December 25, 2018

Thailand approves medicinal cannabis

Thailand approves medicinal cannabis Image copyright Reuters Image caption Campaigners had held protests demanding medicinal cannabis be allowed Thailand's parliament has voted to approve cannabis for medical use, with a key lawmaker calling it a "New Year's gift" to the Thai people. Recreational use will remain illegal. Marijuana was used in Thailand as a traditional medicine, until it was banned in the 1930s. South East Asia has some of the world's toughest penalties for drug usage or possession, and Thailand is the first in the region to allow medicinal marijuana. Why are so many countries now saying cannabis is OK? ‘It’s either cannabis or die’ Thailand's junta-appointed parliament voted to amend the Narcotic Act of 1979 on Tuesday. It happened after an extra parliamentary session was arranged to push bills through before the New Year's holidays, according to Reuters news agency. The amendment will become law when it is published in the government gaze..
December 25, 2018

Indonesia tsunami: New warning system ‘to be built next year’

Indonesia tsunami: New warning system 'to be built next year' Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionYuni was forced to run from the water Indonesia says it will build a new warning system capable of detecting tsunamis caused by undersea landslides, days after giant waves triggered by a volcano killed at least 429 people. Installation of the new structure of buoys would start next year, a government agency told the BBC. It is thought that activity by the Anak Krakatau volcano set off undersea landslides, causing Saturday's tsunami. Officials say some 150 people are still missing and 16,000 have been displaced. A volcanologist explains eruption images The rock band swept away by deadly waves Rescue workers, helped by heavy lifting equipment, are going from village to village, sifting through the debris looking for survivors in badly hit areas on the islands of Sumatra and Java. How will the new system work?The new mechanism would work by detecting the..
December 25, 2018

Japan’s Nikkei index slides amid US uncertainty

Japan's Nikkei index slides amid US uncertainty Image copyright EPA Japan's main stock market index has plunged, reflecting traders' worries following a slide on Wall Street. The Nikkei closed down 5% on Tuesday, its worst finish since April 2017. Indexes in Shanghai, Bangkok and Taiwan also fell. Investors have been concerned about President Trump's dispute with the US central bank chief and another government shutdown. US stocks had their worst Christmas Eve on record. The Dow Jones index of 30 leading companies fell more than 650 points on Monday, and is on track for its worst December since 1931, during the Great Depression. Many financial markets in Asia, Europe and North America are closed on Tuesday for Christmas. In China, the Shanghai composite index fell more than 2% on Tuesday morning. What triggered the falls? The Asian markets are believed to be largely reacting to movement in the US and an ensuing shares sell-off by concerned investors. US-China..
December 24, 2018

Bringing ‘Asia’s zebras’ back to the steppe

Bringing 'Asia's zebras' back to the steppe Image copyright Petra Kaczensky/NINA "Do you see them?" the radio crackled in the old Russian 4x4. The driver tried to steer away from pits and ravines that he could barely see in the dark. The lights of another car flashed in the distance. After a prolonged silence came the answer. "No." The two drivers navigating around a national park in the dead of the night are Kazakh rangers trying to capture Asiatic wild ass, known locally as kulans. It is a part of the operation to reintroduce these animals to the steppes of central Kazakhstan, where they disappeared a century ago. Kulans are the zebras of Asia. They used to roam on a massive territory stretching from Syria to Mongolia but today their populations are fragmented and vulnerable. Kulans in Central Asia are in particular danger. Although they are a protected species, they are hunted for their meat and their skins in some areas. Due to hunting and habitat conversion, they ..
December 24, 2018

China birth rate: Mothers, your country needs you!

China birth rate: Mothers, your country needs you! Image copyright Victor Fraile Rodriguez Image caption China is now trying hard to encourage women to have more children When China ended its one-child policy three years ago, there was hope couples would have a second child to help slow the pace of an ageing society. But the move isn't working, reports London-based China analyst Yuwen Wu. The declining birth rate is now one of the most talked-about topics across China - and there's a real sense of crisis. After decades spent trying to curb the population, state propaganda slogans now exhort couples to "Have children for the country", prompting criticism on social media that government policy is intrusive and insensitive. Measures now being discussed range from extending maternity leave to encouraging people to have a second child with straight cash incentives or tax breaks. Some are even calling for limits on the number of children to be abandoned altogether. Aimed at curbin..
December 24, 2018

When Donald met Kim: What happened next?

When Donald met Kim: What happened next? Image copyright AFP Image caption This was a historic moment in June, but Kim and Trump have grown further apart since Throughout this week, we will be looking back at some of the BBC website's most-read stories of the year and asking: what happened after the news moved on? Today, our Seoul correspondent Laura Bicker looks at what, if anything, changed after historic talks between Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un in June. I've lost track of the number of firsts on the Korean peninsula this year. The most obvious was the first US-North Korean summit in Singapore in June. Historic was the word most of us used on the day Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to shake the hand of a North Korean leader. Mr Trump went a bit further. They fell in love, he announced at a political rally. The summit held so many possibilities. Did Donald Trump succeed where others, for decades, had failed and get North Korea to give..
December 24, 2018

Afghan government compound attack kills 28

Afghan government compound attack kills 28 Image copyright EPA Image caption The security force operation to free workers took seven hours At least 28 people have died in a suicide and gun attack on a government compound in Kabul, officials say. At least 20 others were injured during the siege at the Afghan ministry of public works in Kabul. Hundreds of employees were trapped inside the building at the time - and some reportedly jumped to safety. It is not immediately clear who carried out the attack. Both the Islamic State group and Taliban have carried similar attacks in the past. The incident reportedly started with a suicide car bomb blast near the building's entrance, before gunmen stormed inside. People in nearby buildings reportedly locked themselves in their offices for safety, a witness told the Reuters news agency. Trump's withdrawal 'ignores dangerous threat' Why Afghanistan is more dangerous than ever Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said that ..
December 24, 2018

Australia to set up drone-identifying systems

Australia to set up drone-identifying systems Image copyright Reuters Image caption Drone hotspots such as Sydney Harbour will also get the monitoring equipment Drone "hot spots" in Australia are getting sensors to automatically identify the aircraft and their pilots. Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (Casa) said it would install the equipment at the nation's airports starting next month. The monitors have been planned for some time, but come in the wake of 72 hours of drone-related disruption at the UK's Gatwick airport last week. In 2019, Australia will also start a scheme to register drone owners. The UK is also due to introduce a scheme in November that will require recreational drones weighing 250g (0.55lb) or more to be registered. Heavy finesAlmost 140,000 air travellers were delayed last week after reports of drone sightings caused huge delays at Gatwick Airport. UK police are still searching for the culprits, although they have also raised the possib..
December 24, 2018

Sydney Opal Tower: Thousands evacuated after ‘crack’

Sydney Opal Tower: Thousands evacuated after 'crack' Image copyright EPA Image caption A loud cracking noise was heard by residents As many as 3,000 people have been evacuated after residents of a newly completed tower block in Australia reported hearing "cracking noises". Police confirmed they had found a crack in the 33-storey Opal Tower, in Sydney Olympic Park, following reports of the noise on the 10th floor. Engineers said the high-rise tower has moved up to 2mm, local media reported. A 1km (0.6 mile) evacuation zone, which also affected other buildings, was put in place amid safety fears. An email to residents of a nearby apartment block said the evacuation had been ordered because "there is a potential for the tower to collapse", according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Specialists were due to enter the 10th floor to inspect the crack and assess whether the building was safe, Greg White, a spokesman for New South Wales Fire And Rescue, told reporters. He said police ha..
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