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Mount Semeru: Indonesia raises alert to highest level as volcano erupts on Java island

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Published4 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersIndonesia’s Mount Semeru volcano has erupted, sending ash billowing into the sky and sparking evacuations on the country’s main island, Java.Authorities raised the volcano’s warning status to the highest level, meaning its activity had escalated.No injuries have been reported but nearly 2,000 people were evacuated from the area around the volcano.People have been urged to keep at least 8 km (5 miles) away, as “hot avalanches” of lava poured from Semeru. The increased threat level from three to four also means the danger threatens people’s homes, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) told a national broadcaster.The organisation said a bridge being rebuilt after a previous eruption had been badly damaged.Volcanic ash mixed with monsoon rain was falling on nearby villages and 1,969 people, including children and seniors, had been evacuated, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said.At least six villages had been affected, it added.Image source, ReutersVideos of the event showed the sky turning black as a massive plume of ash blocked the sunlight.Japan issued a tsunami warning for its southernmost islands after the eruption, but meteorologists said no tidal changes had been observed.Mount Semeru, in East Java province, began erupting at about 02:46 local time (19:46 GMT), authorities said.Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic activity as well as earthquakes.Semeru – also known as “The Great Mountain” – is the highest volcano in Java at 3,676m (12,060ft) and one of the most active. Its last erupted exactly one year ago, killing at least 50 people and leaving streets filled with mud and ash.The eruption also follows a series of earthquakes on the west of Java island, located about 640 km (400 miles) east of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, including one last month that killed more than 300 people.More on this storyParents grieve Indonesia quake school victims23 NovemberWhat’s happening inside the world’s biggest volcano?3 days agoVolcano spews ash above Indonesia’s Java island16 January 2021

Mount Semeru: Indonesia raises alert to highest level as volcano erupts on Java island

BBC News – Asia RSS Feed – World News

Published3 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersIndonesia’s Mount Semeru volcano has erupted, sending ash billowing into the sky and sparking evacuations on the country’s main island, Java.Authorities raised the volcano’s warning status to the highest level, meaning its activity had escalated.No injuries have been reported but nearly 2,000 people were evacuated from the area around the volcano.People have been urged to keep at least 8 km (5 miles) away, as “hot avalanches” of lava poured from Semeru. The increased threat level from three to four also means the danger threatens people’s homes, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) told a national broadcaster.The organisation said a bridge being rebuilt after a previous eruption had been badly damaged.Volcanic ash mixed with monsoon rain was falling on nearby villages and 1,969 people, including children and seniors, had been evacuated, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said.At least six villages had been affected, it added.Image source, ReutersVideos of the event showed the sky turning black as a massive plume of ash blocked the sunlight.Japan issued a tsunami warning for its southernmost islands after the eruption, but meteorologists said no tidal changes had been observed.Mount Semeru, in East Java province, began erupting at about 02:46 local time (19:46 GMT), authorities said.Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic activity as well as earthquakes.Semeru – also known as “The Great Mountain” – is the highest volcano in Java at 3,676m (12,060ft) and one of the most active. Its last erupted exactly one year ago, killing at least 50 people and leaving streets filled with mud and ash.The eruption also follows a series of earthquakes on the west of Java island, located about 640 km (400 miles) east of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, including one last month that killed more than 300 people.More on this storyParents grieve Indonesia quake school victims23 NovemberWhat’s happening inside the world’s biggest volcano?3 days agoVolcano spews ash above Indonesia’s Java island16 January 2021

Mount Semeru: Indonesia raises alert to highest level as volcano erupts on Java island

BBC News – Asia RSS Feed – World News

Published4 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersIndonesia’s Mount Semeru volcano has erupted, sending ash billowing into the sky and sparking evacuations on the country’s main island, Java.Authorities raised the volcano’s warning status to the highest level, meaning its activity had escalated.No injuries have been reported but nearly 2,000 people were evacuated from the area around the volcano.People have been urged to keep at least 8 km (5 miles) away, as “hot avalanches” of lava poured from Semeru. The increased threat level from three to four also means the danger threatens people’s homes, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) told a national broadcaster.The organisation said a bridge being rebuilt after a previous eruption had been badly damaged.Volcanic ash mixed with monsoon rain was falling on nearby villages and 1,969 people, including children and seniors, had been evacuated, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said.At least six villages had been affected, it added.Image source, ReutersVideos of the event showed the sky turning black as a massive plume of ash blocked the sunlight.Japan issued a tsunami warning for its southernmost islands after the eruption, but meteorologists said no tidal changes had been observed.Mount Semeru, in East Java province, began erupting at about 02:46 local time (19:46 GMT), authorities said.Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic activity as well as earthquakes.Semeru – also known as “The Great Mountain” – is the highest volcano in Java at 3,676m (12,060ft) and one of the most active. Its last erupted exactly one year ago, killing at least 50 people and leaving streets filled with mud and ash.The eruption also follows a series of earthquakes on the west of Java island, located about 640 km (400 miles) east of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, including one last month that killed more than 300 people.More on this storyParents grieve Indonesia quake school victims23 NovemberWhat’s happening inside the world’s biggest volcano?3 days agoVolcano spews ash above Indonesia’s Java island16 January 2021

Mount Semeru: Indonesia raises alert to highest level as volcano erupts on Java island

BBC News – Asia RSS Feed – World News

Published4 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, ReutersIndonesia’s Mount Semeru volcano has erupted, sending ash billowing into the sky and sparking evacuations on the country’s main island, Java.Authorities raised the volcano’s warning status to the highest level, meaning its activity had escalated.No injuries have been reported but nearly 2,000 people were evacuated from the area around the volcano.People have been urged to keep at least 8 km (5 miles) away, as “hot avalanches” of lava poured from Semeru. The increased threat level from three to four also means the danger threatens people’s homes, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) told a national broadcaster.The organisation said a bridge being rebuilt after a previous eruption had been badly damaged.Volcanic ash mixed with monsoon rain was falling on nearby villages and 1,969 people, including children and seniors, had been evacuated, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said.At least six villages had been affected, it added.Image source, ReutersVideos of the event showed the sky turning black as a massive plume of ash blocked the sunlight.Japan issued a tsunami warning for its southernmost islands after the eruption, but meteorologists said no tidal changes had been observed.Mount Semeru, in East Java province, began erupting at about 02:46 local time (19:46 GMT), authorities said.Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent volcanic activity as well as earthquakes.Semeru – also known as “The Great Mountain” – is the highest volcano in Java at 3,676m (12,060ft) and one of the most active. Its last erupted exactly one year ago, killing at least 50 people and leaving streets filled with mud and ash.The eruption also follows a series of earthquakes on the west of Java island, located about 640 km (400 miles) east of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, including one last month that killed more than 300 people.More on this storyParents grieve Indonesia quake school victims23 NovemberWhat’s happening inside the world’s biggest volcano?3 days agoVolcano spews ash above Indonesia’s Java island16 January 2021

377A repeal: Singapore turns page on dark LGBT history

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Published14 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, BBC/Tessa WongBy Tessa Wong in SingaporeBBC NewsStanding in Singapore’s tranquil Esplanade Park, Russell Heng pointed to the spot where he was once caught by the police – just for being gay.It looks like any other tree-lined corner in the city. But back in the 1980s, before the age of the internet and Grindr, it was a popular meeting spot for gay men in a country where homosexuality was effectively criminalised.Nicknamed the Feet of Five Trees, the spot’s towering raintrees provided cover and seclusion, recalled Mr Heng, a playwright and activist.”We were roaming about that night. And then suddenly, there was a loud voice – a plainclothes policeman – who started shouting at us,” he said.The men were forced to line up in a row as the policeman fiercely berated them. “He said ‘You should be ashamed of yourself’.”We were just walking in the park,” he said. “You felt psychologically that maybe you did something wrong… basically it was bullying.”For decades, Singapore’s government preserved the controversial 377A law inherited from British rule, which banned sex between two men.Authorities argued that it reflected Singapore society’s view that homosexuality was not acceptable.But last week its parliament repealed the law, just months after leader Lee Hsien Loong’s surprise announcement they would scrap the ban because of changing attitudes.The repeal of 377A turns the page on a dark chapter of Singapore history that is rarely talked about these days, where gay men not only faced intense social stigma but were even actively targeted by authorities.Mr Heng and the other men at Esplanade Park that night were let off with only a warning. But others were not so lucky. For several decades, the police would conduct so-called “anti-gay” raids on nightclubs that gay men were known to frequent, or cruising spots in beaches and parks. Often this would include the controversial use of entrapment, where policemen would pose as gay men at popular meeting spots and promptly arrest anyone who engaged with them. Those arrested usually would be charged with soliciting, outrage of modesty, or for committing indecent acts. National newspapers would carry details of their arrests, listing their names, ages and occupations.Most were fined or served a few months in jail. But in one particular incident in 1993 known as “the Fort Road raid” for its location, several men were arrested, then sentenced to Singapore’s notoriously harsh punishment of caning. This was later overturned in an appeal, with the judge noting that the way the men were caught and charged was “disquieting”.For many gay men, the raids sent a clear message that their existence was frowned upon. While anti-gay violence was not common in tightly-controlled Singapore, many in the community were fearful of coming out to their friends, family and wider society.”You always had to be furtive, you always feared the glare of scrutiny. That was part of the instinct of being gay back then,” said Mr Heng, who is 71 years old.Singapore’s move on gay sex sparks a new battleThe British law that left an anti-LGBTQ legacy in AsiaBy the 2000s the raids had decreased, and the issue of homosexuality – once a taboo topic – became increasingly openly discussed. Then in 2007, in a landmark parliamentary debate over 377A, Singapore’s government promised that while it would keep the law it would not enforce it.These moves came as Singaporeans slowly became more accepting of LGBT people. Recent surveys show that, while there is still a significant number who think homosexuality is “wrong”, there is also rising support for gay rights.The city-state has developed a thriving LGBT scene, with an increasing number of LGBT-friendly establishments and companies promoting diversity policies. The biggest civil society gathering in Singapore – where mass rallies and demonstrations remain extremely rare – is Pink Dot, an LGBT rights event that draws thousands of supporters every year. Activism has become more prominent with more lobby groups and support communities emerging – a far cry from the days where gay rights organisations found it difficult even to exist. Mr Heng is a founding member of one of the oldest LGBT groups in Singapore, People Like Us, which was twice rejected permission to register as a society in the 1990s. In their early days they were closely monitored by the authorities, recalled Mr Heng, with plainclothes policemen sitting in on their public talks and meetings, and identifying themselves afterwards.”There are younger people now who were born during a time when Pink Dot was already a fact. They would take it as part of the landscape, that gay people are okay. They don’t know about this other time before,” said Mr Heng.Some want to change that.One recent evening a group of tourists threaded through the streets of downtown Singapore on a unique tour, led by their guide, 34-year-old Isaac Tng.Image source, BBC/Tessa WongStanding on the banks of the Singapore River, they were told about 19th Century Chinese male immigrants who turned to prostitution. The next stop was a nondescript office building, which used to be Singapore’s first gay sauna. Later, they were taken to an upscale hilltop restaurant – a popular gay cruising spot in the past, they were told.Mr Tng told the BBC he decided to start giving LGBT history tours after realising there was an “amnesia”, particularly among younger Singaporeans. His tours have attracted a mix of both straight and gay attendees.One outcome of the lack of enforcement of 377A is that “there are people who don’t really care because they’ve never been subjected to it,” he said.With more attention paid to 377A in recent years, including legal attempts to overturn it, “there’s been greater interest and people are more curious now” about LGBT history, though “the resources are still lacking”, he added.Image source, BBC/Tessa WongWith 377A’s repeal, the law is now officially a thing of the past. But many in the LGBT community remain cautious even as they celebrate.Alongside the repeal, lawmakers voted to amend the constitution, which effectively rules out the possibility of gay marriage for now. The vote also saw parliamentarians voicing concern about “militant homosexuals” and the erosion of religious freedoms, which LGBT groups in turn have called “unsubstantiated rhetoric and fearmongering”.”Some of these leaders are reluctantly repealing 377A. Going forward I think it means gay rights will become a lot more sensitive. It feels more like a compromise rather than a huge milestone,” said Mr Tng.”I’m so glad it happened. But I’m also not elated, because it’s taken so long,” said Mr Heng. “I think a gay friend put it very well: it’s like a nice, hot cup of coffee that got left on the table.”You drink it now, it’s still coffee, it tastes like coffee. But it’s gone cold.”More on this storySingapore to end ban on gay sex22 AugustSingapore’s move on gay sex sparks a new battle23 AugustThe British law that left an anti-LGBTQ legacy in Asia29 June 2021

377A repeal: Singapore turns page on dark LGBT history

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Published14 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, BBC/Tessa WongBy Tessa Wong in SingaporeBBC NewsStanding in Singapore’s tranquil Esplanade Park, Russell Heng pointed to the spot where he was once caught by the police – just for being gay.It looks like any other tree-lined corner in the city. But back in the 1980s, before the age of the internet and Grindr, it was a popular meeting spot for gay men in a country where homosexuality was effectively criminalised.Nicknamed the Feet of Five Trees, the spot’s towering raintrees provided cover and seclusion, recalled Mr Heng, a playwright and activist.”We were roaming about that night. And then suddenly, there was a loud voice – a plainclothes policeman – who started shouting at us,” he said.The men were forced to line up in a row as the policeman fiercely berated them. “He said ‘You should be ashamed of yourself’.”We were just walking in the park,” he said. “You felt psychologically that maybe you did something wrong… basically it was bullying.”For decades, Singapore’s government preserved the controversial 377A law inherited from British rule, which banned sex between two men.Authorities argued that it reflected Singapore society’s view that homosexuality was not acceptable.But last week its parliament repealed the law, just months after leader Lee Hsien Loong’s surprise announcement they would scrap the ban because of changing attitudes.The repeal of 377A turns the page on a dark chapter of Singapore history that is rarely talked about these days, where gay men not only faced intense social stigma but were even actively targeted by authorities.Mr Heng and the other men at Esplanade Park that night were let off with only a warning. But others were not so lucky. For several decades, the police would conduct so-called “anti-gay” raids on nightclubs that gay men were known to frequent, or cruising spots in beaches and parks. Often this would include the controversial use of entrapment, where policemen would pose as gay men at popular meeting spots and promptly arrest anyone who engaged with them. Those arrested usually would be charged with soliciting, outrage of modesty, or for committing indecent acts. National newspapers would carry details of their arrests, listing their names, ages and occupations.Most were fined or served a few months in jail. But in one particular incident in 1993 known as “the Fort Road raid” for its location, several men were arrested, then sentenced to Singapore’s notoriously harsh punishment of caning. This was later overturned in an appeal, with the judge noting that the way the men were caught and charged was “disquieting”.For many gay men, the raids sent a clear message that their existence was frowned upon. While anti-gay violence was not common in tightly-controlled Singapore, many in the community were fearful of coming out to their friends, family and wider society.”You always had to be furtive, you always feared the glare of scrutiny. That was part of the instinct of being gay back then,” said Mr Heng, who is 71 years old.Singapore’s move on gay sex sparks a new battleThe British law that left an anti-LGBTQ legacy in AsiaBy the 2000s the raids had decreased, and the issue of homosexuality – once a taboo topic – became increasingly openly discussed. Then in 2007, in a landmark parliamentary debate over 377A, Singapore’s government promised that while it would keep the law it would not enforce it.These moves came as Singaporeans slowly became more accepting of LGBT people. Recent surveys show that, while there is still a significant number who think homosexuality is “wrong”, there is also rising support for gay rights.The city-state has developed a thriving LGBT scene, with an increasing number of LGBT-friendly establishments and companies promoting diversity policies. The biggest civil society gathering in Singapore – where mass rallies and demonstrations remain extremely rare – is Pink Dot, an LGBT rights event that draws thousands of supporters every year. Activism has become more prominent with more lobby groups and support communities emerging – a far cry from the days where gay rights organisations found it difficult even to exist. Mr Heng is a founding member of one of the oldest LGBT groups in Singapore, People Like Us, which was twice rejected permission to register as a society in the 1990s. In their early days they were closely monitored by the authorities, recalled Mr Heng, with plainclothes policemen sitting in on their public talks and meetings, and identifying themselves afterwards.”There are younger people now who were born during a time when Pink Dot was already a fact. They would take it as part of the landscape, that gay people are okay. They don’t know about this other time before,” said Mr Heng.Some want to change that.One recent evening a group of tourists threaded through the streets of downtown Singapore on a unique tour, led by their guide, 34-year-old Isaac Tng.Image source, BBC/Tessa WongStanding on the banks of the Singapore River, they were told about 19th Century Chinese male immigrants who turned to prostitution. The next stop was a nondescript office building, which used to be Singapore’s first gay sauna. Later, they were taken to an upscale hilltop restaurant – a popular gay cruising spot in the past, they were told.Mr Tng told the BBC he decided to start giving LGBT history tours after realising there was an “amnesia”, particularly among younger Singaporeans. His tours have attracted a mix of both straight and gay attendees.One outcome of the lack of enforcement of 377A is that “there are people who don’t really care because they’ve never been subjected to it,” he said.With more attention paid to 377A in recent years, including legal attempts to overturn it, “there’s been greater interest and people are more curious now” about LGBT history, though “the resources are still lacking”, he added.Image source, BBC/Tessa WongWith 377A’s repeal, the law is now officially a thing of the past. But many in the LGBT community remain cautious even as they celebrate.Alongside the repeal, lawmakers voted to amend the constitution, which effectively rules out the possibility of gay marriage for now. The vote also saw parliamentarians voicing concern about “militant homosexuals” and the erosion of religious freedoms, which LGBT groups in turn have called “unsubstantiated rhetoric and fearmongering”.”Some of these leaders are reluctantly repealing 377A. Going forward I think it means gay rights will become a lot more sensitive. It feels more like a compromise rather than a huge milestone,” said Mr Tng.”I’m so glad it happened. But I’m also not elated, because it’s taken so long,” said Mr Heng. “I think a gay friend put it very well: it’s like a nice, hot cup of coffee that got left on the table.”You drink it now, it’s still coffee, it tastes like coffee. But it’s gone cold.”More on this storySingapore to end ban on gay sex22 AugustSingapore’s move on gay sex sparks a new battle23 AugustThe British law that left an anti-LGBTQ legacy in Asia29 June 2021

377A repeal: Singapore turns page on dark LGBT history

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Published21 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, BBC/Tessa WongBy Tessa Wong in SingaporeBBC NewsStanding in Singapore’s tranquil Esplanade Park, Russell Heng pointed to the spot where he was once caught by the police – just for being gay.It looks like any other tree-lined corner in the city. But back in the 1980s, before the age of the internet and Grindr, it was a popular meeting spot for gay men in a country where homosexuality was effectively criminalised.Nicknamed the Feet of Five Trees, the spot’s towering raintrees provided cover and seclusion, recalled Mr Heng, a playwright and activist.”We were roaming about that night. And then suddenly, there was a loud voice – a plainclothes policeman – who started shouting at us,” he said.The men were forced to line up in a row as the policeman fiercely berated them. “He said ‘You should be ashamed of yourself’.”We were just walking in the park,” he said. “You felt psychologically that maybe you did something wrong… basically it was bullying.”For decades, Singapore’s government preserved the controversial 377A law inherited from British rule, which banned sex between two men.Authorities argued that it reflected Singapore society’s view that homosexuality was not acceptable.But last week its parliament repealed the law, just months after leader Lee Hsien Loong’s surprise announcement they would scrap the ban because of changing attitudes.The repeal of 377A turns the page on a dark chapter of Singapore history that is rarely talked about these days, where gay men not only faced intense social stigma but were even actively targeted by authorities.Mr Heng and the other men at Esplanade Park that night were let off with only a warning. But others were not so lucky. For several decades, the police would conduct so-called “anti-gay” raids on nightclubs that gay men were known to frequent, or cruising spots in beaches and parks. Often this would include the controversial use of entrapment, where policemen would pose as gay men at popular meeting spots and promptly arrest anyone who engaged with them. Those arrested usually would be charged with soliciting, outrage of modesty, or for committing indecent acts. National newspapers would carry details of their arrests, listing their names, ages and occupations.Most were fined or served a few months in jail. But in one particular incident in 1993 known as “the Fort Road raid” for its location, several men were arrested, then sentenced to Singapore’s notoriously harsh punishment of caning. This was later overturned in an appeal, with the judge noting that the way the men were caught and charged was “disquieting”.For many gay men, the raids sent a clear message that their existence was frowned upon. While anti-gay violence was not common in tightly-controlled Singapore, many in the community were fearful of coming out to their friends, family and wider society.”You always had to be furtive, you always feared the glare of scrutiny. That was part of the instinct of being gay back then,” said Mr Heng, who is 71 years old.Singapore’s move on gay sex sparks a new battleThe British law that left an anti-LGBTQ legacy in AsiaBy the 2000s the raids had decreased, and the issue of homosexuality – once a taboo topic – became increasingly openly discussed. Then in 2007, in a landmark parliamentary debate over 377A, Singapore’s government promised that while it would keep the law it would not enforce it.These moves came as Singaporeans slowly became more accepting of LGBT people. Recent surveys show that, while there is still a significant number who think homosexuality is “wrong”, there is also rising support for gay rights.The city-state has developed a thriving LGBT scene, with an increasing number of LGBT-friendly establishments and companies promoting diversity policies. The biggest civil society gathering in Singapore – where mass rallies and demonstrations remain extremely rare – is Pink Dot, an LGBT rights event that draws thousands of supporters every year. Activism has become more prominent with more lobby groups and support communities emerging – a far cry from the days where gay rights organisations found it difficult even to exist. Mr Heng is a founding member of one of the oldest LGBT groups in Singapore, People Like Us, which was twice rejected permission to register as a society in the 1990s. In their early days they were closely monitored by the authorities, recalled Mr Heng, with plainclothes policemen sitting in on their public talks and meetings, and identifying themselves afterwards.”There are younger people now who were born during a time when Pink Dot was already a fact. They would take it as part of the landscape, that gay people are okay. They don’t know about this other time before,” said Mr Heng.Some want to change that.One recent evening a group of tourists threaded through the streets of downtown Singapore on a unique tour, led by their guide, 34-year-old Isaac Tng.Image source, BBC/Tessa WongStanding on the banks of the Singapore River, they were told about 19th Century Chinese male immigrants who turned to prostitution. The next stop was a nondescript office building, which used to be Singapore’s first gay sauna. Later, they were taken to an upscale hilltop restaurant – a popular gay cruising spot in the past, they were told.Mr Tng told the BBC he decided to start giving LGBT history tours after realising there was an “amnesia”, particularly among younger Singaporeans. His tours have attracted a mix of both straight and gay attendees.One outcome of the lack of enforcement of 377A is that “there are people who don’t really care because they’ve never been subjected to it,” he said.With more attention paid to 377A in recent years, including legal attempts to overturn it, “there’s been greater interest and people are more curious now” about LGBT history, though “the resources are still lacking”, he added.Image source, BBC/Tessa WongWith 377A’s repeal, the law is now officially a thing of the past. But many in the LGBT community remain cautious even as they celebrate.Alongside the repeal, lawmakers voted to amend the constitution, which effectively rules out the possibility of gay marriage for now. The vote also saw parliamentarians voicing concern about “militant homosexuals” and the erosion of religious freedoms, which LGBT groups in turn have called “unsubstantiated rhetoric and fearmongering”.”Some of these leaders are reluctantly repealing 377A. Going forward I think it means gay rights will become a lot more sensitive. It feels more like a compromise rather than a huge milestone,” said Mr Tng.”I’m so glad it happened. But I’m also not elated, because it’s taken so long,” said Mr Heng. “I think a gay friend put it very well: it’s like a nice, hot cup of coffee that got left on the table.”You drink it now, it’s still coffee, it tastes like coffee. But it’s gone cold.”More on this storySingapore to end ban on gay sex22 AugustSingapore’s move on gay sex sparks a new battle23 AugustThe British law that left an anti-LGBTQ legacy in Asia29 June 2021

Chris Dawson: Husband in podcast-famous case jailed for murder

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Published10 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, EPABy Simon AtkinsonBBC News, AustraliaAn Australian man who became the subject of a popular crime podcast has been jailed for 24 years for his wife’s murder. Chris Dawson, 74, was convicted in August after decades of speculation about Lynette Dawson’s 1982 disappearance. A judge ruled Dawson killed his wife so he could continue his relationship with his teenage lover and babysitter.His lawyer has indicated he is likely to appeal against the conviction. Mrs Dawson was 33 when she vanished from her Sydney home. Her body is still missing and all the evidence in the trial was circumstantial.In his sentencing remarks on Friday, Justice Ian Harrison said Dawson’s crime was “self-indulgent brutality” that “was neither spontaneous nor unavoidable”.Justice Harrison said Dawson would be eligible for parole after 18 years, acknowledging it was likely he would die in prison.Dawson was charged in 2018 after the podcast The Teacher’s Pet – by The Australian newspaper – garnered global attention and prompted a renewed investigation, helping build enough evidence to lay charges. How a famous podcast helped catch and jail a killerDuring the trial Dawson had denied having anything to do with his wife’s disappearance, maintaining she had abandoned him and their two children – possibly to join a religious group.Justice Harrison said in August that the evidence against Dawson was “persuasive and compelling”, finding Dawson was obsessed with his teenage lover – who is known as JC for legal reasons. She was also a student at the school where Dawson taught and he wanted her as a “replacement” for his wife, the judge said.The judge said Dawson had become increasingly desperate as previous plans to leave his marriage failed and JC had wanted to end their relationship.In an earlier hearing, Dawson’s daughter Shanelle Dawson begged him to reveal the location of her mother’s body, saying: “Please tell us where she is.”Ms Dawson was just four when her mother disappeared.”The night you removed our mother from our lives was the night you destroyed my sense of safety and belonging in this world for many decades to come,” she said. “Why didn’t you just divorce her, let those who love and needed her keep her?” Speaking after the sentencing, the victim’s brother Greg Simms said: “We really didn’t believe this day would ever come. What we need now is to find Lyn and put her to rest.”When asked by reporters whether Dawson would now reveal her body’s whereabouts, his lawyer Greg Walsh said his client maintained his innocence.In October this year, the New South Wales government passed laws to make it impossible for convicted murderers to be released on parole if they refused to co-operate and reveal the location of victims’ remains.

China protests: The young people powering the demonstrations

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Published15 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesBy Frances MaoBBC NewsIn China last weekend, a new generation emerged; many taking part in their first ever public protest.On the streets they demanded a release from a zero-Covid policy that has been in force for nearly three years.In Shanghai, protesters had been quiet at first. They had gathered to pay tribute to victims of an apartment block fire in the western Xinjiang region. Many believed Covid measures had prevented escape from the flames.So under a heavy police guard, they grieved. They held up blank papers in protest, laid flowers, remained silent.Then some began to shout: “Freedom! We want freedom! End lockdowns!”As the night wore on, the crowd grew bigger and bolder. At 03:00 local time early on Sunday (19:00 GMT on Saturday) they chanted: “Xi Jinping, step down! Xi Jinping, step down!”One participant in his early twenties said he’d run onto the street after hearing the crowd from his room.”I have seen many, many people angry online but nobody had ever stood out on the street to make a protest,” he told the BBC. He’d brought his camera to record what he felt were historic events. “I see many people – the policeman, the student, the old people, the foreigners. They have their different opinions but at least they can speak out.”It’s meaningful to have this assembly. I feel this will be a precious memory for me.”A young woman on the edge of the crowd said she found it a thrilling but fragile moment. “I have never seen anything like this in my life in China,” she told the BBC.”I feel like a relief. Finally we can get together, and gather around – to say something we have wanted to say for a long time.”Zero Covid had stolen the best years of their lives, she said. Her generation had lost income and livelihoods, opportunities for education and travel. Trapped in lockdown for months at times, they’d been separated from family and delayed or cancelled life plans. They were “angry, sad, helpless” – in a state of purgatory. Similar calls were heard in several major cities across the country that weekend. At the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing, students inspired by demonstrations they’d seen online also assembled.A video – now viral – showed a girl speaking rapidly, fearfully, into a loudspeaker. At times her voice breaks and she’s in tears. But the crowd carries her: “Don’t be afraid! Go on!” they say.”If we don’t speak up because we’re afraid of being discredited, I think our people would be disappointed in us,” she says hoarsely. “As a student of Tsinghua University, I would regret it forever.”Image source, ReutersSavvy or naive?For older observers, the political demonstrations – a sight not seen in decades – sparked memories of the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square, also led by students who called for a more free China.But some say this generation’s zeal comes from them not knowing how those protests ended – in a bloody crackdown.”The combination of youthful idealism – fearlessness without the burden of painful memory – means young people are taking to the street and demanding their rights,” says Human Rights Watch’s China researcher Yaqiu Wang.Others argue that sells the protesters short. Their youth belies just how attuned they are to the Chinese system and its rules, says Wen-ti Sung, a political scientist at the Australian National University.He’s marvelled at their “tactical savvy”. The young protesters today “are the best educated generation China has seen”, he says.”They know the red lines. They’re trying to push the envelope without breaking it,” he says.The protesters in Shanghai shouted their calls for Xi’s removal. But at almost every other rally, demonstrators tamped down demands they feared were too political. Blank paper – devoid of incriminating scrawls – became their symbol. When told by police to stop calls to end zero Covid, they responded sarcastically, chanting for more testing and more restrictions. “Just watch how carefully they pre-emptively try to cover all the bases to minimise accusations that the Chinese government can make against them,” Mr Sung says.Protesters were also alert to voices subverting their message.In Beijing, when one man warned of “foreign influences”, he was mocked by others who shouted: “By foreign influence, do you mean Marx and Engels? Is it Stalin? Is it Lenin?” The Chinese Communist Party cites Marxism as its guiding ideology.Image source, ReutersThe Beijing crowd pressed on: “Was it foreign forces who started the fire in Xinjiang? Was it foreign forces who overturned the bus in Guizhou?” “Was it foreign forces who drew everyone out here tonight?” one man cried to the crowd. It roared back: “No!”‘Liberal nationalists’Prior to the pandemic, young Chinese had mostly been content with their future prospects. Covid changed all that.”I cannot travel around the world, I cannot see my family,” the young man with the camera in Shanghai said. He told the BBC he feared for his mother, who has cancer, in the southern city of Guangzhou. City officials lifted Covid restrictions in most of its districts on Wednesday.”I really want to see her. For a long time now, I didn’t see her, didn’t touch her face, didn’t have dinner with her,” he said. “I hope this lockdown policy will be released. As soon as possible.”He was detained later that day by police, the BBC was later told. How China’s Covid protests are being silencedChina sticks with zero-Covid: Why?Blank paper becomes the symbol of China’s protestsMany who spoke to the BBC or are seen speaking in footage online say they want to see their country to progress.At the protests, crowds sang China’s national anthem over and over again – particularly the swelling chorus which urges people to “Stand up! Stand up! Stand up!” and defend their country.One way in which this generation really are different is their fierce patriotism, having grown up in the era of China’s rise, says Mr Sung.He labels many of them “liberal nationalists” – who, in believing so fiercely in the system, demand accountability when it fails.”Sentiment can switch from pro-government to anti-establishment really quickly,” he says.But there remains a collective desire to prove their protests are legitimate and on the right side of the law.In the Tsinghua campus video, after the speaker raises concerns the protest could be appropriated by troublemakers, the crowd cried out “No lawbreakers here! No lawbreakers here!”A male voice is then heard, worried: “If we lose control of this, then we’ll have really lost.””We don’t have experience doing this… but we’ll slowly work this out.”More on this storyChina plans ‘crackdown’ after Covid protests2 days agoChinese protesters say police seeking them out3 days agoHow China’s Covid protests are being silenced3 days ago

India seizes opportunities in African healthcare

BBC News – Asia RSS Feed – World News

Published15 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesBy Priti GuptaMumbaiLike many African doctors, Peter Mativo had to travel overseas to complete his training.In 2007 he left Kenya for Bangalore to pursue his goal of becoming a neurologist. After 18 months in India, he returned to Kenya and now works at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi.”Most of us train in India, as Africa is not a developed continent. We have a very poor economy with no medical infrastructure in place nor specialised training,” he says.”I would have never been able to get a specialised degree if I would have not opted for India,” Mr Mativo says.India is keen to strengthen such ties with Africa. It has identified the healthcare sector as one area where trade between the continents can flourish.So young African doctors are encouraged to finish their training in India, meanwhile Indian healthcare firms are expanding all over Africa.Image source, Peter Mativo”The African market is a natural fit for Indian pharmaceutical companies, as India is the largest provider of generic medicine in the world,” says Nisht Dubey.Generic drugs made in India can sell at a quarter of the price of a branded equivalent, which makes them a popular choice in less well-off parts of the world.”There is a big gap between demand and supply of medicines in Africa, with a huge disparity among rich and poor,” says Mr Dubey.Spurred by a shortage of medicine and hospital equipment in Kenya during the Covid crisis, Mr Dubey set-up Goodstrain Pharma in 2020. It imports medicine and medical products from all over the world into Kenya.Goodstrain’s warehouse and corporate offices are in Nairobi, but Mr Dubey wants it to expand across East Africa.”Africa is the only pharmaceutical market where genuinely high growth is still achievable,” says Mr Dubey, who is originally from Uttar Pradesh in northern India.But getting a firm going in Kenya has not been easy. Goodstrain’s very first shipment to Kenya was held up at customs for weeks – a major setback for the young firm.Mr Dubey says they were not ready for the web of regulations covering imports. Now a third party, which specialises in clearing imports, handles that for them.Image source, Getty ImagesAfricure Pharmaceuticals, has gone one step further than Goodstrain, by manufacturing pharmaceuticals in Africa.The company, only founded in 2017, already has nine manufacturing facilities in Africa, employing 300 people across Cameroon, Namibia, Botswana and Côte d’Ivoire, with plans to build plants in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.Africure’s factories make medications to treat pain, fever, inflammation, malaria, diabetes andhypertension, as well as a wide range of antibiotics.”Africa over the years has been dependent on imports of medication from Europe, India, and China, which has resulted in the draining of precious foreign exchange, non-creation of job opportunities, and suffering the vagaries of supply and demand,” says Sinhue Noronha, founder and chief executive of Africure Pharmaceuticals.Originally from Mumbai, Mr Noronha, hopes his firm will help tackle some of the problems in African healthcare.”Our primary objective is to solve the persistent issues such as affordability, availability, low quality, technological dependence, and reliance on imports.”All of our plants and distribution setups are engaged primarily to provide an uninterrupted supply of essential medicines.”Image source, Goodstrain PharmaMr Noronha says that Indian firms have a head start over rivals from elsewhere in the world.”Indian manufacturers and importers are able to understand the African market because of our large diaspora presence in Africa.”Even with those connections, Mr Noronha, has found building a business in Africa a bumpy experience.”The biggest challenge is political instability. I may get a permission today to set up a manufacturing unit, and tomorrow the government or the health minister may resign. One has to be ready for any kind of eventuality,” he says.He also says that personal safety is a consideration.”Security is another big concern. murder and kidnapping are common in Africa. We Indians have to be very careful,” he says.Broadly, Indian healthcare firms have a good reputation in Africa, but that hard won image has recently suffered significant damage.This video can not be playedTo play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Police in The Gambia are investigating the deaths of 66 children, which have been linked to four brands of imported Indian cough syrup.In October, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global alert over the cough syrups – warning they could be linked to acute kidney injuries and the children’s deaths in July, August and September.”The Gambia incident is an aberration and we should feel bad about it,” says Udaya Bhaskar, director general of Pharmexcil, which promotes the export of Indian pharmaceuticals.”This incident will certainly be a dent in our exports and the image of Indian pharma,” he says.But he thinks the reputational damage will be short-lived.”The important factor is that Africa is very dependent on other countries and India produces very good quality medicine, so the Gambia impact will be short-term.”Back in Nairobi, Dr Mativo says the problem is the lack of testing facilities in Africa.”The Gambia incident is sad. The biggest problem is we are not financially strong, nor do we have facilities which can check the standards of medicine supplied to us.”He would like to see more products produced locally.”In Africa most of the population cannot afford branded medicine… what we need is training and setting up manufacturing units in Africa.”

December 2022
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