January 16, 2019

India woman makes historic ascent of ‘banned’ sacred peak

India woman makes historic ascent of 'banned' sacred peak Image copyright Dhanya Sanal Image caption Dhanya Sanal was the first woman to scale the peak An Indian woman has climbed a mountain, where only men were allowed until now for religious reasons. Dhanya Sanal's ascent to the summit of Agasthyakoodam in southern Kerala state came after a court ruling in November. Local tribespeople oppose women climbing it because of a statue of a Hindu sage on top they say is celibate. Ms Sanal, 38, told the BBC she had not been stopped by locals or protesters. Campaigners say it's a victory in the fight to end gender discrimination. Ms Sanal said she had been "ready to turn back" if tribespeople stopped her, but while she did encounter protesters, she said they had not prevented her from continuing her trek. Sabarimala: Indian women make history by entering temple The Indian god who bars women from his temple In November, the high court in Kerala ruled that women could tr..
January 16, 2019

Why a 1,200-year-old calligraphy piece angered China

Why a 1,200-year-old calligraphy piece angered China Image copyright National Palace Museum Image caption Yan Zhenqing is one of China's most famous calligraphers A decision by Taiwan's National Palace Museum to lend a rare calligraphy to Japan's Tokyo National Museum has sparked outrage across China. On paper it seemed like a straightforward cultural exchange, so why has this prized masterpiece created 1,200 years ago caused so much anger today? A household name in ChinaThe calligraphy, titled Requiem to My Nephew, was painted by Yan Zhenqing - considered to be one of the greatest calligraphers in China. He lived between 709 to 785 AD. Yan Zhenqing wrote the piece in 759 AD, after he found that his nephew had died. "He's a household name in China," Fine Arts professor Tong Kam Tang of the Chinese University of Hong Kong told the BBC. "When you're young and you study Chinese art, you'll learn [about him]." Mr Tong said the piece of work was a draft by Y..
January 16, 2019

Asia moves to reassure firms as Brexit uncertainty spikes

Asia moves to reassure firms as Brexit uncertainty spikes Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Trade between the UK and Japan hit £28bn last year Countries in Asia have moved to reassure businesses as the defeat of Theresa May's Brexit deal creates fresh uncertainty for their economies and trade. Japan, a vocal critic of a no-deal Brexit, said it would seek clarity on the outlook and support firms. South Korea and Australia said they would continue to negotiate on new or existing trade deals. Market reaction in Asia following the vote was muted. The BBC's Asia business correspondent Karishma Vaswani said there was little movement in the pound in Asia hours on Wednesday as traders said "Brexit fatigue" had crept in. Pound rises after Brexit vote Theresa May faces confidence vote But countries in the region moved to reassure local businesses after the rejection of a Brexit deal stoked fresh uncertainty. Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the go..
January 16, 2019

Kevin Mallory: The churchgoing patriot who spied for China

Kevin Mallory: The churchgoing patriot who spied for China Image copyright Police handout US officials say China is trying to influence US policymakers, steal secrets and spy on the US government. But how? The story of Kevin Mallory, a man who seemed to lead a typical suburban life in Virginia, provides the answer. FBI agents pointed their weapons at Jeremiah Mallory, a teenager standing in the doorway of his house one morning in June 2017, and told him to get on his knees. "They've got guns in his face," says Patsy Clark, a family friend. They were looking for evidence against his father, Kevin Mallory, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer who had been spying for the Chinese government. One of Mallory's neighbours, a dog walker, was heading down the block: "All of a sudden I hear this yelling." The roar of helicopters woke another neighbour, Delrose Winter, who says she saw police cars and black vans at the house. Cameron Norris, a student who lived nearby, ..
January 16, 2019

Flight attendant smuggled drugs in ‘highly organised’ ring, police say

Flight attendant smuggled drugs in 'highly organised' ring, police say Image copyright AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE Image caption Police say the drugs were smuggled by a flight attendant Australian police say they have busted a "highly organised" drug ring which allegedly used a flight attendant to smuggle drugs into the country. The Melbourne-based Vietnamese syndicate had been operating for at least five years, Australian Federal Police said. Eight people, including one Malindo Air employee, were arrested in Melbourne last week. Malindo Air, a small airline based in Malaysia, has not commented publicly. Police said the syndicate had illegally imported at least A$20m (£11m; $14.5m) worth of drugs, including heroin and methamphetamine, from Malaysia. Four men and four women, all aged between 26 and 48, were charged with drug trafficking offences. Police did not state their individual nationalities. "The cabin crew were used as the drug couriers," said AFP Assistant Commission..
January 15, 2019

How one heatwave killed ‘a third’ of a bat species in Australia

How one heatwave killed 'a third' of a bat species in Australia Image copyright DAVID WHITE Image caption Many spectacled flying foxes were found dead around Cairns, a city in Queensland Over two days in November, record-breaking heat in Australia's north wiped out almost one-third of the nation's spectacled flying foxes, according to researchers. The animals, also known as spectacled fruit bats, were unable to survive in temperatures which exceeded 42C. In the city of Cairns, locals saw bats toppling from trees into backyards, swimming pools and other locations. Wildlife rescuers found surviving animals clumped together, usually on branches closer to the ground. "It was totally depressing," one rescuer, David White, told the BBC. 'Biblical scale' Last week, researchers from Western Sydney University finalised their conclusion that about 23,000 spectacled flying foxes died in the event on 26 and 27 November. That tally was reached through counting by wil..
January 15, 2019

Grace Millane: Man denies murdering British backpacker

Grace Millane: Man denies murdering British backpacker Image copyright Lucie Blackman Trust Image caption Miss Millane had been travelling alone in New Zealand A 26-year-old man has denied murdering British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand. Miss Millane, 22, from Wickford, Essex, was last seen at a hostel in Auckland on 1 December. Her body was found a week later on the outskirts of the city. The defendant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared in the High Court in Auckland. He entered a not guilty plea, and a trial date was set for 4 November. Miss Millane had been travelling alone in New Zealand for two weeks, following a six-week group trip through South America. Her family became concerned when the University of Lincoln graduate failed to respond to birthday messages on 2 December. Miss Millane's father flew to New Zealand and was there when police discovered the body of his daughter on 8 December.
January 15, 2019

Germany hold ‘Iran spy’ over Afghan ops

Germany accuses army linguist of spying for Iran over Afghan missions Image copyright AFP Image caption Germany has more than 1,000 troops in northern Afghanistan German police have arrested a 50-year-old Afghan-German man suspected of passing military secrets to Iran. Federal prosecutors named the army linguist, arrested in Rhineland state, only as Abdul Hamid S. He is understood to have known details of German military operations in Afghanistan. Prosecutors said he was suspected of "having passed on his knowledge to an Iranian intelligence service". The EU has imposed sanctions on Iran for various alleged spying operations. Germany's beefed-up military This month the EU put a unit of the Iranian intelligence agency and two individuals on the EU terrorist list, freezing their financial assets. Iran says the accusations were fabricated to damage EU-Iran relations. The German armed forces (Bundeswehr) have up to 1,300 personnel in the international security force in Afghanistan, w..
January 15, 2019

Sabarimala: Woman who defied India temple ban ‘attacked by mother-in-law’

Sabarimala: Woman who defied India temple ban 'attacked by mother-in-law' Image caption Kanaka Durga was the first woman to enter the Sabarimala shrine One of the two Indian women who defied a historic ban to enter a Hindu temple is recovering in hospital after her mother-in-law allegedly attacked her. Kanaka Durga, 39, had been in hiding since 2 January, when her entry into the Sabarimala temple sparked protests. She told police her mother-in-law beat her when she returned home on Tuesday. The shrine was closed to women of "menstruating age" - defined as between 10 and 50 - until India's top court overturned the ban in September. But despite the ruling, protesters blocked any women who tried to enter. Kanaka Durga and Bindu Ammini, 40, made history after they entered Sabarimala in the middle of the night escorted by policemen. But as news of their entry spread, violent protests broke out across the southern state of Kerala, where the temple is located. The two women..
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