February 7, 2019

Thailand election: Thai princess to stand as PM candidate

Thailand election: Thai princess to stand as PM candidate Image copyright Reuters Image caption The princess, 67, is breaking with decades of royal tradition The sister of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn has joined the race to be the country's next prime minister. Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Varnavadi, 67, will stand for a party loyal to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to registration papers. Traditionally the Thai royal family stays out of politics, so this is an unprecedented move. Thailand's election is scheduled to take place on 24 March. The princess is the eldest sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, and has registered for the Thai Raksa Chart party. The development raises questions about the future of other political candidates, amid speculation that no-one will run against a member of the royal family. Skip Twitter post by @pakhead In an astonishing move the elder sister of King Vajiralongkorn has submitted her name as the ..
February 7, 2019

Yanxi Palace: Why China turned against its most popular show

Yanxi Palace: Why China turned against its most popular show Image copyright IQiyi Image caption Yanxi Palace - a danger to Chinese society? It was one of China's most popular shows of 2018 - but it's now being pulled from TV screens across the country. The story of Yanxi Palace, a drama about life in imperial China, broke records when it was released last year. It was streamed more than 15 billion times on China Netflix-like iQiyi and became the most watched online drama in China for 39 consecutive days. All that changed in late January when a state media article criticised the "negative impact" of imperial dramas, and it wasn't long before Yanxi Palace was taken off air. So why has this blockbuster show fallen from grace? 'Bad for Chinese society'It all started when Theory Weekly - a title linked to state newspaper the Beijing Daily - posted an article criticising period dramas and singling out Yanxi Palace in particular. It listed several "negative impa..
February 7, 2019

US-India Farmington university row: ‘I fled after fake college raid’

US-India Farmington university row: 'I fled after fake college raid' Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Moving to the US is a dream for ambitious Indian students The arrest of 129 Indian students in the US for enrolling in a fake university has sparked questions about how they ended up risking their future to study at a little-known institution. BBC Telugu's Deepthi Bathini reports. Veeresh, whose name has been changed on his request, was at home in California on 30 January when he heard the news - 130 students (the group included one Chinese national) enrolled at the University of Farmington had been arrested. The university, it turned out, was a sham run by undercover agents investigating immigration fraud. He panicked, he says, because he was one of the 600 students who had enrolled at the Michigan-based university. "I did not know what to believe. I thought it was a rumour but the whole story was out the next day." Fearing he too would be arrested, he left..
February 7, 2019

‘Oldest known elephant in captivity’ dies at 88 in India

'Oldest known elephant in captivity' dies at 88 in India Image copyright STR/AFP/Getty Image caption Dakshayani, pictured here in 2016, lived at the Chengalloor Mahadeva Temple in southern Kerala state Dakshayani, thought to be the world's oldest elephant in captivity, has died at the age of 88 in India. Given the title Gaja Muthassi or elephant granny, Dakshayani took part in temple rituals and processions at the Chengalloor Mahadeva Temple in the southern state of Kerala. But her vet said the elephant stopped taking food and died on Tuesday. Keepers started feeding her pineapples and carrots in recent years after she began to have trouble moving around. She had not taken part in any public event for several years. The Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the temple where she lived, says she was the oldest elephant in captivity and estimated her age at 88. However, the current Guinness World Record holder for oldest elephant in captivity is Lin Wang. The Asian elepha..
February 7, 2019

Japan sets date for asteroid ‘rock grab’

Japan sets date for asteroid 'rock grab' Image copyright DLR Image caption Artwork: Hayabusa2 arrived at the asteroid Ryugu in June last year The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 will attempt to collect a sample of soil and rock from an asteroid on 22 February, the country's space agency (Jaxa) says. Hayabusa 2 reached asteroid Ryugu in June 2018 after a three-and-a-half-year journey from Earth. It will descend to the surface and attempt to grab a sample of rock and soil from a pre-chosen site. The spacecraft will return to Earth with the samples in 2020 after its exploration of Ryugu is complete. Jaxa officials had to delay the touchdown last October, after they found the asteroid's surface was more rugged than expected. During sample collection, the spacecraft will approach the 1km-wide asteroid with an instrument called the sampler horn. On touchdown, a 5g projectile made of the metal tantalum is fired into the rocky surface at 300m/s. The particles kicked up by ..
February 7, 2019

New Tonga island ‘now home to flowers and owls’

New Tonga island 'now home to flowers and owls' Image copyright Sea Education Association/SEA Semester Image caption The new Tongan island has only existed for four years Scientists have found signs of life on one of the world's newest islands, just four years after it was spawned by a volcanic eruption. Unofficially known as Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, it lies in the kingdom of Tonga, and is already nurturing pink flowering plants, sooty tern birds, and even barn owls. Tonga is made up of over 170 islands in the Pacific Ocean, east of Australia. A team from the Sea Education Association and Nasa visited the small land mass in October, having previously kept watch through satellite imaging. How exactly was the island formed?Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai - named after the two islands it is nestled between - was born in December 2014 after a submarine volcano erupted, sending a stream of steam, ash and rock into the air. When the ash finally settled, it interacted w..
February 7, 2019

India man to sue parents for giving birth to him

India man to sue parents for giving birth to him Image copyright Nihilanand A 27-year-old Indian man plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent. Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel told the BBC that it's wrong to bring children into the world because they then have to put up with lifelong suffering. Mr Samuel, of course, understands that our consent can't be sought before we are born, but insists that "it was not our decision to be born". So as we didn't ask to be born, we should be paid for the rest of our lives to live, he argues. Mr Samuel's belief is rooted in what's called anti-natalism - a philosophy that argues that life is so full of misery that people should stop procreating immediately. This, he says, would gradually phase out humanity from the Earth and that would also be so much better for the planet. "There's no point to humanity. So many people are suffering. If humanity is extinct, Earth and animals would be happier...
February 7, 2019

Japan’s Softbank shares surge on buyback plan

Japan's Softbank shares surge on buyback plan Image copyright Getty Images Shares in Japanese tech conglomerate Softbank surged nearly 17% after its chief executive Masayoshi Son unveiled a $5.5bn (£4.3bn) share buyback. Mr Son said the buyback will prop up the company's share price, which he sees as chronically undervalued. Softbank has stakes in dozens of technology companies through its Vision Fund. Mr Son said when these investments are counted properly, Softbank is worth far more than its current market value. He announced the share buyback during an earnings briefing on Wednesday. Mr Son described the company's shares as "too cheap". A quick guide to SoftbankSoftbank will pay for the buyback with the proceeds of the share market float of its domestic telecommunications business. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionHow the Softbank share sale could change your life Tech investments pay offOn Wednesday, the company also reported a 60% ju..
February 7, 2019

Measles outbreak declared in Philippines

Measles outbreak declared in Philippines Image copyright Jim Goodson/CDC/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY Image caption Measles can spread easily through coughs and sneezes Authorities in the Philippines have declared an outbreak of the highly contagious measles virus in the capital, Manila. Data showed 196 people had contracted measles between 1-19 January, compared to only 20 cases in the same period last year. Some 50 people - mostly children - are believed to have died from the disease, officials told local media. Authorities earlier said 2.4 million unvaccinated children were at risk. Health Secretary Francisco Duque told local media that bronchopneumonia from measles complications can be deadly, and encouraged parents to bring their children for immunisation. "Parents should not wait for complications to set in because it might be too late," he said. Global measles resurging, WHO warns Other than the confirmed cases, at least 861 suspected cases of measles have been reported as of 2 Februa..
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