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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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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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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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Movement of pilot’s seat a focus of probe into LATAM Boeing flight, report says

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The movement of a flight deck seat is a key focus of the probe into a sudden mid-air dive by a LATAM Airlines Boeing 787 plane that left more than 50 people injured, aviation industry publication the Air Current reported on Wednesday.

The plane, which was heading from Sydney to Auckland on Monday, dropped abruptly before stabilising, causing those on board to be thrown about the cabin.

Based on the available information it was understood the seat movement was “pilot induced, not intentionally,” the report said, citing a senior airline safety official.

“The seat movement caused the nose down” angle of the aircraft, the publication said, citing another anonymous source who added the possibility of an electrical short was also under review.

Boeing is expected to release a message to 787 operators regarding the incident, the Air Current reported, in a sign a fleet-wide issue could be involved though it said the specific topic was not known to the publication.

Boeing declined to comment on the report, instead referring Reuters to the investigating agencies.

Chile’s aviation regulator, which is leading the probe given it involves a Chilean airline flying in international airspace, said the investigation “just got underway” and its investigators had arrived in New Zealand.

LATAM said it “continues to work in coordination with the authorities to support the investigation” and said it was not appropriate to comment on speculation that has circulated.

LATAM is based in Chile and the flight, which had 263 passengers and nine crew members, was due to continue on to Santiago after stopping in Auckland.

The cause of the flight’s apparent sudden change in trajectory has not yet been explained. Safety experts say most airplane accidents are caused by a cocktail of factors that need to be thoroughly investigated.

New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission said on Tuesday it was seizing the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder of the flight, which would provide information about the conversations between the pilots and the plane’s movement.

– This story was first published by Reuters
VIA RNZ

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