Tag Archives: World News

TOP STORIES, World News

Vogue Brazil exec quits over ‘slave party’ criticism”:


Donata Meirelles has apologised after photos from her 50th birthday party were criticised for “evoking slavery”

Vogue Brazil’s fashion director has resigned after photos from her 50th birthday party were criticised for “evoking slavery.”

One image, now deleted from Instagram, show fashion boss Donata Meirelles sat on a throne with two black women in traditional dress stood either side of her.

Critics on social media have accused her of being racially insensitive,

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Ms Meirelles has apologised and denies the images were linked with slavery.

The image first emerged in a now-deleted Instagram post by Brazilian journalist Fabio Bernardo.

It has been suggested that the black women’s clothes were similar to those worn by slaves, while the throne resembled a cadeira de sinhá – a chair for slave masters.

Other pictures from the party in Salvador de Bahia in northeast Brazil, show traditionally-dressed black women welcoming and ushering guests.

TV presenter Rita Batista, posted the party picture with another photograph, taken in 1860, of a white woman sat next to two slaves.

“Think about how much you can hurt people, their memories, the plight of their people, when you choose a theme to ‘spice up’ a happy moment in your life,” said Brazilian singer Elza Soares in an Instagram post.

Ms Meirelles apologised in a now-deleted statement on Instagram. She added that the women’s clothes were traditional Bahian party dress and the chair was a relic from the Afro-Brazilian folk religion candomblé.

On Wednesday, she announced her resignation in a separate post.

“At age 50, it’s time for action. I’ve heard a lot, I need to hear more,” she said.

Vogue also issued an apology for the incident, saying it “deeply regrets what happened and hopes that the debate generated will serve as a learning experience.”

The fashion magazine also said it would form a panel of experts and academics to address concerns about inequality at the publication.

This is the third racially-charged incident Vogue has apologised for this years.

In February, it again misidentified two actresses from the movie Crazy Rich Asians.

China closes its Everest base camp to tourists”:


More and more people want to see the world’s tallest peak

China has closed the base camp on its side of Mount Everest to visitors who don’t have climbing permits.

Authorities have resorted to the unusual move to deal with the mounting waste problem at the site.

The ban means tourists can only go as far as a monastery slightly below the 5,200m (17,060ft) base camp level.

More people visit the mountain from the southern side in Nepal, but over the past years numbers have been rising steadily on the Chinese side as well.

The Chinese base camp, located in Tibet, is popular as it is accessible by car – whereas the Nepalese camp can only be reached by a hike of almost two weeks.

The world’s highest peak has been struggling with escalating levels of rubbish for years, as the number of visitors rises.

The Chinese Mountaineering Association says 40,000 visited its base camp in 2015, the most recent year with figures. A record 45,000 visited Nepal’s base camp in 2016-7 according to Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.

Everest view from Tibetan side
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Tourists are still allowed to go as far as the Rongbuk monastery

Ordinary tourists will only be banned from areas above Rongbuk monastery, which is around 5,000m above sea level, according to China’s state news agency Xinhua.

Mountaineers who have a permit to climb the 8,848m peak will still be allowed to use the higher camp.

In January, authorities announced that they would limit the number of climbing permits each year to 300.

On Chinese social media, claims have spread in recent days that its base camp will be permanently closed to tourists – but Xinhua cited officials denying that.

Nepalese sherpa picking up trash on Everest
GETTY IMAGES

The temperature and high altitude make clean-up efforts on Everest a tough task

The official announcement about the closure was made in December, on the website of the Tibetan authorities.

It stated that three clean-up operations last spring had collected eight tonnes of waste, including human faeces and mountaineering equipment climbers had left behind.

This year’s clean-up efforts will also try to remove the bodies of mountaineers who have died in the so-called death zone above 8,000m, where the air is too thin to sustain life for long.

Due to the cold and high altitude, these bodies often remain on the mountain for years or even decades.

Pulwama attack: India will ‘completely isolate’ Pakistan”:


The blast took place on a heavily guarded highway

India has said it will ensure the “complete isolation” of Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 46 soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir.

It claims to have “incontrovertible evidence” of its neighbour’s involvement but has not provided it.

Pakistan denies any role in the attack by militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, which is based on its soil.

Thursday’s bombing of a military convoy was the deadliest attack on Indian forces in the region for decades.

Federal Minister Arun Jaitley said India would take “all possible diplomatic steps” to cut Pakistan off from the international community.

But a Pakistani minister has asked India to reveal their evidence, and offered to help them investigate the attack.

There has been an insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir since the late 1980s but violence has risen in recent years.

Demonstrators overturn a car during a protest against the attack on a bus that killed 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in south Kashmir on Thursday, in Jammu February 15, 2019.
REUTERS

Protests were held in Jammu after Thursday’s attack

In the wake of the attack, authorities have imposed a curfew in parts of Hindu-majority Jammu city after an angry mob vandalised cars in a largely Muslim neighbourhood.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but only control parts of it.

How will India ‘punish’ Pakistan?

India says that Pakistan has long given safe haven to Jaish-e-Mohammad militants and accused it of having a “direct hand” in Thursday’s attack.

It has called for global sanctions against the group and for its leader, Masood Azhar, to be listed as a terrorist by the UN security council.

India has tried to do this several times in the past but was repeatedly blocked by China, an ally of Pakistan.

Mr Jaitley set out India’s determination to hold Pakistan to account when speaking to reporters after attending a security meeting early on Friday.

He also confirmed that India would revoke Most Favoured Nation status from Pakistan, a special trading privilege granted in 1996.

Pakistan said it was gravely concerned by the bombing but firmly rejected allegations that it was responsible.

The country’s Information Minister, Fawad Chaudry, asked India to show its evidence, and offered to help the investigation into the attack.

“This needs evidence,” he told broadcaster CNN-News18. “This needs an investigation.”

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech that those behind the attack would pay a “heavy price”, leading many analysts to expect further action from Delhi.

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But they say that the government’s military options appear limited due to heavy snow across the region.

After a 2016 attack on an Indian army base that killed 19 soldiers, Delhi said it carried out a campaign of “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, across the de facto border. But a BBC investigation found little evidence militants had been hit

How did the attack unfold?

The bomber used a vehicle packed with explosives to ram a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces on the heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway about 20km (12 miles) from the capital, Srinagar.

The bomber is reported to be Adil Dar, a high school dropout who left home in March 2018. He is believed to be between the ages of 19 and 21.

Soon after the attack, Jaish-e-Mohammad released a video in which a young man identified as Dar spoke about what he described as atrocities against Kashmiri Muslims. He said he joined the group in 2018 and was eventually “assigned” the task of carrying out the attack in Pulwama.

He also said that by the time the video was released he would be in jannat (heaven).

Dar is one of many young Kashmiri men who have been radicalised in recent years. On Thursday, main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said that the number of Kashmiri men joining militancy had risen from 88 in 2016 to 191 in 2018.

India has been accused of using brutal tactics to put down protests in Kashmir – with thousands of people sustaining eye injuries from pellet guns used by security forces.

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‘It feels like my son is always with me’

by Arvind Chhabra, BBC News Punjabi

Kulwinder Singh was killed in the attack on Thursday

“I’m proud of my son. He has sacrificed himself for his family,” says Darshan Singh, whose son, Kulwinder, died in the suicide attack in Kashmir.

Mr Singh, who lives in Rauli village in Punjab, last saw Kulwinder on 10 February, before he returned to Kashmir at the end of his vacation.

His son was 26 and planned to marry in November: “We talked of only his wedding. We had finalised the caterers and the venue.”

“It feels like my son is always with me,” Mr Singh says, pointing to the jacket he is wearing. It belonged to Kulwinder and has his name embroidered on it.

Darshan Singh says his son was like a friend to him and he had been waiting to see him come home with his bride. “I didn’t know we would instead be waiting for his body.”

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What’s the background?

There have been at least 10 suicide attacks since 1989 but this is only the second to use a vehicle.

Prior to Thursday’s bombing, the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir this century came in 2002, when militants killed at least 31 people at an army base in Kaluchak, near Jammu, most of them civilians and relatives of soldiers.

Why has 2018 seen a spike in violence in Indian-administered Kashmir?

The latest attack comes amid a spike in violence in Kashmir that came about after Indian forces killed a popular militant, 22-year-old Burhan Wani, in 2016.

More than 500 people were killed in 2018 – including civilians, security forces and militants – the highest such toll in a decade.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and a limited conflict since independence from Britain in 1947 – all but one were over Kashmir.

What is Jaish-e-Mohammad?

Started by cleric Masood Azhar in 2000, the group has been blamed for attacks on Indian soil in the past, including one in 2001 on the parliament in Delhi which took India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

People protest carrying placards of Maulan Masood Azhar

Maulan Masood Azhar founded JeM in 1999

Most recently, the group was blamed for attacking an Indian air force base in 2016 near the border in Punjab state. Seven Indian security personnel and six militants were killed.

India, the UK, US and UN have all designated it a “terrorist” organisation and it has been banned in Pakistan since 2002.

But Masood Azhar remains at large and is reportedly based in Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province. India has demanded his extradition but Islamabad has refused, citing a lack of proof.

He was arrested in Srinagar in 1999 but India released him as a part of a hostage exchange after an airliner was hijacked.

How have others reacted?

Mr Gandhi and two former Indian chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir condemned the attack and expressed their condolences.

The attack has also been widely condemned around the world, including by the US and the UN Secretary General.

The White House called on Pakistan to “end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil”.

Climate strike: Schoolchildren protest over climate change,”:


Schoolchildren across the UK have gone on strike as part of a global campaign calling for action over climate change.

Students around the country walked out of school to call on the government to declare a climate emergency and take active steps to tackle the problem.

“Save our planet” was the message chanted by thousands of people gathered in Parliament Square in London.

Organisers Youth Strike 4 Climate said protests were taking place in more than 60 towns and cities across the UK.

The action is part of a much wider global movement, known as Schools 4 Climate Action.

It began with 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg skipping class to sit outside government buildings in September, accusing her country of not following the Paris Climate Agreement.

Since then, tens of thousands of children across Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia have been inspired to hold their own demonstrations.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said that while it was important for young people to engage with issues like climate change, the disruption to planned lesson time was damaging for pupils.

However, energy minister Claire Perry said she was “incredibly proud” of young people’s passion and concern.

She told the BBC: “I suspect if this was happening 40 years ago, I would be out there too.”

Lola and Christina in Parliament Square
Christina (right) says she’s worried for her future

In London, 15-year-old Christina, from London, said the issue was too big to ignore.

“A lot of us are very good, obedient students but when it comes to climate change, it’s really important,” she says.

“The youth of our time tend to get pushed to one side. We often stay quiet but when it comes to climate change we are going to have to pay for the older generation’s mistakes.

“It really scares me.”

Scarlet at protest in London
Scarlet, one of the organisers, says they will keep making noise until they are heard

Part of the UK Student Climate Network, 15-year-old Scarlet, from Suffolk, says the group has a detailed list of demands.

“We want the UK government to declare a climate emergency and make moves to achieve climate justice, prioritising this above all else,” she told BBC News.

“We’re demanding the government listen to us and we will continue to make a noise until they do so.

“It can’t be about behaviour change any more; it has to be about system change.”

Scarlet says she has been vegetarian since she was six, wears second-hand clothes and avoids plastic bags; she also carries a reusable straw.

Hannah Jane at protest in London
Eleven-year-old Hannah Jane’s mum wrote a letter to the head teacher asking for her permission to give her daughter the day off
Banners in Parliament Square
Banners filled London’s Parliament Square
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At the scene

By BBC education reporter Judith Burns

Protestors sitting down in the road
Some of those involved staged a sit-down protest

Teenagers brandishing brightly-coloured posters packed Parliament Square chanting “save our planet”.

Many were keen to point out it is their generation who will be left to pick up the pieces of our civilisation’s waste and pollution.

They don’t feel the government is listening to scientists’ warnings on climate change. Without a vote, protests like this one are their only option, they say.

Some climbed onto statues but were quickly ordered down by police.

The organisers had planned a revision session to show the protestors take their education seriously but instead, shortly after noon, some of the teenagers, sat down on a crossing, blocking traffic.

Again they moved on quickly, but took an unplanned walk up Whitehall. Most of the protesters left the square and marched to Downing Street.

The protest is good-humoured, but the organisers’ plans have been abandoned.

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Hundreds of young protesters chanted for climate justice in Cambridge, carrying banners with slogans including ‘There is no planet B’ and ‘When did the children become the adults’.

Ten-year-old Zachary, who attended with his mother, said he thought climate change was more important than lessons.

He said: “People just have to change their ways as we don’t want the world as it is right now.

“We just want to make people aware of it. We were talking about it in our class, so we just came along.”

Protesters at a Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside Shire Hall in Cambridge
Students in Cambridge gathered outside the Cambridgeshire County Council’s offices
Brighton
Students marched down the streets of Brighton
Ivy in Sheffield
Ivy, 9, is home-schooled; she received permission from her mother to join the protest in Sheffield

In Wales, hundreds of primary and secondary school pupils descended on the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay.

Protest outside the National Assembly for Wales

Meanwhile in the Scottish Highlands, pupils staged hour-long walkouts outside their school gates.

Shamima Begum: IS runaway teen ‘could face prosecution in UK’:


Ms Begum was 15 and living in Bethnal Green, London, when she left the UK in 2015

A British woman who ran away to Syria as a schoolgirl to join the Islamic State group has been told she could face prosecution if she returns home.

Shamima Begum, now 19 and pregnant, told the Times she had no regrets but wanted to have her baby in the UK.

She said she had heard that Amira Abase, one of the two girls she fled to Syria with, might still be alive.

Her father, Abase Hussen, broke down on hearing the news and appealed to the UK government to bring both women home.

He said that Ms Begum’s comments had given his family hope about Ms Abase.

In her interview with the newspaper, Ms Begum, who married an IS fighter, showed little remorse for her involvement with the terror group, saying she was not fazed by seeing “beheaded heads” in bins.

“I don’t regret coming here,” she told Times journalist Anthony Loyd, who found her in the camp.

“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago.”

Anthony Loyd of the Times describes how he found Shamima Begum in a Syrian refugee camp
Anthony Loyd of the Times describes how he found Shamima Begum in a Syrian refugee camp

“The caliphate is over. There was so much oppression and corruption that I don’t think they deserved victory,” she said.

“I just want to come home to have my child. I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.”

Earlier, security minister Ben Wallace told the BBC he would not risk any British officials’ safety trying to bring back Ms Begum, who is currently in a refugee camp in northern Syria.

But Mr Wallace said any Britons who had gone to Syria to engage or support terrorist activities should be prepared to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted if they came back to the UK.

He said there was no consular assistance in Syria and insisted he would not attempt to rescue Ms Begum.

“I’m not putting at risk British people’s lives to go and look for terrorists or former terrorists in a failed state,” he told the BBC.

Abase Hussen appealed to the British government to bring home his daughter, Amira Abase, and her friend Shamima Begum
Abase Hussen appealed to the British government to bring home his daughter, Amira Abase, and her friend Shamima Begum

However, the father of Ms Abase believes that the UK should help bring back both his daughter and Ms Begum.

Abase Hussen told the BBC that his daughter had not spoken to him since she sent some texts two years ago, telling him not to worry about her.

The Times interview “gives us some kind of positive hope for the family,” he said. “We were just waiting for something to come out.”

Ms Begum and Ms Abase, both 15, along with Kadiza Sultana, 16, were pupils at Bethnal Green Academy when they left the UK in February 2015.

The schoolfriends flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey after telling their parents they were going out for the day.

They later crossed the border into Syria.

On arriving in Raqqa, Ms Begum stayed at a house with other newly-arrived brides-to-be.

“I applied to marry an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25 years old,” she said.

Ten days later she married a 27-year-old Dutch man who had converted to Islam – and has been with him since then.

The couple escaped from Baghuz – IS’s last territory in eastern Syria – two weeks ago.

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Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (l-r) in photos issued by police

Her husband surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters as they left, and she is now one of 39,000 people in a refugee camp in northern Syria.

Asked whether living in the one-time IS stronghold of Raqqa had lived up to her aspirations, Ms Begum said: “Yes, it did.

“It was like a normal life. The life that they show on the propaganda videos – it’s a normal life.

“Every now and then there are bombs and stuff. But other than that…”

She said that seeing her first “severed head” in a bin “didn’t faze me at all”.

“It was from a captured fighter seized on the battlefield, an enemy of Islam.

“I thought only of what he would have done to a Muslim woman if he had the chance,” she said.

Map of Ms Begum's travels

Will Shamima Begum be allowed to return to the UK?

Shamima Begum was legally a child when she pinned her colours to the Islamic State mast.

And if she were still under 18 years old, the government would have a duty to take her and her unborn child’s “best interests” into account in deciding what to do next.

But she’s now an apparently unrepentant adult – and that means she would have to account for her decisions, even if her journey is a story of grooming and abuse.

Another British jihadi bride, Tareena Shakil, who got out of the war zone with her child, lied to the security services on her return and was jailed for membership of a terrorist group.

If Ms Begum got out of the country, that is the kind of charge she could face – along with encouraging or supporting terrorism.

But that’s a long way off. Assuming she made it to an airport, the UK could temporarily ban her from returning until she agreed to be investigated, monitored and deradicalised.

Social services would also certainly step in to consider whether her child should be removed to protect him or her from radicalisation.

In her interview, Ms Begum talked about Kadiza Sultana who accompanied her to Syria.

She said her school friend had died in a bombing on a house where there was “some secret stuff going on” underground.

“I never thought it would happen. Because I always thought if we got killed, we’d get killed together,” she added.

A lawyer for Ms Sultana’s family said in 2016 that she was believed to have been killed in a Russian air strike.

‘Overprotective’

Ms Begum said losing her two children came as a shock. “It just came out of nowhere, it was so hard.”

Her daughter died at the age of one year and nine months and was buried in Baghuz a month ago.

Her second child died three months ago at just eight months old of an illness compounded by malnutrition, the Times reports.

She said she took him to a hospital but there were no drugs and not enough staff.

She said she was now “really overprotective” of her unborn child and was scared it would become ill if she stayed in the refugee camp.

“That’s why I really want to get back to Britain because I know it will be taken care of – health-wise, at least,” she said.

Her family back in the UK told lawyer Tasnime Akunjee they wanted “time and space to process what’s happened”.

The BBC asked people in London's Bethnal Green, where Shamima Begum went to school, whether she should be allowed back to the UK
The BBC asked people in London’s Bethnal Green, where Shamima Begum went to school, whether she should be allowed back to the UK

Dal Babu, a former Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent, said it should be remembered that Ms Begum was groomed as a child to become a radicalised woman and was a “victim of brainwashing”.

Lord Carlile, a former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said Ms Begum would have to be accepted back into the UK if she had not become a national of any other country.

Under international law, it is not possible to render a person stateless.

He said he thought it was unlikely she would be allowed to return quickly and expected that, if tried for any offences, she would be tried as an adult, he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett.

Sir Peter Fahy, a retired senior police chief who led the Prevent terrorism prevention programme at the time the girls ran away, said he could understand why the government was “not particularly interested” in facilitating her return.

“If the woman was showing complete remorse, it would be completely different,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

It would cost a “vast amount of money” and the biggest challenge would be for local police to keep her safe and ensure she did not become a lightning rod for both right-wing extremists and Islamic extremists, he added.

IS has lost control of most of the territory it overran, including its strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

However, fighting continues in north-eastern Syria, where the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say they captured dozens of foreign fighters in recent weeks.

We asked people in Bethnal Green, where Shamima Begum previously went to school, whether the teenager should be allowed back to the UK

Prince Philip will not be prosecuted over crash”:


The Duke of Edinburgh will not face prosecution over his road crash near the Sandringham estate, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

The 97-year-old voluntarily gave up his driving licence on Saturday after his Land Rover Freelander collided with another vehicle in Norfolk last month.

He later apologised to the occupants of the other car – two women and a baby.

The CPS says it decided that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute the duke.

Chris Long, Chief Crown Prosecutor from CPS East of England, said: “We took into account all of the circumstances in this case, including the level of culpability, the age of the driver and the surrender of the driving licence.”

The duke escaped injury after his vehicle landed on its side following the collision with a Kia on 17 January on the A149 near the Queen’s country estate.

Two days later Norfolk Police gave him “suitable words of advice” after he was pictured driving without a seat belt.

He wrote to one of the passengers in the Kia – Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist in the accident.

In the letter, dated 21 January andreproduced by the Sunday Mirror , the duke acknowledged the “very distressing experience”.

“I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident,” he wrote, on Sandringham House headed paper.

“The sun was shining low over the main road. In normal conditions I would have no difficulty in seeing traffic coming… but I can only imagine that I failed to see the car coming, and I am very contrite about the consequences.”

Ms Fairweather had previously criticised the duke for a lack of communication following the crash.

Ryan Adams accused of sexual misconduct by several women”:


Ryan Adams found fame with albums like Gold and songs such as New York, New York in the early 2000s

Several women have accused alternative rock star Ryan Adams of emotional and verbal abuse and offering career opportunities as a pretext for sex.

A report in the New York Timesoutlines a pattern of manipulative behaviour, including accusations of psychological abuse from his ex-wife, Mandy Moore.

Another woman said Adams sent explicit texts and exposed himself during a Skype call when she was a teenager.

The star, who rose to fame in the early 2000s, has denied the allegations.

“I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes,” he said in a statement posted on social media.

“To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologise deeply and unreservedly.

“But the picture that this article paints is upsettingly inaccurate. Some of its details are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false. I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period.”

Acclaimed indie artist Phoebe Bridgers was among the seven women and dozens of associates who were interviewed for the New York Times article.

She said that Adams reached out to her when she was 20, offering to release her songs on his record label. Their relationship turned romantic, but Adams became obsessive and manipulative, she claimed, demanding to know her whereabouts and threatening suicide if she did not reply to his texts immediately.

When she broke off their relationship, Adams “became evasive about releasing the music they had recorded together and rescinded the offer to open his upcoming concerts,” the New York Times reported.

Through his lawyer, Adams rejected Bridgers’ account, describing their relationship as “a brief, consensual fling,” and denying he had threatened to withhold her songs.

This Is Us actress Mandy Moore also described a pattern of abuse, describing instances of “destructive, manic sort of back and forth behaviour” during their six-year marriage.

“Music was a point of control for him,” she added, saying the star had belittled her own musical career.

“He would always tell me, ‘You’re not a real musician, because you don’t play an instrument.'”

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Moore, who is now a successful actress, says her musical career stalled because of Adams’ behaviour

Another woman, identified only by her middle name, Ava, told the paper her relationship with Adams started in 2013, when she was a teenage bass player.

Although they never met, she shared 3,217 text messages she had exchanged with Adams over a nine-month period when she was 15 and 16, describing how their correspondence became sexually explicit.

In one text he wrote to her: “I would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this”.

The newspaper reported that Adams, then 40, “fretted about Ava’s age” and repeatedly asked for reassurances that she was over 18.

“If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley lol,” he wrote in one message, referring to the R&B singer, who has faced allegations of inappropriate relationships with teenagers, which he denies”:

Adams’ lawyer said the star “did not recall having online communications with anyone related to anything outside of music,” adding that “if, in fact, this woman was underage, Mr Adams was unaware”.

Familiar behaviour

After the report was published on Wednesday, dozens of female artists came forward to say they had been through similar experiences in the music industry.

“None of this is surprising to female artists,” wrote country musician Caroline Rose on Twitter .

“This is an important article,”added singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton . “This also cracks the door on more like him in our industry. There are more. We’re all fed up.”

“Literally find me a woman in the music industry who hasn’t had a some dude pull that Ryan Adams ‘I wanna help you’ with strings attached [expletive]?” wrote music journalist Jessica Hopper .

“And like in this story, these are some of the reasons women abandon careers, keep their dreams private, record in their bedrooms alone.”

“Having to perpetually question if a potential collaborator is interested in you musically or personally is an enormous and unspoken barrier for women in music,” said Tamara Lindeman, of Canadian folk band The Weather Station .

“Every gatekeeper is a man. And so you have to ask yourself.”

 If you have a story suggestion emailing Your Stories, (BBCNEWS.CO.UK@bbcnewslight.co.uk) Or (Donsilas@chef.net)

Valentine’s Day: India college row over ‘virgin tree’ worship”:


Some women students say the celebration is anti-women

A Valentine’s Day celebration at a prestigious college in the Indian capital, Delhi, where students worship a “virgin tree” every year has run into trouble with some female students who say it’s “patriarchal” and “misogynistic” and must be shelved.

For decades now, male students of the Hindu College have been hosting a puja (ritualistic worship) at the tree, and balloons, colourful ribbons and condoms filled with water would be hung from its branches.

Posters of the latest avatar of the goddess Damdami Mai – generally a top Bollywood actress or a model chosen by the students – would be unveiled in the morning and pinned to the tree.

A male student dressed as a Hindu priest would perform religious rituals, hundreds of students would sing a hymn in praise of the “generally curvaceous goddess”, prasad (food offering made to her) would be distributed among the students who would dance and celebrate.

Over the years, a legend has grown that worshipping at the tree would help a student lose his virginity within six months.

In a largely conservative country like India where pre-marital sex is still taboo, many young adults believe nothing less than divine intervention will help them hook up.

HINDU BOYS’ HOSTEL UNION

Posters of Bollywood actors Jacqueline Fernandez and Ranveer Singh were put up at last year’s event

Teli Venkatesh, the 19-year-old president of the boys’ hostel union which is organising the event, told the BBC that the virgin tree pujawas an old tradition at the college and that hundreds of students, including women, participated in it every year.

Describing it as “some harmless fun”, he said it had started “because people wanted to celebrate love”.

Some female students, however, say the event “sexualises and objectifies” women and has no place in a “secular, intellectual” space like their college.

“The male students pick an actress who is attractive enough to be labelled Damdami Mai and the puja reeks of Brahminical ritual practices of caste pride,” Aashi Datta, a 20-year-old undergrad student at the college, told the BBC.

Ms Datta – a member of the Pinjra Tod (or Break the Cage) movement that’s campaigning for equal rights for women on college campuses and also part of the Women Development Cell of the Hindu College – says the event is held in a “hyper masculine, aggressive environment” and that in past years, women’s participation was “not even 5%”.

FACEBOOK/HINDU COLLEGE HOSTE

On Thursday morning, she will be near the tree along with “some 20 other students, including a few men” to hold a protest, demanding a “complete stop” to this “offensive” puja .

Mr Venkatesh accuses Ms Datta of trying to “politicise” a college event and says that students who “enthusiastically participate” in the celebrations come from different states and belong to different religions and castes.

He also lists the changes they have incorporated this time to make the event more inclusive.

“Since this is about celebrating love, we are selecting a couple who are in a long-lasting relationship. To address the criticism that we are not just about heterosexual love, we are putting up pride flags and placards to celebrate the LGBT community. And we are hanging condoms to promote safe sex, bring awareness about sexually transmitted diseases and end taboos about sex.”

He also said that they would use a fully clothed photograph of the actress chosen as this year’s goddess and that the hymn lyrics had been rewritten to make it less descriptive of the female body.

Ms Datta and the other protesters, however, say nothing short of completely stopping this event will do.

“Legacy and tradition are not good enough reasons to continue with a festival. It’s a liberal college, we need to choose which traditions to follow and which ones to drop,” she insists.

On Tuesday, the two warring sides met, along with some professors, to find a way out, but the stalemate remains.

WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT CELL, HINDU COLLEGE

A meeting held on Tuesday to sort out the differences over the controversial event ended in a stalemate

Prof PK Vijayan, who was invited by the female students to speak at the meeting, was a student at Hindu in the late 1980s when the virgin tree puja began.

“It started with courting couples sitting around the tree and so it came to be known as the lovers’ tree,” he says. “In those days, there was little awareness about Valentine’s Day in India. But over the years, the celebrations became more structured and the tree was festooned with condoms and posters of women regarded as beautiful.

“And then students began believing that eating the prasad would help them lose their virginity and the boys lined up for it and so did some girls.”

Prof Vijayan agrees that women’s participation in the festival is very low and says he’s heard some women say that they are uncomfortable with the way it is conducted.

But he says he’s not comfortable with “any type of puritanical ideas” and suggests that they continue with the puja but modify it.

“I think the female students should be more flexible and instead of demanding a ban, they should take it over and redesign it the way they want to.

“Unfortunately, at the moment it is done as a celebration of machismo. It should be made more inclusive so that women could participate as those who also desire, and not just as the desired.”

‘Know your cholesterol like you know your Pin code’


Most cases of cardiovascular disease are preventable through a healthy diet and lifestyle

People are being encouraged to know their cholesterol and blood pressure numbers as well as they know their bank Pin code – because it could save their life.

These numbers flag up early signs of cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Forty health organisations have teamed up to urge more people to go for a routine NHS health check.

Doctors should also identify and treat at-risk patients better, they say.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes one in four deaths in England, the equivalent of someone dying every four minutes, according to Public Health England and NHS England.

Poor heart and artery health can also lead to heart failure, kidney disease, arterial disease and vascular dementia.

So, health bodies are leading efforts to improve the detection and treatment of three conditions that contribute to CVD – atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – over the next 10 years.

These conditions often have no symptoms, which is why health experts are recommending people take up free NHS health checks for all over-40s at GP surgeries, some local pharmacies and shopping centres.

They also urge people over 30 to take the Heart Age Test.

Keith Wilson
Keith had to give up work after his second heart attack

‘I had to give up work’

Keith Wilson, from Liverpool, had a heart attack out of the blue at 37.

“I had no symptoms and no reason to believe I was sick in any way,” he says.

His father had died of heart disease in his late 60s so he assumed it was something that happened to older people.

“I just didn’t consider I was going to get it. I was complacent,” he says.

After a second heart attack, Keith spent the next three to four years in and out of hospital receiving treatment.

He had to give up work and this really affected his family and young son.

Now 60, Keith is mindful of his health and keeps a close eye on how much he drinks and exercises. He gave up smoking straight after his heart attacks.

‘Prevention better than cure’

Most cases of CVD are preventable and, alongside free health checks, PHE recommends people should:

  • stop smoking
  • eat healthily
  • keep to a healthy weight
  • drink at safe levels

The report also calls on health professionals to improve the way they manage patients at risk of CVD.

By 2029, PHE and NHS England want:

  • 80% of people with high blood pressure detected and treated – up from 57% currently
  • 75% of 40- to 74-year-olds having cholesterol levels measured – fewer than 50% currently take up the free health check
  • 45% of 40- to 74-year-olds at high risk of CVD treated with statins – up from from 35% currently

These targets will help meet the commitment to prevent 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and cases of dementia, as set out in the government’s long-term plan for the NHS.

But there is no new funding for these new targets.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said: “We know our Pin numbers but not the numbers that save our lives.

“Thousands of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented by more people knowing their blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and by seeking help early.”

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said reducing health inequalities was also a priority, with people in the most deprived communities four times more likely to die prematurely from CVD than those in the most well off.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Almost half of those with high blood pressure are going about their daily lives without it being detected or treated.

“Millions of people are needlessly at risk of heart attacks or strokes when it could be prevented.

“So, I want to help more people take the time out to protect their future health and get checked.”

Five million people are estimated to have undiagnosed high blood pressure in England.

Pangolins: Rare insight into world’s most trafficked mammal”:


A study is being conducted by conservationists from Chester Zoo

The secret life of the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin, has been caught on camera in Africa.

Footage gives a rare insight into the behaviour of the giant pangolin, the largest of all the scaly animals.

Observed by remote-operated cameras, a baby takes a ride on its mother’s back, while an adult climbs a tree.

Scientists are releasing the footage to highlight the plight of the animals, which are being pushed to extinction by illegal hunting for scales and meat.

Large numbers of their scales have been seized this month alone, including Malaysia’s biggest-ever interception of smuggled pangolin products.

The images and video clips of giant pangolins, one of four species in Africa, were taken at Uganda’s Ziwa sanctuary, where the animals live alongside protected rhinos and are safe from poaching.

Stuart Nixon of Chester Zoo’s Africa Field Programme said much of their behaviour has never been recorded before.

“We know so little about this species, almost everything we’re picking up on camera traps this year as a behaviour is a new thing,” he told BBC News.

The giant pangolin: The largest of the eight pangolin species
The giant pangolin: The largest of the eight species
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Pangolins

  • Sometimes called scaly anteaters, they are the only mammals in the world to be covered in protective scales
  • Their scales are made of keratin, the same material found in human fingernails
  • Pangolins lap up ants and termites with their long sticky tongues
  • There are four species in Africa -the African white-bellied pangolin, giant ground pangolin, ground pangolin and black-bellied pangolin
  • The giant pangolin, found in the rainforests and grasslands of equatorial Africa, is the biggest, measuring up to 1.8m long and weighing up to 75lbs.
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The pangolin is said to be the most widely trafficked mammal in the world.

Its scales are in high demand in Asia for use in traditional Chinese medicine, despite there being no medical benefit for their use, while its meat is considered a delicacy in some countries.

This week, authorities in Malaysia seized more than 27 tonnes of pangolins and their scales – believed to be worth at least £1.6m – on Borneo, in the biggest such haul in the country.

Pangolins are regarded as a delicacy in some countries
They are regarded as a delicacy in some countries

The wildlife monitoring group Traffic said police had discovered two big pangolin-processing facilities stocked with thousands of boxes of meat in the eastern state of Sabah.

“It is hoped that comprehensive investigations can lead to unmasking the syndicate and networks operating from the state and beyond,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Traffic’s director in Southeast Asia.

The discovery comes just days after 10 tonnes of scales were intercepted in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Uganda.

Scientists say the plight of the animals looks bleak, and they have no idea how many are left in the wild.

Pangolin scales intercepted on Borneo
Pangolin scales intercepted on Borneo

Stuart Nixon, who is working in collaboration with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Rhino Fund Uganda on the project, said they are encountered so rarely in the wild that there is not enough data to allow a decent estimate.

A study is under way to survey and monitor giant pangolins at the site as the first step towards identifying their strongholds.

“This species is literally being wiped out, it’s being obliterated across central Africa, there’s no doubt about that,” he added. “Trying to get people engaged and to care about pangolins is really the key step.”

Sam Mwandha of the Uganda Wildlife Authority added: “These rare glimpses into the lives of giant pangolins are very exciting for those of us dedicated to protecting Uganda’s rich wildlife and challenges us to ensure that we protect and conserve this highly threatened species for future generations.”