November 27, 2018

Fehmida Riaz: Pakistan poet who dared to talk about female desire

Fehmida Riaz: Pakistan poet who dared to talk about female desire Fehmida Riaz, who died in Pakistan last week, was not just another poet, fiction writer or translator. She broke social taboos and set new standards in Urdu literature, writes M Ilyas Khan. Riaz was a compulsive political animal who unapologetically lived her ideology rather than bend it to the demands of different situations. Born in what is now the Indian city of Meerut, on 26 July 1946, she was raised in the Pakistani city of Hyderabad where her father was posted around the time of the partition of India in 1947. The family stayed in Pakistan but her literature would later cross the divide between the two countries. The poet in Riaz came of age quite early, in 1967, when her first collection was published. Paththar Ki Zaban (Tongue of Stone) displayed early traces of a feminist consciousness that would rip through Pakistan's culture of patriarchy six years later with the publication of her second collection, Ba..
November 27, 2018

The fight over the right to name Australian places

The fight over the right to name Australian places Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionLast year's marriage equality celebrations on what is now known as "Equality Green" When should a public place be renamed? The debate is often complex. In Australia, many would like to see names reflect a more modern, equal nation. Gary Nunn reports from Sydney. In November last year, 30,000 Australians gathered biting their nails in Sydney's Prince Alfred Park, all watching a giant widescreen. Tension was in the air and an eerie silence preceded the din of triumphant celebrations, along with some tears of palpable relief. It was the chosen venue of the Yes campaign to marriage equality to gather for the result of a national vote on same-sex marriage (the law went on to be changed by parliament). Earlier this month, Sydney's city council unanimously accepted a proposal to rename the lawn where this gathering took place Equality Green. It'll be an enduring rem..
November 27, 2018

Ben Lecomte: Swimmer abandons attempt to swim Pacific

Ben Lecomte: Swimmer abandons attempt to swim Pacific Image copyright Reuters Image caption He completed more than 2,700 kilometres of his journey A French man has abandoned his bid to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean after his support boat was damaged by a storm. Ben Lecomte, 51, set off from the coast of Japan on 5 June and had covered more than 2,700 km (1,500 nautical miles) of the 9,100 km journey. But "irreparable" damage to a sail on the boat forced him to stop. Mr Lecomte had been trying to raise awareness of climate change and plastic pollution throughout the journey. On average he swam eight hours a day in an effort to hit his target. It was not long after he reached the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", a zone dominated by ocean plastic, that he was presented with typhoons and severe storms. "I am very disappointed because I had not reached my mental and physical limits," he said in a statement. He added: "We've faced treacherous winds, rain and oc..
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..
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