November 27, 2018

Afghanistan: US service members killed in bomb explosion

Afghanistan: US service members killed in bomb explosion Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption US forces serving with Nato have been training Afghan forces since combat operations ended in 2014 Three US service members have been killed and three others wounded in a bomb explosion near Ghazni city in Afghanistan. A US civilian contractor was also hurt by the improvised explosive device, the Nato-led mission said in a statement. Officials would not give further detail until next of kin were notified, saying only that the injured were evacuated and receiving medical treatment. This is the second attack in a month targeting US forces in the region. Utah mayor Bret Taylor was killed in an apparent insider attack on 3 November while serving with the US Army National Guard to train Afghan security forces. 'IS wants to wipe us out' Why are more troops going to Afghanistan? Afghan Taliban attend landmark talks On Saturday, a US soldier was killed in Nimroz province in what appeared..
November 27, 2018

No sale for Australia’s enormous Knickers (who is, by the way, a cow)

No sale for Australia's enormous Knickers (who is, by the way, a cow) Image copyright Geoff Pearson Image caption Knickers is often followed by a herd of wagyu cattle Knickers looms above the thousands of other cattle that he feeds with in rural Western Australia. At some 1,400kg (220st) and 194cm (6ft 4in), the seven-year-old is believed to be the biggest steer in a country home to millions of cattle. And his size has proved to be his saving grace. When owner Geoff Pearson tried to put him up for auction last month, meat processors said they simply couldn't handle him - so Knickers avoided the abattoir. He will now live out the rest of his life on Lake Preston feedlot in Myalup, 136km (85 miles) south of Perth. "Knickers lives on," says Mr Pearson, who has been fielding calls from local journalists since the Australian public broadcaster drew attention to the enormous steer - a Holstein Friesian, but significantly taller than the average for that breed. He was first bought ..
November 27, 2018

Why is Jack Ma a member of the Communist Party of China?

Why is Jack Ma a member of the Communist Party of China? Image copyright Getty Images Does being a founder and executive chairman of a company worth about $400bn (£313bn), with a personal wealth said to be about $35bn, put you at odds with being a member of a communist party whose leader wants to "develop China, develop socialism and develop Marxism"? Or, put more simply, why is Jack Ma a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC)? He's been officially outed by the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling party. We don't know how long he's been a member for, but we do now know that he is one of approximately 88 million people who (are supposed to) pay monthly dues, attend regular meetings and sometimes submit themselves to "self criticism" to improve their ideological understanding. Jack Ma is a strident defender of the way President Xi Jinping does business when it comes to foreign firms - and American presidents - who complain about getting access to markets..
November 27, 2018

Lu Guang: Award-winning Chinese photographer disappears in Xinjiang

Lu Guang: Award-winning Chinese photographer disappears in Xinjiang Image copyright Twitter/徐小莉 Image caption Lu Guang is a three time World Press Photo award winner and focuses on environmental and societal issues in China An award-winning Chinese photographer has disappeared while visiting China's Xinjiang region, says his wife. Lu Guang, who lives in New York, was invited to Xinjiang for a talk in October. His wife Xu Xiaoli says she last heard from him on 3 November. Officials later told her that national security officers in the heavily-controlled region had taken Mr Lu away. Ms Xu told BBC Chinese that she did not know whether Mr Lu had done anything to provoke government anger. Mr Lu is a three-time World Press Photo award winner who focuses on environmental and societal issues in China. What's happened to the vanished Uighurs of Xinjiang? Where film stars and police chiefs can simply vanish On 23 October, Mr Lu flew to Urumqi - the capital city of the Xinjiang regio..
November 27, 2018

New Zealand whale stranding: ‘I will never forget their cries’

New Zealand whale stranding: 'I will never forget their cries' Image copyright Liz Carlson "It was the worst night of my entire life." That's how Liz Carlson describes finding 145 whales beached and dying on a remote New Zealand beach. The travel blogger from the US, was on a five-day hike on the Rakiura or Steward Island with a friend when they came across the tragic scene. What would otherwise have a been a beautiful long stretch of deserted beach was the site of a desperate struggle for life. Almost 150 pilot whales, beached in the low tide, were fighting in agony in the gentle surf. Image copyright Liz Carlson "It was one of these jaw dropping moments," she told the BBC. "We came to the beach around sunset and spotted something in the shallows." "When we realised it was whales, we dropped everything and ran into the surf." She'd seen whales in the wild before, she said, but "nothing can prepare you for this, it was just horrific". 'The futility was the ..
November 27, 2018

John Allen Chau: India ‘puts on hold’ efforts to retrieve body

John Allen Chau: India 'puts on hold' efforts to retrieve body Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionWho are the Sentinelese? Indian officials have "put on hold" efforts to retrieve the body of an American missionary reportedly killed by an endangered tribe in the Andaman and Nicobar islands last week. A senior official told the BBC it was done so as not to disturb the protected Sentinelese tribespeople. John Allen Chau was said to have been killed with arrows when he landed on North Sentinel island on 17 November. He was trying to convert the tribespeople to Christianity. His body is still on the island and attempts so far to retrieve it have been unsuccessful. Who was US man killed in remote islands? What we could learn from remote tribes US man's death puts spotlight on 'tribal tourism' On Monday, top government official Chetan Sanghi called a meeting of senior officials from the police, tribal welfare, forest and anthropological departm..
November 27, 2018

‘Asleep’ pilot missed destination in Australia, officials say

'Asleep' pilot missed destination in Australia, officials say Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The plane took off from Devonport, in Tasmania's north A small plane overshot its destination in Australia by almost 50km (30 miles) after its pilot fell asleep in the cockpit, air safety officials say. The pilot was the only person on board the freight flight from Devonport to King Island in Tasmania on 8 November. The incident, classified as a case of "incapacitation", is being investigated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). Officials have not said how the pilot awoke before landing the plane safely. The Piper PA-31 aircraft, operated by Vortex Air, had been due to complete the 240km trip at 07:15 local time. "During the cruise, the pilot fell asleep, resulting in the aircraft overflying King Island by 46 kilometres," the ATSB said in a brief statement. Aviation expert Neil Hansford said that Australia had strict rules relating to pilot fatigue. "The..
November 26, 2018

Benoit Quennedey: French official ‘suspected of spying for North Korea’

Benoit Quennedey: French official 'suspected of spying for North Korea' Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Benoit Quennedey is a senior civil servant at the French Senate A senior official in the French Senate has been arrested on suspicion of spying for North Korea, French media reports say. Benoit Quennedey was arrested on Sunday night over the "collection and delivery of information to a foreign power", AFP news agency reported. He is being questioned by the domestic security agency, the DGSI. His Paris home and the home of his parents near Dijon have been searched, Le Parisien newspaper said. Mr Quennedey is a senior civil servant and president of the Franco-Korean Friendship Association, Le Parisien added. The Senate's presidency has declined to comment on the reports, AFP said. The arrest was first reported by the Quotidien programme of the TV channel TMC.
November 26, 2018

Afghan Shias in the firing line: ‘IS wants to wipe us out’

Afghan Shias in the firing line: 'IS wants to wipe us out' Image caption Kabul's Hazaras are feeling under attack Tears and wails of grief fill the air around a hilltop cemetery in the outskirts of Kabul. "Why did you leave us?" one distraught mother cries out. Another lovingly caresses the photograph of her dead child. Families of about 50 students killed in a suicide bombing by the Islamic State group on a tuition centre in the Afghan capital in August have gathered here for a memorial service. Many of the dead were just teenagers. All were from the Hazara community. Followers of the Shia sect of Islam who are believed to be descendants of the Mongols, Hazaras are hated by IS who view them as heretics. Armed soldiers stand guard around the graves in case of further attack. Amongst those killed was 16-year-old Fatima. Her mother Amina tells me she used to weave carpets to pay for her schooling. One, unfinished, lies by the entrance to their small home. Fatima had bee..
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