August 16, 2018

India monsoon floods ‘kill 106’ in Kerala

India monsoon floods 'kill 106' in Kerala Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Reports suggest more than 100 people have died, with further rainfall predicted More than 100 people are thought to have died in devastating monsoon floods in India's southern state of Kerala, the worst in almost a century. Rescuers battled torrential rains to save residents, with nearly 150,000 reportedly left homeless. The state government said many of those who died were crushed under debris caused by landslides. With more rains predicted and a red alert in place, the main airport has reportedly been shut until 26 August. A state official told AFP that 106 people had now died, while the Economic Times in India reports 114 have been killed. Hundreds of troops have been deployed to rescue those caught up in the flooding, alongside helicopters and lifeboats. The government has urged people not to ignore evacuation orders. It is distributing food to tens of thousands who have fled to high..
August 16, 2018

Atal Behari Vajpayee: Former India PM dies at 93

Atal Behari Vajpayee: Former India PM dies at 93 Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Former Indian PM AB Vajpayee Former Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has died aged 93. He was being treated for age-related illnesses in Delhi's AIIMS hospital. Vajpayee was one of the founding members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which currently governs India. Considered a giant of Indian politics, he served as prime minister three times between 1996 and 2004 and was instrumental in making India a global nuclear power. During his second stint as prime minister in 1998, he surprised the world by announcing that India had conducted a series of underground nuclear tests. Image caption AB Vajpayee at the BBC studio in Delhi It was the first time India had carried out nuclear tests since 1974. The experiments had taken place without any warning to the international community, which led to widespread outrage and concern. Obituary: Atal Behari VajpayeeBut ..
August 15, 2018

India’s Carnatic musicians threatened over Christian hymns

India's Carnatic musicians threatened over Christian hymns Image copyright First Edition Arts Image caption Celebrated classical musician TM Krishna (L) has performed in Indian churches Carnatic musicians in the southern Indian city of Chennai have often been accused of being elitist and upper caste. Their music is traditionally set to songs composed by Hindu devotional poets of the 17th Century and beyond, and is a genre associated with southern Indian classical music. But, more recently, right-wing groups have issued threats to Carnatic musicians who are seeking to widen their horizons by singing about Christ or producing interfaith fusion music. The current controversy began with a barrage of attacks aimed at Carnatic singer OS Arun. He cancelled a scheduled performance, the Yesuvin Sangama Sangeetham (Fusion Music of Christ), a concert produced by popular Tamil Christian producer T Samuel Joseph, on 25 August, following objections by upper-caste Hindus and organisations, and v..
August 15, 2018

Shahidul Alam: Jailed journalist’s powerful photos of Bangladesh

Shahidul Alam: Jailed journalist's powerful photos of Bangladesh Image copyright EPA Renowned Bangladeshi photographer and activist Shahidul Alam has been jailed in the wake of mass demonstrations by young people earlier this month. He took his camera into the streets to document the fury of thousands of students fed up with unsafe roads after two children were killed by a speeding bus. His partner, Rahnuma Ahmed, wrote that he was "inspired by the youth of our country, who have refused to be cowed down by state terror". But Mr Alam, who criticised the government's handling of the demonstrations on international television and Facebook, has been accused of spreading false information. He is being investigated under controversial internet laws. Human rights monitors say the protests have been followed by a wave of detentions targeting dozens of critics. Mr Alam, 63, says he has been beaten in custody, and international human rights organisations have joined a roster of global..
August 15, 2018

Myanmar Rohingya: Facebook ‘still hosts hate speech’

Myanmar Rohingya: Facebook 'still hosts hate speech' Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have left Myanmar for refugee camps in Bangladesh More than 1,000 anti-Rohingya posts featuring calls for their murder among other hate speech were live on Facebook last week, according to Reuters. A probe by the news agency indicates that the network is still being used to encourage violence against the Muslim group in Myanmar despite the tech firm promising to tackle the issue. It said some of the material had been online for six years. Facebook's rules prohibit "violent or dehumanising" attacks on ethnic groups. However, the US-based firm mostly relies on users to flag related offending posts rather than hunting them out itself, in part because its software has not had enough training to reliably interpret Burmese text. The BBC understands Facebook has now removed all the flagged material. The investigation was carried out in conjunction ..
August 15, 2018

New Zealand bans sales of homes to foreigners

New Zealand bans sales of homes to foreigners Image copyright Getty Images Image caption New Zealand is facing a housing affordability crisis New Zealand's parliament has banned many foreigners from buying existing homes in the country - a move aimed at making properties more affordable. The ban only applies to non-residents. Australians and Singaporeans are exempt because of free-trade deals. New Zealand is facing a housing affordability crisis which has left home ownership out of reach for many. Low interest rates, limited housing stock and immigration have driven up prices in recent years. US applications for New Zealand citizenship jump 70% after election The lure of New Zealand for jaded Americans Is it a total ban?No, only non-residents are affected by the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, which was passed in a 63-57 vote on Wednesday. They are now banned from purchasing most types of homes - but they will be able to make limited investments in new apartments in large de..
August 15, 2018

Hong Kong ‘cardboard granny’ has case overturned

Hong Kong 'cardboard granny' has case overturned Image copyright AFP Image caption Thousands of elderly women collect cardboard in Hong Kong and sell it on to recyclers to make money An elderly Hong Kong woman who was fined for "setting down a bag of rubbish" has had her case overthrown following local protests, it's been reported. According to the South China Morning Post newspaper, 63-year-old Chen Kung-lan was fined HK$1,500 ($191; £150) by officials at the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) on 23 July, after she temporarily placed a bag of cardboard on the ground. She was collecting scrap cardboard in a trolley, but had temporarily set a bag on the ground within sight of an FEHD officer, who told her that she had broken the law. Ms Chen is what is known locally as a "cardboard granny" - an elderly street scavenger who collects rubbish and sells it on to recyclers as a means of making a living. "I told the officer I did not dump the rubbish on the str..
August 15, 2018

Kabul suicide bomber kills 48 in tuition centre attack

Kabul suicide bomber kills 48 in tuition centre attack Image copyright EPA Image caption Teaching was under way when the bomb went off Forty-eight people have been killed and 67 injured in a bomb explosion at an education centre in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, the country's health ministry says. Police say a suicide bomber walked into the centre while teaching was under way and detonated his bomb belt. Many of those killed are believed to be teenagers who were getting extra tuition as they prepared for university entrance exams. The Taliban has denied involvement. This latest attack came hours after the Taliban said it could no longer guarantee safe passage for Red Cross staff working in Afghanistan, amid a row over the treatment of Taliban prisoners in a jail in Kabul. Taliban pulls protection for Red CrossThe attack on the education centre took place in a mostly Shia neighbourhood of Kabul. The Shia Muslim community in Afghanistan has been repeatedly targeted by Sunni Mu..
August 15, 2018

Afghanistan Taliban withdraws protection for Red Cross

Afghanistan Taliban withdraws protection for Red Cross Image copyright AFP Image caption The ICRC provided more than 21,000 prostheses and orthoses in 2017 The Taliban says it will no longer allow safe passage to Red Cross staff working in Afghanistan. The militants accuse the neutral humanitarian group of failing to meet its obligations to help Taliban prisoners in a jail in Kabul. The ICRC monitors detention conditions and provides medical aid. It scaled down its presence in Afghanistan last year after seven staff were killed. The group told the BBC it was concerned by the Taliban's move. Spokeswoman Andrea Catta Preta said the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) was in close contact with the militants and hoping to find a solution so the group's humanitarian work could continue. The ICRC treats all parties harmed by warfare humanely and does not take sides. It has in the past given first aid training to Taliban members. It operates in Taliban-controlled areas ..
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