August 25, 2018

Where men cut their skin to resemble crocodiles

Why some men in Papua New Guinea cut their skin to resemble crocodiles In Papua New Guinea, on the western half of the world's second-biggest island, 80% of people live in rural villages - and many in the most remote and isolated regions have little contact with the outside world at all. Here, as Mark Stratton found, traditional rituals still survive. The dappled light, cast through the worn thatched roof of the men's spirit house in Parambei village, reveals the rippling scars across the chests of several male initiates. The spirit houses - or Haus Tambaran - along the Sepik river in northern Papua New Guinea are the focal points for a regional belief system which reveres spirits manifesting as animals. These houses are richly decorated with murals and carvings of all manner of creatures - from pigs and cassowaries to snakes and eagles. Yet it is the crocodile that truly embodies animist power along the Sepik. In one of the world's most extreme initiation ceremonies,..
August 25, 2018

Asian Games: India’s elderly bridge players aim for glory

Asian Games: India's elderly bridge players aim for glory Image copyright AFP Image caption It's the first time bridge has been featured as a sport in the Asian Games For the first time, the card game bridge has been featured as a sport at the Asian Games. The BBC's Vandana Vijay speaks to two elderly women representing India. Until her 50s, Hema Deora was busy taking care of her sons in Delhi, or touring the country with her politician husband Murli Deora, a former petroleum minister. Now at the age of 67, she is representing India in a sport she often played with her friends at home every Saturday. Her teammate Rita Choksi is 79 and one of the oldest competitors at the Games, which began in Jakarta on 18 August and will end on 2 September. Ms Deora and Ms Choksi never thought they would play bridge at the Asian Games, let alone represent their country. Their dreams came true after the organisers of the Asian Games recognised bridge as a sport in 2018. Bridge and che..
August 25, 2018

US North Korea visit: China says Trump criticism is ‘irresponsible’

US North Korea visit: China says Trump criticism is 'irresponsible' Image copyright Reuters Image caption Problem solved - according to Mr Trump after his June summit with Kim Jong-un China has said it is "irresponsible" of President Trump to suggest it was not putting enough pressure on North Korea over its nuclear programme. Mr Trump had tweeted that China was "not helping" because of trade tensions with the US. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said this was "contrary to basic facts" and China was "seriously concerned". On Thursday Mr Trump called off US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's planned trip to North Korea. He said that insufficient progress was being made in dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programme. Skip Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump ...Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place)... — Dona..
August 25, 2018

Rohingya refugees protest Myanmar crackdown anniversary

Rohingya refugees protest Myanmar crackdown anniversary Image copyright EPA Image caption Thousands marched in what become the world's largest refugee camp Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have held protests on the first anniversary of Myanmar's crackdown on the predominantly Muslim minority. People in the world's largest refugee camp demanded justice and brandished a banner proclaiming "Never Again". Myanmar's military launched its crackdown on the ethnic group after Rohingya militants attacked police posts in Rakhine state on 25 August. More than 700,000 Rohingya have since fled the country. What you need to know about the Rohingya crisis Tales of horror from Myanmar Could Aung San Suu Kyi face Rohingya genocide charges? The United Nations described the military offensive in Rakhine as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" and refugees who have fled the violence have told horrific stories of sexual violence and torture. According to Medecins Sans Frontieres (..
August 24, 2018

North Korea visit: Trump calls off Pompeo trip

North Korea visit: Trump calls off Pompeo trip Image copyright Reuters Image caption Problem solved - according to Mr Trump after his June summit with Kim Jong-un US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not be travelling to North Korea in the immediate future after Donald Trump asked him to call off a planned trip. The president said in a tweet that insufficient progress was being made on denuclearising the Korean peninsula. And he suggested China was not doing enough to pressure North Korea - due to trade tensions with the US. After his summit with the North Korean leader in June, Mr Trump said the country was no longer a nuclear threat. But since then there have been several reports that it is failing to dismantle nuclear facilities. One of the most recent warnings came from unnamed US officials, who told the Washington Post that North Korea appeared to be building new intercontinental ballistic missiles. The UN's nuclear agency (IAEA) has also said North Korea is continuing..
August 24, 2018

Kerala floods: Victims face snake menace as waters recede

Kerala floods: Victims face snake menace as waters recede Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Floodwaters are receding in Kerala - but have left behind a glut of snakes Flood victims returning home in the Indian state of Kerala have been warned to prepare for a new menace: Snakes. Several snake-catching teams have been deployed to affected areas, amid fears the reptiles could be hiding in cupboards, under carpets, or inside washing machines in previously submerged homes. Hospitals in the worst-hit areas are readying supplies of anti-venom. Devastating flooding has killed around 400 people in Kerala since June. More than a million others were displaced, with many of them taking shelter in thousands of relief camps across the southern state. As well as the glut of snakes, scorpions and other insects are reported to have moved into human homes. On social media, footage emerged of a woman trying to stop a 10ft (3m)-long python from entering her garden by tapping a broomstick on th..
August 24, 2018

Australian rent-a-grave law to be reviewed

Australian rent-a-grave law to be reviewed Image copyright AFP Image caption Burials are costly in New South Wales, with much of the expense going on the burial plot A controversial law in Australia's New South Wales that allows graves to be "rented out" is going to a public inquiry, reports say. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the NSW government is going to review rentable graves, after they were introduced into the region's Cemeteries and Crematoria Act in June. The act allows relatives to rent graves for 25-99 year periods if they can't afford the leasehold fees on their loved one's permanent grave. The state library of New South Wales says that burials are an expensive business, and that a single grave can cost anywhere between AUD $2,970 and AUD $4,800 (£2,727; $3,506). Political issueThe existing law means the headstones of deceased relatives can be removed if relatives don't renew the deceased's plot of land within two years of expiration..
August 24, 2018

Malcolm Turnbull: The ‘refreshing’ PM felled by revolts and revenge

Malcolm Turnbull: The 'refreshing' PM felled by revolts and revenge Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Malcolm Turnbull failed to live up to his promise as prime minister. Malcolm Turnbull began his Australian prime ministership in 2015 by declaring it was the most exciting time to be alive. Achievements followed but, as political historian Paul Strangio writes, so too did reality - and it bit hard. What madness has infected Australian politics and why did Mr Turnbull, whose ascension to the job aroused such initial optimism, end so badly? Partly it can be explained by the primal political passion of vengeance. Malcolm Turnbull toppled Tony Abbott to become prime minister in September 2015. As in the preceding Labor period of government when Julia Gillard felled Kevin Rudd as prime minister who thereafter waged a remorseless insurgency against her, Mr Abbott and his allies have been hell bent on retribution against Mr Turnbull since 2015. On Friday, Mr Turnbull was ..
August 24, 2018

Japan’s first woman fighter pilot to blaze a trail in skies

Japan's first woman fighter pilot to blaze a trail in skies Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Misa Matsushima's childhood dream of being a fighter pilot was inspired by the 1986 US film Top Gun A Japanese woman will be flying through the glass ceiling as she becomes her country's first female fighter pilot. First Lieutenant Misa Matsushima, 26, will begin duty on Friday having completed her training to fly F-15s, Japan's military has announced. "As the first female (fighter) pilot, I will open the way," she told reporters. Japan's air force began recruiting women in 1993 - except as fighter jet and reconnaissance aircraft pilots. It lifted that final ban in late 2015. "Ever since I saw the movie Top Gun when I was in primary school, I have always admired fighter jet pilots," the graduate of Japan's National Defence Academy told journalists. "I wish to continue to work hard to fulfil my duty - not just for myself but also for women who will follow t..
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