Home' Greymouth Star : July 16th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Italy’s search and rescue mission
saved more than 1700 migrants in the
Mediterranean in the past three days
and found one person dead on a half-
submerged raft, the navy said overnight.
This year’s calmer summer weather has
seen record numbers of people attempt
to cross the sea from North Africa to
Italy, often on packed boats and leaking
rafts. Many are fleeing poverty, war and
Italy’s “Mare Nostrum” or “Our Sea”
mission rescued more than 1500 people
in the Strait of Sicily between Saturday
and Monday and more than 200 more
from three rafts on Monday night, the
The rescue mission found one body on
a sinking raft from it rescued another
12 people about 64km from the Libyan
coast, the navy said.
The United Nations refugee agency
(UNHCR) estimates about 500 migrants
have died in the Mediterranean so far
this year, compared to 700 during the
whole of last year.
At the frontier between Europe and
Africa, Italy has long attracted seaborne
migrants, but civil war in Syria and
forced military ser vice in Eritrea have
triggered a recent surge.
About 66,000 people have arrived via
sea since January, the UNHCR estimates,
surpassing the previous record of around
62,000 for all of 2011, year of the “Arab
Crumbling order in Libya has also
made it almost impossible to control
the number of boats leaving the country,
often laden with people who have paid
traffickers more than $1,000 each.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has
asked the United Nations to inter vene to
contain the crisis in Libya and has called
on the European Union to invest in the
region’s border control agency.— Reuters
Rio de Janeiro
A Brazilian rest home for the elderly
believes it may be home to the world’s
oldest man, a former agricultural
labourer born in a runaway slave
community who is identified in
documents stating he was born 126
years ago at a time when Brazil still
had an emperor.
A birth certificate and identity
documents issued by a judge in 2001
show that Jose Aguinelo dos Santos, a
resident of the Vila Vicentina shelter
for the elderly in Bauru, Brazil, was
born on July 7, 1888, less than two
months after the end of slavery in
the country, Cesar Siqueira, the rest
home’s vice-president, said.
While Dos Santos has none of the
original documents proving his age,
interest in his life has increased since
the death on June 8 of Alexander
Imich in New York, Siqueira said.
Imich lived to age 111, according
to CNN, which reported that he was
certified as the world’s oldest man in
April by the Gerontology Research
Group of Torrance, California.
said Dos Santos’s
documents were granted by a
judge based on inter views with the
“ We are only saying this is his
presumed age,” Siqueira, who has
worked at the rest home for 31 years,
said. “ But he is lucid, can speak
well and does just about everything
by himself every day except bathe
Dos Santos has lived at Vila
Vicentina, a rest home that takes
care of the poor and indigent, since
1973. He was born to a former slave
in a quilombo, or Afro-Brazilian
community founded by runaway
slaves, and moved to Sao Paulo state
where he worked as a labourer on
farms and coffee plantations, Siqueira
Dos Santos was not immediately
available for comment.
As of June 25, the oldest living man
was Sakari Momoi of Japan at 111
years and 140 days, while the oldest
living woman was Misao Okawa,
also of Japan, at 116 years and 112
days, according to the Gerontology
No one but the judge who
inter viewed Dos Santos in 2001 has
certified his age, Siqueira said. Vila
Vicentina is trying to get more records
from archives in the north-eastern
State of Ceara and the rest home’s
managers have spoken with doctors
and others about the possibility of
using methods such as carbon dating
to narrow down the date of birth, he
Until recently, many Brazilians born
in remote rural areas had no formal
“The only thing I won’t allow
is something that will hurt Jose
Aguinelo,” Siqueira said. “ We are,
though, sure he is very old, and so is
Photos of Dos Santos and his
documents were published on Brazil’s
G1 news website after journalists
visited the rest home in Bauru, about
275km north-west of Sao Paulo city.
If his birth date can be confirmed, it
will show that Dos Santos was born a
little more than a year before Brazilian
Emperor Dom Pedro II was deposed
and the modern Brazilian Republic
proclaimed. At that time, Q ueen
Victoria ruled the British Empire and
Grover Cleveland was president of
the United States. — Reuters
Brazilian son of ex-slave claims to be 126
Jose Aguinelo dos Santos
It used to be a way of seeing
how many swans were around that
might eventually grace the royal
banquet table, but these days the
ancient English tradition of swan-
upping, a census of the birds, is part
of a conser vation effort.
The Queen’s Swan Uppers,
who still wear traditional scarlet
uniforms in echoes of medieval
times, will be out in rowboats flying
flags and pennants all this week on
the River Thames near London.
Using their skiffs to close in on
the cygnets, the bird catchers pull
the birds from the water by their
They are brought ashore to be
weighed and their beaks measured
before being placed safely back
in the water, David Barber, the
Queen’s official swan marker, said
on Monday, the first day of the
“ Each family we come across
there with the young cygnets we
lift out of the water, measure them,
weigh them, check them for any
injuries and this is all completed
by swan uppers in six traditional
rowing skiffs,” Barber said.
“The skiffs work round the swans,
they work in closer and closer until
they can actually pick them out
of the water and take them to the
shore,” he said.
All unmarked mute swans still
belong to the Q ueen in a tradition
dating from the 12th century when
the Crown claimed ownership of
swans found in open water.
Cygnets in particular were once
regarded as a tasty dish at banquets
and feasts, whereas today the
swans are counted to protect their
Last year 107 cygnets were
counted from 37 swan families.
Barber said attacks by dangerous
dogs could mean that the number
of cygnets was down this year.
“ Vandalism is quite serious so
we have many shootings and dog
attacks, that ’s why swans this year
we feel have been a little bit less
than other years,” he said.
Another annual tradition
is obser ved when, on passing
Windsor Castle, the rowers stand
to attention in their boat with oars
raised and salute the Queen.
At the completion of the five-
day long event, the Queen’s swan
marker will write a report on
the number of swans found, this
enables conser vation methods to be
used to protect the birds. — Reuters
Swans meet their royal match
The Queen’s swan marker David Barber, right, and other swan uppers inspect a swan during the annual Swan Upping ceremony on the River
Thames between Shepperton and Windsor.
South African athlete
Oscar Pistorius has been
thrown out of a nightclub
after being involved in
a drunken altercation,
the Star newspaper has
reported, citing witnesses.
The former Olympian
and Paralympian, who is
currently on trial accused
of murdering his girlfriend,
was in the VIP section
of a plush Johannesburg
altercation occurred with another patron,
Jared Mortimer, it said overnight.
Mortimer told the newspaper that
a friend introduced him to Pistorius,
who then launched into a tirade, telling
him how he had been “screwed over” by
“ We were drinking tequila and I still
remember putting down my drink and
thinking I couldn’t drink it while my
friends were being spoken of like that,”
He said at some point the sprinter
known as the “Blade Runner” got
aggressive and started poking him in the
“He was close to my face and at that
point I pushed him to get him away
from me,” he said. “A chair was behind
his legs and he fell to the ground. ”
The curtains of the VIP area of the
club in Sandton, a wealthy suburb north
of Johannesburg, were drawn so that
nobody could see Pistorius was there.
“A little bit later he had a
confrontation with another man and
the bouncers were asked to please
remove him because he was causing
trouble,” Mortimer said.
Another patron who saw
Pistorius at the club told
the daily that the athlete
was “flat-out drunk”.
“He came up to us and
pulled zap signs (gave
them the finger) in our
faces. That ’s when I realised
it was Pistorius,”
unnamed witness said.
told the Star that Mortimer
“started to aggressively
engage him (Pistorius) on
matters relating to the trial.
“An argument ensued during which
(Pistorius) asked to be left alone. Oscar
left soon thereafter,” she said, adding
that Pistorius “regrets the decision to go
into a public space and thereby inviting
The day after the altercation, Pistorius
broke five months of silence on social
websites with a series of tweets on love
and pain, including a quote from the
Pistorius, 27, is standing trial accused
of murdering his girlfriend Reeva
Steenkamp in the early hours of
Valentine’s Day in 2013.
He has told the court in Pretoria that
he shot Steenkamp four times through a
locked bathroom door in his apartment
after mistaking her for an intruder.
Prosecutors say he deliberately killed her
after an argument.
As part of his bail conditions, he was
initially ordered to abstain from alcohol
consumption, but later successfully got
the ban lifted.
His trial is set to resume on August 7
for closing arguments. — AFP
Twenty-one people have died after
a train derailed in Moscow ’s packed
metro during rush hour in the worst
accident ever to hit one of the world’s
Russian television described scenes
of chaos and panic on the capital’s
famed system overnight, saying
passengers fell like dominoes when
the train travelling at 70kph braked
abruptly and three carriages derailed
Rescue teams were still combing
through the mangled metal carriages
hours later in an attempt to extricate
“ I thought it was the end,” one
sur viving passenger said on television.
“ We were trapped and got out only
through a miracle.”
President Vladimir Putin, who is
on a trip to Brazil, ordered a criminal
probe into the tragedy that put a huge
strain on the city of some 12 million
and snarled traffic on its notoriously
c logged roads amid a heatwave.
The Investigative Committee said it
was looking at a number of possible
causes including a mechanical flaw in
a carriage and a power failure.
A terror attack has been ruled out,
the committee said.
Sirens wailed as dozens of
ambulances rushed to help treat the
wounded and helicopters buzzed
overhead to evacuate those with
serious injuries, journalists said.
Health Minister Veronika
Skvortsova told Russian agencies that
21 people had died.
More than 160 people were admitted
to hospitals, including 42 still in
intensive care, the head of Moscow ’s
health department Georgy Golukhov
said. At least two foreign nationals —
a Tajik and a Chinese — were among
the dead, he said.
The accident raised calls for urgent
improvements to the ornate but
overcrowded metro, which first
opened in 1935 under Stalin.
Moscow ’s ornate metro is considered
one of the world’s busiest and carries
some nine million people every day.
Moscow metro crash leaves 21 dead
Emergency ser vices personnel work at the site of the accident on the subway
Hundreds of thousands of Gazans
are without water after Israeli air
strikes that have wrecked the water
and sewage system and the whole
strip is threatened with a water crisis
within days, aid agencies warn.
The eight-day assault has caused
massive damage to infrastructure
and destroyed at least 560 homes,
the United Nations Relief and
Works Agency for Palestine refugees
“ Within days, the entire population
of the strip may be desperately short
of water,” Jacques de Maio, head of
the International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in
Israel and the occupied territories,
said in a statement.
If hostilities continue, just as
temperatures soar in the region, “the
question is not if but when an already
beleaguered population will face an
acute water crisis”, he said.
“ Water is becoming contaminated
and sewage is overflowing, bringing
a serious risk of disease,” de Maio
Several municipal water engineeers
have been killed in the conflict
and Gaza’s water ser vice provider
has suspended all field operations
until the safety of its staff can be
guaranteed, according to the ICRC,
an independent aid agency whose
teams have helped with emergency
“ Water is a problem and it can
quickly turn into a catastrophe,” Red
Cross spokeswoman Nada Doumani
told a news briefing.
At least 184 Palestinians, most of
them civilians, have been killed in
the fighting, the worst flare-up in two
years. The stated purpose of Israel’s
bombing is ending cross-border
rocket fire from Hamas militants
fired into southern Israel.
UNRWA said the destruction
compounded the effects of eight years
of Israel’s blockade of the enclave.
“The water and sewage network
is barely functioning, and with the
sustained bombardment of the past
eight days, it ’s as good as destroyed,”
UNRWA spokesman Sami Mshasha
told the briefing.
“ We’re looking at 90 million litres
of untreated sewage that flows into
the ocean every day because there is
no electricity to treat it. Ninety per
cent of the drinking water is not fit
for human consumption.”
The World Health Organisation
(WHO), a UN agency, warned last
week that health ser vices in the
occupied Palestinian territory were
on the brink of collapse among severe
shortages in medicines and fuel for
Hamas militants fired volleys
of rockets from the Gaza Strip
The ICRC is “documenting
humanitarian law ” in the conflict,
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay
on Friday voiced serious doubts that
Israeli’s military operation against
Gaza complied with international
law banning the targeting of civilians,
and called on both sides to respect
the rules of war. — Reuters
Gaza faces water crisis after air strikes
A Swedish court is set to consider
whether an arrest warrant for Wikileaks
founder Julian Assange should be
The Wikileaks founder’s Swedish
defence lawyers have requested the
Stockholm District Court repeal a
November 2010 arrest warrant, issued
after a Swedish prosecutor said Assange
needed to be questioned in a case of
alleged sexual assault in August 2010
against two women.
The Australian denies the allegations.
Assange has spent the past two years
at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
The South American country granted
him asylum on the grounds that he
fears extradition to the United States
for the leaking of classified government
Prior to seeking refuge at the embassy
he fought a long legal battle in Britain
against extradition to Sweden, which also
issued a European arrest order. Assange
was held for a period in British custody
at the end of 2010 before being released
on bail, but was ordered to report daily
Assange’s defence team wants the
court to repeal the arrest warrant on
the grounds that the prosecutor failed
to act in a timely manner by failing to
inter view Assange at the embassy as they
— a nd Assange — have suggested.
In written statements, the prosecution
has rejected claims it was not moving
fast enough and that a proposal to
inter view Assange at the embassy would
not be “effective,” since a trial would still
have to take place in Sweden if charges
In addition, Assange is still considered
a flight risk, the prosecution said.
Lawyers who represent the women
who made the allegations have said their
clients have suffered from the protracted
proceedings, but want the court to
uphold the arrest warrant. — DPA
Perth to dig up
Rolf Harris’s most visible
honour will be stripped from
Perth in the latest move to
expunge any memory of the
convicted paedophile from his
The City of Perth council voted
unanimously last night to remove
the 1959 commemorative plaque
on St George’s Terrace dedicated
to the now-fallen entertainer.
Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said
the plaque would be removed
due to community concern.
Harris’s was among more than
150 notable West Australians
whose names were inlaid in the
footpath of Perth’s main business
strip to commemorate their
But since being found guilty of
indecently assaulting four girls in
Britain between 1968 and 1986,
people have been quick to sever
any connection with the “Boy
So far Harris has lost his place
in the Australian Recording
Industry Association (ARIA)
Hall of Fame and his British
Academy of Film and Television
Arts (BAFTA) Fellowship.
He could also lose his
Commander of the Order of the
British Empire from the Queen
and his Order of Australia.
On his home turf in Western
Australia, Harris’s school Perth
Modern has removed several of
his artworks from the walls.
The town of Bassendean, where
Harris was born, stripped him
of his freemanship and removed
paintings and a portrait from
The council also voted to dig up
a footpath plaque outside Harris’s
childhood home but it was stolen
on the night of the vote.
Harris, 84, is ser ving a three-
year jail sentence in Wandsworth
prison in south-west London.
French restaurants microwaving ready-
made boeuf bourguignon and veal
blanquette will now be exposed by law,
in a move the government hopes will
preser ve the nation’s culinary reputation.
A government decree issued overnight
requires restaurants to identify meals
prepared on their premises with a
“ home-made” logo, showing that any
other items are likely to have been
brought in and simply warmed up.
Any restaurant misusing the logo — a
pan with a roof-shaped lid — could be
fined for the breach starting next year.
The legislation applies to all eateries
and fast foods but also to caterers and
outdoor food stalls.
When the law was drafted a year
ago, a sur vey by restaurant federation
Synhorcat had found that 31% of French
eateries admitted to using at least some
The government hopes the measure,
the first of its kind in Europe, will
encourage restaurants to prepare their
dishes from scratch and spruce up the
standing of French gastronomy.
But some critics argue the new rules
are so confusing they will not meet their
key objective: to give customers clear
information about the food they eat and
how it was prepared. They also say health
inspectors, already overstretched from
having to verify hygiene in restaurant
kitchens, will struggle to enforce the new
rules without new staff.
Under the law, to earn a “home-made”
label, dishes must be made on the
premises using “raw products” that have
not been heated or substantially altered
before landing in a kitchen.
But there are many caveats, and home-
made does not necessarily mean fresh or
lovingly chopped up in-house.
Products that are chilled, frozen, deep-
frozen, vacuum packed, peeled, sliced,
cut, minced, chopped, boned, smoked
and salted can still be purchased from
outside and used in a dish without
disqualifying it from being “home-
made”. — Reuters
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