September 23, 2018

Australia fruit scare: Needles found in New Zealand strawberries

Australia fruit scare: Needles found in New Zealand strawberries Image copyright EPA Image caption There have been over 100 reports of needles being found in supermarket fruit in Australia The Australian scare over needles found in strawberries has spread to New Zealand after needles were found in a punnet of the fruit in an Auckland supermarket. The Countdown supermarket chain said it had taken a brand of Australian strawberries off the shelves. There have been over 100 reports of needles being found in supermarket fruit in Australia. Many are thought to be copycat cases or social media jokes, however. Why would someone hide a needle in fruit? Australia's strawberry needle scare widens Apple and banana in Australia needle scares The strawberries in Auckland, originally from Western Australia state, were sold in New Zealand Countdown stores nationwide last week. "We take food safety very seriously," the company said in a statement. "Customers can return any Choice brand of st..
September 22, 2018

Venezuela crisis: Chinese hospital ship docks for a week

Venezuela crisis: Chinese hospital ship docks for a week Image copyright Reuters Image caption Traditional Venezuelan dancers welcomed the hospital ship when it arrived on Saturday A Chinese hospital ship has docked in Venezuela, where for the next week it will provide free health care to local patients. Venezuela's Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino López, went to the port of La Guaira to welcome the Chinese crew. He said that the Peace Ark's visit was agreed by President Nicolás Maduro during a visit to Beijing last week. Venezuela agreed at the time to increase its exports of oil to China, which is one of its main creditors. Venezuela's economic crisis has led to severe shortages of food and medicines and the collapse of public services. Image copyright Reuters Image caption Venezuela's Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez (right) has praised China's gesture The opposition says the presence of a Chinese hospital ship in Venezuela shows the extent of th..
September 22, 2018

The Chinese storyteller loved by millions

Obituary: Shan Tianfang, China's beloved storyteller Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Shan Tianfang China is fondly remembering one of its most famous radio voices, a man whose vivid storytelling was a comfort to millions of people, from commuters stuck in traffic to restless teens struggling to sleep. Shan Chuanzhong, better known by his stage name Shan Tianfang, was a leading exponent of the traditional Chinese performance art form pingshu, which translates as "storytelling". He has died aged 84 following a long illness.Pingshu, also known as "shoushu" and "pinghua", dates from the Song Dynasty (AD960-1279), when performers would entertain villagers by telling stories in a particularly emotive style.It remains particularly popular in north-eastern China. Performers wear traditional dress and use very basic props - often a folded fan and a gavel. The fan is used to indicate a character's physical movements, like drawing a sword, or hitting something. The gavel is p..
September 22, 2018

Abhilash Tomy: Rescue mission to reach injured Indian sailor

Abhilash Tomy: Rescue mission to reach injured Indian sailor Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Thuriya set sail from France at the start of July on the round-the-world race An international rescue team is trying to reach a seriously injured Indian sailor who is taking part in the Golden Globe round-the-world race. Solo yachtsman Abhilash Tomy is stranded 3,200km (2,000 miles) off the coast of Western Australia. His yacht Thuriya had its mast broken during a severe storm in the Indian Ocean. He managed to send a message saying he has a severe back injury and is immobilised, unable to eat or drink. The storm whipped up 70-knot winds and 14-metre (45ft) waves, which twice knocked down the yacht of Dutchman Mark Slats. Most of the 18 competitors in the race were further north and avoided the worst of the storm, organisers said. An Irish race competitor, Gregor McGuckin, whose own yacht was damaged in the storm, has set up a temporary rig and is attempting to cover the 150km (9..
September 22, 2018

Asian rivals eye ‘flawed’ Maldives poll

Asian rivals eye 'flawed' Maldives poll Image copyright Getty Images Image caption India fears close ties between the incumbent government of Abdulla Yameen and China The Maldives is set to vote in a heavily-criticised election that will be closely watched by India and China. The Indian Ocean archipelago is best-known overseas for its clear waters and high-end resorts but its government stands accused of crushing dissent. President Abdulla Yameen has embraced China, while his opponent, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, is seen as leaning towards India and the West. The European Union and US have voiced concerns about the election. Both have threatened to impose targeted sanctions if the democratic situation does not improve. The Maldives is made up of 26 coral atolls and 1,192 islands, and tourism is a vital part of its economy. More than 400,000 people live there but its future hangs in the balance due to climate change. What's been happening?The archipelago has been gripped by ..
September 22, 2018

Hong Kong express rail link launches amid controversy

Hong Kong express rail link launches amid controversy Image copyright Reuters Image caption The high speed rail link will open to the public on Sunday A high-speed rail link has been launched in Hong Kong, connecting the territory with mainland China. The Express Rail Link connects Hong Kong to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in 40 minutes - less than half the time taken by older trains. Chinese authorities will be able to operate at a joint checkpoint at the station, and on the trains. This is controversial as it marks the first time Chinese criminal law will be enforced in Hong Kong territory. Critics say this violates Hong Kong's freedoms and mini-constitution. The rail link was launched at a ceremony on Saturday, with one local lawmaker praising the first bullet train journey to Guangzhou South as "very quiet, like I was on a plane". Government officials say the rail link will boost businesses in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. How part of Hong Kong became ruled b..
September 22, 2018

China Catholic bishops: Historic deal with Vatican reached

China Catholic bishops: Historic deal with Vatican reached Image copyright Getty Images Image caption There are at least 10 million Catholics in China Pope Francis has recognised seven bishops appointed by China as part of a historic accord to improve ties between the Vatican and the communist country. The issue of who appoints bishops has been at the heart of a dispute since China first broke off diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 1951. China has some 10 million Catholics. Pope Francis hopes the deal "will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome" and bring about full Catholic unity in China, the Vatican said. China, the Vatican and a controversial deal Why many Christians in China turn to underground churches China's 'outlaw' do-it-yourself bishop Beijing has long insisted that the state must approve the appointment of bishops in China, running contrary to the Catholic Church's insistence that it is a papal decision. Currently, Catholics in China face the c..
September 22, 2018

Afghan children killed in police station bomb blast

Afghan children killed in police station bomb blast At least eight children have been killed and six wounded in a bomb blast in Afghanistan's northern Faryab province. Police in the Shirin Tagab district blamed the Taliban for planting a mine in the area, which fell into the group's control last week. The children were playing near a police station when the explosion happened, witnesses said. They are said to be aged between six and 12 years old. Who are the Taliban? Taliban 'threaten 70% of Afghanistan' Why Afghanistan is more dangerous than ever Afghan outlet Tolo News reports that two of the wounded have lost limbs. They were taken to hospital in a critical condition. There has been no comment from the Taliban.
September 21, 2018

Viewpoint: What India’s first newspaper says about democracy

Viewpoint: What India's first newspaper says about democracy Image copyright University of Heidelberg Image caption The newspaper was named after its founder, James Augustus Hicky India's first newspaper, founded in 1780, held up a mirror to British rule in India. It can also teach us about how tyrants work and how an independent press can stop them, writes journalist and historian Andrew Otis. Known as Hicky's Bengal Gazette after its intrepid founder, James Augustus Hicky, the newspaper notoriously dogged the most powerful men in India. It dug into their private lives and accused them of corruption, bribery and abuse of rights. Among many claims, it accused the then ruler of British India, Governor General Warren Hastings, of bribing the chief justice of India's Supreme Court. It alleged that Hastings and his top aides launched illegal wars of conquest, taxed the people without representation and suppressed freedom of speech. The newspaper also reported on the l..
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