International Headlines

Jun 23: Indian Aadhaar ID

The Indian Government is collecting biometric data - fingerprints and iris scans - of a billion people who are then enrolled in the ID system, Aadhaar. The BBC described it as "the largest and most sophisticated ID database in the world". Aadhaar - a Unique Identification Number - is allocated to every Indian and remains their national identity document throughout their life. It is now mandatory for opening bank accounts or filing tax returns.

Jun 22: Deadly Fire

Deadly wildfires which have been raging through central Portugal since the weekend may have been started deliberately says a leading firefighter there, and not caused by a thunderstorm as originally thought. Sixty-four people were killed and more than 200 injured. Questions have been raised about the speed of response. Many people died trying to escape on route N-236, could have been sealed off.

Jun 21: Camels Deported

Saudi Arabia has said that all camels and sheep owned by Qataris must quit Saudi – many are kept over the border as there is insufficient pastureland in Qatar but Saudi is expelling them during the escalating row between Qatar and the other Gulf states over Qatar’s alleged support for Islamic extremism. Emergency makeshift shelter, water tanks and fodder has been set up for the animals in Qatar.

Jun 20: Measuring Everest

Nepal has announced it will survey Mount Everest to ascertain whether its height was changed in the earthquake two years ago. Everest’s "official" measured height has varied between 8,840 and 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) since 1856 and Nepal’s Department of Survey says the mountain may also have shifted its geographic position. The survey will take two years and will also show the impact of climate change on the mountain.

Jun 19: Around the World

The Hokule'a, a traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, has arrived back in Honolulu in Hawaii after sailing round the world – the first ever round-the-world trip by such a vessel. The trip took three years; the crew navigated using the same techniques that brought the first Polynesian settlers to Hawaii hundreds of years ago: the stars, wind and ocean swells.

Jun 15: Wetland Threatened

An extensive dam building programme in the Amazon basin could cause significant and irreversible damage according to a new report published in the journal Nature. The Amazon basin is the world’s largest and most complex river system, as well as being the most diverse wetland, covering over 6.1 million sq km; 428 hydroelectric dams are planned, with 140 already built or under construction.

Jun 14: The Door is Open

As the Brexit negotiations between Britain and the European Union commence, French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking at a news conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, has said the possibility of the UK remaining in the EU is an option until the negotiations have concluded. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told Bloomberg Television, “If they [Britain] want to change their decision, of course they would find open doors”.

Jun 13: Climbing Banned

China has banned climbing on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest for this next autumn season. They cite “problems” which include an "illegal" north-south traverse by a Polish climber last month. There are reports of the Chinese authorities complaining about climbers placing the Tibetan flag and photos of HH the Dalai Lama on the summit of Everest earlier this year. Climbing from the Nepal side should be unaffected.

Jun 12: Protesters Threatened

The Kremlin has launched a campaign of intimidation against schoolchildren, students and opposition figures in a drive to suppress dissent before mass protests in over 200 towns and cities across Russia today. Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader, has called people to action over allegations that Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, took £1 billion in bribes. Students have been threatened with expulsion and even prison sentences if they attend the protests.

Jun 8: Earliest Humans?

Fossils of five humans who lived at least 300,000 years ago have been discovered in Morocco – 100,000 years earlier than the earliest humans were thought to have lived. The skull form of these new fossils is almost identical to modern humans. The discovery suggests that humans evolved across Africa. The specimens, which include skulls, teeth, and long bones were found at Jebel Irhoud, about 100km west of Marrakesh.

Jun 7: Detained for Driving

Loujain al-Hathloul, the Saudi human rights activist, has been arrested for the second time. She was detained for 73 days in 2014 for flouting the country’s ban on female drivers, but no reason for this second detention has been given and she has been denied access to a lawyer or her family. Amnesty International has called for her immediate release.

Jun 6: China in Australia

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that their “defence and intelligence community believes that attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to exert its influence in Australia pose a direct threat to our nation's liberties and its sovereignty”. A five-month long joint Four Corners-Fairfax investigation has revealed the extent of Beijing’s activities in Australia which is particularly prominent on university campuses and in the Chinese-language media.

Jun 5: Ramadam Banned

The predominantly Muslim Uygur population of East Turkestan – Xinjiang – in western China is being subjected to Chinese attempts to prevent fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadam. The World Uygur Congress notes that these restrictions do not seem to apply to the rest of China. There is speculation that the Chinese Communist Party fears infiltration by religious extremists and that Isis may be trying to recruit there.

Jun 3: Army Recruits

The Indian Army is recruiting for personnel to be specifically trained and equipped to fight the People's Liberation Army Ground Force operating along the Line of Actual Control – the de facto border between Tibet and India, agreed in 1913 but never signed by China. The new 90,000-strong Infantry Division will be the first strike corps organised specifically to combat the Chinese.

Jun 2: US Pulls Out

United States president Donald Trump has announced that the US is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement and that he will negotiate a new deal that would not disadvantage the US. His opponents say that withdrawing from the accord is an abdication of US leadership on a key global challenge. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed to Mr Trump, without success.

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