November 27, 2018

Sydney storms: Hundreds call for help amid flash-flooding

Sydney storms: Hundreds call for help amid flash-flooding Image copyright Reuters Image caption Sydney had one month's worth of rain in two hours, meteorologists say More than 500 Australians have called for emergency assistance after storms lashed Sydney and nearby regions, causing floods, power cuts and flight delays. Sydney had its average monthly rainfall within just two hours on Wednesday, according to meteorologists. Authorities said at least 11 people had been rescued from vehicles trapped in floods. One man died in a car accident. Images posted online showed flooded roads, houses and train stations. Skip Twitter post by @FRNSW #FRNSW firefighters had to negotiate flooded roads while responding to an alarm in Artarmon this morning. Take care if you’re travelling today and don’t enter floodwater. Like the @NSWSES says - if it’s flooded, forget it! pic.twitter.com/F7TWNTmRKz — Fire and Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) November 27, 2018 Report End of Twitter post by @FRNSW Image copyrig..
November 27, 2018

Google urged to drop Chinese ‘Dragonfly’ project

Google urged to drop Chinese 'Dragonfly' project Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The new search app would block search terms like human rights and religion Staff at Google have called on the search giant to end work on a controversial search engine project for China. Called Dragonfly, the search engine would be a censored version developed with the aid of the Chinese government. In a letter published online, 60 employees said the project would only help state surveillance. Their call to cancel was backed by Amnesty International which said it was at odds with the company's values. 'Exploratory'Once completed, Dragonfly would "enable censorship" and help the Chinese government's disinformation campaigns, claimed the letter. China made significant use of technology to stifle freedom of expression and repress dissent, said the group. "Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it ..
November 27, 2018

John Allen Chau: Do missionaries help or harm?

John Allen Chau: Do missionaries help or harm? Image copyright Getty Images Image caption How should the world view missionaries? "You guys might think I'm crazy in all this... But I think it's worth it to declare Jesus to these people." These were some of the last words in the final letter John Allen Chau sent to his parents before he was killed by the people of North Sentinel Island last week. While he was not himself a missionary, Chau did say that his aim was to bring the gospel to the tribe. And his attempts to do so have brought into focus the hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world spreading their faith. But who are these missionaries? What do they hope to achieve? And are they a positive force around the world, or an unwelcome presence? What is a missionary?While other religions have sent missionaries around the world, none are more widespread or well-known than Christian missionaries. Missionaries of all Christian creeds cite a passage in the Bible, t..
November 27, 2018

Fehmida Riaz: Pakistan poet who dared to talk about female desire

Fehmida Riaz: Pakistan poet who dared to talk about female desire Fehmida Riaz, who died in Pakistan last week, was not just another poet, fiction writer or translator. She broke social taboos and set new standards in Urdu literature, writes M Ilyas Khan. Riaz was a compulsive political animal who unapologetically lived her ideology rather than bend it to the demands of different situations. Born in what is now the Indian city of Meerut, on 26 July 1946, she was raised in the Pakistani city of Hyderabad where her father was posted around the time of the partition of India in 1947. The family stayed in Pakistan but her literature would later cross the divide between the two countries. The poet in Riaz came of age quite early, in 1967, when her first collection was published. Paththar Ki Zaban (Tongue of Stone) displayed early traces of a feminist consciousness that would rip through Pakistan's culture of patriarchy six years later with the publication of her second collection, Ba..
November 27, 2018

The fight over the right to name Australian places

The fight over the right to name Australian places Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionLast year's marriage equality celebrations on what is now known as "Equality Green" When should a public place be renamed? The debate is often complex. In Australia, many would like to see names reflect a more modern, equal nation. Gary Nunn reports from Sydney. In November last year, 30,000 Australians gathered biting their nails in Sydney's Prince Alfred Park, all watching a giant widescreen. Tension was in the air and an eerie silence preceded the din of triumphant celebrations, along with some tears of palpable relief. It was the chosen venue of the Yes campaign to marriage equality to gather for the result of a national vote on same-sex marriage (the law went on to be changed by parliament). Earlier this month, Sydney's city council unanimously accepted a proposal to rename the lawn where this gathering took place Equality Green. It'll be an enduring rem..
November 27, 2018

Ben Lecomte: Swimmer abandons attempt to swim Pacific

Ben Lecomte: Swimmer abandons attempt to swim Pacific Image copyright Reuters Image caption He completed more than 2,700 kilometres of his journey A French man has abandoned his bid to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean after his support boat was damaged by a storm. Ben Lecomte, 51, set off from the coast of Japan on 5 June and had covered more than 2,700 km (1,500 nautical miles) of the 9,100 km journey. But "irreparable" damage to a sail on the boat forced him to stop. Mr Lecomte had been trying to raise awareness of climate change and plastic pollution throughout the journey. On average he swam eight hours a day in an effort to hit his target. It was not long after he reached the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", a zone dominated by ocean plastic, that he was presented with typhoons and severe storms. "I am very disappointed because I had not reached my mental and physical limits," he said in a statement. He added: "We've faced treacherous winds, rain and oc..
November 27, 2018

Afghanistan: US service members killed in bomb explosion

Afghanistan: US service members killed in bomb explosion Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption US forces serving with Nato have been training Afghan forces since combat operations ended in 2014 Three US service members have been killed and three others wounded in a bomb explosion near Ghazni city in Afghanistan. A US civilian contractor was also hurt by the improvised explosive device, the Nato-led mission said in a statement. Officials would not give further detail until next of kin were notified, saying only that the injured were evacuated and receiving medical treatment. This is the second attack in a month targeting US forces in the region. Utah mayor Bret Taylor was killed in an apparent insider attack on 3 November while serving with the US Army National Guard to train Afghan security forces. 'IS wants to wipe us out' Why are more troops going to Afghanistan? Afghan Taliban attend landmark talks On Saturday, a US soldier was killed in Nimroz province in what appeared..
November 27, 2018

No sale for Australia’s enormous Knickers (who is, by the way, a cow)

No sale for Australia's enormous Knickers (who is, by the way, a cow) Image copyright Geoff Pearson Image caption Knickers is often followed by a herd of wagyu cattle Knickers looms above the thousands of other cattle that he feeds with in rural Western Australia. At some 1,400kg (220st) and 194cm (6ft 4in), the seven-year-old is believed to be the biggest steer in a country home to millions of cattle. And his size has proved to be his saving grace. When owner Geoff Pearson tried to put him up for auction last month, meat processors said they simply couldn't handle him - so Knickers avoided the abattoir. He will now live out the rest of his life on Lake Preston feedlot in Myalup, 136km (85 miles) south of Perth. "Knickers lives on," says Mr Pearson, who has been fielding calls from local journalists since the Australian public broadcaster drew attention to the enormous steer - a Holstein Friesian, but significantly taller than the average for that breed. He was first bought ..
November 27, 2018

Why is Jack Ma a member of the Communist Party of China?

Why is Jack Ma a member of the Communist Party of China? Image copyright Getty Images Does being a founder and executive chairman of a company worth about $400bn (£313bn), with a personal wealth said to be about $35bn, put you at odds with being a member of a communist party whose leader wants to "develop China, develop socialism and develop Marxism"? Or, put more simply, why is Jack Ma a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC)? He's been officially outed by the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling party. We don't know how long he's been a member for, but we do now know that he is one of approximately 88 million people who (are supposed to) pay monthly dues, attend regular meetings and sometimes submit themselves to "self criticism" to improve their ideological understanding. Jack Ma is a strident defender of the way President Xi Jinping does business when it comes to foreign firms - and American presidents - who complain about getting access to markets..
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