January 14, 2019

China’s weakening trade figures should concern us all

China's weakening trade figures should concern us all Image copyright Getty Images If China wanted to appease Donald Trump's ever-present anger at its trade surplus with the United States, the latest trade figures won't work to calm him down. China's exports to the rest of the world, announced on Monday, were unexpectedly down when they had been expected to rise. But that was more than offset by the even bigger drop in China's imports. Analysts had been expecting a 5% rise in China's imports from the rest of the world. Instead, they got a 7.6% fall. The difference between the amount China sells and the amount it buys - the trade surplus that so excites the US president's wrath - grew bigger. In fact, the more the US president fulminates about China selling the US far more than it buys, the more it seems to go against him. By the end of last year, China exported $324bn more in goods and services to the US than it imported. That's a record s..
January 14, 2019

Taliban talks: Pakistan arrest ‘sends militants message’

Taliban talks: Pakistan arrest 'sends militants message' Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Taliban sent a delegation to Moscow for talks and have met US officials Pakistan has detained a senior Afghan Taliban member in an attempt to put pressure on the militants amid talks with the US, sources in the group say. Hafez Mohibullah, religious affairs minister when the Taliban ran Afghanistan before 2001, was held in Peshawar, the sources told the BBC. The US has repeatedly called on Pakistan to end "safe havens" for the Taliban on its soil. Pakistan denies backing the group to retain influence in Afghanistan. The reported detention of Hafez Mohibullah comes ahead of a visit to Pakistan by US special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, who has held a series of meetings with the Taliban's political office in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The US wants Pakistan to encourage the militants to reach a settlement in Afghanistan and bring..
January 14, 2019

Kumbh Mela: Millions of Indians prepare for holy dip

Kumbh Mela: Millions of Indians prepare for holy dip Millions of people in the northern Indian city of Allahabad are preparing to bathe in holy waters as part of the world's largest religious gathering - the Kumbh Mela. At least 15 million people are expected later at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical, subterranean Saraswati rivers. Officials are preparing for 120 million people during the 49-day festival. It is billed as humanity's biggest gathering and can be seen from space. Hindus believe that bathing at the confluence of the rivers - known as the Sangam - will cleanse their sins and help them attain salvation. The biggest draw at the festival are the Naga sadhus - the naked ash-smeared ascetics who arrive in massive colourful processions. At the last Kumbh in 2013, female ascetics were allowed to bathe at the Sangam for the first time. This time, hundreds of transgender people will be participating. More than a million foreign pilgrims will also tak..
January 14, 2019

Millions of Chinese CVs exposed on cloud server

Millions of Chinese CVs exposed on cloud server Image copyright Reuters Image caption Data on Chinese train travellers was reportedly stolen by hackers A database containing resumes of more than 200 million Chinese people has been found exposed online. Security firm Hackenproof said the "very detailed" information lacked even the most basic security protections. Names, mobile phone numbers, email addresses, education histories and many other personal details were included in the data trove. Analysis suggested the information was built up by "scraping" several Chinese job sites. Breach listWriting in a blog, Hackenproof research director Bob Diachenko said he initially thought the data had been taken from large, classified advert site BJ.58.com. However, in a statement given to Hackenproof, BJ.58.com denied it had let the data escape. "We have searched all over the database of us and investigated all the other storage, turned out that the sample data is not leaked from us," it said. ..
January 14, 2019

The Melbourne bakeries that tell a story of Jewish migration

The Melbourne bakeries that tell a story of Jewish migration Image copyright MONARCH CAKE SHOP Image caption Pearl Levine opened Monaco Cake Shop, Melbourne's first Jewish bakery, in 1931 Australia's largest Jewish community is found in Melbourne. Numbering 50,000, many are descendants of Holocaust survivors and refugees from eastern Europe who settled here in the 1930s and 1940s, and they live mostly in the city's inner south-east. There they built a gamut of institutions: synagogues, schools, retirement homes as well as kosher restaurants and butchers. The area is also home to a number of Jewish bakeries famous for making the best bagels in town and drool-worthy cakes based on age-old Polish, German and Hungarian recipes. "The Jewish bakeries of Melbourne have strong traditions that hark back to homespun origins and offer a culinary link to the places many had fled to make new lives," says Damien Green, an author and educator at King David, a Jewish day school in Melbo..
January 14, 2019

‘Afghan Justin Trudeau’ finds fame on TV talent show

'Afghan Justin Trudeau' finds fame on TV talent show Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Abdul Salam Maftoon, right, has been compared to Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau One is the leader of a G7 nation and the other is a wedding singer, but their striking likeness could sway a TV talent contest in Afghanistan. Abdul Salam Maftoon from north-east Afghanistan has won fame for his resemblance to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The 29-year-old is competing on the popular singing contest Afghan Star. A judge on the series pointed out the similarity, and Mr Maftoon is now among the final eight contestants. "I didn't know anything about Justin Trudeau until I saw the photos on social media," the wedding singer from Badakhshan province told AFP news agency. "The resemblance has boosted my chances of winning the competition by 50%." Afghans have posted numerous comparison pictures online. Skip Twitter post by @KhHakimi1 Salam Maftoon Afghan singer l..
January 14, 2019

China sentences Canadian man to death for drug smuggling

China sentences Canadian man to death for drug smuggling Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Canadian national was sentenced to death by the court in the north-eastern city of Dalian A court in China has sentenced a Canadian to death for drug smuggling, a verdict likely to reignite a diplomatic row between the two countries. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg had been given a 15-year jail term in 2016, but after an appeal in 2018 a court said the sentence was too lenient. That ruling came shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, a top official at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, on a request from the US. She was granted bail in December. Ms Meng, 46, is the daughter of Huawei's founder and her detention has angered China and soured its relations with both Canada and the US. China has since detained two Canadian nationals, accusing them of endangering national security. Life of Huawei's high-flying heiress What's going on with Huawei? What about Schellenberg's case?S..
January 14, 2019

Stowaway bird found on Singapore Airlines plane after 12 hours

Stowaway bird found on Singapore Airlines plane after 12 hours Image copyright Facebook Image caption The stowaway was filmed by a business class passenger last week A feathery passenger was discovered 12 hours into a 14-hour flight between Singapore and London. The stowaway, a mynah bird, appeared in the business class section of a Singapore Airlines flight last Monday. An airline spokesman confirmed the incident a week later, and said the bird was eventually caught. In a Facebook video, it can be seen making itself comfortable on top of a headrest before an flight attendant makes a failed attempted to grab it. Stowaway gecko hitches ride in melons The medical conundrum of plane stowaways Stowaway lizard hid under sofa for month "It was subsequently caught by cabin crew with the assistance of some of the passengers," the spokesman told the Strait Times newspaper. The bird, which is native to southern Asia, was then handed over to animal quarantine authorities at London's Heathr..
January 14, 2019

eSwatini – Taiwan’s last friend in Africa

eSwatini - Taiwan's last friend in Africa Image copyright AFP Image caption King Mswati III awarded Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-we the Order of the Elephant at his palace in 2018 China has tried to win over eSwatini repeatedly, but the tiny kingdom, previously known as Swaziland, is staying with Taiwan for "diplomatic and political morality" even though it is left standing alone. It is the only African country that maintains diplomatic relations with the Asian island after Burkina Faso switched to China in May 2018. China does not allow countries to have official ties with both itself and Taiwan as it regards the island as a breakaway province that it has vowed to retake, by force if necessary. But the government of eSwatini says it will stick with Taiwan. 'Our national interest'A new economic agreement signed last June has just taken effect and will see the southern Africa nation exporting certain goods - including honey and avocados - to Taiwan duty free. "It&#..
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