India’s BJP leaders acquitted in Babri mosque demolition case

Court clears 32 men of inciting clashes that led to destruction of site by Hindu rioters in 1992

A special court has acquitted all senior figures in India’s ruling party of their role in the demolition of the Babri mosque by Hindu rioters, in a further court victory for the Hindu nationalist government over the bitterly disputed holy site.

All 32 men, including the former deputy prime minister LK Advani, three leaders from the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and a sitting BJP politician, were cleared of inciting the violence in 1992 that led to a 16th-century mosque in the city of Ayodhya being torn down by an armed Hindu nationalist mob.

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Saunas, sex clubs and street fights: how Sunil Gupta captured global gay life – and Miss UK

From the treacherous ‘sex trucks’ of New York to the grim days of Aids and Clause 28 in Britain, Sunil Gupta had a ringside seat at the fight for gay liberation. At last, the Zelig-like photographer is getting his dues

Sunil Gupta can remember the names the white schoolkids called each other when he arrived in Montreal in the late 1960s, having moved there from Delhi. “There were Greeks and Italians,” he says over a cup of tea in his loft-like apartment and workspace in London. “People used very pejorative terms freely. I learned the whole vocabulary.” His fellow pupils, however, did not yet have the words to describe Gupta. “They had never heard of India. My ‘baggage’ was useless.”

He also recalls his first boyfriend. “This American boy: blond hair, blue-eyed, Irish, from Wisconsin.” He didn’t know much about Indians, says Gupta, “but he was very knowledgeable about the streets.” Again, Gupta hadn’t the terminology for what they did together. “I’d been very sexually active since as far back as I can remember,” he explains. “In large Indian families, there is a very strict formality on the surface, but underneath everything goes. There were boys in the neighbourhood, but it didn’t have a name. Besides, my future was laid out: at the right age, your mum and dad found you a spouse.”

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Families plead for Hong Kong activists accused of trying to flee by speedboat

The ‘Hong Kong 12’ - arrested for allegedly trying to flee to Taiwan - have become the latest flashpoint for protesters

The family of a Hong Kong activist detained in China after allegedly attempting to flee to Taiwan by speedboat say they have had no communication from him and are relying on a piece of paper from Chinese authorities as confirmation of his whereabouts.

Andy Li was among 12 people caught by Chinese coastguards on 23 August. He had been arrested earlier that month under Hong Kong’s newly introduced national security law, after which the authorities had confiscated his passport before releasing him on bail.

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Jacinda Ardern admits cannabis use in heated New Zealand debate

Labour prime minister faces National leader Judith Collins in televised election clash

The prime minister of New Zealand has admitted she has used cannabis in the most robust and animated leaders’ debate of the election campaign so far.

The Labour leader and incumbent prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, met the National party leader, Judith Collins, in the TV3 studios in Auckland, in a one-and-half-hour debate moderated by Patrick Gower.

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Nagorno-Karabakh: UN urges ceasefire as Azerbaijan and Armenia dismiss talks

Armenian prime minister says he regards aggression by Azerbaijan as an ‘existential threat’

The UN security council has called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to immediately halt the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and urgently resume talks without preconditions as the conflict threatened to escalate beyond the region.

On Tuesday night, the UN’s most powerful body strongly condemned the use of force and backed secretary general Antonio Guterres’ call to stop the fighting, deescalate tensions, and resume talks “without delay”.

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How HSBC got caught in a geopolitical storm over Hong Kong security law

Bank’s future remains uncertain as it finds itself under pressure from Beijing and Washington

HSBC has been a fixture of the Hong Kong economy for more than a century. However, its origins as a financial bridge between Asia and the west have placed it in the centre of a modern day geopolitical storm. Facing pressure to choose sides as Hong Kong is convulsed by the new security law imposed by Beijing and Donald Trump pursues a trade war with China, HSBC is in danger of finding itself without friends in either direction.

Headquartered in London, but dependent on Hong Kong and China for profits, HSBC has been affected by tensions between Washington and Beijing – and shareholder concern over its controversial acceptance of an authoritarian crackdown in its key market.

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New Zealand firms switch to using nation’s Māori name, Aotearoa

Vodafone and communications agency DDB respond after calls on companies to use the reo term

One of New Zealand’s biggest telecommunications companies has heeded an exhortation to use the country’s original, Indigenous name of Aotearoa, joining others that have pledged to use more reo, the Māori language, or tikanga – protocols – in their daily business operations.

Earlier this week Vodafone – which has about 2,000 New Zealand employees – confirmed it had changed its banner at the top of users’ phones from “Vodafone NZ” to “VF Aotearoa”. The company gave short shrift to those on social media who complained about the change. Rival companies backed the move.

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Japan Airlines scraps ‘ladies and gentlemen’ in favour of gender-neutral greetings

Airline becomes first in Japan to make move as part of commitment to tackle gender-based discrimination

Japan Airlines is replacing “ladies and gentlemen” in its in-flight and airport announcements with gender-neutral expressions, beginning in October.

The formerly state-owned airline will use phrases such as “all passengers”, “good morning” and “good evening” in its English announcements. The standard term used in Japanese “minna-sama” – an honorific form of “everybody” – is already gender neutral.

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Protests and Covid leave Hong Kong stuck in recession

Political unrest hit tourism and retail, and coronavirus response has delayed recovery

Hong Kong’s economy was already in recession when the pandemic hit in January. Six months of running battles between pro-democracy campaigners and local government had deterred many of the visitors who fuel the lucrative tourism industry, while the threat of violence on the streets and closures of shops had sent retail sales down nearly a quarter on the previous year.

With much of Asia shut down by coronavirus restrictions during the winter months, there was little expectation of a recovery until the spring, when the level of infections fell to almost zero across mainland China and most of the rest of the region, and the measures could be eased.

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Big tech firms may be handing Hong Kong user data to China

Allegation follows new law that lets Hong Kong ask for sensitive data if deemed to threaten national security

Big technology companies may already be complying with secret Chinese requests for user information held in Hong Kong and ought to “come clean” about the vulnerability of the data they hold there, a senior US state department official has said.

The allegation of possible secret cooperation between major companies and Hong Kong authorities follows the implementation of a sweeping and controversial new national security law that allows Hong Kong authorities to demand sensitive user data from companies if it is deemed to threaten national security.

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