June 7, 2018

Afghanistan calls temporary Eid ceasefire with Taliban

Afghanistan calls temporary Eid ceasefire with Taliban Image copyright EPA Image caption Afghan troops will keep fighting Islamic State militants and others The Afghan government has announced a temporary ceasefire with the Taliban but says fighting with other militants will continue. President Ashraf Ghani said the ceasefire would coincide with the end of the Ramadan fasting month, Eid. The Taliban have yet to respond. Last week they denied they were in secret talks with Afghan officials. Tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed since US-led troops drove the Taliban from power in 2001. Foreign combat forces withdrew in 2014. Since then the Taliban have extended their influence over swathes of the country, and areas previously taken from them are now back under their control. The Afghan army has suffered mounting casualties, although the Taliban are also reported to have been hard hit by US air strikes. A BBC investigation published in January found the militants now have an a..
June 7, 2018

US embassy pulls more China staff over mystery illness

US embassy pulls more China staff over mystery illness Image copyright AFP Image caption US consulate staff in Guangzhou fear they might be being targeted The US has removed several more officials from China over fears they have contracted the same mysterious illness that affected staff in Cuba. The employees, who were working in the southern city of Guangzhou, had reported hearing odd noises. Last year, 24 US staff working at the Cuba embassy suffered brain injuries after reporting "auditory sensations". The incidents have raised concerns that a government or agency may be targeting the US with a new type of sonic weapon. The cases come at a time when China-US relations have been strained amid fears of a trade war. Earlier this month, the State Department issued a health warning to its staff saying an employee in China had reported "subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure". It said it was taking the reports seriously, but did not yet know the cause, and warne..
June 7, 2018

Australia jails man over Malaysia Airlines plane bomb threat

Australia jails man over Malaysia Airlines plane bomb threat Image copyright Andrew Leoncelli Image caption Police board the plane after it landed at Melbourne Airport last year A Sri Lankan man who threatened to detonate a bomb on a Malaysia Airlines plane has been jailed in Australia. Manodh Marks, 26, forced Kuala Lumpur-bound jet MH128 to turn back to Melbourne in May last year after he tried to access the cockpit. He was later found not to be carrying explosives and in a drug-induced psychosis, a court heard. It is the first time Australia has jailed a person for attempting to take control of an aircraft. Marks will be deported after serving a maximum sentence of 12 years, judge Michael McInerney told the County Court of Victoria on Thursday. "The passengers and crew certainly were not only concerned, but convinced, that you were indeed in possession of a bomb," the judge said in his sentencing remarks. The flight, carrying more than 200 people, landed safely about 15 minutes aft..
June 7, 2018

Trump-Kim summit: Abe heads to US amid surge of diplomacy

Trump-Kim summit: Abe heads to US amid surge of diplomacy Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Abe has been a frequent guest in Washington Japan's PM Shinzo Abe is set to hold a last-minute meeting with Donald Trump, days before the US president meets North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Mr Abe's visit is part of a surge of diplomacy ahead of the unprecedented summit on 12 June in Singapore. Few details of the agenda for the Trump-Kim meeting have been confirmed. When he meets Mr Trump in Washington on Thursday, Mr Abe is expected to push for Japan's security concerns to be reflected. Also on Thursday, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan headed to Pyongyang to meet his counterpart Ri Yong-ho. Pushing Tokyo's concernsMr Abe has held regular meetings with Mr Trump since the US president took office. Once it was announced that Mr Trump intended to meet the North Korean leader - a break with decades of US policy - Mr Abe has been eager to brief him on..
June 7, 2018

Spencer Tunick: Supermarket chain halts artist’s nude shoot

Spencer Tunick: Supermarket chain halts artist's nude shoot Image copyright HEIDY ELAINNE Image caption Thousands of people posed for the artist outside the Sydney Opera House in 2010 Photographer Spencer Tunick has started a petition against a decision by an Australian supermarket chain to halt plans for his latest mass nudes shoot. More than 10,000 people had volunteered to pose for the renowned US artist on a rooftop car park in Melbourne. But supermarket giant Woolworths, which owns the location, said the shoot would inconvenience customers. A local business group has protested against the decision, describing it as "prudish". New York-based Mr Tunick is famed for his pictures of naked crowds, sometimes at global landmarks. A Woolworths spokeswoman said: "The request for the photo was for the weekend, which is the busiest time of the week for shopping in our stores." But Mr Tunick said that his shoot had been scheduled to take place early in the morning to minimise disrupti..
June 6, 2018

Storm over India film on women who ‘smoke, drink and have sex’

Storm over India film on women who 'smoke, drink and have sex' Image copyright Veere Di Wedding/Facebook page Image caption Social media and critics are divided on the film's message A Bollywood summer film that shows female bonding among four hard drinking, foul-mouthed friends has sparked a social media storm. Set in south Delhi, one of India's poshest neighbourhoods, Veere Di Wedding is about a group of school friends who are now grown up independent women. The film is about four BFFs (best friends forever) and a wedding gone wrong. The four friends swear freely, drink and throw up with equal speed, and have flings. They deal with familiar Indian social tropes like the distaste for arranged marriages, weight issues, being judged by friends and relatives, putting up with the pressures of a big fat over-the-top wedding, and balancing parental approval and those of husbands' families. Their open and casual swearing and discussion of their sexual needs seems ..
June 6, 2018

The deadly cost of the US air war in Afghanistan

The deadly cost of the US air war in Afghanistan Image copyright Reuters Image caption An air strike by the Afghan Air Force on 2 April killed 30 children, a UN investigation found The helicopters arrived shortly after midday and sent a rocket hurtling into an area at the back of the crowd where children were sitting. As people began to flee, witnesses said, heavy machine gun fire followed them. It was the latest deadly example of how a ferocious new air campaign against the Taliban has caused a spike in civilian casualties from US and Afghan air operations. This Afghan Air Force attack on 2 April in north-eastern Kunduz province killed at least 36 people and injured 71, the UN says. Although witnesses said Taliban fighters and senior figures were in the crowd, 30 of those killed were children. Hundreds of people had gathered outside a madrassa in the Taliban-controlled district of Dasht-e-Archi to watch a group of students have turbans tied around their heads in a traditional ceremo..
June 6, 2018

A North Korean wishlist: The three things Pyongyang wants

June 6, 2018

Myanmar’s military accused of violence against Kachin people

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