August 10, 2018

China mosque demolition sparks stand-off in Ningxia

China mosque demolition sparks stand-off in Ningxia Image copyright Weibo Image caption The Weizhou mosque is a towering structure that features domes and minarets in a Middle Eastern style Hundreds of Muslims in western China are engaged in a standoff with authorities to prevent their mosque from being demolished. Officials said the newly completed Weizhou Grand Mosque in Ningxia had not been given proper building permits. But worshippers refused to back down - one resident said they "won't let the government touch the mosque". China is home to some 23 million Muslims, and Islam has been prominent in Ningxia province for centuries. But rights groups say there is increasing official hostility towards Muslims in China. How did the protests begin?Officials had on 3 August posted a notice that the mosque would be "forcibly demolished" as it had not been granted the necessary planning and construction permits. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Hui are one of China&#0..
August 10, 2018

Taliban attack strategic Afghan city of Ghazni

Taliban attack strategic Afghan city of Ghazni Image copyright AFP Image caption Few pictures have emerged from the city since the assault began The Taliban have launched a major night-time assault on the Afghan city of Ghazni, a provincial capital on the key highway between Kabul and Kandahar. The militants took control of parts of the city before being pushed back to the outskirts, officials said. Thirty Taliban fighters and one Afghan security forces' member were killed, according to the provincial government. The number of casualties is expected to rise as many houses were destroyed. At least eight civilians and seven government security personnel were injured, provincial government spokesman Mohammad Arif Noori Ghazni told the BBC. Sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the city, where Afghan special forces have been deployed. The assault marks the fourth time that the Taliban have entered a provincial city in recent years. The militant group earlier said that hundreds of ..
August 10, 2018

North Korea lashes out at US diplomats over sanctions

North Korea lashes out at US diplomats over sanctions Image copyright AFP Image caption Is the rhetoric returning to the big guns? North Korea has lashed out at the US for continuing to push for sanctions enforcement. Pyongyang said there would be no progress towards denuclearisation if the US followed an "outdated script". It accused US negotiators of going against the intentions of President Donald Trump and the spirit of the summit in Singapore. Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed at the June meeting to work towards denuclearisation. But the details of that process remain vague - North Korea did not commit to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons and the UN says its nuclear programme is continuing. The US has insisted it is vital to maintain diplomatic and economic pressure on the North. Image copyright Reuters Image caption It's a long way from handshake to denuclearisation "As long as the US denies even the basic decorum for its dialogue partner and cli..
August 9, 2018

Australian MPs field sudden requests for Queen portraits

Australian MPs field sudden requests for Queen portraits Image copyright Andrew Hastie Image caption MP Andrew Hastie with his own portrait of the Queen Australians have emailed MPs with dozens of requests for free portraits of the Queen, after the little-known entitlement was publicised this week. Under official rules, citizens may ask for "nationhood" material - things such as Australian flags, anthem recordings, and portraits of the head of state. One MP, Tim Watts, said most requests for images of the Queen were due to a case of "excellent trolling". It followed a Vice story that had drawn wide attention to the entitlement. "I can say before the before the story was published, I had received zero requests for portraits of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth," Mr Watts told the ABC. "The last 24 hours, I would say [I have received] about four dozen. I think 99% were tongue firmly in cheek." Other lawmakers also noted the influx of requests, with some making light of it. Skip Twitter post ..
August 9, 2018

China hints at three-child policy with ‘happy family’ stamps

China hints at three-child policy with 'happy family' stamps Image copyright Reuters/China News Speculation is mounting in China that the country is set to further relax its two-child policy and allow people to have more children. Postage stamps unveiled earlier this week to mark the incoming Year of the Pig in February 2019 have led many social media users to question whether a loosening of family planning restrictions could be imminent. The stamps show a parent pig couple and three piglets. On the surface, it hardly appears to be a policy announcement. But users on the popular Sina Weibo microblog have pointed out that two years ago, before the one-child policy was abolished, China issued Year of the Monkey stamps featuring two baby monkeys. And in recent months, the Chinese government has been strongly encouraging couples to have more than one child. Local authorities have even been offering incentives, such as tax breaks, and education and housing subsidies. State media ..
August 9, 2018

Living with Australia’s drought: ‘It’s cheaper to shoot the cows’

Living with Australia's drought: 'It's cheaper to shoot the cows' Image copyright ASHLEY GAMBLE Image caption Farmer Ashley Gamble says he is struggling to feed his cows Farmers across eastern Australia are enduring what some have called the worst drought in living memory. On Wednesday, the entire state of New South Wales (NSW) was declared to be drought-affected. It is the same situation in more than half of neighbouring Queensland. Many farmers say they are struggling just to keep going, with little rain forecast for the coming months. "Farmers are getting out left, right and centre. It's gotten to the point where it's cheaper to shoot your cows than it is to feed them," NSW dairy farmer Jason Maloney told the BBC. "No-one likes doing that. You've bred them from birth - they've been part of your life. But it gets to a point of no return." Massive cost of feedFarmer Ashley Gamble says his family has been part of Queensland's dairy industr..
August 9, 2018

North Korea heatwave: Kim Jong-un strips to his vest

North Korea heatwave: Kim Jong-un strips to his vest Image copyright Rodong Sinmun Image caption State newspaper Rodong Sinmun shows Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju dutifully holding his jacket New photographs released by North Korean media show the country's leader Kim Jong-un stripped to his undershirt on an inspection visit to a fish pickling factory, while officials remained in full uniform in the heatwave which has hit the Korean peninsula. The photos, which filled the first two pages of state newspaper Rodong Sinmun, show the Supreme Leader inspecting the Kumsanpho fish pickling plant alongside his wife Ri Sol-ju. But as with most things North Korean, it's what's not been said by the distinctly "fishy" news release carefully-prepared by Pyongyang's Propaganda and Agitation Department which raises eyebrows. Not only can Mr Kim's style of dress tell a story of the haves and have nots in North Korea, but the very timing of the visit shows how seriously Pyongyang ..
August 9, 2018

Taiwan man rigs bike with 11 phones to play Pokemon Go

Taiwan man rigs bike with 11 phones to play Pokemon Go Image copyright EPA Image caption Chen San-yuan learnt about the game from his grandson If you're going to catch them all, you need to have the right kit. Grandfather Chen San-yuan has rigged 11 smart phones on his bicycle to play the augmented reality game, Pokemon Go. He plans to add four more. The Taiwanese man, affectionately known as Uncle Pokemon, learnt about the game from his grandson, and can play up to 20 hours straight before he runs out of battery power for his devices. He currently spends more than £1,000 ($1,290) a month on his habit. Image copyright EPA Image caption He powers his phones using battery packs kept in his basket, and can play for 20 hours straight Image copyright EPA Image caption The grandfather has become a local celebrity, and is known as Uncle Pokemon Pokemon Go players take to the streets Hiding Pikachu: Where Pokemon goes next Mr Chen uses portable battery packs to power his multiple device..
August 9, 2018

Chinese debate being young and stressed

Stressed by life and only 17: Chinese hashtag ignites debate Image copyright Visual China Group Image caption Three members of girl band Rocket Girls have quit due to stress The fast pace of life and the impact that has on young people's mental health has sparked a huge debate across Chinese social media. In particular, when a 17-year-old revealed her work stresses in a feature by China's Pear video website, the hashtag #17YearOldsReallyHaveAStressfulLife reached more than 33 million people on the social media platform Sina Weibo - China's equivalent to Twitter. Since its broadcast, the interview with the teenager, who's on her third job this summer supervising children in a Qingdao mall, has been viewed more than five million times. Image copyright Pear Video Image caption Pear video caption reads: "This millennial is on her third job this summer and struggling to study" She's apparently not alone, with 5,000 users - more than 3,000 on Weibo and 2,000 on Mia..
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