If
protesters want that, it should be
asked whether it is the desire of the
Tensions remain high in the
kingdom after several days of street
clashes last week between police
using tear gas, water cannon and
rubber bullets against rock-throwing
e unrest has left ve people
dead and more than 200 injured in
Demonstrators and police in
Bangkok have observed a temporary
truce since Wednesday for the
86th birthday of King Bhumibol
Adulyadej, who is treated as a near-
deity by many ais. --- AFP
Afghan President Hamid
Karzai has travelled to Iran, even
as the United States defence
secretary was in Kabul for a two-
day visit, the presidential palace
"Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani had invited President
Karzai during his swearing-
in ceremony in August for an
o cial visit to Tehran to talk
about the expansion of bilateral
relationships and cooperation," an
o cial statement said overnight.
" e president travelled to Iran
today for this purpose."
Chuck Hagel arrived on
Saturday to visit the US troops
and meet with Afghan and
Nato coalition o cials. He was
expected to talk to Karzai about
the stalled bilateral security
Karzai did not receive the
visiting secretary, although Hagel
met with his Afghan counterpart
Bismillah Mohammadi, who
insisted that the security
agreement "would be signed on
time," an Afghan defence o cial
For the past month, Kabul
and Washington have been in
a diplomatic stand-o over a
security deal covering the role and
scope of US military engagement
after Nato combat troops leave in
A grand assembly of 2500
tribal elders asked Karzai to
sign the deal as soon as possible,
the president has refused. He is
seeking more concessions from
the US, including a halt to all
military raids on Afghan homes
and release of Afghan prisoners
from Guantanamo prison.
Senior Washington o cials
including the secretary of state
and the national security adviser
have tried to convince Karzai to
sign the deal before the end of
James Dobbins, US Special
Representative for Afghanistan
and Pakistan, said there was
no progress in the talks on
the security deal after his own
meetings with Karzai last week.
Iran has voiced strong
opposition to the proposed
agreement, saying it would
destabilise the region. --- DPA
ai PM offers protesters election
Afghan president snubs US defence chief
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