August 31, 2018

Catholic Church rejects Australian call to overhaul confession

Catholic Church rejects Australian call to overhaul confession Image copyright ROYAL COMMISSION INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE Image caption Messages from survivors were published by the inquiry last year The Catholic Church in Australia has formally rejected a landmark inquiry's recommendation that priests should be forced to report sexual abuse disclosed during confession. The five-year inquiry found tens of thousands of children had suffered abuse in Australian institutions. The Catholic Church had the most cases. On Friday, Church leaders accepted most recommendations given by the inquiry. However, they reiterated that breaking confession was "contrary to our faith". "We are committed to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people while maintaining the seal," the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said in a statement. "We do not see the seal as mutually exclusive." The Church leaders said they would, however, explore other proposals - including asking the Vatican to relax..
August 31, 2018

Cambodia jails Australian filmmaker found guilty of espionage

Cambodia jails Australian filmmaker found guilty of espionage Image copyright AFP Image caption James Ricketson denies all charges An Australian filmmaker has been sentenced by a Cambodian court to six years in prison on charges of spying for an unnamed country. James Ricketson, 69, was arrested in June 2017 while flying a camera drone over an opposition rally. Mr Ricketson denies the charges and his lawyer said he would appeal against the verdict. His arrest comes amid a wider crackdown on dissent by the increasingly authoritarian government in Phnom Penh. He has visited Cambodia frequently over the last 20 years and been a firm critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Family's dismayLocal pro-government media had labelled the filmmaker as a spy acting to promote revolution, but Mr Ricketson expressed only disbelief at the charge. "Which country was I conducting espionage for?" he said in court after the verdict was announced, Reuters news agency reports. "The Phnom Penh Municipal C..
August 30, 2018

UN ‘alarmed’ by reports of China’s mass detention of Uighurs

UN 'alarmed' by reports of China's mass detention of Uighurs Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Uighur protesters pictured in 2009 wield the ID cards of detained relatives The UN says it is alarmed by reports of the mass detention of Uighurs in China and called for the release of those held on a counter terrorism "pretext". It comes after a UN committee heard reports that up to one million Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang were held in re-education camps. Beijing has denied the allegations but admitted that some religious extremists were being held for re-education. China blames Islamist militants and separatists for unrest in the province. During a review earlier this month, members of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said credible reports suggested Beijing had "turned the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp". China responded that Uighurs enjoyed full rights but Beijing made a rare..
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..
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