Home' Greymouth Star : May 14th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - 7
Hundreds die in mine
An injured miner is carried to an ambulance in Soma, a district in Turkey’s western province of Manisa.
The Australian Government will today
start selling one of the nation’s most
unpalatable budgets in decades.
Leavened by a handful of sweeteners,
Treasurer Joe Hockey’s axe has
hewn through almost every area of
“ Doing nothing is not an option,”
Hockey said. “ The days of borrow and
spend must come to an end.”
The budget aims to cut the deficit from
almost $A40 billion ($NZ43.33 billion)
to $29.8 billion next year, falling to $2.8
billion in 2017-18. By 2024 Hockey
predicts surpluses of more than 1% of
Budget forecasts also predict federal
debt will fall from $667b to $389b over
the next decade.
But while spending is hauled back, the
Government will begin massive, multi-
billion programmes for the nation’s
infrastructure and for medical research.
Hockey plans to do this against the
background of a fragile economy.
“extraordinary period of transition” from
the mining investment boom to other
sectors will not be easy.
Although some areas such as housing
and construction are expected to grow
in the short term, businesses outside the
resources sector remain cautious.
New private business investment is
forecast to fall by 5.5% in 2014-15 and
3.5% the following year. The current
account deficit is expected to widen
from 3.25% of GDP to 4.2% in the
Unemployment is forecast to rise to
6.25% for the next two years, although
the economy is expected to expand by
3% in the next 12 months and by 4.75%
Even so, Treasury papers say that by
the end of 2015-16 the economy will
have grown slower than trend for seven
of the past eight years, and that it will be
operating with the largest gap between
potential and actual output since the
Business will be hit by the axing
of about $850 million in assistance
programmes, and companies costs will
rise with twice-yearly indexation of the
fuel excise levy to inflation.
Large businesses will pay a special levy
to help fund a new paid parental leave
scheme, offset by a 1.5% cut in company
People earning more than $180,000 a
year will face a three-year “budget repair
levy ” of 2% on defined portions of their
Pensions will be indexed twice-yearly
to the consumer price index, rather than
present higher indexation to wages,
and all indexation of a wide range of
pensions and benefits will be halted for
The pension age will be progressively
increased to 70 by 2035.
New restrictions will apply to family
tax benefits and access to disability
pensions will be tightened, including
medical assessments for beneficiaries
under 30. Access to the dole will be
restricted for young unemployed people,
and many will be required to join work-
New charges will be made for
subsidised medicines, and patients will
pay $7 for previously free GP visits and
pathology and imaging ser vices.
Growth in public hospital and
education funding will be reduced.
The axe has also swung heavily on
the public ser vice, with 76 departments
agencies and other bodies to be either
scrapped or merged, with forecast job
losses of more than 16,000.
But Hockey announced a new $11.6b
infrastructure growth package which,
supported by spending from the States
and private business, will finance major
road, rail and port projects.
A massive $20b fund will also be
established to fund medical research.
— APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Spending slashed in Aust black budget
An explosion followed by a fire
in a coalmine in western Turkey
has killed 151 miners and trapped
hundreds more, a provincial mayor
said, in what appeared to be the
country’s worst mining accident in
Rescue workers pumped oxygen
into the mine to try to keep those
still trapped by the blaze alive as
thousands of family members and
fellow workers, clamouring for
information, gathered outside the
town’s hospital, held back behind
The blast in the power unit of the
mine in Soma, about 120km north-
east of the Aegean coastal city of
Izmir and 250km south of Istanbul,
triggered an electricity outage,
making the cages in the shafts
unusable and leaving hundreds of
miners stranded underground.
It was not immediately clear if the
fire had been isolated.
Cengiz Ergun, mayor of Manisa
province where Soma is located,
said nearly 600 workers were
underground at the time of the
explosion. Citing health officials at
the entrance to the mine, he told
broadcaster CNN Turk that 157
miners had died.
Government officials told Reuters
104 people had been confirmed
dead and 54 injured, but said the toll
was likely to rise. Turkey ’s disaster
response agency, AFAD, had earlier
said 17 miners were killed.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
cancelled a day trip to Albania,
scheduled for tonight, and would
instead go to the site of the disaster,
sources in his office said.
“ Rescue efforts for our brothers in
the mine are ongoing. God willing,
in the coming hours, I hope to
receive uplifting news,” Erdogan
said during a speech at a ceremony
in the capital Ankara, before the
extent of the disaster became clear.
Because the explosion took place
during a change in shifts, there was
uncertainty over the exact number
of miners still inside, but AFAD
put the figure at more than 200.
“ Fresh air, oxygen is being pumped
into the mine. This is the most
important thing for our workers
down there,” Energy Minister
Taner Yildiz told reporters, on his
way to Manisa.
“ We are facing carbon dioxide
and carbon monoxide poisoning.
We have to get our friends out of
Yildiz later said 787 workers
were in the mine at the time of the
At least eight people were brought
out alive. Television footage showed
rescued miners reunited with
But government officials feared
the death toll might be on the
rise. “ Unfortunately, we could see a
grimmer picture. Looks like it will
be a very tough night. The death
toll may rise but the rescue teams
are working hard,” one official said.
Hundreds of people gathered
outside the mine and the hospital
in Soma, seeking news of their
Soma Komur Isletmeleri A S,
which owns the mine, confirmed
that a number of its workers were
killed but would not give a specific
figure. It said the accident occurred
despite the “ highest safety measures
and constant controls” and added
that an investigation was being
“O ur main priority is to get our
workers out so that they may be
reunited with their loved ones,” the
company said in a statement.
Turkey’s worst mining accident
was in 1992, when a gas explosion
killed 263 workers in the Black
Sea province of Zonguldak.
The country has a poor health
and safety record in mining,
In May 2010, another gas
explosion killed 30 miners, again in
Zonguldak province. — Reuters
An Israeli court has sentenced
former prime minister Ehud
Olmert to six years in prison for
bribery, making him the most
senior politician in the country’s
history to face jail for corruption.
Tel Aviv District Court Judge
David Rosen also handed Olmert
a fine of one million shekels
($335,080) for his involvement in
one of Israel’s worst-ever corruption
scandals, a transcript of the verdict
His lawyer, Eli Zohar, told
reporters outside the courtroom his
client would appeal.
“ You heard what Ehud Olmert
said at the pre-sentence hearings.
He did not take a bribe, did not
receive a bribe and as far as he feels,
he still sees himself as innocent.
“With us he will go to the
Supreme Court to appeal.”
The 68-year-old, who was
convicted six weeks ago on two
charges of taking bribes, is the first
former prime minister of Israel
facing a prison term for corruption.
“From the highest and most
respected post . . . he fell to the
level of someone convicted of
contemptible crimes,” the judge
said in passing sentence overnight.
“A public official who accepts
bribes is tantamount to a traitor,”
he said, adding a finding of “moral
turpitude” — moral unfitness to
hold public office.
Following a two-year trial,
Olmert was convicted on March
31 of bribes to the tune of 560,000
shekels with the judge also saying
he had committed perjury.
Even after his conviction, Olmert
protested his innocence, saying he
had never taken bribes.
“ It is a difficult day when a former
prime minister is sentenced,”
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who
ser ved as Olmert’s deputy premier
and foreign minister, told reporters.
“ I have complete trust in the court
and law enforcement officials, and
the public should as well. ”
The trial of Olmert and 15 other
defendants, which lasted more
than two years, was linked to the
construction of Jerusalem’s massive
Holyland residential complex when
Olmert ser ved as the city’s mayor.
In 2010, Olmert was named the
key suspect in what came to be
known as the Holyland affair on
suspicion he received hundreds of
thousands of shekels for helping
developers get the project past
various legal and planning obstacles.
project, which dominates the city’s
skyline, is seen as a major blot on
the landscape and widely reviled as
a symbol of high-level corruption.
Olmert was fifth in line to be
sentenced, with three earlier
defendants convicted of giving
bribes, receiving lower sentences
than demanded by the prosecution.
But the city’s former engineer,
who like Olmert accepted bribes,
received seven years of jail time.
In July 2012, a Jerusalem court
found Olmert guilty of breach
of trust but cleared him on two
more serious charges related to
the alleged receipt of cash-stuffed
envelopes and multiple billing for
He was fined $US19,000
($22,000) and given a suspended
jail sentence for graft.
The conviction related to favours
that Olmert granted a former
colleague while ser ving as trade and
industry minister. — AFP
Former Israeli PM jailed for graft
Nigeria’s government signalled
willingness overnight to negotiate
with Islamist militants holding
more than 200 schoolgirls, a
month after a mass kidnap that has
provoked global outrage.
“The window of negotiation is
still open,” Minister of Special
Duties Tanimu Turaki, head of
an amnesty committee set up by
President Goodluck Jonathan last
year and charged with talking to
the Boko Haram militants behind a
five-year-old insurgency, said.
“The government had set up
a committee to negotiate with
Boko Haram, so if they have any
negotiation to make it should be
channelled through the committee,”
Turaki said by telephone.
Turaki declined to comment on
possible talks over the kidnapping
itself. Senior officials say the
government is exploring options
and there has been no commitment
to negotiations for the release of the
thousands of people since 2009
and destabilised parts of north-east
Nigeria, the country with Africa’s
largest population and biggest
The abductions have triggered
campaign under the Twitter
and prompted the United States,
Britain, France and Israel to offer
help or send experts to Nigeria.
US sur veillance aircraft are now
flying over remote areas of the
The amnesty committee’s initial
without holding direct talks with
the rebels, though it has spoken to
them through proxies, according to
senior government officials. It has
since been replaced by a standing
committee empowered to conduct
Turaki was speaking a day after
Boko Haram leader Abubakar
Shekau posted a video offering to
release the girls in exchange for
prisoners held by the government.
The video showed more than 110
girls sitting on the ground in a rural
location. Though at least some of
them are Christian, and Shekau
described them as “infidels”, they
were wearing full Islamic veils
and singing and chanting Muslim
It was not clear when it was
filmed or whether Shekau, who
sat in front of a green backdrop
holding an AK-47 during part of
the video, was in the same location
as the girls.
Those shown were among 276
abducted on April 14 from a
secondary school in the north-
eastern village of Chibok, in a
sparsely populated region near the
borders with Cameroon, Niger and
Chad. Some escaped, but about
200 are still missing. The group
initially threatened to sell them
overnight for a six-month extension
of a state of emergency in the
north-eastern States of Adamawa,
Borno and Yobe due to persistent
attacks by Boko Haram.
The emergency was declared last
May and extended in November.
After being accused of a sluggish
response to the kidnapping, the
government has sent thousands of
troops to the region, while the US
and Britain also have teams on the
ground to help with the search.
The US State Department said
Washington had sent in military,
law-enforcement and development
“ We have shared commercial
satellite imagery with the Nigerians
and are flying manned ISR
(intelligence, sur veillance and
reconnaissance) assets over Nigeria
with the government ’s permission,”
a US official said.
US State Department spokes-
woman Jen Psaki said US teams on
the ground “are digging in on the
search and co-ordinating closely
with the Nigerian government as
well as international partners and
Britain’s minister for Africa Mark
Simmonds would travel to the
Nigerian capital tomorrow for talks
on further assistance, the Foreign
Office in London said.
Jonathan returned to Abuja
Republic, where he held talks with
President Denis Sassou before a
regional security summit in Paris on
Saturday to discuss Boko Haram.
Nigeria buckling over
talks with militants
Oxygen pumped into mine
The Australian parents of rare
conjoined twins, Faith and Hope,
ignored doctors when they advised
them they should end the pregnancy
when they knew the babies would be
born with one head and two faces.
Now they are equally ignoring any
negative comments that are coming
from around the world on the news of
the birth of the twins on Thursday.
“I don’t know them, so I don’t care
what they think,” their proud mum
Renee Young told the Nine Network.
The couple’s seven other children are
equally in love with the twins.
“They absolutely love them to
pieces. We take them for a visit and
they don’t want to leave,” their father
Simon Howie said. He said the babies
were in stable condition and slowly
feeding with tubes.
They have a hole in their heart and
this will probably be operated on
when they gain more weight, he said.
The babies have an extremely rare
condition called diprosopus, and share
a body, limbs and a skull, but each
have their own brains and a set of
identical facial features.
The twins were born at 32 weeks
by emergency Caesarean section and
astounded doctors when they were
able to breathe on their own. — A AP
Twins’ parents ignored critics
Faith and Hope in hospital, where they are in stable condition.
A shipwreck found off
the north coast of Haiti
could be the 500-year-
Santa Maria, which led
famed voyage to the New
World, according to a team
of marine explorers.
“All the geographical,
evidence strongly suggests that this
wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the
Santa Maria,” Massachusetts marine
investigator Barry Clifford said in a
press release overnight.
“ I am confident that a full excavation
of the wreck will yield the first-ever
detailed marine archaeological evidence
of Columbus’ discovery of America,” he
Clifford, 68, who led a reconnaissance
expedition to the site, tomorrow at the
Explorers Club in New York City to
announce the discovery.
The Santa Maria was one of a fleet
of three vessels that left Spain in 1492
looking for a shorter route to Asia. The
ship, after arriving near the Bahamas,
drifted on to a reef and had to be
ordered sailors to build a
fort nearby before taking
the remaining two ships
back to Spain to report his
Clifford has worked
wrecks around the world,
including Captain Kidd’s
flagship off Madagascar.
His team first discovered
the wreck off Haiti in
2003, but were unable to identify the
ship. Yet the discovery of Columbus’s
encampment on nearby Haiti and data
from the explorer’s diary prove the
heavily decayed vessel on the sea floor
was the Santa Maria, he believes.
A cannon was initially found as part
of the wreck but archaeologists at the
time “misdiagnosed” it as dating from a
different historical period, Clifford told
After conducting further research on
cannons from Columbus’ day he realised
it could have come from the Santa
Maria. On last month’s reconnaissance
trip Clifford’s team measured and
photographed the ship, although items,
including the cannon, had since been
looted, Clifford told CNN. — Reuters
Haitian shipwreck may
be Columbus’s flagship
Thousands of Iranian women have
come together in an on-line campaign for
greater social freedoms, posting pictures
of themselves flouting the Islamic dress
code required of all women in public.
More than 146,000 people have
supported the Facebook page “Stealthy
Freedoms of Women in Iran,” which
was created 10 days ago with the aim
of sparking debate on whether women
should have the right to choose to wear
It has yet to provoke an official response
from the Iranian authorities.
The hijab, which is obligatory in Iran,
requires women to cover their hair and
much of their body in loose clothing in
public. It has become a defining feature
of Iran’s interpretation of sharia, or
Islamic law, since the 1979 revolution.
More than 100 photos have already
been posted on the page.
“This is me committing a crime,” wrote
a girl who posted an image of herself
sitting in the middle of a secluded road
in Nour Forest in northern Iran, with
her headscarf resting on her shoulder.
Another photo shows a grandmother,
a mother and her daughter together on
“ In one frame, three generations secure
freedom at a corner of this street,” the
“ Here’s hoping the day comes when
the next generation can exercise its most
basic right, before their hair goes grey.”
Iranian women flout dress code
Bangui (Central African Republic)
At least 13 people were burned alive
in the Central African Republic at the
weekend when they were rounded up
by armed men and barricaded inside a
home that was set alight, a police source
The attack was carried out by men
believed to be linked to former
rebels of the mainly-Muslim Seleka
group and the Fulani ethnic group in
the region of Kaga Bandoro in the
country’s centre, a source with the
local police force said.
“One resident who tried to escape
through a window was riddled with
bullets. All were burned to death in
the house fire,” the source said, adding
that “many other residents, who had
managed to flee, arrived horrified at
Kaga Bandoro, where they took refuge
in St Theresa Cathedral”.
An official from the former Seleka
rebels said that Seleka rebels had not
visited the region for a long time, instead
blaming the violence on members of the
Fulani tribe, whose animals were stolen
by anti-Balaka militias, and villagers
Deeply impoverished Central Africa
has been gripped by crisis since the
mainly Muslim rebels of the Seleka
alliance seized power in a March 2013
coup led by Michael Djotodia. — AFP
13 burned alive in Central Africa
787 underground at time
A replica of the Santa
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