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Thailand cave rescue: How would you survive in a cave?
27 June 2018
[ { "context": "A desperate search is under way for a group of 12 teenage footballers and their coach who are believed to be trapped deep inside a cave in Thailand. Heavy rain has flooded the cave system, hindering the authorities' attempts to go in and find them. The hope is that the group have found a safe, high place to await rescue, but unlike professional cavers, they were not equipped for a long stay. We spoke to cavers about what you need to do to survive when trapped underground. They emphasised the need to keep warm and hydrated, and stay out of danger. Anmar Mirza, national co-ordinator of the US National Cave Rescue Commission, says the first thing to do is make sure you're not in any immediate danger. Rockfalls pose a risk, but the major worry is flooding. \"You want to seek the highest point in the cave,\" Mr Mirza said. His advice is to try to guess where water had risen to in previous floods. \"There's a number of ways to determine that point - look for mud, leaves, wet slime on the walls.\" Then, you want to check what supplies you have with you. Depending on how long you are in the cave, you may be forced to ration food, water, and even light. The first major risk, Mr Mirza says, is hypothermia. \"Wring out clothes to keep them dry,\" he says, \"and huddle together for warmth.\" Andy Eavis, retired head of the British Caving Association, says thankfully hypothermia probably won't be a big issue in the Thai cave system. \"The ambient temperatures will be fairly high,\" he says, estimating them to be between 23-26C (73-79F). Mr Eavis, 70, has been exploring caves for the past 50 years, including some in Thailand, Myanmar and China - although not the cave system in which the teenagers and their coach are trapped. He says many of these caves are huge - some big enough to be explored \"with aeroplanes\" - and doesn't think they're likely to flood to the roof. \"If they're sitting out of the water, they won't die of hypothermia,\" he says. Mr Eavis describes being trapped in a cave in the Pyrenees with two other cavers, where the water was about 2C (36F). \"We were there for 55 hours,\" he said. \"But thankfully, we were wearing wetsuits.\" After warmth, Mr Mirza says, the next major concern is water. \"Keep yourself hydrated, but beware of dirty water in the cave,\" Mr Mirza says. \"It's a balancing act - diarrhoea and vomiting would make dehydration a bigger problem later.\" Even if the water is dirty, it won't pose an immediate problem, says Mr Eavis. \"Most cave waters are reasonably drinkable,\" he says. \"It might cause upset tummies though.\" Bill Whitehouse, retired chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council, recommends looking around the cave. \"Little drips and inlets may have fresher water,\" he says. \"But long term, food will be the problem.\" Mr Mirza agrees. \"If you have food, make sure not to eat it all at once.\" Oxygen is also a factor. However, all three men agree that this isn't as big a concern as you'd think. \"Most caves naturally breathe,\" Mr Mirza says. \"Air can get in and out where people can't.\" Carbon dioxide levels can rise if people are trapped in such a small space for so long. But for the most part, the rescuers agree lack of air isn't a major problem. \"In general, it's not uncommon for oxygen levels to be slightly low in caves,\" says Mr Whitehouse. \"But not seriously low. It depends on the cave.\" You may have all the supplies to survive, but keeping calm in the dark can be difficult. \"I always tell people it's a marmite sport,\" says Mr Whitehouse. \"Underground is one of those places you're either happy or you're not.\" \"Don't panic,\" says Mr Eavis. \"Panicking and trying to get out come what may is the biggest risk.\" For the Thai teenagers, a lot of pressure will be on whoever is in charge to stop them from trying to dive into the waters, which could be dangerous. \"The leader will have to really control them to stop them doing anything silly, like dive in,\" he said. \"It's mentally very taxing being in the dark.\" Mr Mirza says lighting is not as problematic as it once was. \"Experienced cavers will have hundreds of hours of light with them - modern LEDs, lithium batteries.\" But in the case of the teenagers in Thailand, it could be an issue. \"We're not talking about cavers here. They're probably not well equipped,\" says Mr Whitehouse. As a rule, if you're going to enter a cave, you should always be prepared, Mr Whitehouse says. \"Get the right information, get the right kit, and go with someone who knows the cave,\" he says. The veteran cave rescuer also says a vital point is to tell someone where you are going before you go. \"The earlier we get the callout the sooner something can be done,\" he says.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4677, "answer_start": 4307, "text": "As a rule, if you're going to enter a cave, you should always be prepared, Mr Whitehouse says. \"Get the right information, get the right kit, and go with someone who knows the cave,\" he says. The veteran cave rescuer also says a vital point is to tell someone where you are going before you go. \"The earlier we get the callout the sooner something can be done,\" he says." } ], "id": "10200_0", "question": "General advice?" } ] } ]
Iran tanker row: Detained ship sets sail from Gibraltar
19 August 2019
[ { "context": "An Iranian ship held by Gibraltar since July on suspicion of transporting oil to Syria has left port. Marine tracking shows the tanker moving east into the Mediterranean and lists Kalamata in Greece as the destination. Gibraltar earlier rejected a request by the US to again seize the ship, which has changed its name from Grace 1 to Adrian Darya-1. The US made the last-minute request on Friday, a day after Gibraltar lifted its detention order. Gibraltar said it could not comply with Washington's request to issue a new detention order because US sanctions against Iran did not apply in the EU. Tehran said it was ready to dispatch a naval escort to the Adrian Darya-1. A British-flagged tanker seized in July remains in Iranian hands. There had been speculation of a swap if Grace 1 was freed, despite official denials. A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry said on Monday they were waiting for a court order before any possible release of the ship but said there was \"no connection whatsoever\" between the two ship seizures. He also warned the US not to attempt to seize the ship in international waters. On Friday, the US issued a warrant for the tanker's seizure, following Gibraltar's refusal to comply with Washington's request. It is unclear why the ship is en route to Kalamata in Greece. Bloomberg spoke to two vessel brokers who suggested the waters off the small port could be a possible place for ship-to-ship cargo transfers. The ship with its crew of 29 - from India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines - was seized with the help of British marines on 4 July, after the government of Gibraltar - a British territory - suggested it was heading for Syria in breach of EU sanctions. The move sparked a diplomatic crisis between the UK and Iran, which has escalated over recent weeks and saw Iran seize a British-flagged and Swedish-owned oil tanker, Stena Impero, in the Gulf. The Gibraltar authorities freed the vessel on Thursday after receiving assurances from Iran that it would not discharge its cargo in Syria. The US justice department then filed a request to detain the ship on the grounds that it had links to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which it has designated a terrorist group. Gibraltar, in a statement on Sunday, said it could not comply with the request because Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is not viewed as a terrorist organisation by the EU, which the British territory is currently part of. It also said that US sanctions preventing oil exports from Iran could not be enforced by the EU, reflecting what it said were \"the very different positions and legal regimes in the US and the EU\". There has been no response yet from Washington. Iran's ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, tweeted on Sunday that two specialist engineering teams were on their way to Gibraltar. The Stena Impero, which was seized by the Revolutionary Guard on 19 July, remains in Iranian hands. The UK has since announced it would join a US-led taskforce to protect merchant ships travelling through the key shipping route in the Strait of Hormuz. Tensions between Iran and the West can be traced to the resurgence of another crisis - that over Iran's nuclear programme. Last year, Washington withdrew from a 2015 deal to limit Iran's nuclear activities amid suspicion that Tehran was still trying to develop nuclear weapons, something Iran has always denied. Since then, US-Iran tensions have grown after Washington imposed - and latterly tightened - its sanctions against the country. The UK and other European countries have said they remain committed to the deal.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2224, "answer_start": 1449, "text": "The ship with its crew of 29 - from India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines - was seized with the help of British marines on 4 July, after the government of Gibraltar - a British territory - suggested it was heading for Syria in breach of EU sanctions. The move sparked a diplomatic crisis between the UK and Iran, which has escalated over recent weeks and saw Iran seize a British-flagged and Swedish-owned oil tanker, Stena Impero, in the Gulf. The Gibraltar authorities freed the vessel on Thursday after receiving assurances from Iran that it would not discharge its cargo in Syria. The US justice department then filed a request to detain the ship on the grounds that it had links to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which it has designated a terrorist group." } ], "id": "10201_0", "question": "What's the background?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2837, "answer_start": 2225, "text": "Gibraltar, in a statement on Sunday, said it could not comply with the request because Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is not viewed as a terrorist organisation by the EU, which the British territory is currently part of. It also said that US sanctions preventing oil exports from Iran could not be enforced by the EU, reflecting what it said were \"the very different positions and legal regimes in the US and the EU\". There has been no response yet from Washington. Iran's ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, tweeted on Sunday that two specialist engineering teams were on their way to Gibraltar." } ], "id": "10201_1", "question": "Why was the US request denied?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3610, "answer_start": 2838, "text": "The Stena Impero, which was seized by the Revolutionary Guard on 19 July, remains in Iranian hands. The UK has since announced it would join a US-led taskforce to protect merchant ships travelling through the key shipping route in the Strait of Hormuz. Tensions between Iran and the West can be traced to the resurgence of another crisis - that over Iran's nuclear programme. Last year, Washington withdrew from a 2015 deal to limit Iran's nuclear activities amid suspicion that Tehran was still trying to develop nuclear weapons, something Iran has always denied. Since then, US-Iran tensions have grown after Washington imposed - and latterly tightened - its sanctions against the country. The UK and other European countries have said they remain committed to the deal." } ], "id": "10201_2", "question": "What about Iran's relations with the West?" } ] } ]
The rise of the word Brexit
25 December 2016
[ { "context": "It was the political word of 2016 - even before being repeatedly used by Donald Trump during his successful US presidential campaign. But Brexit was barely heard last time America elected a president in 2012. Here's the story of its rise to prominence. The Oxford English Dictionary awarded this honour to Peter Wilding when it added Brexit to its volumes recently. Mr Wilding is the founder and director of the British Influence think tank - and campaigned for the UK to Remain in the EU in June's referendum. He wrote about \"Brexit\" in May 2012, eight months before the then Prime Minister David Cameron had announced he would be holding a referendum. \"Unless a clear view is pushed that Britain must lead in Europe at the very least to achieve the completion of the single market then the portmanteau for Greek euro exit might be followed by another sad word, Brexit,\" he predicted. Reflecting on being first to use the term, he says: \"I had no idea but got a phonecall a couple of months ago from the Oxford English Dictionary. \"It certainly gives one the moral authority to say what it means.\" Mr Wilding took his inspiration from Grexit, the term used for Greece's possible exit from the eurozone. \"In January and February 2012 it was all about the Greek crisis,\" he said, \"It didn't take a great leap of faith to replace the G with a B so that's how it came about. \"It's one of those odd things that crops up in life, I had forgotten all about it, so when I was told I found it amusing.\" It could have all been (slightly) different. Brexit was far from set in stone, and faced early competition with an alternative version featuring the following month in an Economist article predicting that \"a Brixit looms for several reasons\". In August 2012, investment bank Nomura made waves when it warned the City in a report that a \"Brixit\" was \"increasingly likely\", while the same term was used in a Daily Mail column urging: \"Bring on the 'Brixit'.\" But Brexit prevailed, although it was another three years before its use really took off. Not really, according to Professor David Crystal, one of the world's foremost experts on language. \"From a linguistic point of view it's just another word,\" he told the BBC. \"The only interesting feature is the way the 'exit' part has become productive, acting like a suffix (Grexit, Frexit, etc), which is unusual. \"New suffixes don't arise very often, a previous example was '-gate' after Watergate.\" According to Macmillan Dictionary, it \"reflects a growing trend in recent years of coining a catchy new expression to appealingly characterise a topical scenario\". Brexit may not be confined to politics for much longer, with 18 trademark applications featuring the term lodged so far. They include \"English Brexit tea\" by a German company in the days after the referendum. There's also Brexit Blue cheese, Brexit biscuits, Brexit energy drinks and Brexit bread - while Brexit the Musical and the Brexit board game have also been snapped up. There have also been 36 companies registered including the word in their name, almost all since the referendum. A glance at the Google searches on Brexit shows how use of the word rocketed around the EU referendum. Similar trends were recorded by BBC Monitoring, which looks at the international media, both in Europe and around the world. Collins Dictionary, which recently named Brexit as its word of the year, said its use had increased by 3,400% this year according to its monitoring systems. \"It's such a huge increase in usage of one particular word,\" said Collins editor Mary O'Neill. \"It was talked about a bit last year but nothing like what it was like in 2016. \"It's really amazing how it has gone from virtually nothing to the word on everyone's lips.\"", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1494, "answer_start": 253, "text": "The Oxford English Dictionary awarded this honour to Peter Wilding when it added Brexit to its volumes recently. Mr Wilding is the founder and director of the British Influence think tank - and campaigned for the UK to Remain in the EU in June's referendum. He wrote about \"Brexit\" in May 2012, eight months before the then Prime Minister David Cameron had announced he would be holding a referendum. \"Unless a clear view is pushed that Britain must lead in Europe at the very least to achieve the completion of the single market then the portmanteau for Greek euro exit might be followed by another sad word, Brexit,\" he predicted. Reflecting on being first to use the term, he says: \"I had no idea but got a phonecall a couple of months ago from the Oxford English Dictionary. \"It certainly gives one the moral authority to say what it means.\" Mr Wilding took his inspiration from Grexit, the term used for Greece's possible exit from the eurozone. \"In January and February 2012 it was all about the Greek crisis,\" he said, \"It didn't take a great leap of faith to replace the G with a B so that's how it came about. \"It's one of those odd things that crops up in life, I had forgotten all about it, so when I was told I found it amusing.\"" } ], "id": "10202_0", "question": "Who coined the phrase?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2608, "answer_start": 2042, "text": "Not really, according to Professor David Crystal, one of the world's foremost experts on language. \"From a linguistic point of view it's just another word,\" he told the BBC. \"The only interesting feature is the way the 'exit' part has become productive, acting like a suffix (Grexit, Frexit, etc), which is unusual. \"New suffixes don't arise very often, a previous example was '-gate' after Watergate.\" According to Macmillan Dictionary, it \"reflects a growing trend in recent years of coining a catchy new expression to appealingly characterise a topical scenario\"." } ], "id": "10202_1", "question": "Any linguistic merit?" } ] } ]
Syria crisis: Kofi Annan's Mission Impossible
11 March 2012
[ { "context": "As the special UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan embarked on what looked like a Mission Impossible that was unlikely to produce swift results, the way ahead in Syria was shrouded in the smoke of war. But amidst the many confusions and complexities, there were a few elements that could be taken as givens unless something changes dramatically. President Bashar al-Assad and his associates will continue the campaign they launched in late January to crush all armed resistance and secure the country's borders against the infiltration of fighters, guns and money. Accepting a ceasefire that fell short of that, would not only put on a level footing what the regime regards as armed terrorists implementing a foreign plot, but would also risk seeing large tracts of the country slipping permanently out of its control. For the same reasons, any access for humanitarian aid will have to happen in co-ordination with the Syrian authorities. Damascus would see the establishment of cross-border aid corridors giving independent and unrestricted access to trouble spots as an unacceptable infringement of its sovereignty. In these key positions, the regime seems to enjoy solid and crucial support from both Russia and China. So there will be no immediate ceasefire, nor will blanket permission be given for aid deliveries outside regime control. All that is quite apart from the positions adopted by most of the Syrian opposition, which also make an early peaceful solution look unlikely. Most groups refuse to consider talking to the regime - or at least President Assad - because so much blood has been spilled in ruthless repression that continues on the ground. Most activists simply want the downfall of the regime, not some compromise that would allow it to survive in a perhaps only slightly mutated form. They would see negotiations now as being from a position of weakness, especially given the regime's aggressive reassertion of military control since late January. Mr Annan also finds himself in the anomalous position of representing an Arab League which has thrown its weight behind regime change too. The League's 22 January resolution, which triggered the regime's crackdown, drops all mention of dialogue with Damascus, prescribes a menu for political change starting with President Assad handing power immediately to his deputy, and gives political cover for Arab states to provide military and other support to the opposition. That formula worked in Yemen. But Syria is not Yemen. The Arab League position is also supported by most of the Western powers and their allies. That is sharply at odds with the balanced positions adopted by Kofi Annan himself, who insists that any political solution must involve dialogue with all the \"actors\" on the ground, necessarily including the regime. He is against arming the opposition or any form of outside military intervention, arguing that they will complicate an already drastic situation. On paper at least, that actually puts him closer to the Russian and Chinese positions than to those of the Western powers. He will have to draw on all his considerable skills and experience if he is to find common ground between these polarised stands. Clearly, that is going to take time, if it is indeed attainable. If Mr Annan is to stand a chance of producing a peaceful political solution, he would have to persuade the Saudis, Qataris and other key players in the Arab League, and indeed the West, that pushing for regime change is going to plunge Syria and the region into deeper chaos. The West, also set on regime change, finds itself casting around with few valid options for bringing that about swiftly and surely. Nato and its member powers have from the outset ruled out external military intervention as in Libya, and they continue to do so for a wide variety of compelling reasons - despite the hopes of many Syrian opposition groups that they can somehow be drawn in. The West is also wary of pouring arms into the opposition, for fear of fuelling a sectarian civil war in which Sunni Islamist radicals could come to the fore - especially since al-Qaeda has begun urging jihadis to join the fray, raising anxieties on which the regime has skilfully played. The Western powers' strategy of economic and political sanctions has helped isolate and pressure the regime. It is certainly feeling the pinch, as the value of the Syrian pound plummets, cash flows dry up, and industry and tourism grind to a halt. But as Iraq showed, such pressures can continue for years without necessarily bringing about the desired result. The Syrian opposition, still badly fragmented both politically and militarily, also finds itself in a bind. After months of ruthless repression, and the years that preceded it, taking up arms is a natural development, and one which has inflicted a cost on the regime. But it is also playing the regime at its own game and engaging in a confrontation which the rebels could only hope to win decisively with the kind of outside intervention that tilted the balance so abruptly against Col Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Imagine what the situation might be there now, had Nato not intervened, and that might give some idea of what may lie ahead in Syria. If Kofi Annan cannot induce major shifts in position on the part of many of the key players in this bloody and convoluted drama, the most likely scenario will be this: The regime will complete its crushing of armed resistance wherever it finds it, with much of the immediate focus shifting north-westwards to Idlib province and the borderlands with Turkey. But it will continue to face a low-level insurgency as well as civil protest in many (mainly Sunni) areas, where it has clearly lost the hearts and minds of the people. Some neighbours, especially Turkey, may become increasingly permissive in terms of allowing the cross-border fuelling of insurgents. And some Arab states, notably the Saudis and Qataris, may become more assertive and open in arming and financing the rebels, while the Western powers continue their efforts to unify the opposition and provide its military wing with non-lethal assistance. This route could still lead to a collapse of the regime as its fabric slowly unravels, with accelerated military defections, the gradual spread of dissent and the worsening of economic and social conditions. But, while there could be surprises, it risks being a long and brutal process which might tear the country apart at the seams - along fault-lines which run through the wider region. It has in it the already apparent seeds both of a Syrian sectarian civil war and of the kind of regional and international proxy conflict which consumed neighbouring Lebanon for decades and which is still latent there. The regime may ultimately be doomed, but the fact is that it retains some bedrock support not only among the party faithful but also among sections of society fearful of a plunge into the unknown. It maintains an iron grip which has so far prevented military units defecting en masse, and it has shown every sign of determination to fight to the bitter end even if that means bringing the house down around it. Given everything that has happened, few of the regime's domestic or external adversaries believe that the inner circle of power is genuinely prepared to envisage a graceful transition to real democracy, either through negotiations or through the regime's own reform process that should see multi-party general elections in May. That, and all the blood, is why most of the opposition reject dialogue and regard mediation with the regime as simply buying it more time. Kofi Annan has already won one Nobel Peace Prize. If he can conjure a peaceful solution out of the elements he is working with now, he will surely deserve another.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4578, "answer_start": 3263, "text": "If Mr Annan is to stand a chance of producing a peaceful political solution, he would have to persuade the Saudis, Qataris and other key players in the Arab League, and indeed the West, that pushing for regime change is going to plunge Syria and the region into deeper chaos. The West, also set on regime change, finds itself casting around with few valid options for bringing that about swiftly and surely. Nato and its member powers have from the outset ruled out external military intervention as in Libya, and they continue to do so for a wide variety of compelling reasons - despite the hopes of many Syrian opposition groups that they can somehow be drawn in. The West is also wary of pouring arms into the opposition, for fear of fuelling a sectarian civil war in which Sunni Islamist radicals could come to the fore - especially since al-Qaeda has begun urging jihadis to join the fray, raising anxieties on which the regime has skilfully played. The Western powers' strategy of economic and political sanctions has helped isolate and pressure the regime. It is certainly feeling the pinch, as the value of the Syrian pound plummets, cash flows dry up, and industry and tourism grind to a halt. But as Iraq showed, such pressures can continue for years without necessarily bringing about the desired result." } ], "id": "10203_0", "question": "Civil war?" } ] } ]
Saad Lamjarred: Moroccan singer faces third rape charge
28 August 2018
[ { "context": "Moroccan singer Saad Lamjarred will face a charge of rape following a complaint by a woman in southern France, officials say. On Tuesday he was placed under formal investigation over the alleged incident in a hotel in Saint-Tropez. The 33-year-old is already on bail over an alleged rape case dating back to 2016 and was arrested in 2010 on suspicion of another assault. His hit Lmaallem is the most-viewed song by an Arab artist on YouTube. It has been seen more than 650 million times. Mr Lamjarred had been placed in police custody on Sunday. Prosecutors in the south-eastern city of Draguignan, near Saint-Tropez, had told AFP news agency the latest case was \"complex\" and involved two \"radically opposed versions of events\". But it was announced on Tuesday that Mr Lamjarred was now under formal investigation for rape and a magistrate would decide in the evening whether he would continue to be detained. Mr Lamjarred was first arrested on suspicion of beating and raping a woman in New York in 2010. He fled the US while on bail and has not returned since. Six years later, he was accused of physically assaulting and raping a young French woman in a hotel in Paris. He was released on bail with an electronic tag in April 2017 awaiting trial. Shortly before his release, French newspaper Le Parisien reported that a French-Moroccan woman had been physically assaulted by Mr Lamjarred in the Moroccan city of Casablanca two years earlier. She said she reported the incident to the police but later withdrew the complaint under pressure from her family. Perhaps surprisingly in the age of #MeToo, previous cases against Mr Lamjarred have done little to damage his reputation among fans. When the singer was arrested in 2016, the Moroccan king himself intervened to cover the singer's legal fees. Many of Mr Lamjarred's fans maintain the singer was the victim of a \"plot\" by neighbouring Algeria, which has strained relations with Morocco. Moroccan media even showed footage of small protests \"in solidarity\" with the singer during his detention. The first song he released one year after the alleged incident - and dedicated to the king - showed just how popular he remained, gaining over 140m views. The victim of the alleged assault in Paris spoke out in November last year, when she uploaded a video on YouTube (in French), and detailed the abuse she had experienced online. \"My name is Laura Prioul, I'm 21 years old, and it has been one year since I was physically attacked, hit and raped. \"For the past year I've been hiding from the media, hiding from everyone, that everyone's been talking about me.\" She recounted details of the alleged assault and described the death threats she received after her identity was revealed online. \"So many people were talking about me, insulting me, and no-one supported me apart from my family and friends.\" Mr Lamjarred has denied Laura Prioul's allegation of rape.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1559, "answer_start": 911, "text": "Mr Lamjarred was first arrested on suspicion of beating and raping a woman in New York in 2010. He fled the US while on bail and has not returned since. Six years later, he was accused of physically assaulting and raping a young French woman in a hotel in Paris. He was released on bail with an electronic tag in April 2017 awaiting trial. Shortly before his release, French newspaper Le Parisien reported that a French-Moroccan woman had been physically assaulted by Mr Lamjarred in the Moroccan city of Casablanca two years earlier. She said she reported the incident to the police but later withdrew the complaint under pressure from her family." } ], "id": "10204_0", "question": "What happened in the previous cases?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2206, "answer_start": 1560, "text": "Perhaps surprisingly in the age of #MeToo, previous cases against Mr Lamjarred have done little to damage his reputation among fans. When the singer was arrested in 2016, the Moroccan king himself intervened to cover the singer's legal fees. Many of Mr Lamjarred's fans maintain the singer was the victim of a \"plot\" by neighbouring Algeria, which has strained relations with Morocco. Moroccan media even showed footage of small protests \"in solidarity\" with the singer during his detention. The first song he released one year after the alleged incident - and dedicated to the king - showed just how popular he remained, gaining over 140m views." } ], "id": "10204_1", "question": "What has the reaction been?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2915, "answer_start": 2207, "text": "The victim of the alleged assault in Paris spoke out in November last year, when she uploaded a video on YouTube (in French), and detailed the abuse she had experienced online. \"My name is Laura Prioul, I'm 21 years old, and it has been one year since I was physically attacked, hit and raped. \"For the past year I've been hiding from the media, hiding from everyone, that everyone's been talking about me.\" She recounted details of the alleged assault and described the death threats she received after her identity was revealed online. \"So many people were talking about me, insulting me, and no-one supported me apart from my family and friends.\" Mr Lamjarred has denied Laura Prioul's allegation of rape." } ], "id": "10204_2", "question": "What about the victims?" } ] } ]
Uber loses licence to operate in London
25 November 2019
[ { "context": "Uber will not be granted a new licence to operate in London after repeated safety failures, Transport for London (TfL) has said. The regulator said the taxi app was not \"fit and proper\" as a licence holder, despite having made a number of positive changes to its operations. Uber initially lost its licence in 2017 but was granted two extensions, the most recent of which expires on Monday. The firm will appeal and can continue to operate during that process. London is one of Uber's top five markets globally and it has about 45,000 drivers in the city. Overall, there are 126,000 licensed private hire and black cabs in the capital. If its appeal is unsuccessful, some think Uber drivers would move over to rival ride-sharing firms such as Bolt and Kapten.\"There would be competition that would fill that void quite quickly,\" Fiona Cincotta, a market analyst at City Index told the BBC. TfL said it had identified a \"pattern of failures\" in London that placed passenger safety at risk. These included a change to Uber's systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. It meant there were at least 14,000 fraudulent trips in London in late 2018 and early 2019, TfL said. The regulator also found dismissed or suspended drivers had been able to create Uber accounts and carry passengers. In one example, a driver was able to continue working for Uber, despite the fact his private hire licence had been revoked after he was cautioned for distributing indecent images of children. Helen Chapman, director of licensing at TfL, said: \"While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.\" London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: \"I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users, but their safety is the paramount concern. Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe.\" Donna Stevens says her experiences of using Uber in London have \"always been positive\". In her job as a carer she often works late, so regularly uses the service. \"The drivers are friendly, courteous and professional. I can't afford to get a metered taxi.\" She says that if Uber were to go, she would probably have to go back to using public transport late at night, which does not make her feel safe. However, another reader, Kay, says she would not be sad to see Uber go. \"I complained a couple of months ago about a driver who made me feel so uncomfortable I abandoned the ride and walked home in the dark at 11 o'clock at night instead of staying in his cab.\" She says Uber gave her a PS5 credit but did not apologise. \"How is it OK to employ drivers that make women feel unsafe?\" she says. Uber lovers in London, fear not! The company's cars will not suddenly disappear from the capital's streets. Uber is going to appeal against this decision so a magistrate will have to decide whether Uber is fit to hold a licence in London, or not. A decision from a magistrates court could take weeks or months and unless the court decides otherwise, Uber will retain its licence during this period too. When TfL decided not to renew Uber's licence in 2017, the company addressed some of the issues raised by TfL back then and then a magistrate later granted Uber a new licence. On the face of it TfL is standing tough against perceived failings by Uber. But in effect it is letting the courts decide, at a later date, whether Uber should have a licence, or not. Uber said the decision was \"extraordinary and wrong\". It said it had audited every driver in London over the past two months and strengthened its processes. Boss Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted: \"We understand we're held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last 2 years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London.\" According to Uber, 24% of its sales come from just five cities, including London. The others are Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Sao Paulo in Brazil. In a public filing, it said: \"Any inability to operate in London, as well as the publicity concerning any such termination or non-renewal, would adversely affect our business, revenue, and operating results. \"We cannot predict whether the TfL decision, or future regulatory decisions or legislation in other jurisdictions, may embolden or encourage other authorities to take similar actions even where we are operating according to the terms of an existing licence or permit.\" Business lobby group the CBI said customers valued Uber, and encouraged both sides to find a resolution. But the Unite union - which believes Uber has unfairly taken business from black cab drivers - welcomed the news. \"Uber's DNA is about driving down standards and creating a race to the bottom which is not in the best interests of professional drivers or customers,\" said Jim Kelly, chair of Unite's London and Eastern cab section. Uber has faced pressure from regulators around the world over the way it treats its drivers, competition concerns, and fears about passenger safety. The US firm pulled out of Denmark in 2017 because of new taxi laws that required drivers to have fare meters and seat sensors. Bulgaria and Hungary both stripped Uber's right to operate following pressure from local taxi unions. And in May, the ride-hailing firm pulled its UberXL service in Turkey without saying why. TfL first declined to renew Uber's licence in September 2017, again over safety concerns. Back then it cited Uber's approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences. Uber's use of secret software, called \"Greyball\", which could be used to block regulators from monitoring the app, was another factor, although Uber said it had never been used in the UK. However, TfL granted Uber a 15-month licence extension - later extended by two months - conditional on it making improvements to its business. TfL can offer licences of up to five years, but it has been more stringent of late. In July, Indian ride-hailing company Ola got a 15-month agreement for its entry into the London market, while ViaVan got a three-year licence renewal.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1938, "answer_start": 890, "text": "TfL said it had identified a \"pattern of failures\" in London that placed passenger safety at risk. These included a change to Uber's systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. It meant there were at least 14,000 fraudulent trips in London in late 2018 and early 2019, TfL said. The regulator also found dismissed or suspended drivers had been able to create Uber accounts and carry passengers. In one example, a driver was able to continue working for Uber, despite the fact his private hire licence had been revoked after he was cautioned for distributing indecent images of children. Helen Chapman, director of licensing at TfL, said: \"While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.\" London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: \"I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users, but their safety is the paramount concern. Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe.\"" } ], "id": "10205_0", "question": "Why won't Uber get a new licence?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4499, "answer_start": 3496, "text": "Uber said the decision was \"extraordinary and wrong\". It said it had audited every driver in London over the past two months and strengthened its processes. Boss Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted: \"We understand we're held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last 2 years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London.\" According to Uber, 24% of its sales come from just five cities, including London. The others are Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Sao Paulo in Brazil. In a public filing, it said: \"Any inability to operate in London, as well as the publicity concerning any such termination or non-renewal, would adversely affect our business, revenue, and operating results. \"We cannot predict whether the TfL decision, or future regulatory decisions or legislation in other jurisdictions, may embolden or encourage other authorities to take similar actions even where we are operating according to the terms of an existing licence or permit.\"" } ], "id": "10205_1", "question": "What does Uber say?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4935, "answer_start": 4500, "text": "Business lobby group the CBI said customers valued Uber, and encouraged both sides to find a resolution. But the Unite union - which believes Uber has unfairly taken business from black cab drivers - welcomed the news. \"Uber's DNA is about driving down standards and creating a race to the bottom which is not in the best interests of professional drivers or customers,\" said Jim Kelly, chair of Unite's London and Eastern cab section." } ], "id": "10205_2", "question": "What do others say?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5403, "answer_start": 4936, "text": "Uber has faced pressure from regulators around the world over the way it treats its drivers, competition concerns, and fears about passenger safety. The US firm pulled out of Denmark in 2017 because of new taxi laws that required drivers to have fare meters and seat sensors. Bulgaria and Hungary both stripped Uber's right to operate following pressure from local taxi unions. And in May, the ride-hailing firm pulled its UberXL service in Turkey without saying why." } ], "id": "10205_3", "question": "Where else has banned Uber?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 6180, "answer_start": 5404, "text": "TfL first declined to renew Uber's licence in September 2017, again over safety concerns. Back then it cited Uber's approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences. Uber's use of secret software, called \"Greyball\", which could be used to block regulators from monitoring the app, was another factor, although Uber said it had never been used in the UK. However, TfL granted Uber a 15-month licence extension - later extended by two months - conditional on it making improvements to its business. TfL can offer licences of up to five years, but it has been more stringent of late. In July, Indian ride-hailing company Ola got a 15-month agreement for its entry into the London market, while ViaVan got a three-year licence renewal." } ], "id": "10205_4", "question": "What happened in London in 2017?" } ] } ]
NFL teams to be fined if players kneel during anthem
23 May 2018
[ { "context": "NFL teams will be fined if players kneel for the US national anthem under a new policy. The American football league said players who do not stand for the Star-Spangled Banner can stay in the locker room until it has been performed. The NFL also vowed to \"impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem\". Players said the protests were against police brutality of African Americans. \"It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,\" said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement accompanying Wednesday's new policy. \"This is not and was never the case. This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.\" NFL players were previously required to be on the field for the anthem, but there was no firm directive to stand during the song. The policy includes the provision that clubs can develop their own rules - so long as they abide by the league's directive - to handle players who do not wish to stand. It does not state how much clubs will be fined should their athletes protest on the field, but gives them the option to impose penalties on any player who breaks the new rules. The statement comes a day after NFL teams pledged $90m (PS67m) towards social justice initiatives, under an agreement reached with all 32 teams in the league. The debate over the kneeling protests began in 2016, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem. Similar demonstrations spread across the league, where most players are African American. Some kneeled, as Mr Kaepernick had done, while others linked arms to show solidarity for the movement. President Donald Trump was highly critical of the protests, calling them \"disgraceful\" and unpatriotic. He also urged the players to be fired. US Vice-President Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game because players from Mr Kaepernick's team knelt during the anthem. Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News Donald Trump started a staring contest with the NFL, and the NFL just blinked. What began as a few unscripted presidential comments at an Alabama campaign rally escalated into a public relations nightmare for America's most popular sports league, which saw its patriotism questioned from the White House bully pulpit. Within a matter of weeks the NFL's popularity plummeted among conservatives and its financial bottom line was threatened - stark proof that Mr Trump can drive the opinions of his supporters even when his target is a national juggernaut that has spent years branding itself as a shared American cultural experience. Now protesting athletes, who always insisted they were kneeling to draw attention to the abused and ignored victims in American society, will have to save their demonstrations for the solitude of the pre-game locker room. On the field, expressed love of anthem and flag will be mandatory. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) issued a statement following the policy announcement saying they were not consulted. \"NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about,\" the statement reads. \"The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL's Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.\" The NFLPA also said it will be reviewing the policy and will challenge aspects that are inconsistent with the agreement in place between the league and the union. Jed York, owner of the San Francisco 49ers team, abstained from voting on the new policy. \"I think there are a lot of reasons, and I'm not going to get into all of those reasons,\" Mr York told reporters, according to ESPN. \"But I think the gist of it is really that we want to make sure that everything that we're doing is to promote progress. And I think we've done a good piece of that so far.\" New York Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson said he prefers that players stand for the national anthem but will not make them pay any fines. Mr Johnson told Newsday: \"I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players\". He said the Jets would pay any fines associated with kneeling during the anthem and he would work with players on social justice issues. On Twitter, Mr Pence voiced his support of the change with a succinct tweet that said: \"#Winning.\" NFL player Dominique Hamilton called the policy a step \"backwards\" for the league. President Trump has repeatedly claimed credit for a ratings slide in the NFL. Last year the league saw a nearly 10% drop in viewership, according to Nielsen data. In 2016, there was an 8% decline. Though some fans appeared to tune out over the national anthem protests, other factors have also been cited. Some analysts blame the 2017 decline on the proliferation of games added through the expansion of Thursday Night Football. The 2016 presidential election siphoned viewers while the league's domestic abuse scandal also played a role, according to a JD Power and Associates survey. League viewership figures were also declining even before the \"take a knee\" protests as more viewers dumped cable subscriptions. But NFL games are still among the biggest television attractions. In 2017, NFL games accounted for 37 of the 50 most-watched programmes of the year, according to Nielsen.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2037, "answer_start": 1440, "text": "The debate over the kneeling protests began in 2016, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem. Similar demonstrations spread across the league, where most players are African American. Some kneeled, as Mr Kaepernick had done, while others linked arms to show solidarity for the movement. President Donald Trump was highly critical of the protests, calling them \"disgraceful\" and unpatriotic. He also urged the players to be fired. US Vice-President Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game because players from Mr Kaepernick's team knelt during the anthem." } ], "id": "10206_0", "question": "What's the background?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4725, "answer_start": 2998, "text": "The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) issued a statement following the policy announcement saying they were not consulted. \"NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about,\" the statement reads. \"The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL's Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.\" The NFLPA also said it will be reviewing the policy and will challenge aspects that are inconsistent with the agreement in place between the league and the union. Jed York, owner of the San Francisco 49ers team, abstained from voting on the new policy. \"I think there are a lot of reasons, and I'm not going to get into all of those reasons,\" Mr York told reporters, according to ESPN. \"But I think the gist of it is really that we want to make sure that everything that we're doing is to promote progress. And I think we've done a good piece of that so far.\" New York Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson said he prefers that players stand for the national anthem but will not make them pay any fines. Mr Johnson told Newsday: \"I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players\". He said the Jets would pay any fines associated with kneeling during the anthem and he would work with players on social justice issues. On Twitter, Mr Pence voiced his support of the change with a succinct tweet that said: \"#Winning.\" NFL player Dominique Hamilton called the policy a step \"backwards\" for the league." } ], "id": "10206_1", "question": "What's the reaction?" } ] } ]
Russian spy: Sergei Lavrov accuses West of 'children's games'
2 April 2018
[ { "context": "Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the UK and Western partners of playing \"children's games\" in their response to the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. He accused countries of \"disregarding all accepted behaviour\" and resorting to \"open lies and disinformation\". Twenty-nine nations have expelled diplomats over the poisoning, which the UK holds Russia responsible for. Mr Lavrov also issued fresh denials at the news conference on Monday. He made the comments in response to a question by the BBC's Steve Rosenberg about how dangerous growing tensions were between Russia and the West in comparison with the Cold War. \"In the classic Cold War,\" Sergei Lavrov said, \"there were rules and accepted behaviour\". \"I think our Western partners, I think firstly Great Britain and the USA and a few other countries that blindly follow them, have disregarded all the accepted behaviour.\" \"We do not want to play children's games, but so far our partners are doing precisely that,\" he added, saying it was up to them to reduce tensions. \"When we were kids we used to say whoever started it should be the one to finish it.\" During the news conference he also suggested the poisoning could be \"in the interests of the British government\" because of the \"uncomfortable situation\" they had found themselves in with Brexit. \"There are other explanations. The experts are speaking about them. They say it may well be beneficial for the British special services who are known for their ability to act with a license to kill.\" \"There could be a whole number of reasons and none of them can be ruled out,\" Mr Lavrov said. The poisoning row has rumbled on for nearly a month, with the UK saying it is adamant Russia was behind it. Russia has now told the UK more than 50 of its diplomats have to leave the country, after the British government ordered a cut to 23 Russian staff over last month's Salisbury poisoning. Russia said their deeper cut is so the two nations have parity in representation. Other governments - including the United States - also ordered expulsions of scores of Russian diplomats from their countries, deepening the row. On Monday Mr Lavrov said it was wrong to target diplomats who \"by definition intended to support relations, resolve complicated situations and find way out of difficulties\". \"In diplomacy, we have the principle of reciprocity and this is still the case. And this principle will be applied consistently,\" he said. Separately, Russia suggested the searching of an incoming Russian plane at Heathrow Airport was \"illegal\" and a \"blatant provocation\". The British government rejected the complaint, and said the search was \"routine\". Also on Monday, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov announced that US President Donald Trump had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to a meeting at the White House during their 20 March phone call, according to the TASS state media agency. \"When our presidents spoke on the phone, it was Trump who proposed holding the first meeting in Washington in the White House,\" Mr Ushakov said, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. \"If everything will be alright, I hope that the Americans will not back away from their own proposal to discuss the possibility of holding a summit,\" Mr Ushakov added. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders responded: \"As the President himself confirmed on March 20, hours after his last call with President Putin, the two had discussed a bilateral meeting in the 'not-too-distant future' at a number of potential venues, including the White House.\" Ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and daughter Yulia, 33, were poisoned on 4 March in Salisbury with what UK investigators have concluded was a Russian nerve agent called Novichok. Mr Skripal remains critically ill, but stable, but his daughter is said to be conscious and talking. The Russian Embassy in London \"insists on the right to see\" Ms Skripal, who is a Russian citizen. The UK government has said it is considering the request. The Russian embassy also published a list of 27 questions it said it had officially asked the British government about the poisoning.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3572, "answer_start": 1639, "text": "The poisoning row has rumbled on for nearly a month, with the UK saying it is adamant Russia was behind it. Russia has now told the UK more than 50 of its diplomats have to leave the country, after the British government ordered a cut to 23 Russian staff over last month's Salisbury poisoning. Russia said their deeper cut is so the two nations have parity in representation. Other governments - including the United States - also ordered expulsions of scores of Russian diplomats from their countries, deepening the row. On Monday Mr Lavrov said it was wrong to target diplomats who \"by definition intended to support relations, resolve complicated situations and find way out of difficulties\". \"In diplomacy, we have the principle of reciprocity and this is still the case. And this principle will be applied consistently,\" he said. Separately, Russia suggested the searching of an incoming Russian plane at Heathrow Airport was \"illegal\" and a \"blatant provocation\". The British government rejected the complaint, and said the search was \"routine\". Also on Monday, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov announced that US President Donald Trump had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to a meeting at the White House during their 20 March phone call, according to the TASS state media agency. \"When our presidents spoke on the phone, it was Trump who proposed holding the first meeting in Washington in the White House,\" Mr Ushakov said, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. \"If everything will be alright, I hope that the Americans will not back away from their own proposal to discuss the possibility of holding a summit,\" Mr Ushakov added. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders responded: \"As the President himself confirmed on March 20, hours after his last call with President Putin, the two had discussed a bilateral meeting in the 'not-too-distant future' at a number of potential venues, including the White House.\"" } ], "id": "10207_0", "question": "What are the latest developments?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4137, "answer_start": 3573, "text": "Ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and daughter Yulia, 33, were poisoned on 4 March in Salisbury with what UK investigators have concluded was a Russian nerve agent called Novichok. Mr Skripal remains critically ill, but stable, but his daughter is said to be conscious and talking. The Russian Embassy in London \"insists on the right to see\" Ms Skripal, who is a Russian citizen. The UK government has said it is considering the request. The Russian embassy also published a list of 27 questions it said it had officially asked the British government about the poisoning." } ], "id": "10207_1", "question": "What condition are the victims in?" } ] } ]
Primera Air collapse: 'I don’t know what I’m going to do'
2 October 2018
[ { "context": "Passengers have been left stranded in airports around the world after the collapse of budget airline Primera Air. The airline started offering long-haul flights from UK airports earlier this year, including Stansted to the US. Flights to Washington and New York due to leave Stansted on Monday night were grounded and passengers have been told not to go to the airport on Tuesday. Student Pavithra Priyadarshini found out that her flight was cancelled when she arrived at US airport Dulles. \"I came here to check in my luggage and the signboards saying that all the flights from Primera had been cancelled,\" she told the Victoria Derbyshire programme. She said she did not have enough money to book a flight within the next day, or enough cash to stay in a local hotel. \"I did not know what to do. Still now, I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm just sitting in the airport.\" She first tried to contact Primera Air, but the customer service network had \"completely shut down\". She then went to other airlines who had space, including United and British Airways, but couldn't afford the ticket prices. She is asking for help from friends and family to try to raise money to get a ticket back to the UK, she says. Other passengers have also complained. Simon Carrington said he had no warning from the airline that it was about to go bust, and only found out when he tried to check in for a flight from Malaga to Manchester. \"I am furious that they never told me. Panic set in when I read that they had ceased trading.\" Mr Carrington managed to book another flight at short notice, but he had to pay PS400 more. \"Hopefully as I paid on my credit card I will be covered for a full refund but now it has become a very expensive short trip,\" he said. All Primera Air passengers who had booked flights with the airline from the beginning of October. The UK's Civil Aviation Authority has said passengers who have travelled on an outward Primera flight will need to make their own arrangements to return to the UK. The UK government has no plans to repatriate travellers as it did after the collapse of Monarch Airlines last year. The budget airline is registered in Denmark and therefore is not part of the UK Civil Aviation Authority's ATOL Protection scheme. This scheme covers passengers booked on package holidays. However, if passengers booked through a travel agent which is ATOL-protected, they may be able to claim compensation via them. People who booked a flight using a credit card, and paid more than PS100, may be able to claim compensation from their credit card firm under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. If passengers paid by debit card they could try to contact their bank to request \"chargeback\". To get this money back, their bank would need to get the money back from Primera's bank. Passengers could also request a chargeback on a credit card. People with travel insurance may be able to claim if their policy covered insolvency. Consumer group Which? advises passengers to contact their credit card issuer, travel agent, or insurer as soon as possible. The airline started out in 2003 by offering chartered flights for Scandinavian tour operators, taking holidaymakers to destinations such as Spain, Greece, Italy, Egypt and Turkey. It entered the UK market in April, offering low-cost flights from Stansted and Birmingham to North America - including Washington, Newark, and Toronto. The airline was due to start flights from Manchester to Malaga later this month. It had 15 planes and flew to 97 destinations in 23 countries. The airline blamed a failure to secure long-term financing for going bust, saying it had \"no choice\" but to file for bankruptcy. It also said the late arrival of new aircraft from Airbus had also forced it to cancel flights and lease planes. Signs that the airline was in trouble came in August, when it said short-haul flights from Birmingham to seven European destinations would end on 3 September. But Primera's decision to start competing with other low-cost long-haul operators such as Norwegian and Wow appears to have led to its demise. When it began long-haul operations from Stansted in May, Primera was offering flights to New York's Newark airport, Boston, Washington DC and Toronto starting at PS149 each way. It had planned to start flying from Madrid to New York, Boston and Toronto next month from EUR149 each way. Airline analyst Alex Macheras told the BBC the airline's growth \"simply wasn't sustainable\". \"The general feeling in the industry was: this airline is travelling a bit too fast in terms of their expansion with a fleet of that size,\" he said.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2126, "answer_start": 1748, "text": "All Primera Air passengers who had booked flights with the airline from the beginning of October. The UK's Civil Aviation Authority has said passengers who have travelled on an outward Primera flight will need to make their own arrangements to return to the UK. The UK government has no plans to repatriate travellers as it did after the collapse of Monarch Airlines last year." } ], "id": "10208_0", "question": "Who has been affected?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3083, "answer_start": 2127, "text": "The budget airline is registered in Denmark and therefore is not part of the UK Civil Aviation Authority's ATOL Protection scheme. This scheme covers passengers booked on package holidays. However, if passengers booked through a travel agent which is ATOL-protected, they may be able to claim compensation via them. People who booked a flight using a credit card, and paid more than PS100, may be able to claim compensation from their credit card firm under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. If passengers paid by debit card they could try to contact their bank to request \"chargeback\". To get this money back, their bank would need to get the money back from Primera's bank. Passengers could also request a chargeback on a credit card. People with travel insurance may be able to claim if their policy covered insolvency. Consumer group Which? advises passengers to contact their credit card issuer, travel agent, or insurer as soon as possible." } ], "id": "10208_1", "question": "Will they get their money back?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3558, "answer_start": 3084, "text": "The airline started out in 2003 by offering chartered flights for Scandinavian tour operators, taking holidaymakers to destinations such as Spain, Greece, Italy, Egypt and Turkey. It entered the UK market in April, offering low-cost flights from Stansted and Birmingham to North America - including Washington, Newark, and Toronto. The airline was due to start flights from Manchester to Malaga later this month. It had 15 planes and flew to 97 destinations in 23 countries." } ], "id": "10208_2", "question": "How long was Primera Air operating?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4630, "answer_start": 3559, "text": "The airline blamed a failure to secure long-term financing for going bust, saying it had \"no choice\" but to file for bankruptcy. It also said the late arrival of new aircraft from Airbus had also forced it to cancel flights and lease planes. Signs that the airline was in trouble came in August, when it said short-haul flights from Birmingham to seven European destinations would end on 3 September. But Primera's decision to start competing with other low-cost long-haul operators such as Norwegian and Wow appears to have led to its demise. When it began long-haul operations from Stansted in May, Primera was offering flights to New York's Newark airport, Boston, Washington DC and Toronto starting at PS149 each way. It had planned to start flying from Madrid to New York, Boston and Toronto next month from EUR149 each way. Airline analyst Alex Macheras told the BBC the airline's growth \"simply wasn't sustainable\". \"The general feeling in the industry was: this airline is travelling a bit too fast in terms of their expansion with a fleet of that size,\" he said." } ], "id": "10208_3", "question": "What seems to have gone wrong?" } ] } ]
E-cigarettes can be key weapon against smoking, say MPs
17 August 2018
[ { "context": "Rules around e-cigarettes should be relaxed so they can be more widely used and accepted in society, says a report by MPs. Vaping is much less harmful than normal cigarettes and e-cigarettes should be made available on prescription to help more people quit smoking, it said. The report also asks the government to consider their use on buses and trains. There is no evidence e-cigarettes are a gateway into smoking for young people, Public Health England said. The report on e-cigarettes, by the science and technology MPs' committee, said they were too often overlooked by the NHS as a tool to help people stop smoking. For example, it said it was \"unacceptable\" that a third of the 50 NHS mental health trusts in England had a ban on e-cigarettes on their premises, when there was a \"negligible health risk\" from second hand e-cigarette vapour. In the report they call for: - greater freedom for industry to advertise e-cigarettes - relaxing of regulations and tax duties on e-cigarettes to reflect their relative health benefits - an annual review of the health effects of e-cigarettes, as well as heat-not-burn products - a debate on vaping in public spaces, such as on public transport and in offices - e-cigarettes licensed as medical devices - a rethink on limits on refill strengths and tank sizes - an end to the ban on snus - an oral tobacco product which is illegal in the UK under EU rules About 2.9 million people in the UK are currently using e-cigarettes. It is estimated that 470,000 people are using them as an aid to stop smoking and tens of thousands are successfully quitting smoking each year as a result. Although the report recognised the long-term health effects of vaping were not yet known, it said e-cigarettes were substantially less harmful than conventional cigarettes because they contained no tar or carbon monoxide. Norman Lamb, chairman of the science and technology committee, said: \"Current policy and regulations do not sufficiently reflect this and businesses, transport providers and public places should stop viewing conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same. \"There is no public health rationale for doing so,\" he said. \"Concerns that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to conventional smoking, including for young non-smokers, have not materialised. \"If used correctly, e-cigarettes could be a key weapon in the NHS's stop-smoking arsenal.\" Mr Lamb said medically licensed e-cigarettes \"would make it easier for doctors to discuss and recommend them as a stop-smoking tool to aid those quitting smoking\". The report is the latest in a long-running debate about e-cigarettes and how they are used in society. A survey in Scotland found that young people who use e-cigarettes could be more likely to later smoke tobacco. And in Wales, concerns have been raised about young people using e-cigarettes on a regular basis. But elsewhere, a six month trial at an Isle of Man jail found allowing inmates to smoke e-cigarettes made them calmer and helped them quit smoking. More research is needed to better understand the long-term effects of e-cigarettes, after early research on lung cells in the lab suggested that the vapour may not be completely safe. But there is general agreement among public health experts, doctors and scientists that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than normal cigarettes containing tobacco. E-cigarettes are not covered by the smoking legislation which bans the use of cigarettes in all enclosed public and work places. In fact, to encourage smokers to switch to vaping, Public Health England recommends e-cigarettes should not be treated the same as regular cigarettes when it comes to workplaces devising smoking policies. \"Vaping,\" the authority said, \"should be made a more convenient as well as safer option\". But some places have banned vaping. For example, Transport for London forbids the use of e-cigarettes on all buses and the Underground, including at stations. Big cinema chains such as Cineworld, Odeon and Empire also ban smoking e-cigarettes anywhere on their premises while most theatres also forbid their use. Most airlines and airports ban vaping, apart from in designated smoking areas. Public Health England estimates that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than normal cigarettes. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: \"E-cigarettes are not without harm but are way safer than the harms of tobacco. \"There is no evidence that they are acting as a gateway into smoking for young people. \"We want to see a tobacco-free generation within 10 years and this is within sight.\" The charity Action on Smoking and Health welcomed the report but said it had some concerns over rule changes on advertising, which could mean tobacco companies being allowed to market their e-cigarettes in packs of cigarettes. George Butterworth, from Cancer Research UK, said any changes to current e-cigarette regulations \"should be aimed at helping smokers to quit whilst preventing young people from starting to use e-cigarettes\". Prof Linda Bauld, professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, said: \"This report is a welcome and evidence-based respite from all the scare stories we see about vaping. \"Its recommendations are not likely to be popular with all, and some of them may be difficult or complex to implement. But government, regulators and service providers should take note.\" There are some strong opinions on Twitter in reaction to the idea of allowing vaping on public transport. Richard Walker, 44, says vaping has helped him to give up smoking. He smoked around 30 to 40 cigarettes a day for 23 years but gave up tobacco 12 weeks ago. \"I have used patches and lozenges to aid my attempt and I vape using oils with low nicotine content. \"I can honestly say that using a vape has helped me to stop smoking. \"During my cessation meeting with the nurse specialist, my carbon monoxide reading was 32 which classed me as a heavy smoker. \"My carbon monoxide reading is now two - non-smoker.\"", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2551, "answer_start": 1402, "text": "About 2.9 million people in the UK are currently using e-cigarettes. It is estimated that 470,000 people are using them as an aid to stop smoking and tens of thousands are successfully quitting smoking each year as a result. Although the report recognised the long-term health effects of vaping were not yet known, it said e-cigarettes were substantially less harmful than conventional cigarettes because they contained no tar or carbon monoxide. Norman Lamb, chairman of the science and technology committee, said: \"Current policy and regulations do not sufficiently reflect this and businesses, transport providers and public places should stop viewing conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same. \"There is no public health rationale for doing so,\" he said. \"Concerns that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to conventional smoking, including for young non-smokers, have not materialised. \"If used correctly, e-cigarettes could be a key weapon in the NHS's stop-smoking arsenal.\" Mr Lamb said medically licensed e-cigarettes \"would make it easier for doctors to discuss and recommend them as a stop-smoking tool to aid those quitting smoking\"." } ], "id": "10209_0", "question": "How popular has vaping become?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4186, "answer_start": 3371, "text": "E-cigarettes are not covered by the smoking legislation which bans the use of cigarettes in all enclosed public and work places. In fact, to encourage smokers to switch to vaping, Public Health England recommends e-cigarettes should not be treated the same as regular cigarettes when it comes to workplaces devising smoking policies. \"Vaping,\" the authority said, \"should be made a more convenient as well as safer option\". But some places have banned vaping. For example, Transport for London forbids the use of e-cigarettes on all buses and the Underground, including at stations. Big cinema chains such as Cineworld, Odeon and Empire also ban smoking e-cigarettes anywhere on their premises while most theatres also forbid their use. Most airlines and airports ban vaping, apart from in designated smoking areas." } ], "id": "10209_1", "question": "Where are you not allowed to vape?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5383, "answer_start": 4187, "text": "Public Health England estimates that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than normal cigarettes. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: \"E-cigarettes are not without harm but are way safer than the harms of tobacco. \"There is no evidence that they are acting as a gateway into smoking for young people. \"We want to see a tobacco-free generation within 10 years and this is within sight.\" The charity Action on Smoking and Health welcomed the report but said it had some concerns over rule changes on advertising, which could mean tobacco companies being allowed to market their e-cigarettes in packs of cigarettes. George Butterworth, from Cancer Research UK, said any changes to current e-cigarette regulations \"should be aimed at helping smokers to quit whilst preventing young people from starting to use e-cigarettes\". Prof Linda Bauld, professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, said: \"This report is a welcome and evidence-based respite from all the scare stories we see about vaping. \"Its recommendations are not likely to be popular with all, and some of them may be difficult or complex to implement. But government, regulators and service providers should take note.\"" } ], "id": "10209_2", "question": "What is the response to the MPs' report?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5996, "answer_start": 5384, "text": "There are some strong opinions on Twitter in reaction to the idea of allowing vaping on public transport. Richard Walker, 44, says vaping has helped him to give up smoking. He smoked around 30 to 40 cigarettes a day for 23 years but gave up tobacco 12 weeks ago. \"I have used patches and lozenges to aid my attempt and I vape using oils with low nicotine content. \"I can honestly say that using a vape has helped me to stop smoking. \"During my cessation meeting with the nurse specialist, my carbon monoxide reading was 32 which classed me as a heavy smoker. \"My carbon monoxide reading is now two - non-smoker.\"" } ], "id": "10209_3", "question": "What do the public say?" } ] } ]
Lobby group admits unlawful whistleblower dismissal
12 November 2018
[ { "context": "A major right-of-centre lobby group linked to a network of Brexit campaigners has admitted illegally sacking the whistleblower who first revealed allegations of unlawful referendum campaign spending. Shahmir Sanni was fired by the TaxPayers' Alliance after revealing his concerns that the official Brexit campaign, where he had previously volunteered, had broken electoral law. In his employment tribunal claim, Mr Sanni said the TPA had unfairly dismissed him after his decision to go public - and the organisation was part of an attempt to smear him. The lobby group now faces paying damages to Mr Sanni after an Employment Tribunal judgement last Thursday confirmed it would not contest his claims. Mr Sanni volunteered to work for Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign body, during the referendum. He was then asked to work for Be Leave, an organisation targeting young voters. After the referendum, Mr Sanni supplied evidence to the Electoral Commission and the media that the two organisations had broken spending rules - and were in effect jointly run. In July, the commission - the independent watchdog that monitors ballot box fairness - found Vote Leave and Be Leave had committed \"serious breaches\" of the law by working together, and therefore overspending, and it called in the Metropolitan Police. After the referendum, Mr Sanni took a job with the TPA - a group which campaigns for lower taxes and highlights examples of government waste. He later told its chief executive, John O'Connell, about his plan to go public with his evidence of suspected breaches of electoral law. According to legal papers in the case, Mr O'Connell then advised Mr Sanni not to do so. The Employment Tribunal was told that after he disclosed his suspicions in the media, Mr Sanni was sacked by Mr O'Connell. In the legal papers, Mr Sanni said he'd been unfairly dismissed because he had exposed wrongdoing which had reflected badly on his employer because of its association with other pro-Brexit groups. Lawyers for Mr Sanni told the tribunal that if the TaxPayers' Alliance fought the case, they would demand disclosure of communications between nine organisations linked to the same Westminster offices, 55 Tufton Street, which shared political goals, including leaving the European Union. These groups would typically attend a regular co-ordination meeting as part of their political campaigning. \"The claimant believes that some or all of the nine entities materially influenced the TaxPayers' Alliance's decision to dismiss him,\" the tribunal was told. \"The claimant believes that his [whistleblowing was]... discussed at a Tuesday meeting, and that a concerted response... was discussed and agreed between the nine entities, and that this response included his dismissal,\" the tribunal was told. - The TaxPayers' Alliance - The office of Peter Whittle, former leader of the UK Independence Party - Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society Europe - The Adam Smith Institute - Leave Means Leave - The Global Warming Policy Foundation - Brexit Central - The Centre for Policy Studies - The Institute for Economic Affairs Jonathan Isaby, the former head of the TaxPayers' Alliance and now editor of Brexit Central, told the BBC the Tuesday meetings were not as described in the legal action and denied they played any role in the affair. \"In a personal capacity I chair the monthly Tuesday meeting of individuals on the broad centre-right with an interest in public policy, which is typically attended by anything between 40 and 100 people,\" said Mr Isaby. \"Attendees advertise recent policy work, promote forthcoming events and occasionally hear from guest speakers. \"I can categorically state that Mr Sanni has never been the subject of a discussion at any such meeting.\" Shahmir Sanni has previously also alleged that after his decision to go public he was outed as gay in an official Downing Street communication. He is still pursuing a separate legal action in relation to his outing. A spokesman for Downing Street has said it cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings. \"I have been denigrated by former colleagues in print and on television as a liar and fantasist,\" said Mr Sanni in a statement. \"I was threatened with a libel suit for saying that I would be instigating this litigation. But when confronted with the reality of having to defend their actions, the TaxPayers' Alliance saw there was no chance that they could successfully do so. \"They folded at the first opportunity, and are now avoiding any further questions about their funding and a shadowy network of right-wing organisations.\" In its legal papers, the TPA confirmed that it would not fight the employment case - although it insisted that its decision to concede was based on \"pragmatic grounds\". In a further statement to the BBC, Mr O'Connell said that concessions on points of employment law did not mean \"we conceded on the entirety of their original submission\".", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1314, "answer_start": 702, "text": "Mr Sanni volunteered to work for Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign body, during the referendum. He was then asked to work for Be Leave, an organisation targeting young voters. After the referendum, Mr Sanni supplied evidence to the Electoral Commission and the media that the two organisations had broken spending rules - and were in effect jointly run. In July, the commission - the independent watchdog that monitors ballot box fairness - found Vote Leave and Be Leave had committed \"serious breaches\" of the law by working together, and therefore overspending, and it called in the Metropolitan Police." } ], "id": "10210_0", "question": "Who is Shahmir Sanni and what did he do?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4616, "answer_start": 4087, "text": "\"I have been denigrated by former colleagues in print and on television as a liar and fantasist,\" said Mr Sanni in a statement. \"I was threatened with a libel suit for saying that I would be instigating this litigation. But when confronted with the reality of having to defend their actions, the TaxPayers' Alliance saw there was no chance that they could successfully do so. \"They folded at the first opportunity, and are now avoiding any further questions about their funding and a shadowy network of right-wing organisations.\"" } ], "id": "10210_1", "question": "What has Mr Sanni said?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4956, "answer_start": 4617, "text": "In its legal papers, the TPA confirmed that it would not fight the employment case - although it insisted that its decision to concede was based on \"pragmatic grounds\". In a further statement to the BBC, Mr O'Connell said that concessions on points of employment law did not mean \"we conceded on the entirety of their original submission\"." } ], "id": "10210_2", "question": "What has been the response from the TPA?" } ] } ]
Iran unrest: New protests as Rouhani plays down violence
2 January 2018
[ { "context": "Protests in Iran continued late into Monday, despite the president saying that the unrest \"is nothing\". Anti-government chanting and burning cars were reported on the fifth day of unrest, while police said an officer was killed in a central city and others wounded. At least 13 people are believed to have died in the clashes so far. President Hassan Rouhani said protests were an \"opportunity, not a threat\" but vowed to crack down on \"lawbreakers\". The US meanwhile stepped up support for the protesters' \"bold resistance\". The protests began last Thursday in the city of Mashhad, initially against price rises and corruption but now with wider anti-government sentiment. Reports from Monday's events spoke of a heavy police presence in the capital. The Mehr news agency reported a taxi being set alight. Police had used tear gas and water cannon the previous evening to quell a rally in Tehran's Engheleb Square. State media were also quoting a police spokesman as saying that shots had been fired at police in Najafabad, near Isfahan in central Iran, killing one officer and wounding three. Reuters news agency reported that a police station in the town of Qahderijan was partly set on fire amid clashes between security forces and protesters trying to occupy the building. Unconfirmed reports suggested several casualties, it added. Social media postings spoke of fresh protests in Birjand in the east, Kermanshah in the west and Shadegan in the far south-west. Initially, state TV said that 10 people had been killed overnight on Sunday, but by Monday evening that figure had been raised to 13 by a regional governor: - Six died after shots were fired in the western town of Tuyserkan, 300km (185 miles) south-west of Tehran - Later, Hamadan province's governor told the ISNA agency that another three people had also been killed in the city - Two people died in the south-western town of Izeh, an official said - Two died in clashes in Dorud in Lorestan province Two people also died in earlier violence. In a statement on the presidency website, Mr Rouhani sought to play down the violence. He said: \"This is nothing. Criticism and protest are an opportunity not a threat.\" But he also vowed to act against \"rioters and lawbreakers\". \"Our nation will deal with this minority who chant slogans against the law and people's wishes, and insult the sanctities and values of the revolution,\" he said. A later tweet appeared more conciliatory, saying that the government needed to pay attention to people's demands on livelihood issues and corruption. Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has taken a tough line, warning anti-government protesters they will face the nation's \"iron fist\" if political unrest continues. The IRGC is a powerful force with ties to the country's supreme leader, and is dedicated to preserving the country's Islamic system. Correspondents say it would be a significant escalation were they to become officially involved in policing the protests. Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli-Larijani on Monday called for a crackdown on \"rioters\" and \"vandals\". \"Some individuals are exploiting the situation. This is wrong,\" he said. Up to 400 people are reported to have been arrested in recent days. President Donald Trump stepped his war of words with Iran's leaders on Monday, posting a tweet saying the \"great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food and freedom\". He added in capital letters \"TIME FOR CHANGE!\" Vice-President Mike Pence took an even stronger tone. He tweeted: \"The bold and growing resistance of the Iranian people today gives hope and faith to all who struggle for freedom and against tyranny. We must not and we will not let them down.\" He spoke of the \"shameful mistake\" of not supporting previous Iranian protesters. The Green Movement in 2009 saw millions of protesters dispute the election victory of incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The protests were brutally suppressed, with at least 30 people killed and thousands arrested. The latest US approach has infuriated Iran. Mr Rouhani described the US president as an \"enemy of the Iranian nation from the top of his head to his very toes\". The EU, meanwhile, called on Iran to guarantee its citizens' right to peaceful protest, saying it had been in touch with Iranian authorities and was monitoring the situation. Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that \"the UK is watching events in Iran closely\". \"We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this\", he said. Analysis by Kasra Naji, BBC Persian There is widespread and seething discontent in Iran where repression is pervasive and economic hardship is getting worse - one BBC Persian investigation has found that on average Iranians have become 15% poorer in the past 10 years. Protests have remained confined to relatively small pockets of mostly young male demonstrators who are demanding the overthrow of the clerical regime. They have spread to small towns throughout the country and have the potential to grow in size. But there is no obvious leadership. Opposition figures have long been silenced or sent into exile. Some protesters have been calling for the return of the monarchy and the former shah's son, Reza Pahlavi, who lives in exile in the United States, has issued a statement supporting the demonstrations. But there are signs that he is as much in the dark about where these protests are going as anyone else. BBC Persian, which broadcasts on TV, on radio and online from London, is banned in Iran - where staff and their families routinely face harassment and questioning from the authorities.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2011, "answer_start": 674, "text": "Reports from Monday's events spoke of a heavy police presence in the capital. The Mehr news agency reported a taxi being set alight. Police had used tear gas and water cannon the previous evening to quell a rally in Tehran's Engheleb Square. State media were also quoting a police spokesman as saying that shots had been fired at police in Najafabad, near Isfahan in central Iran, killing one officer and wounding three. Reuters news agency reported that a police station in the town of Qahderijan was partly set on fire amid clashes between security forces and protesters trying to occupy the building. Unconfirmed reports suggested several casualties, it added. Social media postings spoke of fresh protests in Birjand in the east, Kermanshah in the west and Shadegan in the far south-west. Initially, state TV said that 10 people had been killed overnight on Sunday, but by Monday evening that figure had been raised to 13 by a regional governor: - Six died after shots were fired in the western town of Tuyserkan, 300km (185 miles) south-west of Tehran - Later, Hamadan province's governor told the ISNA agency that another three people had also been killed in the city - Two people died in the south-western town of Izeh, an official said - Two died in clashes in Dorud in Lorestan province Two people also died in earlier violence." } ], "id": "10211_0", "question": "Where is the violence happening?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3228, "answer_start": 2012, "text": "In a statement on the presidency website, Mr Rouhani sought to play down the violence. He said: \"This is nothing. Criticism and protest are an opportunity not a threat.\" But he also vowed to act against \"rioters and lawbreakers\". \"Our nation will deal with this minority who chant slogans against the law and people's wishes, and insult the sanctities and values of the revolution,\" he said. A later tweet appeared more conciliatory, saying that the government needed to pay attention to people's demands on livelihood issues and corruption. Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has taken a tough line, warning anti-government protesters they will face the nation's \"iron fist\" if political unrest continues. The IRGC is a powerful force with ties to the country's supreme leader, and is dedicated to preserving the country's Islamic system. Correspondents say it would be a significant escalation were they to become officially involved in policing the protests. Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli-Larijani on Monday called for a crackdown on \"rioters\" and \"vandals\". \"Some individuals are exploiting the situation. This is wrong,\" he said. Up to 400 people are reported to have been arrested in recent days." } ], "id": "10211_1", "question": "What did the president say?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4648, "answer_start": 3229, "text": "President Donald Trump stepped his war of words with Iran's leaders on Monday, posting a tweet saying the \"great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food and freedom\". He added in capital letters \"TIME FOR CHANGE!\" Vice-President Mike Pence took an even stronger tone. He tweeted: \"The bold and growing resistance of the Iranian people today gives hope and faith to all who struggle for freedom and against tyranny. We must not and we will not let them down.\" He spoke of the \"shameful mistake\" of not supporting previous Iranian protesters. The Green Movement in 2009 saw millions of protesters dispute the election victory of incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The protests were brutally suppressed, with at least 30 people killed and thousands arrested. The latest US approach has infuriated Iran. Mr Rouhani described the US president as an \"enemy of the Iranian nation from the top of his head to his very toes\". The EU, meanwhile, called on Iran to guarantee its citizens' right to peaceful protest, saying it had been in touch with Iranian authorities and was monitoring the situation. Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that \"the UK is watching events in Iran closely\". \"We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this\", he said." } ], "id": "10211_2", "question": "What has the US said?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5752, "answer_start": 4649, "text": "Analysis by Kasra Naji, BBC Persian There is widespread and seething discontent in Iran where repression is pervasive and economic hardship is getting worse - one BBC Persian investigation has found that on average Iranians have become 15% poorer in the past 10 years. Protests have remained confined to relatively small pockets of mostly young male demonstrators who are demanding the overthrow of the clerical regime. They have spread to small towns throughout the country and have the potential to grow in size. But there is no obvious leadership. Opposition figures have long been silenced or sent into exile. Some protesters have been calling for the return of the monarchy and the former shah's son, Reza Pahlavi, who lives in exile in the United States, has issued a statement supporting the demonstrations. But there are signs that he is as much in the dark about where these protests are going as anyone else. BBC Persian, which broadcasts on TV, on radio and online from London, is banned in Iran - where staff and their families routinely face harassment and questioning from the authorities." } ], "id": "10211_3", "question": "Where will the protests lead?" } ] } ]
Tory leadership race: Five key moments from debate
18 June 2019
[ { "context": "Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson and Rory Stewart were grilled by members of the public in a live televised debate on BBC One, hosted by Emily Maitlis. Each of the candidates had made it through to the next stage of the Conservative Party leadership race earlier in the evening - and face a further vote on Wednesday. Here are five talking points from the programme. When Gloucester Imam Abdullah Patel asked the MPs about the Islamophobic rhetoric faced by members of his community, and whether they agreed words had consequences, each sought to answer his question (Johnson taking the opportunity to talk about his Muslim great-grandfather who came to the UK) as best as they could. When it was Mr Javid's turn, he decided to take it one step further - asking all the candidates to agree, there and then, to commit to an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. \"Do you all agree guys?\" he asked, turning to his rivals in turn. \"They all agree? Excellent. That's great we all agree on that.\" Speaking to Abdullah, he said there had been a rise in anti-Muslim hatred in the UK, adding: \"In all parts of society, wherever that is - including in political parties - it must absolutely be rooted out.\" Mr Gove agreed that \"hatred towards people on the basis of their background or faith is repugnant\" and added: \"We should also say that some of the things Jeremy Corbyn has said about British Jewish citizens are disgusting\", saying he should be \"called out for it\". He added: \"Yes, if there are Islamophobes in the Conservative Party - and there are - we should root them out.\" The format for the debate saw members of the public chosen to ask questions to the five candidates. But rather than being in the studio themselves, they were beamed in from their respective areas, and shown on a big screen - meaning we got to see their expressions writ large, including a rather spectacular eye-roll from Carmella in Southampton who wanted reassurances about her husband keeping his job in the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit. And 15-year-old Erin, from Glasgow, was equally frustrated by their answers about the environment - she wanted them to promise it would be their top priority as prime minister. \"To be honest, none of you have impressed me in the way I'm looking for,\" she said. \"Climate change isn't an issue of tomorrow, it's an issue of today and we need to create drastic, critical action and I don't think any of you are willing to offer that.\" It seems the audience watching at home weren't that enamoured by what they heard either: especially when the candidates talked over each other, and even had to be given a stern \"shush\" at one stage. Some were surprised by Mr Hunt's admission that some of his cuts to social care \"did go too far\". He added that some local authorities do now need more money - and that there should be better provision for mental health services. Our political correspondent Chris Mason said he had not heard Mr Hunt say that before. Other commentators described it as an \"extraordinary admission\". It seems many of the remaining prime ministerial hopefuls have been out speaking to the public - sheep farmers in particular. Perhaps wanting to demonstrate they have the common touch, both Jeremy Hunt and Rory Stewart said they'd been spending time with sheep farmers. Mr Hunt said, directing his comments at Mr Johnson, that if the only way to leave was without a deal then he would do that, adding: \"But what would you say to a sheep farmer that I met in Shropshire recently whose business would be destroyed by 40% tariffs?\" He said this sheep farmer would be left saying: \"You've got your dream, you got to Number 10, but you've destroyed mine.\" And it wasn't the last reference to sheep farmers. Speaking after Mr Johnson, on the issue of the Irish border, Mr Stewart said to his rival: \"I'm sure like me you've been in Enniskillen, sitting with a sheep farmer. \"They're sending their sheep across the border to the Republic, 80% of the sheep are processed - as I'm sure you know - at abattoirs in the Republic.\" It was unclear whether Mr Johnson, or indeed Mr Javid or Mr Gove, have indeed met any sheep farmers recently. After an hour, the general consensus was that there was no clear winner and that the debate ended as a tie. And talking of ties, Mr Stewart decided to lose his early on - which did not go unnoticed by the audience at home on social media. But rather than wanting to present a more relaxed attitude, apparently he took it off simply because it was very hot in the studio. He also commented later he had been uncomfortable on his \"bar stool\". In fact, those chairs also got more than a few mentions - with some saying the set-up made them look like a boyband. Which one of them will be the biggest hit among Tory Party members will be known next month.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3084, "answer_start": 2703, "text": "Some were surprised by Mr Hunt's admission that some of his cuts to social care \"did go too far\". He added that some local authorities do now need more money - and that there should be better provision for mental health services. Our political correspondent Chris Mason said he had not heard Mr Hunt say that before. Other commentators described it as an \"extraordinary admission\"." } ], "id": "10212_0", "question": "A surprising admission?" } ] } ]
Trump at odds with Republican lawmakers over gun reforms
1 March 2018
[ { "context": "US President Donald Trump has stunned lawmakers from both parties by accusing them of being \"petrified\" of the National Rifle Association (NRA). In a break from his party's anti-gun control stance, Mr Trump urged lawmakers during a televised meeting to come up with a \"strong\" reform bill. The NRA said that Mr Trump's remarks \"made for great TV\", but \"would make for bad policy\" if implemented. The US gun debate has been reignited by a deadly school shooting in Florida. \"I want you to come up with a strong bill - and really strong on background checks,\" Mr Trump told lawmakers at the White House on Wednesday, pushing them to work on bipartisan legislation. In the meeting, which was broadcast live from the White House, Democrats looked gleeful as Mr Trump suggested expanding background checks for gun buyers and raising the legal age to buy rifles from 18 to 21. The Republican president said the NRA has \"great power over you people\", but that the lobby has \"less power over me\". The president also accused Senator Pat Toomey of being \"afraid\" of the NRA, even though the Pennsylvania Republican has worked on a bill to strengthen background checks for gun purchases. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre occurred, agreed with the president. He said the NRA has a \"veto power\" over any gun control legislation in Congress. Mr Trump said he had previously told NRA officials: \"It's time. We've got to stop this nonsense. It's time.\" Breitbart News, a strident backer of the president, criticised him in a bright red headline that said, \"TRUMP THE GUN GRABBER\". \"Take the guns first, go through due process second,\" Mr Trump said, suggesting police officers be given the power to seize guns from anyone who could pose a threat, including the mentally ill, without a court order. \"We can't wait and play games and nothing gets done,\" he added. He called for tighter restrictions on gun sales to young adults and for background checks to be expanded for all weapons purchases, including at gun shows and online. Mr Trump repeatedly stated his support for increasing armed security at schools, arming teachers and reducing \"gun-free zones\". \"It would be so beautiful to have one bill that everybody can support, as opposed to - you know - 15 bills, everybody's got their own bill,\" Mr Trump said. He also warned lawmakers against proposing a bill that included concealed carry across the US, a provision that Republicans and the NRA have long campaigned to include in any new gun legislation. Mr Trump has already directed his Justice Department to ban bump-stocks, which enable a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute. His remarks appeared to catch many Republican lawmakers unawares, especially as the president has previously been vocal about his support for firearms and the gun lobby. The Senate's second most senior Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, who was sitting next to the president, said it was \"fascinating television\" but \"surreal to actually be there\". \"We're not ditching any constitutional protections simply because the last person the president talked to today doesn't like them,\" said Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who was not at the meeting. Florida Senator Marco Rubio said the proposed reforms might not have prevented last month's high school attack that left 17 people dead in his state. Conservative lawmakers oppose gun restrictions as an infringement of the Second Amendment to the US constitution, which governs the right to bear arms. Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington The man who suggested that if his opponent had been elected \"you'd be handing in your rifles\" endorsed taking guns away from people of questionable mental fitness and worrying about due process later. The man who received $30m in support from the National Rifle Association during his presidential campaign scorned Washington politicians for being afraid of the NRA and said it had \"less power\" over him. After a bipartisan meeting with congressional legislators, Donald Trump left heads spinning. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, a fierce gun-control advocate, clapped in joy, while some gun-rights Republicans wondered whose side the president was on. Of course, we've seen this film before. In a January meeting with a similar group of congressional leaders, Mr Trump expressed support for any comprehensive bipartisan agreement on immigration. In the following days and weeks, his administration did everything it could to undermine the most popular compromise bill. Gun-control supporters may feel they made progress in Wednesday's White House meeting, but the NRA surely will have another chance at the president's ear.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2674, "answer_start": 1615, "text": "\"Take the guns first, go through due process second,\" Mr Trump said, suggesting police officers be given the power to seize guns from anyone who could pose a threat, including the mentally ill, without a court order. \"We can't wait and play games and nothing gets done,\" he added. He called for tighter restrictions on gun sales to young adults and for background checks to be expanded for all weapons purchases, including at gun shows and online. Mr Trump repeatedly stated his support for increasing armed security at schools, arming teachers and reducing \"gun-free zones\". \"It would be so beautiful to have one bill that everybody can support, as opposed to - you know - 15 bills, everybody's got their own bill,\" Mr Trump said. He also warned lawmakers against proposing a bill that included concealed carry across the US, a provision that Republicans and the NRA have long campaigned to include in any new gun legislation. Mr Trump has already directed his Justice Department to ban bump-stocks, which enable a rifle to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute." } ], "id": "10213_0", "question": "What does Trump want?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3519, "answer_start": 2675, "text": "His remarks appeared to catch many Republican lawmakers unawares, especially as the president has previously been vocal about his support for firearms and the gun lobby. The Senate's second most senior Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, who was sitting next to the president, said it was \"fascinating television\" but \"surreal to actually be there\". \"We're not ditching any constitutional protections simply because the last person the president talked to today doesn't like them,\" said Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who was not at the meeting. Florida Senator Marco Rubio said the proposed reforms might not have prevented last month's high school attack that left 17 people dead in his state. Conservative lawmakers oppose gun restrictions as an infringement of the Second Amendment to the US constitution, which governs the right to bear arms." } ], "id": "10213_1", "question": "How have Republicans reacted?" } ] } ]
Trump denies asking attorney general to clear him on Ukraine
7 November 2019
[ { "context": "US President Donald Trump has denied asking the justice department to clear him of wrongdoing over a phone call with Ukraine's president that is at the heart of an impeachment inquiry. US media say Attorney General William Barr declined Mr Trump's request to hold a press conference to declare no laws were broken. Mr Trump called the story a \"con job\". The Democratic-led inquiry hinges on whether Mr Trump pressured Ukraine on that call to investigate a rival. Mr Trump denies using US military aid as a bargaining chip to prod Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky into launching a corruption investigation against Democratic White House contender Joe Biden. According to a rough transcript, Mr Trump suggested that Mr Zelensky work with Mr Barr during the call. A justice department spokeswoman later said Mr Barr was unaware he had been mentioned by the president until \"several weeks\" after the call. The US president, a Republican, has repeatedly insisted his call with Ukraine's leader was \"perfect\". \"The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good,\" Mr Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday. The president appeared to be referring to a statement issued by the department in September, saying it had \"reviewed the official record of the call and determined, based on the facts and applicable law, that there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted\". After the Washington Post published a story about Mr Trump's alleged request to Mr Barr, the president called the report \"degenerate\". Since then other media, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the BBC's US partner CBS News, have run similar stories. House Democrats will hold the first public hearings next week. One of the first to appear will be Bill Taylor, acting US ambassador to Ukraine. Mr Taylor said in a private hearing last month it was his \"clear understanding\" that the president had withheld nearly $400m (PS310m) in US military aid because he wanted Ukraine to investigate discredited corruption claims against Democrat Joe Biden and his son. Also on Thursday, the committees leading the impeachment inquiry released a transcript of a closed-door deposition by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent last month. In his testimony, Mr Kent echoed criticism of the role played by Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani - who many witnesses have accused of being behind the drive to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens. Mr Kent said Mr Giuliani had been conducting a \"campaign of full of lies and incorrect information\". In August, an anonymous intelligence whistleblower wrote a letter expressing concern over the 25 July Trump-Zelensky call, which took place shortly after Mr Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine. The whistleblower's identity has so far been closely guarded by Democrats, amid demands from their Republican colleagues to hear from the individual directly. Lawyers for the whistleblower have told investigators their client is only willing to answer written questions. The conservative Fox News network, which is generally supportive of Mr Trump, has reportedly instructed its hosts not to identify the purported whistleblower. Other right-wing media outlets have already done so. Most media organisations, including the BBC, have not named the source.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3343, "answer_start": 1678, "text": "House Democrats will hold the first public hearings next week. One of the first to appear will be Bill Taylor, acting US ambassador to Ukraine. Mr Taylor said in a private hearing last month it was his \"clear understanding\" that the president had withheld nearly $400m (PS310m) in US military aid because he wanted Ukraine to investigate discredited corruption claims against Democrat Joe Biden and his son. Also on Thursday, the committees leading the impeachment inquiry released a transcript of a closed-door deposition by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent last month. In his testimony, Mr Kent echoed criticism of the role played by Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani - who many witnesses have accused of being behind the drive to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens. Mr Kent said Mr Giuliani had been conducting a \"campaign of full of lies and incorrect information\". In August, an anonymous intelligence whistleblower wrote a letter expressing concern over the 25 July Trump-Zelensky call, which took place shortly after Mr Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine. The whistleblower's identity has so far been closely guarded by Democrats, amid demands from their Republican colleagues to hear from the individual directly. Lawyers for the whistleblower have told investigators their client is only willing to answer written questions. The conservative Fox News network, which is generally supportive of Mr Trump, has reportedly instructed its hosts not to identify the purported whistleblower. Other right-wing media outlets have already done so. Most media organisations, including the BBC, have not named the source." } ], "id": "10214_0", "question": "What is the latest in the impeachment probe?" } ] } ]
Webcams used to attack Reddit and Twitter recalled
24 October 2016
[ { "context": "Home webcams that were hijacked to help knock popular websites offline last week are being recalled in the US. Chinese electronics firm Hangzhou Xiongmai issued the recall soon after its cameras were identified as aiding the massive web attacks. They made access to popular websites, such as Reddit, Twitter, Spotify and many other sites, intermittent. Security experts said easy-to-guess default passwords, used on Xiongmai webcams, aided the hijacking. The web attack enrolled thousands of devices that make up the internet of things - smart devices used to oversee homes and which can be controlled remotely. In a statement, Hangzhou Xiongmai said hackers were able to take over the cameras because users had not changed the devices' default passwords. Xiongmai rejected suggestions that its webcams made up the bulk of the devices used in the attacks. \"Security issues are a problem facing all mankind,\" it said. \"Since industry giants have experienced them, Xiongmai is not afraid to experience them once, too.\" It has also pledged to improve the way it uses passwords on its products and will send customers a software patch to harden devices against attack. The recall affects all the circuit boards and components made by Hangzhou Xiongmai that go into webcams. It is not clear how effective the recall will be in reducing the numbers of vulnerable devices hackers can call on to mount attacks. Yes, and it probably will. The smart devices making up the IoT are proving very popular with the malicious hackers who make their living by selling attack services or extorting cash by threatening firms with devastating attacks. Before the rise of the IoT it was tricky to set up a network of hijacked machines as most would be PCs that, generally, are more secure. Running such a network is hard and often machines had to be rented for a few hours just to carry out attacks. Now anyone can scan the net for vulnerable cameras, DVRs and other gadgets, take them over and start bombarding targets whenever they want. For the same reason you would care if your car was stolen and used by bank robbers as a getaway vehicle. And because if your webcam, printer or DVR is hijacked you have, in effect, allowed a stranger to enter your home. Hackers are likely to start using these gadgets to spy on you and scoop up valuable data. It's worth taking steps to shut out the intruders. Not easily. Many of the devices being targeted are hard to update and the passwords on some, according to one report, are hard-coded which means they cannot be changed. There is also the difficulty of identifying whether you are using a vulnerable product. A lot of IoT devices are built from components sourced from lots of different places. Finding out what software is running on them can be frustrating. Also, even if recalls and updates are massively successful there will still be plenty of unpatched devices available for malicious hackers to use. Some manufacturers of cheaper devices have refused to issue updates meaning there is a ready population of vulnerable gadgets available. Because security costs money and electronics firms want to make their IoT device as cheap as possible. Paying developers to write secure code might mean a gadget is late to market and is more expensive. Plus enforcing good security on these devices can make them harder to use - again that might hit sales. Despite this, many industry bodies are trying to draw up standards that enforce good security habits. Unfortunately, these initiatives are taking time to have any impact, meaning there are millions of insecure devices already installed and working. Right now, we don't know. Some hacker groups have claimed responsibility but none of their claims are credible. We might never know because the vulnerable devices making up the IoT attack network are changing hands regularly as rivals scramble to gain control of as many as they can. In one sense the large web attacks are marketing exercises which show how effective a particular network of bots can be when turned against a target. Competition among rival bot operators is ferocious so a successful attack can be a good way to impress potential customers. It might also persuade victims of extortion emails to pay up rather than risk being knocked out.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1402, "answer_start": 1017, "text": "It has also pledged to improve the way it uses passwords on its products and will send customers a software patch to harden devices against attack. The recall affects all the circuit boards and components made by Hangzhou Xiongmai that go into webcams. It is not clear how effective the recall will be in reducing the numbers of vulnerable devices hackers can call on to mount attacks." } ], "id": "10215_0", "question": "Is it taking any other action?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2018, "answer_start": 1403, "text": "Yes, and it probably will. The smart devices making up the IoT are proving very popular with the malicious hackers who make their living by selling attack services or extorting cash by threatening firms with devastating attacks. Before the rise of the IoT it was tricky to set up a network of hijacked machines as most would be PCs that, generally, are more secure. Running such a network is hard and often machines had to be rented for a few hours just to carry out attacks. Now anyone can scan the net for vulnerable cameras, DVRs and other gadgets, take them over and start bombarding targets whenever they want." } ], "id": "10215_1", "question": "Could this happen again?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2379, "answer_start": 2019, "text": "For the same reason you would care if your car was stolen and used by bank robbers as a getaway vehicle. And because if your webcam, printer or DVR is hijacked you have, in effect, allowed a stranger to enter your home. Hackers are likely to start using these gadgets to spy on you and scoop up valuable data. It's worth taking steps to shut out the intruders." } ], "id": "10215_2", "question": "Why should I care if my webcam is hijacked?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3071, "answer_start": 2380, "text": "Not easily. Many of the devices being targeted are hard to update and the passwords on some, according to one report, are hard-coded which means they cannot be changed. There is also the difficulty of identifying whether you are using a vulnerable product. A lot of IoT devices are built from components sourced from lots of different places. Finding out what software is running on them can be frustrating. Also, even if recalls and updates are massively successful there will still be plenty of unpatched devices available for malicious hackers to use. Some manufacturers of cheaper devices have refused to issue updates meaning there is a ready population of vulnerable gadgets available." } ], "id": "10215_3", "question": "Can the IoT-based attacks be stopped?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3628, "answer_start": 3072, "text": "Because security costs money and electronics firms want to make their IoT device as cheap as possible. Paying developers to write secure code might mean a gadget is late to market and is more expensive. Plus enforcing good security on these devices can make them harder to use - again that might hit sales. Despite this, many industry bodies are trying to draw up standards that enforce good security habits. Unfortunately, these initiatives are taking time to have any impact, meaning there are millions of insecure devices already installed and working." } ], "id": "10215_4", "question": "Why are these devices so poorly protected?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4283, "answer_start": 3629, "text": "Right now, we don't know. Some hacker groups have claimed responsibility but none of their claims are credible. We might never know because the vulnerable devices making up the IoT attack network are changing hands regularly as rivals scramble to gain control of as many as they can. In one sense the large web attacks are marketing exercises which show how effective a particular network of bots can be when turned against a target. Competition among rival bot operators is ferocious so a successful attack can be a good way to impress potential customers. It might also persuade victims of extortion emails to pay up rather than risk being knocked out." } ], "id": "10215_5", "question": "Who was behind the massive web attacks?" } ] } ]
Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey transferred to London unit
30 December 2014
[ { "context": "A health worker who was diagnosed with Ebola after returning to Scotland from Sierra Leone has arrived at a specialist treatment centre in London. Pauline Cafferkey, who flew to Glasgow via Casablanca and London Heathrow, was taken to the Royal Free Hospital. She is understood to have been flown to RAF Northolt in an air force plane after leaving Glasgow in a convoy. Passengers on flights she took to the UK are being traced, but officials say the risk to the public is very low. Ms Cafferkey was part of a group of up to 50 NHS healthcare workers who returned to the UK at the weekend after volunteering in Sierra Leone. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was \"doing as well as can be expected in the circumstances\". Ms Cafferkey, who had been working with Save the Children in Sierra Leone, arrived in Glasgow on a British Airways flight on Sunday but was placed in an isolation unit at Gartnavel Hospital on Monday morning after becoming feverish. Ms Sturgeon told journalists that as a precaution, Health Protection Scotland has traced and contacted, or left messages with, 63 of the 70 other passengers who were on the same flight from London to Glasgow as the patient. Efforts to contact the remaining seven passengers will continue, according to Dr Syed Ahmed, clinical director of the Public Health Protection Unit at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Health Protection Scotland has also contacted and given advice to the one person who Ms Cafferkey came into contact with after arriving in Scotland. There is no plan to test any of the other 70 passengers who were on the flight unless they develop symptoms. The eight people who were in the \"close contact group\" seated near to the patient on the plane have all been contacted or had messages left for them. A telephone helpline has been set up for anyone who was on the BA 1478 flight which left Heathrow Airport on Sunday evening. The number is 08000 858531. Ms Sturgeon said the risk to the public was \"extremely low to the point of negligible\". A spokesman for the prime minister, who chaired a Cobra emergency committee meeting on Tuesday, said: \"Robust and well-practised procedures were followed and the risk to the general public remains very low.\" Dr Martin Deahl, a consultant psychiatrist who travelled back from Sierra Leone with Ms Cafferkey, criticised the screening process at Heathrow as \"a bit chaotic\". He said there were too few staff to deal with the returning health workers, the rooms in which they were processed were too small, and the processing team ran out of home-testing temperature kits to hand out. Dr Deahl described the quarantine advice as \"topsy turvy\", adding he found it \"bizarre\" that passengers were free to make their own way home from Heathrow but thereafter advised to minimise use of public transport. When questioned about his remarks, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted the procedures in place \"are right in terms of the risk we're facing\". Ms Cafferkey, an associate public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre, South Lanarkshire, left Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow just after 03:00 GMT on Tuesday. She was flown from Glasgow Airport to RAF Northolt in north-west London in an air force Hercules transport aircraft before being conveyed to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London. She is being treated in the hospital's high-level isolation unit where UK nurse William Pooley - who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone earlier this year - was successfully treated. UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said NHS safety measures in place were working well and the government was doing \"absolutely everything it needs to\" to keep the public safe. A second health worker who returned from West Africa recently is being tested in Aberdeen for Ebola, it has emerged. But Ms Sturgeon said there was only a \"low probability\" the woman also had the disease as she had not been in direct contact with anyone infected with Ebola. This latest incident will raise questions about the screening process in place for passengers leaving West Africa and arriving at Heathrow. Public health officials say the woman was taken aside on arrival in the UK and her temperature was taken - the procedure followed for all incoming health staff who say they have been in contact with Ebola patients. Her temperature was found to be normal and she was not feeling unwell, so she continued her journey to Glasgow. Someone with Ebola only becomes infectious once they develop symptoms. In this case, that only became apparent after she arrived in Scotland. The task of contacting the passengers and crew on the flights she took is now under way. That will be complicated, but officials are insisting the risk to those people is extremely low. Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the bodily fluids - such as blood, vomit or faeces - of an infected person. The virus has killed more than 7,800 people, mostly in West Africa, since it broke out a year ago. The World Health Organization says the number of people infected by the disease in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea has now passed 20,000. The early symptoms are a sudden fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash and bleeding - both internal and external - which can be seen in the gums, eyes, nose and in the stools. Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5408, "answer_start": 5103, "text": "The early symptoms are a sudden fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash and bleeding - both internal and external - which can be seen in the gums, eyes, nose and in the stools. Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure." } ], "id": "10216_0", "question": "What are the symptoms?" } ] } ]
Choe In-guk: Son of South Korean defectors 'moves' to the North
8 July 2019
[ { "context": "The son of high-profile South Korean defectors is reported to have moved to North Korea, in a rare case of someone seeking to settle in the dictatorship. Choe In-guk is the son of a South Korean ex-foreign minister who defected to the North with his wife in 1986. According to North Korean state media he will live in the North and work on reunification issues. Defections this way are very rare. It is more common for people from the North to try to escape to the South. The two countries are technically still at war and South Koreans need permission to visit the North. South Korea's Unification Ministry confirmed that Mr Choe did not request such permission for his trip. \"It's not yet clear how exactly his defection came about,\" Oliver Hotham of specialist news site NK News, based in Seoul, told the BBC. \"But it would be fairly simple for a South Korean to get to the North if they had the regime's blessing by travelling through China.\" However if Mr Choe has violated South Korean law by not seeking permission from his government, he could potentially be arrested if he ever returned to the South, experts say. Mr Choe is a 73-year-old South Korean citizen, but little is known about his personal life or political views. He has a wife and daughter in the South. His parents, however, were the most high-profile South Koreans to defect to the North since the end of the Korean War. Mr Choe's arrival in Pyongyang was reported by the North's state media, which showed him being warmly received by North Korean officials. He is cited on the North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri as saying: \"To live in and follow a country for which I feel thankful is a path to protect the will left by my parents. \"So I've decided to permanently live in North Korea, albeit belatedly.\" South Korean media outlets report that Mr Choe did not have an easy life in the South and had to fight the stigma of being the \"son of traitor\". He reportedly changed jobs several times and lived on money his mother sent from North Korea before she died in 2016. Mr Choe frequently travelled to the North in recent years and attended his mother's funeral there. His father Choe Tok-sin served as foreign minister of South Korea during the 1960s. In the 1970s he emigrated to the US where he became a stern critic of the South Korea government under military leader Park Chung-hee. A decade later, in 1986, he made headlines by defecting to the North along with his wife, Ryu Mi-yong. They left their five adult children behind in the South. Both became part of the political elite in their new home country. Choe Tok-sin died in 1989 and Ryu Mi-yong assumed his role as leader of a religious sect. She also took on other positions. The family has longstanding ties to the North Korean leadership. Choe In-guk's paternal grandfather is known to have been a mentor to Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, during the fight against Japanese rule. Defectors on the Korean peninsula are usually citizens of the North who try to escape from the closed-off dictatorship to the democratic and wealthier South. Such defections are very dangerous. Seoul says more than 30,000 North Koreans have illegally crossed the border since the end of the Korean War in 1953. According to South Korean statistics the numbers have dropped somewhat in recent years. There were 1,127 defections in 2017 compared to 2,706 in 2011. In some cases soldiers have crossed the border on foot, often under a hail of bullets. Most flee via China, which has the longest border with North Korea. It is easier to flee over this border than the heavily-protected Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas. China regards defectors as illegal migrants rather than refugees and often forcibly repatriates them. Defections from the South to the North are very rare and often involve so-called \"double defectors\" - people who first fled North Korea for the South but eventually return to the North. They were more common before the devastating famine believed to have killed hundreds of thousands of people in North Korea in the mid-1990s.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2150, "answer_start": 1123, "text": "Mr Choe is a 73-year-old South Korean citizen, but little is known about his personal life or political views. He has a wife and daughter in the South. His parents, however, were the most high-profile South Koreans to defect to the North since the end of the Korean War. Mr Choe's arrival in Pyongyang was reported by the North's state media, which showed him being warmly received by North Korean officials. He is cited on the North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri as saying: \"To live in and follow a country for which I feel thankful is a path to protect the will left by my parents. \"So I've decided to permanently live in North Korea, albeit belatedly.\" South Korean media outlets report that Mr Choe did not have an easy life in the South and had to fight the stigma of being the \"son of traitor\". He reportedly changed jobs several times and lived on money his mother sent from North Korea before she died in 2016. Mr Choe frequently travelled to the North in recent years and attended his mother's funeral there." } ], "id": "10217_0", "question": "Who is Choe In-guk?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2935, "answer_start": 2151, "text": "His father Choe Tok-sin served as foreign minister of South Korea during the 1960s. In the 1970s he emigrated to the US where he became a stern critic of the South Korea government under military leader Park Chung-hee. A decade later, in 1986, he made headlines by defecting to the North along with his wife, Ryu Mi-yong. They left their five adult children behind in the South. Both became part of the political elite in their new home country. Choe Tok-sin died in 1989 and Ryu Mi-yong assumed his role as leader of a religious sect. She also took on other positions. The family has longstanding ties to the North Korean leadership. Choe In-guk's paternal grandfather is known to have been a mentor to Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, during the fight against Japanese rule." } ], "id": "10217_1", "question": "Who were his parents?" } ] } ]
US mid-terms: Rick Scott wins contested Florida Senate race
18 November 2018
[ { "context": "Florida's outgoing Republican Governor Rick Scott has declared victory in a contested Senate race in the state. The vote was subject to a recount after his lead in the 6 November ballot fell to less than 0.5%. The final result showed Mr Scott beat three-term incumbent Democrat Senator Bill Nelson by just more than 10,000 votes from the 8.19m cast state-wide. Republicans, including the president, had alleged voter fraud in the race and Democrats alleged voter suppression. Lawyers representing Senator Nelson's campaign also launched legal challenges to support the recount effort, but he eventually conceded on Sunday afternoon. Florida is a important US swing state and has a history of marginal election victories, so the knife-edge result was not a major surprise. The tight and well-publicised race evoked memories of Florida's infamous 2000 presidential recount, which ended only after intervention from the US Supreme Court. In a statement on his Facebook page on Sunday almost two weeks on, Mr Scott confirmed his opponent had conceded. \"I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service,\" the statement said. He concluded the message, following the protracted counting process, with: \"Let's get to work.\" In a tweet, President Trump congratulated Senator-elect Scott on his victory. In the Senate race, unofficial results revealed Mr Scott was leading Mr Nelson by just 0.15%. Mr Scott, who claimed victory on election night, had reacted angrily to the recount, hitting out at \"unethical liberals\" who were trying to \"steal\" the election. Mr Nelson accused Mr Scott of making \"false claims\" about voter fraud because he was \"afraid of losing\". Florida's governor race was also subject to a recount. Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded - and then withdrew his concession - after Ron DeSantis' lead for the Republicans narrowed to 0.41% in that race. Gillum, who hoped to be Florida's first black governor, eventually conceded defeat for the second time on Saturday. Much like in the Senate race, both candidates disagreed strongly about the need for a recount and there were protests on both sides. Mr Scott's victory does not change things substantially, but consolidates the Republican Senate majority. They have 52 seats to the Democrats' 47 seats with only a Mississippi run-off still to go. Mr Scott's election will be a stark change for Florida where Mr Nelson, 72, has been a fixture in politics since he was first elected to the state legislature in 1972 and then to the US Senate in 2000. Mr Scott has already served two terms as Florida's governor - the maximum allowed by state law. He was elected in 2010 and 2014, and before that worked in business within the US healthcare sector. He invested $40m of his own fortune into the contest, making it one of the most expensive Senate races in US history.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2169, "answer_start": 1359, "text": "In the Senate race, unofficial results revealed Mr Scott was leading Mr Nelson by just 0.15%. Mr Scott, who claimed victory on election night, had reacted angrily to the recount, hitting out at \"unethical liberals\" who were trying to \"steal\" the election. Mr Nelson accused Mr Scott of making \"false claims\" about voter fraud because he was \"afraid of losing\". Florida's governor race was also subject to a recount. Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded - and then withdrew his concession - after Ron DeSantis' lead for the Republicans narrowed to 0.41% in that race. Gillum, who hoped to be Florida's first black governor, eventually conceded defeat for the second time on Saturday. Much like in the Senate race, both candidates disagreed strongly about the need for a recount and there were protests on both sides." } ], "id": "10218_0", "question": "How did the recount come about?" } ] } ]
People vs politicians: Who can tackle Mexico's corruption?
22 March 2016
[ { "context": "The disappearance of 43 students from Guerrero state in 2014 outraged Mexico, a nation already far too used to high levels of violence. Now, 18 months on, Mexicans are little wiser as to what happened that night. But one thing that is certain is the involvement of corrupt police in their disappearance. Fast-forward just a few months from those events in Iguala, and President Enrique Pena Nieto was caught up in a scandal of his own. Dubbed the \"White House scandal\", questions were raised about how the private house of the president and his wife was acquired. And just a few weeks ago it was revealed that one member of Mexico's public function ministry, charged with government oversight and accountability, had a dinner of champagne and caviar at London department store Harrods as part of the daily travel allowance last year. Transparency International's most recent corruption perceptions index lists Mexico, at 95th, as the most crooked of all countries in the OECD club of industrialised nations. Mexicans are fed up with their politicians. Until now, it has been hard to see how they can change the status quo, but a campaign called Ley 3de3 has got people excited. Ley 3de3 has brought together intellectuals, academics and civil society in what is known as a citizens' initiative. Under Mexican law, people can introduce a law if the equivalent of 0.13% of those on the electoral register support it. Then Congress is obliged to debate and vote on the issue. Ley 3de3 has been running a campaign video asking what most unites Mexicans - is it the national anthem, the football team or perhaps tacos? The answer it suggests is instead corruption. But asking politicians to solve the problem is, it says, a bit like asking a footballer to referee his own side. So instead, the campaigners have been signing up people to support them. The campaign, as well as setting out a new system to deal with corruption, has three important demands - that politicians declare their assets such as houses, as well as their interests such as previous jobs and friendships. And finally they need to prove they pay their taxes. \"I signed because I want a better country - not just for me but for my kids too - where things work better, where not just a few get rich but it's distributed more fairly,\" says 42-year-old civil servant Roberto Vasquez. Last week, campaigners surpassed their goal and delivered nearly 300,000 signatures to the Senate. President Pena Nieto's administration has talked a lot about reform. But for many, reality has fallen short of his election promises. And according to public opinion survey Latinobarometro (in Spanish) Mexicans are the least satisfied with democracy among Latin Americans. \"The distinctive thing about this administration is that they claimed that they were going to be very open and different in terms of reforming every single important structural thing,\" says Eduardo Bohorquez of Transparency International's Mexican chapter. \"So we took their word as a serious one. Reforming the country doesn't only rely on economic reform. And for us reforming the country is changing the incentives of the political structure that created a corrupt regime.\" The government has made some efforts. Just months after the \"White House scandal\", national anti-corruption legislation was introduced. But secondary laws still need to be passed and there are many who feel the reforms do not address Mexico's problem of impunity - it is estimated that 99% of crimes go unsolved (in Spanish). \"I think there has been strong progress in Mexico for transparency legislation, especially at the federal level and newspaper outlets have more capacity to obtain public records and investigate,\" says Alejandro Aurrecoechea from risk and strategic consulting firm Control Risks. \"We get investigations but often we don't get prosecutions. Anti-corruption institutions must be strong, must have a strong mandate and they must be autonomous to prosecute guilty individuals.\" But even with new laws, will corruption ever disappear? US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has weighed in, saying Mexicans are corrupt. Even President Pena Nieto has said in the past that Mexico's problem with corruption is a \"cultural matter\". But this campaign rejects that. The way to a cleaner country is through straightening out its institutions and politicians. \"There are millions of Mexicans who cross over the border in the US and they just behave differently, and the reason I think is because of institutions, because of law enforcement and not having the chance to corrupt anybody,\" says Enrique Cardenas Sanchez, director of the Centro de Estudios Espinosa Yglesias and one of the campaign's coordinators. \"It's really become a way of living here but I don't think it's something cultural at all.\" Some call corruption a national crisis, and one that by some estimates costs Mexico 9% of its economic output. \"The big problems that Mexico has to face now - organised crime, violence, poverty, lack of economic growth - all are costs or directly aggravated by corruption,\" says Juan Pardinas, director general of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness. \"All of these problems are directly linked to the impossibility of the state punishing members of the police force and politicians that have been corrupted by organised crime. \"If we don't face the problem of corruption, we won't be able to face the other problems.\"", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3193, "answer_start": 1773, "text": "So instead, the campaigners have been signing up people to support them. The campaign, as well as setting out a new system to deal with corruption, has three important demands - that politicians declare their assets such as houses, as well as their interests such as previous jobs and friendships. And finally they need to prove they pay their taxes. \"I signed because I want a better country - not just for me but for my kids too - where things work better, where not just a few get rich but it's distributed more fairly,\" says 42-year-old civil servant Roberto Vasquez. Last week, campaigners surpassed their goal and delivered nearly 300,000 signatures to the Senate. President Pena Nieto's administration has talked a lot about reform. But for many, reality has fallen short of his election promises. And according to public opinion survey Latinobarometro (in Spanish) Mexicans are the least satisfied with democracy among Latin Americans. \"The distinctive thing about this administration is that they claimed that they were going to be very open and different in terms of reforming every single important structural thing,\" says Eduardo Bohorquez of Transparency International's Mexican chapter. \"So we took their word as a serious one. Reforming the country doesn't only rely on economic reform. And for us reforming the country is changing the incentives of the political structure that created a corrupt regime.\"" } ], "id": "10219_0", "question": "Promises broken?" } ] } ]
Michael Flynn: Trump's national security adviser resigns
14 February 2017
[ { "context": "US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned over allegations he discussed US sanctions with Russia before Donald Trump took office. Mr Flynn is said to have misled officials about his call with Russia's ambassador before his own appointment. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy. US reports said earlier the White House had been warned about the contacts last month and had been told Mr Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. The national security adviser is appointed by the president to serve as his or her chief adviser on international affairs and defence. In his letter of resignation (PDF), Mr Flynn said he had \"inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador\" late last year. The White House has appointed Lt Gen Joseph Keith Kellogg as his interim replacement. In his first public comments about the controversy, President Trump tweeted on Tuesday: \"The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N Korea etc?\" Mr Flynn, a retired army lieutenant-general, initially denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and Vice-President Mike Pence publicly denied the allegations on his behalf. But he came under further pressure on Monday when details of his phone call emerged in US media as well as reports the justice department had warned the White House about him misleading senior officials and being vulnerable to Russian blackmail. According to the Washington Post, the message was delivered by then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was subsequently dismissed by President Trump for opposing his controversial travel ban. The UK Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, said it was always best to be wary in dealing with Russia. \"We should be under no illusions, and be very clear, that Russia sees itself, not as a partner to the West, but very much as a competitor,\" he told the BBC. Kellyanne Conway, a close aide to President Trump, told US TV networks that he had supported Mr Flynn out of loyalty but the situation had reached a \"fever pitch\" and had become \"unsustainable\". \"By night's end, Mike Flynn had decided it was best to resign,\" she told NBC's Today show. \"He knew he'd become a lightning rod, and he made that decision. \"We're moving on,\" she added. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would not be commenting on the resignation. \"This is the internal affair of the Americans, the internal affair of the Trump administration,\" he added. \"It's nothing to do with us.\" Other Russian lawmakers have spoken out in defence of Mr Flynn, with Senator Alexei Pushkov tweeting that he had been \"forced to resign not because of his mistake but because of a full-fledged aggressive campaign\". \"Trump is the next target,\" he tweeted (in Russian). Mr Flynn had encouraged a softer policy on Russia but questions were raised about his perceived closeness to Moscow. Who is Michael Flynn? From inauguration to full-blown scandal and a high-level resignation in 24 days. That simply has to be some kind of record. Donald Trump never does anything small. If his administration is going to have a political crisis, why waste any time? Mr Flynn has now been cut loose but that may not be enough to staunch the bleeding. Congressional Democrats - and perhaps some Republicans - will want to find out who was informed about Mr Flynn's contradictory stories and why nothing was done earlier. How far up the chain of command does it go? All of this has some observers dusting off language from the mother of all presidential scandals, Watergate. What did the president know, and when did he know it? Senior Democrat Adam Schiff said Mr Flynn's departure would not end questions about contacts between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. Congressional democrats John Conyers and Elijah Cummings have demanded a classified briefing to Congress on Michael Flynn by the justice department and FBI. Meanwhile, US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters on Tuesday he wants to investigate the leaks that led to Mr Flynn's resignation. \"We in Congress need to know who authorised his actions, permitted them, and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing these risks,\" their statement said. Several House Democrats had already called on Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to launch an investigation into Mr Flynn's ties to Russia. Mr Flynn's resignation had \"dragged on too long\", says Fox News's Howard Kurtz. What finally sealed the deal, he said, was the \"cardinal sin\" of \"not being straight with his bosses, putting [Vice-President Mike] Pence in the embarrassing position of defending the hard-charging official based on an incomplete account\". \"Mike Flynn might be done - but Trump's nightmare has just begun,\" writes Richard Wolffe in the Guardian US, asking why Donald Trump had not simply fired Mr Flynn. This, he points out, was what the president had done to the woman who had warned him about his national security adviser (Ms Yates). Chris Cillizza, of the Washington Post, takes a more favourable view of the situation, saying Mr Flynn's resignation \"proves that even for this most unorthodox of presidents, some of the old rules of Washington politics still apply\". \"It was a prototypical Washington scandal that played out like hundreds of similar ones before it. It felt, dare I say it, normal.\" While Mr Kellogg has been appointed acting national security adviser, former CIA director David Petraeus and Robert Harward, a former deputy commander of US Central Command, are also under consideration for the post, White House officials say.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3051, "answer_start": 2420, "text": "Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would not be commenting on the resignation. \"This is the internal affair of the Americans, the internal affair of the Trump administration,\" he added. \"It's nothing to do with us.\" Other Russian lawmakers have spoken out in defence of Mr Flynn, with Senator Alexei Pushkov tweeting that he had been \"forced to resign not because of his mistake but because of a full-fledged aggressive campaign\". \"Trump is the next target,\" he tweeted (in Russian). Mr Flynn had encouraged a softer policy on Russia but questions were raised about his perceived closeness to Moscow. Who is Michael Flynn?" } ], "id": "10220_0", "question": "How are the Russians reacting?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4571, "answer_start": 3755, "text": "Senior Democrat Adam Schiff said Mr Flynn's departure would not end questions about contacts between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. Congressional democrats John Conyers and Elijah Cummings have demanded a classified briefing to Congress on Michael Flynn by the justice department and FBI. Meanwhile, US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters on Tuesday he wants to investigate the leaks that led to Mr Flynn's resignation. \"We in Congress need to know who authorised his actions, permitted them, and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing these risks,\" their statement said. Several House Democrats had already called on Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to launch an investigation into Mr Flynn's ties to Russia." } ], "id": "10220_1", "question": "What happens next?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5798, "answer_start": 5555, "text": "While Mr Kellogg has been appointed acting national security adviser, former CIA director David Petraeus and Robert Harward, a former deputy commander of US Central Command, are also under consideration for the post, White House officials say." } ], "id": "10220_2", "question": "Who will replace him?" } ] } ]
Impeachment: Democrats undoing 2016 election, say Trump lawyers
25 January 2020
[ { "context": "President Trump's lawyers have begun defending him at his impeachment trial, accusing Democrats of seeking to overturn the result of the 2016 election. \"The president did absolutely nothing wrong,\" White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said. Mr Trump's defence will last three days and follows the Democrats' prosecution case which ended on Friday. The president faces two charges linked to his dealings with Ukraine. The charges, or articles of impeachment, accuse him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He is alleged to have withheld military aid to pressure the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, into starting a corruption investigation into Mr Trump's political rival, Democrat Joe Biden, and his son Hunter. Democrats also accuse Mr Trump of making a visit by Mr Zelensky to the White House contingent on an investigation. Mr Trump is charged with obstructing Congress by failing to co-operate with the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry. The president dismisses the accusations as a witch-hunt. The trial in the Senate will decide if Mr Trump should be removed from office. This is unlikely as the Republicans control the Senate and any such move would need a two-thirds majority. Echoing a line heard from many Republicans, Mr Cipollone said Democrats were \"asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election... they're asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in the election that's occurring in approximately nine months.\" \"They are asking you to do something very, very consequential and, I would submit to you ... very, very dangerous,\" he said. Much of the abuse of power charge centres on a phone call in July between Mr Trump and Mr Zelenksy. Trump defence lawyer Mike Purpura insisted there was no quid pro quo - as asserted by the Democrats. \"Zelenksy felt no pressure. President Zelensky says he felt no pressure. The House managers tell you they know better,\" he said. In a news conference after Saturday's hearing, Adam Schiff, the Democrats' lead prosecutor, raised the disputed issue of calling witnesses. \"The one question they did not address at all is why they don't want to give the American people a fair trial, why they want this to be the first impeachment case in history without a single witness and without a single document being handed over. \"That ought to tell you everything you need to know about the strength and weaknesses of this case\". The leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, told reporters that Mr Trump's defence team had inadvertently \"made a really compelling case for why the Senate should call witnesses and documents\". By Chris Buckler, BBC News, Washington Rather than focus just on detail the president's lawyers did their best to paint the whole impeachment process as an attempt to undermine the vote that put Donald Trump into office... not anything to do with his conduct while serving in it. A couple of miles away in the White House the commander-in-chief's primary worry seemed to be TV ratings. He's said to be upset that his attorneys were given a Saturday to start setting out their defence - a day which he says is a \"death valley\" for TV ratings. In a post on Twitter he encouraged his supporters to tune in and said a number of things his lawyers couldn't in a fierce attack on his political opponents. The Democrats are just as aware of the television cameras. At the start of the hearing they rolled in a 28,000 page record of the trial so far, complete with evidence already presented to the Senate. The Republican party leadership has made no secret that they want this trial over as quickly as possible, so they may have been pleased to hear that Mr Trump's lawyers don't intend to use all of the 24 hours allotted to them to make their case. However this short opening session gave only a taste of what's to come. Many are expecting the arguments on Monday and Tuesday to be rather more pointed. If that proves to be true, it will only fuel suspicions that everyone in this deeply political trial is speaking to voters as much as the senators inside the chamber. Saturday's session was unexpectedly short - two hours. The second day of defence arguments resumes on Monday at 13:00 local time (18:00 GMT) allowing for a short weekend break. Once the third day of defence arguments is over, senators will have the chance to submit written questions to the House prosecutors and White House lawyers through Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial. Senators are also expected to debate whether to allow new witnesses to be called and fresh evidence submitted.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1937, "answer_start": 1026, "text": "The trial in the Senate will decide if Mr Trump should be removed from office. This is unlikely as the Republicans control the Senate and any such move would need a two-thirds majority. Echoing a line heard from many Republicans, Mr Cipollone said Democrats were \"asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election... they're asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in the election that's occurring in approximately nine months.\" \"They are asking you to do something very, very consequential and, I would submit to you ... very, very dangerous,\" he said. Much of the abuse of power charge centres on a phone call in July between Mr Trump and Mr Zelenksy. Trump defence lawyer Mike Purpura insisted there was no quid pro quo - as asserted by the Democrats. \"Zelenksy felt no pressure. President Zelensky says he felt no pressure. The House managers tell you they know better,\" he said." } ], "id": "10221_0", "question": "What else did the defence say?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4612, "answer_start": 4100, "text": "Saturday's session was unexpectedly short - two hours. The second day of defence arguments resumes on Monday at 13:00 local time (18:00 GMT) allowing for a short weekend break. Once the third day of defence arguments is over, senators will have the chance to submit written questions to the House prosecutors and White House lawyers through Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial. Senators are also expected to debate whether to allow new witnesses to be called and fresh evidence submitted." } ], "id": "10221_1", "question": "Where does the trial go from here?" } ] } ]
International outcry over Istanbul election re-run
7 May 2019
[ { "context": "The EU and leading member states have sharply criticised a decision in Turkey to re-run Istanbul's mayoral election, after a shock opposition win. An EU spokesperson called on Turkey's electoral body to explain the controversial decision \"without delay\". Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Mass called the re-run \"incomprehensible\". The move was also criticised by the French government and by leading MEP Guy Verhofstadt, who said Turkey was \"drifting towards dictatorship\". The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month lost the mayorship of Turkey's biggest city by a narrow margin, but Mr Erdogan refused to accept defeat. The AKP claims that there were irregularities that invalidate the vote. The decision to hold a new poll on 23 June sparked protests across Istanbul on Monday. Hundreds of people gathered in several districts, banging pots and pans and shouting anti-government slogans. \"Ensuring a free, fair and transparent election process is essential to any democracy and is at the heart of the European Union's relations with Turkey,\" the EU's diplomatic chief, Federica Mogherini, said in a statement. The French government called on Turkish authorities to show \"respect for democratic principles, pluralism, fairness [and] transparency\". Mr Verhofstadt, the Belgian leader of the liberal group in the European parliament, said on Twitter that the Istanbul rerun threatened to make continuing EU accession talks \"impossible\". Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, who won the mayoral election but has now been stripped of his duties, described the move as \"treacherous\". His CHP party has accused election authorities of bowing to pressure from Mr Erdogan. An AKP representative on the electoral board, Recep Ozel, said the re-run was called because some electoral officials were not civil servants and some result papers had not been signed. But CHP deputy chair Onursal Adiguzel said the re-run showed it was \"illegal to win against the AK Party\". Mr Adiguzel said on Twitter that the decision was \"plain dictatorship\". \"This system that overrules the will of the people and disregards the law is neither democratic, nor legitimate,\" he wrote. In a speech broadcast on social media, Mr Imamoglu condemned the electoral board and said they were influenced by the ruling party. \"We will never compromise on our principles,\" he told the crowd. \"This country is filled with 82 million patriots who will fight... until the last moment for democracy.\" A supporters' group for Mr Imamoglu urged restraint, saying: \"Let's stand together, let's be calm... We will win, we will win again.\" Speaking at a parliamentary meeting of the AKP, Mr Erdogan said that re-running the vote was the \"best step\" for the country. \"We see this decision as the best step that will strengthen our will to solve problems within the framework of democracy and law,\" he said. He claimed that there was \"illegality\" in the vote and said a re-run would represent \"an important step to strengthen our democracy\". But the re-run decision is said to have split the AKP, alienating some of its leading lights. Abdullah Gul, Mr Erdogan' predecessor and one of the founding party members, is reportedly preparing to form a new party. Municipal elections took place across Turkey on 31 March and were seen as a referendum on Mr Erdogan's leadership amid a sharp economic downturn. Although an AKP Party-led alliance won 51% of the vote nationwide, the secularist CHP claimed victory in the capital Ankara, Izmir, and in Istanbul - where Mr Erdogan had once been mayor. In Istanbul, more than 8 million votes were cast and Mr Imamoglu was eventually declared the winner by a margin of less than 14,000. The ruling party has since challenged the results in Ankara and Istanbul.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2641, "answer_start": 1717, "text": "An AKP representative on the electoral board, Recep Ozel, said the re-run was called because some electoral officials were not civil servants and some result papers had not been signed. But CHP deputy chair Onursal Adiguzel said the re-run showed it was \"illegal to win against the AK Party\". Mr Adiguzel said on Twitter that the decision was \"plain dictatorship\". \"This system that overrules the will of the people and disregards the law is neither democratic, nor legitimate,\" he wrote. In a speech broadcast on social media, Mr Imamoglu condemned the electoral board and said they were influenced by the ruling party. \"We will never compromise on our principles,\" he told the crowd. \"This country is filled with 82 million patriots who will fight... until the last moment for democracy.\" A supporters' group for Mr Imamoglu urged restraint, saying: \"Let's stand together, let's be calm... We will win, we will win again.\"" } ], "id": "10222_0", "question": "Why is the vote being re-held?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3257, "answer_start": 2642, "text": "Speaking at a parliamentary meeting of the AKP, Mr Erdogan said that re-running the vote was the \"best step\" for the country. \"We see this decision as the best step that will strengthen our will to solve problems within the framework of democracy and law,\" he said. He claimed that there was \"illegality\" in the vote and said a re-run would represent \"an important step to strengthen our democracy\". But the re-run decision is said to have split the AKP, alienating some of its leading lights. Abdullah Gul, Mr Erdogan' predecessor and one of the founding party members, is reportedly preparing to form a new party." } ], "id": "10222_1", "question": "What has the president said?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3798, "answer_start": 3258, "text": "Municipal elections took place across Turkey on 31 March and were seen as a referendum on Mr Erdogan's leadership amid a sharp economic downturn. Although an AKP Party-led alliance won 51% of the vote nationwide, the secularist CHP claimed victory in the capital Ankara, Izmir, and in Istanbul - where Mr Erdogan had once been mayor. In Istanbul, more than 8 million votes were cast and Mr Imamoglu was eventually declared the winner by a margin of less than 14,000. The ruling party has since challenged the results in Ankara and Istanbul." } ], "id": "10222_2", "question": "What is the background?" } ] } ]
Reality Check: Did government keep Grenfell rehousing promise?
4 July 2017
[ { "context": "The claim: Every person made homeless by the Grenfell fire will receive an offer of accommodation by Wednesday, 5 July. Reality Check verdict: Council officials say offers of temporary accommodation have been made to 139 of 158 households and the remaining 19 households did not want any contact with the council at this time. But only nine of these offers have so far been accepted. Days after the tragedy, Theresa May said she had \"fixed a deadline of three weeks for everybody affected to be found a home nearby.\" On 22nd June, she said, \"all those who have lost their homes have been offered emergency hotel accommodation; and all will be offered rehousing within 3 weeks.\" Since then the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has been referring to temporary homes. On Monday, Mr Javid said that the prime minister's promise would be honoured and that the 158 households who lost their homes would be offered \"temporary accommodation\" by Wednesday 5 July. At this stage, families are being offered temporary homes rather than hotel rooms to stay in, until a genuinely permanent home is found for them. The Grenfell Fire Response Team, made up of local and central government, the Red Cross, the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade, have now offered accommodation to 139 Grenfell households who lost their homes as a result of the fire. Nineteen households did not want to be contacted by the council at this time, family liaison officers told the response team. Some of them are currently out of the country. This means the team will have met the three-week target of making an offer of accommodation to those affected. However, only nine households have accepted the offer so far. At the moment, the majority of survivors are living in hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation. We do not yet know exactly why the other 130 households have not accepted the accommodation offered to them. But the leader of the Kensington and Chelsea Labour group, Robert Atkinson, said traumatised people were being pushed to make decisions too soon because of Theresa May's promise. He said some families currently staying in hotels and temporary housing were not accepting offers of intermediate accommodation because they did not want to keep moving and preferred to wait for a permanent offer. One tenant from the tenth floor of Grenfell Tower, who only gave his name as Antonio, is among those who turned down the offer of temporary accommodation. \"We want to move to a permanent accommodation so we can remake it and then we can call it home,\" he told BBC Radio 5 live. A spokesperson for the response team said people were still considering the offers but may be hesitating for a number of reasons including distance to children's schools and suitability for elderly or disabled residents. Some survivors wanted to remain in the borough, others wanted to be placed as far away as possible, while others still, understandably traumatised, have been reportedly turning down offers of accommodation in tower blocks, or in sight of Grenfell Tower. The offered accommodation is either within the borough of Kensington and Chelsea or as close as possible within neighbouring boroughs, according to the response team. If an offer of accommodation is turned down, family liaison officers will work with residents to find a suitable alternative. At the moment, it appears this process will continue until survivors are provided with accommodation with which they are happy.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3469, "answer_start": 1634, "text": "However, only nine households have accepted the offer so far. At the moment, the majority of survivors are living in hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation. We do not yet know exactly why the other 130 households have not accepted the accommodation offered to them. But the leader of the Kensington and Chelsea Labour group, Robert Atkinson, said traumatised people were being pushed to make decisions too soon because of Theresa May's promise. He said some families currently staying in hotels and temporary housing were not accepting offers of intermediate accommodation because they did not want to keep moving and preferred to wait for a permanent offer. One tenant from the tenth floor of Grenfell Tower, who only gave his name as Antonio, is among those who turned down the offer of temporary accommodation. \"We want to move to a permanent accommodation so we can remake it and then we can call it home,\" he told BBC Radio 5 live. A spokesperson for the response team said people were still considering the offers but may be hesitating for a number of reasons including distance to children's schools and suitability for elderly or disabled residents. Some survivors wanted to remain in the borough, others wanted to be placed as far away as possible, while others still, understandably traumatised, have been reportedly turning down offers of accommodation in tower blocks, or in sight of Grenfell Tower. The offered accommodation is either within the borough of Kensington and Chelsea or as close as possible within neighbouring boroughs, according to the response team. If an offer of accommodation is turned down, family liaison officers will work with residents to find a suitable alternative. At the moment, it appears this process will continue until survivors are provided with accommodation with which they are happy." } ], "id": "10223_0", "question": "Where are the survivors?" } ] } ]
Trump faces backlash over possible $1.3bn ZTE fine
22 May 2018
[ { "context": "US President Donald Trump has said he may lift a crippling export ban on Chinese technology firm ZTE and levy a $1.3bn fine instead. His willingness to strike a deal has stirred controversy in the US, where the company has raised alarms related to national security. Mr Trump said the current penalty, which led ZTE to halt major operations, has hurt US firms that sell to it. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer called the proposal \"a wet noodle\". He said it was a punishment \"in name only\" and warned the president against taking a softer stance on ZTE in exchange for promises of increased Chinese purchases of US goods. He said: \"Putting our national security at risk for minor trade concessions is the very definition of short-sighted. And frankly, it would be a capitulation on the part of the Trump administration.\" Negotiations about the alternative punishment are ongoing and come amid broader trade negotiations with China. The president also wants China's help to curb North Korea and its nuclear ambitions. Mr Trump said there was no deal yet but at the request of Chinese President Xi Jinping he is revisiting last month's ban, which blocks US companies from exporting to ZTE. He later added he is not satisfied with the current state of trade talks with China. \"I think that they're a start, but we need something,\" he said. The export ban is punishment for the ZTE's failure to comply with a settlement reached over its violations of sanctions against North Korea and Iran. The president outlined the possible alternative while speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday at a meeting with the president of South Korea. In addition to the fine, he envisions new management, a new board of directors, and requirements for significant purchases of US products, he said. In a show of disapproval, the Senate Banking Committee voted overwhelmingly to amend a piece of legislation to prevent the president from being able to change sanctions unilaterally. Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, who sponsored the measure, said it was \"deeply troubling\" that the president was \"fighting to protect jobs in China\" tied to a company that has been flagged as a security risk by US defence officials. Congress is also considering other measures to block changes. Mr Trump on Tuesday addressed his critics, who come from both parties, noting that his administration had imposed the ban initially. He said: \"For those who say, 'Oh gee, maybe the president is getting a little bit easy ... It was this administration that closed it.\" He added that he also had to think about the US companies that do business with ZTE, which employs about 80,000 people and relies on parts from US tech companies to make its smart phones and telecommunications equipment. \"Don't think we didn't hear from them,\" he said.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2801, "answer_start": 1783, "text": "In a show of disapproval, the Senate Banking Committee voted overwhelmingly to amend a piece of legislation to prevent the president from being able to change sanctions unilaterally. Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, who sponsored the measure, said it was \"deeply troubling\" that the president was \"fighting to protect jobs in China\" tied to a company that has been flagged as a security risk by US defence officials. Congress is also considering other measures to block changes. Mr Trump on Tuesday addressed his critics, who come from both parties, noting that his administration had imposed the ban initially. He said: \"For those who say, 'Oh gee, maybe the president is getting a little bit easy ... It was this administration that closed it.\" He added that he also had to think about the US companies that do business with ZTE, which employs about 80,000 people and relies on parts from US tech companies to make its smart phones and telecommunications equipment. \"Don't think we didn't hear from them,\" he said." } ], "id": "10224_0", "question": "Going easy?" } ] } ]
Kashmir in lockdown after autonomy scrapped
6 August 2019
[ { "context": "Indian-administered Kashmir remains locked down a day after it was stripped of a status that gave it significant autonomy from the rest of India. Telephone networks and the internet, which were cut off on Sunday evening, are yet to be restored and tens of thousands of troops are patrolling the streets. Instances of protest and stone-throwing have been reported despite the communications blackout and a curfew. Local leaders have also been detained. The Himalayan region of Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, but they each control only parts of it. There is a long-running separatist insurgency on the Indian side, which has led to thousands of deaths over three decades. India accuses Pakistan of supporting insurgents but its neighbour denies this, saying it only gives moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris who want self-determination. In his first remarks on the revoked status, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said what had happened was illegal under international law and that his country could take the issue to UN security council. \"We will fight it at every forum,\" Mr Khan told parliament on Tuesday. Earlier Pakistan's powerful army chief said his troops stood by Kashmiris in their \"just struggle\". The lockdown in Indian-administered Kashmir is being enforced amid concern that the government's decision to revoke autonomy could trigger large-scale protests by people already unhappy with Indian rule. The BBC's Aamir Peerzada in Srinagar, who has managed to access one of the few working landlines in the state, said there was a palpable sense of anger and betrayal among people he has spoken to. One man in Baramulla, he said, \"felt that Kashmir had lost its freedom and had been enslaved by India. This is actually the prevailing sentiment. All the decisions were made in Delhi.\" Kashmiris in other parts of the country have said that they are unable to get through to their families. Tens of thousands of additional troops were deployed in what is already one of the world's most militarised zones ahead of the government's announcement on Monday, and more troops have been sent since. For many people in Indian-administered Kashmir, Article 370 - as the law guaranteeing special status was known - was the main justification for being a part of India. By revoking it, the Bharaitya Janata Party-led government has irrevocably changed Delhi's relationship with the region, says the BBC's Geeta Pandey. The article allowed the the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir a certain amount of autonomy - its own constitution, a separate flag and the freedom to make laws, though foreign affairs, defence and communications remained the preserve of the central government. It could make its own rules relating to permanent residency, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It could also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there. The government said Article 370 needed to be scrapped to put the state on the same footing as the rest of India. But many Kashmiris believe that the BJP ultimately wants to change the demographic character of the Muslim-majority region by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land there. The revocation of special status is currently being debated in the lower house, where a bill relating to the division of Jammu and Kashmir into two distinct regions has been introduced. The state comprises three regions, the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, Hindu-majority Jammu and Ladakh, which is largely Buddhist. The bill, which was passed by the upper house on Monday, seeks to split the state into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Union territories have less autonomy from the federal government than states do. So the decision to convert Jammu and Kashmir into a union territory is also being seen as an attempt to exercise greater federal control. This, coupled with the stripping of the state's special status, has drawn sharp criticism from opposition MPs. Lawmakers from the south, such as those from the DMK party, expressed concern about what they saw as weakening of India's federalism. Many of them fiercely condemned the move. They accused the government of \"denying the will of the people\" of Kashmir since the decision to revoke Article 370 was taken without consulting the state's lawmakers. The critics asked Home Minister Amit Shah where some of the state's leading politicians were, including MP Farooq Abdullah who is not present in parliament. They demanded to know why the house had not been informed ahead of their arrest. Mr Shah told the house that Mr Abdullah was not being detained, but soon after, Mr Abdullah appeared in an interview with the NDTV news channel, alleging that he had been under house arrest. \"Why would I stay inside my house on my own will when my state is being burnt? This is not the India I believe in,\" the 81-year-old MP said, breaking down as he spoke. But the opposition is also divided. Several parties, including Delhi's AAP, have backed the decision to revoke Article 370 and bifurcate the state.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2140, "answer_start": 1249, "text": "The lockdown in Indian-administered Kashmir is being enforced amid concern that the government's decision to revoke autonomy could trigger large-scale protests by people already unhappy with Indian rule. The BBC's Aamir Peerzada in Srinagar, who has managed to access one of the few working landlines in the state, said there was a palpable sense of anger and betrayal among people he has spoken to. One man in Baramulla, he said, \"felt that Kashmir had lost its freedom and had been enslaved by India. This is actually the prevailing sentiment. All the decisions were made in Delhi.\" Kashmiris in other parts of the country have said that they are unable to get through to their families. Tens of thousands of additional troops were deployed in what is already one of the world's most militarised zones ahead of the government's announcement on Monday, and more troops have been sent since." } ], "id": "10225_0", "question": "What's happening on the ground?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3198, "answer_start": 2141, "text": "For many people in Indian-administered Kashmir, Article 370 - as the law guaranteeing special status was known - was the main justification for being a part of India. By revoking it, the Bharaitya Janata Party-led government has irrevocably changed Delhi's relationship with the region, says the BBC's Geeta Pandey. The article allowed the the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir a certain amount of autonomy - its own constitution, a separate flag and the freedom to make laws, though foreign affairs, defence and communications remained the preserve of the central government. It could make its own rules relating to permanent residency, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It could also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there. The government said Article 370 needed to be scrapped to put the state on the same footing as the rest of India. But many Kashmiris believe that the BJP ultimately wants to change the demographic character of the Muslim-majority region by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land there." } ], "id": "10225_1", "question": "How has Kashmir's status changed?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5076, "answer_start": 3199, "text": "The revocation of special status is currently being debated in the lower house, where a bill relating to the division of Jammu and Kashmir into two distinct regions has been introduced. The state comprises three regions, the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, Hindu-majority Jammu and Ladakh, which is largely Buddhist. The bill, which was passed by the upper house on Monday, seeks to split the state into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Union territories have less autonomy from the federal government than states do. So the decision to convert Jammu and Kashmir into a union territory is also being seen as an attempt to exercise greater federal control. This, coupled with the stripping of the state's special status, has drawn sharp criticism from opposition MPs. Lawmakers from the south, such as those from the DMK party, expressed concern about what they saw as weakening of India's federalism. Many of them fiercely condemned the move. They accused the government of \"denying the will of the people\" of Kashmir since the decision to revoke Article 370 was taken without consulting the state's lawmakers. The critics asked Home Minister Amit Shah where some of the state's leading politicians were, including MP Farooq Abdullah who is not present in parliament. They demanded to know why the house had not been informed ahead of their arrest. Mr Shah told the house that Mr Abdullah was not being detained, but soon after, Mr Abdullah appeared in an interview with the NDTV news channel, alleging that he had been under house arrest. \"Why would I stay inside my house on my own will when my state is being burnt? This is not the India I believe in,\" the 81-year-old MP said, breaking down as he spoke. But the opposition is also divided. Several parties, including Delhi's AAP, have backed the decision to revoke Article 370 and bifurcate the state." } ], "id": "10225_2", "question": "What's happening in parliament?" } ] } ]
Facebook scandal: Who is selling your personal data?
11 July 2018
[ { "context": "Offering handy parenting tips and PS200 worth of vouchers, Emma's Diary may have seemed like the perfect website for new parents to sign up to. But in exchange for free nappies, they also gave consent for their data to be used for a mix of advertising purposes. It has now emerged that the data was sold to the Labour Party in 2017, even though the consent did not extend to political parties. The site now faces a fine for misuse of personal data. The case is part of the Information Commissioner's inquiry into political digital marketing, following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. What began with a look at the misuse of Facebook data has now opened a window on the complex ecosystem of online advertising, and thrown light onto the opaque world of data brokerage. Data has been described as the \"new oil\" and data brokers play a huge role in extracting value from our personal information in all its forms. They collect it from hundreds of sources, including census information, surveys, public records and loyalty card programs. They then sell that information to other organisations. One researcher, writing about the role of data brokers back in 2014, described the entire industry as \"largely invisible\". It is an industry that has to date been unregulated, although the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU did put more onus on \"data controllers\" to ensure users understood how their information was being used. Acxiom and Experian are probably the best-known data brokers - and they make a lot of money. In the 2018 financial year, Acxiom is expected to make around $95m (PS71m) and was recently bought by media advertising giant IPG. But there are thousands of smaller players in the industry, alongside apps and websites that sign up users for one purpose, asking for consent to use their data, which is then sold on to advertisers. As part of its inquiry, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) investigated Experian, Lifecyle Marketing (the owners of Emma's Diary), CACI and Data8. Digital campaigning is now hugely important for political parties. It involves diving into often complex relationships with data brokers and data analytics firms. In Facebook's case it had three data broker partnerships - with Acxiom, Experian and Oracle Data Cloud. It also allowed political parties to target an audience by gender, location, interests and behaviours and it offered what it called its Partner Categories service, allowing advertisers to draw on information compiled by the data brokers. This data allowed the political parties to further refine their targeting, based on information such as whether a person owned their own home, whether they were looking to buy a new car or whether they were a loyal customer of a particular brand. For example, an advertiser wanting to target new mothers could use information gleaned from data brokers about those who had recently bought baby products using a store rewards card. Facebook has now said it will end this practice, which had been one of the key methods marketers used to link users' Facebook data about their friends and lifestyle with their offline data about their families, finances and health. Privacy International has described the scope and scale of the ICO's investigation as \"mindboggling\". \"It shows that data exploitation is rampant and systemic. This goes way beyond Facebook, or a single ruthless company.\" The whole industry is now feeling decidedly nervous, said Paul Wright, chief executive of the digital advertising platform Iotec. \"I think it was fair to say that the digital marketing industry got a wake-up call with the introduction of GDPR, and this ICO inquiry will remind people that we have a regulator that has teeth, which will worry some of the bad players in the industry.\" Gareth Oldale, a partner at law firm Sharpe Pritchard, thinks the ICO investigation will force websites such as Emma's Diary to rewrite their privacy policies. \"The ICO's view is that simply signing up for a website and giving consent to your data being used is not enough, if it is never made clear that it may be shared with political parties. \"It will no longer be acceptable if individuals sign up to a website for a particular purpose, and they then re-use data for a completely different purpose,\" he told the BBC.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1461, "answer_start": 774, "text": "Data has been described as the \"new oil\" and data brokers play a huge role in extracting value from our personal information in all its forms. They collect it from hundreds of sources, including census information, surveys, public records and loyalty card programs. They then sell that information to other organisations. One researcher, writing about the role of data brokers back in 2014, described the entire industry as \"largely invisible\". It is an industry that has to date been unregulated, although the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU did put more onus on \"data controllers\" to ensure users understood how their information was being used." } ], "id": "10226_0", "question": "What is a data broker?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2041, "answer_start": 1462, "text": "Acxiom and Experian are probably the best-known data brokers - and they make a lot of money. In the 2018 financial year, Acxiom is expected to make around $95m (PS71m) and was recently bought by media advertising giant IPG. But there are thousands of smaller players in the industry, alongside apps and websites that sign up users for one purpose, asking for consent to use their data, which is then sold on to advertisers. As part of its inquiry, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) investigated Experian, Lifecyle Marketing (the owners of Emma's Diary), CACI and Data8." } ], "id": "10226_1", "question": "Who are the big players?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3209, "answer_start": 2042, "text": "Digital campaigning is now hugely important for political parties. It involves diving into often complex relationships with data brokers and data analytics firms. In Facebook's case it had three data broker partnerships - with Acxiom, Experian and Oracle Data Cloud. It also allowed political parties to target an audience by gender, location, interests and behaviours and it offered what it called its Partner Categories service, allowing advertisers to draw on information compiled by the data brokers. This data allowed the political parties to further refine their targeting, based on information such as whether a person owned their own home, whether they were looking to buy a new car or whether they were a loyal customer of a particular brand. For example, an advertiser wanting to target new mothers could use information gleaned from data brokers about those who had recently bought baby products using a store rewards card. Facebook has now said it will end this practice, which had been one of the key methods marketers used to link users' Facebook data about their friends and lifestyle with their offline data about their families, finances and health." } ], "id": "10226_2", "question": "How are they involved in the Facebook scandal?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4336, "answer_start": 3210, "text": "Privacy International has described the scope and scale of the ICO's investigation as \"mindboggling\". \"It shows that data exploitation is rampant and systemic. This goes way beyond Facebook, or a single ruthless company.\" The whole industry is now feeling decidedly nervous, said Paul Wright, chief executive of the digital advertising platform Iotec. \"I think it was fair to say that the digital marketing industry got a wake-up call with the introduction of GDPR, and this ICO inquiry will remind people that we have a regulator that has teeth, which will worry some of the bad players in the industry.\" Gareth Oldale, a partner at law firm Sharpe Pritchard, thinks the ICO investigation will force websites such as Emma's Diary to rewrite their privacy policies. \"The ICO's view is that simply signing up for a website and giving consent to your data being used is not enough, if it is never made clear that it may be shared with political parties. \"It will no longer be acceptable if individuals sign up to a website for a particular purpose, and they then re-use data for a completely different purpose,\" he told the BBC." } ], "id": "10226_3", "question": "What next?" } ] } ]
#TeamTrees: YouTube stars boost tree-planting campaign to over $8m
30 October 2019
[ { "context": "A global tree-planting campaign led by YouTube stars has seen more than $8m (PS6.2m) raised in just five days. Beauty YouTuber Jeffree Star and US entrepreneur Elon Musk are among those to have donated. The \"Team Trees\" project is aiming to plant 20 million trees around the globe by 2020, with each $1 donation \"planting\" one tree. The donations go to the Arbor Day Foundation, a US organisation dedicated to planting trees. In May, a YouTuber called Jimmy Donaldson, known online as \"Mr Beast,\" asked what he should do to celebrate his 20 millionth subscriber. One of his fans responded urging him to plant 20 million trees to represent each of his subscribers. Since then, the YouTuber has collaborated with other content creators and the Arbor Day Foundation to create the #TeamTrees campaign. The idea is simple - for each $1 donation, the Arbor Day Foundation will plant one tree. The trees will reportedly be planted on every continent except Antarctica, and the kind of tree planted will be native to their surroundings. Scientists say planting trees across the world is a cheap and easy solution to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, which is seen as a major factor in climate change. As trees grow, they absorb and store CO2 from the atmosphere, and emit oxygen. The Arbor Day Foundation says over their lifespan, 100 million trees could absorb eight million tonnes of carbon - the equivalent of taking more than six millions cars off the road for a year. Over the past five days, the campaign has gained significant attention online. Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO at Tesla, donated $1m to the project. He also changed his Twitter handle to \"Treelon.\" The name of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has also appeared on the campaign website's \"most trees\" leader board, pledging to plant 150,000 trees. Beauty YouTuber Jeffree Star, who has over 16.4m subscribers, also donated $50,000 to the campaign. YouTube has promised to match the next million dollars of donations. In a video announcing the launch of the project \"Mr Beast\" said: \"I personally haven't always been the most environmentally friendly. \"We only have one Earth, and it's important we take care of it. \"People just keep making fun of our generation for 'retweet activism' and not actually doing something. \"This is your chance to make a difference... this is our chance to show the world we care.\"", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2367, "answer_start": 1469, "text": "Over the past five days, the campaign has gained significant attention online. Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO at Tesla, donated $1m to the project. He also changed his Twitter handle to \"Treelon.\" The name of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has also appeared on the campaign website's \"most trees\" leader board, pledging to plant 150,000 trees. Beauty YouTuber Jeffree Star, who has over 16.4m subscribers, also donated $50,000 to the campaign. YouTube has promised to match the next million dollars of donations. In a video announcing the launch of the project \"Mr Beast\" said: \"I personally haven't always been the most environmentally friendly. \"We only have one Earth, and it's important we take care of it. \"People just keep making fun of our generation for 'retweet activism' and not actually doing something. \"This is your chance to make a difference... this is our chance to show the world we care.\"" } ], "id": "10227_0", "question": "Who's involved?" } ] } ]
Laos dam collapse: Many feared dead as floods hit villages
24 July 2018
[ { "context": "At least 20 people have been killed and more than 100 are missing in flooding following the collapse of an under-construction dam in south-east Laos. Workers found the hydroelectric dam in Attapeu province was partially damaged on Sunday, and villagers living nearby were evacuated. The dam collapsed late on Monday, sending flash floods through six villages. More than 6,600 people have been made homeless, Lao News Agency reported. Pictures showed villagers and young children stranded on the roofs of submerged houses. Attapeu is Laos' southernmost province, and borders Cambodia and Vietnam. It is known for agriculture, rich trees and wood-based industries - and hydropower is one of its major exports. The dam that collapsed is part of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric power project, which involves Laotian, Thai and South Korean firms. The subsidiary dam, known as \"Saddle Dam D\", was part of a network of two main dams and five subsidiary dams. SK Engineering & Construction, a South Korean company with a stake in the project, said fractures were first discovered on the dam on Sunday, before it collapsed: - Sunday 21:00 local time (14:00 GMT) - The dam is found to be partially damaged. The authorities are alerted and villagers near the dam start to be evacuated. A team is sent to repair the dam - but is hampered by heavy rain, which has also damaged many roads. - Monday 03:00 - Water is discharged from one of the main dams (Xe-Namnoy dam) to try to lower water levels in the subsidiary dam. - Monday 12:00 - The state government orders villagers downstream to evacuate after learning that there could be further damage to the dam. - Monday 18:00 - More damage is confirmed at the dam. - By Tuesday 01:30, a village near the subsidiary dam is flooded, and by 09:30 seven villages are flooded. Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, the main Thai stakeholder, said in a statement that the dam \"was fractured\" after \"continuous rainstorm[s]\" caused a \"high volume of water to flow into the project's reservoir\". As a result, water \"leaked to the downstream area and down to Xe-Pian River\" about 5km (three miles) away, it added. \"Saddle Dam D\" was 8m wide, 770m long and 16m high - and was designed to help divert water around a local reservoir, the company said. Both Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and SK Engineering & Construction say they have been helping with evacuation and relief operations. Officials have been trying to rescue stranded villagers by boat. Local authorities have appealed to government bodies and other communities to provide emergency aid such as clothing, food, drinking water and medicine. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has postponed government meetings and gone to the affected area in Sanamxay district to monitor relief efforts, state media says. One local Attapeu official told AFP news agency that there was no phone signal in the flooded areas, adding to communication problems. - The government in Laos has launched an ambitious dam-building scheme to become the \"battery of Asia\" - Laos sits on the Mekong River and its tributaries - a perfect location for hydroelectric power - The country had 46 operational hydroelectric power plants in 2017, and 54 more under construction - By 2020, Laos also plans to build 54 more electricity transmission lines and 16 substations - Laos already exports two-thirds of its hydropower, with electricity making up roughly 30% of all Laotian exports Sources: Hydropower.org, the Laotian Times and Lao News Agency", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2431, "answer_start": 708, "text": "The dam that collapsed is part of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric power project, which involves Laotian, Thai and South Korean firms. The subsidiary dam, known as \"Saddle Dam D\", was part of a network of two main dams and five subsidiary dams. SK Engineering & Construction, a South Korean company with a stake in the project, said fractures were first discovered on the dam on Sunday, before it collapsed: - Sunday 21:00 local time (14:00 GMT) - The dam is found to be partially damaged. The authorities are alerted and villagers near the dam start to be evacuated. A team is sent to repair the dam - but is hampered by heavy rain, which has also damaged many roads. - Monday 03:00 - Water is discharged from one of the main dams (Xe-Namnoy dam) to try to lower water levels in the subsidiary dam. - Monday 12:00 - The state government orders villagers downstream to evacuate after learning that there could be further damage to the dam. - Monday 18:00 - More damage is confirmed at the dam. - By Tuesday 01:30, a village near the subsidiary dam is flooded, and by 09:30 seven villages are flooded. Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, the main Thai stakeholder, said in a statement that the dam \"was fractured\" after \"continuous rainstorm[s]\" caused a \"high volume of water to flow into the project's reservoir\". As a result, water \"leaked to the downstream area and down to Xe-Pian River\" about 5km (three miles) away, it added. \"Saddle Dam D\" was 8m wide, 770m long and 16m high - and was designed to help divert water around a local reservoir, the company said. Both Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and SK Engineering & Construction say they have been helping with evacuation and relief operations." } ], "id": "10228_0", "question": "What do we know about the dam - and how did it collapse?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2960, "answer_start": 2432, "text": "Officials have been trying to rescue stranded villagers by boat. Local authorities have appealed to government bodies and other communities to provide emergency aid such as clothing, food, drinking water and medicine. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has postponed government meetings and gone to the affected area in Sanamxay district to monitor relief efforts, state media says. One local Attapeu official told AFP news agency that there was no phone signal in the flooded areas, adding to communication problems." } ], "id": "10228_1", "question": "What is being done to help those affected?" } ] } ]
Trump Paris jibe: Mayor uses Mickey Mouse to fight back
26 February 2017
[ { "context": "Paris's mayor has hit back at US President Donald Trump's negative remarks about the city, using Walt Disney characters. Anne Hidalgo tweeted a picture of herself with Mickey and Minnie Mouse celebrating the city's \"dynamism and spirit of openness\". At a speech to conservative activists, Mr Trump cited a friend who no longer wanted to take his family to Paris. President Francois Hollande said such criticisms were \"never good\". Mr Trump had also criticised Europe's handling of terrorism, saying that Americans could not let recent attacks happen in the US. More than 230 people have died in a series of attacks in France since the beginning of 2015, including in January and November of that year in Paris and in Nice in July last year. The country has been under a state of emergency for more than a year. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, he sought to justify his crackdown on immigration by criticising the effect it had had on some European countries. He singled out Paris, mentioning a friend called \"Jim\" who used to be a regular visitor to the city but had stopped going in recent years because \"Paris is no longer Paris\". \"Take a look at what's happening to our world, folks, and we have to be smart... We can't let that happen to us.\" Mr Trump went on. Trump says terror attacks 'under-reported': Is that true? Are things as bad as Trump says? Ms Hidalgo stressed the inclusivity and energy of Paris, tweeting a picture of her launching a tourism campaign at the Eiffel Tower. The remarks came as France celebrated the 25th anniversary of the theme park Disneyland Paris. The Paris mayor also challenged the suggestion that tourist numbers from the US were in decline, saying reservations were up 30% in 2017. Mr Hollande, meanwhile, said Mr Trump's remarks were no way to behave towards an ally. \"It is never good to show the slightest mistrust towards a friendly country,\" he said. \"That is not what I would do towards a friendly country and I would ask the American president not to do it to France.\" In a reference to France's tighter gun control laws, Mr Hollande said: \"There are no weapons circulating here. There are no people who take weapons to shoot into the crowd simply for the satisfaction of causing drama and tragedy.\" If Jim really knew a thing or two about Paris, he would have told President Trump that Paris was even more Paris than before the terrorist attacks of 2015. A born-and-bred Parisian who has lived through these difficult times, I can say that the attacks have made Paris and Parisian life even more beautiful and pleasurable than it was, for one simple reason - we don't take it for granted the way we used to. The many joys of Parisian everyday life - going to the concert, having dinner with friends or simply having a coffee on a cafe terrasse has been greatly enhanced by the events. We used to be blase, now we are grateful. As American novelist Saul Bellow wrote: \"There are few things more pleasant in life, more civilised than a tranquil terrasse at dusk.\" No doubt foreigners will continue to flock to Paris, as Saul Bellow said, \"to recover their humanity\". According to figures published by the Paris Office of Tourism (in French), 7,356,945 foreign tourists arrived at hotels in the city of Paris between January and November 2016, 11.9% fewer than in the same period the previous year. Among American tourists the decline was only slighter smaller - there were 1,387,191 hotel arrivals, down 9.9%. In the same period there was a slight rise in the number of tourists from other parts of France, of 0.3% to almost six million. The 2015 figures mostly cover the period before the 13 November Paris attacks which shocked the country and left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded. No figures were given for tourists staying in non-hotel accommodation such as Airbnb. According to the New York mayor's office, the city welcomed 60.3 million visitors in 2016, up by 1.8 million on 2015. This was the \"seventh consecutive year of travel and tourism growth for the city\", the statement said. Of these, 47.6 million came from within the US and 12.65 million from abroad. Both figures were all-time highs, the mayor's office added.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1390, "answer_start": 811, "text": "Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, he sought to justify his crackdown on immigration by criticising the effect it had had on some European countries. He singled out Paris, mentioning a friend called \"Jim\" who used to be a regular visitor to the city but had stopped going in recent years because \"Paris is no longer Paris\". \"Take a look at what's happening to our world, folks, and we have to be smart... We can't let that happen to us.\" Mr Trump went on. Trump says terror attacks 'under-reported': Is that true? Are things as bad as Trump says?" } ], "id": "10229_0", "question": "What did Mr Trump say?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2283, "answer_start": 1391, "text": "Ms Hidalgo stressed the inclusivity and energy of Paris, tweeting a picture of her launching a tourism campaign at the Eiffel Tower. The remarks came as France celebrated the 25th anniversary of the theme park Disneyland Paris. The Paris mayor also challenged the suggestion that tourist numbers from the US were in decline, saying reservations were up 30% in 2017. Mr Hollande, meanwhile, said Mr Trump's remarks were no way to behave towards an ally. \"It is never good to show the slightest mistrust towards a friendly country,\" he said. \"That is not what I would do towards a friendly country and I would ask the American president not to do it to France.\" In a reference to France's tighter gun control laws, Mr Hollande said: \"There are no weapons circulating here. There are no people who take weapons to shoot into the crowd simply for the satisfaction of causing drama and tragedy.\"" } ], "id": "10229_1", "question": "What was the French response?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3857, "answer_start": 3150, "text": "According to figures published by the Paris Office of Tourism (in French), 7,356,945 foreign tourists arrived at hotels in the city of Paris between January and November 2016, 11.9% fewer than in the same period the previous year. Among American tourists the decline was only slighter smaller - there were 1,387,191 hotel arrivals, down 9.9%. In the same period there was a slight rise in the number of tourists from other parts of France, of 0.3% to almost six million. The 2015 figures mostly cover the period before the 13 November Paris attacks which shocked the country and left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded. No figures were given for tourists staying in non-hotel accommodation such as Airbnb." } ], "id": "10229_2", "question": "So are tourists really deserting the City of Lights?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4216, "answer_start": 3858, "text": "According to the New York mayor's office, the city welcomed 60.3 million visitors in 2016, up by 1.8 million on 2015. This was the \"seventh consecutive year of travel and tourism growth for the city\", the statement said. Of these, 47.6 million came from within the US and 12.65 million from abroad. Both figures were all-time highs, the mayor's office added." } ], "id": "10229_3", "question": "How does it compare with New York?" } ] } ]
SOS! Will Abba's new music live up to their legacy?
28 April 2018
[ { "context": "It's hard to imagine now but, once upon a time, people hated Abba. Those spangly satin jumpsuits, their Eurovision origins, the wedding disco ubiquity of Dancing Queen - they all conspired to consign Abba to the cheesy-smelling scrapheap of pop. The band were frequently misunderstood as kitsch because they wrote soft, optimistic pop songs. And, to be fair, some of their lyrics were pretty banal. (Nina, Pretty Ballerina, a weak tea version of Dancing Queen, is particularly awful.) But a critical reappraisal began in the 1990s, with the release of the bewilderingly-successful Abba Gold compilation (30 million units and counting) and the emergence of tribute acts like Bjorn Again. Some people embraced Abba ironically. But those people were wrong. Abba are one of the most straightforwardly brilliant pop bands of all time. SOS? Amazing. Mamma Mia? Amazing. So Long? Amazing. The Name Of The Game? Amazing. Chiquitita? You get the picture. Anyone with a passing acquaintance with melody loves what Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid achieved. \"Purely from a songwriting point of view they were up there with the best,\" said Noel Gallagher in 2004. \"They enter Eurovision singing about the battle of Waterloo in platforms [and] they were all shagging each other? Does it get better than that?\" Noel's not alone: Artists including Portishead, Kylie, Sinead O'Connor, The Carpenters and... er, B*Witched have sung Abba's praises and covered their music. The group never officially split up, drifting into the dusk in 1983 after recording sessions for a planned ninth album didn't work out. Since then, they've resisted the temptation to reform, through thick, thin and offers of $1bn in cash. Until Friday, that is, when the band announced they'd gone back into the studio and cut two new songs. \"I'm half-thrilled and half-terrified,\" says Kitty Empire, pop critic for The Observer. \"No matter what they produce, can it ever live up to this weight of expectation? But I'm cautiously optimistic.\" And herein lies the problem. Can any band reform 35 years after their peak and recapture what fans loved about them? \"I think a good parallel is when the surviving Beatles got back together to do Free As A Bird [in 1995],\" says music writer Pete Paphides. \"Some people were sniffy about it at the beginning, when they first heard it, and I was one of them. \"I was in my early 20s and had that 20-something arrogance that you sometimes have. But, actually, I can barely get to the end of Free As A Bird now without my eyes watering. \"I think it's just a beautiful song and I've lived with it over the years. My youngest daughter plays it on the piano. And that feels as valid and important a part of their legacy as any other Beatles songs.\" The Beatles aren't the only ones who got it right, says Paphides, listing Blur, New Order and Take That as bands who bounced back from a break-up. \"The Take That album was really clever because they weren't trying to be the band that they were before,\" he says. \"It was like they'd stepped back and asked themselves, 'Who are we as people, and how can we credibly do this?' \"It was an album that honoured the fact that both their fans and they as people were older. So there was a bittersweet aspect to that record, which I think sort of touched people.\" So what will Abba 2.0 sound like? Perhaps we can gather clues from the quartet's recent solo material. Agnetha Faltskog made an accomplished return to the studio with 2013's A, which included the single When You Really Loved Someone. Her sole writing credit, I Keep Them On The Floor Beside My Bed, found the singer scattering photos of an old lover across her bedroom floor, wondering what happened to their relationship. A pleading, age-appropriate ballad, it feels connected to the wistful melancholy of Abba's swansong The Visitors - an obvious jumping-off point for new material. Benny Andersson's recent album of solo piano pieces, released on classical label Deutsche Grammophon, reinforced his profound gift for melody. However it seems unlikely to inform the Abba reunion. A better indicator is the Benny Andersson Orchestra (BAO), which combines his passion for pop, rock and the oompah rhythms of Swedish folk with surprisingly intoxicating effects. The band's 2009 single Du Ar Min Man (You Are My Man) - which spent four years in the Swedish chart - wouldn't sound out of place on one of the earlier Abba albums. Anni-Frid Lyngstad, meanwhile, has largely avoided the recording studio since the '80s. However, her 2010 cover of Morning Has Broken, recorded with Swedish musician Georg Wadenius, shows how effective her voice would be over the sort of stripped-back acoustic arrangements Benny and Bjorn favoured in their 1990s musical Kristina. Thankfully, then, no-one seems inclined to give Abba an EDM makeover. The one song title they've revealed so far - I Still Have Faith In You - suggests a timeworn romance perfectly suited to Agnetha and Frida's strong-but-vulnerable vocals. Can we safely assume the crisis has been averted, then? \"I think their filter is very good,\" says Kitty Empire. \"I think their quality control will be impeccable. \"But my personal fear is that it will be the cheesy end of Abba rather than the kind of Abba songs that very gently twist a knife into your innards and make you cry.\" Rod Stephen, founder member of Bjorn Again, agrees. \"Yes, there is a risk to their legacy being undone [but] I know Benny and Bjorn wouldn't release something in this way unless they were good songs. \"Even if they do misfire, I don't think anybody would blame them for trying.\" For his cover-bandmate Agnetha (she doesn't like using her real name), the chance to put new songs in the set list comes as something of a relief. \"After doing Abba for 20 years every weekend, it would actually be quite nice to learn new material!\" she laughs. But for Paphides, the arrival of new music is less compelling than the story of how it came about. \"I'm happy for them,\" he says. \"I'm happy they felt so relaxed in each other's company, that it didn't seem like an onerous thing for them to even countenance the idea of making music together. \"It's a lovely thing - not just in terms of the creative merit, but because making music with people you love is a joyful thing. \"And they don't owe us anything, they've given us more wonderful music than we could've reasonably asked for, and it's sustained us over the decades. \"And in a weird way I don't care if it turns out not to be as good as some of my favourite Abba moments, because they've given us way more than we could've asked them for.\" Abba-solutely. Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 6625, "answer_start": 3298, "text": "So what will Abba 2.0 sound like? Perhaps we can gather clues from the quartet's recent solo material. Agnetha Faltskog made an accomplished return to the studio with 2013's A, which included the single When You Really Loved Someone. Her sole writing credit, I Keep Them On The Floor Beside My Bed, found the singer scattering photos of an old lover across her bedroom floor, wondering what happened to their relationship. A pleading, age-appropriate ballad, it feels connected to the wistful melancholy of Abba's swansong The Visitors - an obvious jumping-off point for new material. Benny Andersson's recent album of solo piano pieces, released on classical label Deutsche Grammophon, reinforced his profound gift for melody. However it seems unlikely to inform the Abba reunion. A better indicator is the Benny Andersson Orchestra (BAO), which combines his passion for pop, rock and the oompah rhythms of Swedish folk with surprisingly intoxicating effects. The band's 2009 single Du Ar Min Man (You Are My Man) - which spent four years in the Swedish chart - wouldn't sound out of place on one of the earlier Abba albums. Anni-Frid Lyngstad, meanwhile, has largely avoided the recording studio since the '80s. However, her 2010 cover of Morning Has Broken, recorded with Swedish musician Georg Wadenius, shows how effective her voice would be over the sort of stripped-back acoustic arrangements Benny and Bjorn favoured in their 1990s musical Kristina. Thankfully, then, no-one seems inclined to give Abba an EDM makeover. The one song title they've revealed so far - I Still Have Faith In You - suggests a timeworn romance perfectly suited to Agnetha and Frida's strong-but-vulnerable vocals. Can we safely assume the crisis has been averted, then? \"I think their filter is very good,\" says Kitty Empire. \"I think their quality control will be impeccable. \"But my personal fear is that it will be the cheesy end of Abba rather than the kind of Abba songs that very gently twist a knife into your innards and make you cry.\" Rod Stephen, founder member of Bjorn Again, agrees. \"Yes, there is a risk to their legacy being undone [but] I know Benny and Bjorn wouldn't release something in this way unless they were good songs. \"Even if they do misfire, I don't think anybody would blame them for trying.\" For his cover-bandmate Agnetha (she doesn't like using her real name), the chance to put new songs in the set list comes as something of a relief. \"After doing Abba for 20 years every weekend, it would actually be quite nice to learn new material!\" she laughs. But for Paphides, the arrival of new music is less compelling than the story of how it came about. \"I'm happy for them,\" he says. \"I'm happy they felt so relaxed in each other's company, that it didn't seem like an onerous thing for them to even countenance the idea of making music together. \"It's a lovely thing - not just in terms of the creative merit, but because making music with people you love is a joyful thing. \"And they don't owe us anything, they've given us more wonderful music than we could've reasonably asked for, and it's sustained us over the decades. \"And in a weird way I don't care if it turns out not to be as good as some of my favourite Abba moments, because they've given us way more than we could've asked them for.\" Abba-solutely." } ], "id": "10230_0", "question": "EDM banger?" } ] } ]
Myanmar: What sparked latest violence in Rakhine?
19 September 2017
[ { "context": "A fresh outbreak of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state has caused hundreds of thousands of Rohingya civilians to flee to Bangladesh. The exodus began on 25 August after Rohingya militants attacked police posts, killing 12 members of the security forces. Those attacks led to a security crackdown. Myanmar's military says it is fighting insurgents but those who have fled say troops and Rakhine Buddhists are conducting a brutal campaign to drive them out. The Rohingya - a stateless mostly Muslim minority group - have faced years of persecution in Myanmar. Deep-seated tensions between them and the majority Buddhist population in Rakhine have led to deadly communal violence in the past. On 25 August Rohingya insurgents armed with knives and home-made bombs attacked more than 30 police posts in northern Rakhine, the government said. Huge numbers of Rohingya civilians then began fleeing over the border into Bangladesh. Many of them say that Burmese troops, backed by local Buddhist mobs, began burning their villages and attacking and killing civilians in response to the 25 August attacks. Some of those who have arrived in Bangladesh have bullet or other wounds. Observers on the ground and satellite images confirm many razed Muslim villages across northern Rakhine state. The Myanmar military accuses the militants and the Rohingyas of burning their own homes. But a BBC reporter saw one case of burning that appeared to contradict the official narrative and the UN human rights chief, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, has called on the military to \"stop pretending\" that Muslims are burning their own homes. Speaking on 11 September, Mr Zeid said the security operation in Myanmar seems \"a textbook example of ethnic cleansing\". It is not clear how many people have died. The military gave a toll of 400 on 1 September and said most of those were militants. But a UN human rights official said a week later that she thought the number could be over 1,000. Verifying the situation on the ground is difficult because access is restricted. The number of Rohingya seeking safety in Bangladesh had been steadily rising since 25 August, and turned into a flood by early September. The UN says more than 410,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the attacks. Many have arrived with injuries they say were sustained in the crackdown. Several dozen are reported to have drowned trying to cross the Naf River into Bangladesh. Early on there were reports of people being turned back at the border but that is no longer the case. Aid agencies and the UN are working to provide food, water and shelter for the huge influx. Bangladesh is already home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled previous outbreaks of violence in Myanmar. But existing refugee camps are now full, so the new arrivals are sleeping in any space they can find. Inside Myanmar, early on there were reports of Rakhine Buddhists moving south to escape the violence. A group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) says it carried out the 25 August attacks. The group first emerged in October 2016, when it carried out similar assaults on police posts, killing nine police officers. It says its main aim is to protect the Rohingya Muslim minority from state repression in Myanmar. The government says Arsa is a terrorist group whose leaders have been trained abroad. Arsa's leader is Ata Ullah, a Rohingya born in Pakistan who was raised in Saudi Arabia, according to the International Crisis Group. But a spokesman for the group told Asia Times that it had no links to jihadist groups and that its members were young Rohingya men angered by events since communal violence in 2012. Myanmar's government claims the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship, even though many say they have been there for generations. Bangladesh also denies they are its citizens. Many are living in temporary camps after being forced from their villages by the wave of communal violence that swept Rakhine in 2012. They live in one of Myanmar's poorest states, and their movements and access to employment are severely restricted. After the first attacks by Arsa in October 2016, many Rohingya accused the security forces of rape, killings, burning villages and torture during a subsequent crackdown. The UN is now carrying out a formal investigation, although the military denies wrongdoing. The UN human rights chief says rights violations in Rakhine have almost certainly contributed to the growth of Rohingya extremism. Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is facing mounting international criticism over her failure to protect the Rohingya. Fellow Nobel Peace laureates - including Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the Dalai Lama and South Africa's anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu - have called on her to do more to end the violence. Early on Ms Suu Kyi - who faces strong domestic anti-Rohingya sentiment and governs a nation in which significant power remains concentrated in the military - claimed the crisis was being distorted by a \"huge iceberg of misinformation\". In a speech to the nation on 19 September she condemned \"all human rights violations and unlawful violence\", saying she felt \"deeply for the suffering of all the people caught up in the conflict\". She said she wanted to find out why so many people were fleeing, but also pointed out that many Muslims had chosen to stay in Rakhine. She said people verified as refugees would be able to return home. Responding to her speech, rights group Amnesty accused her government of \"burying their heads in the sand\" and said Rohingya refugees could not \"return to this appalling status quo\". The plight of the Rohingya has sparked protests in many Muslim nations, including Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2037, "answer_start": 691, "text": "On 25 August Rohingya insurgents armed with knives and home-made bombs attacked more than 30 police posts in northern Rakhine, the government said. Huge numbers of Rohingya civilians then began fleeing over the border into Bangladesh. Many of them say that Burmese troops, backed by local Buddhist mobs, began burning their villages and attacking and killing civilians in response to the 25 August attacks. Some of those who have arrived in Bangladesh have bullet or other wounds. Observers on the ground and satellite images confirm many razed Muslim villages across northern Rakhine state. The Myanmar military accuses the militants and the Rohingyas of burning their own homes. But a BBC reporter saw one case of burning that appeared to contradict the official narrative and the UN human rights chief, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, has called on the military to \"stop pretending\" that Muslims are burning their own homes. Speaking on 11 September, Mr Zeid said the security operation in Myanmar seems \"a textbook example of ethnic cleansing\". It is not clear how many people have died. The military gave a toll of 400 on 1 September and said most of those were militants. But a UN human rights official said a week later that she thought the number could be over 1,000. Verifying the situation on the ground is difficult because access is restricted." } ], "id": "10231_0", "question": "When did the latest violence start?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2949, "answer_start": 2038, "text": "The number of Rohingya seeking safety in Bangladesh had been steadily rising since 25 August, and turned into a flood by early September. The UN says more than 410,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the attacks. Many have arrived with injuries they say were sustained in the crackdown. Several dozen are reported to have drowned trying to cross the Naf River into Bangladesh. Early on there were reports of people being turned back at the border but that is no longer the case. Aid agencies and the UN are working to provide food, water and shelter for the huge influx. Bangladesh is already home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled previous outbreaks of violence in Myanmar. But existing refugee camps are now full, so the new arrivals are sleeping in any space they can find. Inside Myanmar, early on there were reports of Rakhine Buddhists moving south to escape the violence." } ], "id": "10231_1", "question": "What is the situation at the border?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3673, "answer_start": 2950, "text": "A group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) says it carried out the 25 August attacks. The group first emerged in October 2016, when it carried out similar assaults on police posts, killing nine police officers. It says its main aim is to protect the Rohingya Muslim minority from state repression in Myanmar. The government says Arsa is a terrorist group whose leaders have been trained abroad. Arsa's leader is Ata Ullah, a Rohingya born in Pakistan who was raised in Saudi Arabia, according to the International Crisis Group. But a spokesman for the group told Asia Times that it had no links to jihadist groups and that its members were young Rohingya men angered by events since communal violence in 2012." } ], "id": "10231_2", "question": "Who are the militants?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4531, "answer_start": 3674, "text": "Myanmar's government claims the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship, even though many say they have been there for generations. Bangladesh also denies they are its citizens. Many are living in temporary camps after being forced from their villages by the wave of communal violence that swept Rakhine in 2012. They live in one of Myanmar's poorest states, and their movements and access to employment are severely restricted. After the first attacks by Arsa in October 2016, many Rohingya accused the security forces of rape, killings, burning villages and torture during a subsequent crackdown. The UN is now carrying out a formal investigation, although the military denies wrongdoing. The UN human rights chief says rights violations in Rakhine have almost certainly contributed to the growth of Rohingya extremism." } ], "id": "10231_3", "question": "What are the Rohingyas' grievances?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5812, "answer_start": 4532, "text": "Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is facing mounting international criticism over her failure to protect the Rohingya. Fellow Nobel Peace laureates - including Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the Dalai Lama and South Africa's anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu - have called on her to do more to end the violence. Early on Ms Suu Kyi - who faces strong domestic anti-Rohingya sentiment and governs a nation in which significant power remains concentrated in the military - claimed the crisis was being distorted by a \"huge iceberg of misinformation\". In a speech to the nation on 19 September she condemned \"all human rights violations and unlawful violence\", saying she felt \"deeply for the suffering of all the people caught up in the conflict\". She said she wanted to find out why so many people were fleeing, but also pointed out that many Muslims had chosen to stay in Rakhine. She said people verified as refugees would be able to return home. Responding to her speech, rights group Amnesty accused her government of \"burying their heads in the sand\" and said Rohingya refugees could not \"return to this appalling status quo\". The plight of the Rohingya has sparked protests in many Muslim nations, including Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia." } ], "id": "10231_4", "question": "What has Myanmar said?" } ] } ]
Rocky question: Would you buy a synthetic diamond?
21 October 2015
[ { "context": "Picture this, you're about to splash out on a diamond that has costs thousands. It's expensive because it comes from a mine where it has lain undiscovered for centuries. An alternative is to choose a slightly cheaper and virtually identical one created inside a laboratory in just a few short weeks. So which one would you go for? It's a question that's beginning to dominate the jewellery industry - and its consumers. Long-time traditional diamond miners and jewellers are now pitted against companies that recreate diamonds that are chemically indistinct from their mined counterparts. The firms producing these man-made rocks say they're offering a conflict-free alternative - or a diamond free of any association with 'blood diamonds' - a term used to describe gems mined mainly in Africa which are sold to finance insurgencies and conflicts. One new firm creating man-made diamonds is Singapore's IIa Technologies. Its factory opened this year and includes a 200,000 sq ft facility. Within the industry, its laboratory is referred to as a \"greenhouse\" and IIa's is the world's largest. The technology it is using has existed for decades to produce man-made diamonds for commercial cutters and drills. However, more recently the retail jewellery industry has warmed to the technology. After eight years and more than $40m (PS25.8m) in research to perfect the carbon vapour deposit technology it predominantly uses, IIa says it has found the way to recreate these rare rocks for the jewellery industry. And the firm's chief executive Vishal Mehta is on a mission. He wants to see lab-grown diamonds become as coveted as the rocks that have spent millions of years in the ground. Some 70% of the firm's lab-grown diamonds are aimed at the jewellery industry. \"High-quality diamond growing is a very complicated and difficult art,\" says Mr Mehta. There are two methods of creating diamonds. There is the high pressure, high temperature technology that has been used for decades to create coloured as well as industrial diamonds; then there is the carbon vapour deposit method favoured by IIa. IIa makes 90% of its diamonds using this technique. Currently this produces one- to three-carat diamonds that are sold for about 30% less than naturally-mined ones. \"These diamonds are unique,\" says Mr Mehta. \"What's important is that you don't need to dig up the earth, you don't need to displace anyone, you don't need to do anything that could harm what we need to preserve for our future generations.\" With such technology, experts say only a trained gemmologist using specialist equipment can now tell the stones apart. So miners and jewellers are investing in and creating machines able to make the distinction. De Beers, the firm behind famous marketing slogan \"a diamond is forever\", is one such. It is making sure the technology and the equipment is available to allow industry and consumers to identify a synthetic diamond from a real one. \"That's important because consumers need to be confident, when they are spending what is a large amount of money on a precious diamond, that it is indeed the precious natural diamond that they think it is,\" says De Beer's executive vice-president for marketing, Stephen Lussier. And with diamond sales at record highs, surpassing the $80bn mark for the first time in 2014, traditional diamond firms are keen to hang onto those highs - and avoid cases of industry fraud. \"Values have always gone up over time,\" says Charlie Rosario, senior vice president at New York-based diamond manufacturers and distributers Lazare Kaplan International. \"You have a luxury high quality sector of this industry, [but] I don't believe that sector of the industry is threatened by synthetic diamonds.\" He does acknowledge however that at the lower end of the price spectrum \"mass volume pieces of jewellery that have many inferior qualities and smaller diamonds\" may be facing a challenge. \"There is going to be a place for synthetic diamonds but not at the top end,\" he says. \"You're not going to see at auction houses that people are going to go crazy over a synthetic diamond.\" Lazare Kaplan itself patented a cutting formula in 1919, which Mr Rosario says brings out the brilliance of diamonds and is the reason why its stones sell for above average prices. So would he rule out ever using Lazare's patented cutting technique on man-made diamonds? \"You never say never,\" he says, \"because you can always learn something, and if the environment and the situations change, you have to be open to opportunity. \"You can't beat science, science is going to continue to evolve.\" But beauty ultimately is in the eyes of the beholder, and in the interests of research I took up Mr Mehta's offer to borrow his lab-grown diamond rings to show jewellery buyers at one of Southeast Asia's largest jewellery shows. Singapore's annual JewelFest brings together well-known jewellers from the region to show off and sell their wares. Among the highlights this year were two diamond and jewel encrusted Victoria's Secret bras worth $2m each from the Dubai and Geneva-based luxury jeweller Mouawad. I showed the lab-grown diamond jewellery I'd been loaned to some members of the public at the show. Some were sceptical, while others were unaware that lab-made diamonds could be so similar to mined ones. Some said: \"If it's cheaper, yes, I'd buy them, why not?\" While others said: \"Only real diamonds are a girl's best friends.\" Mr Mehta acknowledges that it may take a while to educate consumers, especially Asian ones, about the virtues of conflict free and sustainable diamonds, but in North America and other Western markets, they have already had some luck in with younger, more socially conscious buyers. It is a message he and other diamond manufacturers are hoping consumers will warm to, if they are going to be able to ensure a sustainable supply of diamonds in the future. \"Diamond mines have already started depleting, so the source of diamonds for the future has already started shrinking,\" he says. \"Grown diamonds will offer a new growing source as opposed to depleting source of raw material for the entire industry, it will offer the ability for every retailer out there to sell a diamond ring.\" So creating them instead could well be the answer to ensuring a \"diamond is forever\".", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3417, "answer_start": 2504, "text": "With such technology, experts say only a trained gemmologist using specialist equipment can now tell the stones apart. So miners and jewellers are investing in and creating machines able to make the distinction. De Beers, the firm behind famous marketing slogan \"a diamond is forever\", is one such. It is making sure the technology and the equipment is available to allow industry and consumers to identify a synthetic diamond from a real one. \"That's important because consumers need to be confident, when they are spending what is a large amount of money on a precious diamond, that it is indeed the precious natural diamond that they think it is,\" says De Beer's executive vice-president for marketing, Stephen Lussier. And with diamond sales at record highs, surpassing the $80bn mark for the first time in 2014, traditional diamond firms are keen to hang onto those highs - and avoid cases of industry fraud." } ], "id": "10232_0", "question": "Mined or synthetic?" } ] } ]
The diets cutting one in five lives short every year
4 April 2019
[ { "context": "The food we eat is putting 11 million of us into an early grave each year, an influential study shows. The analysis, in the Lancet, found that our daily diet is a bigger killer than smoking and is now involved in one in five deaths around the world. Salt - whether in bread, soy sauce or processed meals - shortened the highest number of lives. Researchers say this study is not about obesity, but \"poor quality\" diets damaging hearts and causing cancer. The Global Burden of Disease Study is the most authoritative assessment of how people are dying in every country in the world. The latest analysis used estimates of countries' eating habits to pin down how often diet was shortening lives. The dangerous diets were those containing: Low levels of nuts, seeds, vegetables, omega-3 from seafood and fibre were the other major killers. \"We find that diet is one of the dominant drivers of health around the world, it's really quite profound,\" Prof Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington told the BBC. About 10 million out of the 11 million diet-related deaths were because of cardiovascular disease and that explains why salt is such a problem. Too much salt raises blood pressure and that in turn raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Salt can also have a direct effect on the heart and blood vessels, leading to heart failure when the organ does not work effectively. Whole grains, fruit and vegetables have the opposite effect - they are \"cardioprotective\" and lower the risk of heart problems. Cancers and type 2 diabetes made up the rest of the diet-related deaths. No country is perfect and each favours some part of a healthy diet more than others, but this is how far the world is from an optimal diet. The healthy foods missing from the most diets around the world were nuts and seeds, according to the study. Eager readers will have noticed they featured heavily in the planetary health diet, unveiled in January, to save lives, save the planet and feed 10 billion people. So why don't we munch them? Prof Nita Forouhi, from the University of Cambridge, said: \"The perception is they are little packs of energy that will make you fat, whereas they are packed full of good fats. \"And most people don't see them as mainstream food; and the other issue is cost.\" The huge fat versus sugar debate and the link between red and processed meats with cancer have attracted huge headlines in recent years. \"These can be harmful as we show, but they are much smaller issues than low whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetable intake,\" said Prof Murray. Although, the study did show too many fizzy drinks were being drunk in every corner of the world. The researchers say it is time for health campaigns to switch from talking about nutrients like fat and sugar and instead promote healthy foods. Bad diets are knocking a couple of years off life expectancies around the world, according to the researchers. But Prof Murray warns this is just the average and says the real question we should be asking is: \"Am I going to die in my 50s from a heart attack? Or am I going to have some of the diet-related cancers in my 40s?\" Mediterranean countries, particularly France, Spain and Israel, have some of the lowest numbers of diet-related deaths in the world. Countries in South East, Southern and Central Asia are at the opposite end of the spectrum. - Israel has the lowest diet-related deaths - 89 per 100,000 people a year - Uzbekistan has the highest diet-related deaths - 892 per 100,000 people a year Japan and China have curiously contrasting fortunes that reflect their changing relationship with salt. China consumes enormous amounts of salt with soy and other salty sauces being a key part of the country's cuisine. But the rising popularity of processed foods is introducing yet more salt to their diet. It has the highest death rate because of salt of any country. Prof Murray said: \"Japan is very interesting because if you go back 30 to 40 years, they like China today had enormous salt intake. \"Salt is still their number one problem, but it has come down dramatically, \"And they have a diet that is higher in many of the things we think are protective for heart disease such as vegetables and fruit.\" The UK is behind countries like France, Denmark and Belgium. The biggest problems are a lack of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and nuts and seeds. The study estimates 14% of UK deaths are related to diet, with 127 diet-related deaths per 100,000 people a year. Prof Murray said: \"Diet quality matters no matter what weight you are. \"The really big story for people to act on is increase your whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetable intake and reduce salt if you can.\" But money is an issue. It is estimated that having your five fruit and veg a day would take up 52% of household income in poorer countries. But Prof Forouhi warns: \"The public can make healthier choices if informed and have the resources, but if what is on the shelves as buy-one-get-one-free is always unhealthy, then that message will fall down. \"Cheaper options that are healthy are badly needed.\" Both agreed there needed to be a shift from focusing on nutrients (fat/sugar/salt) and on to which actual foods people should eat. Follow James on Twitter.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1078, "answer_start": 455, "text": "The Global Burden of Disease Study is the most authoritative assessment of how people are dying in every country in the world. The latest analysis used estimates of countries' eating habits to pin down how often diet was shortening lives. The dangerous diets were those containing: Low levels of nuts, seeds, vegetables, omega-3 from seafood and fibre were the other major killers. \"We find that diet is one of the dominant drivers of health around the world, it's really quite profound,\" Prof Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington told the BBC." } ], "id": "10233_0", "question": "So which diets have got it in for me?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1656, "answer_start": 1079, "text": "About 10 million out of the 11 million diet-related deaths were because of cardiovascular disease and that explains why salt is such a problem. Too much salt raises blood pressure and that in turn raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Salt can also have a direct effect on the heart and blood vessels, leading to heart failure when the organ does not work effectively. Whole grains, fruit and vegetables have the opposite effect - they are \"cardioprotective\" and lower the risk of heart problems. Cancers and type 2 diabetes made up the rest of the diet-related deaths." } ], "id": "10233_1", "question": "How is this killing people?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1796, "answer_start": 1657, "text": "No country is perfect and each favours some part of a healthy diet more than others, but this is how far the world is from an optimal diet." } ], "id": "10233_2", "question": "How far is the world off a perfect diet?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2356, "answer_start": 1797, "text": "The healthy foods missing from the most diets around the world were nuts and seeds, according to the study. Eager readers will have noticed they featured heavily in the planetary health diet, unveiled in January, to save lives, save the planet and feed 10 billion people. So why don't we munch them? Prof Nita Forouhi, from the University of Cambridge, said: \"The perception is they are little packs of energy that will make you fat, whereas they are packed full of good fats. \"And most people don't see them as mainstream food; and the other issue is cost.\"" } ], "id": "10233_3", "question": "Nuts and seeds again?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2886, "answer_start": 2357, "text": "The huge fat versus sugar debate and the link between red and processed meats with cancer have attracted huge headlines in recent years. \"These can be harmful as we show, but they are much smaller issues than low whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetable intake,\" said Prof Murray. Although, the study did show too many fizzy drinks were being drunk in every corner of the world. The researchers say it is time for health campaigns to switch from talking about nutrients like fat and sugar and instead promote healthy foods." } ], "id": "10233_4", "question": "I thought meat and sugar were the bad guys?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4303, "answer_start": 3213, "text": "Mediterranean countries, particularly France, Spain and Israel, have some of the lowest numbers of diet-related deaths in the world. Countries in South East, Southern and Central Asia are at the opposite end of the spectrum. - Israel has the lowest diet-related deaths - 89 per 100,000 people a year - Uzbekistan has the highest diet-related deaths - 892 per 100,000 people a year Japan and China have curiously contrasting fortunes that reflect their changing relationship with salt. China consumes enormous amounts of salt with soy and other salty sauces being a key part of the country's cuisine. But the rising popularity of processed foods is introducing yet more salt to their diet. It has the highest death rate because of salt of any country. Prof Murray said: \"Japan is very interesting because if you go back 30 to 40 years, they like China today had enormous salt intake. \"Salt is still their number one problem, but it has come down dramatically, \"And they have a diet that is higher in many of the things we think are protective for heart disease such as vegetables and fruit.\"" } ], "id": "10233_5", "question": "Are any countries doing well?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4565, "answer_start": 4304, "text": "The UK is behind countries like France, Denmark and Belgium. The biggest problems are a lack of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and nuts and seeds. The study estimates 14% of UK deaths are related to diet, with 127 diet-related deaths per 100,000 people a year." } ], "id": "10233_6", "question": "What about the UK?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5336, "answer_start": 4566, "text": "Prof Murray said: \"Diet quality matters no matter what weight you are. \"The really big story for people to act on is increase your whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetable intake and reduce salt if you can.\" But money is an issue. It is estimated that having your five fruit and veg a day would take up 52% of household income in poorer countries. But Prof Forouhi warns: \"The public can make healthier choices if informed and have the resources, but if what is on the shelves as buy-one-get-one-free is always unhealthy, then that message will fall down. \"Cheaper options that are healthy are badly needed.\" Both agreed there needed to be a shift from focusing on nutrients (fat/sugar/salt) and on to which actual foods people should eat. Follow James on Twitter." } ], "id": "10233_7", "question": "Any advice?" } ] } ]
Bolivian army chief urges Morales to step down
10 November 2019
[ { "context": "The army chief in Bolivia has urged President Evo Morales to step down amid protests stemming from his disputed re-election last month. The call comes hours after Mr Morales agreed to call a new election after international monitors called for the result to be annulled. The Organization of American States (OAS), which monitored the elections, found \"clear manipulation\". Mr Morales has denied wrongdoing and previous calls to resign. General Williams Kaliman told reporters on Sunday: \"After analysing the conflicted domestic situation, we ask the president to resign his presidential mandate to allow for pacification and the maintaining of stability, for the good of our Bolivia.\" He added that the military had ordered \"operations in the air and on land to neutralise armed groups acting outside the law\". Opposition leader Carlos Mesa - who came second in last month's poll - had also urged Mr Morales and his vice-president to rule themselves out of the new election. Nor should they preside over the electoral process, he said. \"If you have an iota of patriotism, you should step aside,\" Mr Mesa said at a news conference. Mr Morales had already come under increased pressure on Sunday, with several political allies resigning, some citing fears for the safety of their families. In its preliminary report on Sunday, the OAS said it had found \"clear manipulations\" of Bolivia's voting system and it could not verify the result of the 20 October race. During the audit, it said it found physical records with alterations and forged signatures, and evidence of wide-scale data manipulation. The international body concluded it was unlikely that Mr Morales had won by the 10% margin required for a victory. It recommended that a new electoral commission be set up before a fresh election could take place. The president was first elected in 2006. In his announcement on Sunday, he said the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TES) would be overhauled before the poll, with parliament choosing its members. Bolivia's attorney general has now ordered an investigation into the conduct of TES members. Mr Morales, who is Bolivia's first indigenous president, told reporters that he had made the decision \"to reduce all tension\".", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1810, "answer_start": 1288, "text": "In its preliminary report on Sunday, the OAS said it had found \"clear manipulations\" of Bolivia's voting system and it could not verify the result of the 20 October race. During the audit, it said it found physical records with alterations and forged signatures, and evidence of wide-scale data manipulation. The international body concluded it was unlikely that Mr Morales had won by the 10% margin required for a victory. It recommended that a new electoral commission be set up before a fresh election could take place." } ], "id": "10234_0", "question": "What did the OAS say?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2232, "answer_start": 1811, "text": "The president was first elected in 2006. In his announcement on Sunday, he said the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TES) would be overhauled before the poll, with parliament choosing its members. Bolivia's attorney general has now ordered an investigation into the conduct of TES members. Mr Morales, who is Bolivia's first indigenous president, told reporters that he had made the decision \"to reduce all tension\"." } ], "id": "10234_1", "question": "How did Mr Morales respond?" } ] } ]
Afghanistan presidential election: Ghani set for second term after initial results
22 December 2019
[ { "context": "Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appears set to win a second term, after preliminary election results showed he was on course to win a narrow majority. He secured 50.64% of the vote in the September 28 election, officials said. The initial results were delayed amid protests and allegations of fraud. Mr Ghani's main rival, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, won 39.52% of the vote. But he has rejected the result and is expected to file an appeal before the final result is announced. \"We would like to make it clear once again... that our team will not accept the result of this fraudulent vote unless our legitimate demands are addressed,\" a statement from Dr Abdullah's team said on Sunday. Dr Abdullah disputes about 300,000 votes. An announcement of the final result could take weeks. In the last presidential election five years ago, Mr Ghani and Dr Abdullah became embroiled in a long-running dispute about the results which caused months of political uncertainty. The UN, which supported the election process, welcomed the preliminary results and urged the election commission to deal \"transparently and thoroughly\" with any complaints. Just days after voters went to the polls, Mr Abdullah and Mr Ghani both declared victory but neither candidate offered evidence in support of their claim. Preliminary results were expected in October but they were delayed due to technical issues and allegations of fraud. Turnout was also the lowest it has been since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, with just 1.82m votes counted. Afghanistan's total population stands at about 37 million, with 9.6 million registered voters. Nearly one million votes were reportedly excluded due to irregularities. The low turnout is in part attributed to widespread safety concerns as the Taliban had threatened to attack polling stations and targeted election rallies before polling day. But there was also a perceived lack of enthusiasm ahead of the vote - not helped by the fact the same two men who had fought for months over the top job in 2014 were the front-runners once again. Both have been accused of corruption while in office. Meanwhile, unemployment stands at about 25%, according to the UN, and almost 55% of Afghans are living below the poverty line. Whoever wins will lead a country devastated by four decades of war while the conflict continues to kill thousands of people every year. Talks between the US and the Taliban collapsed after President Donald Trump declared them \"dead\" in September. The Taliban refuse to negotiate directly with the Afghan government, saying it is illegitimate. They say they will only talk to Afghan authorities after a deal with the US is agreed. The US currently has about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, and there are thousands more from a Nato mission to train, advise and assist the country's own security forces.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2231, "answer_start": 1130, "text": "Just days after voters went to the polls, Mr Abdullah and Mr Ghani both declared victory but neither candidate offered evidence in support of their claim. Preliminary results were expected in October but they were delayed due to technical issues and allegations of fraud. Turnout was also the lowest it has been since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, with just 1.82m votes counted. Afghanistan's total population stands at about 37 million, with 9.6 million registered voters. Nearly one million votes were reportedly excluded due to irregularities. The low turnout is in part attributed to widespread safety concerns as the Taliban had threatened to attack polling stations and targeted election rallies before polling day. But there was also a perceived lack of enthusiasm ahead of the vote - not helped by the fact the same two men who had fought for months over the top job in 2014 were the front-runners once again. Both have been accused of corruption while in office. Meanwhile, unemployment stands at about 25%, according to the UN, and almost 55% of Afghans are living below the poverty line." } ], "id": "10235_0", "question": "What's the background?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2830, "answer_start": 2232, "text": "Whoever wins will lead a country devastated by four decades of war while the conflict continues to kill thousands of people every year. Talks between the US and the Taliban collapsed after President Donald Trump declared them \"dead\" in September. The Taliban refuse to negotiate directly with the Afghan government, saying it is illegitimate. They say they will only talk to Afghan authorities after a deal with the US is agreed. The US currently has about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, and there are thousands more from a Nato mission to train, advise and assist the country's own security forces." } ], "id": "10235_1", "question": "Why does this election matter?" } ] } ]
Typhoon Hagibis: Japan suffers deadly floods and landslides from storm
13 October 2019
[ { "context": "At least nine people are reported dead as Japan recovers from its biggest storm in decades. Typhoon Hagibis triggered floods and landslides as it battered the country with wind speeds of 225km/h (140mph). Rivers have breached their banks in at least 14 different places, inundating residential neighbourhoods. The storm led to some Rugby World Cup matches being cancelled but a key fixture between Japan and Scotland will go ahead on Sunday. Hagibis is heading north and is expected to move back into the North Pacific later on Sunday. It made landfall on Saturday shortly before 19:00 local time (10:00 GMT), in Izu Peninsula, south-west of Tokyo and moved up the east coast. Almost half a million homes were left without power. In the town of Hakone near Mount Fuji more than 1m (3ft) of rain fell on Friday and Saturday, the highest total ever recorded in Japan over 48 hours. Further north in Nagano prefecture, levees along the Chikuma river gave way sending water rushing through residential areas, inundating houses. Flood defences around Tokyo have held and river levels are now falling, reports the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Japan. Officials said some of those killed were swept away by landslides while others were trapped in their cars as floodwaters rose. Another 15 people are listed as missing and dozens are reported injured. More than seven million people were urged to leave their homes as the huge storm approached, but it is thought only 50,000 stayed in shelters. Many residents stocked up on provisions before the typhoon's arrival, leaving supermarkets with empty shelves. \"Unprecedented heavy rain has been seen in cities, towns and villages for which the emergency warning was issued,\" Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) forecaster Yasushi Kajiwara told a press briefing. Many bullet train services were halted, and several lines on the Tokyo metro were suspended for most of Saturday. All flights to and from Tokyo's Haneda airport and Narita airport in Chiba have been cancelled - more than 1,000 in total. Two Rugby World Cup games scheduled for Saturday were cancelled on safety grounds and declared as draws - England-France and New Zealand-Italy. The cancellations were the first in the tournament's 32-year history. Sunday's Namibia-Canada match due to take place in Kamaishi was also cancelled and declared a draw. The US-Tonga fixture in Osaka and Wales-Uruguay in Kumamoto will go ahead as scheduled on Sunday, organisers said. Meanwhile, a crunch game between Scotland and tournament hosts Japan on Sunday will now go ahead. The decision followed a safety inspection. The Japanese Formula One Grand Prix is also taking place on Sunday. Local resident James Babb spoke to the BBC from an evacuation centre in Hachioji, western Tokyo. He said the river near his house was on the brink of overflowing. \"I am with my sister-in-law, who is disabled,\" he said. \"Our house may flood. They have given us a blanket and a biscuit.\" Andrew Higgins, an English teacher who lives in Tochigi, north of Tokyo, told the BBC he had \"lived through a few typhoons\" during seven years in Japan. \"I feel like this time Japan, generally, has taken this typhoon a lot more seriously,\" he said. \"People were out preparing last night. A lot of people were stocking up.\" Only last month Typhoon Faxai wreaked havoc on parts of Japan, damaging 30,000 homes, most of which have not yet been repaired. \"I evacuated because my roof was ripped off by the other typhoon and rain came in. I'm so worried about my house,\" a 93-year-old man told NHK, from a shelter in Tateyama, Chiba. Japan suffers about 20 typhoons a year, but Tokyo is rarely hit on this scale.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2677, "answer_start": 1347, "text": "More than seven million people were urged to leave their homes as the huge storm approached, but it is thought only 50,000 stayed in shelters. Many residents stocked up on provisions before the typhoon's arrival, leaving supermarkets with empty shelves. \"Unprecedented heavy rain has been seen in cities, towns and villages for which the emergency warning was issued,\" Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) forecaster Yasushi Kajiwara told a press briefing. Many bullet train services were halted, and several lines on the Tokyo metro were suspended for most of Saturday. All flights to and from Tokyo's Haneda airport and Narita airport in Chiba have been cancelled - more than 1,000 in total. Two Rugby World Cup games scheduled for Saturday were cancelled on safety grounds and declared as draws - England-France and New Zealand-Italy. The cancellations were the first in the tournament's 32-year history. Sunday's Namibia-Canada match due to take place in Kamaishi was also cancelled and declared a draw. The US-Tonga fixture in Osaka and Wales-Uruguay in Kumamoto will go ahead as scheduled on Sunday, organisers said. Meanwhile, a crunch game between Scotland and tournament hosts Japan on Sunday will now go ahead. The decision followed a safety inspection. The Japanese Formula One Grand Prix is also taking place on Sunday." } ], "id": "10236_0", "question": "What preparations were made?" } ] } ]
Chemnitz protests: Germany to probe leak of stabbing suspect
30 August 2018
[ { "context": "Germany is investigating who leaked an arrest warrant for an Iraqi suspect in a stabbing case to far-right groups, a case that triggered violent protests. Thousands joined a far-right rally in the eastern city of Chemnitz on Sunday after the fatal stabbing. The unauthorised disclosure has increased concerns of possible links between police and anti-migrant groups. Chemnitz is braced for fresh protests on Thursday, with local authorities calling in federal police to help. Police have also opened 10 cases against far-right protesters who gave the illegal Hitler salute during the first day of unrest. In a separate incident, police are hunting three men after a migrant in the northern city of Wismar was subjected to xenophobic insults and beaten with a chain on Wednesday evening. The victim suffered a broken nose and bruises to his face and upper body, investigators said. A Saxony official called the leak of the arrest warrant - most likely from a police or judicial source - a scandal. \"We have a bigger problem to deal with there,\" said Martin Dulig, the state of Saxony's deputy premier, to German media. The disclosure, which led to the warrant being published on far-right websites, is highly unusual in Germany which has strict rules for judicial proceedings. The 22-year-old Iraqi man and a 23-year-old Syrian were arrested and charged with manslaughter on Monday. The leaked warrant for the Iraqi suspect revealed details of the number of stab wounds as well as the full names of suspects, the victim, witnesses and the judge. It also contained the Iraqi's address. Critics believe it may have been leaked to further incite anti-immigrant sentiments. In the early hours, a fight broke out between \"multiple nationalities\" on the sidelines of a street festival, police said. The stabbing victim, a 35-year-old carpenter named Daniel H, was critically wounded and died in hospital. It remains unclear what triggered the brawl, but police dismissed online rumours that the victim had been defending a woman from sexual assault. Two other German men with him, aged 33 and 38, were seriously hurt, police said. A half-Cuban woman who grew up with Daniel H, Nancy Larssen, told Deutsche Welle news that media misreporting had helped fuel the \"horrible\" far-right protest. Another friend of Daniel H, quoted by the Chemnitz news site Freie Presse, described him as left-wing, with a seven-year-old son. News of the incident involving migrants, reinforced with the leaked arrest warrant, incited hundreds and then thousands of right-wing extremists and sympathisers to take to the streets. On Monday, some 6,000 took part in a far-right demonstration, while 1,000 people gathered in a rival anti-fascist rally, police said. Several people were injured as fireworks and objects were hurled on both sides. Freelance journalist Johannes Grunert told Spiegel Online he had witnessed some protesters using bottles to attack people \"who did not look German\". Local authorities have come under fire for failing to contain the situation - with a police spokesperson conceding they had not initially deployed enough officers. Saxony Interior Minister Roland Woller said far-right activists had quickly travelled to Chemnitz not only from other parts of eastern Germany but also the capital Berlin and the western regions of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. Chemnitz is in a region where the far-right, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the Pegida movement are particularly strong. Both groups, along with another local right-wing group called Pro Chemnitz, have reportedly called for more protests on Thursday and Saturday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly condemned the far-right protests, in which several foreigners were chased and injured by violent participants. \"Hate in the streets,\" she said, \"has nothing to do with our constitutional state\". Michael Kretschmer, the premier of Saxony and a close Merkel ally, has vowed to deal firmly with extremists in his state. \"The fact that we have a Syrian and an Iraqi suspect is no reason - no reason at all - for a general suspicion of all foreign residents,\" he said. The protests have exposed deep divisions in German society over the influx of more than one million migrants, mostly Muslims fleeing Middle East conflicts, after Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision in 2015 to let them in. However, the number of people seeking asylum has fallen steeply. Nonetheless, right-wing groups such as the AfD - which entered parliament for the first time in 2017 with 12.6% of the vote and 94 seats - deplore Mrs Merkel's liberal immigration policy.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2413, "answer_start": 1669, "text": "In the early hours, a fight broke out between \"multiple nationalities\" on the sidelines of a street festival, police said. The stabbing victim, a 35-year-old carpenter named Daniel H, was critically wounded and died in hospital. It remains unclear what triggered the brawl, but police dismissed online rumours that the victim had been defending a woman from sexual assault. Two other German men with him, aged 33 and 38, were seriously hurt, police said. A half-Cuban woman who grew up with Daniel H, Nancy Larssen, told Deutsche Welle news that media misreporting had helped fuel the \"horrible\" far-right protest. Another friend of Daniel H, quoted by the Chemnitz news site Freie Presse, described him as left-wing, with a seven-year-old son." } ], "id": "10237_0", "question": "What happened on Sunday?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3655, "answer_start": 2414, "text": "News of the incident involving migrants, reinforced with the leaked arrest warrant, incited hundreds and then thousands of right-wing extremists and sympathisers to take to the streets. On Monday, some 6,000 took part in a far-right demonstration, while 1,000 people gathered in a rival anti-fascist rally, police said. Several people were injured as fireworks and objects were hurled on both sides. Freelance journalist Johannes Grunert told Spiegel Online he had witnessed some protesters using bottles to attack people \"who did not look German\". Local authorities have come under fire for failing to contain the situation - with a police spokesperson conceding they had not initially deployed enough officers. Saxony Interior Minister Roland Woller said far-right activists had quickly travelled to Chemnitz not only from other parts of eastern Germany but also the capital Berlin and the western regions of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. Chemnitz is in a region where the far-right, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the Pegida movement are particularly strong. Both groups, along with another local right-wing group called Pro Chemnitz, have reportedly called for more protests on Thursday and Saturday." } ], "id": "10237_1", "question": "How did protests spread?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4641, "answer_start": 3656, "text": "German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly condemned the far-right protests, in which several foreigners were chased and injured by violent participants. \"Hate in the streets,\" she said, \"has nothing to do with our constitutional state\". Michael Kretschmer, the premier of Saxony and a close Merkel ally, has vowed to deal firmly with extremists in his state. \"The fact that we have a Syrian and an Iraqi suspect is no reason - no reason at all - for a general suspicion of all foreign residents,\" he said. The protests have exposed deep divisions in German society over the influx of more than one million migrants, mostly Muslims fleeing Middle East conflicts, after Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision in 2015 to let them in. However, the number of people seeking asylum has fallen steeply. Nonetheless, right-wing groups such as the AfD - which entered parliament for the first time in 2017 with 12.6% of the vote and 94 seats - deplore Mrs Merkel's liberal immigration policy." } ], "id": "10237_2", "question": "What does the government say?" } ] } ]
India court legalises gay sex in landmark ruling
6 September 2018
[ { "context": "In a historic decision, India's Supreme Court has ruled that gay sex is no longer a criminal offence. The ruling overturns a 2013 judgement that upheld a colonial-era law, known as section 377, under which gay sex is categorised as an \"unnatural offence\". The court has now ruled discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a fundamental violation of rights. Campaigners outside the court cheered and some broke down in tears as the ruling was handed down. Although public opinion in India's biggest cities has been in favour of scrapping the law, there remains strong opposition among religious groups and in conservative rural communities. But this ruling, from the top court, is the final say in the matter and represents a huge victory for India's LGBT community. One activist outside the court told the BBC: \"I hadn't come out to my parents until now. But today, I guess I have.\" Thursday's decision was delivered by a five-judge bench headed by India's outgoing chief justice Dipak Misra and was unanimous. Reading out the judgement, he said: \"Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional.\" Another judge, Indu Malhotra, said she believed \"history owes an apology\" to LGBT people for ostracising them. Justice DY Chandrachud said the state had no right to control the private lives of LGBT community members and that the denial of the right to sexual orientation was the same as denying the right to privacy. The ruling effectively allows gay sex among consenting adults in private. It is a 157-year-old colonial-era law which criminalises certain sexual acts as \"unnatural offences\" that are punishable by a 10-year jail term. The law punishes, in its own words, \"carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal\". While the statute criminalises all anal and oral sex, it has largely affected same-sex relationships. Human rights groups say police have used the statute to harass and abuse members of the LGBT community. Geeta Pandey, BBC News, Delhi Even though it was rarely invoked when it involved consenting adults, section 377 could be - and was sometimes - used as a tool for harassment. It is not surprising then that campaigners are describing the verdict as a \"new dawn for personal liberty\". But in a largely conservative India, where leaders of all religions have consistently opposed gay sex, it will still be a while before attitudes change and the community finds full acceptance. But laws almost always play an important role in changing mindsets, and by recognising the community's right to love, the Supreme Court has restored the dignity denied to them for a very long time. It's been a tortuous route. A bid to repeal section 377 was initiated in 2001 and was batted between court and government until 2009, when the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of decriminalisation. Several political, social and religious groups then mobilised to restore the law and in 2013 the Supreme Court struck down the High Court ruling. Anti-section 377 activists then submitted a \"curative petition\" - a formal request to review an earlier court order perceived as a \"miscarriage of justice\" - and in 2016 the Supreme Court decided to revisit its ruling. One of joy given that the community has fought vigorously to strike down the law. Equal rights activists had argued that the very existence of such a law was proof of discrimination based on sexual orientation. LGBT activist Harish Iyer told the BBC: \"I'm absolutely elated. It's like a second freedom struggle where finally we have thrown a British law out of this country... I think the next step would be to get anti-discrimination laws in place, or anti-bullying laws.\" Messages of support were posted on Twitter, including from film director Karan Johar: Journalist Anna MM Vetticad said India had been saved from its shame: The governing BJP party has said it would leave the decision to the Supreme Court. However, one of its members said he was disappointed with the verdict. Subramanian Swamy, known for making provocative comments, said: \"It could give rise to an increase in the number of HIV cases.\" Meanwhile, the main opposition Congress party has welcomed the ruling, saying they \"hope this is the beginning of a more equal and inclusive society\". The UN has also welcomed the ruling, saying \"sexual orientation and gender expression form an integral part of an individual's identity the world over\". The court said other aspects of section 377 dealing with unnatural sex with animals and children would remain in force. The judges also explicitly said that they only ruled on the constitutional validity of section 377 and were not looking at it in terms of other rights such as those related to marriage or inheritance. It remains too early to say what this will translate to in the longer term. Author and commentator Sandip Roy told the BBC that although the ruling was a cause for celebration, there were still hurdles to overcome, and a need for anti-discrimination laws. \"I think we would be foolish to think that this is the end of the fight,\" he said. The 2017 report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (Ilga) lists 72 countries and territories where same-sex relationships are still criminalised, although that includes India before its latest ruling. Most of them are in Africa, the Middle East and other parts of south Asia. The report said homosexuality could still result in the death penalty in eight nations.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1542, "answer_start": 894, "text": "Thursday's decision was delivered by a five-judge bench headed by India's outgoing chief justice Dipak Misra and was unanimous. Reading out the judgement, he said: \"Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional.\" Another judge, Indu Malhotra, said she believed \"history owes an apology\" to LGBT people for ostracising them. Justice DY Chandrachud said the state had no right to control the private lives of LGBT community members and that the denial of the right to sexual orientation was the same as denying the right to privacy. The ruling effectively allows gay sex among consenting adults in private." } ], "id": "10238_0", "question": "What have the judges said?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2009, "answer_start": 1543, "text": "It is a 157-year-old colonial-era law which criminalises certain sexual acts as \"unnatural offences\" that are punishable by a 10-year jail term. The law punishes, in its own words, \"carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal\". While the statute criminalises all anal and oral sex, it has largely affected same-sex relationships. Human rights groups say police have used the statute to harass and abuse members of the LGBT community." } ], "id": "10238_1", "question": "What is section 377?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3245, "answer_start": 2683, "text": "It's been a tortuous route. A bid to repeal section 377 was initiated in 2001 and was batted between court and government until 2009, when the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of decriminalisation. Several political, social and religious groups then mobilised to restore the law and in 2013 the Supreme Court struck down the High Court ruling. Anti-section 377 activists then submitted a \"curative petition\" - a formal request to review an earlier court order perceived as a \"miscarriage of justice\" - and in 2016 the Supreme Court decided to revisit its ruling." } ], "id": "10238_2", "question": "How did we get to this point?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3876, "answer_start": 3246, "text": "One of joy given that the community has fought vigorously to strike down the law. Equal rights activists had argued that the very existence of such a law was proof of discrimination based on sexual orientation. LGBT activist Harish Iyer told the BBC: \"I'm absolutely elated. It's like a second freedom struggle where finally we have thrown a British law out of this country... I think the next step would be to get anti-discrimination laws in place, or anti-bullying laws.\" Messages of support were posted on Twitter, including from film director Karan Johar: Journalist Anna MM Vetticad said India had been saved from its shame:" } ], "id": "10238_3", "question": "What has the LGBT reaction been to the latest ruling?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4462, "answer_start": 3877, "text": "The governing BJP party has said it would leave the decision to the Supreme Court. However, one of its members said he was disappointed with the verdict. Subramanian Swamy, known for making provocative comments, said: \"It could give rise to an increase in the number of HIV cases.\" Meanwhile, the main opposition Congress party has welcomed the ruling, saying they \"hope this is the beginning of a more equal and inclusive society\". The UN has also welcomed the ruling, saying \"sexual orientation and gender expression form an integral part of an individual's identity the world over\"." } ], "id": "10238_4", "question": "How have political parties reacted?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5122, "answer_start": 4463, "text": "The court said other aspects of section 377 dealing with unnatural sex with animals and children would remain in force. The judges also explicitly said that they only ruled on the constitutional validity of section 377 and were not looking at it in terms of other rights such as those related to marriage or inheritance. It remains too early to say what this will translate to in the longer term. Author and commentator Sandip Roy told the BBC that although the ruling was a cause for celebration, there were still hurdles to overcome, and a need for anti-discrimination laws. \"I think we would be foolish to think that this is the end of the fight,\" he said." } ], "id": "10238_5", "question": "What else was said in the ruling?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5529, "answer_start": 5123, "text": "The 2017 report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (Ilga) lists 72 countries and territories where same-sex relationships are still criminalised, although that includes India before its latest ruling. Most of them are in Africa, the Middle East and other parts of south Asia. The report said homosexuality could still result in the death penalty in eight nations." } ], "id": "10238_6", "question": "Where is homosexuality illegal?" } ] } ]
What can New Zealand teach us about Brexit?
16 December 2018
[ { "context": "Brexit is, to put it mildly, an unusual event. But there are precedents for some aspects of it. New Zealand provides one example. The country faced a sudden, adverse change in access to a key export market when the UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC), as it was then, in 1973. When countries have changed their trade arrangements through negotiation in recent decades it has usually been to reduce barriers to cross-border commerce. We don't know exactly what Brexit will bring, but it certainly could - or perhaps we should say probably will - mean more barriers to trade between the UK and EU. And it could all happen very quickly, especially if the UK does leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement in March next year. There aren't many precedents for that. New Zealand is a case that does have some relevance. In the aftermath of British accession to the EEC it lost preferential access to the UK market, something which was a legacy of its history in the British Empire and then the Commonwealth. The Bank of England took a close look at the example when it tried to judge the likely economic consequences of various Brexit scenarios. Before the UK joined the EEC in January 1973, it was the destination for 30% of New Zealand exports, amounting to 8% of the country's economic activity or GDP. But from that point, New Zealand exporters faced the EEC's common external tariff. Agricultural exports are very important to New Zealand - most famously lamb, although dairy produce is now the country's biggest export earner. Food sales also had to contend with competition from subsidised European farmers. Total export earnings fell in the first two years, investment grew more slowly and then declined from 1975. The economy went into recession in 1974. Of course New Zealand was not the only economy to have a torrid time in the mid-1970s. There was a global recession linked to a rapid in rise in oil prices and disruptions to the international currency system. The Bank of England compared New Zealand with Norway and Austria. They had similar energy import needs (this was before Norway became a major oil producer) but they were not exposed to the fallout from the UK's accession to the EEC. The Bank says GDP growth did not fall as far in either country and nor did inflation rise so sharply. The Bank concludes that the evidence, \"could therefore suggest the UK's accession to the EEC itself had a significant impact on the New Zealand economy\". Eventually New Zealand did find new markets. But overall economic growth did not return to pre-1973 rate until the 1980s. Today, the UK remains an important export destination for New Zealand. But it now comes behind Australia, China, the US and Japan. The most recent figures show the UK accounting for 4.4% of New Zealand's exports of goods and services. Germany is also an important market for New Zealand, but for the most part its exports now go to countries in Asia or on the Pacific rim, countries that are relatively close (certainly closer than the UK). New Zealand is just one case, so it needs to be viewed with some caution. But it certainly does suggest that the sudden loss of preferential access to an important market can have very significant economic costs. Of course there are differences between the situations faced by the UK after Brexit and New Zealand in the 1970s. The share of exports facing possible challenges is greater for the UK (47% of goods exports last year) than for New Zealand in 1973 (30%). Including services brings the UK figure down to 43% The markets that New Zealand turned to after 1973 are closer geographically than the UK, where businesses faced new restrictions. In the case of Brexit the opposite will be true. Any markets that might offset any setback in commerce with the EU will be further away. That may make it more challenging. The evidence does suggest that countries tend to trade more with economies that are closer or larger. It is known in economics as the gravity model and it has been described as \"one of the most robust empirical findings in economics\". That said, there are economies outside the EU that are currently growing faster and are large, including the US, which is already an important trade partner for the UK. China and India are large and growing strongly although they are currently much less significant as British export markets. And trade barriers now are generally lower than they were in 1973. There are also some economists, notably Prof Patrick Minford of Cardiff University, who argue that the gravity model \"does not fit the UK's trade history at all well\". That, however, is a minority view. The UK is also more of a services exporter than New Zealand. In 1972, services accounted for less than 15% of New Zealand exports. The figure for the UK now is 45%. Some argue that selling services is less affected by distance - that the \"gravity effect\" is not so strong as is the case for goods. To the extent that is true, it could mean the fact that new markets for Britain will be more distant might not be quite so critical. That said, there is plenty of support for the idea that \"gravity\" does matter for services. The UK today is obviously a substantially different economy compared with New Zealand's more than 40 years ago. The experience nonetheless provides some pointers about one of the issues the UK could face outside the EU.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1982, "answer_start": 775, "text": "New Zealand is a case that does have some relevance. In the aftermath of British accession to the EEC it lost preferential access to the UK market, something which was a legacy of its history in the British Empire and then the Commonwealth. The Bank of England took a close look at the example when it tried to judge the likely economic consequences of various Brexit scenarios. Before the UK joined the EEC in January 1973, it was the destination for 30% of New Zealand exports, amounting to 8% of the country's economic activity or GDP. But from that point, New Zealand exporters faced the EEC's common external tariff. Agricultural exports are very important to New Zealand - most famously lamb, although dairy produce is now the country's biggest export earner. Food sales also had to contend with competition from subsidised European farmers. Total export earnings fell in the first two years, investment grew more slowly and then declined from 1975. The economy went into recession in 1974. Of course New Zealand was not the only economy to have a torrid time in the mid-1970s. There was a global recession linked to a rapid in rise in oil prices and disruptions to the international currency system." } ], "id": "10239_0", "question": "What happened to New Zealand in 1973?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3037, "answer_start": 2472, "text": "Eventually New Zealand did find new markets. But overall economic growth did not return to pre-1973 rate until the 1980s. Today, the UK remains an important export destination for New Zealand. But it now comes behind Australia, China, the US and Japan. The most recent figures show the UK accounting for 4.4% of New Zealand's exports of goods and services. Germany is also an important market for New Zealand, but for the most part its exports now go to countries in Asia or on the Pacific rim, countries that are relatively close (certainly closer than the UK)." } ], "id": "10239_1", "question": "How did the country respond to the turbulence?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4453, "answer_start": 3038, "text": "New Zealand is just one case, so it needs to be viewed with some caution. But it certainly does suggest that the sudden loss of preferential access to an important market can have very significant economic costs. Of course there are differences between the situations faced by the UK after Brexit and New Zealand in the 1970s. The share of exports facing possible challenges is greater for the UK (47% of goods exports last year) than for New Zealand in 1973 (30%). Including services brings the UK figure down to 43% The markets that New Zealand turned to after 1973 are closer geographically than the UK, where businesses faced new restrictions. In the case of Brexit the opposite will be true. Any markets that might offset any setback in commerce with the EU will be further away. That may make it more challenging. The evidence does suggest that countries tend to trade more with economies that are closer or larger. It is known in economics as the gravity model and it has been described as \"one of the most robust empirical findings in economics\". That said, there are economies outside the EU that are currently growing faster and are large, including the US, which is already an important trade partner for the UK. China and India are large and growing strongly although they are currently much less significant as British export markets. And trade barriers now are generally lower than they were in 1973." } ], "id": "10239_2", "question": "What are the lessons for the UK?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5400, "answer_start": 4454, "text": "There are also some economists, notably Prof Patrick Minford of Cardiff University, who argue that the gravity model \"does not fit the UK's trade history at all well\". That, however, is a minority view. The UK is also more of a services exporter than New Zealand. In 1972, services accounted for less than 15% of New Zealand exports. The figure for the UK now is 45%. Some argue that selling services is less affected by distance - that the \"gravity effect\" is not so strong as is the case for goods. To the extent that is true, it could mean the fact that new markets for Britain will be more distant might not be quite so critical. That said, there is plenty of support for the idea that \"gravity\" does matter for services. The UK today is obviously a substantially different economy compared with New Zealand's more than 40 years ago. The experience nonetheless provides some pointers about one of the issues the UK could face outside the EU." } ], "id": "10239_3", "question": "Does distance still matter for economic growth?" } ] } ]
Yemen crisis: Why is there a war?
10 February 2020
[ { "context": "Yemen, one of the Arab world's poorest countries, has been devastated by a civil war. Here we explain what is fuelling the fighting, and who is involved. The conflict has its roots in the failure of a political transition supposed to bring stability to Yemen following an Arab Spring uprising that forced its longtime authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in 2011. As president, Mr Hadi struggled to deal with a variety of problems, including attacks by jihadists, a separatist movement in the south, the continuing loyalty of security personnel to Saleh, as well as corruption, unemployment and food insecurity. The Houthi movement (known formally as Ansar Allah), which champions Yemen's Zaidi Shia Muslim minority and fought a series of rebellions against Saleh during the previous decade, took advantage of the new president's weakness by taking control of their northern heartland of Saada province and neighbouring areas. Disillusioned with the transition, many ordinary Yemenis - including Sunnis - supported the Houthis, and in late 2014 and early 2015 the rebels gradually took over the capital Sanaa. The Houthis and security forces loyal to Saleh - who was thought to have backed his erstwhile enemies in a bid to regain power - then attempted to take control of the entire country, forcing Mr Hadi to flee abroad in March 2015. Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign aimed at defeating the Houthis, ending Iranian influence in Yemen and restoring Mr Hadi's government. The coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US, UK and France. At the start of the war Saudi officials forecast that it would last only a few weeks. But four years of military stalemate have followed. Coalition ground troops landed in the southern port city of Aden in August 2015 and helped drive the Houthis and their allies out of much of the south over the next few months. Mr Hadi's government has established a temporary home in Aden, but it struggles to provide basic services and security and the president continues to be based in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis meanwhile have not been dislodged from Sanaa and north-western Yemen. They have been able to maintain a siege of the third city of Taiz and to launch regular ballistic missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. Militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the local affiliate of the rival Islamic State group (IS) have taken advantage of the chaos by seizing territory in the south and carrying out deadly attacks, notably in Aden. The launch of a ballistic missile towards Riyadh in November 2017 prompted the Saudi-led coalition to tighten its blockade of Yemen. It said it wanted to halt the smuggling of weapons to the rebels by Iran - an accusation Tehran denied - but the restrictions led to substantial increases in the prices of food and fuel, helping to push more people into food insecurity. The alliance between the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh also collapsed in November 2017 following deadly clashes over control of Sanaa's biggest mosque. Houthi fighters launched an operation to take full control of the capital and Saleh was killed. In June 2018, the coalition attempted to break the deadlock on the battlefield by launching a major offensive to capture from the Houthis the Red Sea city of Hudaydah, whose port is the principal lifeline for almost two thirds of Yemen's population. The UN warned that the port's destruction would constitute a \"tipping point\" beyond which it was going to be impossible to avert massive loss of life due to famine. After six months of fighting, the warring parties agreed a ceasefire at talks in Sweden. The Stockholm agreement required them to redeploy their forces from Hudaydah, establish a prisoner exchange mechanism, and to address the situation in Taiz. While hundreds of prisoners have since been released, the full redeployment of forces from Hudaydah has not yet taken place, raising fears that the Stockholm agreement will collapse and that the battle for Hudaydah will resume. In August 2019, infighting erupted in the south between Saudi-backed government forces and an ostensibly allied southern separatist movement supported by the United Arab Emirates, the Southern Transitional Council (STC). Forces loyal to the STC, which accused Mr Hadi of mismanagement and links to Islamists, seized control of Aden and refused to allow the cabinet to return until Saudi Arabia brokered a power-sharing deal that November. The UN hoped the agreement would clear the way for a political settlement to end the civil war, but in January 2020 there was a sudden escalation in hostilities between the Houthis and coalition-led forces, with fighting on several front lines, missile strikes and air raids. In short, Yemen is experiencing the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The UN had verified the deaths of at least 7,500 civilians by September 2019, with most caused by Saudi-led coalition air strikes. Monitoring groups believe the death toll is far higher. The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) said in October 2019 that it had recorded more than 100,000 fatalities, including 12,000 civilians killed in direct attacks. More than 23,000 fatalities were reported in 2019, making it the second most lethal year of the war so far. Thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health. The charity Save the Children estimated that 85,000 children with severe acute malnutrition might have died between April 2015 and October 2018. About 80% of the population - 24 million people - need humanitarian assistance and protection. Some 20 million people need help securing food, according to the UN. Almost 10 million of them are considered \"one step away from famine\". An estimated 2 million children are acutely malnourished, including almost 360,000 children under five years old who are struggling to survive. With only half of the country's 3,500 medical facilities fully functioning, almost 20 million people lack access to adequate healthcare. And almost 18 million do not have enough clean water or access to adequate sanitation. Consequently, medics have struggled to deal with the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded, which has resulted in more than 2.2 million suspected cases and 3,895 related deaths since October 2016. The war has also displaced more than 3.65 million from their homes. What happens in Yemen can greatly exacerbate regional tensions. It also worries the West because of the threat of attacks - such as from al-Qaeda or IS affiliates - emanating from the country as it becomes more unstable. The conflict is also seen as part of a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia. Gulf Arab states - backers of President Hadi - have accused Iran of bolstering the Houthis financially and militarily, though Iran has denied this. Yemen is also strategically important because it sits on a strait linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, through which much of the world's oil shipments pass.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1767, "answer_start": 154, "text": "The conflict has its roots in the failure of a political transition supposed to bring stability to Yemen following an Arab Spring uprising that forced its longtime authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in 2011. As president, Mr Hadi struggled to deal with a variety of problems, including attacks by jihadists, a separatist movement in the south, the continuing loyalty of security personnel to Saleh, as well as corruption, unemployment and food insecurity. The Houthi movement (known formally as Ansar Allah), which champions Yemen's Zaidi Shia Muslim minority and fought a series of rebellions against Saleh during the previous decade, took advantage of the new president's weakness by taking control of their northern heartland of Saada province and neighbouring areas. Disillusioned with the transition, many ordinary Yemenis - including Sunnis - supported the Houthis, and in late 2014 and early 2015 the rebels gradually took over the capital Sanaa. The Houthis and security forces loyal to Saleh - who was thought to have backed his erstwhile enemies in a bid to regain power - then attempted to take control of the entire country, forcing Mr Hadi to flee abroad in March 2015. Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign aimed at defeating the Houthis, ending Iranian influence in Yemen and restoring Mr Hadi's government. The coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US, UK and France." } ], "id": "10240_0", "question": "How did the war start?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4940, "answer_start": 1768, "text": "At the start of the war Saudi officials forecast that it would last only a few weeks. But four years of military stalemate have followed. Coalition ground troops landed in the southern port city of Aden in August 2015 and helped drive the Houthis and their allies out of much of the south over the next few months. Mr Hadi's government has established a temporary home in Aden, but it struggles to provide basic services and security and the president continues to be based in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis meanwhile have not been dislodged from Sanaa and north-western Yemen. They have been able to maintain a siege of the third city of Taiz and to launch regular ballistic missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. Militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the local affiliate of the rival Islamic State group (IS) have taken advantage of the chaos by seizing territory in the south and carrying out deadly attacks, notably in Aden. The launch of a ballistic missile towards Riyadh in November 2017 prompted the Saudi-led coalition to tighten its blockade of Yemen. It said it wanted to halt the smuggling of weapons to the rebels by Iran - an accusation Tehran denied - but the restrictions led to substantial increases in the prices of food and fuel, helping to push more people into food insecurity. The alliance between the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh also collapsed in November 2017 following deadly clashes over control of Sanaa's biggest mosque. Houthi fighters launched an operation to take full control of the capital and Saleh was killed. In June 2018, the coalition attempted to break the deadlock on the battlefield by launching a major offensive to capture from the Houthis the Red Sea city of Hudaydah, whose port is the principal lifeline for almost two thirds of Yemen's population. The UN warned that the port's destruction would constitute a \"tipping point\" beyond which it was going to be impossible to avert massive loss of life due to famine. After six months of fighting, the warring parties agreed a ceasefire at talks in Sweden. The Stockholm agreement required them to redeploy their forces from Hudaydah, establish a prisoner exchange mechanism, and to address the situation in Taiz. While hundreds of prisoners have since been released, the full redeployment of forces from Hudaydah has not yet taken place, raising fears that the Stockholm agreement will collapse and that the battle for Hudaydah will resume. In August 2019, infighting erupted in the south between Saudi-backed government forces and an ostensibly allied southern separatist movement supported by the United Arab Emirates, the Southern Transitional Council (STC). Forces loyal to the STC, which accused Mr Hadi of mismanagement and links to Islamists, seized control of Aden and refused to allow the cabinet to return until Saudi Arabia brokered a power-sharing deal that November. The UN hoped the agreement would clear the way for a political settlement to end the civil war, but in January 2020 there was a sudden escalation in hostilities between the Houthis and coalition-led forces, with fighting on several front lines, missile strikes and air raids." } ], "id": "10240_1", "question": "What's happened since then?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 6621, "answer_start": 4941, "text": "In short, Yemen is experiencing the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The UN had verified the deaths of at least 7,500 civilians by September 2019, with most caused by Saudi-led coalition air strikes. Monitoring groups believe the death toll is far higher. The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) said in October 2019 that it had recorded more than 100,000 fatalities, including 12,000 civilians killed in direct attacks. More than 23,000 fatalities were reported in 2019, making it the second most lethal year of the war so far. Thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health. The charity Save the Children estimated that 85,000 children with severe acute malnutrition might have died between April 2015 and October 2018. About 80% of the population - 24 million people - need humanitarian assistance and protection. Some 20 million people need help securing food, according to the UN. Almost 10 million of them are considered \"one step away from famine\". An estimated 2 million children are acutely malnourished, including almost 360,000 children under five years old who are struggling to survive. With only half of the country's 3,500 medical facilities fully functioning, almost 20 million people lack access to adequate healthcare. And almost 18 million do not have enough clean water or access to adequate sanitation. Consequently, medics have struggled to deal with the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded, which has resulted in more than 2.2 million suspected cases and 3,895 related deaths since October 2016. The war has also displaced more than 3.65 million from their homes." } ], "id": "10240_2", "question": "What's been the human cost?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 7270, "answer_start": 6622, "text": "What happens in Yemen can greatly exacerbate regional tensions. It also worries the West because of the threat of attacks - such as from al-Qaeda or IS affiliates - emanating from the country as it becomes more unstable. The conflict is also seen as part of a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia. Gulf Arab states - backers of President Hadi - have accused Iran of bolstering the Houthis financially and militarily, though Iran has denied this. Yemen is also strategically important because it sits on a strait linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, through which much of the world's oil shipments pass." } ], "id": "10240_3", "question": "Why should this matter for the rest of the world?" } ] } ]
Dinosaur bone: Scientists uncover giant femur in France
26 July 2019
[ { "context": "Scientists in south-western France have uncovered a giant dinosaur thigh bone at an excavation site that has been yielding fossils for nearly a decade. Two metres (6.6ft) long, the femur found at Angeac is thought to have belonged to a sauropod, a plant-eating dinosaur with a long neck and tail. Sauropods, common in the late Jurassic era, were among the largest land animals that ever existed. Palaeontologists say they are amazed at the state of preservation of the bone. \"We can see the insertions of muscles and tendons, and scars,\" Ronan Allain of the National History Museum of Paris told Le Parisien newspaper. \"This is rare for big pieces which tend to collapse in on themselves and fragment.\" Such dinosaurs, which lived more than 140m years ago, would have weighed 40 to 50 tonnes, Allain told Reuters news agency. A sauropod thigh bone found at the same site in 2010 was 2.2m long and weighed 500 kilos, according to local paper La Charente Libre. The femur found this week is expected to weigh about the same when it is finally removed, a job which will probably take a good week and involve a crane. Some 70 scientists are working this summer at the site buried deep in the vineyards of the Charente area, near the town of Cognac. More than 7,500 fossils from at least 40 species have been recovered since 2010, making the former marsh one of the most important such sites in Europe. Bones of stegosauruses and a herd of ostrich dinosaurs have been found, Le Parisien reports.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1113, "answer_start": 703, "text": "Such dinosaurs, which lived more than 140m years ago, would have weighed 40 to 50 tonnes, Allain told Reuters news agency. A sauropod thigh bone found at the same site in 2010 was 2.2m long and weighed 500 kilos, according to local paper La Charente Libre. The femur found this week is expected to weigh about the same when it is finally removed, a job which will probably take a good week and involve a crane." } ], "id": "10241_0", "question": "Just how big was the owner of the thigh?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1490, "answer_start": 1114, "text": "Some 70 scientists are working this summer at the site buried deep in the vineyards of the Charente area, near the town of Cognac. More than 7,500 fossils from at least 40 species have been recovered since 2010, making the former marsh one of the most important such sites in Europe. Bones of stegosauruses and a herd of ostrich dinosaurs have been found, Le Parisien reports." } ], "id": "10241_1", "question": "What else are they finding at Angeac?" } ] } ]
Will Narendra Modi be India's Thatcher?
27 February 2015
[ { "context": "India's Narendra Modi-led BJP government will unveil its first full-year budget on Saturday. The budget is seen as a key test of Mr Modi's appetite for reform. The BBC's new South Asia correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, asks how far he is likely to go to stimulate growth and provide jobs. Expectations are running high for the new government's first major budget. The hundreds of millions of Indians whose votes helped sweep Prime Minister Modi to power in May last year believed that he offered the best hope for bringing growth and jobs to the country. The budget will be the first really big test of Mr Modi's reformist credentials, an opportunity for his government to demonstrate how it intends to reshape the Indian economy and deliver prosperity in the years ahead. So how radical will Mr Modi's government be: is he India's answer to Margaret Thatcher, ready to fundamentally restructure the economy? Mr Modi has already identified India's key challenge: to create jobs. India's vast population should be a huge asset. Almost half of its 1.25 billion people are under 25. Find them decent jobs and you create a powerful engine for prosperity and growth. This is India's potential \"demographic dividend\". Yet hundreds of millions of Indians still live in abject poverty. Two-thirds of the country gets by on $1.50 (97p) a day or less, according to the Asian Development Bank; nine out of 10 Indians work outside the formal economy; and even more shockingly Unicef estimates that almost half of all Indian children are malnourished. Mr Modi has said he aims to create the employment that would help lift people out of destitution by encouraging manufacturing industry to flourish - you see his invocation to \"Make in India\" everywhere. And there are certainly some shining successes in manufacturing, as well as in the more commonly celebrated sectors of software and pharmaceuticals. This week I visited Royal Enfield, the oldest motorcycle brand in the world. This once British-owned business has blossomed under its Indian owners in recent years. In 2010 it sold 50,000 Royal Enfields, last year that was up to 300,000. It expects to sell almost half a million bikes this year. It is, boasts Sidhartha Lal, the company's young and casually dressed chief executive, \"the most profitable automotive business in the world\". Yet despite his company's success, he says India is still a very tough place to do business. That view is confirmed by the World Bank, which produces an index measuring the ease of doing business around the world. India is ranked a woeful 142nd out of 189 countries, behind beacons of good business practice like Yemen, Uzbekistan and Iran - vivid evidence of the scale of Mr Modi's challenge. Mr Modi has said he wants to take India into the top 50, which is where the Thatcher comparison comes in. How far will the Indian prime minister be willing to go to streamline the Indian economy? His critics say so far his government has been better at producing slogans than tackling real problems. They say he needs to take on India's trade unions and reform India's restrictive labour laws. If he wants to do something really eye-catching he could begin to privatise some of the array of companies still owned by the Indian state. He could start with Coal India, perhaps, or maybe the national airline, Air India. The idea is as unthinkable to many Indians as it was to many British people when Mrs Thatcher proposed it but, say free market economists, it would mark Mr Modi out as really serious about reshaping the Indian economy. If he's feeling really brave he could reform India's vast and heavily subsidised railway network - so big it warrants its own separate budget, presented two days before the main event. At the very least, say his critics, this budget needs to give clear direction on how the government intends to improve India's appalling infrastructure. They want to see a commitment to capital investment to improve the roads and efforts to guarantee reliable water and power supplies. According to one survey, half of all manufacturers suffered power cuts lasting five hours each week. But the criticism of inaction isn't entirely fair. Mr Modi's government is already attempting to replace the network of state taxes, a huge barrier to trade within the country, with a national goods and services tax - a very significant reform, if he can only get it passed. The government is standing by plans to make land acquisition easier for businesses, despite considerable political heat. It has also moved to ease foreign investment in Indian companies and is trying to cut back the thicket of bureaucracy that ties so much of Indian life up in knots. Nevertheless, those looking for dramatic reform on Saturday may well be disappointed. Take India's vast food and fuel subsidy bill, something the Modi government has promised to trim. Word is that Mr Modi's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will announce he is slashing $8bn (PS5.15bn) from the total, a 20% cut. That sounds like an impressive figure until you realise that most of this will come from falling fuel prices. That would be more evidence that the administration is keen to avoid dramatic confrontation. \"Why take on the unions when you'll just end up fighting them for the rest of your term,\" a senior Indian businessman told me Mr Modi had said to him. And unlike Margaret Thatcher who came to power in the depths of recession, creating an urgent justification for structural reform, Mr Modi has a fair economic wind behind him. Growth is slowing in China, has virtually stopped in Brazil, while Russia has gone into reverse. India, meanwhile, has been forging ahead. According to the official figures the Indian economy grew at 7.5% in the last quarter of 2014. On that basis, India is already the fastest growing big economy in the world. The figure may exaggerate India's achievements. The Modi government has controversially recalculated the GDP figures to cast the country in a favourable light. Nevertheless, even Mr Modi's most ardent critics agree growth is well above 5%. What's more, inflation is under control, the rupee has stabilised and the stock market is booming. India will also be a huge beneficiary of the collapse in the oil price - 80% of the country's oil is imported. But Mr Modi and Mr Jaitley would be unwise to rest back on the cushion of a buoyant Indian economy and avoid tough choices. The country's youthful population presents the government with a unique opportunity. If it succeeds in creating good jobs for the million new workers that come into the job market every month, it will entrench growth and set India on the path to prosperity. But if it fails to do so India's demographic dividend could easily become a demographic disaster. Hundreds of millions of Indians would remain trapped in poverty for decades to come, representing not just a legacy of misery but a brake on India's future growth.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4690, "answer_start": 2919, "text": "His critics say so far his government has been better at producing slogans than tackling real problems. They say he needs to take on India's trade unions and reform India's restrictive labour laws. If he wants to do something really eye-catching he could begin to privatise some of the array of companies still owned by the Indian state. He could start with Coal India, perhaps, or maybe the national airline, Air India. The idea is as unthinkable to many Indians as it was to many British people when Mrs Thatcher proposed it but, say free market economists, it would mark Mr Modi out as really serious about reshaping the Indian economy. If he's feeling really brave he could reform India's vast and heavily subsidised railway network - so big it warrants its own separate budget, presented two days before the main event. At the very least, say his critics, this budget needs to give clear direction on how the government intends to improve India's appalling infrastructure. They want to see a commitment to capital investment to improve the roads and efforts to guarantee reliable water and power supplies. According to one survey, half of all manufacturers suffered power cuts lasting five hours each week. But the criticism of inaction isn't entirely fair. Mr Modi's government is already attempting to replace the network of state taxes, a huge barrier to trade within the country, with a national goods and services tax - a very significant reform, if he can only get it passed. The government is standing by plans to make land acquisition easier for businesses, despite considerable political heat. It has also moved to ease foreign investment in Indian companies and is trying to cut back the thicket of bureaucracy that ties so much of Indian life up in knots." } ], "id": "10242_0", "question": "Unthinkable?" } ] } ]
Iran cancels accreditation of IAEA nuclear inspector
7 November 2019
[ { "context": "Iran has cancelled the accreditation of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector who was prevented from entering a nuclear facility last week. It said the woman triggered an alarm at the gate to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, raising fears that she was carrying \"suspicious material\". The IAEA disagreed with the account and said the inspector was also temporarily prevented from leaving Iran. It was apparently the first such case since the 2015 nuclear deal was signed. Meanwhile, the US said Iran might be \"positioning itself to have the option of a rapid nuclear break-out\" - the time it would take to acquire enough fissile material for one bomb - after it suspended another commitment under the accord. On Thursday, uranium enrichment resumed at the underground Fordo facility. Enriched uranium can be used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear weapons. It is the fourth such step Iran, which has insisted its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, has taken in response to the sanctions reinstated by US President Donald Trump when he abandoned the nuclear deal last year. Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. Mr Trump wants to force Iran to negotiate a new agreement that would place indefinite curbs on its nuclear programme and also halt its development of ballistic missiles. But Iran has so far refused. The other parties to the deal - the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia - have tried to keep it alive. But the sanctions have caused Iran's oil exports to collapse, the value of its currency to plummet and the inflation rate to soar. At a special meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors in Vienna on Thursday, Iranian ambassador Kazem Gharibabadi said the inspector was denied entry to Natanz because alarms went off during a routine security check. The check involved \"a special chemical detector that can find a range of explosive materials containing nitrates\", he added. The inspector then \"sneaked off\" to the toilet while she was waiting for a further security check, he said. \"There was no doubt that suspicious material was involved.\" Mr Gharibabadi denied reports that the inspector had her travel documents taken and was briefly detained before she left Iran. US ambassador Jackie Wolcott told the meeting: \"The detention of an IAEA inspector in Iran is an outrageous provocation.\" \"All board members need to make clear now and going forward that such actions are completely unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and must have consequences.\" An IAEA spokesperson said the inspector had been \"temporarily prevented from leaving Iran\" and that Acting Director General Cornel Feruta had made clear that this was \"not acceptable and should not occur\". \"Based on the information available to us, the agency does not agree with Iran's characterisation of the situation involving the inspector, who was carrying out official safeguard duties in Iran. The agency will continue to consult with Iran with a view to clarifying the situation,\" the spokesperson added. The board of governors also discussed the \"detection of potentially undeclared nuclear material\" in Iran. Iran has reportedly failed to co-operate with an investigation into how traces of uranium were found at a site in the Turquzabad area of Tehran, where Israel said there was a \"secret atomic warehouse\". Israeli officials reiterated claims on Thursday that Iran has continued to conceal nuclear material dating from the previous nuclear programme, Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman reports. The three Israeli officials, speaking at a briefing attended by the BBC, said the tests showed that uranium had been stored at the site, but not in a form that could be used for a weapon. Before 2015 Iran had two plants - Natanz and Fordo - where uranium hexafluoride gas was fed into centrifuges to separate out the most fissile isotope, U-235. The 2015 deal saw Iran agree only to produce low-enriched uranium, which has a 3-4% concentration of U-235 and can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% enriched or more. Iran also agreed to install no more than 5,060 of the oldest and least efficient centrifuges at Natanz until 2026, and not to carry out any enrichment at Fordo until 2031. Fordo's 1,044 centrifuges were supposed to spin without gas being injected. The head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) said on Monday that the number of advanced IR-6 centrifuges operating at Natanz had doubled to 60. Early on Thursday, the AEOI began injecting uranium hexafluoride into Fordo's centrifuges in the presence of the IAEA, spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said. By Saturday, he added, it would be producing 4.5% enriched uranium. President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran was aware of the \"sensitivity\" of the other parties to the deal regarding enrichment at Fordo, which was built in secret about 90m (300ft) under a mountain to shield it from air strikes. But he stressed that the step could be reversed if they upheld their commitments. Following the resumption of enrichment at Fordo, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: \"Iran's expansion of proliferation-sensitive activities raises concerns that Iran is positioning itself to have the option of a rapid nuclear break-out.\" \"It is now time for all nations to reject this regime's nuclear extortion and take serious steps to increase pressure.\"", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3823, "answer_start": 1695, "text": "At a special meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors in Vienna on Thursday, Iranian ambassador Kazem Gharibabadi said the inspector was denied entry to Natanz because alarms went off during a routine security check. The check involved \"a special chemical detector that can find a range of explosive materials containing nitrates\", he added. The inspector then \"sneaked off\" to the toilet while she was waiting for a further security check, he said. \"There was no doubt that suspicious material was involved.\" Mr Gharibabadi denied reports that the inspector had her travel documents taken and was briefly detained before she left Iran. US ambassador Jackie Wolcott told the meeting: \"The detention of an IAEA inspector in Iran is an outrageous provocation.\" \"All board members need to make clear now and going forward that such actions are completely unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and must have consequences.\" An IAEA spokesperson said the inspector had been \"temporarily prevented from leaving Iran\" and that Acting Director General Cornel Feruta had made clear that this was \"not acceptable and should not occur\". \"Based on the information available to us, the agency does not agree with Iran's characterisation of the situation involving the inspector, who was carrying out official safeguard duties in Iran. The agency will continue to consult with Iran with a view to clarifying the situation,\" the spokesperson added. The board of governors also discussed the \"detection of potentially undeclared nuclear material\" in Iran. Iran has reportedly failed to co-operate with an investigation into how traces of uranium were found at a site in the Turquzabad area of Tehran, where Israel said there was a \"secret atomic warehouse\". Israeli officials reiterated claims on Thursday that Iran has continued to conceal nuclear material dating from the previous nuclear programme, Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman reports. The three Israeli officials, speaking at a briefing attended by the BBC, said the tests showed that uranium had been stored at the site, but not in a form that could be used for a weapon." } ], "id": "10243_0", "question": "What happened with the inspector?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5503, "answer_start": 3824, "text": "Before 2015 Iran had two plants - Natanz and Fordo - where uranium hexafluoride gas was fed into centrifuges to separate out the most fissile isotope, U-235. The 2015 deal saw Iran agree only to produce low-enriched uranium, which has a 3-4% concentration of U-235 and can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% enriched or more. Iran also agreed to install no more than 5,060 of the oldest and least efficient centrifuges at Natanz until 2026, and not to carry out any enrichment at Fordo until 2031. Fordo's 1,044 centrifuges were supposed to spin without gas being injected. The head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) said on Monday that the number of advanced IR-6 centrifuges operating at Natanz had doubled to 60. Early on Thursday, the AEOI began injecting uranium hexafluoride into Fordo's centrifuges in the presence of the IAEA, spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said. By Saturday, he added, it would be producing 4.5% enriched uranium. President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran was aware of the \"sensitivity\" of the other parties to the deal regarding enrichment at Fordo, which was built in secret about 90m (300ft) under a mountain to shield it from air strikes. But he stressed that the step could be reversed if they upheld their commitments. Following the resumption of enrichment at Fordo, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: \"Iran's expansion of proliferation-sensitive activities raises concerns that Iran is positioning itself to have the option of a rapid nuclear break-out.\" \"It is now time for all nations to reject this regime's nuclear extortion and take serious steps to increase pressure.\"" } ], "id": "10243_1", "question": "Why does the US fear an Iranian 'break-out'?" } ] } ]
Iran protests: Why is there unrest?
2 January 2018
[ { "context": "People have taken to the streets in cities across Iran to protest against economic hardship and political repression. The demonstrations are the biggest in the country since 2009, when millions demanded the re-run of a disputed presidential election. Demonstrations started in Iran's second city of Mashhad on Thursday, when hundreds of people protested against high prices of basic goods. Since then, they have spread to some 50 cities and towns, including the capital Tehran, and seen tens of thousands of people take to the streets to vent their anger at the entire establishment. The protests turned violent in a number of locations and state media report that at least 21 people have been killed in clashes with security forces. Hundreds have also been arrested. The demonstrations were initially about the failure of President Hassan Rouhani's government to revive Iran's struggling economy, address high unemployment and inflation, and combat alleged corruption. Protesters also asked why the country was spending a lot of money on conflicts elsewhere in the Middle East when people were suffering at home. But quickly the protesters moved on to politics, criticising leading figures in the Islamic Republic. In Tehran on Sunday, people chanted \"death to the dictator\" - an apparent reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some have even called for a return to the monarchy that was overthrown in 1979. Security forces initially appeared to show a degree of restraint. The protesters in Mashhad on Thursday were dispersed with water cannon and a small number of people were arrested. But as the protests spread, the clampdown intensified. Mr Rouhani - a moderate who agreed a deal with world powers in 2015 to limit Iran's nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions - said on Sunday that Iranians were \"absolutely free to criticise the government and protest\". But he also warned that security forces would \"show no tolerance for those who damage public properties, violate public order and create unrest in the society\". Mr Rouhani said resolving Iran's problems would \"take time\" and called on people to help the government, but his appeal failed to calm the situation. Reformists and conservatives have blamed each other and foreign powers for sparking the unrest. On Tuesday, Ayatollah Khamenei said \"enemies of Iran\" were using their \"money, weapons, politics and intelligence services to trouble the Islamic Republic\". The authorities have also blocked access to social media websites and the messaging app Telegram, which is used by millions of Iranians, in an attempt to stop calls for protests and the sharing of videos and photographs online. The range of slogans suggests a variety of groups are taking part and this seems to be a movement without national leaders. But so far many of the protesters appear to have been poor, unemployed people who are struggling to feed their families. A recent BBC Persian investigation found that on average, Iranians have become 15% poorer over the past decade, and that their consumption of bread, milk and red meat has decreased by between 30% and 50%. The official unemployment rate is 12.4%, but in some parts of the country it is more than 60%, according to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli. Young people - more than half of the population is under 30 - are affected particularly badly. President Rouhani, who won re-election in May, promised that the nuclear deal would revive the economy. Yet growth has been too slow for many Iranians, who suffered years of austerity while sanctions were imposed. Many also say they cannot cope with further welfare cuts and price rises. The protests are the most serious and widespread expression of public discontent in in Iran since the disputed re-election of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Millions of people took to the streets to demand a re-run amid allegations of widespread fraud. However, Ayatollah Khamenei insisted the result was valid and ordered a crackdown on dissent that saw dozens of opposition supporters killed and thousands detained. Most of the protesters were educated, urban youths who wanted their votes to be counted. The unrest eight years ago was also centred on Tehran. This time, demonstrations are taking place across the country. US President Donald Trump has expressed his support for the protests in a series of tweets. On Monday, he wrote that Iranians were \"hungry for food & for freedom\", adding that it was \"time for change\". The European Union said it was monitoring the situation and that it expected Iranians' rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression to be guaranteed.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 767, "answer_start": 251, "text": "Demonstrations started in Iran's second city of Mashhad on Thursday, when hundreds of people protested against high prices of basic goods. Since then, they have spread to some 50 cities and towns, including the capital Tehran, and seen tens of thousands of people take to the streets to vent their anger at the entire establishment. The protests turned violent in a number of locations and state media report that at least 21 people have been killed in clashes with security forces. Hundreds have also been arrested." } ], "id": "10244_0", "question": "How widespread is the unrest?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1421, "answer_start": 768, "text": "The demonstrations were initially about the failure of President Hassan Rouhani's government to revive Iran's struggling economy, address high unemployment and inflation, and combat alleged corruption. Protesters also asked why the country was spending a lot of money on conflicts elsewhere in the Middle East when people were suffering at home. But quickly the protesters moved on to politics, criticising leading figures in the Islamic Republic. In Tehran on Sunday, people chanted \"death to the dictator\" - an apparent reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some have even called for a return to the monarchy that was overthrown in 1979." } ], "id": "10244_1", "question": "What do the protesters want?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2694, "answer_start": 1422, "text": "Security forces initially appeared to show a degree of restraint. The protesters in Mashhad on Thursday were dispersed with water cannon and a small number of people were arrested. But as the protests spread, the clampdown intensified. Mr Rouhani - a moderate who agreed a deal with world powers in 2015 to limit Iran's nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions - said on Sunday that Iranians were \"absolutely free to criticise the government and protest\". But he also warned that security forces would \"show no tolerance for those who damage public properties, violate public order and create unrest in the society\". Mr Rouhani said resolving Iran's problems would \"take time\" and called on people to help the government, but his appeal failed to calm the situation. Reformists and conservatives have blamed each other and foreign powers for sparking the unrest. On Tuesday, Ayatollah Khamenei said \"enemies of Iran\" were using their \"money, weapons, politics and intelligence services to trouble the Islamic Republic\". The authorities have also blocked access to social media websites and the messaging app Telegram, which is used by millions of Iranians, in an attempt to stop calls for protests and the sharing of videos and photographs online." } ], "id": "10244_2", "question": "How have the authorities responded?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3678, "answer_start": 2695, "text": "The range of slogans suggests a variety of groups are taking part and this seems to be a movement without national leaders. But so far many of the protesters appear to have been poor, unemployed people who are struggling to feed their families. A recent BBC Persian investigation found that on average, Iranians have become 15% poorer over the past decade, and that their consumption of bread, milk and red meat has decreased by between 30% and 50%. The official unemployment rate is 12.4%, but in some parts of the country it is more than 60%, according to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli. Young people - more than half of the population is under 30 - are affected particularly badly. President Rouhani, who won re-election in May, promised that the nuclear deal would revive the economy. Yet growth has been too slow for many Iranians, who suffered years of austerity while sanctions were imposed. Many also say they cannot cope with further welfare cuts and price rises." } ], "id": "10244_3", "question": "Who are the protesters?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4308, "answer_start": 3679, "text": "The protests are the most serious and widespread expression of public discontent in in Iran since the disputed re-election of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Millions of people took to the streets to demand a re-run amid allegations of widespread fraud. However, Ayatollah Khamenei insisted the result was valid and ordered a crackdown on dissent that saw dozens of opposition supporters killed and thousands detained. Most of the protesters were educated, urban youths who wanted their votes to be counted. The unrest eight years ago was also centred on Tehran. This time, demonstrations are taking place across the country." } ], "id": "10244_4", "question": "How is this different to 2009?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4669, "answer_start": 4309, "text": "US President Donald Trump has expressed his support for the protests in a series of tweets. On Monday, he wrote that Iranians were \"hungry for food & for freedom\", adding that it was \"time for change\". The European Union said it was monitoring the situation and that it expected Iranians' rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression to be guaranteed." } ], "id": "10244_5", "question": "How has the international community reacted?" } ] } ]
Russia spy poisoning: What happens when you expel a diplomat?
17 March 2018
[ { "context": "Russia has decided to expel 23 UK diplomats, in a tit-for-tat response to the UK's expulsion of 23 of its diplomats. The British government announced plans to expel the Russian diplomats as part of its response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack. But why do countries expel diplomats? And what happens when a diplomat is told to leave the country? Diplomats around the world are granted immunity in their host country - meaning they cannot be prosecuted there. However, their right to stay in the host country can be withdrawn if they break the law, upset the host nation - or in the event of a diplomatic crisis, as between the UK and Russia right now. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations governs how states interact. Under article 9 of the convention, the host country can \"at any time and for any reason\" declare a person to be persona non grata - unwelcome in their country. The host government decides which diplomats go and which ones stay. The British ambassador was summoned by Russia on Saturday, and had to go and break the news to his staff. This is what the UK did to the Russian ambassador, and what has happened in the past. However John Everard, former UK ambassador to North Korea, says there is \"no fixed way of telling diplomats\" who stays and who goes. Countries can summon the ambassador or issue a formal diplomatic note, he says. There is no law governing how to do it. Patric Duddy, Former US ambassador to Venezuela, was back in Washington in 2008 when he was phoned by the US state department and told he could not return to his host nation - then-President Hugo Chavez had announced his expulsion on the news. You leave, whenever the host country tells you to leave. Refusing to go is a breach of international treaties and could spark a major crisis. \"There's no bucking that,\" says Sir Christopher Meyer, former British ambassador to the US. \"They have to meet our deadlines, we have to meet theirs.\" While Russia has given the UK a week for its diplomats to leave, sometimes the time can be far less - 72 hours or even 24 hours. In the 1960s, one British insurance firm even offered a policy to protect diplomats against sudden expulsion from Moscow. Mr Everard, also never expelled himself, compares it to being told to move by a major transnational corporation. \"You won't do any work that week,\" he says, with children's schooling one of the major issues to consider. \"You say goodbye to as many friends and colleagues as you can manage, and if you are lucky you throw a party at the end of it.\" The Russians being expelled from the UK seem to have found time to do this. There is no official Foreign Office guidance to its staff about what to do in the event of expulsion, although Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted on Saturday that his priority now was \"supporting those staff [who are] returning to the UK\". Sir Christopher was also never expelled himself, but he did work as a diplomat in the Soviet Union. He explains it is \"very rare\" for a person to return to the host country once declared persona non grata. Saying that though, he did know of someone who was able to go back to Russia after expulsion, applying and winning a posting there years later. \"There is no statutory period,\" he says. \"But it's not common.\" Expelled diplomats are not left waiting for the chance to return - they are reassigned \"in due course\", says Sir Christopher, even if they have specialised in one niche language. \"Most diplomats have a specialisation in one so-called 'hard language',\" he says. \"But you are expected to have broad knowledge.\" \"It doesn't mean you can't bring other skills to the Foreign Office.\"", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 889, "answer_start": 349, "text": "Diplomats around the world are granted immunity in their host country - meaning they cannot be prosecuted there. However, their right to stay in the host country can be withdrawn if they break the law, upset the host nation - or in the event of a diplomatic crisis, as between the UK and Russia right now. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations governs how states interact. Under article 9 of the convention, the host country can \"at any time and for any reason\" declare a person to be persona non grata - unwelcome in their country." } ], "id": "10245_0", "question": "Why do countries expel diplomats?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1646, "answer_start": 890, "text": "The host government decides which diplomats go and which ones stay. The British ambassador was summoned by Russia on Saturday, and had to go and break the news to his staff. This is what the UK did to the Russian ambassador, and what has happened in the past. However John Everard, former UK ambassador to North Korea, says there is \"no fixed way of telling diplomats\" who stays and who goes. Countries can summon the ambassador or issue a formal diplomatic note, he says. There is no law governing how to do it. Patric Duddy, Former US ambassador to Venezuela, was back in Washington in 2008 when he was phoned by the US state department and told he could not return to his host nation - then-President Hugo Chavez had announced his expulsion on the news." } ], "id": "10245_1", "question": "Who decides who goes?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2859, "answer_start": 1647, "text": "You leave, whenever the host country tells you to leave. Refusing to go is a breach of international treaties and could spark a major crisis. \"There's no bucking that,\" says Sir Christopher Meyer, former British ambassador to the US. \"They have to meet our deadlines, we have to meet theirs.\" While Russia has given the UK a week for its diplomats to leave, sometimes the time can be far less - 72 hours or even 24 hours. In the 1960s, one British insurance firm even offered a policy to protect diplomats against sudden expulsion from Moscow. Mr Everard, also never expelled himself, compares it to being told to move by a major transnational corporation. \"You won't do any work that week,\" he says, with children's schooling one of the major issues to consider. \"You say goodbye to as many friends and colleagues as you can manage, and if you are lucky you throw a party at the end of it.\" The Russians being expelled from the UK seem to have found time to do this. There is no official Foreign Office guidance to its staff about what to do in the event of expulsion, although Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted on Saturday that his priority now was \"supporting those staff [who are] returning to the UK\"." } ], "id": "10245_2", "question": "What happens when a diplomat is told to leave?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3273, "answer_start": 2860, "text": "Sir Christopher was also never expelled himself, but he did work as a diplomat in the Soviet Union. He explains it is \"very rare\" for a person to return to the host country once declared persona non grata. Saying that though, he did know of someone who was able to go back to Russia after expulsion, applying and winning a posting there years later. \"There is no statutory period,\" he says. \"But it's not common.\"" } ], "id": "10245_3", "question": "Can staff ever go back?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3652, "answer_start": 3274, "text": "Expelled diplomats are not left waiting for the chance to return - they are reassigned \"in due course\", says Sir Christopher, even if they have specialised in one niche language. \"Most diplomats have a specialisation in one so-called 'hard language',\" he says. \"But you are expected to have broad knowledge.\" \"It doesn't mean you can't bring other skills to the Foreign Office.\"" } ], "id": "10245_4", "question": "What happens on your return?" } ] } ]
Turkey's Erdogan 'threw Trump's Syria letter in bin'
17 October 2019
[ { "context": "Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put US President Donald Trump's letter \"in the bin\", the BBC has been told. In the letter dated 9 October, and sent after US troops were pulled out of Syria, Mr Trump told Mr Erdogan: \"Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!\" President Trump was urging Turkey not to launch a military offensive against Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria, but Mr Erdogan ignored this request. US Vice President Mike Pence is now in Ankara to push for a ceasefire. The US has faced intense criticism for the withdrawal of troops, which critics say gave Turkey the green light to launch the military attack. In recent years, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance has been a critical ally to the US in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria. There are fears that the destabilisation of northern Syria could lead to a jihadist resurgence. The SDF is dominated by the members of a Kurdish militia called the People's Protection Units (YPG). Turkey says the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a rebel group fighting for Kurdish autonomy in the region. In his letter to President Erdogan, Mr Trump wrote: \"Let's work out a good deal! You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy - and I will. \"History will look upon you favourably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen.\" In response, Turkish presidential sources told BBC Turkish: \"President Erdogan received the letter, thoroughly rejected it and put it in the bin.\" It is hard to imagine language like it in many letters between presidents. Donald Trump's mixture of threats and locker-room banter infuriated Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His staff told the BBC that he threw the letter into the bin and launched the Syrian operation the same day. That could be proof there was no Trumpian green light. But ever since President Obama partnered up with the Syrian Kurds of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the jihadists of IS it was clear the arrangement would lead to problems with the Turks. That's because the SDF is very close to the Turkish Kurds of the PKK. Turkey says they are two halves of the same terror group. Presidents Erdogan and Trump discussed military action last December. Diplomatic sources here in Ankara suggest that Turkey's broader strategic objective was to detach the Kurds and the Americans. That, at any rate, has happened. The diplomatic debacle that has surrounded events in and around Syria is the background to President Erdogan's meeting in Ankara with a US delegation headed by Vice-President Mike Pence, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It is hard to find common ground between the two sides. Much of the criticism levelled at Mr Trump has come from within his own party. In a rare bipartisan rebuke, 129 members of the president's Republican Party in the House of Representatives joined Democrats to formally denounce the move in a vote on Wednesday. The joint resolution, which also called on President Erdogan to immediately cease military operations against Kurdish-led forces, was voted in by 354-60. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also held an apparently explosive meeting with President Trump on the issue, which led to her and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer walking out of the room. Republican leaders said Ms Pelosi's behaviour was \"unbecoming\", and criticised her for \"storming out\". Ms Pelosi and Mr Trump also each accused the other of having a \"meltdown\", with the president later tweeting a photo of their confrontation. But the image has been praised by Democrats, who said it was \"iconic\" and showed Ms Pelosi's \"finest moment\". Ms Pelosi also made the photo her top image on Twitter. Earlier on Wednesday, President Trump said the US should not be intervening in Turkey's military operation in Syria because it is \"not our border\", and called the former US allies the Kurds \"no angels\". \"They have a problem at a border,\" he told reporters at the White House. \"It's not our border. We shouldn't be losing lives over it.\" The president also said he thought the situation on the Turkey-Syria border was \"strategically brilliant\" for the US. \"Our soldiers are out of there. Our soldiers are totally safe. They've got to work it out. Maybe they can do it without fighting,\" he said. \"We're watching and we're negotiating and we're trying to get Turkey to do the right thing, because we'd like to stop wars regardless.\" On the Kurds, he added: \"They fought with us. We made a lot of money for them to fight with us, and that's okay. They did well when they fought with us. They didn't do so well when they didn't fight with us.\" Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels launched the offensive in northern Syria last week. The aim, Turkey said, was to push YPG fighters back from the border, and to create a \"safe zone\" where up to two million Syrian refugees could be resettled. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, said on Wednesday that 71 civilians had been killed in Syria since the beginning of the operation. However, the health authority of the Kurdish-led administration in the region put the civilian death toll at 218 on Thursday. At least 185 SDF fighters, 164 pro-Turkish rebels and nine Turkish soldiers have also been killed in the fighting, according to the SOHR. On Wednesday, Mr Trump also said that the PKK rebel group was \"probably worse at terror and more of a terrorist threat in many ways than\" IS. The PKK is already designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US, and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1669, "answer_start": 1128, "text": "In his letter to President Erdogan, Mr Trump wrote: \"Let's work out a good deal! You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy - and I will. \"History will look upon you favourably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen.\" In response, Turkish presidential sources told BBC Turkish: \"President Erdogan received the letter, thoroughly rejected it and put it in the bin.\"" } ], "id": "10246_0", "question": "What did Trump's letter say?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3867, "answer_start": 2856, "text": "Much of the criticism levelled at Mr Trump has come from within his own party. In a rare bipartisan rebuke, 129 members of the president's Republican Party in the House of Representatives joined Democrats to formally denounce the move in a vote on Wednesday. The joint resolution, which also called on President Erdogan to immediately cease military operations against Kurdish-led forces, was voted in by 354-60. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also held an apparently explosive meeting with President Trump on the issue, which led to her and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer walking out of the room. Republican leaders said Ms Pelosi's behaviour was \"unbecoming\", and criticised her for \"storming out\". Ms Pelosi and Mr Trump also each accused the other of having a \"meltdown\", with the president later tweeting a photo of their confrontation. But the image has been praised by Democrats, who said it was \"iconic\" and showed Ms Pelosi's \"finest moment\". Ms Pelosi also made the photo her top image on Twitter." } ], "id": "10246_1", "question": "How have others responded to the crisis?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4807, "answer_start": 3868, "text": "Earlier on Wednesday, President Trump said the US should not be intervening in Turkey's military operation in Syria because it is \"not our border\", and called the former US allies the Kurds \"no angels\". \"They have a problem at a border,\" he told reporters at the White House. \"It's not our border. We shouldn't be losing lives over it.\" The president also said he thought the situation on the Turkey-Syria border was \"strategically brilliant\" for the US. \"Our soldiers are out of there. Our soldiers are totally safe. They've got to work it out. Maybe they can do it without fighting,\" he said. \"We're watching and we're negotiating and we're trying to get Turkey to do the right thing, because we'd like to stop wars regardless.\" On the Kurds, he added: \"They fought with us. We made a lot of money for them to fight with us, and that's okay. They did well when they fought with us. They didn't do so well when they didn't fight with us.\"" } ], "id": "10246_2", "question": "What has Trump said?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5767, "answer_start": 4808, "text": "Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels launched the offensive in northern Syria last week. The aim, Turkey said, was to push YPG fighters back from the border, and to create a \"safe zone\" where up to two million Syrian refugees could be resettled. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, said on Wednesday that 71 civilians had been killed in Syria since the beginning of the operation. However, the health authority of the Kurdish-led administration in the region put the civilian death toll at 218 on Thursday. At least 185 SDF fighters, 164 pro-Turkish rebels and nine Turkish soldiers have also been killed in the fighting, according to the SOHR. On Wednesday, Mr Trump also said that the PKK rebel group was \"probably worse at terror and more of a terrorist threat in many ways than\" IS. The PKK is already designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US, and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity." } ], "id": "10246_3", "question": "What is the context?" } ] } ]
YouTube shooting: Female suspect 'angry over video postings'
4 April 2018
[ { "context": "The suspect in a gun attack at YouTube's HQ in California had expressed anger over its treatment of her video postings, media reports say. Police have named Nasim Aghdam, 39, as the suspect but say they are still investigating a motive. US media say Aghdam was angry that YouTube was filtering her videos and reducing the money she could make. Tuesday's attack left a man and two women injured with gunshot wounds. The attacker shot herself dead. Police in San Bruno, California, say there is no evidence yet that the attacker knew the victims, a 36-year-old man said to be in a critical condition, and two women aged 32 and 27. Nasim Aghdam lived in San Diego in southern California. Police have revealed few details about her but US media said she ran a number of channels and a website, posting videos on a variety of subjects including those highlighting animal cruelty. The channels have now been deleted. Aghdam has been variously described as a vegan bodybuilder, artist and rapper. In January 2017 she posted a video complaining that YouTube was filtering her content, leading to fewer views. On her website she also ranted against YouTube, saying: \"Videos of targeted users are filtered and merely relegated, so that people can hardly see their videos.\" She also quotes Adolf Hitler, saying: \"Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.\" And she wrote: \"There is no equal growth opportunity on YouTube or any other video sharing site. Your channel will grow if they want [it] to!\" Aghdam's father, Ismail, told local US media she was angry because YouTube had stopped paying her for videos. Video posters can receive money from linked advertisements but the company can \"de-monetise\" channels for various reasons, taking adverts off. It is unclear if this happened with Aghdam's material. Her father said Aghdam had been reported missing on Monday after not answering calls for two days. Police later found her sleeping in her car in Mountain View, 25km (15 miles) south of the YouTube offices in San Bruno and reported this to her family, but they did not detain her. Her father told police she might go to YouTube as she \"hated the company\", local media said. YouTube terminated her account following the shooting. Her Instagram and Facebook accounts have also been removed. However, many Twitter users posted her Facebook video rant against YouTube: The suspect is reported to have approached an outdoor patio and dining area at the offices in San Bruno, near San Francisco, at about lunchtime on Tuesday and opened fire with a handgun. San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said officers arrived at the offices at 12:48 (19:48 GMT) local time to find a \"chaotic scene\", with numerous people fleeing. Images broadcast on local TV stations showed employees leaving with their hands raised. Other footage showed evacuees forming a queue before being individually frisked by police. Police said officers had \"encountered one victim with an apparent gunshot wound at the site and two additional gunshot victims that had fled to a neighbouring business\". Inside the complex, officers then found a woman dead from a gunshot wound that was believed to be self-inflicted. An employee at a nearby fast food restaurant told Fox station KTVU he had treated a young woman who suffered a bullet wound to the leg. He said he had fashioned a makeshift tourniquet from a bungee cord as they waited for first responders. Several YouTube employees tweeted about the attack as it was taking place. Product manager Todd Sherman said people fled the building in panic as the shooting unfolded. Another employee, Vadim Lavrusik, tweeted he was barricaded in a room with other staff. He later said he had been evacuated. The three wounded were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Officials said the 32-year-old woman's condition was serious and the 27-year-old's condition was fair. A fourth person was also taken to hospital with an ankle injury sustained while trying to escape, Mr Barberini said. Some 1,700 people work at the YouTube HQ. The company is owned by Google and is the area's biggest employer. There had been earlier media reports that the man shot was Aghdam's boyfriend, but police later said; \"At this time there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted.\" Such \"active shooter\" incidents are overwhelmingly carried out by men - an FBI report found that out of 160 incidents between 2000-2013, only six of the people who opened fire were women. YouTube spokesman Chris Dale praised the police response to the incident. \"Today it feels like the entire community of YouTube and all of the employees were victims of this crime. Our hearts go out to those who suffered in this particular attack,\" he said. Another online giant, Twitter, said it was horrified by the shooting and said it was monitoring instances of misinformation. Jaclyn Corin, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland - the site of a deadly shooting in February - tweeted that the attack demonstrated the US had a \"gun problem\". A parent of one of the Parkland victims echoed that sentiment, writing that \"the bottom line is, we need to deal with the issue of gun violence\". Did you witness events described in this story? Please share your experiences with us by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk. Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways: - WhatsApp: +447555 173285 - Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay - Upload your pictures / video here - Send an SMS or MMS to 61124 or +44 7624 800 100", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2404, "answer_start": 629, "text": "Nasim Aghdam lived in San Diego in southern California. Police have revealed few details about her but US media said she ran a number of channels and a website, posting videos on a variety of subjects including those highlighting animal cruelty. The channels have now been deleted. Aghdam has been variously described as a vegan bodybuilder, artist and rapper. In January 2017 she posted a video complaining that YouTube was filtering her content, leading to fewer views. On her website she also ranted against YouTube, saying: \"Videos of targeted users are filtered and merely relegated, so that people can hardly see their videos.\" She also quotes Adolf Hitler, saying: \"Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.\" And she wrote: \"There is no equal growth opportunity on YouTube or any other video sharing site. Your channel will grow if they want [it] to!\" Aghdam's father, Ismail, told local US media she was angry because YouTube had stopped paying her for videos. Video posters can receive money from linked advertisements but the company can \"de-monetise\" channels for various reasons, taking adverts off. It is unclear if this happened with Aghdam's material. Her father said Aghdam had been reported missing on Monday after not answering calls for two days. Police later found her sleeping in her car in Mountain View, 25km (15 miles) south of the YouTube offices in San Bruno and reported this to her family, but they did not detain her. Her father told police she might go to YouTube as she \"hated the company\", local media said. YouTube terminated her account following the shooting. Her Instagram and Facebook accounts have also been removed. However, many Twitter users posted her Facebook video rant against YouTube:" } ], "id": "10247_0", "question": "What do we know of the suspect?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4579, "answer_start": 2405, "text": "The suspect is reported to have approached an outdoor patio and dining area at the offices in San Bruno, near San Francisco, at about lunchtime on Tuesday and opened fire with a handgun. San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said officers arrived at the offices at 12:48 (19:48 GMT) local time to find a \"chaotic scene\", with numerous people fleeing. Images broadcast on local TV stations showed employees leaving with their hands raised. Other footage showed evacuees forming a queue before being individually frisked by police. Police said officers had \"encountered one victim with an apparent gunshot wound at the site and two additional gunshot victims that had fled to a neighbouring business\". Inside the complex, officers then found a woman dead from a gunshot wound that was believed to be self-inflicted. An employee at a nearby fast food restaurant told Fox station KTVU he had treated a young woman who suffered a bullet wound to the leg. He said he had fashioned a makeshift tourniquet from a bungee cord as they waited for first responders. Several YouTube employees tweeted about the attack as it was taking place. Product manager Todd Sherman said people fled the building in panic as the shooting unfolded. Another employee, Vadim Lavrusik, tweeted he was barricaded in a room with other staff. He later said he had been evacuated. The three wounded were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Officials said the 32-year-old woman's condition was serious and the 27-year-old's condition was fair. A fourth person was also taken to hospital with an ankle injury sustained while trying to escape, Mr Barberini said. Some 1,700 people work at the YouTube HQ. The company is owned by Google and is the area's biggest employer. There had been earlier media reports that the man shot was Aghdam's boyfriend, but police later said; \"At this time there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted.\" Such \"active shooter\" incidents are overwhelmingly carried out by men - an FBI report found that out of 160 incidents between 2000-2013, only six of the people who opened fire were women." } ], "id": "10247_1", "question": "What happened in the attack?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5287, "answer_start": 4580, "text": "YouTube spokesman Chris Dale praised the police response to the incident. \"Today it feels like the entire community of YouTube and all of the employees were victims of this crime. Our hearts go out to those who suffered in this particular attack,\" he said. Another online giant, Twitter, said it was horrified by the shooting and said it was monitoring instances of misinformation. Jaclyn Corin, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland - the site of a deadly shooting in February - tweeted that the attack demonstrated the US had a \"gun problem\". A parent of one of the Parkland victims echoed that sentiment, writing that \"the bottom line is, we need to deal with the issue of gun violence\"." } ], "id": "10247_2", "question": "What's the reaction been?" } ] } ]
Spain PM Mariano Rajoy faces defeat in Friday no-confidence vote
1 June 2018
[ { "context": "Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is set to be forced out of office in a motion of no confidence. On Friday he congratulated Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez, who will become prime minister after the ballot. Mr Sanchez, who needs 176 votes, filed the no-confidence motion after Mr Rajoy's People's Party (PP) was implicated in a corruption scandal. Mr Rajoy will be the first prime minister in modern Spanish history to be defeated in such a motion. On Friday, as debate on the no-confidence motion resumed for a second day, he told parliament that it has been \"an honour to leave a better Spain than I found\". He said me hoped Mr Sanchez would be able to \"say the same\". The opposition Socialists have secured support for the non-confidence motion from various smaller parties, including the Basque Nationalist Party - which has a crucial five seats in parliament. Mr Sanchez says Mr Rajoy, 63, had failed to take responsibility for his party's involvement in the scandal, which returned under scrutiny last week after one of its former treasurers was given a 33-year jail sentence. The High Court in Madrid convicted Luis Barcenas of receiving bribes, money laundering and tax crimes. The case centred on a secret campaign fund the PP ran from 1999 until 2005. Many Spanish voters, exasperated by corruption scandals involving the traditional centre-right PP and centre-left Socialist parties, have abandoned them for newcomers like the left-wing Podemos (We Can) and centrist Ciudadanos (Citizens), as well as regional parties. Analysis by Guy Hedgecoe, BBC News, Madrid Pedro Sanchez emerged as a virtual unknown to win the Spanish Socialist party premiership in 2014. The photogenic economist and former basketball player won members over with a promise to unite a divided party and put the Socialists back in power. Yet he subsequently suffered two humbling election defeats, in 2015 and 2016. He was eventually forced to resign after his refusal to back Mariano Rajoy in an investiture vote plunged the country into a prolonged political stalemate and his party into bitter infighting. Months later he confounded his many critics by returning to win the Socialist primary. Spain's constitution states that the party presenting a no-confidence motion must be prepared to govern and replace the deposed prime minister if a parliamentary majority backs it. Therefore this moderate but ambitious 46-year-old from Madrid is set to be Spain's new prime minister, despite the fact that his party commands less than a quarter of seats in Congress. \"Resign, Mr Rajoy, your time is up. Resign and this no-confidence motion ends here,\" Mr Sanchez said during the two-day debate that began in parliament on Thursday. \"Staying on as prime minister is harmful and is a burden not only for Spain but also for your party.\" Mr Rajoy insisted he would stay put and accused the Socialists of opportunism. \"Mr Sanchez is concerned because he is not doing any better in the polls and he has realised that he will never reach government through elections,\" he added. Mr Rajoy's resignation ahead of a vote would prevent Mr Sanchez from taking power and usher in a caretaker period of weeks, possibly months, before a new PM is sworn in. If he loses, however, Mr Sanchez is likely to replace him immediately. The PM did not return to parliament for the afternoon session. Instead he remained at a restaurant for about 10 hours, with various cabinet members visiting him over lunch and during the course of the afternoon, Spanish media reported. Also on Thursday, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) confirmed that it would support the no-confidence motion. \"We believe we are responding to what most Basques want and best complying with our responsibility by voting yes [to the motion],\" said party spokesman Aitor Esteban. Mr Rajoy currently has the support of the PP, Ciudadanos and two regional parties, which between them can only muster 169 votes.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1537, "answer_start": 873, "text": "Mr Sanchez says Mr Rajoy, 63, had failed to take responsibility for his party's involvement in the scandal, which returned under scrutiny last week after one of its former treasurers was given a 33-year jail sentence. The High Court in Madrid convicted Luis Barcenas of receiving bribes, money laundering and tax crimes. The case centred on a secret campaign fund the PP ran from 1999 until 2005. Many Spanish voters, exasperated by corruption scandals involving the traditional centre-right PP and centre-left Socialist parties, have abandoned them for newcomers like the left-wing Podemos (We Can) and centrist Ciudadanos (Citizens), as well as regional parties." } ], "id": "10248_0", "question": "Why was the vote called?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2553, "answer_start": 1538, "text": "Analysis by Guy Hedgecoe, BBC News, Madrid Pedro Sanchez emerged as a virtual unknown to win the Spanish Socialist party premiership in 2014. The photogenic economist and former basketball player won members over with a promise to unite a divided party and put the Socialists back in power. Yet he subsequently suffered two humbling election defeats, in 2015 and 2016. He was eventually forced to resign after his refusal to back Mariano Rajoy in an investiture vote plunged the country into a prolonged political stalemate and his party into bitter infighting. Months later he confounded his many critics by returning to win the Socialist primary. Spain's constitution states that the party presenting a no-confidence motion must be prepared to govern and replace the deposed prime minister if a parliamentary majority backs it. Therefore this moderate but ambitious 46-year-old from Madrid is set to be Spain's new prime minister, despite the fact that his party commands less than a quarter of seats in Congress." } ], "id": "10248_1", "question": "Who is Pedro Sanchez?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3942, "answer_start": 2554, "text": "\"Resign, Mr Rajoy, your time is up. Resign and this no-confidence motion ends here,\" Mr Sanchez said during the two-day debate that began in parliament on Thursday. \"Staying on as prime minister is harmful and is a burden not only for Spain but also for your party.\" Mr Rajoy insisted he would stay put and accused the Socialists of opportunism. \"Mr Sanchez is concerned because he is not doing any better in the polls and he has realised that he will never reach government through elections,\" he added. Mr Rajoy's resignation ahead of a vote would prevent Mr Sanchez from taking power and usher in a caretaker period of weeks, possibly months, before a new PM is sworn in. If he loses, however, Mr Sanchez is likely to replace him immediately. The PM did not return to parliament for the afternoon session. Instead he remained at a restaurant for about 10 hours, with various cabinet members visiting him over lunch and during the course of the afternoon, Spanish media reported. Also on Thursday, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) confirmed that it would support the no-confidence motion. \"We believe we are responding to what most Basques want and best complying with our responsibility by voting yes [to the motion],\" said party spokesman Aitor Esteban. Mr Rajoy currently has the support of the PP, Ciudadanos and two regional parties, which between them can only muster 169 votes." } ], "id": "10248_2", "question": "Could Mariano Rajoy step down?" } ] } ]
Sri Lanka attacks: Death toll revised down by 'about 100'
26 April 2019
[ { "context": "Sri Lanka has revised down the death toll from last Sunday's wave of bombings by more than 100, to \"about 253\", the health ministry says. It blamed a calculation error and the difficulty of identifying victims. Scores were killed and hundreds injured when suicide bombers struck hotels and churches in Colombo, Negombo and the eastern city of Batticaloa. Most of those killed were Sri Lankan but dozens of foreigners were also among the casualties. Nine people are suspected of carrying out the attacks. Police have continued carrying out raids and have issued photographs of seven people wanted in connection with the attacks. The authorities blamed a local Islamist extremist group, National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), soon after the blasts but say the bombers must have had outside help. The Islamic State group said it was behind the attacks and published a video showing eight men but provided no evidence of direct involvement. In other developments: - Sri Lanka's defence secretary, Hemasiri Fernando, the top non-elected official at the department, announced his resignation on Thursday in response to intelligence failures - Sri Lankan police apologised after mistakenly releasing a photo of US-based student activist Amara Majeed as one of the suspects - The country's Catholic Church has announced the suspension of all church services - Members of the Pakistani Ahmadi Muslim community, as well as some Christians and Afghan nationals, have been ejected from their homes in the city of Negombo. Rights activists warned they could face reprisal attacks - Police say more than 70 people have now been arrested - The UK Foreign Office is now warning against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka Sri Lankan Deputy Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said morgues had provided inaccurate figures. Another official, the head of health services, told Reuters news agency there had been so many body parts it was \"difficult to give a precise figure\". According to the health ministry, all autopsies had been completed late on Thursday and it transpired that some victims had been counted more than once. BBC World Service South Asia editor Jill McGivering says the revised figure comes as the government is struggling to restore its credibility - amid criticism of its apparent failure to respond to intelligence warnings before the attacks. It's also battling to counter fake news and false rumours about the crisis, she says. This sudden dramatic change in the death toll is unlikely to help. The downward revision means this no longer ranks as the deadliest attack claimed by IS. At least seven suspects are still identified as being at large. Fears of further attacks means that Sri Lanka remains a country on edge, with nightly curfews and security forces making sweeps across the nation, in an effort to root out all connections with the attacks. Over the last few days, a clearer picture has also built up of the bombers, who officials said were well off and well educated and at least one had spent time abroad in the UK and Australia. Thursday saw offices in central Colombo shut early and workers told to go home as well as a brief lockdown in part of the capital because of bomb scares. Rumours and false alarms have also been making the rounds over the past few days. Added to that is the ever-present fear of communal violence and reprisals against Muslims in Sri Lanka. Some Muslims in Sri Lanka report feeling fearful and several Muslim organisations have advised worshippers to stay at home for Friday prayers. In Negombo, a community of refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly belonging to the Ahmadi minority sect from Pakistan, but also including some Christians and Afghan nationals, have been ejected from their homes by landlords. Ahmadi Muslims identify as Muslim and follow the Koran, but are viewed by many orthodox Muslims as heretical. This community of refugees fled persecution and had been sheltering in Sri Lanka - human rights activists say they are likely to have been targeted largely for being both foreign and Muslim. Sri Lanka has a sizeable and centuries-old Muslim population - out of 21 million, just under 10% are Muslim. During Sri Lanka's civil war they were subject to several brutal assaults, and in the years since there has been sporadic violence against Muslims, largely by Sinhalese Buddhists. Muralitharan Kasiviswanathan, BBC Tamil, Negombo As of Wednesday, more than 600 Ahmadis had taken refuge at Faizul Mosque in Negombo, one of the five Ahmadi mosques in Sri Lanka. Most of the Ahmadis were renting their homes from Catholic Christians. Although the bomb blasts happened on Sunday, it was three days later that things got scary for the Ahmadis. \"My home is some streets away from the church. After the attack, the owner of my house was very worried and asked me to be safe somewhere. I am paying 13,000 rupees [PS58; $74] for that house. Most of us paid a year's rent an advance. Where will we go now?\" asks 27-year-old Habis Rabba Soaib. About 800 Ahmadis from Pakistan live here with the help of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. Fearing religious prosecution, they fled Pakistan and came to Negombo and hope to eventually seek asylum in Europe or the US. Although the Faizul mosque is small, officials are taking care of them and it is being guarded by the army and the police. More than 5,000 native Ahmadis live in Negombo. Many of them have lived here for years and now own houses and businesses. \"Since we have been here for a long time, nobody is threatening us,\" says one of the Muslim youths who is busy helping the Pakistanis.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2582, "answer_start": 1701, "text": "Sri Lankan Deputy Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said morgues had provided inaccurate figures. Another official, the head of health services, told Reuters news agency there had been so many body parts it was \"difficult to give a precise figure\". According to the health ministry, all autopsies had been completed late on Thursday and it transpired that some victims had been counted more than once. BBC World Service South Asia editor Jill McGivering says the revised figure comes as the government is struggling to restore its credibility - amid criticism of its apparent failure to respond to intelligence warnings before the attacks. It's also battling to counter fake news and false rumours about the crisis, she says. This sudden dramatic change in the death toll is unlikely to help. The downward revision means this no longer ranks as the deadliest attack claimed by IS." } ], "id": "10249_0", "question": "Why was the wrong toll given?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3383, "answer_start": 2583, "text": "At least seven suspects are still identified as being at large. Fears of further attacks means that Sri Lanka remains a country on edge, with nightly curfews and security forces making sweeps across the nation, in an effort to root out all connections with the attacks. Over the last few days, a clearer picture has also built up of the bombers, who officials said were well off and well educated and at least one had spent time abroad in the UK and Australia. Thursday saw offices in central Colombo shut early and workers told to go home as well as a brief lockdown in part of the capital because of bomb scares. Rumours and false alarms have also been making the rounds over the past few days. Added to that is the ever-present fear of communal violence and reprisals against Muslims in Sri Lanka." } ], "id": "10249_1", "question": "What is the security situation in Sri Lanka now?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 4338, "answer_start": 3384, "text": "Some Muslims in Sri Lanka report feeling fearful and several Muslim organisations have advised worshippers to stay at home for Friday prayers. In Negombo, a community of refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly belonging to the Ahmadi minority sect from Pakistan, but also including some Christians and Afghan nationals, have been ejected from their homes by landlords. Ahmadi Muslims identify as Muslim and follow the Koran, but are viewed by many orthodox Muslims as heretical. This community of refugees fled persecution and had been sheltering in Sri Lanka - human rights activists say they are likely to have been targeted largely for being both foreign and Muslim. Sri Lanka has a sizeable and centuries-old Muslim population - out of 21 million, just under 10% are Muslim. During Sri Lanka's civil war they were subject to several brutal assaults, and in the years since there has been sporadic violence against Muslims, largely by Sinhalese Buddhists." } ], "id": "10249_2", "question": "What about the Muslim minority?" } ] } ]
Rio 2016: Does the Chinese public have a victim narrative?
12 August 2016
[ { "context": "One week into the Olympic Games and Chinese patriots have a lot of complaints. A brief shortlist might start with judges biased against Chinese athletes. In all Rio venues, the points of the gold stars on the Chinese national flag were misaligned. On one occasion where a Chinese and US athlete drew for bronze, the Chinese flag was positioned below the American flag. An Australian and a French swimmer made doping allegations against a Chinese swimmer and failed to apologise. And back to the beginning, China's gymnasts were robbed, China's weightlifters were robbed, China's swimmers were robbed. The volleyball team only avoided being robbed by standing up to Swiss bullying (Yes that's a nation of 8 million bullying one of 1.4 billion, 175 times bigger). \"As we mature in mentality, learn how to appreciate competition, and become able to calmly applaud our rivals, we showcase the confidence and tolerance of a great country,\" suggested China's state broadcaster CCTV on day one of the Rio Olympics. If only. On the face of it, the Chinese public have every reason to display confidence and tolerance. Their athletes are bringing gold and glory on the international sporting stage just as their political leaders prepare to welcome the rich world at the G20 summit of powerful economies. But if CCTV believes tolerance and confidence should be the overriding Olympic mood, it needs to get that message across to its viewers. According to one poll, more than 80% of the public think Rio's judges have a sinister bias against China. Only 16% believe other countries might equally be the victim of bad calls. The Japanese Olympian who stole Chinese hearts Olympic divers swoop into plastic cup in viral gif viewed millions of times Fu Yuanhui: China's disarming and expressive Olympic swimming star China's Olympic social media winners and losers online Rio Olympics are worst ever, say Chinese social media users China demands apology for Australian swimming 'drug cheat' slur On Thursday night, the Communist Party flagship the People's Daily published a commentary designed to temper this script. It pointed out that Olympic history is fraught with umpiring controversies, that other nations too often feel wronged and that it is a mistake to look at some facts and ignore others. But truly China's state media only have themselves to blame. If the Chinese public have an ineradicable victim narrative it is of their own creation. The Olympics come a month after the Hague tribunal ruling on the legality of China's claims in the South China Sea, and the tsunami of official outrage over that ruling still conditions the public mood. The message then was that a ruling in international law which didn't go China's way was thereby null and void. Moreover, the judges are brainless or paid, or both, so the narrative went. If rulings in international law are optional for the Chinese government then who can be surprised if the Chinese public applies the same principle to rulings in sport? Especially when the run-up to the Olympics saw an almost daily slew of state-sanctioned viral videos warning that a giant western conspiracy is afoot to bring China down and turn it into a second Syria. If any foreigner is plotting against China in Rio they're not making a very good job of it. At the time of writing, China was second on the medals table. Only at home in 2008 did the Chinese team top the table, so the evidence of a sinister anti-China bias among Olympic judges seems fragile. But one good thing about blaming foreign judges is that it takes some of the pressure of expectation off Chinese athletes. Over the past week, some did still make tearful apologies to the nation for underperforming; others dedicated their medals to the nation when they won. Like weightlifter Long Qingquan who spoke with almost Cultural Revolutionary fervour, \"I couldn't feel the weight on my shoulders because my country gave me willpower that was greater than the weight\". But the athlete who's really touched fans hearts falls into neither of these winner or loser stereotypes. Instead swimmer Fu Yuanhui said she was thrilled with bronze and perhaps her arms were too short to expect more. She did not blame mind games by rival athletes or a sinister plot by anti-China judges. She said training had been a slog that felt almost unbearable at times. Honesty, enthusiasm, spontaneity: China would do well to encourage more athletes to be themselves. Or their best selves. Because at the other end of the soft power scale is Sun Yang. Another swimmer, Sun has got into a sensational row with Australian rival Mack Horton over doping allegations. The dominant Chinese view of this is that Horton was rude and unfair. I'm not in a position to judge. But Sun Yang was clearly unpopular with athletes and coaches from several countries as there had been several complaints about disruptive behaviour in training. And since the incident at the beginning of the week, the torrent of abuse levelled at the Australian on social media has been shocking. Horton is a snake, a racist and more. Australia is on the fringe of civilisation, a former penal colony. Why do Chinese fans take it all so personally? And why isn't there a spectrum of opinion? It's legitimate to point out that Chinese athletes train hard and deserve respect. It's also legitimate to point out that China has mounted a long hard campaign to root out doping. But why aren't there more Chinese voices acknowledging that doping has been a terrible scourge for the national swimming team in the past, or that Sun Yang does not have an unblemished record? With Friday's news that a Chinese swimmer, Chen Xinyu, has now failed a Rio drugs test, perhaps the self-reflection will begin. If it doesn't, what hope for reflection on the more dangerous differences with other nations? In my view, this too relates back at the most profound level to China's absence of free debate and to the most recent example of driven herd mentality over the South China Sea dispute. After the Hague ruling, China was angered by a joint statement from the US, Japan and Australia upholding international law and freedom of navigation. Again the propaganda machine whipped up public rage. Only last week, one state owned newspaper said Australia was a \"paper cat\" and that if it got involved in the South China Sea it would become \"an ideal target for China to warn and strike\". Since then Australia and Vietnam have fallen victim to significant cyber attacks, Japan has been dismayed by a fleet of Chinese fishing boats and coastguard vessels in contested waters, South Korea has been targeted for economic punishment after its decision to deploy an anti-missile technology and China's state broadcaster has declined even to acknowledge the existence of the Philippines team at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. In this climate of multi-dimensional antagonism, it's hardly surprising that the Chinese public approach a festival of sport at a fever pitch of wounded national pride, ready to see sinister plots at every turn. Perhaps Fu Yuanhui could bring her example to bear and set three \"do nots\" for Team China (and the rest) on the field at Rio and every other world stage: don't be sore losers on the rare occasions when you lose; don't indulge in paranoid groupthink; and don't treat international rules as a pick and mix. Come on China! Zhong Guo Jia You !", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1613, "answer_start": 762, "text": "\"As we mature in mentality, learn how to appreciate competition, and become able to calmly applaud our rivals, we showcase the confidence and tolerance of a great country,\" suggested China's state broadcaster CCTV on day one of the Rio Olympics. If only. On the face of it, the Chinese public have every reason to display confidence and tolerance. Their athletes are bringing gold and glory on the international sporting stage just as their political leaders prepare to welcome the rich world at the G20 summit of powerful economies. But if CCTV believes tolerance and confidence should be the overriding Olympic mood, it needs to get that message across to its viewers. According to one poll, more than 80% of the public think Rio's judges have a sinister bias against China. Only 16% believe other countries might equally be the victim of bad calls." } ], "id": "10250_0", "question": "What is the root of all this paranoia?" } ] } ]
Sterling’s had a weedy day – and it’s not all down to Boris Johnson
22 February 2016
[ { "context": "Sterling is trading at a seven-year low against the dollar. Cue klaxons warning of increased currency and market volatility as Britain starts on the four month journey to a referendum on whether to remain in or leave the European Union. To an extent sterling's weedy day is down to markets \"pricing in\" the chance of Britain leaving the EU. In the short term at least, many market participants believe a \"Brexit\" would lead to a weaker currency as worries about Britain's PS229bn annual trade with the EU and the possibility of new trade barriers heave into view. The credit rating agency, Moody's, has suggested that Britain leaving the EU would be \"credit negative\", arguing that an exit could affect foreign investment in the UK, nearly half of which comes from the EU. The polls are close enough to make the possibility of exit very real in the minds of traders who don't want to be left on the wrong side of a currency deal. So, sell sterling - reducing the value of the currency. Of course, a weaker currency is not simply \"bad news\". It can be very good news for exporters. And many that back Britain leaving the EU say a Brexit would be good for the UK economy as free trade deals with other large world economies would be easier to negotiate. If there then followed a medium term economic boost, sterling would soon recover its value. This morning has been the first time the currency markets have been able to react to a weekend full of significant referendum news. Don't forget, when the markets closed on Friday night, David Cameron had not secured the final referendum deal; no official date had been set for the vote and neither of the Conservative big hitters, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, had declared for the \"leave\" campaign. In the eyes of the markets, each of these events has made the possibility of the UK leaving the EU more real. And it has certainly focused minds - hence the rapid decline of sterling. There are other factors at play. The dollar has had a strong recent run against the euro and the Swiss franc as well as sterling. That's down to the Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates in December and signal that it may do again during 2016. Confidence in the US economy may not be boundless, but it is stronger than confidence in the eurozone. At the same time the European Central Bank and the Bank of England have been sending out very doveish messages on interest rate rises. Which many economists now believe won't happen in the UK until next year, or even 2018. A low interest rate environment usually leads to weaker currency valuations. Sterling's weedy day is down to a number of factors. Yes, the referendum is one of them. But other global economic issues are also weighing heavily on the value of the UK currency.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1343, "answer_start": 564, "text": "The credit rating agency, Moody's, has suggested that Britain leaving the EU would be \"credit negative\", arguing that an exit could affect foreign investment in the UK, nearly half of which comes from the EU. The polls are close enough to make the possibility of exit very real in the minds of traders who don't want to be left on the wrong side of a currency deal. So, sell sterling - reducing the value of the currency. Of course, a weaker currency is not simply \"bad news\". It can be very good news for exporters. And many that back Britain leaving the EU say a Brexit would be good for the UK economy as free trade deals with other large world economies would be easier to negotiate. If there then followed a medium term economic boost, sterling would soon recover its value." } ], "id": "10251_0", "question": "Bad news?" } ] } ]
Libya crisis: UN warns attacks on civilians may amount to war crimes
9 April 2019
[ { "context": "UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has warned that attacks on civilians in Libya could amount to war crimes. She urged all sides to avoid bloodshed as military strongman Khalifa Haftar's forces advance on the UN-recognised government in Tripoli. Some 47 people have been killed over the past three days, says the World Health Organization (WHO), as his forces seek to capture the capital. On Monday, an air strike closed the city's only functioning airport. The UN's special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, hinted that a peace conference due to start this Sunday could be postponed, saying it would be convened \"as soon as possible\". Libya has been torn by violence, political instability and power struggles since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011. The rights commissioner said that the people of Libya \"have long been caught between numerous warring parties, with some of the most vulnerable suffering some of the gravest violations of their human rights\". She said: \"The attack near Mitiga airport [on Monday] that left many civilians in Tripoli stranded brought into stark focus the imperative for all parties to respect international humanitarian law, and to take all possible measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and prisons.\" As well as the 47 deaths, 181 people were said to have been injured in recent clashes, the WHO said. That was a higher toll than numbers given by either side, and appeared to be mainly fighters, it said. Nine of the dead were civilians, including two doctors who it said had been \"providing critically needed services to civilians in Tripoli. One doctor was reportedly killed while working as part of a field ambulance service\". The WHO said it had documented more than 40 attacks on health services in Libya over the course of 2018 and 2019. Targeted attacks on health services were a violation of international law, the organisation said. At least 2,800 people have so far fled fighting around Tripoli, the UN says. It also warns that those who remain risk being cut off from vital services because of the clashes. Much of the international community, including the US, has called for a ceasefire. The US military is among those to withdraw its supporting forces based in the country, blaming the \"complex and unpredictable\" situation and \"increased unrest\" on the ground. The UN is also due to pull out non-essential staff. Gen Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA) from a stronghold in the east, declared an offensive to take control of Tripoli from Libya's UN-backed government last week. Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), has accused him of attempting to carry out a coup. The GNA was created from peace talks in 2015 but has struggled to take control of the country. Gen Haftar helped Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US. He then returned when the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander. His LNA troops have continued to make advances, seizing the south of Libya and its oil fields earlier this year. UN-backed talks between the rival governments had been scheduled for 14-16 April to discuss a roadmap for new elections, but it is now unclear if these will still take place. Mr Serraj said he had offered concessions to Gen Haftar to avoid bloodshed, only to be \"stabbed in the back\".", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1317, "answer_start": 784, "text": "The rights commissioner said that the people of Libya \"have long been caught between numerous warring parties, with some of the most vulnerable suffering some of the gravest violations of their human rights\". She said: \"The attack near Mitiga airport [on Monday] that left many civilians in Tripoli stranded brought into stark focus the imperative for all parties to respect international humanitarian law, and to take all possible measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and prisons.\"" } ], "id": "10252_0", "question": "What has Ms Bachelet said?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2445, "answer_start": 1318, "text": "As well as the 47 deaths, 181 people were said to have been injured in recent clashes, the WHO said. That was a higher toll than numbers given by either side, and appeared to be mainly fighters, it said. Nine of the dead were civilians, including two doctors who it said had been \"providing critically needed services to civilians in Tripoli. One doctor was reportedly killed while working as part of a field ambulance service\". The WHO said it had documented more than 40 attacks on health services in Libya over the course of 2018 and 2019. Targeted attacks on health services were a violation of international law, the organisation said. At least 2,800 people have so far fled fighting around Tripoli, the UN says. It also warns that those who remain risk being cut off from vital services because of the clashes. Much of the international community, including the US, has called for a ceasefire. The US military is among those to withdraw its supporting forces based in the country, blaming the \"complex and unpredictable\" situation and \"increased unrest\" on the ground. The UN is also due to pull out non-essential staff." } ], "id": "10252_1", "question": "What are the latest casualties?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3445, "answer_start": 2446, "text": "Gen Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA) from a stronghold in the east, declared an offensive to take control of Tripoli from Libya's UN-backed government last week. Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), has accused him of attempting to carry out a coup. The GNA was created from peace talks in 2015 but has struggled to take control of the country. Gen Haftar helped Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US. He then returned when the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander. His LNA troops have continued to make advances, seizing the south of Libya and its oil fields earlier this year. UN-backed talks between the rival governments had been scheduled for 14-16 April to discuss a roadmap for new elections, but it is now unclear if these will still take place. Mr Serraj said he had offered concessions to Gen Haftar to avoid bloodshed, only to be \"stabbed in the back\"." } ], "id": "10252_2", "question": "Who is fighting?" } ] } ]
Dutch asylum row: Armenian children face expulsion
4 September 2018
[ { "context": "Two Armenian children who have spent most of their lives in the Netherlands face imminent deportation after emerging from hiding following a failed asylum plea. Howick, 13, and his sister Lily, 12, came to the Netherlands with their mother in 2008. Their mother was deported last year and the children's friends have rallied around them, calling for them to stay. However, the Dutch government insists its asylum policy is fair. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said last week he understood the emotion surrounding the case but asylum numbers had to be kept under control. \"Anyone who doesn't fall under the criteria cannot stay here,\" he said. Their mother, 37-year-old Armina Hambartsjumian, applied for asylum shortly after arriving in the Netherlands in 2008 from Russia. The children have never lived in Armenia and barely speak the language. When their mother was deported in 2017, she sent the children to a secret address before they were found by authorities. They have since been living with a family who had befriended their mother. For months, the courts considered the children's case, with campaigners arguing their mother was mentally and physically incapable of looking after them and that the children would go to an orphanage. Protests were held in support of the children by classmates from the city of Amersfoort and the case has become a cause celebre across the Netherlands. After a series of asylum rulings, a final decision was made last month that there were no grounds for Lily and Howick to stay. Armenia was a safe country and there was no risk of persecution, the Council of State concluded. The children would not end up on the street, it decided, and deportation was due to take place on 8 September. In a recent letter to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, the children's mother said they were \"in hiding\" and in a \"safe place\". \"The stress is so high that I'm scared my children will break down if this goes ahead,\" she wrote, adding that she had been told by professionals that they were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. But on Monday, the newspaper reported that the children had emerged from three days of hiding and reported to authorities. The Dutch immigration service told the newspaper that it would not go into individual cases. Appearing on a talk show on Dutch TV on Saturday, the children said they had been really shocked by news of their imminent deportation. \"We belong here. They say you're going back to Armenia but where am I going back to?\" said Lily. \"If we do end up there, we'll go into some sort of orphanage meant for a maximum of 20 children, but which already houses 30,\" Howick added. Several European countries have struggled with the deportation of children whose asylum cases have been rejected. Campaign group Defence for Children said they were still hoping that the Dutch migration secretary would overrule the court decision. They say there are 400 cases of children seeking asylum who have lived in the Netherlands for more than five years without a residence permit. There were protests in the Dutch town of Culemborg last month when a Ukrainian family, whose three children were born in the Netherlands, were deported after living there for 17 years. The Dutch immigration service turned down just over half of the 16,785 asylum applications made in 2017. The largest number of rejections was from citizens of Morocco and Algeria. While tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors entered Germany in 2015 and 2016, almost 90% of asylum claims were successful.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1724, "answer_start": 638, "text": "Their mother, 37-year-old Armina Hambartsjumian, applied for asylum shortly after arriving in the Netherlands in 2008 from Russia. The children have never lived in Armenia and barely speak the language. When their mother was deported in 2017, she sent the children to a secret address before they were found by authorities. They have since been living with a family who had befriended their mother. For months, the courts considered the children's case, with campaigners arguing their mother was mentally and physically incapable of looking after them and that the children would go to an orphanage. Protests were held in support of the children by classmates from the city of Amersfoort and the case has become a cause celebre across the Netherlands. After a series of asylum rulings, a final decision was made last month that there were no grounds for Lily and Howick to stay. Armenia was a safe country and there was no risk of persecution, the Council of State concluded. The children would not end up on the street, it decided, and deportation was due to take place on 8 September." } ], "id": "10253_0", "question": "Who are Lily and Howick?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2650, "answer_start": 1725, "text": "In a recent letter to Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, the children's mother said they were \"in hiding\" and in a \"safe place\". \"The stress is so high that I'm scared my children will break down if this goes ahead,\" she wrote, adding that she had been told by professionals that they were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. But on Monday, the newspaper reported that the children had emerged from three days of hiding and reported to authorities. The Dutch immigration service told the newspaper that it would not go into individual cases. Appearing on a talk show on Dutch TV on Saturday, the children said they had been really shocked by news of their imminent deportation. \"We belong here. They say you're going back to Armenia but where am I going back to?\" said Lily. \"If we do end up there, we'll go into some sort of orphanage meant for a maximum of 20 children, but which already houses 30,\" Howick added." } ], "id": "10253_1", "question": "What does the mother say?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3533, "answer_start": 2651, "text": "Several European countries have struggled with the deportation of children whose asylum cases have been rejected. Campaign group Defence for Children said they were still hoping that the Dutch migration secretary would overrule the court decision. They say there are 400 cases of children seeking asylum who have lived in the Netherlands for more than five years without a residence permit. There were protests in the Dutch town of Culemborg last month when a Ukrainian family, whose three children were born in the Netherlands, were deported after living there for 17 years. The Dutch immigration service turned down just over half of the 16,785 asylum applications made in 2017. The largest number of rejections was from citizens of Morocco and Algeria. While tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors entered Germany in 2015 and 2016, almost 90% of asylum claims were successful." } ], "id": "10253_2", "question": "Are children's cases different?" } ] } ]
Brazil's rising tide of young conservatives seeks change
2 April 2018
[ { "context": "Sara Winter has always had strong views. As an activist, she used to chain herself to fences in protest at chauvinism and sexual violence. She was, by her own admission, one of the most high-profile feminists in Brazil. Sara is certainly striking. She has peroxide blonde hair, tattoos and a snappy dress sense. But the thing that stands out the most is the badge she is wearing on her top. It is a picture of a skull with a knife through it and two guns. \"It's my favourite police organisation, Bope,\" she says, proudly referring to the logo of Brazil's Special Police Operations Battalion. \"They climb into the favelas and kill the bad guys. They put their lives at risk all the time to save the population of Rio.\" It is not the sort of comment you would expect from a liberal activist. But Sara has had a political about-turn in recent years. Six years after having an abortion, Sara became pregnant again. Between the two pregnancies, she had regained her faith in the Catholic Church and her views on pregnancy - and politics - changed radically. \"I was so happy because I felt that God was giving me a second chance to be a mum,\" she recalls. \"I decided to come back to the Church and I think I can help women much more with conservative politics than feminism. \"[I spent] five years being the most popular feminist in Brazil and I did nothing for women,\" she says. \"I just spent this time talking about abortion and legalising drugs and communism and I called that empowering myself.\" Sara's U-turn is unusual but it mirrors to some extent what is happening in Brazil. For more than 15 years, Brazil was governed by the left. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva rose to power in 2003 promising change. But with the country's most loved politician now facing 12 years in prison for corruption, and with his successor Dilma Rousseff impeached, people are disillusioned. The left did not deliver, so people want change. Sara's political idol is the far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Many refer to Mr Bolsonaro as the \"Brazilian Trump\", the two are very different men in very different countries but the similarities, or rather the set of circumstances that allow them to both exist, are uncanny. Mr Bolsonaro brands himself as different from all the rest, a clean candidate amid a sea of corrupt politicians that has been the talk of Brazil for the past few years. He has been accused of being homophobic and told a congresswoman she was not worth raping. He has ranted against minorities and has called for looser gun laws. Jair Bolsonaro does not hold back. But Sara will not have a bad word said against him. \"I know it sounds really awkward, but really, if any woman could see Bolsonaro's policies, she would be in love, like me!\" She gushingly talks about one of his proposals - chemically castrating rapists. \"We have so many feminist congresswomen, why didn't they suggest this before?\" she asks. \"Bolsonaro did it.\" While many people wince at Jair Bolsonaro's politics, he remains a popular figure. He is currently second in the presidential polls after former President Lula, who may not even be able to run now because of his corruption conviction. While Mr Bolsonaro is at the extreme end of the right, conservative politics more generally are enjoying a comeback in Brazil - this in a country that until 1985 was ruled by a military dictatorship. Right-wing pressure groups like the Free Brazil Movement, or MBL in Portuguese, are finding big audiences. The MBL started its life on the streets, calling for then President Dilma Rousseff to be impeached. It has since strengthened by going online. It has more than 2.5 million followers on Facebook who avidly watch their political videos criticising Brazil's left-wing politicians. The MBL calls itself libertarian. It wants a freer country with a smaller state, its way. But its politics are hard to define because most members also hold conservative views on abortion and gun ownership. \"The problem is that some parts of Brazilian mentality, especially the left-wing mentality, say that the Conservatives are always totalitarians, always on the wrong side of things,\" says Pedro Ferreira, an MBL co-founder. \"Whenever they try to voice what they feel they are called fascists or Nazis.\" He says the internet has changed things. It has allowed people to find their own voice, to find their values. \"That is why we have Trump, that is why we have Brexit, that is why we have MBL. We have the common people's voice being heard,\" he says. \"That is scaring a lot of people but that is very democratic.\" Experts say Brazil's corruption scandals have been fertile ground for this kind of politics. \"You have a total mistrust of every kind of authority in Brazil, so for these movements that propagate hell, that show that everything is wrong, this kind of scenario is very useful,\" says Prof Rafael Alcadipani. \"They pick up very small things in reality and try to magnify them as if these were the biggest problems in Brazil.\" Prof Alcadipani accuses movements like the MBL of propagating fake news. But it is an accusation the right makes against the left, too. While the MBL essentially remains a movement, some of its members have entered politics on other parties' tickets. Twenty-one-year-old Fernando Holiday may be one of the MBL's leading figures but he ran for and won a seat as city councillor in Sao Paulo for the Democrats party. An unusual poster boy for conservatism, he comes from a poor family and is gay. He thinks young Brazilians had, until recently, become disengaged with politics. \"The right became synonymous with more conservative politics, irrelevant for minorities,\" he says. \"It also became associated with authoritarian, even nostalgic feelings about the dictatorship, like Bolsonaro.\" \"But I think we bring a wider vision of what the right is,\" he explains. \"Not everything fits into a standard box and is determined by rigid rules.\"", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 5949, "answer_start": 5150, "text": "While the MBL essentially remains a movement, some of its members have entered politics on other parties' tickets. Twenty-one-year-old Fernando Holiday may be one of the MBL's leading figures but he ran for and won a seat as city councillor in Sao Paulo for the Democrats party. An unusual poster boy for conservatism, he comes from a poor family and is gay. He thinks young Brazilians had, until recently, become disengaged with politics. \"The right became synonymous with more conservative politics, irrelevant for minorities,\" he says. \"It also became associated with authoritarian, even nostalgic feelings about the dictatorship, like Bolsonaro.\" \"But I think we bring a wider vision of what the right is,\" he explains. \"Not everything fits into a standard box and is determined by rigid rules.\"" } ], "id": "10254_0", "question": "A wider vision of the right?" } ] } ]
WHO backs 'treat-all' HIV drug plan
30 September 2015
[ { "context": "Everyone who has HIV should be offered antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after diagnosis, the World Health Organisation says. This latest policy removes previous limits suggesting patients wait until the disease progresses. The WHO has also recommended people at risk of HIV be given the drugs to help prevent the infection taking hold. UNAIDS said these changes could help avert 21 million AIDS-related deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030. The recommendations increase the number of people with HIV eligible for antiretrovirals from 28m to 37m across the world. But the challenge globally will be making sure everyone has access to them and the funds are in place to pay for such a huge extension in treatment. Only 15m people currently get the drugs. The recommendations have less relevance to the UK however. Nine in 10 people with diagnoses are already on the drugs with patients entitled to ask for them before they reach the threshold WHO refers to. Although the use of the treatment as a preventative measure is not recommended. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a combination of medicines used to treat HIV. It is not a cure, but can control the virus so that patients can live a longer, healthier life and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others. The drugs prevent HIV from multiplying, which reduces the amount of the virus in the body. Having less HIV in the body gives the immune system a chance to recover and fight off infections and cancers. By reducing the amount of HIV, the medicines also reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund, a private-public initiative which is one of the biggest funders of HIV research and treatment, said: \"The recommendations are critically important to moving us towards the fast-track treatment and prevention goals. \"We must embrace the ambition if we are going to end HIV as a public health threat.\" Michel Sidibe, of UNAIDS, added: \"Everybody living with HIV has the right to life-saving treatment. The new guidelines are a very important steps towards ensuring that all people living with HIV have immediate access to antiretroviral treatment.\" The WHO announcement comes after extensive research into the issue. A US National Institutes of Health study due to run until 2016 was stopped early after an interim analysis found giving treatment straight after diagnosis cut deaths and complications, such as kidney or liver disease, by half. Meanwhile, a UK study found giving healthy gay men drugs meant one case of HIV could be stopped for every 13 men treated for a year.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1579, "answer_start": 1052, "text": "Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a combination of medicines used to treat HIV. It is not a cure, but can control the virus so that patients can live a longer, healthier life and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others. The drugs prevent HIV from multiplying, which reduces the amount of the virus in the body. Having less HIV in the body gives the immune system a chance to recover and fight off infections and cancers. By reducing the amount of HIV, the medicines also reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others." } ], "id": "10255_0", "question": "What are antiretrovirals?" } ] } ]
Brazil jail violence: Forty killed in Manaus prisons
28 May 2019
[ { "context": "Forty inmates have been found dead at four separate prisons in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state in northern Brazil. All the bodies, which were found during routine inspections, showed signs of asphyxiation, officials said. Monday's violence came a day after 15 prisoners were killed in jail clashes in Manaus. The state governor said a task force had been sent to Amazonas to help control the disturbances. - Antonio Trindade penal institute: 25 killed - Puraquequara jail: 6 killed - Provisional Detention Centre for Men: 5 killed - Anisio Jobim jail: 4 killed Prison officials said that the victims belonged to the same drug trafficking group and that they had been killed due to an internal gang rift. Robert Muggah, who is research director at the Igarape Institute think tank in Rio de Janeiro, told Agence France-Presse news agency that he thought a \"settling of scores\" was behind the killings. Fifteen inmates died in clashes in Anisio Jobim jail when prisoners turned on each other. Some were stabbed with sharpened toothbrushes while others were strangled. The violence broke out during visiting hours and the mother of one inmate described it as \"total chaos\". \"Everyone started to run, and everyone was pounding on the cell gates, at the doors, and running down the corridors.\" \"It was not a rebellion, it was a fight among inmates,\" Col Marcus Vinicius, who is in charge of prisons in Amazonas state, said. He said the fact that the killings had happened during visiting hours broke an unwritten prison rule of \"never to kill during a family visit\". Col Vinicius said murders inside jails were inevitable: \"We have to have the maturity to understand that in any prison in the world, when someone wants to kill, they will kill.\" Brazil has the world's third-largest prison population with more than 700,000 people in jail, not counting the more than 35,000 held in police facilities, according to data from the World Prison Brief. Prisons suffer from serious overcrowding, with the number of prisoners almost double that of the official capacity. Many prisons are run by the inmates and there are frequent clashes between rival gangs. Riots to demand better conditions and prison escapes are also common. Attempts to reform the prison system and to introduce tighter controls have met with resistance from powerful criminal gangs which operate both inside and outside of jails. The crisis in the Amazonas jail system is not new. In January 2017, in the worst jail violence in Amazonas state, 56 inmates were killed in Anisio Jobim prison. Following those killing, officials launched an investigation which concluded that there had been a number of failings at the jail. They included a lack of communication between prison authorities and the police, which meant that the latter had not been alerted when officials found out about plans to launch a riot. In the following days there were also uprisings and riots in other jails in Manaus. National security forces were deployed to Anisio Jobim jail and others in the wake of the 2017 killings and, according to local media, the forces were still there when the latest killings happened. Amazonas State Governor Wilson Lima said that the justice ministry would send a \"prison intervention team\" to Manaus. In the past, rival gangs have been separated within prisons by placing them in different wings and using shipping containers to divide the prison yard.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 906, "answer_start": 567, "text": "Prison officials said that the victims belonged to the same drug trafficking group and that they had been killed due to an internal gang rift. Robert Muggah, who is research director at the Igarape Institute think tank in Rio de Janeiro, told Agence France-Presse news agency that he thought a \"settling of scores\" was behind the killings." } ], "id": "10256_0", "question": "What's behind the deaths?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1294, "answer_start": 907, "text": "Fifteen inmates died in clashes in Anisio Jobim jail when prisoners turned on each other. Some were stabbed with sharpened toothbrushes while others were strangled. The violence broke out during visiting hours and the mother of one inmate described it as \"total chaos\". \"Everyone started to run, and everyone was pounding on the cell gates, at the doors, and running down the corridors.\"" } ], "id": "10256_1", "question": "What happened on Sunday?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 2394, "answer_start": 1746, "text": "Brazil has the world's third-largest prison population with more than 700,000 people in jail, not counting the more than 35,000 held in police facilities, according to data from the World Prison Brief. Prisons suffer from serious overcrowding, with the number of prisoners almost double that of the official capacity. Many prisons are run by the inmates and there are frequent clashes between rival gangs. Riots to demand better conditions and prison escapes are also common. Attempts to reform the prison system and to introduce tighter controls have met with resistance from powerful criminal gangs which operate both inside and outside of jails." } ], "id": "10256_2", "question": "What are Brazilian jails like?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 3423, "answer_start": 2395, "text": "The crisis in the Amazonas jail system is not new. In January 2017, in the worst jail violence in Amazonas state, 56 inmates were killed in Anisio Jobim prison. Following those killing, officials launched an investigation which concluded that there had been a number of failings at the jail. They included a lack of communication between prison authorities and the police, which meant that the latter had not been alerted when officials found out about plans to launch a riot. In the following days there were also uprisings and riots in other jails in Manaus. National security forces were deployed to Anisio Jobim jail and others in the wake of the 2017 killings and, according to local media, the forces were still there when the latest killings happened. Amazonas State Governor Wilson Lima said that the justice ministry would send a \"prison intervention team\" to Manaus. In the past, rival gangs have been separated within prisons by placing them in different wings and using shipping containers to divide the prison yard." } ], "id": "10256_3", "question": "What has the reaction been?" } ] } ]
Thailand cave rescue: Tham Luang reopens to tourists
1 November 2019
[ { "context": "Tourists have entered Thailand's Tham Luang cave for the first time since the dramatic rescue last year of 12 boys and their football coach. Some 2,000 visitors flocked to the cave on Friday, hoping to be among the first to enter, the Bangkok Post reports. The Wild Boars youth team caught the world's attention when they got trapped in the flooded cave for 17 days. They were all eventually freed in an international rescue effort that involved more than 90 divers. The cave in Thailand's northern Chiang Rai province was officially opened to tourists in an inauguration ceremony on Friday. Jongklai Worapongsathork, the deputy director-general of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, led the ceremony, which was attended by monks, government officials and park rangers. Officials allowed 20 people at a time to visit the cave's first chamber, which will now be open to visitors from 08:30 to 16:30 local time (01:30-09:30 GMT), according to the Bangkok Post. More than a million people have visited the cave in the past year, but they have not been allowed to go inside. The team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach became trapped on 23 June 2018 while exploring the cave complex, when a downpour flooded the tunnels. A 17-day effort to rescue them saw experts from various countries volunteering to help. Former Thai navy diver Saman Gunan died after losing consciousness on his way out of the Tham Luang cave complex, where he had been delivering air tanks. Netflix has secured the rights to make a miniseries about the rescue, and several books have been published about it.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1608, "answer_start": 1085, "text": "The team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach became trapped on 23 June 2018 while exploring the cave complex, when a downpour flooded the tunnels. A 17-day effort to rescue them saw experts from various countries volunteering to help. Former Thai navy diver Saman Gunan died after losing consciousness on his way out of the Tham Luang cave complex, where he had been delivering air tanks. Netflix has secured the rights to make a miniseries about the rescue, and several books have been published about it." } ], "id": "10257_0", "question": "What happened to the Wild Boars?" } ] } ]
UN bans 4 ships from global ports for violating N Korea sanctions
11 October 2017
[ { "context": "The United Nations has banned four ships from visiting any global port, after they were found to have violated sanctions imposed on North Korea. Hugh Griffiths, head of a UN panel on North Korean sanctions, said the ships had been \"transporting prohibited goods\". He described the move to ban the vessels as unprecedented, reports said. The UN expanded sanctions on North Korea last month in response to Pyongyang's largest nuclear test yet. Mr Griffiths said it's the \"first time in UN history\" that such a ban had been enforced, according to the Associated Press. \"There are four vessels that have been designated by the committee. The designation doesn't mean an assets freeze or travel ban. But it's a port ban,\" he said on Monday, following a meeting on the enforcement of sanctions on North Korea. The banned vessels were reportedly the Petrel 8, Hao Fan 6, Tong San 2 and Jie Shun. According to the MarineTraffic website, a maritime database that monitors the movement of vessels, Petrel 8 is registered in Comoros, Hao Fan 6 in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Tong San 2 in North Korea. The registered country of Jie Shun is not listed. The ban went into effect on 5 October. In August, a UN resolution banned exports of coal, seafood and iron ore from North Korea. Sanctions were expanded last month to include the export of textiles and North Korean guest workers, as well as a cap on oil imports. The tightening of trade restrictions followed Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test and the firing of two missiles over Japan. The moves are designed to starve the reclusive state of fuel and income for its weapons programmes. North Korea's main economic partner China has signed up to the measures, along with Russia. Both have previously vetoed harsher sanctions on the secretive state. The export of coal, ore and other raw materials to China is one of North Korea's few sources of foreign cash. Estimates say that North Korea exports about $3bn worth of goods each year - and the sanctions could eliminate $1bn of that trade. However, repeated sanctions have so far failed to deter North Korea from continuing with its nuclear and missile development programmes. North Korea has hit back against the trade restrictions from the US and others. \"The moves for putting sanctions and pressure on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will only arouse the Korean people into action and harden their strong will to settle accounts with the US to put an end to the centuries-old confrontation with it,\" a report in North Korean state media published on Monday said.", "qas": [ { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1178, "answer_start": 804, "text": "The banned vessels were reportedly the Petrel 8, Hao Fan 6, Tong San 2 and Jie Shun. According to the MarineTraffic website, a maritime database that monitors the movement of vessels, Petrel 8 is registered in Comoros, Hao Fan 6 in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Tong San 2 in North Korea. The registered country of Jie Shun is not listed. The ban went into effect on 5 October." } ], "id": "10258_0", "question": "What do we know about the ships?" }, { "answers": [ { "answer_end": 1784, "answer_start": 1179, "text": "In August, a UN resolution banned exports of coal, seafood and iron ore from North Korea. Sanctions were expanded last month to include the export of textiles and North Korean guest workers, as well as a cap on oil imports. The tightening of trade restrictions followed Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test and the firing of two missiles over Japan. The moves are designed to starve the reclusive state of fuel and income for its weapons programmes. North Korea's main economic partner China has signed up to the measures, along with Russia. Both have previously vetoed harsher sanctions on the secretive state." } ], "id": "10258_1", "question": "What do the sanctions include?" } ] } ]