Kashmir: text messaging services to be restored in disputed region

Curbs on internet services remain five months after India revoked semi-autonomous status

Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir are to restore text messaging services in the disputed region, almost five months after India’s government downgraded its semi-autonomy and imposed a strict security and communications lockdown.

A local government spokesman, Rohit Kansal, said the decision was made after a review of the situation.

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India primed: what Amazon’s vast new Hyderabad campus reveals about its plans

Amazon have arrived in force in rapidly expanding Hyderabad, with designs on the currently almost non-existent Indian e-commence market

The futuristic lobby of the new Amazon building in Hyderabad feels as though it should have a permanent orchestra blasting out Also Sprach Zarathustra. The scale is intended to awe. A large slogan on a wall suggests the company is “Delivering smiles”. The only sound that rises above the hush is a synthesised beep, coming from a giant screen playing a video of the campus at various stages of its construction.

Built on nine acres in this Indian city’s financial district, it is Amazon’s single largest building globally and the only Amazon-owned campus outside the US. It can house over 15,000 employees, but its size is its main architectural feature: it resembles the same cube of glass steel and chrome seen in corporate offices across Hyderabad, though a flash of magenta reflected in one of the top floor windows, from a billowing sari across the road, is a nice Indian touch.

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Hong Kong: reporter blinded covering protests on her bid to sue police

Police cannot shoot people ‘because they are panicked or angry’, says Veby Mega Indah

In late September, the journalist Veby Mega Indah stood on a footbridge in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district documenting another day of clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police. The demonstrators, crouched under umbrellas, inched forward toward police firing and retreating down a set of stairs toward the street.

A journalist of 13 years, trained to work in hostile environments, she stood to the side, out of the way of the standoff and in a group of other reporters. She knew to wear goggles, helmet and a high-vis jacket clearly labelled PRESS.

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New Year Honours: Marilyn Waring, who inspired a teenage Ardern, made a dame

New Zealand PM says she will never forget phone call with Waring, who was honoured along with choreographer to the stars Parris Goebel

The woman who inspired Jacinda Ardern to enter politics is among those recognised in this year’s New Zealand New Year’s honours, along with a south Auckland choreographer who masterminded dance moves for Justin Bieber and Rihanna.

Former MP Marilyn Waring – who Ardern rang as a 14-year-old social studies student, asking for political advice – has been made a dame companion for her services to women and economics.

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Aotearoa is at last finding its voice, helping us heal after a year of tragedy

Through Christchurch, Whakaari, the murder of Grace Millane, it is the Māori rituals, and each other, that sustain us

The phrase “a year that was bookended by tragedy” is too neat, somehow.

Tragedy moves through time differently from other events. Time seems to stop then start again fitfully. As it gathers momentum, its passing feels cruel, as if demanding that we gain perspective and return to our ordinary lives. Those early and late events of 2019 in Aotearoa – the massacre in Christchurch in March, and the eruption of Whakaari in November – did strange things to the future, too.

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Hong Kong braces for fresh protests during new year festivities

Official issues stark warning to protesters planning to target shopping and business districts

Hong Kong will end 2019 with multiple protests planned for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day aimed at disrupting festivities and shopping in the Asian financial hub, which has seen a rise in clashes between police and protesters since Christmas.

Events dubbed “Suck the Eve” and “Shop with You” are set for New Year’s Eve on Tuesday in areas including the party district of Lan Kwai Fong, the picturesque Victoria Harbour, and popular shopping malls, according to notices on social media.

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Chinese scientist who edited babies’ genes jailed for three years

He Jiankui was guilty of illegal practices in trying to alter the genetic makeup of twin girls

A Chinese court has sentenced He Jiankui, the scientist who sparked global controversy last year when he claimed to have created the world’s first “gene-edited” children, to three years in prison for violating medical regulations.

He shocked the scientific community when he announced at a conference in Hong Kong that he had created genetically modified twin sisters, dubbed Lulu and Nana, and that a third child was on the way.

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Taiwan’s citizens battle pro-China fake news campaigns as election nears

Contest is in effect a referendum on the future of the self-governed island’s relationship with China

Citizen groups in Taiwan are fighting a Russian-style influence and misinformation campaign that is believed to originate across the strait in mainland China with just weeks to go before it votes for its next president,

Taiwan goes to the polls on 11 January to decide between two main candidates, incumbent president Tsai-Ing-Wen of the Democratic People’s party (DPP) under whom ties with Beijing have become fraught, and Han Kuo-Yu of the Kuomintang party (KMT), which advocates closer engagement with China.

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Afghanistan’s Taliban ruling council ready for ceasefire with US

End to hostilities is a key demand of Washington before any peace deal could be signed

The Taliban’s ruling council has agreed to a temporary ceasefire in Afghanistan, providing a window in which a peace agreement with the United States can be signed, officials from the militant group have said. They did not say when it would begin and there was no immediate response from Washington.

A ceasefire had been demanded by Washington before any peace agreement could be signed. A peace deal would allow the US to bring home its troops from Afghanistan and end its 18-year military engagement there, America’s longest.

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North Korea’s Kim Jong-un calls for ‘offensive’ measures as nuclear deadline looms

Dictator’s comments come ahead of a year-end deadline for US to soften stance on missile programme

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for “positive and offensive measures” to ensure security at a ruling party meeting ahead of a year-end deadline he has set for denuclearisation talks with the United States, state media said on Monday.

Kim convened a weekend meeting of party officials to pore over important policy matters amid rising tension over his deadline for Washington to soften its stance in stalled negotiations aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

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Most Britons weren’t hostile to migrants | Letters
Most Britons were not hostile and helped south Asians and east Africans to settle, says Nitin Mehta, while Jane Lane believes racism needs to be tackled at an early age

Kavita Puri, like so many others before her, talks about the racism faced by immigrant communities when they first arrived in large numbers during the 1960s (They came from south Asia to help build Britain. The racism they saw then is back, 20 December). This does great injustice to the vast majority of British people who went out of their way to help the new migrants to settle. They volunteered to teach English, teachers paid extra attention to immigrant children, health service staff treated the frail and elderly with utmost compassion.

As an example, the city of Leicester accommodated tens of thousands of people fleeing Uganda. The Conservative government of Ted Heath did a remarkable job in settling those expelled from Idi Amin’s regime. Employers took in the new arrivals with little grasp of English and let them flourish. A huge number of people from the Indian subcontinent and east Africa ventured into business and prospered. The new generation born in this country have achieved beyond anyone’s imagination. They have broken many glass ceilings. Yes, you will occasionally get abuse thrown at you or there will be disagreeable people in all walks of life, but how can that be representative of the whole country?

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The power behind the thrones: 10 political movers and shakers who will shape 2020

Some are trusted aides, others are fixers who work in the shadows. Often unelected and unaccountable, they all have the ear of national leaders

The role of Dominic Cummings in plotting and facilitating Boris Johnson’s drive for power has focused attention on the influence exerted by behind-the-scenes advisers and confidants who have the ear of prominent politicians.

Powerful men and women around the world all have personal counsellors, trusted aides and backroom mentors. Then there are the “insiders” – string-pullers, fixers and manipulators with ambitions of their own. Few become well-known, although Cummings’s notoriety is by no means exceptional.

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Seven bodies found on suspected North Korean fishing boat in Japan

Experts say vessel was possibly travelling far out to sea for bigger catches

Seven badly decomposed bodies were found in a suspected North Korean fishing boat that washed up on a Japanese island, a coast guard official.

The remains were found on Saturday in a broken vessel on the shore of Sado Island, which lies around 900km from North Korea across the Sea of Japan.

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How do you sign chicken and chips? Pakistan’s cafe run by and for the deaf

Menus in sign language and jobs for the hearing impaired are challenging discrimination against those with disabilities

It’s not just the bright yellow walls that make the Abey Khao cafe in Islamabad’s Mughal Market stand out. The menu is in sign language, as is the English alphabet painted on the walls, along with the signs for “yes”, “no”, and “thank you”. Customers are encouraged to place their orders using sign language.

The Abey Khao - which means “Hey Eat” – cafe is the believed to the only fast food cafe in Pakistan set up and run by deaf people.

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Cyclone Sarai: one dead, thousands evacuated in Fiji

Storm and flood warnings issued as category two cyclone moves east towards Tonga

One person was killed in Fiji and one was missing as tropical cyclone Sarai battered the country with strong wind and heavy rain, authorities said.

The Fiji National Disaster Management Office said one person was in intensive care and more than 2,500 people had been moved to 70 evacuation centres.

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