Dramatic video emerges of PNG women saved from witch-hunt murder

An increase in witch-hunt murders in Papua New Guinea is putting pressure on their government to intervene - but it's dangerous work.

Now dramatic video has emerged of Papua New Guinea women saved from witch-hunt murders, with a rescue mission underway in the rugged highland province of Enga - where four women accused of black magic face execution.

In the remote village four women have been accused of practising sorcery and are facing execution after a number of villagers died in a measles epidemic.

The women have been kept prisoner - all of them, including their children, facing a brutal death sentence.

Enga deputy police commander Epenes Nili says the villagers paid about $3000 to one witch finder who identified the four women as witches - but now publicly withdraws her accusation and has given the money back.

Nili said: "These women you have put on death row, today they are free, you must go to church and repent."

Missionaries have also made a plea for their release, with around 150 women killed every year in sorcery attacks.

By turning over a stone, the witchfinder agrees she will stop practising, and the men break arrows signifying the drama is over.

Described as a national crisis, the increase in witchcraft murders has also prompted the United Nations to step in and demand the government take action.

Up until recently sorcery could be used as a legal defence for murder but while the law may have changed the Enga incident shows witchcraft killings still threaten innocent lives.

An increase in witch-hunt murders in Papua New Guinea is putting pressure on the Government to intervene. Source: 1 NEWS


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Russian scientist uses cholesterol to establish that 558 million-year-old fossil was one of the first animals

A piece of fat has helped solve a 558-million-year-old riddle and looks set to shoot a university student to scientific stardom.

When Professor Jochen Brocks received a call from a Russian student saying he wanted to use his Canberra lab to pull fat molecules from an ancient Ediacaran Biota fossil and prove it was the earth's first animal, he thought the idea was mad.

No scientist had been able to decipher what the weathered remnants, called Dickinsonia, were since their discovery in hills 650 kilometres north of Adelaide in 1946.

"This is the holy grail of paleontology and I had a student calling me from Moscow saying he had a solution," Prof Brocks told AAP.

None of this mattered to Ilya Bobrovskiy, the young geologist told Prof Brocks he knew of fossils so well preserved in a remote area of northwest Russia that the organic tissue still contained molecules of cholesterol, a type of fat that is the hallmark of animal life.

"I just couldn't believe that this exists anywhere in the world, I mean these things are really old, 558 million years old," Prof Brocks said.

If true, the findings could settle a feud raging between scientists over the strange 1.4 metre long leaf-shaped organism - was it a giant single-celled amoeba, a lichen, fungus, an animal or as some believe, a failed evolutionary experiment?

"I thought this is a student with no idea of how (fossils) work, it's a completely crazy idea," Prof Brocks said.

"But he struck me as very smart. I'll let him try it and when the project fails I'll give his something else."

The 27-year-old didn't fail, with Prof Brocks' backing he was helicoptered into the bear and mosquito infested White Sea region where he hung from 100-metre high cliffs to dig out the fossils.

"The data he got was beautiful, it's full of fossil cholesterol. That thing was an animal, this is the best evidence yet," Prof Brocks said.

"He's landed a number one hit and it's spreading across the country."

His Indiana Jones-like efforts have also developed a new approach to study the ancient fossils, which hold the key between the old world dominated by bacteria and the world of large animals that emerged 540 million years ago during the 'Cambrian explosion'.

The PhD student is now working on a new research project with the Australian National University in the Northern Territory.

His research is published in the journal Science.

This undated photo provided by Ilya Bobrovskiy in September 2018 shows a Dickinsonia fossil from the White Sea area of Russia. The body is about 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) long. In a report released on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, scientists say they've confirmed that these fossils from more than 500 million years ago are traces of an animal, which makes that creature one of the earliest known. (Ilya Bobrovskiy/Australian National University via AP)
Scientists say they've confirmed that these Dickinsonia fossils from more than 500 million years ago are traces of an animal, which makes that creature one of the earliest known. (Ilya Bobrovskiy/Australian National University) Source: Associated Press


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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry launch cookbook raising money for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire

Meghan Markle was joined by her mother on Thursday to launch a cookbook aimed at raising money for the victims of London's Grenfell Tower fire.

The former actress from the United States, who married Prince Harry and is now the Duchess of Sussex, hosted the reception at Kensington Palace beside her mother, Doria Ragland, to support the cookbook titled "Together."

The book celebrates the power of cooking to strengthen communities and bring people together.

Prince Harry also attended the event.

The book was inspired by Markle's visit to the Hubb Community Kitchen in North Kensington, which could only open a few days a week for lack of funds.

The cookbook features recipes from women in the community who prepare food to help and heal.

The dishes include coconut chicken curry, aubergine masala, caramelized plum upside-down cake and spiced mint tea.

The 2017 Grenfell Tower fire killed 72 people and prompted nationwide calls for tightening building codes and increasing firefighting capabilities for large apartment blocks.

It was a family affair at the launch, with Meghan’s mum also mingling with women in the community whose recipes fill the book titled Together. Source: Associated Press


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New Zealand girl, 12, believed critically hurt in Queensland shark mauling

A young girl believed to be from New Zealand has been attacked by a shark at the same Queensland island where a Tasmanian mother was mauled less than 24 hours earlier.

The 12-year-old was rescued by helicopter from Cid Harbour in the Whitsunday Islands on Thursday afternoon after being bitten on the upper leg.

The girl, who was holidaying with her father and sister, was flown to the Mackay Base Hospital in a critical condition and will have surgery.

Queensland Ambulance Service operations manager Tracey Eastwick said the girl had lost a significant amount of blood after she was mauled on the thigh.

"It is horrific ... for us as a community of paramedics it is quite confronting to have two similar incidents in the space of less than 24 hours," she told reporters in Mackay.

"In north Queensland, shark attacks are not that common."

The last attack in the area was eight years ago.

The Queensland government will set three drum lines in the Cid Harbour area tomorrow, in a bid to prevent any further attacks.

Fisheries officers and water police are also patrolling the area, while swimmers are being told to stay out of the water at the popular holiday hotspot.

On Wednesday evening, Justine Barwick, 46, was also mauled off the same island, while snorkelling, and is lucky to be alive.

Ms Barwick, a mother of two, was flown to Brisbane on Thursday evening for medical treatment after undergoing surgery at Mackay Base Hospital.

She would likely have bled to death from a severe wound to her left thigh without the quick-thinking actions of people in nearby boats.

A rescue helicopter scrambled to the region was just 15 minutes away from the scene due to an earlier operation.

The hovering chopper drew the attention of John Hadok, an emergency doctor from Mackay Base Hospital, who was sailing nearby and soon joined the effort to save Ms Barwick's life.

Dr Hadok's direction ensured correct first aid was given to Ms Barwick, allowing her to be safely winched into the helicopter.

RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter crewman Ben McCauley said the doctor and others who gave first aid to Ms Barwick before she was winched aboard had likely saved her life.

"The original first aid was actually really well done," Mr McCauley told reporters on Thursday.

"We actually didn't have to do anything with the leg, it was pretty much tourniqueted up, bandaged up and bleeding had stopped. They'd done a really good job."

Although he didn't see the wound, Mr McCauley was told Ms Barwick had "quite a big chunk of leg taken" and had suffered arterial bleeding.

She also suffered puncture wounds to her calf muscle.

The helicopter then stopped at Proserpine to refuel, allowing blood from a local hospital to be transfused and other medical treatment given.

Emergency services say the young girl lost a lot of blood in the Whitsunday Islands attack. Source: Breakfast


Maryland suffers another mass shooting, months after newspaper targeted

Three people were killed overnight in a shooting at a distribution centre for a US pharmacy chain, officials said.

A law enforcement official in Maryland with knowledge of the shooting stressed that the number of dead is based on preliminary information. The official wasn't authorized to discuss details by name and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.

The incident took place at an aid distribution centre near Baltimore. Source: Breakfast

A suspect was taken into custody and was in critical condition, Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler told a news conference.

It appears there was only one weapon, a handgun, that was used and there were no shots fired by responding law enforcement officers, Mr Gahler said. Mr Gahler also said multiple people had been killed and wounded in the shooting, without giving any other details on casualties.

A Baltimore hospital said it had received four patients with gunshot wounds from the shooting. Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center spokeswoman Monica Stone said in an email today that she was unable to provide details about the patients' conditions.

Mr Gahler said the call about shots fired came in from the Rite Aid distribution centre at about 9.06am (local time) and deputies and other officers were on the scene in just over five minutes.

"We are so preliminary in this investigation," Mr Gahler said. "It's so important that we deal in facts." He said authorities don't want to "make it worse" for the families involved by giving out incorrect information.

At a nearby fire station, family members were waiting to be reunited with loved ones. Police blocked off the road outside but were waving in cars driven by people who said they were there to meet up with people who were at the distribution centre.

The attack came nearly three months after a man armed with a shotgun attacked a newspaper office in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five staff members. Authorities accused Jarrod W. Ramos of attacking The Capital Gazette because of a longstanding grudge against the paper.

The FBI described the Aberdeen incident as an "active shooter situation" and said its Baltimore field office was assisting.
In a tweet, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said his office is monitoring the situation in Aberdeen and that the state stands ready to offer any support.

Susan Henderson, spokesman for Rite Aid, said the shooting happened on the campus of a company distribution centre in Aberdeen. She described it as a support facility adjacent to a larger building.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said that unfortunately, incidents like this are "becoming a too-often occurrence not only in Harford County but in the country".

Shirley Pollack, of Perryville, Md. reacts to what authorities have called a shooting with multiple victims in Perryman, Md. on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Authorities say multiple people have been shot in northeast Maryland in what the FBI is describing as an "active shooter situation."   Pollack,was concerned about her son  who worked near the scene of the shooting.  (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
Concerned mum Shirley Pollack waits for word of her son, who works near the site of a mass shooting in Maryland. Source: Associated Press