November 10, 2018

World War One: Six extraordinary Indian stories

World War One: Six extraordinary Indian stories Image copyright IWM Image caption Some 1.3 million Indian soldiers served in World War One Approximately 1.5 million Indian soldiers served in World War One - and more than 74,000 of them lost their lives. It's 100 years since the armistice of 11 November 1918 ended what was once called "the war to end all wars". But there are still many untold stories about the Indian Army from the conflict - personal accounts that show how global the war was, and how extraordinary Indian experiences were. Historian George Morton-Jack relates some of these stories. Arsala KhanOf all the Indian troops who fought between 1914 and 1918 - there were four times as many as those from Australian, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the Caribbean combined - Arsala Khan of the 57th Wilde's Rifles was the first to go into battle. He led the troops of the first Indian company to enter the British trenches on the western front, in Belgium on the night..
November 10, 2018

The forgotten English poet buried in India

The forgotten English poet buried in India Image caption Violet Nicholson was a best-selling poet in the late 18th Century For a best-selling author, Violet Nicolson's grave gets vanishingly few visitors. It lies in a hard-to-find corner of one of India's most unkempt colonial-era cemeteries - a forlorn and abandoned place where obelisks, crosses and funeral statuary peep out from the dense undergrowth. This is the Island - an overspill burial ground - in the southern Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras). It's located a couple of miles from its seventeenth century mother church, St Mary's, the oldest Anglican church not only in Chennai but anywhere east of Suez. The Indian animal trainer who became a circus legendThere is a poetic aspect to Nicholson's overgrown burial spot. Her poems - once hugely popular - are now almost as forgotten as her resting place. She belongs to another era - that last generation of the British in India whose confidence in Empi..
November 10, 2018

Rappler: Philippines to charge critical news site with tax evasion

Rappler: Philippines to charge critical news site with tax evasion Image copyright NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Image caption Maria Ressa, a former CNN journalist, founded the investigative news site in 2012 The Philippines says it will charge the major news site Rappler, which has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte, with tax evasion. Prosecutors said on Friday they also have grounds to indict founder Maria Ressa for violating tax laws after not declaring gains made in tax returns. Rappler has denied the charges, calling the case a "clear form of continuing intimidation and harassment". If found guilty Ms Ressa could be fined and jailed for up to 10 years. The government accuses Rappler and its chief executive of failing to pay tax on 2015 bond sales which resulted in 162.5 million pesos ($3 million; £2.3 million) in gains. Why Rappler is raising Philippine press freedom fears Duterte: The 'strongman' of the Philippines The state of Philippine media The English-language outl..
November 9, 2018

Mahinda Rajapaksa: Return of Sri Lanka’s wartime strongman

Mahinda Rajapaksa: Return of Sri Lanka's wartime strongman Image copyright Reuters Mahinda Rajapaksa, the man who dominated Sri Lanka as president for a decade, is now back at the summit of political power as prime minister. He is yet to receive the assent of parliament, but many now fear the return of a man accused of presiding over serious human rights abuses, as Charles Haviland reports. Rajapaksa has charm and charisma in abundance. I met him for the first time in 2010, in the early stages of a five-year stint as the BBC's Sri Lanka correspondent. I and my colleagues had turned up at his rural home totally unannounced. We were greeted by his son - and heir-apparent - Namal and were ushered in to meet the powerful leader, who was relaxing in his front room. We chatted at length. We were served tea. At no point did Mahinda Rajapaksa check the time, or imply we should leave. At later meetings, usually in a crowd of journalists, it was the same story. He would pat the seat n..
November 9, 2018

Sri Lanka’s President Sirisena moves to dissolve parliament

Sri Lanka's President Sirisena moves to dissolve parliament Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Sirisena's opponents say his move is illegal President Maithripala Sirisena has moved to dissolve parliament amid a political crisis following his attempt to replace Sri Lanka's prime minister. The official notification takes effect from midnight on Friday. If passed it could trigger a general election early next year. However it could also be challenged in the Supreme Court. The sacked prime minister's party says the president does not have the power to take such action. Last month, President Sirisena named former strongman leader Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister after sacking Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his cabinet and suspending parliament. But Mr Wickremesinghe has refused to leave, saying his sacking was illegitimate. An MP from Mr Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) said the move to dissolve parliament was "illegal" and said he..
November 9, 2018

Female Afghan barrister ‘sacked in favour of white man’

Female Afghan barrister 'sacked in favour of white man' Image caption Rehana Popal said more solicitors and barristers need to share their experiences The only female Afghan barrister in England and Wales says she has become numb to discrimination after a client sacked her to appoint a white man. Rehana Popal said other clients have told her they wanted someone white "because the judge will believe them". She said it suggested there was a "serious concern" with how the justice system was being perceived. The Ministry of Justice said it was committed to increasing the diversity of the judiciary. Ms Popal, an immigration and civil law specialist barrister at 10 KBW chambers in the Temple, tweeted: "Just had a solicitor call to tell me... the client has said he doesn't want an Asian female but a white male barrister." The barrister, who came to the UK as a child refugee, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme it had happened several times before and was "just sadly the r..
November 9, 2018

Afghanistan war: Taliban attend landmark peace talks

Afghanistan war: Taliban attend landmark peace talks Image copyright Reuters Image caption Members of the Taliban delegation take their seats at the Moscow talks Russia is hosting a landmark international meeting on Afghanistan aimed at kick-starting peace talks after decades of war. It is the first time representatives of the Taliban militant group have attended such an event. Russia's foreign minister said their presence, along with members of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, could help pave the way for direct talks. About a dozen other countries, including the US, are also attending. "We discussed the subject of direct talks with the Taliban and asked them to choose the place and the starting time," said a High Peace Council spokesman, Russia's RIA news agency reported. The Taliban have said the meeting is "not about negotiating with any side". Western officials and the Afghan government view the Moscow talks with some suspicion - some fear it could derail other ef..
November 9, 2018

Chinese headmaster fired over secret coin mining at school

Chinese headmaster fired over secret coin mining at school Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mining machines can make their owners rich - but they soak up lots of electricity A Chinese headmaster has been fired after a secret stack of crypto-currency mining machines was found connected to his school's electricity supply. Teachers at the school in Hunan became suspicious of a whirring noise that continued day and night, local media report. This led to the discovery of the machines, which were mining the crypto-currency Ethereum. They racked up an electricity bill of 14,700 yuan (£1,600). The excessive electricity consumption had previously been reported to the headmaster, Lei Hua, but he reportedly dismissed it as being caused by air conditioners and heating devices. Mining crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum involves connecting computers, usually specialised "mining machines", to the currency network. By providing computing power for validating transactions on..
November 9, 2018

Melbourne incident: Man arrested after fire and stabbings

Melbourne incident: Man arrested after fire and stabbings Image copyright Reuters Image caption Police have told the public to avoid the area A man has been arrested after a "small number of people" suffered stab wounds in an incident in central Melbourne, Australia. Victoria Police said the arrested man had been taken into custody in a critical condition. They had initially been called to reports of a car fire. Paramedics said they had treated three people at the scene - one is suspected to be in a critical condition. Police said they were "not looking for anyone further at this early stage". "The exact circumstances are yet to be determined at this stage," they said in a statement. They were initially called to reports of a car fire in Bourke St, a busy thoroughfare. Footage circulating on social media shows a vehicle, which appears to have crashed into shop fronts, on fire. Two police officers can be seen attempting to subdue a man who appears to be running at them with a knife. T..
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