January 3, 2019

US issues fresh travel warning after China detentions

US issues fresh travel warning after China detentions Image copyright AFP Image caption Canadians Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig are being detained in China The US state department has urged Americans to "exercise increased caution" when travelling to China after a spate of high-profile detentions. Its updated advice warns that US citizens have been arbitrarily prevented from leaving the country. The warning comes as two Canadian citizens remain in detention in China. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested last month as relations between the two countries worsened. The pair face accusations of harming national security and, on Thursday, China's top prosecutor said they had "without a doubt" violated the law. Separately, three US citizens were accused of committing "economic crimes" and barred from leaving China in November. Victor and Cynthia Liu, who are the children of a fugitive businessman, and their mother, Sandra Han, have reporte..
January 3, 2019

The mystery of a man found dead with only a travel card

The mystery of a man found dead with only a travel card Image copyright Getty Images The identity of a man discovered dead in Sydney, Australia, nine months ago has stumped authorities. Was he living in the country in secret? Julian Lorkin reports from Sydney. His body was found just as the sun was rising over Beamish Street in Campsie, a mostly working-class suburb. The man, aged over 50 and "of Asian appearance", had died of an apparent suicide outside a unit block, authorities said. He had no wallet, phone or documents of any kind. The only clue to his life was an electronic transport card found in his pocket. The Sydney-wide Opal card is sometimes used by police to help identify deceased people. Opal cards are normally registered to a home or email address, and linked to a bank account. This one, however, was unregistered. Adding to the puzzle, the card had been topped up with cash in a location that did not have security cameras. What is known is that the man's trips always ..
January 3, 2019

What’s behind China’s space programme expansion

What's behind China's space programme expansion Image copyright AFP China is a relative late-bloomer when it comes to the world of space exploration. But just 15 years after it first sent an astronaut into orbit, China has become the first country to successfully land a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon. And in the next decades it plans not only to build a new space station, but also a base on the Moon and conduct missions to Mars. Importantly, Xi Jinping, the country's most powerful leader since Chairman Mao, has thrown his support behind the "space dream" - and with it billions in investment. Chinese state media, meanwhile, have cast the "space dream" as one step in the path to "national rejuvenation". So why are President Xi and China so keen to make their mark in space - and what does it mean for the rest of the world? Sending a messageAccording to Prof Keith Hayward, a fellow of the UK's Royal Aeronautical Society, China is being driven by the sa..
January 3, 2019

Ahmad Shah: Three convicted over BBC reporter’s killing

Ahmad Shah: Three convicted over BBC reporter's killing Image caption Ahmad Shah was gunned down in April last year A special Afghan tribunal has convicted three men of being involved in the murder of BBC journalist Ahmad Shah, a spokesman for the attorney general's office has told the BBC. Mr Shah, who worked for the BBC's Pashto language service, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen last April. The special anti-terrorism tribunal sentenced one man to death, the second one to 30 years in prison, and the third one to six years in prison. The case is going to the appeals court. The identity of Mr Shah's murderers have not been made public and their motive is not clear. The attorney general's office said the three were detained in Parwan prison (also known as Bagram jail), which mostly houses prisoners accused of terrorism, and the trial was held there. Remembering the BBC's talented Ahmad Shah The hell of losing loved ones in Afghanistan Remembering ph..
January 3, 2019

Storm Pabuk: Tourists flee Thailand after weather warnings

Storm Pabuk: Tourists flee Thailand after weather warnings Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Storm Pabuk is expected to hit several tourist hotspots including Koh Phangnan (pictured) Thousands of tourists and residents have reportedly fled islands off Thailand's south-east coast to escape an approaching tropical storm. Authorities have also been preparing shelters for those deciding to stay put. Thailand's Met Office says Tropical Storm Pabuk will bring strong winds and 7 metre (22 ft) waves but it is unlikely to become a typhoon. A weather warning has been issued but no evacuation order is in place. The storm is expected hit the country's southern coast from Thursday, causing heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding. Thailand's Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the military was on alert to assist people affected. Among the areas affected are Nakhon Si Thammarat, home to the popular tourist islands of Koh Phangnan, Koh Samui and Koh Tao. Visitor nu..
January 3, 2019

Olivia Newton-John dismisses death rumours in video message

Olivia Newton-John dismisses death rumours in video message Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Newton-John also enjoyed a pop career Olivia Newton-John has scotched speculation over her health and told fans "rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated". The Australian Grease star revealed in September she had been diagnosed with cancer for a third time. Reports recently emerged in the US and Australia speculating that she had only weeks to live. Skip Twitter post by @olivianj Happy New Year! Here’s to a wonderful 2019! Love & light, Olivia pic.twitter.com/1Nd2jIcRb1 — Olivia Newton-John (@olivianj) January 3, 2019 Report End of Twitter post by @olivianj Newton-John, 70, has now assured fans in a video released on Twitter that she is "doing great". Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Newton-John had a big hit in 1981 with her song Physical In September last year, Newton-John revealed she had been diagnosed with cancer for the third time in three decades, telling ..
January 3, 2019

North Korea ambassador to Italy ‘in hiding’ says South

North Korea ambassador to Italy 'in hiding' says South South Korea's spy agency has told officials that North Korea's ambassador to Italy has gone into hiding. The announcement follows unconfirmed reports that Pyongyang's top diplomat in Italy had sought asylum from an unidentified Western country. Jo Song-gil, the acting North Korean ambassador to Rome, is believed to be the son or son-in-law of one of the highest level officials in North Korea. The last senior diplomat to defect was the deputy ambassador in London. In 2016, deputy ambassador to the UK, Thae Yong-ho, abandoned his post, along with his wife and children. Speaking after a briefing from the spy agency on Thursday, Kim Min-ki, a government MP, told reporters: "Acting ambassador Jo Song-gil's term was ending in late November last year and he escaped the diplomatic compound in early November." Mr Jo's wife is believed to be with him Defector: Soft power 'could bring N Korea uprisi..
January 3, 2019

Sabarimala: India state shut down after women enter temple

Sabarimala: India state shut down after women enter temple Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionSabarimala: Women defy historic temple ban The southern Indian state of Kerala has shut down amid violent protests after two women made history by entering a prominent Hindu temple. One person was killed in clashes on Wednesday. Schools across the state are closed and public transport too has been suspended. The Sabarimala temple was historically closed to women of "menstruating age" - defined as between 10 and 50. The Supreme Court revoked the ban in September, which prompted outrage. Although women tried to enter the temple since the ruling, they were forced to turn back because of massive protests. On Wednesday, Bindu Ammini, 40, and Kanaka Durga, 39, entered the shrine around dawn and became the first women to do so. This sparked fresh protests across the state and right-wing groups demanded a state-wide shutdown. The two women had tried to enter the temple once ..
January 3, 2019

Church of Scientology stabbing: Man killed ‘by teenager’ in Sydney

Church of Scientology stabbing: Man killed 'by teenager' in Sydney Image copyright EPA Image caption Police outside the Church of Scientology centre in Sydney's north on Thursday A 16-year-old has been arrested after a man was stabbed to death and another injured at a Church of Scientology complex in Sydney, Australia. The violence on Thursday followed a "domestic incident" that took place a day earlier, according to authorities. Police said both victims were church employees. The man who died was believed to be aged 24 and from Taiwan. The stabbings allegedly took place in a driveway about 12.30 local time (01.30 GMT) after the boy was asked to leave. He had dropped a 25cm (10in) knife after being confronted by officers with Tasers, said New South Wales Police. Chief Insp Simon Jones said the alleged attacker was "of Asian descent" and had had a "lawful reason" to be at the headquarters. Staff had asked him to leave "solely" because of Wednesday's incident, the po..
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