January 5, 2019

China’s Harbin ice festival in pictures

China's Harbin ice festival in pictures One of the world's largest ice festivals has opened in north-eastern China, featuring frozen castles, glistening snow sculptures and lots of snowmen. Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival officially opened on Saturday. Image copyright EPA Image caption It opened with a fireworks display and a light show. Image copyright EPA Image caption The festival draws millions of visitors from around the world every year. Image copyright EPA Image caption Some 120,000 cubic metres of ice and 111,000 cubic metres of snow have been used to build the Ice and Snow World. Image copyright EPA Image caption Thousands of artists and workers built the displays in a city where temperatures can plunge as low as -35C (-31F). Image copyright Reuters Image caption There are 2,019 snowmen on display on the frozen Songhua River. Image copyright EPA Image caption There is even a winter swimming competition ..
January 5, 2019

Thailand Pabuk: Thousands emerge from shelter as storm passes

Thailand Pabuk: Thousands emerge from shelter as storm passes Image copyright AFP Image caption Pabuk was the region's worst storm in 30 years Thousands of people in southern Thailand are emerging from shelter after the region's worst storm in 30 years passed into the Andaman Sea. Storm Pabuk left Thailand at about midnight GMT on Friday after causing widespread flooding and blackouts. One fisherman died and one is missing. The main tourist islands such as Koh Samui were spared the worst. Flights and ferries are now resuming but tourists face delays due to a backlog of services. The latest information on Tropical Storm Pabuk puts its peak wind speed at about 65km/h (40mph). It passed over the coast of eastern Thailand near the island of Ko Phra Thong at 07:00 local time on Saturday (00:00 GMT), heading towards the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It left behind a swathe of downed power cables and forced some 30,000 people into evacuation shelters. Warnings of flash floods are st..
January 4, 2019

Japan sushi tycoon pays record tuna price

Japan sushi tycoon pays record tuna price Image copyright EPA Image caption Kiyoshi Kimura with the 278kg (612lbs) bluefin tuna he bought A Japanese sushi boss has paid a record $3.1m (£2.5m) for a giant tuna at the first new year's auction in Tokyo's new fish market. Self-styled "Tuna King" Kiyoshi Kimura bought the 278kg (612lbs) bluefin tuna, which is an endangered species. He spent more than twice the previous record of $1.4m, which he paid in 2013. Wholesalers and sushi company owners often pay high prices for the best fish at the first pre-dawn auction of the new year. "I bought a good tuna," Mr Kimura told AFP after the auction. Warming seas linked to UK bluefin tuna surge 'I battled giant tuna for four hours and let it go' "The price was higher than originally thought, but I hope our customers will eat this excellent tuna." Mr Kimura has been the highest bidder at the new year auction for seven of the past eight years. Image copyright EPA Image caption Th..
January 4, 2019

The Indian villages desperate to change their names

The Indian villages desperate to change their names Image caption Harpreet Kaur wrote to the prime minister, requesting him to change the name of her village Across the northern Indian states of Haryana and Rajasthan, many villages with "embarrassing" names have been pushing to get them changed for years now. BBC Punjabi's Arvind Chhabra talks to some of the people who have been leading this campaign. "My village's name is Ganda [meaning dirty or ugly in Hindi]," Harpreet Kaur wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 in an attempt to officially change its name. She added that just the name of the village was enough to prompt humiliating taunts from whomever she met. "The situation was so bad that even our relatives mock us relentlessly," she said. In 2017, Mr Modi directed authorities to change the village's name. Today, the renamed village of Ajit Nagar stands proudly in the northern Indian state of Haryana. The village council chief, Lakwinder Ram, said they had..
January 4, 2019

How worried should we be about China’s economy?

How worried should we be about China's economy? Image copyright Reuters Image caption The sign says "new era in China", but will it be a welcome one? The cracks in China's economy appear to be widening, with signs of weakening growth amid a background of trade tensions. Adding to the worries, China's stock market was the world's worst performer last year, ending with a loss of 28%. This week Apple said slowing sales in China meant it would not meet sales expectations, triggering sharp falls on global stock markets. The tech giant isn't alone. A string of other companies have issued warnings recently over China's slowdown and the impact of the trade war with the US. Among those are carmakers such as General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Luxury vehicle maker Jaguar Land Rover has also warned of slowing Chinese sales. US carmakers hit by tariff disputes This week, Robin Li, chief executive of Chinese search engine Baidu, used an infamous phrase from Ga..
January 4, 2019

Sabarimala: Women who defied temple mobs ‘have no fear’

Sabarimala: Women who defied temple mobs 'have no fear' Image caption The women were interviewed in a secret location by the BBC on Friday Two women who defied protesters to enter one of Hinduism's holiest temples say they have no fear of mobs enraged by their actions. Kanaka Durga, 39, and Bindu Ammini, 40, made history by entering Sabarimala shrine in India's Kerala state on Wednesday, sparking protests. The women told the BBC they felt it necessary to uphold women's rights. In September the Indian Supreme Court said the temple's ban against women of menstruating age was discriminatory. Hinduism regards menstruating women as unclean and bars them from participating in religious rituals - but most temples allow women to enter as long as they are not menstruating at the time. Some protesters argue that the court ruling goes against the wishes of the temple's deity, Lord Ayappa, and reacted angrily. How a Temple divided India's women Mob attack..
January 4, 2019

Sri Lanka police arrest two for bribing life-size cutout

Sri Lanka police arrest two for bribing life-size cutout Image copyright Vavuniya Police Image caption The man in this clip and his friend who filmed it have been released on bail Sri Lankan police have arrested two people who posted a Facebook video showing one of them pretending to give a bribe to a traffic police cutout. In the footage, a motorcyclist is seen offering money to the life-size figure of an officer with a speed gun in the northern town of Vavuniya. The man in the video and his friend who filmed it have been released on bail. They are charged with damaging public property, and humiliating and creating a bad public image of the police. The cardboard cutout, which police say had its head damaged, is one of many which were placed on main roads last year to deter speeding and dangerous driving. Jayasuriya responds to corruption charges Son of Sri Lankan ex-leader arrested Sri Lanka profile A few months ago, local police arrested two youths who had taken one home. 'Sati..
January 4, 2019

Huawei staff punished after official tweet posted ‘via iPhone’

Huawei staff punished after official tweet posted 'via iPhone' Image copyright Reuters Image caption Chinese companies have been encouraging the use of Huawei products Two Huawei employees who sent a message from the Chinese telecom firm's Twitter account using an iPhone device have been punished, a memo says. The tweet, posted on New Year's Day, wished followers a "Happy #2019" while displaying "via Twitter for iPhone". Chinese companies have been trying to steer employees toward Huawei products and away from US rival Apple. Last year, Huawei overtook Apple in the number of handsets shipped worldwide, making it second only to Samsung. On Friday, a report by Reuters news agency - citing an internal company memo - said that the Huawei staff involved in the Twitter blunder had been demoted and would be receiving reduced salaries. The new year message was quickly removed from Huawei's official Twitter feed but was shared by users of the social media site. Skip ..
January 4, 2019

Regan King: Ex-Scarlets star ‘tricked us out of thousands’

Regan King: Ex-Scarlets star 'tricked us out of thousands' Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Regan King enjoyed two successful spells with the Scarlets An international rugby player has been accused of tricking ex-partners out of thousands of pounds to fuel a gambling addiction. Former All Blacks and Llanelli Scarlets centre Regan King, 38, recently left Welsh Premiership side Neath after playing across Europe and New Zealand. Two women told BBC Wales they loaned him "thousands" after he pleaded for help with cash flow problems, but failed to pay them back. Mr King declined to comment. BBC Wales has been shown messages and emails from Mr King to several former partners which appear to show him admitting he owes them thousands of Australian dollars, which he promised to pay back. Diana Stalteri, 40, from Perth, in Western Australia, said she met Mr King online in late 2017 and after they had been going out for several months he started asking to borrow sums of money...
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