Archive for ‘Twitter’

30/05/2019

Miss India contest: Why do all the finalists ‘look the same’?

Participants at the fbb Colors Femina Miss India East 2019 on April 23,2019 in Kolkata,India.Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Critics say many participants in this year’s beauty pageant look similar

It is the contest that kick-started Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra’s career, so it is unsurprising that this year’s Miss India finalists have such wide smiles in their publicity shots.

After all, this is a competition with the power to change lives.

But instead of being able to enjoy their success, they have found themselves at the centre of a storm over a photo collage which, critics say, suggests the organisers are obsessed with fair skin.

The collage published in the  Times of India newspaper – which belongs to the group that organises the annual beauty pageant – depicts 30 headshots of beautiful women.

But when a Twitter user shared it and posed a question: “What is wrong with this picture?” it began to gain traction.

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With their tame, glossy, shoulder-length hair and a skin tone that is virtually identical, some quipped that they all looked the same. Others wondered out loud – albeit as a joke – if in fact they were all the same person.

As the picture gained traction on Twitter, critics made the point that while there was nothing wrong with the image of the women themselves, the lack of diversity in skin colour has once again highlighted India’s obsession with being fair and lovely.

As social media chatter grew, we tried to get in touch with the organisers but there has been no response so far.

Beauty pageants have been serious business in India since the mid-1990s. The country has produced several famous Miss Indias, like Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen and Ms Chopra, who also won global titles. Many pageant winners have also gone on to have lucrative Bollywood careers.

Over the years, institutions that train young women aspiring to participate in beauty pageants have mushroomed across the country.

But again, many of their biggest successes have been women who are light-skinned.

ELECTION OF MISS WORLD IN SUN CITY (SOUTH AFRICAImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Aishwarya Rai soon after she was crowned Miss World 1994
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This is hardly surprising.

India’s obsession with fairness, especially when it comes to women, is well known and many regard fair skin as being superior to darker tones.

It has always been accepted for instance, that fairer is better in the marriage market.

And ever since the 1970s, when Fair and Lovely – India’s first fairness cream – was introduced, skin whitening cosmetics have been among the highest selling in the country and, over the years, top Bollywood actors and actresses have appeared in advertisements to endorse them.

Commercials for such creams and gels promised not just fair skin but also peddled them as means to get a glamorous job, find love, or get married.

And pageants like this, which favour a particular type of skin tone, only serve to perpetuate that stereotype.

In 2005, some bright spark decided that it was not just women who needed fairer skin, so along came India’s first fairness cream for men – Fair and Handsome.

Endorsed by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan no less, it soon became a huge success.

In recent years, there have been campaigns such as Dark is Beautiful and #unfairandlovely, questioning “colourism” and calling on people to celebrate dark skin. And last year, I wrote about a new campaign that re-imagined popular Hindu gods and goddesses with a darker skin.

But this has not stopped the flood of new creams and gels that claim to lighten everything from armpit hair to – hold your breath – female genitalia.

Their popularity in India can be gauged from the fact that fairness creams and bleaches sell for hundreds of millions of dollars every year and, according to one estimate, the market for women’s fairness products is expected to be 50bn rupees ($716m; £566m) by 2023.

The defenders of skin whitening products say it’s a matter of personal choice, that if women can use lipstick to make their lips redder, then what’s the big deal about using creams or gels to appear fairer?

It may sound logical, but campaigners point out that this obsession with fair skin is grossly unfair – the “superiority” of light skin is subtly, but constantly, reinforced and that perpetuates societal prejudice and hurts people with darker complexions who grow up with low self-confidence. It also impacts their personal and professional success, they say.

We’ve heard models with darker skin colours say how they were overlooked for assignments and I can remember only a few darker-skinned Bollywood actresses in leading roles.

Finalists for the Pond's Femina Miss India 2005 beauty pageant pose for photographers at a press conference in Bombay 07 March 2005.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionBeauty pageants have been accused of favouring a particular skin tone

In 2014, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body of advertisers, issued a set of guidelines barring commercials from depicting people with darker skin colour as “unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned” and said that they should not be shown as being at a disadvantage when it came to “prospects of matrimony, jobs or promotions”.

The ads, however, continue to be made, even though they are a bit more discreet now compared to the earlier in-your-face sort of campaigns. Popular film actors and actresses also continue to endorse them.

But as I write this piece, a heart-warming piece of news is just being reported: South Indian actress Sai Pallavi has confirmed that she rejected a 20m rupee deal to appear in a fairness cream advertisement earlier this year.

“What am I going to do with the money I get from such an ad? I don’t have… big needs.

“I can say that the standards we have are wrong. This is the Indian colour. We can’t go to foreigners and ask them why they’re white.

“That’s their skin colour and this is ours,” she was quoted as saying.

Pallavi’s comments are being hailed as a breath of fresh air by commentators, especially as they are seen in context to the Miss India collage where all contestants look the same – whitewashed.

Source: The BBC

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25/05/2019

India tuition class fire kills at least 19 students

Fire rips through Gujarat collegeImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption The fire ripped through tuition classes in the western state of Gujarat

At least 19 students have died in a fire at a school in India, officials said.

Students were seen jumping and falling from the building in the western city of Surat as black smoke billowed from windows.

Most of the victims were teenagers who had been studying at a tuition centre.

The initial cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Officials said the blaze spread through packed classrooms because of flammable roofing.

At least 20 others sustained serious injuries and were being treated in hospital in Gujarat.

“The students lost their life both because of the fire and jumping out of the building,” Deepak Sapthaley, a local fire official, told AFP.

All of the dead were aged below 20 years and many were trapped because the fire began near the staircase, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences on Twitter and called for local authorities to provide assistance.

An inquiry into the incident has been ordered and a report is expected within three days, said the spokesman for the office of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

The fire is the latest in a long line of deadly blazes in India. In February at least 17 people died in a Delhi hotel fire.

Source: The BBC

23/05/2019

Chinese primary school teacher sacked for beating boy with stick over 100 times

  • Parent posts photos of son’s bruised bottom and it is claimed pupils are too scared to go to school
  • Education authority says teacher is under investigation
The education authority said the teacher was under investigation. Photo: Shutterstock
The education authority said the teacher was under investigation. Photo: Shutterstock
A primary school teacher in eastern China has been sacked and detained for hitting a young boy on the bottom with a stick over 100 times, education authorities have said.
The teacher, surnamed Han, was dismissed by No 2 Experimental Primary School in Tancheng county, Shandong, the county’s education and sports bureau announced.
The boy, a first-year pupil surnamed Wang, sustained minor injuries from Han’s corporal punishment, the bureau said on Thursday in a post on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.
One of the boy’s parents posted pictures of his red and swollen bottom on social media. “It’s a shock to me,” they wrote, according to news outlet The paper. “I wish it were possible to take my son’s place to be beaten 100 times.”
Chinese kindergarten teachers arrested after camera shows beatings
A Weibo post by someone who said they lived in the county claimed the teacher had beaten the boy in a classroom on Tuesday after telling him to bend over so that he could strike the boy’s hip more easily.
One of the boy’s parents posted pictures of his bruises on social media. Photo: Weibo
One of the boy’s parents posted pictures of his bruises on social media. Photo: Weibo

“Now the students in that class are too scared to go to school,” they wrote.

The paper reported that, at a meeting between school staff and the boy’s parents, the principal blamed Han but acknowledged that the school, too, had been responsible. The principal did not say whether the school would compensate the boy, according to the report.

Han’s actions were being investigated jointly by the local police and education authorities.

Kindergarten teacher accused of stepping on child’s face, abusing two others

It is not rare for allegations to surface about mainland China’s pupils being beaten by teachers for making mistakes at school.

Last December, a primary school teacher from Huating in Gansu province was suspended and investigated for allegedly using a plastic water pipe to beat a third-year pupil who could not remember English words correctly, leaving the boy’s arms swollen and bruised, according to The Beijing News.

A maths teacher in Chenzhou, in Hunan province, was sacked and investigated in 2017 for allegedly lashing the bottom of a 10-year-old boy with a bamboo whip for three consecutive days for not finishing his homework, news portal qq.com reported.

Source: SCMP

16/05/2019

Amazon faces backlash in India for selling shoes, rugs with images of Hindu gods

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Amazon.com faced a social media backlash in India on Thursday after toilet seat covers and other items emblazoned with images of Hindu gods were spotted on its website.

Thousands of Twitter users backed a call for a boycott of the U.S. retailer, making #BoycottAmazon India’s top trending topic on Twitter. Some tagged Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, urging her to take action against the company.

Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, said it was removing the products from its online store.

“All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action including potential removal of their account,” the company said in a statement.

The episode is reminiscent of an incident in 2017 when the Indian government took Amazon to task after its Canadian website was spotted selling doormats resembling India’s flag.

Swaraj at the time threatened to rescind visas of Amazon employees if the doormats were not removed from its site.

Reuters found several listings of toilet seat covers, yoga mats, sneakers, rugs and other items depicting Hindu gods, or sacred Hindu symbols, on Amazon’s U.S. website.

Some of the items were no longer available for purchase.

“Until you hit these Hinduphobics Business hard they will keep on insulting your gods, your beliefs & your entire civilization,” tweeted Sumit Kandel, whose profile describes him as a film trade analyst.

Source:Reuters

18/04/2019

Tobacco vendors illegally advertise and sell cigarettes on China’s social media and e-commerce platforms

  • Health watchdog warns that tobacco products are widely available on both social media and online retailers
A tobacco seller’s advert posted on WeChat. Photo: Handout
A tobacco seller’s advert posted on WeChat. Photo: Handout
Illegal tobacco trading is rife online in China both via social media and e-commerce platforms, a health watchdog has warned.
The Beijing Centre for Disease Prevention and Control released a report on Monday that said almost 52,000 advertisements and listings for tobacco products had been found on 14 social media and e-commerce platforms in the first half of last year.
“Compared with traditional advertising, tobacco promotion on the internet uses methods such as sponsored content, which is more discreet,” the report said.
China’s internet advertising regulations prohibit the online promotion of tobacco products.
Selling cigarettes online is illegal as the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration bans the sale of tobacco across provinces and strictly controls the production, sale and import of the product.
Screenshot from Weibo of an advertisement for imported cigarettes. Photo: Handout
Screenshot from Weibo of an advertisement for imported cigarettes. Photo: Handout

The social network Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, was highlighted as the platform where most of the banned promotion and selling were found, with nearly 43,000 adverts and listings, or 82 per cent of the total.

The South China Morning Post found that tobacco advertising and direct selling proliferates on Weibo, where searching for terms such as “cigarettes” and “women’s cigarettes” yielded almost 1,300 results, many of them offering WeChat and QQ contact information.

Five vendors found through Weibo offered various imported cigarettes such as Marlboro and South Korean brand Esse.

One seller claimed his wares were smuggled into China from places like the US. Another offered refunds for products that were confiscated, but only if they were bought for delivery within the same province.

A 10-packet carton of Kent cigarettes, an American brand, was selling for around 30 per cent less than the retail price in Beijing.

An extraordinary man’: China’s tobacco and orange king, entrepreneur Chu Shijian, dies aged 91
“A few days ago, cigarette sellers on Little Red Book began trending. People in different places have stopped. I’m still going, one step at a time,” a vendor calling herself “24 hours online cigarette hawker” wrote on her WeChat timeline on Wednesday.
She was referring to media coverage of Little Red Book the e-commerce platform popular with influencers selling lifestyle products.
Little Red Book, whose investors include Alibaba, the owner of the South China Morning Post, has pledged to remove as many as 95,000 adverts and listings for tobacco products found on the app on Tuesday in response to a report by newspaper Beijing Youth Daily.
Searches for “cigarettes” or “women’s cigarettes” no longer yielded results on Thursday.
“We are working hard to remove related content. We ask users to promptly report cases and work together to maintain order on the platform,” Weibo’s PR director Mao Taotao said.
Imported cigarettes on sale on Weibo. Photo: Handout
Imported cigarettes on sale on Weibo. Photo: Handout

While advertising and online selling of tobacco are prohibited, e-cigarettes fall in a grey area. China’s tobacco agency has banned the sale of IQOS, a type of battery heated cigarette that delivers nicotine. However, regulations for non-nicotine vaporisers are less clear. These continue to be widely available online.

“In China, even toilet paper has standards. There are none for e-cigarettes,” Li Enze, the industrial law committee secretary for the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, said.

“I think there needs to be a total ban on the sale of e-cigarettes until standards and regulations are set.”

E-cigarettes and vaporisers come in a variety of flavours and shapes to target women and young people, which poses a serious problem according to Li.

Under-18s can easily purchase vaporisers online and can be induced to smoking the real thing, he said.

Two sets of standards for e-cigarettes have been considered by the Standardisation Administration of China since 2017.

However, both were proposed by organisations associated with the state tobacco monopoly, which Li deemed a conflict of interest.

Source: SCMP

12/03/2019

U.S.’s Bolton says Pakistan committed to easing tensions with India

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday Pakistan’s foreign minister has assured him Islamabad is committed to de-escalating tensions with India and dealing “firmly” with terrorists.

Bolton’s comments follow a Feb. 14 suicide bombing, claimed by Pakistan-based militants, which killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police.

“Spoke with Pakistani FM (Shah Mehmood) Qureshi to encourage meaningful steps against JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) and other terrorist groups operating from Pakistan,” Bolton said on Twitter.

“The FM assured me that Pakistan would deal firmly with all terrorists and will continue steps to deescalate tensions with India,” Bolton added.

Pakistan, which denies Indian accusations of aiding militant groups, last week announced a crackdown against all proscribed outfits.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry late on Monday said Qureshi informed Bolton “about the de-escalatory measures taken by Pakistan” in the wake of the aerial bombing missions carried out by both countries in late February.

Qureshi told Bolton that Pakistan’s strike in Kashmir on Feb. 27 was in self-defence and retaliation to India’s raid on its territory a day earlier. New Delhi said it hit a JeM training camp in Pakistan, but Islamabad denies any such camp exists.

The two countries fought an aerial dogfight over Kashmir on Feb. 27, and a couple of days later Pakistan returned a downed Indian pilot in a gesture that appeared to de-escalate the crisis.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, in a joint conference with Qureshi, commended Pakistan on Tuesday for returning the pilot and offering talks with India. But he also urged Islamabad to stamp out militant groups which attack neighbouring countries.

“We both agreed that cross-border terrorism has to be permanently stopped and there too there have been positive signs in the past few days that we welcome very much,” Maas said. “Ultimately it’s about fighting any kind of terrorism and extremism.”

Source: Reuters

10/03/2019

India and Pakistan: How the war was fought in TV studios

An Indian man watches live news channels broadcasting images of Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander pilot Abhinandan Varthaman returning to India from the India-Pakistan Wagah border in New Delhi on March 1, 2019.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAn Indian man watches the news broadcasting images of the released Indian pilot

As tensions between India and Pakistan escalated following a deadly suicide attack last month, there was another battle being played out on the airwaves. Television stations in both countries were accused of sensationalism and partiality. But how far did they take it? The BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan in Delhi and Secunder Kermani in Islamabad take a look.

It was drama that was almost made for television.

The relationship between India and Pakistan – tense at the best of times – came to a head on 26 February when India announced it had launched airstrikes on militant camps in Pakistan’s Balakot region as “retaliation” for a suicide attack that had killed 40 troops in Indian-administered Kashmir almost two weeks earlier.

A day later, on 27 February, Pakistan shot down an Indian jet fighter and captured its pilot.

Abhinandan Varthaman was freed as a “peace gesture”, and Pakistan PM Imran Khan warned that neither country could afford a miscalculation, with a nuclear arsenal on each side.

Suddenly people were hooked, India’s TV journalists included.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he speaks during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) "Sankalp" rally in Patna in the Indian eastern state of Bihar on March 3, 2019.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionIndian PM Narendra Modi is accused of exploiting India-Pakistan hostilities for political gain

So were they more patriots than journalists?

Rajini Vaidyanathan: Indian television networks showed no restraint when it came to their breathless coverage of the story. Rolling news was at fever pitch.

The coverage often fell into jingoism and nationalism, with headlines such as “Pakistan teaches India a lesson”, “Dastardly Pakistan”, and “Stay Calm and Back India” prominently displayed on screens.

Some reporters and commentators called for India to use missiles and strike back. One reporter in south India hosted an entire segment dressed in combat fatigues, holding a toy gun.

And while I was reporting on the return of the Indian pilot at the international border between the two countries in the northern city of Amritsar, I saw a woman getting an Indian flag painted on her cheek. “I’m a journalist too,” she said, as she smiled at me in slight embarrassment.

Print journalist Salil Tripathi wrote a scathing critique of the way reporters in both India and Pakistan covered the events, arguing they had lost all sense of impartiality and perspective. “Not one of the fulminating television-news anchors exhibited the criticality demanded of their profession,” she said.

Media captionIndia and Pakistan’s ‘war-mongering’ media

Secunder Kermani: Shortly after shooting down at least one Indian plane last week, the Pakistani military held a press conference.

As it ended, the journalists there began chanting “Pakistan Zindabad” (Long Live Pakistan). It wasn’t the only example of “journalistic patriotism” during the recent crisis.

Two anchors from private channel 92 News donned military uniforms as they presented the news – though other Pakistani journalists criticised their decision.

But on the whole, while Indian TV presenters angrily demanded military action, journalists in Pakistan were more restrained, with many mocking what they called the “war mongering and hysteria” across the border.

In response to Indian media reports about farmers refusing to export tomatoes to Pakistan anymore for instance, one popular presenter tweeted about a “Tomatical strike” – a reference to Indian claims they carried out a “surgical strike” in 2016 during another period of conflict between the countries.

Media analyst Adnan Rehmat noted that while the Pakistani media did play a “peace monger as opposed to a warmonger” role, in doing so, it was following the lead of Pakistani officials who warned against the risks of escalation, which “served as a cue for the media.”

What were they reporting?

Rajini Vaidyanathan: As TV networks furiously broadcast bulletins from makeshift “war rooms” complete with virtual reality missiles, questions were raised not just about the reporters but what they were reporting.

Indian channels were quick to swallow the government version of events, rather than question or challenge it, said Shailaja Bajpai, media editor at The Print. “The media has stopped asking any kind of legitimate questions, by and large,” she said. “There’s no pretence of objectiveness.”

In recent years in fact, a handful of commentators have complained about the lack of critical questioning in the Indian media.

Indians celebrated on hearing news of the strikesImage copyrightAFP
Image captionIndians celebrated news of the strikes

“For some in the Indian press corps the very thought of challenging the ‘official version’ of events is the equivalent of being anti-national”, said Ms Bajpai. “We know there have been intelligence lapses but nobody is questioning that.”

Senior defence and science reporter Pallava Bagla agreed. “The first casualty in a war is always factual information. Sometimes nationalistic fervour can make facts fade away,” he said.

This critique isn’t unique to India, or even this period in time. During the 2003 Iraq war, western journalists embedded with their country’s militaries were also, on many occasions, simply reporting the official narrative.

Secunder Kermani: In Pakistan, both media and public reacted with scepticism to Indian claims about the damage caused by the airstrikes in Balakot, which India claimed killed a large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants in a training camp.

Hamid Mir, one of the most influential TV anchors in the country travelled to the area and proclaimed, “We haven’t seen any such (militant) infrastructure… we haven’t seen any bodies, any funerals.”

“Actually,” he paused, “We have found one body… this crow.” The camera panned down to a dead crow, while Mr Mir asked viewers if the crow “looks like a terrorist or not?”

There seems to be no evidence to substantiate Indian claims that a militant training camp was hit, but other journalists working for international outlets, including the BBC, found evidence of a madrassa, linked to JeM, near the site.

A cropped version of a satellite image shows a close-up of a madrasa near Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, March 4, 2019. Picture taken March 4, 2019.Image copyrightPLANET LABS INC./HANDOUT VIA REUTERS
Image captionThe satellite image shows a close-up of a madrassa near Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Paktunkhwa

A photo of a signpost giving directions to the madrassa even surfaced on social media. It described the madrassa as being “under the supervision of Masood Azhar”. Mr Azhar is the founder of JeM.

The signpost’s existence was confirmed by a BBC reporter and Al Jazeera, though by the time Reuters visited it had apparently been removed. Despite this, the madrassa and its links received little to no coverage in the Pakistani press.

Media analyst Adnan Rehmat told the BBC that “there was no emphasis on investigating independently or thoroughly enough” the status of the madrassa.

In Pakistan, reporting on alleged links between the intelligence services and militant groups is often seen as a “red line”. Journalists fear for their physical safety, whilst editors know their newspapers or TV channels could face severe pressure if they publish anything that could be construed as “anti-state”.

Who did it better: Khan or Modi?

Rajini Vaidyanathan: With a general election due in a few months, PM Narendra Modi continued with his campaign schedule, mentioning the crisis in some of his stump speeches. But he never directly addressed the ongoing tensions through an address to the nation or a press conference.

This was not a surprise. Mr Modi rarely holds news conference or gives interviews to the media. When news of the suicide attack broke, Mr Modi was criticised for continuing with a photo shoot.

Imran KhanImage copyrightAFP
Image captionImran Khan was praised for his measured approach

The leader of the main opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, dubbed him a “Prime Time Minister” claiming the PM had carried on filming for three hours. PM Modi has also been accused of managing his military response as a way to court votes.

At a campaign rally in his home state of Gujarat he seemed unflustered by his critics, quipping “they’re busy with strikes on Modi, and Modi is launching strikes on terror.”

Secunder Kermani: Imran Khan won praise even from many of his critics in Pakistan, for his measured approach to the conflict. In two appearances on state TV, and one in parliament, he appeared firm, but also called for dialogue with India.

His stance helped set the comparatively more measured tone for Pakistani media coverage.

Officials in Islamabad, buoyed by Mr Khan’s decision to release the captured Indian pilot, have portrayed themselves as the more responsible side, which made overtures for peace.

On Twitter, a hashtag calling for Mr Khan to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize was trending for a while. But his lack of specific references to JeM, mean internationally there is likely to be scepticism, at least initially, about his claims that Pakistan will no longer tolerate militant groups targeting India.

Source: The BBC

08/03/2019

Indian cricketers wear army camouflage caps as patriotism grips country

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian cricketers wore army camouflage-style caps in a match with Australia on Friday in solidarity with Indian paramilitary police killed in a militant attack by a Pakistan-based group and in an unusually strong display of patriotic fervour in sport.

The suicide bombing last month killed 40 in Indian-controlled Kashmir, a region also claimed by Pakistan. The attack prompted India to launch an air strike inside Pakistan, which responded with an aerial attack the next day.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has in recent days tried unsuccessfully to isolate Pakistan in the cricketing world. The International Cricket Council rejected India’s calls to boycott games against Pakistan, whose prime minister is former cricketing hero Imran Khan.

But there are still calls within India for the national team to pull out of a World Cup match against Pakistan in June in England.

“(Indian cricket) teams have expressed solidarity in the past but not this kind of public display of that solidarity,” Majumdar told Reuters.

“Sport has always been meshed with politics and people have often used it to make very strong points. This is yet another one. This is a peaceful way of expressing solidarity in a manner which I don’t see problematic at all.”

But Pakistani lawyer Abdullah Nizamani said on Twitter the BCCI and international cricket board should keep “sports away from petty politics”. Some Pakistanis even asked on social media if Indian cricketers would turn up for the World Cup match with Pakistan in military fatigues.

Nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence over Kashmir, which both sides claim in full but rule in part.

Source: Reuters

07/03/2019

In sensitive year for China, warnings against ‘erroneous thoughts’

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s ruling Communist Party is ramping up calls for political loyalty in a year of sensitive anniversaries, warning against “erroneous thoughts” as officials fall over themselves to pledge allegiance to President Xi Jinping and his philosophy.

This year is marked by some delicate milestones: 30 years since the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square; 60 years since the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet into exile; and finally, on Oct. 1, 70 years since the founding of Communist China.

Born of turmoil and revolution, the Communist Party came to power in 1949 on the back of decades of civil war in which millions died, and has always been on high alert for “luan”, or “chaos”, and valued stability above all else.

“This year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of new China,” Xi told legislators from Inner Mongolia on Tuesday, the opening day of the annual meeting of parliament. “Maintaining sustained, healthy economic development and social stability is a mission that is extremely arduous.”

Xi has tightened the party’s grip on almost every facet of government and life since assuming power in late 2012.

ROOTING OUT DISLOYALTY

The party has increasingly been making rooting out disloyalty and wavering from the party line a disciplinary offence to be enforced by its anti-corruption watchdog, whose role had ostensibly been to go after criminal acts such as bribery and lesser bureaucratic transgressions.

The graft buster said last month it would “uncover political deviation” in its political inspections this year of provincial governments and ministries.

Top graft buster Zhao Leji, in a January speech to the corruption watchdog, a full transcript of which the party released late February, used the word “loyalty” eight times.

“Set an example with your loyalty to the party,” Zhao said.

China has persistently denied its war on corruption is about political manoeuvring or Xi taking down his enemies. Xi told an audience in Seattle in 2015 that the anti-graft fight was no “House of Cards”-style power play, in a reference to the Netflix U.S. political drama.

The deeper fear for the party is some sort of unrest or a domestic or even international event fomenting a crisis that could end its rule.

Xi told officials in January they need to be on high alert for “black swan” events..

That same month the top law-enforcement official said China’s police must focus on withstanding “colour revolutions”, or popular uprisings, and treat the defence of China’s political system as central to their work.

The party has meanwhile shown no interest in political reform, and has been doubling down on the merits of the Communist Party, including this month rolling out English-language propaganda videos on state media-run Twitter accounts to laud “Chinese democracy”. Twitter remains blocked in China.

The official state news agency Xinhua said in an English-language commentary on Sunday that China was determined to stick to its political model and rejected Western-style democracy.
“The country began to learn about democracy a century ago, but soon found Western politics did not work here. Decades of turmoil and civil war followed,” it said.
Source: Reuters
04/03/2019

Chinese mother detained over bus driver attack after letting son urinate on bus

  • Police say woman told toddler to use a rubbish bin when he needed to go to the toilet then got into argument with driver after he called her ‘uncivilised’
  • Security camera footage shows her bashing on compartment door and grabbing the man’s coat as he is driving

Mother detained over bus driver attack after letting son urinate on bus

4 Mar 2019

The woman is seen in security camera footage grabbing the bus driver’s coat while he is behind the wheel. Photo: Weibo
The woman is seen in security camera footage grabbing the bus driver’s coat while he is behind the wheel. Photo: Weibo

A mother in central China has been detained after she allowed her two-year-old son to urinate in a rubbish bin on a bus then attacked the driver when he told her she was “uncivilised”.

Security camera footage of the incident in Dazhi, Hubei province on Saturday shows the woman supporting the toddler by the bin on the floor of the bus while he urinates in front of the other passengers.

She is then seen rushing up to the driver and arguing with him after he complains about her behaviour, bashing on the compartment door and grabbing the man’s coat as he is driving.

A police officer told news website PearVideo on Sunday that the woman, identified only by her surname Chen, said the boy needed to go to the toilet while they were on the bus so she took him over to the bin.

“The driver saw them and said she was uncivilised, and they got into an argument over it,” the officer said. “Chen became agitated – she hit the driver’s compartment door and reached around to attack him while he was driving.”

The driver, who was not identified, is seen in the security footage calmly pulling over and calling the police while the woman is attacking him.

Chen has been placed under criminal detention for posing a threat to public security and Dazhi police are investigating the case, according to the report.

It comes after a series of recent attacks on bus drivers in China, including an accident in October when an angry passenger who missed her stop assaulted the driver, causing the bus to veer off a bridge and crash into the Yangtze River in Chongqing, killing all 15 people on board.
A police investigation found that the 48-year-old woman had been fighting with the driver as he tried to steer the bus when the crash happened.

Reacting to the latest case, some social media users said they understood the mother’s situation, but it has angered others, who say she should have used a diaper or got off the bus at the next stop.

“Anyone might need to use the toilet [on a bus], especially a kid, but parents should take heed of the criticism – she was clearly in the wrong,” one person wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter.

There have been other cases in recent years of Chinese parents sparking anger for letting their children urinate in public – on the mainland and elsewhere. Last month, photos of a Chinese tourist allowing her son to pee on the floor of the Forbidden City in Beijing triggered a strong reaction on social media, with many people criticising the woman.
Source: SCMP
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