International Headlines

Aug 21: Aug 21: Pop Music in Kabul

Afghan pop star Aryana Sayeed performed in a concert in the country’s capital Kabul, attended by hundreds of young people including many girls, despite opposition from conservatives and threats of an attack. Ms Sayeed is known for her long hair and figure-hugging outfits, which are seen as taboo by many in Afghanistan. She sings traditional and folk songs rendered as pop in Dari and Pashto, Afghanistan's two main languages

Aug 20: Aug 19: Flood Disaster

  Seasonal flooding in south Asia is affecting over 16 million people and has left around 500 dead. The floods are affecting Nepal, Bangladesh and India and the situation is expected to get worse. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has flagged it as one of the worst regional humanitarian crises in years and there is growing concern about food shortages and disease.

Aug 18: Activist Jailed

Joshua Wong, 20, the Hong Kong activist who was one of the instigators of the 2014 “Umbrella” pro democracy protests, has been jailed for six months. Last year he was found guilty of unlawful assembly and sentenced to community service but the Hong Kong government appealed against the sentence as too lenient. His prison sentence precludes him from standing for local elections for five years.

Aug 17: Rape Loophole Closed

Lebanon has scrapped Article 522 of the penal code – a law which allowed rapists exemption from punishment if they married their victim. Women's rights activists been long campaigning for this repeal, supported by the Minister for Women's Affairs. Similar legislation has recently been stopped in Tunisia and Jordan but remains in Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Syria.

Aug 16: Plea for Help

Sierra Leone has issued a plea for international aid for the thousands of people hit by mudslides and massive flooding in the capital Freetown. Entire communities have been wiped out and the President said the "devastation was overwhelming us". Nearly 400 people are reported to have been killed and hundreds more are missing. Part of Sugar Loaf mountain collapsed on the town early on Monday following heavy rain.

Aug 15: Independence Day

Indian Independence Day was marked by the Tibetan community in India with a flag raising ceremony at the Kashag (Tibetan Cabinet) Secretariat in Dharamshala. The Indian National Anthem was sung. Sikyong Sangay (President of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile) said “No country has done more than what India and the people of this great country has done for Tibetans. So we are eternally grateful”.

Aug 15: Website Expelled

GoDaddy and Google have expelled the United States neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer after it made disparaging remarks about Heather Heyer, a woman who died during recent protests in Virginia. She was taking part in a protest against a white supremacist “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville when violence broke out and a car deliberately rammed into the protestors, killing her and injuring others.

Aug 10: Wildfires in Greenland

Extensive wildfires are burning on Greenland’s west coast close to the icefield. Fires are rare on Greenland where 80% of the land is covered by ice, but researchers say there is less surface water in Greenland than in the past and experts believe that at least some of the current fires are burning in peat which could have dried out in the current higher temperatures.

Aug 8: Bitcoin Soars

Bitcoin's value is at a record high at $3,451.86 (£2,651) per coin, this follows a month of turmoil for the virtual currency. Last weekend was the first time it has crossed the $3,000 mark and the market value of all bitcoins in existence is now more than $56bn (£43bn). This surge follows the creation of a spin-off crypto-currency, Bitcoin Cash, last week.

Aug 7: Smuggler Arrested

A man was arrested at the main Bangladesh airport with 25kg (55lb) worth $1.5m (£1.15m) taped to his thighs. Jamil Akhter pretended to be a wheelchair user, hoping to avoid detection but customs officials became suspicious when they saw that this was his 13th trip abroad this year. Bangladesh has emerged as a hub for smuggling gold into India – this is the largest haul this year.

Aug 5: Whales in Danger

An increase in the number of right whale deaths this month in the Gulf of St Lawrence off the coast of Canada has been deemed “catastrophic” for the endangered species. Although some collisions with shipping occur every year, there is concern that global warming may be causing changes to feeding grounds. Only three calves are known to have been born this season and the population is seriously depleted.

Aug 4: Harvard

For the first time in its 380 year history, the prestigious American university Harvard has a new student intake with more non-white than white people. 22% will be Asian Americans, 15% African Americans, 15% Hispanic or Latino and 2.5% Native American or Pacific Islanders. Harvard has educated more US presidents than any other university.

Aug 3: Apple Capitulates

Apple is to comply with the Chinese government’s demand that it remove Virtual Private Network (VPN) software from its App Store. VPNs can be used to skirt censorship and surveillance. Apple has been heavily criticised for removing the VPN apps and has been accused of “aiding Chinese censorship efforts”. Apple responded that although it disagreed with China’s policy, it has to comply with the country’s laws.

Jul 28: Mud Fight

A row has broken out in New Zealand, where thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money has been spent on importing mud from South Korea for a music festival. Five tonnes of mud powder from Boryeong in South Korea, costing NZ$90,000 (US$68,000; £51,600) have been imported for Rotorua's forthcoming Mudtopia festival and is said to represent good value for money. The cost is expected to be recouped from ticket sales.

Jul 27: Rome Drought

Water rationing is being considered in Rome in response to the water crisis there, but Italian Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin has warned of health consequences if supplies for Rome’s 1.5 million residents are cut. Levels in Lake Bracciano, which supplies water to Rome, have fallen low enough to pose a potential environmental disaster. Fountains at the Vatican have been turned off for the first time in living memory.

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