August 30, 2018

Why India activist arrests have kicked up a storm

Why India activist arrests have kicked up a storm Image copyright Getty Images Image caption People in different cities are protesting against the arrests The arrest of five prominent Indian political activists over their alleged Maoist links has sparked a national conversation. Some have called it an attack on freedom of speech, while others have justified the arrests in the name of national security. On Wednesday, a group of scholars challenged the arrests in the Supreme Court, which ordered the detainees to be kept under house arrest rather than in police custody until the next hearing on 6 September. Who are the activists who were arrested? On 28 August, police arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira. They were picked up from their homes in different Indian cities. Police also searched the homes of other leftist lawyers and scholars as part of the same investigation. Ms Bharadwaj, 56, is a law professor and a trade unionist who..
August 30, 2018

Movie madness: Why Chinese cinemas are empty but full

Movie madness: Why Chinese cinemas are empty but full Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Chinese movie theatres may appear to be sold out online, but in reality could be completely empty For a country which will soon assume the mantle of the world's largest cinema audience, China comes out with a surprising number of big budget B-grade flops. Some blame this on censorship, others on a lack of creativity but there are also those who see a more sinister force at work, which has nothing to do with film-making. It also has nothing to do with selling tickets: at least not real ones. Some investors are apparently financially backing movies with the sole goal of boosting their stock price that can shift on the perception of a movie's performance, irrespective of its true popularity. Chinese film critic and industry observer Raymond Zhou has been digging into the darker side of film financing in his country. "When you have a hit film, your stock price will go up several tim..
August 30, 2018

Why Australia is talking about a French au pair

Why Australia is talking about a French au pair Image copyright EPA Image caption Peter Dutton has defended using his ministerial discretion to grant a visa An Australian minister is facing growing questions over why he personally intervened to grant a visa to a French au pair, in a case that has attracted national attention. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton denies he acted improperly in halting the deportation of Alexandra Deuwel. The decision helped a wealthy family, and followed a plea by their relative - a prominent sporting chief executive. Local media said Mr Dutton had overruled a senior official's advice. Critics have compared the case to Mr Dutton's unwavering commitment, as immigration minister, to keeping asylum seekers in overseas detention - a long-time controversial policy. Mr Dutton failed in two attempts to become prime minister last week, ultimately losing out to Scott Morrison. What is the au pair controversy?Ms Deuwel, 27, had her tourist visa cancelled ..
August 30, 2018

Hayabusa 2: Japan sets date for spacecraft’s asteroid touchdown

Hayabusa 2: Japan sets date for spacecraft's asteroid touchdown Image copyright JAXA, Uni Tokyo & collaborators Image caption Hayabusa 2 arrived at the asteroid 162173 Ryugu in June The Japanese space agency has set dates for its historic plan to explore the surface of an asteroid with robots. The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft reached the asteroid Ryugu in June this year after a three-and-a-half-year journey to the spinning top-shaped space rock. Officials have picked days in September and October for the deployment of separate robotic landing craft from the Hayabusa 2 "mothership". The robots will be despatched to separate locations on the asteroid. If all goes well, they will be the first landing craft to gather data from the surface of an asteroid. The 1km-wide space rock known formally as 162173 Ryugu belongs to a particularly primitive type of asteroid, and therefore a relic left over from the early days of our Solar System. Studying it could shed light on the origin and evolution o..
August 30, 2018

Imran Khan mocked for helicopter home-to-work commute

Imran Khan mocked for helicopter home-to-work commute Image copyright Reuters Online discussion in Pakistan this week is being dominated by the commuting habits of Imran Khan, recently elected as prime minister. Mr Khan has been making the 9.3-mile (15km) journey - as the crow flies - from his private home to his official residence by helicopter. His choice of transport has come under criticism for being too lavish given his promises to make bureaucrats and politicians tighten their belts. But it was the defence offered by Information Minister Fawad Chaudry which sparked widespread scorn on social media. Speaking at a press conference he claimed the helicopter was an inexpensive option costing as little 55 rupees ($0.77, £0.60) per km. "I have seen this on Google," he added. People were sceptical that travel by helicopter could be so cheap. #Helicopter became the top Twitter trend in Pakistan on Monday with over 16,000 tweets using the hashtag and many making jokes about the claim. ..
August 30, 2018

China officials ‘faked water tests with bottled water’

China officials 'faked water tests with bottled water' Image copyright Getty Creative Image caption The officials reportedly faked the data by using bottled water instead of river water China is sending investigators to Hunan province after local officials were accused of faking data at a water monitoring station, state media report. The officials are alleged to have placed sensors intended to measure the water quality of Lujiang River inside bottles of mineral water instead. The river, in Zhuzhou, is badly polluted by sewage water, reports say. There is widespread suspicion that some local officials and companies in China ignore environmental policies. The environment ministry says it is investigating in Zhuzhou and "will seriously punish" any "violations". One monitoring sensor was even placed in a cup of tea instead of the Lujiang River, Xinhua news agency says. Water monitoring currently takes place at 2,050 sites in the country, China Daily reports. The Chinese govern..
August 30, 2018

Brexit fallout: Panasonic to move Europe headquarters from UK to Amsterdam

Brexit fallout: Panasonic to move Europe headquarters from UK to Amsterdam Image copyright Getty Images Panasonic will move its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam later this year, a decision thought to be related to Brexit. The move is aimed at avoiding potential tax issues linked to Britain's decision to leave the European Union. Ahead of March 2019, several firms have said they are considering or will move jobs out of the UK. There are widespread concerns firms will favour European cities, dependent on the terms of a Brexit deal. Panasonic's decision was driven by a fear that Japan could start considering the UK a tax haven if it cuts corporate tax rates to attract business, Laurent Abadie, CEO of Panasonic Europe told the Nikkei Asia Review. A spokesperson told the BBC the registration of Panasonic's European headquarters would move to Amsterdam from the UK in October. Brexit: Key dates and potential hurdles At-a-glance: The UK's four Brexit options..
August 30, 2018

Rohingya crisis: Myanmar leader Suu Kyi ‘should have resigned’

Rohingya crisis: Myanmar leader Suu Kyi 'should have resigned' Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Rohingya are one of many ethnic minorities in Myanmar The outgoing UN human rights chief says Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi should have resigned over the military's violent campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority last year. Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein told the BBC the Nobel Peace prize winner's attempts to excuse it were "deeply regrettable". His comments come after a UN report said Myanmar's military leaders should be prosecuted for possible genocide. Myanmar rejected this, saying it had no tolerance for human rights violations. The army - which has been accused of systematic ethnic cleansing - has previously cleared itself of wrongdoing. The UN report, published on Monday, blamed Ms Suu Kyi, a long-term leader of the pro-democracy movement, for failing to prevent the violence. Will we ever see Myanmar's military leaders ..
August 30, 2018

Trump blames China for N Korea dilemmas

Trump accuses China of stalling progress with North Korea Image copyright AFP Image caption 'It's all China's fault' says Trump US President Donald Trump has lashed out at China for undermining its work with North Korea, as criticism over progress on denuclearisation mounts. In a series of tweets he also said the US should not be spending on war games with South Korea, but if it did restart them they would be "bigger than ever". The US called a halt to the military exercises which routinely infuriate Pyongyang after landmark talks in June. But days ago his own defence secretary said military exercises might continue. The ongoing debate about the war games comes as many observers say North Korea is not moving fast enough to dismantle nuclear or rocket sites following the summit between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Mr Trump's tweets appear to place the blame for these challenges squarely on China, but he also goes on to praise his personal t..
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