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Princess of Wales in hospital, King Charles to get prostate treatment

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By Sean Coughlan, royal correspondent, and Sean Seddon, BBC News

The Princess of Wales is recovering in hospital after undergoing surgery, and King Charles III is set to undergo a medical procedure next week.

Catherine will step back from royal duties for months after surgery for an unspecified but non-cancer related abdominal condition.

The King’s benign prostate condition will be treated next week.

The unexpected health announcements were made within two hours of each other on Wednesday afternoon.

Details about the health of senior royals are usually a closely-guarded secret and only announced to the public in limited circumstances, so the decision to release two significant updates in one day was striking.

At about 14:00 GMT, Kensington Palace disclosed the princess was admitted to private hospital in central London on Tuesday for a procedure and is recovering there.

It is understood the princess is doing well, but is expected to spend up to two weeks in hospital and be out of the public eye until after Easter as she continues a months-long recovery.

It is clear from the length of time she needs to recuperate and the tone of the statement from the palace that her condition is serious, though it was stressed the procedure had been planned and successful.

The palace called for the princess’ medical privacy to be respected, adding: “She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible.”

The Prince of Wales will also step back from royal duties in the coming weeks to be with his wife and Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five.

(FILES) Britain's King Charles III looks on as he arrives to embark on HMS Iron Duke to attend a reception with the Bordeaux community and French/British military representatives, in Bordeaux, southwestern France, on September 22, 2023. Britain's King Charles III is to receive hospital treatment for enlarged prostate, Buckingham Palace announced on January 17, 2024. (Photo by Ugo AMEZ / POOL / AFP)

Photo: AFP / UGO AMEZ

Less than 90 minutes later, a separate statement was published by Buckingham Palace revealing the King requires a “corrective procedure” next week for an enlarged prostate.

The condition is common in older men and is not cancerous. The King turned 75 in November.

It is not known what procedure the King requires, but the palace said his “engagements will be postponed for a short period of recuperation”.

His treatment is not a sufficient disruption to trigger any of the constitutional mechanisms for when the head of state is seriously ill.

In such circumstances, “counsellors of state” can act as stand-ins for the monarch and carry out duties such as signing official documents – but Buckingham Palace has said that will not be necessary.

The King is staying at his private home near Balmoral with the Queen, and royal sources said he was in “good form” and in “good spirits”.

The timing of the announcement about the King so soon after the news about the princess is thought to have been unavoidable due to the monarch’s scheduled engagements on Thursday and Friday.

He had been due to meet with foreign dignitaries and Cabinet members in Scotland, so the news had to be made public as those meetings were cancelled on doctor’s advice.

Police officers stand guard outside the London Clinic in London on January 17, 2024. Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales, is facing up to two weeks in hospital after undergoing successful abdominal surgery, Kensington Palace announced on Wednesday. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

Police officers stand guard outside the London Clinic in London on 17 January 2024. Photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS

A new openness?

Medical issues for the royals have been kept very private in the past – and the announcements about the King and the Princess of Wales might seem to show a greater degree of openness.

It is understood the King wants his own experience of getting prostate treatment to help raise awareness and to encourage others to have checks.

For the princess, although there are no explicit details about the surgery, there is much more information from the palace than in previous years, with a reassurance her illness is not cancer-related, that it was not an emergency operation and a clear sense of how long the recuperation will take.

But much of this frankness might also have been necessary to get ahead of the news narrative, as questions would inevitably have arisen if the King and the princess began to cancel planned events.

There had been talk of overseas trips for Kate and William in the spring and there would have been pressure to confirm this.

Now the health issues have been revealed, the royals will hope for some more understanding about why the King and the Prince and Princess of Wales are temporarily not carrying out public duties.

– This story was originally published by the BBC.

VIA RNZ

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Woman charged with murder after man found dead in Hamilton

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A 45-year-old woman has been charged with murder after a man died at a house in Hamilton early on Wednesday morning.

Police were called to an address on Cranmer Close, Rototuna at 2am, Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Neilson said.

There they found the man in a critical condition. Attempts by police and ambulance staff to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Police earlier said they would have a “significant” presence in the area while inquiries were made.

Neilson said the man and woman knew each other.

“Police are speaking with those involved and are offering support to the victim’s family.”

VIA RNZ

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Malaysia’s 6th humanitarian aid to Palestine to depart Cairo tomorrow

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Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the shipment will consist of 1,358 tonnes of essential aid, including medical supplies, hygiene kits, food provisions and essential items for infants.

“This special mission involves the delivery of 100 containers from Malaysia to Gaza, coordinated through the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (Mapim) warehouse in Cairo, Egypt.

“I urge Malaysians to continue their unwavering support for the Palestinians, especially in light of the ongoing developments in Gaza. Our commitment to this cause should be steadfast, driven by principles rather than solely religious affiliations,” he told reporters at a press conference today.

This mission will include 20 delegation members who will spend 10 days in Cairo, making preparations and overseeing the delivery process to the Rafah border. The delegation was expected to return three days before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Zahid, who is the patron of this mission, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will engage with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to facilitate the delegation’s passage through the Sinai Peninsula and the Rafah border.

Anwar, who was expected to attend an event in Pahang today, made an unexpected appearance at the flag-off event to demonstrate his solidarity with the mission.

Present were Mara chairman Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, National Disaster Management Agency director-general Datuk Khairul Shahril Idrus and the mission’s chief commissioner Sany Araby Datuk Abdul Alim Araby.

Zahid also announced that Umno will donate RM1 million to the mission.

This humanitarian aid was made possible through collaborative funding from six non-governmental organisations, spearheaded by the Mapim, alongside Cinta Gaza Malaysia, Iman Care Malaysia and Pertubuhan Glokal Ihsan Malaysia, as well as international organisations Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand and the Al-Khair Foundation from the United Kingdom.

VIA NST

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Chocolate prices expected to rise

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By Maytaal Angel and Maxwell Akalaare Adombila, Reuters

Major African cocoa plants in Ivory Coast and Ghana have stopped or cut processing because they cannot afford to buy beans, four trading sources said, meaning chocolate prices around the world are likely to soar.

Chocolate-makers have already increased prices to consumers, after three years of poor cocoa harvests, with a fourth expected, in the two countries that produce nearly 60 percent of the world’s cocoa.

Cocoa prices have more than doubled over the last year, scaling numerous all-time highs.

“We need massive demand destruction to catch up with the supply destruction,” Tropical Research Services’ Steve Wateridge, a world expert on cocoa, said.

Chocolate-makers cannot produce chocolate using raw cocoa and rely on processors to turn beans into butter and liquor that can be made into chocolate.

But the processors say they cannot afford to buy the beans.

A cacao is harvested for the beans inside which are fermented to make chocolate.

Photo: RNZ/Supplied

State-controlled Ivorian bean processor Transcao, one of the country’s nine major plants, said it had stopped buying beans because of their price.

It said it was still processing from stock, but did not say what capacity it was running at. Two industry sources said the plant was almost idle.

They asked not to be named because they were not authorised to speak publicly on the issue.

One of the two sources said more major state run plants could shut soon in top grower Ivory Coast, which produces nearly half the world’s cocoa.

The same two sources said even global trader Cargill struggled to source beans for its major processing plant in Ivory Coast, halting operations for about a week last month. Cargill did not respond to a request for comment.

In No. 2 cocoa grower Ghana, most of its eight plants, including state-owned Cocoa Processing Company (CPC), have repeatedly suspended work for weeks since the season started in October, two separate industry sources said.

CPC said it is operating at about 20 percent of capacity because of the shortage of beans.

Disruption at the farm gate

The price rally has derailed a long-established mechanism for global cocoa trade, through which farmers sell beans to local dealers who sell them on to processing plants or global traders.

Those traders then sell beans or cocoa products – butter, powder and cocoa liquor – to global chocolate giants such as Nestle, Hershey, and Mondelez.

In normal times, the market is heavily regulated – traders and processors purchase beans from local dealers up to a year in advance at pre-agreed prices. Local regulators then set lower farmgate prices that farmers can charge for beans.

However, in times of shortage like this year, the system breaks down – local dealers often pay farmers a premium to the farmgate price to secure beans.

The dealers then sell the beans on the spot market at higher prices instead of delivering them at pre-agreed prices.

As global traders rush to purchase those beans at any price to meet their obligations with the chocolate firms, local processors are often left short of beans.

Ivorian and Ghanian authorities normally try to protect local plants by issuing them with cheap loans or by limiting volumes of beans that global traders can purchase.

This year, however, plants are not getting the cocoa they pre-ordered and cannot afford to buy at higher spot prices.

Already, chocolate-makers have raised prices. US retail stores charged 11.6 percent more for chocolate products last year compared with 2022, data from market research firm Circana shows.

The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) expects global cocoa production will fall by 10.9percent to 4.45 million metric tons this season.

Grindings – a measure of demand – will fall by 4.8 percent to 4.78 million as processors struggle to buy beans, and supply less butter at a higher price to chocolate-makers, which in turn raise prices.

The supply-demand mismatch will leave the market with a deficit of 374,000 tons this season, up from 74,000 tons last season, according to the ICCO.

This means processors and chocolate firms will have to draw on cocoa stocks to fully cover their needs. The ICCO expects global cocoa stocks to fall to their lowest in 45 years by the season end.

Wateridge of Tropical Research said the cocoa market could post another deficit next season based on the severity of bean disease in West Africa.

The market has not seen four successive years of deficit since the late 1960s, ICCO data shows.

– This story was first published by Reuters
VIA RNZ

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