December 15, 2018

Cyclone Owen downgraded, but could reform off Queensland

Cyclone Owen downgraded, but could reform off Queensland Image copyright EPA Image caption Locals have been warned to expect more heavy rainfall A cyclone that was predicted to wreak havoc across Queensland has been downgraded to a tropical low, after unleashing 17cm (6.6in) of rain in two hours across the north of the state. Authorities warn that Cyclone Owen could still reform offshore on Monday. Severe weather and flood warnings are in place. Owen hit land as a category 3 cyclone at around 03:00 on Saturday (17:00 Friday GMT), 70km (43 miles) from Kowanyama. "We were right in the bullseye but then it dipped and went south," the town's Mayor Michael Yam said. "There's no structural damage, a little debris, we're all good and in one piece." The cyclone's 120km/h (74mph) winds weakened as it moved south-east. Queensland braced for powerful cycloneQueensland's Emergency Service received 400 calls for help over Friday night, according to local outlet News.com..
December 15, 2018

US returns looted bells to Philippines after 117 years

December 15, 2018

US returns looted Balangiga church bells to Philippines

US returns looted Balangiga church bells to Philippines Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Jubilant crowds turned out to greet the return of the Balangiga bells Three bells looted by US troops more than a century ago have been returned to their church in the Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte praised his countrymen and the US at a ceremony in Balangiga, where the treasures were taken 117 years ago. The bronze bells were seized during the Philippine-American War as part of reprisals following a massacre. In August, the US Embassy announced the return of the so-called Balangiga bells after decades of pressure. "Nobody, but nobody, can claim a singular credit for the generous act of the Americans," Mr Duterte told a jubilant crowd on Saturday. "The credit goes to the American people and to the Filipino people, period." Why the Philippines matters to the US The country stuck between the US and China Philippines country profile The president had called for their return in a 20..
December 15, 2018

Rajapaksa: Sri Lanka’s disputed PM resigns amid crisis

Rajapaksa: Sri Lanka's disputed PM resigns amid crisis Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mahinda Rajapaksa attended a religious ceremony after resigning on Saturday Mahinda Rajapaksa has resigned as Sri Lanka's prime minister, seven weeks after he was appointed in a surprise move that sparked a political crisis. Mr Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's former president, signed his resignation letter in a ceremony at his house. His son, Namal, told the BBC his father had quit to ensure national stability. The resignation could bring to an end a nearly two-month-long power struggle that has dented confidence in Sri Lanka's stability. In October, President Maithripala Sirisena sacked then prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, replacing him with Mr Rajapaksa. Mr Wickremesinghe is expected to return to office on Sunday. His party's spokesman Harin Fernando told the BBC: "The president has agreed to swear in Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister tomorrow at 10 am." He said th..
December 14, 2018

Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israeli capital

Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israeli capital Image copyright Reuters Image caption The status of Jerusalem has long been a highly contested issue Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that his government will recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. However, he said Australia's embassy would not move from Tel Aviv, until a peace settlement was achieved. He added Australia also recognised the aspirations of the Palestinians to a state with a capital in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israel and the Palestinians. US President Donald Trump drew international criticism last year when he reversed decades of American foreign policy by recognising the ancient city as Israel's capital. The US embassy was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May. Why Trump and Jerusalem was not about peaceMr Morrison's announcement comes after a period of consultation with politicians in Australia and al..
December 14, 2018

North Korea’s high-tech pursuits: Propaganda or progress?

North Korea's high-tech pursuits: Propaganda or progress? Image copyright Getty Images Image caption North Korea has touted its latest technological advancements with much fanfare North Korea often flaunts its military hardware but of late, it appears to be making progress in developing civilian technologies - or at least is claiming to be. As with most things in the country, it is difficult to verify these claims, but it is significant to note the importance being given to technology. In recent months, state media have publicly celebrated various achievements in advanced technologies, including an "intelligent home system". Beyond the purpose of propaganda, emphasis on the sector reflects North Korea's desire to harness technology to improve its economy - a key goal for Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. Growing tech prowess?One of the latest tech ventures is a new wi-fi service called Mirae, which enables mobile devices to access a state-sanctioned intranet network in the capital,..
December 14, 2018

Eleven die and dozens ill after eating rice at Indian temple

Eleven die and dozens ill after eating rice at Indian temple Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Witnesses say people quickly fell ill after eating rice following a consecration ceremony Eleven people have died and dozens more have fallen ill after eating rice at a temple in India, police say. About 70 people have been admitted to hospital after eating the food following a ceremony in the southern state of Karnataka. A police spokesman told the BBC that 11 patients are in a critical condition. Two people have reportedly been arrested following the incident, and one health official told local media that the food may have been poisoned. "We were offered tomato rice [which] was smelling," one person who attended the ceremony told reporters. "All those who threw it away are fine," they added. "Those who ate [it] started vomiting and complained of stomach pain." The incident happened at the Maramma temple in the Chamarajanagar district on Friday, where a special event was taking pl..
December 14, 2018

Miss USA sorry for offending contestants over lack of English

Miss USA sorry for offending contestants over lack of English Image copyright Instagram Image caption A well-meaning comment from Miss USA resulted in a heated debate across social media An Instagram post by a beauty queen questioning the English language skills of fellow contestants has caused a stir across social media. The incident took place in the run-up to this year's Miss Universe competition which is being held in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday. Miss USA, Sarah Rose Summers, was quick to apologise after realising her comments may have come across as offensive, although her original live video post had been liked more than 46,000 times. Ms Summers had said contestant H'Hen Nie, Miss Vietnam, is "so cute and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she (nods and smiles)." She added: "Miss Cambodia is here and doesn't speak any English, and not a single other person speaks her language. "Can ..
December 14, 2018

Japan medical schools ‘rigged women’s results’

Japan medical schools 'rigged women's results' Image copyright AFP Image caption Tokyo Medical University has admitted it acted to keep women out At least nine Japanese medical schools manipulated admissions, in part to exclude female students, a government investigation has found. The inquiry was launched in August, after the prestigious Tokyo Medical University (TMU) was found to have tampered with the scores of female applicants from as early as 2006. Reports cited concerns that many women would not go on to practise medicine. Japan's education minister said the scandal was "deeply disappointing". "I want the universities to make immediate and courteous responses regarding the situation of the applicants," Masahiko Shibayama was quoted as saying by the Kyodo news agency after the report was published on Friday. Japan's government has been trying to boost women in the workforce and especially into senior positions. The medical schools' sexism scandal ha..
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