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Tensions as suspects in S Africa farm murder case appear in court

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Tense scenes outside a court in South Africa at hearing for two Black men charged with killing a white farmer.

Emotions ran high on Friday as two Black suspects appeared in a South African court over the murder of a white farmer which has once again sparked racial tensions 26 years after the end of apartheid.

A barbed-wire fence ringed the courthouse in the central town of Senekal and police and a water cannon were deployed as opposing groups of white farmers and Black activists gathered near the site.

The killing of Brendin Horner, a white man whose tortured body was found tied to a pole near his farm in the Free State province, sparked riots at the start of this month, and prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to make a statement urging South Africans to “resist attempts … to mobilise communities along racial lines”.

The farmers, who accuse the government of failing to protect them from violent crime, arrived in pick-up trucks ahead of the court hearing for Horner’s two suspected killers. The farmers mostly wore khaki shirts and shorts – a few wore military outfits.

“We are getting tired now of all the farm murders,” said Geoffrey Marais, 30, a livestock trader from Delmas, where a woman was strangled to death two weeks ago.

“Enough is enough. [The government] must start to prioritise these crimes.”

Al Jazeera’s Fehmida Miller reporting from Senekal said while farmers deny the issue is about race, but about their safety and that of their workers, the issue had “racial undertones”.

“We have seen skirmishes between the two groups throughout the course of the day. We have heard racial slurs being thrown,” Miller reported.

The left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), who represent poor Black South Africans who feel left out of the country’s post-apartheid prosperity, staged a countermarch attended by thousands of protesters wearing trademark red shirts and berets in the town centre.

Police separated the two groups with razor wire in one street, but they regrouped and faced off in another area as police helicopters hovered overhead. Despite the tensions, there were no reports of violence.

Economic inequality

The EFF blames South Africa’s problems on what it says is a continued stranglehold of the economy by white people.

Several buses full of EFF supporters drove past the farmers singing “kill the boer (farmer)” out of the window as they headed into town.

“We are not scared of them. We are going to get them on Friday. We are going to face white men face to face,” the EFF’s firebrand leader Julius Malema was quoted as saying in the local press this week.

“I’m here because of white people … taking advantage of us,” EFF supporter Khaya Langile, who came from the Johannesburg township of Soweto.

Tensions have been heightened by a government plan to expropriate white-owned land without compensation as part of an effort to redress economic inequalities that remain stark a quarter of a century after the end of apartheid.

Roughly 70 percent of privately-owned farmland in South Africa is owned by white people, who make up less than 9 percent of the country’s population of 58 million.

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Archaeologists unearth ‘huge number’ of sealed Egyptian sarcophagi

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Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered another large cache of unopened sarcophagi in Saqqara, adding to the trove of almost 60 coffins recently recovered from the ancient necropolis.

Although full details are yet to be announced, authorities said in a statement that “a huge number” of wooden sarcophagi had been unearthed. The country’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said on Instagram that the find amounted to “dozens” of coffins, adding that they have been “sealed since ancient times.”

The collection of sarcophagi, stored in three newly discovered burial shafts, is believed to date back more than 2,500 years. Colored and gilded statues were also found in the tombs, a government press release said.

On Monday, El-Enany and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly visited the site alongside secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mustafa Waziri. Photos released by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities show the trio being lowered into a shaft before inspecting painted coffins and a variety of other objects.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany pictured on site.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany pictured on site. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities via AP

Vast necropolis

Monday’s announcement marks the latest in a string of discoveries at Saqqara, a necropolis about 20 miles south of Cairo. The vast burial ground once served the royal capital of Memphis, and the site is also home to Egypt’s oldest surviving pyramid.
In September, archaeologists at Saqqara discovered almost 30 closed coffins in one of three burial shafts measuring 10 to 12 meters (33 to 39 feet) deep. At a press conference earlier this month, the ministry said the discovery brought the total number found inside the tombs to 59.
The collection of sarcophagi, announced on Monday, is believed to date back more than 2,500 years.

The collection of sarcophagi, announced on Monday, is believed to date back more than 2,500 years. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Officials said they believe the coffins contain senior statesmen and priests from the 26th dynasty, which ruled Egypt from 664 B.C. to 525 B.C.

The ministry said that further details of this month’s discovery will be announced at a press conference at the site in “the next few weeks.” Its announcement also revealed that Prime Minister Madbouly had produced a video in which he thanked the ministry and “expressed his great pride in the unique Egyptian civilization.”

Egypt’s new one-billion dollar museum

Although it is not yet confirmed what will happen to the newly discovered sarcophagi, some of those found earlier this year are set to go on display at the soon-to-open Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. Upon its opening, the 5.2-million-square-foot structure will become the world’s largest museum devoted to a single civilization.

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US election concerns, record virus cases push stocks down

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Investors are concerned that a contested US election result could lead to volatile prices in stocks and other assets.

Asian stocks slipped on Tuesday as investors adjusted risk exposure heading into the United States election and as a deadline for Washington to pass an economic stimulus bill approached while Europe reported record daily coronavirus infections.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.11 percent lower after US stocks ended Monday’s session in the red. Australian and Japanese stock indices also dipped while MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe was 0.09 percent lower.

Investors globally are expressing concerns that the outcome of the November 3 US presidential election could be contested, leaving the world’s biggest economy in political limbo as it struggles to escape the pandemic and revive growth.

“Such an event would very likely upset global markets considerably until the US reaches an accepted resolution,” said American Century Co-chief Investment Officer Keith Creveling.

‘Wild West territory’

Chris Weston, the head of research at Melbourne brokerage Pepperstone, said that while there were worries about the US stimulus package, recent declines were more likely due to investors taking precautionary positions ahead of the election.

“Do you really want to hold those exposures into what could be a volatility event?” Weston said. “We’re getting into the Wild West territory where it becomes more whippy.”

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index slipped by 0.34 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index bucked the regional trend, rising by 0.16 percent.

Investors await key earnings results later in the week for companies including Netflix Inc and Tesla Inc.

Debate outcome

They were also waiting to see if the final debate between US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Thursday shifts the trajectory of the election.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.44 percent, the S&P 500 was 1.63 percent lower and the Nasdaq Composite settled down 1.65 percent.

European shares closed lower as surging COVID-19 cases raised investor concerns. Parts of the United Kingdom were put into lockdown and France imposed curfews.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the US last week rose 13 percent to more than 393,000, approaching levels last seen during a northern summer peak, according to figures compiled by the Reuters news agency.

In contrast to equity markets, currency investors were less pessimistic about the prospect of a stimulus breakthrough with the safe-haven dollar edging slightly lower amid expectations that US legislators might still agree on a fiscal stimulus package at the 11th hour.

US dollar moves, however, were modest with the dollar index 0.015 percent lower on Tuesday. The dollar rose 0.03 percent against the yen to 105.46 while the euro was up 0.03 percent to $1.1772.

The Australian dollar fell 0.2 percent versus the greenback at $0.7045, hurt by expectations that the central bank would soon cut rates and expand its massive bond buying campaign to lower borrowing costs.

In oil markets, US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 0.3 percent to $40.69 per barrel while Brent crude futures dipped 0.6 percent to $42.36 per barrel.

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Covid-19 hospitalizations in Colorado are now the highest they’ve been since May

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Long-term heart damage is likely in some survivors of Covid-19, a team of doctors reported Monday.

The doctors found that Covid-19 dysregulates the way the blood clots, and damages the lungs and their ability to process fresh oxygen into the blood, they wrote in a review for the American College of Cardiology.

Patients who have had to undergo ventilation — and the medicated sedation that goes along with that — are most in danger, wrote Dr. Sean Pinney of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and his colleagues.

The doctors noted that about a third of survivors of the closely-related severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus in 2003-2004 had persistently abnormal lung function a year after illness, with lower exercise capacity — and Covid-19 appears to damage the heart even more.

A second study noted a kind of damage to the heart known as myocardial injury in about a quarter of coronavirus patients.

A third study in the same journal noted that patients with excess body fat, uncontrolled blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol face much higher risks of complications from coronavirus. Many Americans have all four problems.

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