January 6, 2019

Saudi woman ‘trapped at Bangkok airport trying to flee family’

Saudi woman 'trapped at Bangkok airport trying to flee family' Image copyright Reuters Image caption Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun said her passport was seized at Bangkok airport A young Saudi woman says she is stranded at Bangkok's main airport after fleeing her family and having her passport seized by a Saudi official. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun says she was on a trip to Kuwait with her family when she fled on a flight two days ago. She was trying to head to Australia via a connecting flight in Bangkok. She told the BBC that she had renounced Islam, and feared she would be forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia and killed by her family. Thai police Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn told the BBC that Ms Mohammed al-Qunun was escaping a marriage. Because she did not have a visa to enter Thailand, he said police had denied her entry and were in the process of repatriating her through the same airline she had taken, Kuwait Airlines. Gen Surachate said he was unaware of any passport seizure. Th..
January 6, 2019

Japanese girl to become youngest professional Go player

Japanese girl to become youngest professional Go player Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Go is a two-player game in which players take turns putting black or white stones on a grid A Japanese schoolgirl is set to become the youngest professional player of the board game Go. Sumire Nakamura will be 10 when she enters the lowest professional rank of the game on 1 April. She began playing the complicated strategy game at the age of three and was competing in national tournaments in Japan by the time she was seven. The previous record was set by Rina Fujisawa, who was 11 when she became a professional player in 2010. Go player to take on Chinese AI Google's AI wins final Go challenge Facebook trains AI to beat humans at Go "I'm happy when I win," the Osaka schoolgirl told a press conference in Tokyo on Saturday. "I want to have a title while being in junior high school." The Japan Go Association has chosen her to take part in a programme training young players to comp..
January 5, 2019

Obituary: Major Geoffrey Langlands, Pakistan’s English teacher

Obituary: Major Geoffrey Langlands, Pakistan's English teacher Image copyright Shutterstock Image caption Geoffrey Langlands was born in Yorkshire, but lived most of his 101 years in Pakistan It is not every teacher whose death sends an entire country into mourning. But then, Major Geoffrey Langlands was no ordinary teacher and his was no ordinary life. The tale of how a British orphan came to be Pakistan's best-loved teacher, meeting princesses, teaching prime ministers and surviving kidnap while maintaining a healthy respect for a well-shined shoe, porridge oats and the morning newspaper, could be straight out of a story book. He was, the New York Times said in 2012, "the quintessential Englishman of old, a living relic of the Raj". But "the major", as he was affectionately known, was more than a vestige of a bygone age. By the time of his death at 101, his devotion to education had transformed the lives of thousands of children growing up in some of Pakistan's most re..
January 5, 2019

China’s population ‘to peak’ in 2029 at 1.44 billion

China's population 'to peak' in 2029 at 1.44 billion Image copyright Getty Images Image caption China relaxed its one-child policy in 2015 to combat an ageing population China's population will peak in 2029 at 1.44 billion before beginning a period of "unstoppable" decline, a government report says. The China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) study says the country must implement policies to handle a smaller workforce and an older population. Both changes combined could cause "very unfavourable social and economic consequences", the report says. Latest UN estimates say China has a population of 1.41 billion. In 2015 the world's most populous country ended its one-child policy in a bid to tackle the problems. What was China's one-child policy? China hints at three-child policy with 'happy family' stamps The study appears in CASS's Green Book of Population and Labour. Working population numbers were now stagnating, it said, with a low ferti..
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..
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