July 11, 2018

Killing rats could save coral reefs

Killing rats could save coral reefs Image copyright other The much maligned rat is not a creature many would associate with coral reefs. But scientists studying reefs on tropical islands say the animals directly threaten the survival of these ecosystems. A team working on the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean found that invasive rats on the islands are a "big problem" for coral reefs. Rats decimate seabird populations, in turn decimating the volume of bird droppings - a natural coral fertiliser. The findings are published in Nature. Coral reefs entangled with plastic Meet the fish with the heroin-like bite The rare event threatening coral reefs Scientists now advocate eradicating rats from all of the islands to protect these delicate marine habitats. Image copyright Nick Graham How do rats harm coral reefs? The Chagos Archipelago provided a large-scale natural laboratory to answer this question; although the islands are uninhabited by humans, some of them are now home to invasiv..
July 11, 2018

Mughalsarai: Renaming British-era train station causes Indian political storm

Mughalsarai: Renaming British-era train station causes Indian political storm Image caption Mughalsarai is located about 20km from the holy city of Varanasi in northern India Mughalsarai, an iconic British-era railway station, has played an important role in India's transport history since its construction in the 19th Century. But it has been in the news recently for an entirely different reason - its name, writes the BBC's Vikas Pandey. The British built the station in 1866 to help them transport goods from northern India to port cities in the east. They named it after the town Mughalsarai and recruited hundreds of locals. In the following decades, the town and the station became synonymous with travellers and transporters. Veteran journalist Mark Tully, who has written several books about India, said the station was known as a major transportation hub and Asia's largest railway yard. "In the days of the Raj, Mughalsarai was one of the most important stations on the Eas..
July 11, 2018

How the US is waging its trade war with China

How the US is waging its trade war with China Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Chinese car industry has been affected by last week's US tariffs After US tariffs on $34bn (£25.7bn) of Chinese goods came into effect last week, China is very much in President Trump's firing line. More is coming: details of another $16bn worth are already in the pipeline and President Trump has ordered the administration to prepare to collect tariffs on £200bn of Chinese trade on top of that. China's trade policy is unfair, he argues, and it steals the technology of American businesses. Trump's position is shared by his trade adviser Peter Navarro, who co-wrote a book, Death by China, which was also made into a documentary film. Mr Navarro warns of the threat he thinks that China poses to US interests. The bare figures of China's rise as a trade power are certainly striking. The country exports almost seven times as much as it did at the start of the 21st Century. ..
July 11, 2018

Earliest evidence of humans outside Africa

Earliest evidence of humans outside Africa Image copyright Prof Zhaoyu Zhu Scientists say they've found the earliest known evidence of a human presence outside Africa. Stone tools discovered in China suggest primitive humans - or a close relative - were in the region as early as 2.12 million years ago. They are about 270,000 years older than the previous earliest evidence, which consists of bones and tools from Dmanisi in Georgia. The research, by a Chinese-British team, appears in the journal Nature. The stone artefacts were discovered at Shangchen on a plateau in northern China. They comprise different types of stone tools constructed for a variety of purposes. All show signs of having been used. Most were made of quartzite and quartz rock that probably came from the foothills of the Qinling Mountains, five to 10 km to the south of the dig site. But we don't know for sure which species of human relative made them. Image copyright NAture Image caption Sites where evidence ..
July 11, 2018

Cave rescue: Key questions answered

Cave rescue: Key questions answered Image copyright Reuters Image caption Certain details about the rescue are only now coming to light After 17 days underground, all the Thai boys and their football coach have safely escaped from the Tham Luang cave complex. A team of Thai and international divers mounted a dangerous and complicated rescue to bring the boys out, and details of the bid are still emerging now. BBC correspondent Jonathan Head has answered some of the core questions about the boys, the rescue attempt, and what happens next. Why did the kids go so deep into the cave?We will not know that until we hear from them and their assistant coach, Ekkapol 'Ek" Chantawong. On that Saturday they were scheduled to play a match, which was cancelled, according to head coach Nopparat Kanthawong. He scheduled a training session instead. The boys were keen cyclists so on the Facebook chat group through which they communicated with the parents, coach Ek suggested they cycle to the fo..
July 11, 2018

Cave rescue: First pictures of Thai boys in hospital

July 11, 2018

Kazakhstan squirrel art installation sparks backlash over costs

Kazakhstan squirrel art installation sparks backlash over costs Image copyright Paul Bartlett Image caption The art installation was criticised over the use of public money A 40ft (12m) tall squirrel is causing controversy after popping up in the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan. The rodent, which is made from straw and wood attached to a steel frame, is part of an art project for a festival commissioned by city authorities. It reportedly cost 23 million Kazakh tenge ($67,000; £51,000) to create and was paid for in part with public funds. As a result the installation sparked a backlash, with some suggesting the funds could have been better spent. The oversized squirrel, which can be seen in images shared on social media clutching an equally oversized nut, is part of the Art Energy festival held in Almaty that features more than a dozen individual pieces. The local city hall reportedly contributed 15 million tenge to the installation, which has led some to question the priorities of local..
July 11, 2018

Cave rescue: First pictures emerge of Thai boys in hospital

Cave rescue: First pictures emerge of Thai boys in hospital Image copyright Thai government public relations department Image caption The boys will remain in hospital for a week The first pictures have emerged from the hospital where the Thai boys are being treated, after their dramatic rescue from a flooded cave system. In the grainy images, several boys can be seen in face masks and hospital gowns, at least one giving a victory sign for the camera. The pictures were published as new details emerged of the enormously complex effort to bring them out alive. The Thai Navy Seals also released new video showing how the rescue worked. 'Heavily sedated'Sources in the rescue operation, including divers who took part, told the BBC that the boys were heavily sedated ahead of the rescue to prevent them panicking in the dark, narrow, underwater passageways. They were then strapped to one of two rescue divers tasked with shepherding each boy through the underwater parts of the system, ..
July 11, 2018

India government is ‘failing’ to protect Taj Mahal

India government is 'failing' to protect Taj Mahal Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Taj Mahal is located in the northern Indian city of Agra India's Supreme Court has criticised the government for what it calls a "failure" to protect the Taj Mahal. The court said both the federal and state government had shown "lethargy" in taking steps to tackle the monument's deteriorating condition. The court comments came in response to a petition citing concerns about the impact of pollution on the 17th Century monument. The Taj Mahal is one of the world's leading tourist attractions. It draws as many as 70,000 people every day. In May this year, the court had already instructed the government to seek foreign help to fix the "worrying change in colour" of the marble structure. The court had said then, that the famous tomb, built from white marble and other materials, had turned yellow and was now turning brown and green. Pollution, construction and insec..
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