November 9, 2018

Mahinda Rajapaksa: Return of Sri Lanka’s wartime strongman

Mahinda Rajapaksa: Return of Sri Lanka's wartime strongman Image copyright Reuters Mahinda Rajapaksa, the man who dominated Sri Lanka as president for a decade, is now back at the summit of political power as prime minister. He is yet to receive the assent of parliament, but many now fear the return of a man accused of presiding over serious human rights abuses, as Charles Haviland reports. Rajapaksa has charm and charisma in abundance. I met him for the first time in 2010, in the early stages of a five-year stint as the BBC's Sri Lanka correspondent. I and my colleagues had turned up at his rural home totally unannounced. We were greeted by his son - and heir-apparent - Namal and were ushered in to meet the powerful leader, who was relaxing in his front room. We chatted at length. We were served tea. At no point did Mahinda Rajapaksa check the time, or imply we should leave. At later meetings, usually in a crowd of journalists, it was the same story. He would pat the seat n..
November 9, 2018

Sri Lanka’s President Sirisena moves to dissolve parliament

Sri Lanka's President Sirisena moves to dissolve parliament Image copyright AFP Image caption Mr Sirisena's opponents say his move is illegal President Maithripala Sirisena has moved to dissolve parliament amid a political crisis following his attempt to replace Sri Lanka's prime minister. The official notification takes effect from midnight on Friday. If passed it could trigger a general election early next year. However it could also be challenged in the Supreme Court. The sacked prime minister's party says the president does not have the power to take such action. Last month, President Sirisena named former strongman leader Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister after sacking Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his cabinet and suspending parliament. But Mr Wickremesinghe has refused to leave, saying his sacking was illegitimate. An MP from Mr Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) said the move to dissolve parliament was "illegal" and said he..
November 9, 2018

Female Afghan barrister ‘sacked in favour of white man’

Female Afghan barrister 'sacked in favour of white man' Image caption Rehana Popal said more solicitors and barristers need to share their experiences The only female Afghan barrister in England and Wales says she has become numb to discrimination after a client sacked her to appoint a white man. Rehana Popal said other clients have told her they wanted someone white "because the judge will believe them". She said it suggested there was a "serious concern" with how the justice system was being perceived. The Ministry of Justice said it was committed to increasing the diversity of the judiciary. Ms Popal, an immigration and civil law specialist barrister at 10 KBW chambers in the Temple, tweeted: "Just had a solicitor call to tell me... the client has said he doesn't want an Asian female but a white male barrister." The barrister, who came to the UK as a child refugee, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme it had happened several times before and was "just sadly the r..
November 9, 2018

Afghanistan war: Taliban attend landmark peace talks

Afghanistan war: Taliban attend landmark peace talks Image copyright Reuters Image caption Members of the Taliban delegation take their seats at the Moscow talks Russia is hosting a landmark international meeting on Afghanistan aimed at kick-starting peace talks after decades of war. It is the first time representatives of the Taliban militant group have attended such an event. Russia's foreign minister said their presence, along with members of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, could help pave the way for direct talks. About a dozen other countries, including the US, are also attending. "We discussed the subject of direct talks with the Taliban and asked them to choose the place and the starting time," said a High Peace Council spokesman, Russia's RIA news agency reported. The Taliban have said the meeting is "not about negotiating with any side". Western officials and the Afghan government view the Moscow talks with some suspicion - some fear it could derail other ef..
November 9, 2018

Chinese headmaster fired over secret coin mining at school

Chinese headmaster fired over secret coin mining at school Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mining machines can make their owners rich - but they soak up lots of electricity A Chinese headmaster has been fired after a secret stack of crypto-currency mining machines was found connected to his school's electricity supply. Teachers at the school in Hunan became suspicious of a whirring noise that continued day and night, local media report. This led to the discovery of the machines, which were mining the crypto-currency Ethereum. They racked up an electricity bill of 14,700 yuan (£1,600). The excessive electricity consumption had previously been reported to the headmaster, Lei Hua, but he reportedly dismissed it as being caused by air conditioners and heating devices. Mining crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum involves connecting computers, usually specialised "mining machines", to the currency network. By providing computing power for validating transactions on..
November 9, 2018

Melbourne incident: Man arrested after fire and stabbings

Melbourne incident: Man arrested after fire and stabbings Image copyright Reuters Image caption Police have told the public to avoid the area A man has been arrested after a "small number of people" suffered stab wounds in an incident in central Melbourne, Australia. Victoria Police said the arrested man had been taken into custody in a critical condition. They had initially been called to reports of a car fire. Paramedics said they had treated three people at the scene - one is suspected to be in a critical condition. Police said they were "not looking for anyone further at this early stage". "The exact circumstances are yet to be determined at this stage," they said in a statement. They were initially called to reports of a car fire in Bourke St, a busy thoroughfare. Footage circulating on social media shows a vehicle, which appears to have crashed into shop fronts, on fire. Two police officers can be seen attempting to subdue a man who appears to be running at them with a knife. T..
November 9, 2018

BTS T-shirt: Japanese TV show cancels BTS appearance over atomic bomb shirt

BTS T-shirt: Japanese TV show cancels BTS appearance over atomic bomb shirt Image copyright Getty Images Image caption BTS have seen huge success within and outside South Korea A Japanese TV show has cancelled an appearance by hugely popular K-pop group BTS, amid controversy over a shirt worn by one of the band members. A picture of Jimin wearing a T-shirt depicting the US atomic bombing of Japan, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, starting being shared online. It stirred anger among some Japanese BTS fans, who called it an "insult". BTS later apologised to its fans for not being able to make an appearance. The "atomic bomb" T-shirt also featured Korean independence slogans. It was seen by some in Japan as celebrating the bomb which eventually led to the independence of the Korean peninsula from Japanese colonial rule. Japan and Korea's shared wartime history remains an extremely sensitive topic in both countries. The shirt and the A-bombBTS, a seven-member Korean po..
November 9, 2018

Imelda Marcos faces Philippines arrest after guilty verdict

Imelda Marcos faces Philippines arrest after guilty verdict Image copyright TED ALJIBE A court in the Philippines has sentenced former first lady Imelda Marcos to prison for corruption. Imelda Marcos, 89, was the wife of late president Ferdinand Marcos, and famous for owning 1,000 pairs of shoes. The charges relate to alleged illicit financial dealings with Swiss-based NGOs while serving in her husband's government in the 1970s and 80s. The ruling permanently barred Marcos, who is currently a member of parliament, from holding public office. The corruption court found Marcos guilty of seven counts of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. She was sentenced to between six and 11 years in prison for each count. Marcos was not present at the court but a warrant has now been issued for her arrest. The case has been pending with the anti-graft court for 27 years. Marcos, who is currently a member of the House of Representatives, is running for a governor post in next ye..
November 9, 2018

Hong Kong refuses entry to FT journalist Victor Mallet

Hong Kong refuses entry to FT journalist Victor Mallet Image copyright Reuters Image caption Victor Mallet has been running the Financial Times' Asia operations for almost two years. Hong Kong has barred the Financial Times Asia news editor from entering the territory, after refusing to renew his work visa last month. Victor Mallet tried to enter Hong Kong as a tourist on Thursday but was turned away after several hours of questioning by immigration authorities. The denial comes just a month after the territory refused to renew his work visa without explanation. It followed a talk Mr Mallet hosted at Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondent Club. The FT journalist was acting president at the FCC when the event featuring young independence activist Andy Chan was held. China's ministry of foreign affairs had urged the club to cancel it. Hong Kong rejects visa for FT editor What is the media like in Hong Kong? British citizens are usually allowed entry to Hong Kong for 180 d..
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