September 6, 2018

Formaldehyde emerges as new risk in China’s housing boom

Formaldehyde emerges as new risk in China's housing boom Image copyright Getty Images The recent death of a flat-dweller in Beijing has flagged up concerns about formaldehyde, a carcinogenic substance widely used in construction. The man, identified only as Mr Wang, died of leukaemia in July, three months after moving into a new apartment. His wife is suing the rental app that advertised the property, alleging that it made him ill. Formaldehyde is used in some paints, varnishes and disinfectants. It is also found in manufactured wooden products like cabinets and laminate flooring. A state-owned newspaper has said that, in the rush to keep up with demand for new housing, finished flats are being marketed before the formaldehyde has been given the appropriate time to disperse. Other newspapers say tenants are being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements to keep the apparent health risks under wraps. Concerns about the safety of renovations in public and private buildings have spi..
September 6, 2018

Dozens missing after strong Japan earthquake and mudslides

Dozens missing after strong Japan earthquake and mudslides Image copyright EPA/Jiji press Image caption Houses collapsed after powerful mudslides Japan's northern island of Hokkaido has been hit by a powerful earthquake, triggering landslides that engulfed houses. Two people had been killed and about 40 were missing, according to public broadcaster NHK. The 6.7 magnitude quake cut power to around 3 million homes and shut down a nuclear plant in the region The earthquake comes on the heels of a deadly typhoon lashing the west of Japan over the past few days. The tremor struck 62km (39 miles) south-east of the regional capital Sapporo in the early hours of the morning. It posed no tsunami risk, the country's meteorological agency said. Image copyright Alamy Image caption The quake damaged buildings in the town of Abira Image copyright Kyodo/via Reuters Image caption Regional capital Sapporo was also hit Could an emoji save your life during an earthquake?Local residents an..
September 5, 2018

Julie Bishop: Australia MP says parliament behaviour ‘appalling’

Julie Bishop: Australia MP says parliament behaviour 'appalling' Image copyright AFP Image caption Julie Bishop was deputy leader of Australia's Liberal Party for 11 years Australia's former foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has accused her parliamentary colleagues of "appalling behaviour" that would not be acceptable "in any other workplace". Australia's parliament has been hit by allegations of bullying and intimidation of women in recent weeks. The debate escalated amid a party coup which toppled Malcolm Turnbull as PM. Ms Bishop, who ran unsuccessfully to be his successor, said political parties had "a problem" with keeping women MPs. Ms Bishop was the most senior woman in the government until her resignation as foreign minister last week. "I have seen and witnessed and experienced some appalling behaviour in parliament," she said in a speech late on Wednesday. "It is evident that there is an acceptance of a level of behaviour in Canberra that would not be t..
September 5, 2018

India’s top court to deliver landmark gay sex ruling

India's top court to deliver landmark gay sex ruling Image copyright AFP Image caption There has been a long-running campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in India India's Supreme Court is due to deliver a landmark verdict on Thursday, when it will decide if gay sex should remain a criminal offence in the country. Thursday's ruling re-examines a 2013 judgement that upheld a colonial-era law, known as section 377, under which gay sex is categorised as an "unnatural offence". There has been a very vocal campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in India. Many activists are expecting the court to overrule its previous judgement. They believe the court strongly indicated its stance on the matter, in a landmark judgement it made on the right to privacy in August last year. It said then that "discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual". In 2016, when the court agreed to hear th..
September 5, 2018

Samsung: Time for folding smartphones

Samsung: Time for folding smartphones Image copyright Getty Images Samsung's head of mobile has said it is "time to deliver" foldable smartphones, fuelling speculation the company is about to reveal a bendable device. In an interview with CNBC, DJ Koh said Samsung's consumer research suggested there was demand for a foldable phone. Several phone-makers are rumoured to be developing devices with flexible screens that can be folded in half, without a hinge or seam in the middle. However, Samsung told the BBC it did not currently have "anything to share". Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionWATCH: Researchers make a rollable tablet DJ Koh told CNBC that the development process for foldable phones was "complicated" but added that the company had "nearly concluded" it. However, he said, a foldable phone would need a clear purpose before the company released one. "Even unfolded, what kind of benefit does that give compared to the tablet?" he said. "If the un..
September 5, 2018

Afghanistan conflict: Bombers kill 20 at Kabul sports club

Afghanistan conflict: Bombers kill 20 at Kabul sports club Image copyright EPA Image caption A car bomb targeted journalists and emergency services responding to an earlier suicide attack A double suicide bombing at a wrestling club in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least 20 people and injured 70, officials say. After a suicide bomber killed four people in the club, a second bomber in a car attacked emergency services responding to the incident. Two journalists from the Tolo news channel were killed and four others injured by the car bomb. The attacks happened in a predominantly Shia Muslim district of the city. In a post on Twitter, Tolo's head, Lotfullah Najafizada, said the outlet had lost two of its best journalists. Skip Twitter post by @LNajafizada Journalist Samim Faramarz (right) and Ramiz Ahmadi lost their lives in today’s Kabul attack and left us, once again, in deep sorrow. — Lotfullah Najafizada (@LNajafizada) September 5, 2018 Repor..
September 5, 2018

Can India work with ‘unpredictable’ Trump?

Can India work with 'unpredictable' Trump? Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Narendra Modi, left, and Donald Trump say they want to improve ties US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visit India on Thursday to hold strategic talks on military and trade deals. The BBC's Vikas Pandey explains what's at stake. The meetings between the US officials and their counterparts Nirmala Sitharaman and Sushma Swaraj - described as the 2+2 dialogue - are taking place against a backdrop of recent strains between Washington and Delhi. Meetings were first scheduled in April, but had to be rescheduled after US President Donald Trump fired his then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The dialogue was suspended once again in July for what India's foreign ministry described as "unavoidable reasons". Much has changed between the two strategic allies in recent months. New world orderThe US has objected to new defence deals between India and Russi..
September 5, 2018

Sinead McNamara: ‘No foul play’ in Australian Instagrammer death

Sinead McNamara: 'No foul play' in Australian Instagrammer death Image copyright SINEAD MCNAMARA/INSTAGRAM Image caption Conflicting reports about the 20-year-old's death had been circulating since last week There were no signs of foul play in the death of an Australian Instagrammer working on a yacht in Greece, coroners have told Australian media. It is believed Sinead McNamara, 20, took her own life. She was found in a critical condition by other crew members aboard the Mayan Queen IV last week and died while being airlifted to hospital. Her body is now due to be flown home to Australia by her family, who had been on their way to visit her. Greek police have said they do not believe her death was suspicious and have since allowed the boat to leave the island of Kefalonia, where it had been docked. The super-yacht is owned by Mexican mining magnate Alberto Bailleres, who is reported to have left the vessel days before her death. The Greek coroner's office has c..
September 5, 2018

Pompeo in Pakistan for ‘reset’ talks with PM Khan

Pompeo in Pakistan for 'reset' talks with PM Khan Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Pompeo said US military assistance could be restored US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Pakistan for talks with new Prime Minister Imran Khan aimed at resetting ties. Relations have been strained over US allegations Pakistan is providing a safe haven for Afghan Taliban militants, which Pakistan denies. So far this year the Trump administration has suspended more than $1bn (£775m) in security assistance. After his one-day visit to Islamabad, Mr Pompeo will fly to India. Pakistani officials say much of the money withheld by the US was meant as a reimbursement for actions they have already taken in fighting militants. Will Pakistan ever stamp out extremism? Imran Khan mocked for chopper commute Speaking as he boarded his plane, Mr Pompeo said there were a "lot of challenges" in the US-Pakistan relationship but he was hopeful of finding "common ground" with the country's ne..
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