July 21, 2018

The mega-machines helping China link the world

The mega-machines helping China link the world China is creating a network of ambitious land- and sea-based transport links to connect its booming economy with those of Europe and Africa. And it's wasting no time - designing incredible bespoke construction machines to get the job done fast. President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013, aims to connect two-thirds of the world's population across 70 countries through a network of land links (the "belt") and sea routes (the "road"). Officials talk about lifetime investments worth trillions of dollars, sourced from banks, participating countries and the Chinese government. The scheme is not without controversy. Critics point out that it burdens poor countries with billions of dollars of Chinese debt, and dismiss it as a projection of Chinese foreign policy. Nevertheless, evidence of the Belt and Road can already be seen in China and beyond, where a fleet of new machines is building railwa..
July 21, 2018

Pakistan election: Who’s who and why it matters

Pakistan election: Who's who and why it matters Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionPakistan's election: Five things to know Tens of millions of Pakistanis are preparing to vote in a general election on Wednesday after a campaign tainted by violence and dominated by political controversy. What happens in this South Asian country of nearly 200 million matters: it is a nuclear-armed rival to India, a key developing economy and one the world's largest Muslim-majority nations. Here's what you need to know about the election, which has been called the dirtiest in Pakistan's history. Why it's important Since independence in 1947, Pakistan has oscillated between civilian and military rule. This election will mark the second time that one civilian government has handed power to another after serving a full term - a historic landmark. But few in Pakistan are celebrating the strength of its democracy. The run-up to the vote has been marked by ..
July 21, 2018

India scraps tampon tax after campaign

India scraps tampon tax after campaign Image copyright AFP Image caption The introduction of the 12% "blood tax" sparked protests across India India has scrapped its 12% tax on all sanitary products following months of campaigning by activists. The announcement comes a year after the government introduced the tax, known as GST, on all goods - including the 12% duty on menstrual hygiene products. Campaigners argued the tax would make them even more unaffordable in a country where an estimated four out of five women and girls already have no access to items like sanitary pads. The news was welcomed by campaigners. Surbhi Singh, founder of Sachhi Saheli, a menstrual health awareness charity, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: "This was a most-awaited and necessary step to help girls and women to stay in school, their jobs, to practise proper menstrual hygiene. "This will help them to grow, to show their true potential." Periods are one of the leading reasons why girls drop out of educa..
July 21, 2018

Sri Lanka’s Galle cricket stadium risks being demolished

Sri Lanka's Galle cricket stadium risks being demolished Image copyright AFP Image caption England fans watch their team play Sri Lanka at Galle Stadium in 2012 One of the world's most picturesque cricket stadiums is at risk of being demolished because it threatens the heritage status of a nearby fort. Galle cricket stadium, in southern Sri Lanka, is famed for its stunning views of the Indian Ocean. But it is the 17th Century Dutch fort which looms over the ground that has put it in danger. Sri Lanka's cultural affairs minister Wijeyadasa Rakapakshe said the fort risks losing Unesco World Heritage status because of unauthorised construction nearby, including the 500-seat pavilion stand which was rebuilt after the ground was devastated by the 2004 tsunami. Image copyright AFP Image caption Sri Lanka have won most of the matches they have played here since 1998 Image copyright AFP Image caption Standing on the fort affords a good view of the cricket below Image copyright..
July 21, 2018

Japan heatwave: Warnings issued amid scorching temperatures

Japan heatwave: Warnings issued amid scorching temperatures Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The heatwave has filled public parks, but also caused many deaths People across Japan have been urged to take precautions against a heatwave that has killed about 30 people. Thousands more have sought hospital treatment for heat-related conditions over the past two weeks. Temperatures reached 40.7C (105F) in central Japan earlier this week, a five-year nationwide peak. In the city of Kyoto temperatures have stood above 38C (100.4F) for seven days in a row for the first time since records began in the 19th Century. The Japanese education ministry told schools to take thorough measures to prevent heat stroke after a six-year-old boy died following an outdoor class in Aichi Prefecture on Tuesday. Japan's meteorological agency urged people to drink sufficient water to prevent heat exhaustion. Image copyright Reuters Image caption The heatwave has caused misery for volunteers in fl..
July 20, 2018

Uzbek TV channel apologises over steamy Schumer scene

Uzbek TV channel apologises over steamy Schumer scene Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Film star Amy Schumer: Subject of an Uzbek 'technical failure' A television channel in Uzbekistan has apologised profusely for allowing a bedroom scene from a Hollywood film to make its way onto domestic screens, it's reported. Privately-owned entertainment channel Sevimli TV said a "technical failure" meant that an uncut version of 2018 comedy I Feel Pretty was shown, complete with a raunchy scene where star Amy Schumer kisses and cuddles a male character on a bed, CA News reported. Uzbekistan, Central Asia's most populous country, often censors films shown on TV. The bedroom scene was said to have been aired "contrary to the Uzbek mentality" which "trampled on the spirit of the nation", a campaign to force an apology from the channel declared. A remorseful Sevimli TV said it had sacked all staff members responsible for letting the "immoral scene" slip through. "Every..
July 20, 2018

Raza Khan: Pakistani activist missing for seven months returns home

Raza Khan: Pakistani activist missing for seven months returns home Image caption Activist Raza Khan was taken from his home by unidentified men in December 2017 A Pakistani activist who went missing seven months ago has returned to his home in Lahore, his friends say. Raza Khan was picked up from his residence in the northern city by unidentified men last December. On the day of his disappearance, he posted comments on Facebook criticising the Pakistani military and its suspected links to Islamist hardliners. The circumstances behind his release are not clear and his family will not disclose details amid security fears. On Friday, a friend of Mr Khan confirmed the activist's safe return following reports from officials that he had been "recovered" 10 days ago. The police have not yet commented on the reports. Where reporters face beatings, threats and death War of nerves between military and Sharif Mr Khan was taken from his home on 2 December 2017, the same day that he helpe..
July 20, 2018

Pakistan election: Imran Khan scents victory

Pakistan election: Imran Khan scents victory Image copyright AFP Image caption Imran Khan's supporters have never been nearer to victory, opinion polls suggest Leading Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan has told the BBC his opponents in elections next week will "lose because of their track record" when in power. Mr Khan dismissed concerns about the fairness of the elections. "The status quo parties are suddenly saying the elections won't be free and fair. The reason is all the opinion polls show the PTI is surging… so they're already seeing the writing on the wall." Supporters of the PML-N party, in power for the past five years, and human rights groups allege the Pakistani military is "engineering" the result to ensure Mr Khan's PTI party wins. The elections are widely seen as a contest between the PTI, and the PML-N, dominated by the family of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Mr Khan told the BBC his party's campaign was "a mission to see Paki..
July 20, 2018

Thai cave: Artists’ huge mural honours rescue heroes

Thai cave: Artists' huge mural honours rescue heroes A giant mural entitled The Heroes has been created in Chiang Rai, Thailand, to honour the rescue operation that saved 12 young footballers and their coach, who were trapped in a cave for over a fortnight. Image copyright Getty Images Image copyright Getty Images The artwork was created by a team of local artists, and prominently features Saman Gunan (seen below), the former Thai Navy SEAL diver who died helping the rescue operation to save the Wild Boars soccer team. Image copyright Getty / Poom Pui The mural is being displayed at Art Bridge, a private gallery in northern Thailand, as part of an exhibition dedicated to the successful rescue operation. Image copyright Getty Images Also featured is a statue of Saman Gunan, with the 12 boys and their football coach represented by a wild boar and piglets at his feet. Image copyright Getty Images The boys and their football coach became trapped in the Tham Luang cave on 23 June, ..
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