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South Africa: Price of food 'set to soar'

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A woman protester shouts out as she and others protest against low wages paid by farmers.
Prepare for the price of food to rocket following the 52-percent minimum-wage increase for farmworkers announced on Monday.

After negotiations with farmers, the Department of Labour and workers, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant almost doubled the minimum wage from R69 to R105 a day, promulgated for a three-year period. During years two and three, wages would be increased by the consumer price index plus 1.5 percent.

However, she said, the wage did not amount to a "balanced daily food plate" for workers but her department and the Employment Conditions Commission were mindful of the findings of the Bureau for Food and Agriculture Policy report, which stated that the increase meant farmers "were unable to cover their operating costs or pay back borrowing".

Ambulance

Three killed during tanker truck explosion in Georgia

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© 13WMAZ TV/AP Photo
In this image made from video and provided by 13WMAZ TV, black smoke rises above a fiery crash on Interstate 16 near Montrose, Ga., about 40 miles southeast of Macon, Feb. 6, 2013, after several vehicles collided, killing at least three people.
More than two dozen vehicles collided in a fiery pileup on a foggy Georgia interstate on Wednesday morning, killing at least three people and leaving several others hurt, officials said.

Laurens County EMS director Terry Cobb, who is at the scene on Interstate 16 in central Georgia, told The Associated Press at least six vehicles were still on fire when crews arrived. Emergency officials encountered fog on the way to the crash site, though it was not immediately known if that was a factor in the wreck, Cobb said.

"Once we got there, the fog was kind of lifted at the scene," he said.

A total of 27 vehicles were involved in four separate accidents around 8:10 a.m., the Georgia State Patrol said in a news release.

Ambulance

Two 'young children,' one woman dead in Denver murder-suicide shooting

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Police are investigating a shooting in Denver that left three people dead and another injured.

Denver Police said that that one woman and two children under the age of 10 were found dead at the 4900 block of Pearl Street, according to KCNC. Police described the incident as an apparent murder-suicide involving the mother of the children. There was no indication of additional shooters.

Bizarro Earth

Hysteria: Second-grade student suspended for imaginary weapon

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© screengrab via KDVR
A 7-year-old Mary Blair Elementary School student says he's confused about getting in trouble for trying to save the world from evil, though Thompson School District officials contend that the boy broke one of the school's "absolutes."

Parent Mandie Watkins said Mary Blair principal Valerie Lara-Black called her Friday afternoon to inform her that her second-grade son, Alex, had been suspended for throwing an imaginary grenade during recess on the playground.

Alex did not have anything in his hand at the time and made no threats toward other people, Watkins reportedly was told.

Watkins said Alex's story matched up with the principal's account: He threw the pretend grenade at an imaginary box that had something evil inside.

Bizarro Earth

Poachers kill 11,000 Gabon elephants in under a decade

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© Photograph: WWF
An estimated 11,100 elephants have been killed since 2004 in the Minkebe national park alone.
The African country is home to half the world's 100,000 forest elephants, coveted by ivory dealers for their tusks

Poachers have killed more than 11,000 elephants in Gabon's Minkebe national park rainforest since 2004, Gabon's government said on Wednesday, with the massacre fuelled by increasing demand for ivory in Asia.

The densely forested central African country is home to about half the world's roughly 100,000 remaining forest elephants, the smallest species of elephant and coveted by ivory dealers for their harder and straighter tusks.

A study conducted by Gabon's government along with advocacy groups WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society found two-thirds of the forest elephants in Minkebe park had been killed off since 2004, or about 11,100.

"If we don't reverse this situation rapidly, the future of elephants in Africa will be compromised," Lee White, executive secretary of Gabon's national parks agency, said in a statement issued by Gabon's presidency.

Health

Indonesian Komodo dragon attack leaves two hospitalized

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© AFP Photo
A Komodo dragon in Indonesia has attacked two employees in one of the giant lizards' protected island habitats, leaving its victims hospitalised with serious injuries, an official said Wednesday.

One victim, a 50-year-old park ranger, was sitting at his desk at the Rinca island front office, where tourists usually check in, when the two-metre-long monitor snuck into his room Tuesday afternoon.

"The man panicked when he saw the Komodo and tried to escape by jumping on a chair, but the Komodo quickly grabbed and bit one of his legs," Komodo National Park official Heru Rudiharto told AFP.

Rudiharto said the ranger was the victim of a similar Komodo attack in 2009 and was still traumatised.

Target

Federal Reserve hacked: Files stolen from 'internal website to be used as a contact database for banks during a natural disaster' by Anonymous

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US central bank confirms intrusion after hacktivist group Anonymous was claimed to have stolen 4,000 bankers' details

The US Federal Reserve bank has confirmed one of its internal websites was broken into by hackers after the hacktivist group Anonymous was claimed to have stolen details of more than 4,000 bank executives.

"The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a spokeswoman for the US central bank said.

"Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system," the spokeswoman said, adding that all individuals affected by the breach had been contacted.

Eye 2

Six Spanish female tourists in Acapulco beach resort raped at gunpoint after five armed and masked gunmen tied up their partners

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© Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images
A Mexican marine stands guard outside the property in Acapulco where six Spanish tourists were raped by masked gunmen.
Masked gunmen rape six Spanish women at Mexican beach resort in latest attack on tourists in recent days

A masked gang raped six Spanish women in Acapulco, authorities have said.

Five armed attackers broke into a property on a beach resort on Monday, tying up six men before raping the women.

The Guerrero state attorney general, Martha Garzon, said a seventh woman begged the men not to rape her and the assailants told her they would spare her because she was Mexican. "Fortunately, we have strong evidence to lead us to those responsible for this reprehensible act," Garzon told Radio Formula.

The mayor of Acapulco, Luis Walton, was later forced to apologise after he said the attack was "regrettable" because it would damage the city's image, but it "could have happened anywhere".

Magic Hat

Media circus: Outrage in Belgium as Marc Dutroux bids for early release from 30-year term for killing four young girls

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Murderer: Marc Dutroux, seen being escorted by police officers at Brussels' Palace of Justice today, is seeking early release from prison
The notorious paedophile and serial killer Marc Dutroux could be freed from jail just nine years after being jailed for life for a series of child murders which shocked his native Belgium and the rest of the world.

Dutroux, 57, kidnapped young girls and imprisoned them in tiny dungeons beneath his home before raping them and killing them in the 1990s.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 2004.But today the reviled killer appeared before a court in Brussels seeking to be released early and placed under house arrest with an electronic tag.
Shortly after his arrest in 1996 two teenage girls were found alive in one of the specially constructed cells which Dutroux had built.

His accomplice ex-wife Michelle Martin, 53, who left two other girls to starve to death whilst her husband was in custody, was jailed for 30 years for crimes including abduction in 2004.

She was released last year despite angry protests in Belgium.

She is now living with nuns in Malonne, where hundreds of furious villagers staged a mass demonstration upon her arrival at the convent to embark upon a period of ten years 'at prayer'.

Now under Belgian law Dutroux could also be freed, as he will have served one third of his minimum sentence when his years spent in custody are taken into account.

Comment: The Dutroux media circus continues... by giving Dutroux this opportunity to publicly appeal for release, while reassuring the public that it will 'never happen', it's almost as if the Belgian state is taunting people... or distracting them from what's not being said:

Belgian MP exposes truth behind West's 'War on Terror'


While the corrupt Belgian state is considering releasing the other half of the Dutroux-Martin murdergang, Marc Vervleosem is rotting away in jail in Belgium for the crime of taking direct action to expose the powerful pedophile network in Belgium and elsewhere...

Working Class Hero: Marcel Vervloesem Against the Pedocratic Elite


Card - VISA

International credit fraud scheme 'stole $200m'

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FBI agents entered Raja Jewelers, implicated in connection with the scheme, on Tuesday
Eighteen people have been charged with stealing at least $200m (£127m) in a credit card fraud ring, possibly one of the largest in US history.

The scam allegedly involved thousands of fake identities and businesses, lying to credit rating agencies and wiring some of the proceeds abroad.

An FBI agent said the accused had used "a virtual cafeteria of sophisticated frauds and schemes".

The New Jersey-based scam is alleged to have operated in 28 states.

Beginning in 2007, the elaborate scheme involved falsely improving the credit scores of 7,000 fake cardholders, allowing the scammers to borrow high amounts of money which they never repaid, investigators said.