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..
January 15, 2019

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei denies firm poses spying risk

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei denies firm poses spying risk Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Ren Zhengfei founded Huawei in 1987, since when it has become one of China's biggest companies Huawei's founder has denied Chinese authorities have ever asked his company to help spy on its clients. Ren Zhengfei was speaking to foreign media in a rare interview, following claims Huawei posed a security risk. He also said he was missing his daughter Meng Wanzhou "very much". Ms Meng - who is the technology company's chief financial officer - has been ordered to stay in Canada, where she is under arrest after being accused of breaking sanctions on Iran. She now faces extradition to the US, which requested the move. The telecom equipment-maker's actions are also under scrutiny elsewhere. Last week, one of its sales executives was arrested in Poland, where the authorities have accused him of spying. Huawei has since sacked the employee and denied any illegal behaviour ..
January 15, 2019

Robert Schellenberg case: China accuses Canada of ‘double standards’

Robert Schellenberg case: China accuses Canada of 'double standards' Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has had his jail sentence increased to a death sentence China has rejected accusations from Canada that it is arbitrarily applying a death sentence to a Canadian convicted of drug smuggling. Beijing accused Canada of double standards. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was initially given a 15-year jail term in November - but on Monday a court increased the sentence, saying it was too lenient. The ruling is likely to worsen a diplomatic row between the countries. Last month, Canada arrested an official of China's Huawei telecoms giant. China has expressed anger at the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei's founder, on suspicion of using a subsidiary company to evade US sanctions on Iran between 2009 and 2014. She was detained at the request of the United States. Huawei founder denies spy risk claims What's going on wit..
January 15, 2019

China province looks to boost shopping with longer weekend

China province looks to boost shopping with longer weekend Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Under a new proposal, workers in Hebei province could see their weekend extended A province in China may give workers Friday afternoon off as part of wider efforts to boost consumption in the country's slowing economy. Hebei province is considering extending the weekend "in areas where conditions allow," according to a government proposal. Other provincial governments in the country have experimented with similar schemes. The move comes as China's economic slowdown continues to deepen. The plan to extend the weekend in Hebei, published last week, is designed to improve consumption for 2019 and 2020. It discussed breaking the barriers that limit consumption, as well as looking for new ways to spur consumption growth. Other provinces in China have experimented with similar ideas. In 2015, China's cabinet suggested adding Friday afternoon to the weekend. Since then, m..
January 15, 2019

China’s Moon mission sees first seeds sprout

China's Moon mission sees first seeds sprout Image copyright CLEP Seeds taken up to the Moon by China's Chang'e-4 mission have sprouted, says China National Space Administration. It marks the first time any biological matter has grown on the Moon, and is being seen as a significant step towards long-term space exploration. The Chang'e 4 is the first mission to land on and explore the Moon's far side, facing away from Earth. It touched down on 3 January, carrying instruments to analyse the region's geology. What does China want to do on the Moon's far side? Why China has its eye on space China Moon probes take snaps of each other Plants have been grown on the International Space Station before but never on the Moon. The ability to grow plants on the Moon will be integral for long-term space missions, like a trip to Mars which would take about two-and-a-half years. It would mean that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space, r..
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