December 31, 2018

Kim Jong-un warns of change in direction on denuclearisation

Kim Jong-un warns of change in direction on denuclearisation Image copyright Europoean Photopress Agency North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said he is committed to denuclearisation, but warned he will change course if the US continues its sanctions. He made the remarks during his closely-watched annual New Year address. Last year's speech set the country on an unprecedented path of international diplomacy with South Korea and the US. Mr Kim met US President Donald Trump to discuss denuclearisation in June 2018 but with few results so far. Last year's rapprochement came after a turbulent 2017 marked by North Korea testing missiles that could reach the US mainland and an escalation in rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington with both sides trading insults and threats of nuclear destruction. When Trump met Kim: What happened next? North Korea's sidelined human rights crisis North Korea's breakdown of communication In the speech broadcast on state television early ..
December 31, 2018

Pete Tong NYE ‘balloon drop’ cancelled after protests

Pete Tong NYE 'balloon drop' cancelled after protests Image copyright AFP Image caption The Manila resort had hoped to get into the Guinness book of World Records A plan to break records by releasing 130,000 balloons at a resort in the Philippines on New Year's Eve has been cancelled after a backlash over its potential environmental impact. The party, at Okada Manila, is being headlined by British DJ Pete Tong. Organisers had insisted the indoor event held no environmental risk as the balloons would be recycled. But on Sunday both the resort and Tong confirmed it had been cancelled after the government got involved. In a statement, Okada Manila said it "voluntarily" decided to cancel the event "as a sign of respect" for the government's campaign to protect the environment. It came after they received a letter from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Sunday encouraging a change of plan. Why do we celebrate New Year on 1 January? Scientist..
December 31, 2018

Duterte: Outrage as Philippines president says he touched a maid

Duterte: Outrage as Philippines president says he touched a maid Image copyright AFP There has been a wave of criticism after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he sexually assaulted a maid when he was a teenager. In a speech, he recalled confessing to a priest how he reached into the maid's underwear as she slept. Women's rights group Gabriela said Mr Duterte was "unworthy of his position and should resign". The Philippines president has sparked outrage with a number of provocative comments but remains popular. In his latest remarks, he described entering the room of his maid while she was sleeping. "I lifted the blanket... I tried to touch what was inside the panty," he said. "I was touching. She woke up so I left the room." It is common for well-off families in the Philippines to employ maids and many women also work as domestic helpers across other Asian countries and the Middle East. His spokesman since said Mr Duterte had merely "made up" and "added and splic..
December 31, 2018

Philippines deadly storm and landslides kill more than 60

Philippines deadly storm and landslides kill more than 60 Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption The storm is the second deadliest to hit the Philippines in 2018 More than 60 people have died after a powerful storm struck the Philippines, with locals reportedly taken by surprise by its strength. Storm Usman hit the Bicol region southeast of capital Manila on Saturday. At least 17 people are missing and the death toll is expected to rise. One official told AFP news agency that people did not take precautions as it was not classed as a typhoon under the government's alert system. "People were overconfident because they were on vacation mode and there was no tropical cyclone warning," Bicol civil defence director Claudio Yucot said. Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones: What's the difference? How to survive a monster storm Although the storm did not have strong winds, it brought heavy rains which triggered deadly landslides. The tropical depression has destroyed infrastructure an..
December 30, 2018

Kim Jong-un letter to Seoul asks for more summits in 2019

Kim Jong-un letter to Seoul asks for more summits in 2019 Image copyright AFP Image caption The two leaders met three times in 2018, twice at the border and once in Pyongyang North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to "frequently" meet South Korea's President Moon Jae-in next year to discuss denuclearisation. In a rare letter to Seoul, Mr Kim said he wished to pursue peace between the countries and "solve the issue of denuclearising the peninsula together", a spokesman for Mr Moon said. Mr Kim also expressed "much regret" that he could not visit Seoul in 2018. He promised to make the trip after Mr Moon visited Pyongyang in September. On his visit to North Korea's capital, Mr Moon gave a speech at the Mass Games, saying the two countries should "become one" again. Although both countries technically remain at war, relations improved markedly in 2018 thanks to a number of conciliatory gestures from Mr Kim. Korean soldiers cross border in peace South Korea unveils Kim ..
December 30, 2018

‘Dangerous orange pill’ prompts Australia festival warning

'Dangerous orange pill' prompts Australia festival warning Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Australia's Falls Festival has sent text message warnings to its attendees Music festival-goers across Australia have been warned about a "dangerous orange pill", after a young man died of a suspected drug overdose. Joshua Tam, 22, became ill at the Lost Paradise festival in New South Wales (NSW) on Saturday. He died in hospital. Police said attendees had made "sophisticated" attempts to carry drugs, such as stuffing them inside a barbecued chicken and jars of Vegemite. Four people have died at music festivals in NSW since September. In October, the state introduced laws that will jail people for up to 25 years if they supply a drug that kills someone. The exact cause of Mr Tam's death is not yet known. He and two people who fell ill but survived had taken an "unknown substance", police said. Following the incident, organisers of Falls Festival - a major event taki..
December 30, 2018

Why legalising gay sex in India is not a Western idea

Why legalising gay sex in India is not a Western idea Image copyright Getty Images Image caption India's Supreme Court made gay sex legal in September 2018 The decriminalisation of gay sex was arguably the biggest news story of 2018 in India. So, it wasn't surprising when it became a hotly debated topic at one of the year-end parties I recently attended in Delhi. The common consensus was that the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a colonial-era law has pushed the country towards adopting Western ideals of liberalism in India. "We are on par with countries like the UK, France and other European nations where homosexuality is legal," one of my friends excitedly announced. "We are now like the West when it comes to our attitudes toward LGBT people." Similar discussions have been taking place on social media where many agree with this view. But is it true? India's historians and mythology experts have differing views. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption ..
December 30, 2018

Bangladesh election: Sheikh Hasina wins new term as prime minister

Bangladesh election: Sheikh Hasina wins new term as prime minister Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionThere were violent scenes outside polling stations Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has secured her third consecutive term with a landslide victory, Bangladesh's Election Commission said on Monday. Ms Hasina's ruling party has so far won 281 of the 350 parliamentary seats, surpassing its previous election wins. The opposition has condemned what it called a "farcical" election, marred by violence and claims of intimidation and vote rigging. They won just seven seats and have demanded a new vote. "We urge the election commission to void this farcical result immediately," opposition leader Kamal Hossain said. "We are demanding that a fresh election is held under a neutral government as early as possible." Bangladesh grows tired of its battling leading ladies More on life in Bangladesh The Bangladesh Election Commission told Reuters news agency that it had h..
December 30, 2018

China says it is ‘ready to work with US’

China says it is 'ready to work with US' Image copyright EPA Image caption Xi Jinping and Donald Trump are trying to solve a trade tariff war China has said it is "ready to work" with the US, suggesting progress in trade talks between the two countries. It said it would be willing to work with the US to "implement the important consensus" reached at December's G20. At the Buenos Aires summit the two countries agreed to suspend new trade tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks. China's statement comes after President Donald Trump tweeted "big progress" was being made in relations after a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Image Copyright @realDonaldTrump @realDonaldTrump Report Image Copyright @realDonaldTrump @realDonaldTrump Report In Saturday's tweet, the US president said "talks were moving along very well". Sunday's statement from Lu Kang, the spokesperson for the country's foreign ministry, appeared to confirm President Trump's optimis..
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