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Facebook was where Pakistan could debate religion. Now it's a tool to punish 'blasphemers'
Laws that criminalize insulting Islam have led to a death sentence for posts, as activists worry Facebook’s commitment to Pakistanis’ ‘voice’ is mostly lip serviceTaimoor Raza, a 30-year-old Shia Muslim from a “poor but literate” family, was sentenced to death in June by an anti-terrorist court in Pakistan. His crime? Allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad on Facebook.It occurred during an online debate with a man who turned out to be an undercover counter-terrorism agent. His death sentence, the first to result from a social media posting, is an extreme example of the Pakistani government’s escalating battle to enforce its blasphemy laws, which criminalize insulting Islam. Related: Student's lynching sparks rare uproar in Pakistan over blasphemy killings Continue reading... [...]
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US Senator John McCain diagnosed with aggressive form of brain cancer
US Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, his office said on Wednesday. [...]
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Doklam standoff: China says no bilateral talks with India till impasse is resolved
A bilateral meeting between Special Representatives on border talks of India and China has been ruled out for now. This after Beijing said it was not keen on dialogue with New Delhi until the latter withdrew troops from Doklam. [...]
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Thailand convicts traffickers after 2015 mass graves discovery
Bodies were found in southern Songkhla province where authorities said hundreds of migrants had been held captiveA Thai judge has found dozens of people guilty, including senior army general, in the country’s largest ever human trafficking trial following the discovery two years ago of mass graves in a squalid jungle camp where hundreds of migrants had been brutally exploited. Related: Cages, watchtower and 37 graves: inside an abandoned migrant camp in Malaysia Continue reading... [...]
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Joanna Lumley's India: is her TV show guilty of airbrushing history?
Joanna Lumley has returned to the land of her birth to celebrate India and walk in her ‘family’s footsteps’. But does her series overlook British oppression in the former colony – and her own ancestors’ role?The trouble with Joanna Lumley’s India, currently showing on ITV, is that despite the promise to “celebrate” modern India and “walk in my family’s footsteps”, this isn’t the full story of Joanna Lumley’s India, and certainly not her family’s. Within minutes of the first episode, there is an omission. Strolling through Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, she points out the British-inspired architecture. But she fails to mention that St John’s Church, the first Anglican cathedral on the subcontinent, was built by James Agg, her great-great-great-great-grandfather and the first of her ancestors to arrive in 1777.Perhaps she isn’t aware of the lineage. But it is not hard to trace it back. Or maybe it’s because of those four chilling words: British East India Company – the trading corporation turned “aggressive colonial power”, as the historian William Dalrymple put it, whose activities brought the word “loot” (from the Hindustani lut) into the English dictionary, and from which Agg seems likely to have made his fortune. Related: The East India Company: The original corporate raiders | William Dalrymple Continue reading... [...]
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'Silly and regressive': Indian firms introduce period days
Policy of allowing female workers a day off each month brought in by Indian companies trying to combat stigma surrounding menstruation Two Indian firms have introduced a policy to give female employees a “period day” off every month. The day can be taken off under “menstrual leave”, launched by Mumbai-based firms Culture Machine and Gozoop in order to, they say, fight taboos around menstruation. Continue reading... [...]
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Gorkhaland stir: West Bengal Police digs who all GJM leaders called while Darjeeling burned
The police has started an investigation to find if there is any conspiracy at play behind the Darjeeling unrest. [...]
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Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin had second undisclosed meeting at G20: White House
White House spokesman Sean Spicer and National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton confirmed that Trump and Putin spoke at a dinner for world leaders and their spouses at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. [...]
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Now, China moves military equipment to Tibet. Should India be scared?
The massive deployment of military might is in northern Tibet, but it will take only six to seven hours for the troops to move to China's side of Nathu La in the Sikkim section. [...]
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Wellbeing campaigner: society should shape business – not the other way round
Conventional development is destructive, the SDGs are a hinderance and localisation is the answer, says local-food pioneer Helena Norberg-HodgeIt was seeing a remote region of the Indian Himalayas transform as western influence seeped in from the 1970s onwards that convinced Helena Norberg-Hodge of the destructive nature of conventional development.Campaigner Norberg-Hodge spent many years in Ladakh in northern India, first visiting in 1975 as part of an anthropological film crew. She was captivated by the place and returned to spend six months of the year there every year for the next 15 years, becoming fluent in the language and establishing NGOs and renewable energy projects to help local people. Continue reading... [...]
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UN influence in Myanmar at a low after Aung San Suu Kyi cold shoulders envoys
Fears grow of terminal decline in relations as top UN official is denied access to area at centre of alleged human rights abuses and stonewalled by governmentThere is growing concern that the influence of the UN in Myanmar is in serious decline, as confusion surrounds what is being done to tackle the “glaringly dysfunctional” mission there.According to Guardian sources, it is now clear that during a key visit in May, a senior UN official and his delegation were snubbed by the Myanmar government, which is under fire after allegations of human rights abuses in its troubled Rakhine state. Related: Aung San Suu Kyi rejects UN inquiry into crimes against Rohingya Continue reading... [...]
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Member of India's lowest caste expected to be elected president
Ram Nath Kovind, nominee of Narendra Modi’s party, is from dalit (Untouchable) community, the country’s most oppressedA member of India’s poorest and most oppressed caste is expected to be elected president.Ram Nath Kovind, the governor of Bihar until last month, was announced as the nominee of Narendra Modi’s government in June, in what was widely seen as part of a decades-long strategy by Hindu nationalists to win over members of the dalit (Untouchable) community. Related: India's caste system: ‘They are trying to erase dalit history. This is a martyrdom, a sacrifice’ Voted in the Presidential elections 2017. pic.twitter.com/2EttGVwwhs Related: India’s caste system is alive and kicking – and maiming and killing | Mari Marcel Thekaekara Continue reading... [...]
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Beijing does not fear war: Is China gearing for battle over Doklam standoff?
Chinese media today seems to have sounded battle bells already over the escalated Doklam standoff with Indian troops. It read that Beijing does not fear war and that India would face consequences. [...]
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Sorry, lost your form: How this DU college tormented champion cricketer trying to secure admission
Ajay Guliya (17), who scored the highest during the sports trail ahead of Delhi University admissions was shocked to see his name missing from merit list. On prodding the authorities, he was told that his form has been misplaced. [...]
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British Museum helps return stolen artefact to Uzbekistan
Museum contacted after large 13th-century glazed tile taken from monument in 2014 turned up for sale in Mayfair galleryThe British Museum has helped to recover an important medieval Islamic artefact that surfaced in a London gallery after it was stolen from a monument in Uzbekistan.The enormous calligraphic glazed tile – half a metre in height – had disappeared in 2014. Thieves left a gaping hole after they removed it from the magnificent entrance facade of a 12th-century monument, just over 12 miles (20km) from Bukhara, the Unesco world heritage site on the ancient Silk Road route. Related: Gandharan Buddha thought looted from Kabul will be on show at the British Museum until mid-July Continue reading... [...]
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Afghanistan: civilian deaths at record high in 16-year war, says UN
Child deaths rise 9% and casualties among women are up 23%, says report that cites Taliban’s homemade bombs as main causeThe number of civilian deaths in the Afghan war has reached a record high, continuing an almost unbroken trend of nearly a decade of rising casualties.The number of deaths of women and children grew especially fast, primarily due to the Taliban’s use of homemade bombs, which caused 40% of civilian casualties in the first six months of 2017, according to UN figures released on Monday. Related: We foreigners in Kabul marvel at Afghan 'resilience'. But they have no other choice | Sune Engel Rasmussen Continue reading... [...]
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Pakistan court begins hearings to decide PM Nawaz Sharif's future
Judges could order Sharif to stand trial on corruption charges or disqualify him after damning report into his family wealth Pakistan’s supreme court has begun hearings that will decide the future of the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who is fighting for his job and contesting a damning corruption report by an investigative panel. The supreme court is expected to order Sharif be tried Sharif on corruption charges, or disqualify him, but few expect the judges to dismiss the case after the panel tabled a damaging 254-page report into his family wealth. Related: Pakistani PM’s children raised £7m against UK flats owned offshore Continue reading... [...]
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Rohingya crisis: UN warns 80,000 children 'wasting' from hunger in Myanmar
Some 75,000 stateless Muslim Rohingya people who fled a bloody army crackdown live in western Rakhine state and are reeling from a food crisisMore than 80,000 children under the age of five living in majority-Muslim areas of western Myanmar are “wasting” and will need treatment for acute malnutrition over the next year, the World Food Programme has warned.The report from the United Nations agency was based on an assessment of villages in western Rakhine state, where some 75,000 stateless Muslim Rohingya people have fled a bloody army crackdown. Related: ‘It only takes one terrorist’: the Buddhist monk who reviles Myanmar’s Muslims | Marella Oppenheim Continue reading... [...]
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Bus crash in northern India kills at least 16 Hindu pilgrims
Vehicle plunges into gorge in Jammu and Kashmir state, site of annual pilgrimage to Himalayan caveAt least 16 Hindu pilgrims have been killed and many more injured after a bus crash in India’s northern Jammu and Kashmir state, police have said, just days after gunmen shot dead eight worshippers making the same holy visit.“Sixteen people are now confirmed dead, 19 with serious injuries and eight others with minor injuries,” Jammu and Kashmir police said in a statement on Sunday. Continue reading... [...]
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China flexing muscle? Frontline combat brigade holds 'live fire drills' in Tibet
The exact timing of the drills is unclear, but this weekend's reports are the latest indication of muscle-flexing by China amid the month-long stand-off at Doklam. [...]
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Maharashtra government gives nod to 25% salary hike of BMC corporators
Demand for salary hike was coming from BMC corporators since 2010. This hike is on the basis of classification of corporations [...]
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Afghanistan's Sesame Street brings in new puppet to teach respect of women
Broadcaster of Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden) says goal in creating four-year-old Zeerak is to show men that they should ‘respect their sister’Last year, Afghanistan’s version of Sesame Street introduced a young, female character aimed at inspiring girls in the deeply conservative Muslim nation. Now a new puppet is joining the cast: her brother, who will show boys the importance of respecting women.Zeerak, whose name means Smart in Afghanistan’s two official languages, is a four-year-old boy who enjoys studying and learning. He joins his six-year-old sister Zari, whose name means Shimmering, on Afghanistan’s version of the show, Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Continue reading... [...]
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Empire wove together the histories of Ireland and India – and of my family | Ian Jack
In the lanes of County Cork, I found unexpected reminders of my great-grandfather’s military travels• Ian Jack is a Guardian columnistCounty Cork is full of twisting little lanes, lined at this season with steep banks of wild roses, foxgloves and fuchsia; and last week I got lost in them. First the road narrowed, then it grew a strip of grass down the middle, and eventually turned into a rough gravel track that climbed steeply and turned sharply into what looked like the remains of a farmyard, where it stopped. As I started on a three-point turn, a dog began to bark and a figure appeared, a man in late middle age, who by the state of him looked to have spent an entire life among cattle, manure and straw. He was smiling.“You’ll have taken the wrong road?” Related: Wake up, Britain. Should the empire really be a source of pride? | David Olusoga In the world I grew up in, the King-Emperor had disappeared from postage stamps Continue reading... [...]
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Delhi: Teen boy, girl found hanging inside Oyo Rooms hotel in Dwarka
In a case of suspected double suicide, two teenagers - a girl and a boy - were found hanging from the ceiling fan of an Oyo Rooms hotel in Dwarka Sector 17, Delhi. [...]
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Narendra Modi as a dog tweet investigated by Mumbai police
Comedian Tanmay Bhat under fire after modifying a picture of the Indian prime minister using popular Snapchat filterPolice in Mumbai have registered a criminal case against a comedian over a tweet of the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi modified by Snapchat’s popular dog filter.The comedy group All-India Bakchod, co-founded by comedian Tanmay Bhat, tweeted the image on Wednesday with the hashtag #wanderlust, an apparent jibe at Modi’s propensity for foreign visits. They later deleted it after intense criticism from supporters of the Hindu nationalist leader.Everyone please share this picture of Narendra Modi in a Snapchat dog filter & make it go viral. Not a crime in this country to mock the PM. pic.twitter.com/WCBXgrAbIg Related: 'Blasting and breathless': fears over India's fledgling 24-hour news media's march to war PS: Will continue making jokes. And deleting if necessary. And making jokes again. And Apologizing if necessary. Don't care what you think. Related: Censors order bleeping of 'cow' in film on Indian economist Amartya Sen Continue reading... [...]
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Torture by Sri Lankan police routine, says human rights lawyer
Country’s judicial system and tolerance of abuse a stain on country’s international reputation, reports Ben Emmerson QCThe use of torture by Sri Lankan security services has become routine, a UN special rapporteur has concluded following a visit to the country. The four-day visit by Ben Emmerson QC was conducted with the full cooperation of the Sri Lankan government, but the British lawyer found that the country’s judicial system, and tolerance of torture, is a “stain on the country’s international reputation”. Continue reading... [...]
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All-girl Afghan robotics team allowed to travel to US after visa ruling overturned
Initial decision to reject visa applications for team to travel to a global robotics competition in Washington sparked international outcrySix Afghan teenage girls are to compete in person in a global robotics competition in Washington on Sunday after the US reversed a decision not to grant them visas. Related: Robot allowed into US for competition, but no visa for Afghan girls who made it Continue reading... [...]
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Sri Lankan navy saves wild elephant found in ocean – video
A wild elephant struggling at sea is found by the Sri Lankan navy, off the country’s northeast coast near Kokkilai. Divers were sent to tie ropes around the animal before it was safely pulled to shore. Elephants use their trunks as a natural snorkel but cannot stay too long in the water because they use up too much energySwimming trunk: elephant rescued from ocean 10 miles off Sri Lanka coast Continue reading... [...]
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