October 13, 2018

Anwar Ibrahim returns to Malaysian politics with by-election win

Anwar Ibrahim returns to Malaysian politics with by-election win Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Anwar Ibrahim was in good spirits in Port Dickson on Saturday Malaysian ex-deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has won a parliamentary seat, sealing his return to front-line politics. The 71-year-old won a by-election in the town of Port Dickson on Saturday. The king granted him a full pardon in May, three years after he was jailed for sodomy. Mr Anwar's former rival and current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad - who is 93 - has promised to hand over power to him in two years' time. The pair shocked many by joining forces to oust the previous ruling coalition in May's general election. Anwar Ibrahim: Malaysia's leader-in-waiting A political drama worthy of Shakespeare Profile: Mahathir Mohamad Mr Anwar's parliamentary win was considered a sure win, after a member of the current coalition stepped down to allow for his accession. Greeted by supporters at ..
October 13, 2018

Indonesia flash flooding kills at least 21 on Sumatra island

Indonesia flash flooding kills at least 21 on Sumatra island Image copyright AFP Image caption Flood devastation at Muara Saladi, which saw the highest death toll Landslides and flash flooding following heavy rainfall on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have left at least 21 people dead, officials say. Eleven of the dead were children buried when mud and water engulfed their classroom in the village of Muara Saladi in North Sumatra province. Another 10 people are missing at the site. More than 500 homes in the provinces of North and West Sumatra have been damaged. The deadliest incident was at the Islamic village school in Muara Saladi in Mandailing Natal district, which borders West Sumatra province. Children were studying on Friday afternoon when a nearby river overflowed and brought down their classroom wall. "The victims were buried in a torrent of mud and wall debris," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for disaster mitigation agency BNPB. Rescuers found the bodies of 11 chi..
October 13, 2018

Australia to stop religious schools rejecting gay students

Australia to stop religious schools rejecting gay students Image copyright EPA Image caption Prime Minister Scott Morrison clarified his policy on religious schools amid fierce debate Australia's prime minister has promised to ban religious schools from discriminating against gay students. Scott Morrison said new legislation would "make it clear that no student of a non-state school should be expelled on the basis of their sexuality". Some Australian states allow such schools to turn away gay students. The issue has been hotly debated in the country after recommendations of a report on religious freedom were leaked earlier this week. The report, commissioned after same-sex marriage was made legal last year, suggested that procedures for non-state schools to reject gay students should be made consistent nationwide, raising the possibility of allowing such rejections across Australia. On Wednesday Mr Morrison, who leads the centre-right Liberal-National coalition, said the proposa..
October 13, 2018

Nepal storm kills several climbers in Himalayas

Nepal storm kills several climbers in Himalayas Image copyright Frank Bienewald/Getty Image caption Nepal is home to eight of the world's 14 highest peaks Nine climbers are feared dead after a violent snowstorm destroyed their camp on a Himalayan peak in western Nepal. A five-member South Korean expedition team and four Nepali guides were at the base camp of Mount Gurja when the storm struck, police said on Saturday. A rescue helicopter at the scene confirmed seeing eight bodies in the ruins of the camp, but was unable to stay due to bad conditions. A ninth climber has yet to be found. Local media report that South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, the fastest person to summit the world's 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen, is among the dead. "We assume the incident happened because of a snowstorm because trees are broken and the tents. Even the dead bodies are scattered," police spokesman Sailesh Thapa told AFP. Expedition organisers raised the alarm after lo..
October 13, 2018

The two men who make a living impersonating Kim Jong-un

The two men who make a living impersonating Kim Jong-un Image copyright David Cox Image caption Howard and Minyong Kim Jong-un has had his fair share of headlines in 2018, be it for threatening nuclear Armageddon, jousting verbally with Donald Trump, or signing peace agreements. But every time he makes the news, two very unlikely beneficiaries prepare for their phones to start ringing, writes David Cox. Howard X, a political satirist living in Hong Kong, and Seoul-based Minyong Kim - who goes by the professional name of Dragon Kim - are the sole members of what they call the Kim Jong-un Impersonators Union. For the past six years, the duo have each been cashing in on their uncanny resemblance to the North Korean leader - earning up to £10,000 a day, they say, for jobs ranging from starring in video games, opening shopping malls, and entertaining guests at billionaires' birthday parties. "Whenever Kim Jong-un does something like firing off a missile or calling Trump a 'dotar..
October 13, 2018

How the ‘world’s toughest one-day bike race’ could put Bhutan ahead

How the 'world's toughest one-day bike race' could put Bhutan ahead Image copyright Melyn McKay Image caption Bhutan's culture goes far beyond its mountains and valleys The reclusive kingdom of Bhutan has for years granted only limited access to tourists. But the country is now slowly attracting more visitors - and one way its doing so is through extreme sports, as filmmaker Alex Bescoby recounts. It was 2am on a chilly September morning in Bhutan, and a gruelling 268km (166 miles) slog lay ahead. Between me and the finish line in the capital, Thimphu, lay four mountain-passes each more than 10,000ft high (3,050m) and a feat of endurance that has taken world-class athletes more than 11 hours to complete. As the organisers of the Tour of the Dragon (TOD) point out, real dangers awaited. The TOD has been billed as the "toughest one-day bike race in the world". Between the rough undulating terrain and the potential to run into wild tigers, leopards and wild boar, it..
October 13, 2018

What would it take for North Korea to join the IMF?

What would it take for North Korea to join the IMF? Image copyright Getty Images At the recent UN General Assembly, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in was discussing North Korea's strides to build relations and open up to the world. He said Kim Jong-un had even said he would be "willing to join the IMF and the World Bank and other international agencies", Reuters reported. Those ambitions, if vague for now, cast a light on the challenges North Korea will face as it tries to become part of the global economy. The country has been economically cut off from most of the world for decades because of its nuclear programme and alleged human rights abuses, and experts say the process of joining the financial bodies would be a long one. Nine charts which tell you all you need to know about North Korea Imagine a North Korean family... North Korea crisis in 300 words Benefits to membershipWhy would the socialist "hermit" state even want to join these US-dominated institutions? Membe..
October 12, 2018

UN criticised over new human rights council members

UN criticised over new human rights council members Image copyright AFP Image caption The election to the UNHRC took place at the UN headquarters in New York Countries that have been widely criticised for severe human rights abuses are among 18 newly elected members of the UN Human Rights Council. Campaigners had urged UN member states to oppose the candidacy of the Philippines and Eritrea and said the choice of Bahrain and Cameroon raised "significant concerns". The US quit the council in June, saying it made a mockery of human rights. But its defenders say it does vital protection work around the world. Countries can serve for two consecutive three-year terms on the council, which is based in Geneva. Are we facing a 'post human rights world'? Why did US pull out? The UN General Assembly in New York approved the new members in a vote on Friday. For the first time in the council's history, the five voting regions had only put forward as many candidates as there were s..
October 12, 2018

Australia drought: How much rain would end ‘the big dry’?

Australia drought: How much rain would end 'the big dry'? Image copyright EPA Image caption Rain clouds are a welcome sight for Australian farmers Many drought-stricken regions in Australia have finally received much-needed rain in recent days. Parts of New South Wales (NSW) - a state declared to be 100% in drought - have enjoyed their best rainfalls in two years, according to meteorologists. But while the drenching has provided some relief, forecasters say it is nowhere near enough. Farming regions in NSW and Queensland have been bone dry for months - years in some cases - meaning there is no quick fix to end the drought. So what would it take? First, it depends on how you define droughtAustralia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) measures it in terms of "rainfall deficiency" - a period when precipitation is deemed to be below average. This year, rainfall levels in NSW are among the lowest ever recorded over an extended period. In some areas, the state is the driest it has ..
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