October 13, 2018

How the ‘world’s toughest one-day bike race’ could put Bhutan ahead

How the 'world's toughest one-day bike race' could put Bhutan ahead Image copyright Melyn McKay Image caption Bhutan's culture goes far beyond its mountains and valleys The reclusive kingdom of Bhutan has for years granted only limited access to tourists. But the country is now slowly attracting more visitors - and one way its doing so is through extreme sports, as filmmaker Alex Bescoby recounts. It was 2am on a chilly September morning in Bhutan, and a gruelling 268km (166 miles) slog lay ahead. Between me and the finish line in the capital, Thimphu, lay four mountain-passes each more than 10,000ft high (3,050m) and a feat of endurance that has taken world-class athletes more than 11 hours to complete. As the organisers of the Tour of the Dragon (TOD) point out, real dangers awaited. The TOD has been billed as the "toughest one-day bike race in the world". Between the rough undulating terrain and the potential to run into wild tigers, leopards and wild boar, it..
October 13, 2018

What would it take for North Korea to join the IMF?

What would it take for North Korea to join the IMF? Image copyright Getty Images At the recent UN General Assembly, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in was discussing North Korea's strides to build relations and open up to the world. He said Kim Jong-un had even said he would be "willing to join the IMF and the World Bank and other international agencies", Reuters reported. Those ambitions, if vague for now, cast a light on the challenges North Korea will face as it tries to become part of the global economy. The country has been economically cut off from most of the world for decades because of its nuclear programme and alleged human rights abuses, and experts say the process of joining the financial bodies would be a long one. Nine charts which tell you all you need to know about North Korea Imagine a North Korean family... North Korea crisis in 300 words Benefits to membershipWhy would the socialist "hermit" state even want to join these US-dominated institutions? Membe..
October 12, 2018

UN criticised over new human rights council members

UN criticised over new human rights council members Image copyright AFP Image caption The election to the UNHRC took place at the UN headquarters in New York Countries that have been widely criticised for severe human rights abuses are among 18 newly elected members of the UN Human Rights Council. Campaigners had urged UN member states to oppose the candidacy of the Philippines and Eritrea and said the choice of Bahrain and Cameroon raised "significant concerns". The US quit the council in June, saying it made a mockery of human rights. But its defenders say it does vital protection work around the world. Countries can serve for two consecutive three-year terms on the council, which is based in Geneva. Are we facing a 'post human rights world'? Why did US pull out? The UN General Assembly in New York approved the new members in a vote on Friday. For the first time in the council's history, the five voting regions had only put forward as many candidates as there were s..
October 12, 2018

Australia drought: How much rain would end ‘the big dry’?

Australia drought: How much rain would end 'the big dry'? Image copyright EPA Image caption Rain clouds are a welcome sight for Australian farmers Many drought-stricken regions in Australia have finally received much-needed rain in recent days. Parts of New South Wales (NSW) - a state declared to be 100% in drought - have enjoyed their best rainfalls in two years, according to meteorologists. But while the drenching has provided some relief, forecasters say it is nowhere near enough. Farming regions in NSW and Queensland have been bone dry for months - years in some cases - meaning there is no quick fix to end the drought. So what would it take? First, it depends on how you define droughtAustralia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) measures it in terms of "rainfall deficiency" - a period when precipitation is deemed to be below average. This year, rainfall levels in NSW are among the lowest ever recorded over an extended period. In some areas, the state is the driest it has ..
October 12, 2018

The world’s longest non-stop flight arrives in New York

The world's longest non-stop flight arrives in New York Image copyright Airbus Image caption Airbus made fuel system changes to its existing A350-900 aircraft to allow for an extended flight range - giving it the name A350-900 ULR (ultra long range) The world's longest non-stop commercial flight has landed New York, beginning a journey in Singapore covering more than 15,000km in 17 hours and 52 minutes. Singapore Airlines has relaunched the service five years after it was cut because it had become too expensive. Flight SQ22 landed at 0529 US Eastern time with 150 passengers and 17 crew. Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of Airlineratings.com, said the time passed swiftly and had not seen like a 17 and a half hour flight. He told the BBC: "The flight was effortless and very smooth. "On board the concensus was that the time past very quickly and didn't seem like 17.5 hours." The inaugural flight from Changi Airport to Newark's international airport, which services N..
October 12, 2018

Aboriginal ranger ‘taken by crocodile’ in Australia

Aboriginal ranger 'taken by crocodile' in Australia Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The woman was reported missing on Friday, officials say An Aboriginal ranger has been taken by a crocodile in a remote area of Australia, say workplace safety officials. The woman was reported missing on Friday in Arnhem Land, a vast Northern Territory wilderness area. Police are travelling to the scene, but the woman's condition is not known. Northern Territory WorkSafe said the attack happened near the community of Gan Gan, at least 500km (300 miles) east of Darwin. "NT WorkSafe has commenced an investigation into the incident," it said in a statement. The woman is believed to be part of the Yirralka Rangers programme, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. The programme employs about 50 people to care for a large section of traditional land belonging to the Yolngu people, Yirralka Rangers says on its website. Crocodile attacks claimed 14 lives in the Northern Ter..
October 12, 2018

Air India plane ‘hits wall’ on take-off

Air India plane 'hits wall' on take-off Image copyright Air India Image caption The plane landed safely in the city of Mumbai A passenger plane travelling from the south Indian city of Trichy to Dubai sustained damage after hitting the airport wall during take off. Air India IX 611, which was carrying 130 passengers and six crew members, was diverted to Mumbai, where it landed safely. Air India said the two pilots, who have more than 6,500 hours of flying experience between them, have been grounded, pending investigation. Air India is India's national carrier. The airline said in a statement that the Boeing 737 aircraft took off from Trichy airport in southern India early on Friday when airport officials "observed that aircraft might have come in contact with the airport perimeter wall". The aircraft has sustained some damage. Jet Airways: Passengers hurt as pilots 'forget' cabin pressure Air India blames weather for bed bugs infestation "The matter was co..
October 12, 2018

South Korea’s Moon optimistic about end to Korean War

South Korea's Moon optimistic about end to Korean War Image copyright Getty Images South Korean President Moon Jae-in has told the BBC that it is only a matter of time before the US and North Korea declare an end to their state of war on the Korean peninsula. The war ended in 1953 with an armistice but a peace treaty was never signed. Mr Moon, the son of North Korean refugees, also said there could be more diplomatic "bumps and bruises" as he tries to persuade Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons. But he described Mr Kim as "candid". In an interview with the BBC's Laura Bicker in Seoul he also said he hoped European leaders would help him to mediate between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump if negotiations stalled. Mr Moon has met Mr Kim three times this year and has acted as a mediator between him and Mr Trump. He said that he had had "ample discussions" with President Trump and other US officials about an end of war declaration. "If North Korea takes certain mea..
October 12, 2018

Papua New Guinea Maserati fleet for Apec raises questions

Papua New Guinea Maserati fleet for Apec raises questions Image copyright AirBridgeCargo Image caption The government says the cars are "selling like hotcakes" to private sector buyers Papua New Guinea's government is under scrutiny for importing 40 luxury Maserati cars from Italy for the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit. The Quattroporte sedans, which cost more than $100,000 each (£75,000), will be used by foreign leaders. Media and activists have questioned if the poor Pacific country has wasted millions. But the government says the private sector has "committed" to paying. Apec Minister Justin Tkatchenko said the cars would "provide the level of carriage for leaders that is the standard for vehicles used at Apec summits". Pictures of the cars arriving at Port Moresby airport on chartered cargo planes were shared on social media and sparked concern that taxpayer money was being wasted on the lavish purchase. The history of the Apec awkward family photo ..
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