September 8, 2018

Climate change: Protests held ahead of California summit

Climate change: Protests held ahead of California summit Image copyright AFP Image caption Saturday's demonstrations started in Sydney harbour Environmentalists have held protests around the world demanding stepped up measures against climate change, ahead of a summit in California next week. Politicians, business leaders and celebrities will attend the Global Climate Action Summit, whose sponsors include the UN, Facebook and Google. On Friday Pacific island nations declared climate change to be the "single biggest threat" they face. The demonstrations have been organised by New York-based group The Paris climate deal explained What could disappear on 'Hothouse Earth' What is climate change? They began on Saturday with tall ships sailing into Sydney Harbour in Australia. Australia remains heavily reliant on coal to generate electricity, but activists say the country must join an international push towards renewable energy. Image copyright AFP Image caption D..
September 7, 2018

Alibaba’s Jack Ma ‘to step down and focus on philanthropy’

Alibaba's Jack Ma 'to step down and focus on philanthropy' Image copyright Reuters Image caption Jack Ma has a net personal wealth of $40bn One of China's richest men, Jack Ma, is to step down as executive chairman of the Alibaba e-commerce empire on Monday, the New York Times reported. He will remain on Alibaba's board of directors but focus on philanthropy in education, the newspaper said. Mr Ma co-founded Alibaba in 1999 and has seen it become one of the world's biggest internet companies. With a market value of more than $400bn (£309bn), it includes online selling, film production and cloud computing. In an interview with the Times, former English teacher Mr Ma said retirement would not be the end of an era but "the beginning of an era", adding: "I love education". Alibaba's sales surge continuesMr Ma, who will be 54 on Monday, has a net personal wealth of $40bn, making him the third richest person in China, according to the 2017 Forbes' Chi..
September 7, 2018

The Indian activist jailed for being gay

The Indian activist jailed for being gay Image caption Arif Jafar spent 47 days in jail for being gay In a historic ruling, India's Supreme Court struck down parts of a colonial-era law that criminalised homosexuality. Jayshree Bajoria spoke to Arif Jafar, an LGBT activist who was arrested under section 377 and spent 47 days in prison. "It was very traumatic," recalls Arif Jafar, 47, outside the Supreme Court, where Thursday's landmark ruling was delivered. A short, bespectacled man, he wears a shiny pink button on his shirt supporting the cause dearest to his heart. "Being denied drinking water... being beaten up every day just because of my sexual orientation was a really horrible experience. It took me almost 17 years to even talk about it," he said. Mr Jafar is one of a clutch of petitioners who approached the top court, asking them to reconsider a 2013 ruling which upheld the colonial-era law, under which homosexuality was a crime. What it means to be gay in rural I..
September 7, 2018

North Korea: Six months’ training for 10 minutes on parade

North Korea: Six months' training for 10 minutes on parade Image copyright EPA Sunday sees a huge birthday celebration in North Korea. Dazzling displays of discipline and devotion are expected for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state. Tens of thousands of local citizens will march in a painstakingly rehearsed parade which is bound to include at least some of the North's coveted military hardware. Even foreign television crews have been allowed in to the usually secretive state. The cameras will most likely be told where to point and shoot. What they will fail to capture is the months and sometimes years of painful practice. Image copyright Reuters Image caption Pyongyang watchers will be looking closely at military hardware on display "These parades are emblematic of Pyongyang's 'theatre state', with tens of thousands of people mobilised in de-individualised displays of patriotic zeal, leader adulation and archaic ideological slogans," says Sokee..
September 7, 2018

US tech firms ask for protection from next Trump tariffs

US tech firms ask for protection from next Trump tariffs Image copyright Getty Images Four major US tech companies have written to the US Trade Representative (USTR) asking for protection from the proposed third round of Trump tariffs. Dell, Cisco, Juniper Networks and Hewlett Packard Enterprise warn the new taxes could result in US job losses. The firms are worried the tariffs will increase their costs since many of their components come from China. They say a duty of between 10-25% "would cause broad, disproportionate economic harm to US interests". The last-ditch effort came as US public hearings on the upcoming tariffs ended. The hearings examining the potential impact of the taxes wrapped up on Thursday, setting expectations that another round of tariffs could be imposed on $200bn (£154.7bn) of Chinese products as early as Friday. Typically, however, the US has implemented tariffs within weeks, not days, of the end of public consultations. 'Disproportionate harm'The fo..
September 7, 2018

Cheryl Grimmer: Man denies murder of toddler in 48-year mystery

Cheryl Grimmer: Man denies murder of toddler in 48-year mystery Image copyright NSW Police Image caption Cheryl disappeared shortly after her family migrated to Australia A man has pleaded not guilty to murdering a UK-born toddler who disappeared in Australia in 1970. Three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer went missing from a shower block at a New South Wales beach not long after her family moved to Australia from Bristol. The girl's disappearance is one of Australia's longest-running mysteries. Her accused murderer, 64, is expected to face a trial in May. He cannot be named for legal reasons because he was 16 at the time of the alleged murder. The man was arrested in Melbourne in March last year. On Friday, he appeared via video link in the Supreme Court of New South Wales and entered a plea of not guilty. Decades-old mysteryCheryl went missing on 12 January, 1970, after a family trip to a beach in Wollongong, a city 70km (44 miles) south of Sydney. It sparked a massive search at th..
September 7, 2018

Fears grow for Japan quake survivors as death toll rises

Fears grow for Japan quake survivors as death toll rises Image copyright Reuters Image caption Emergency crews are racing against the clock to find survivors Rescuers continued to search for survivors of a powerful earthquake on Japan's island of Hokkaido, as the death toll rose to 16. Dozens are still missing with many feared buried under rubble after the quake triggered landslides. Some 1.6 million residents across Hokkaido remain without power. The quake is the second disaster to hit Japan this week, after a deadly typhoon lashed the country's west coast. The earthquake struck early on Thursday and thousands of people spent the night in evacuation centres. 'I thought I would die'The village of Atsuma was among the hardest hit, where roads and houses collapsed after huge landslides. "We've heard there are people still stuck under the mud, so we've been working around the clock but it's been difficult to rescue them," a rescue worker in Atsuma t..
September 6, 2018

Japan’s push to resume whaling for profit

Japan's push to resume whaling for profit Image copyright Barcroft Media Image caption Whales are known to be intelligent and sociable animals Few conservation issues generate as emotional a response as whaling. Commercial whaling has been effectively banned for more than 30 years, after whales were driven almost to extinction. But the International Whaling Committee (IWC) is currently meeting in Brazil and next week will give its verdict on a proposal from Japan to end the ban. Could countries soon be allowed to kill whales for profit again? Don't the Japanese already kill whales?Yes, they do - but it's complicated. IWC members agreed to a moratorium on hunting in 1986, to allow populations to recover. Pro-whaling nations expected the moratorium to be temporary, until consensus could be reached on sustainable catch quotas. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Japan used a clause allowing scientific whaling to continue its hunt Instead, it became a quasi-perman..
September 6, 2018

What it means to be gay in rural India

What it means to be gay in rural India The Supreme Court's decision to make gay sex legal in India has been hailed as historic. LGBT groups in cities across the country have been celebrating the ruling as the "beginning of a new era". But the reality for members of the LGBT community in rural India is different. They believe it will take a long time to change regressive attitudes towards them. Here three gay people from rural India tell their stories. Arun Kumar, 28, northern state of Uttar PradeshI am really happy with the court's decision. It will help people in cities express themselves without fearing the law. But sadly, it's different for people like me who live in villages. It's not the law that we fear - what troubles us is people's perception. I hope that the media's coverage of the verdict will help people understand that homosexuality is normal. But LGBT people have a long battle ahead of them before they can live without fear. I have lived m..
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