Monster Hurricane Florence nears Carolina coast as fleeing residents strike empty petrol stations

Coastal residents fleeing a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared the Carolina coast with 225 km/h winds and drenching rain that could last for days.

While some said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the US East Coast, many weren't taking any chances.

A steady stream of vehicles full of people and belongings flowed inland on Tuesday (Weds NZT), and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tried to convince everyone to flee.

"The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you've ever seen. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don't bet your life on riding out a monster," he said.

Forecasters said Florence was expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday local time, then slow down and dump 0.3 to 0.6 metres of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. He said the federal government is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence.

All three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast. But getting out of harm's way could prove difficult.

Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 485 kilometres ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swath from South Carolina to Ohio and Pennsylvania could get deluged.

People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes, pull their boats out of the water and get out of town.

At 2am (Weds evening NZT), the storm was centered 1,005 km southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 28 km/h. It was a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 253 km/h or higher.

Florence is the most dangerous of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. Tropical Storm Isaac was east of the Lesser Antilles and expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

Described as a monster, the eye of Hurricane Florence continues to grow. Source: 1 NEWS



Police volunteer saves dog that was being dragged along road by truck

A volunteer for an Arizona sheriff's office has probably saved the life of a dog that was tied to a semitrailer truck as it pulled out of a parking lot.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says on its Facebook page that a sheriff's office volunteer Patrol-VIP "Volunteer in Protection" was at a gas station in Ash Fork this month when he saw the truck starting to leave with a dog leashed to the trailer bumper.

The dog was trying to keep pace with the truck as it headed toward an interstate highway. The patrol put on his flashers and siren and managed to stop the truck in time.

The close call was caught on the deputy's dashcam video.

The driver says he was distracted and forgot to unleash his dog. Charges aren't being considered. The dog was unharmed.


A volunteer for Arizona police has probably saved the life of a dog that was tied to a semitrailer truck as it pulled out of a petrol station. Source: Associated Press


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Samoa's damning domestic violence inquiry seeks to lift 'veil of silence' - what's next?

A damning inquiry into domestic violence in Samoa has attempted to pull back the "veil of silence" that shrouds the issue.

Worrying new homicide figures highlight the prominence of domestic violence in NZ.
Source: 1 NEWS

Last week, the Commission of Inquiry released its 300-page report into what it called a crisis in the country.

But the problems identified are well known to many in Samoa.

Now, people are asking, what next?

The inquiry's findings were damning: one in five women will be raped in their lifetime, while nine out of every 10 Samoans will have had some experience with violence in the home.

Listen to more on Dateline PacificSamoa's ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma, who also heads the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI), said a national conversation was sorely needed.

Between 2012 and 2015 the number of reported cases more than trebled.

They've continued to worsen said Maiava.

"In spite of all the efforts we are making. We're making a lot of efforts," he said.

"The courts have been very innovative and all sorts of agencies are trying to address the problem of domestic violence, but it just gets worse."

In December 2016 the Inquiry was launched by Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi with Maiava as the chairperson.

Its initial focus was violence against women and girls, said Maiava.

"But in the process we found that violence in the disciplining and upbringing of children is a factor that in a crucial way plays into violence that women and girls face later in life and into violence in general in society."

The Commission spent 2017 listening to the accounts of Samoa's people attempting to understand the problem.

Mostly victims but some perpetrators as well.

Going from village to village throughout the country, they asked people for their stories and what they thought the solutions might be.

Launching the report last week the Prime Minister said the inquiry was, "a Samoan effort to look at the problem in Samoa with a view to formulating Samoan solutions".

Violence in the aiga - the family - violates core principles

Violence in the aiga - the family - violated the core principles of both Fa'asamoa and faith, said Tuila'epa.

"Family Violence in Samoa as the report highlights, sits behind a veil of silence which allows it to continue to menace the lives of our people especially the most vulnerable among us."

But the inquiry didn't hold back in its criticism of the government.

It called it out for tasking the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) with addressing domestic violence, but not giving it the power nor the budget to act.

In a submission to the inquiry the MWCSD said domestic violence was a "national crisis", however, "our legal mandate does not provide us with the necessary legal provisions or resources to be able to respond to domestic violence fully".

A lack of government funding for any victim support services has made the situation worse still.

It's crucial, said the inquiry chair Maiava, that the government invest wisely in victim support.

"It's important that the government provides support to NGO's doing work in this space," he said.

"Because government is not and they are reaching out to the community where help is needed."

There are currently no telephone helplines and the only service, Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), is run on donations and volunteers' goodwill.

SVSG was set-up in 2005 with a focus on children but its offering grew to meet the needs of the community and today they provide the country's only shelter for family member seeking refuge from violence.

The nature of violence in Samoa is more serious today

The nature of violence in Samoa is more serious today according to SVSG's president, Siliniu Lina Chang.

"Perpetrators are becoming more innovative in the way they carry out violent acts," she said in a submission to the inquiry.

"In the old days it was just a case of scaring their wife but now it is about killing them".

In his address at the report's launch, Tuila'epa said the seeds of the crisis had been sown by many generations, and hinted that - finally - the government might take action.

"We are all complicit. Blame does not fall on the perpetrators alone. We all are party to a degree unknowingly," said the prime minister.

"Now, for the sake of the future, it is up to us and especially those in positions of power to stand up and be counted."

The report outlined 39 key recommendations, the first being the creation of a special agency to deal with domestic violence.

The government must take the lead, said the Inquiry Chair Maiava Iulai Toma, with the support of traditional institutions like the village fono.

"So effort will be concentrated and focused at the governmental level by and through the DVO," he said referring to the proposed new Domestic Violence Office.

"Effort will be concentrated and focused at the village level in the DV committees."

The church was not immune from criticism by the Inquiry and Maiava said it must also work to address the problems.

"I hope this report and its recommendations will lead to a concerted Samoan effort to address this problem."

What is clear to everyone, though, is that the need for action is urgent.

The inquiry is the first of a kind for the Pacific, and in a region where violence in the home is rampant, other countries will be looking to learn from Samoa's example.

- Reporting by Dominic Godfrey, RNZ Pacific Journalist

www.rnz.co.nz


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'Should be a blank gap in between letters if it was a real mistake' - Engineer casts doubt over plane typo

Cathay Pacific are not shying away from a huge mistake – a typo to be exact.

The airline had a Boeing 777-367 on the ground at Hong Kong airport emblazoned with “Cathay Paciic” after leaving the f out of its name.

The airline referenced the error on its Twitter account but an engineer for sister company, Haeco, cast doubt over the typo.

“The spacing is too on-point for a mishap. We have stencils. Should be a blank gap in between letters if it was a real mistake I think,” the engineer told the South China Morning Post.

The Boeing 777 was snapped in Hong Kong this week with the major error for all to see. Source: Breakfast


Australian man admits stealing funeral donations, including those for an autistic boy whose father died

An Australian man admits stealing money donated at funerals, but disputes that he got away with thousands of dollars.

Paul Pecora allegedly targeted grieving families in Melbourne after looking for tributes in the newspaper that requested donations.

In January, Pecora was allegedly seen on security vision cutting through a funeral procession for Shane, a 43-year-old father of an autistic child.

The 57-year-old admitted in Werribee Magistrates Court yesterday that he stole envelopes containing money for Kai, the deceased’s five-year-old autistic son, but denied taking $7000.

A week later he attended a woman’s funeral in Essendon but left empty handed before turning himself in to police.

He told police that night he couldn’t help it and “saw an opportunity to take some money and I took the money".

"I don't even know who the funeral was for to tell you the truth."

He is also alleged to have stolen $700 in a donation box from a Bundoora funeral.

The court heard the investigating officer had contacted the mourners at Shane’s funeral and confirmed that donations ranged from $500 to $3000.

Pecora did not formally pled and will face court again next month.