October 11, 2018

Yasukuni Shrine: Chief priest to quit after criticising Japan’s emperor

Yasukuni Shrine: Chief priest to quit after criticising Japan's emperor Image copyright Reuters Image caption Members of a right-wing group bow their heads to honour the war dead at the shrine The chief priest at Japan's controversial Yasukuni Shrine is to resign after making remarks highly critical of Emperor Akihito. In comments leaked to a magazine, Kunio Kohori said he believed Emperor Akihito was trying to destroy the shrine by not visiting it. The shrine in Tokyo honours Japan's 2.5 million war dead but also enshrines convicted criminals of World War Two. It remains a high source of tension with neighbours, particularly China. Emperor Akihito, who will abdicate next year, has never visited the shrine. He has instead sought reconciliation with Japan's wartime enemies. He has expressed regret over Japan's military actions in both China and the Korean peninsula, and has also visited several Pacific battlefields to honour the dead, actions that have brought ..
October 11, 2018

Astronauts escape malfunctioning Soyuz rocket

Astronauts escape malfunctioning Soyuz rocket Image copyright EPA Image caption The crew were on their way to the International Space Station A capsule carrying the two crew members of a Russian Soyuz rocket that malfunctioned on lift-off has landed safely in Kazakhstan. Russian Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague are reported to be "in good condition", both Nasa and Russian media said. Search and rescue teams are now en route to the landing site. The rocket had taken off for the International Space Station (ISS) when it suffered a problem with its booster. The crew had to return in "ballistic descent mode", Nasa tweeted, which it explained was "a sharper angle of landing compared to normal". The Soyuz rocket had taken off at 04:40 Eastern time for a four-orbit, six-hour journey to the ISS. Mr Hague and Mr Ovchinin were due to spend six months on the station working on a number of scientific experiments. Skip Twitter post by @NASA Thursday, @AstroHague is preparing ..
October 11, 2018

BMW to spend $4.1bn to take control of its China venture

BMW to spend $4.1bn to take control of its China venture Image copyright Reuters Carmaking giant BMW wants to take control of its joint venture in China and is set to pump billions more into its production capacity in the country. The German firm will spend 3.6bn euro ($4.16bn; £3.14bn) to up its stake in Brilliance Automotive from 50% to 75%. The Mini maker will also invest more than 3bn euros to expand its existing production capacity in China. The move comes amid China's plans to relax rules for foreign car companies operating in its enormous market. Currently, foreign firms that want to make cars in China must have a joint venture with a local firm, but they are not permitted to own more than a 50% stake in that firm. This rule has been in place since 1994 and has left many foreign firms frustrated. It has also restricted big global brands from gaining full access to the world's biggest car market. BMW said the deal with Brilliance Automotive, which is subject to re..
October 11, 2018

Nauru refugees: Doctors urge evacuations amid ‘complete despair’

Nauru refugees: Doctors urge evacuations amid 'complete despair' Image copyright AFP Image caption Australia's policies have been criticised by the UN and human rights groups Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called for the immediate evacuation of all asylum seekers on Pacific nation Nauru, amid a "devastating" mental health crisis. MSF provided 11 months of care to those housed in an Australian-run detention centre on the tiny island, but was recently ordered by Nauru to leave. It treated 78 people who had attempted suicide or self-harm during that time. Authorities in Nauru and Australia have not responded to MSF's call. The Nauru detention centre was set up by Australia in 2013 in a controversial deal to house asylum seekers intercepted while trying to reach Australian shores by boat. Canberra maintains its policy prevents deaths at sea and discourages people smugglers but the tough stance has been widely criticised. MSF Australia executive dire..
October 10, 2018

Asian markets fall sharply after US losses

Asian markets fall sharply after US losses Image copyright Getty Images Asian stocks slumped in early trade as concerns about higher US interest rates and a global trade war prompted investors to sell risk globally. Markets in Asia took their cue from US stocks, which suffered their sharpest one-day falls in months. on Wednesday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 is down 3.6%. In China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slumped 3% and the Shanghai Composite shed 2.6%. The US Federal Reserve raised rates in September as the economy grows solidly. Higher interest rates makes borrowing more expensive, slowing economic activity and hurting investor appetite for risk. A US-led trade war against China has also made investors worried about the outlook for global growth. Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's benchmark Kospi index fell 2.8% and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.9%.
October 10, 2018

Countdown on for world’s longest non-stop flight

Countdown on for world's longest non-stop flight Image copyright SIA The battle to offer the world's longest non-stop flight steps up a gear on Thursday, when a new Singapore-to-New York service takes off. Singapore Airlines is relaunching the service five years after it withdrew because it had become too expensive. It will cover more than 15,000km and is scheduled to take just under 19 hours. Qantas launched a 17-hour non-stop service from Perth to London earlier this year, while Qatar runs a 17.5-hour service between Auckland and Doha. Have passengers been snapping up the tickets?The flight from Changi Airport to Newark's international airport will be taking off amid much fanfare and with barely a seat to spare. Singapore Airlines said there was demand for customers for non-stop services which help cut travelling times compared with flights which have a stopover. The airline told the BBC that business class seats for the flight were fully booked. However, there were..
October 10, 2018

Chinese man charged with US aviation ‘espionage’

Chinese man charged with US aviation 'espionage' Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The indictment identifies GE Aviation as a a target of the operation The US justice department has announced charges of economic espionage against a suspected Chinese intelligence officer. Officials say Yanjun Xu tried to steal trade secrets from US aviation and aerospace companies on behalf of China. He was arrested in Belgium earlier this year and on Tuesday extradited to the US. A senior justice department official said the case was "part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense". "We cannot tolerate a nation's stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers added, Will Trump's tariffs stop Chinese espionage? Trump administration seeks to block China Mobile Beijing offers hefty cash reward for spy tip-offs Prosecutors say Mr Xu is a senior officer with China's ministry..
October 10, 2018

Nepal busts chimp smugglers after BBC investigation

Nepal busts chimp smugglers after BBC investigation Image caption The chimps were discovered by Nepal police in a specially adapted crate A BBC investigation exposing the scale of chimpanzee trafficking last year has helped police in Nepal uncover a smuggling operation, as Sam Piranty in Kathmandu reports. Even to a hardened detective the discovery was shocking: two baby chimpanzees, exhausted and hungry, and sucking their thumbs. The tiny animals had been captured in the wild in Nigeria and then flown thousands of miles to Nepal. "They were just like small babies," says the Nepalese police officer in charge, Anupam Rana. Drugged and hidden inside a packing case, they were victims of a network of wildlife traffickers spanning half a dozen countries. Although chimps are endangered, the babies are wanted as pets and these two were on the black market for $12,500 each (nearly £9,500). This is one of many examples of an illegal trade worth billions of dollars every year that is being ..
October 10, 2018

China Uighurs: Xinjiang ‘legalises’ Muslim internment camps

China Uighurs: Xinjiang 'legalises' Muslim internment camps Image copyright Reuters Image caption Some reports say a million Uighurs have been detained China's western Xinjiang region has written internment camps for Muslim Uighurs into law amid growing international concern over large-scale disappearances there. Xinjiang says the camps will tackle extremism through "ideological transformation". Rights groups say detainees are made to swear loyalty to President Xi Jinping and criticise or renounce their faith. In August, China denied allegations that it had locked up a million people. But officials attending a UN human rights meeting admitted that Uighurs "deceived by religious extremism" were undergoing re-education and resettlement. China's Muslim 'crackdown' explained Uighurs dig their way out of Thai jail Xinjiang has seen cycles of violence and crackdowns for years. China accuses Islamist militants and separatists of orchestrating the trouble. What ..
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