August 1, 2018

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern returns from maternity leave

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern returns from maternity leave Image copyright Getty Images New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has returned to work after spending six weeks away on maternity leave. Ms Ardern, 38, gave birth to her first child in June, making her only the second world leader to give birth while in office. On Saturday she recorded a Facebook video where she outlined what she would be doing in her first week back. Ms Ardern had passed on her duties to her deputy, Winston Peters. "I'm going to be focused on getting straight back into it," Ms Ardern said in her Facebook Live video. On 21 June she gave birth to her first child, Neve Gayford, four days after her due date. Image copyright Getty Images The prime minister had continued to read cabinet papers and was consulted on significant issues during her time away. Ms Ardern, who was elected in October, announced in January that she and her partner Clarke Gayford were expecting a baby. "I am not the first wo..
August 1, 2018

Trump threatens higher tariffs on Chinese imports

Trump threatens higher tariffs on Chinese imports Image copyright Getty Images The US is considering 25% tariffs on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods - more than double the 10% initially planned. The review of the higher tariff is a request from President Donald Trump, who wants China to change its trade practices. However, the decision risks escalating tensions between the world's two largest economies. China has already warned it would retaliate if the US went ahead with the plan, accusing Washington of blackmail. "If the US side takes steps to further escalate the situation, we will definitely take countermeasures to resolutely safeguard our legitimate and legal rights and interests," said foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang on Wednesday. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said: "The increase in the possible rate of the additional duty is intended to provide the administration with additional options to encourage China to change its harmful policies and behaviour ..
August 1, 2018

Chinese takeover of German firm Leifeld collapses

Chinese takeover of German firm Leifeld collapses Image copyright Leifeld The German government has vetoed the takeover of an engineering company by a Chinese firm on the grounds of national security. China's Yantai had planned to buy machine tool maker Leifeld, but the move raised political concerns. Yantai pulled its bid after Berlin signalled that it would invoke new powers to block foreign takeovers. Leifeld specialises in manufacturing for Germany's aerospace and nuclear industries. Last year, Germany tightened rules on foreign investment, giving itself wider powers to block takeovers. The Leifeld deal is the first time the new rules have been brought into play. Leifeld's majority owner, Georg Koffler, told Reuters that Yantai had dropped its attempt to buy the company ahead of the veto by Berlin. He criticised Berlin's willingness to intervene, telling Reuters: "We believe these security policy concerns are unjustified." US weighs plans to curb Chinese inv..
August 1, 2018

‘Disappearance’ of top Chinese actress Fan Bingbing concerns fans

'Disappearance' of top Chinese actress Fan Bingbing concerns fans Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Fan Bingbing recently received global attention for her appearance as Blink in the X-Men film franchise Chinese social media users are questioning the whereabouts of one of China's biggest film stars. Fan Bingbing is one of the world's highest paid actors, but media reports in the country say that she hasn't been seen in public since 1 July when she visited a children's hospital. Social media users are also noting her unusual silence on the popular Sina Weibo microblog, where she has more than 62 million followers. She has not been active on her account since 23 July, when she "liked" a number of posts. In May, prominent TV presenter Cui Yongyuan appeared to accuse Fan Bingbing of tax evasion. Her studio has denied any wrongdoing, It has not commented on her whereabouts. Social media concernMs Fan is known internationally as a singer and model,..
August 1, 2018

NZ shop in battle over Weetabix imports

New Zealand shop battles in court over Weetabix imports Image copyright Jeff Greenberg Image caption Weet-bix is one of Australia and New Zealand's best-known brands A shop owner in New Zealand is involved in a battle of the breakfast cereals after her plans to import British favourite Weetabix ended up in court. British expat Lisa Wilson wanted to sell the wheat-based breakfast to homesick Britons in her Canterbury-based shop A Little Bit of Britain, but has come up against domestic manufacturer Sanitarium, which says the brand name is too similar to their own local brand Weet-Bix, Radio New Zealand reports. Customs officials seized a shipment of Weetabix last August after a complaint by Sanitarium. Weet-Bix is a hugely popular brand in both Australia and New Zealand complete with celebrity endorsements, and Sanitarium are keen to protect their trademark. "The issue is the potential and real threat of Weetabix coming into this market and cashing in on this great brand that Kiwis..
August 1, 2018

Dengue fever outbreak stopped by special mosquitoes

Dengue fever outbreak stopped by special mosquitoes Image copyright Peter Illiciev/Fiocruz Image caption The specially bred mosquitoes carry the bacteria Wolbachia which reduces the transmission of viruses Australian researchers say for the first time an entire city has been protected from viral disease dengue. Captive-bred mosquitoes with a naturally occurring bacteria were released in the city of Townsville, where they mated with local mosquitoes. By spreading the bacteria Wolbachia, which hinders dengue transmission, the city has been dengue-free since 2014. Researchers from Monash University also believe their work could stop mosquito-borne diseases Zika and malaria. "Nothing we've got is slowing these diseases down - they are getting worse," said Scott O'Neill, director of the World Mosquito Program, quoted by the Guardian. "I think we've got something here that's going to have a significant impact and I think this study is the first indication that it'..
August 1, 2018

Stranded Russian climber ‘hallucinated’ during Pakistan ordeal

Stranded Russian climber 'hallucinated' during Pakistan ordeal Image caption Alexander Gukov was weak when he was found but had no major frostbite A Russian climber who spent six days stranded on a mountain after his climbing partner fell to his death has described how he hallucinated that he had returned safely home, as avalanches continued around him. Alexander Gukov was stuck at a height of nearly 6,300m (20,670ft) at Latok 1 in Pakistan's northern Karakoram range. He was rescued on Tuesday by military helicopters and said he had decided while he was on the mountain that he would ask his partner of 18 years to marry him. "Every night what I was thinking [was] 'when I come back, I will marry her'," he told BBC Urdu from hospital in Rawalpindi. Mr Gukov said that he and Sergey Glazunov, 26, had been forced back by bad weather as they approached the summit a week ago. As they descended the 7,145m-high mountain, his friend disappeared. "I tried to cry... and [..
August 1, 2018

Koreans turn to ice vests and hot soup in record Seoul heat

Koreans turn to ice vests and hot soup in record Seoul heat Image copyright EPA Image caption Here's one way to cool off South Korea's capital city of Seoul has recorded its hottest ever temperature at 39C (102F). More than 28 people have died and 2,266 have suffered heat-related conditions as a result of a sweltering heatwave, according to authorities. Some are beating the heat in pools and fountains, while others have turned to more creative methods - including "ice vests" - in an attempt to cool down. The hot weather is set to continue throughout the week. President Moon Jae-in has called for the heatwave to be declared a form of natural disaster, a move that would allow victims to claim compensation. The government has also set aside 6bn won ($5.3m; £4m) for city and provincial governments to deal with the effects of the weather. Japan heatwave declared natural disaster Climate change driven by humans made heatwave 'twice as likely' Amid the rising mercury, S..
August 1, 2018

Window-smashing kangaroo escapes from shelter in Australia

Window-smashing kangaroo escapes from shelter in Australia Image copyright MANFRED ZABINSKAS Image caption The kangaroo (seen in foreground) managed to jump over a tall fence A kangaroo that smashed its way into an Australian home at the weekend - prompting its rescue - has escaped from a wildlife shelter, staff say. Rescuers had treated the kangaroo for cuts after it broke a window at the Melbourne house and "ran amok" inside. The marsupial managed to leap over a fence on Tuesday, escaping into a forest in central Victoria. Staff said it was the first time a kangaroo had cleared the 2.2m (7ft 2in) fence. 'One flying leap'Rescuer Manfred Zabinskas said his partner had witnessed the 30kg (65lb) animal's escape during a morning feeding session. "[The kangaroo] was hopping around and getting more and more upset, and at first he just rushed past her and hit the wall," Mr Zabinskas told the BBC. "But then he did another lap. He took one flying leap and absolutely cleared it ..
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