Bali volcano: ‘Thousands evacuated’ from Mount Agung area

The Red Cross says more than 42,000 people have been evacuated from their homes near an active volcano in Bali, as authorities warn it could erupt.

The area around Mount Agung has seen hundreds of tremors and signs of magma rising to the surface in recent days.

Authorities have imposed a 12km (7.5-mile) exclusion zone around the mountain and issued their highest level alert on Friday.

The island’s main tourist areas and flights remain unaffected for now.

Indonesia’s national volcanology centre said in a statement (in Indonesian) on Sunday night that the mountain’s “seismic energy is increasing and has the potential to erupt”.

A 200m-tall column of smoke was seen rising from the mountain early on Sunday, said the chief geologist monitoring the site, Gede Suantika.

He told the Reuters skyypro news agency: “We observed sulphuric smoke spewing from its crater and we never saw this before.”

Officials said they started detecting shallow tremors in late August, and first raised the alert from “normal” to the second-tier “vigilant” level on 14 September. Indonesia has a four-level volcano alert system.

Within days the volcano showed increasing signs of activity, and authorities stepped up their alerts and evacuations of the rural villages surrounding the mountain. The area is now under the highest caution level.

Thousands of Balinese are now living in shelters in town halls and schools, with authorities trucking in tonnes of aid supplies. Some communities have also set up livestock shelters for the cows which they had to leave behind, reported The Jakarta Post.

Many villagers are still visiting their homes in the daytime and life is continuing normally, according to Reuters.

Mount Agung, which is more than 3,000m above sea level, lies in the eastern part of Bali, which is a popular tourist destination.

The volcano is about 70km from the main tourist areas of Kuta and Seminyak, which remain unaffected for now.

Flights in and out of Bali are operating normally. The local tourism board said on Sunday that boats connecting to neighbouring islands Lombok and Java, also popular with holidaymakers, were on schedule.

The board added that though there was no volcanic ash detected, visitors were still advised to “start preparing sufficient stock of face masks” in case of an eruption.

Several countries including Britain, Australia and Singapore have issued travel advisories for their citizens, warning of possible flight disruptions and evacuations.

More than 1,000 people died when Mount Agung last erupted in 1963.

Bali is much more densely populated than it was in 1963. But it also has better infrastructure, and technical developments have made it possible to detect dangers earlier and implement better emergency plans.

Mount Agung is among about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia – an archipelago prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes as it sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”.

Posted in BBC

Trump NFL row: Defiance after US president urges boycott

Players in the National Football League (NFL) have taken part in a wave of protests at US President Donald Trump’s “offensive” and “divisive” comments.

In a growing row with the sports world, Mr Trump insisted that players who failed to stand during the national anthem should be fired or suspended.

Fans in many stadiums booed their own teams as players or entire teams knelt or linked arms in response.

Sunday’s protests are the largest of their kind since they began last year.

Players have been protesting at racial injustice and police violence.

Warning: This article contains language some readers may find offensive.

Mr Trump’s calls to fire players taking part in such protests were supported by many, but have proved deeply divisive.

To a crowd of cheering supporters on Friday, Mr Trump asked: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now… he is fired’?”

He was referring to a widespread protest movement in the sport started by player Colin Kaepernick, who began sitting or kneeling during the anthem last year in protest against police brutality and the treatment of black Americans.

Sports players responded with widespread protest action during the weekend’s sporting action.

On Saturday night, the Oakland Athletics’ Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel in protest during the anthem.

During Sunday’s NFL games:

  • Neither the Seattle Seahawks nor the Tennessee Titans turned out for the national anthem before kick-off at their game, hours after the Pittsburgh Steelers did the same in Chicago
  • The Chicago Bears stood on the sidelines with their arms locked, as did New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady and teammates at another game. Some Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals players also linked arms
  • The anthem singer at the Seahawks-Titans game kneeled at the end of he performance, as did singer at the Lions-Falcons game, who also raised his fist
  • Fans booed their own teams at some games as players protested – including at the Titans and Patriots games
  • Philadelphia Eagles fans clashed with protesters ahead of a game in their home city against the New York Giants
  • Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan – who donated $1m (£740,000) to the Trump campaign – locked arms with his players in an unusual scene, as owners rarely join players on the pitch.The NFL itself has criticised Mr Trump’s remarks, with commissioner Roger Goodell saying “divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect”.

    Eric Winston, president of the NFL Players’ Association, said Mr Trump’s comments were “a slap in the face to the civil rights heroes of the past and present”.

    Mr Trump is also facing criticism after withdrawing an invitation to the White House to basketball champions the Golden State Warriors after one player, Stephen Curry, said he did not want to attend.

    Curry – NBA’s top performer in 2015 – said he wanted to show that he and other players did not stand for “the things that he’s said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right times”.

    “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team,” Mr Trump tweeted afterwards. “Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

    The Golden State Warriors said the team had clearly understood “that we are not invited” to the White House but would visit Washington DC on its own “to celebrate equality, diversity, and inclusion”. Despite these heated debates, the spirit of American football remains strong, and fans are eagerly eyeing Super Bowl ticket prices for the pinnacle of the season.

Posted in BBC

How plastic became a victim of its own success

“Unless I am very much mistaken, this invention will prove important in the future.” Leo Baekeland wrote those words in his journal on 11 July, 1907. He was in a good mood. Aged 43, he’d done well.

Born in Belgium, his dad was a cobbler. He’d had no education, and didn’t understand why young Leo wanted one. He apprenticed the boy into the trade, aged just 13. But his mum had other ideas.

With her encouragement, Leo went to night school, and won a scholarship to the University of Ghent. By the age of 20, he had a doctorate in chemistry.

He married his tutor’s daughter and moved to New York, where he made so much money from photographic printing paper that he need never work again.

The Baekelands bought a house in Yonkers, overlooking the Hudson River, where Leo built a home laboratory to indulge his love of tinkering with chemicals. In July 1907, he was experimenting with formaldehyde and phenol.

These experiments would lead to his second fortune.

He became so famous that Time magazine put his face on the cover without needing to mention his name, just the words, “It will not burn. It will not melt.”

What Leo Baekeland invented that July was the first fully synthetic plastic.

He called it Bakelite.

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy highlights the inventions, ideas and innovations which have helped create the economic world in which we live.

It is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme’s sources and listen online or subscribe to the programme podcast.

And he was right about its future importance. Plastics would soon be everywhere.

When Susan Freinkel wrote her book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, she spent a day noting down everything she touched that was plastic: the light switch, the toilet seat, the toothbrush, the toothpaste tube.

She also noted everything that wasn’t – the toilet paper, the wooden floor, the porcelain tap.

Unlimited potential

By the day’s end, she’d listed 102 items that weren’t made of plastic, and 196 that were. We make so much plastic, it takes about 8% of oil production – half for raw material, half for energy.

The Bakelite Corporation didn’t hold back in its advertising blurb: humans, it said, had transcended the old taxonomy of animal, mineral and vegetable. Now we had a “fourth kingdom, whose boundaries are unlimited”.

That sounds hyperbolic, but it was true.

Scientists previously had thought about improving or mimicking natural substances.

Earlier plastics, like celluloid, were based on plants, and Baekeland himself had been seeking an alternative to shellac, a resin secreted by beetles that was used for electrical insulation.

Yet he quickly realised that Bakelite could become far more versatile than that.

Artificial explosion

The Bakelite Corporation christened it “The Material of a Thousand Uses”, and, again, that wasn’t far wrong.

It went into telephones, radios, guns, coffee pots, billiard balls and jewellery. It was used in the first atomic bomb.

Bakelite’s success shifted mindsets: what other artificial materials might be possible, with properties you couldn’t necessarily find in nature?

In the 1920s and 1930s, plastics poured out of labs around the world.

There was polystyrene, often used for packaging, nylon, popularised by stockings, and polyethylene, the stuff of plastic bags.

As World War Two stretched natural resources, production of plastics ramped up to fill the gap. And when the war ended, exciting new products like Tupperware hit the consumer market.

But they weren’t exciting for long: the image of plastic gradually changed.

Shifting connotations

In 1967, the film The Graduate famously started with the central character, Benjamin Braddock, receiving unsolicited career advice from a self-satisfied older neighbour.

“Just one word,” the neighbour promises, steering Benjamin towards a quiet corner, as if about to reveal the secret to life itself. “Plastics!”

The line became much-quoted, because it crystallised the changing connotations of the word. For the older neighbour’s generation, “plastic” still meant opportunity and modernity. For the likes of young Benjamin, it stood for all that was phoney, superficial, ersatz.

Still: it was great advice. Half a century on, despite its image problem, plastic production has grown about twenty-fold. It’ll double again in the next 20 years.

That’s also despite growing evidence of environmental problems. Some of the chemicals in plastics are thought to affect how animals develop and reproduce.

When plastics end up in landfill, those chemicals can eventually seep into groundwater; when they find their way into oceans, some creatures eat them.

More from Tim Harford:

How fertiliser helped feed the world

The hidden strengths of unloved concrete

How the invention of paper changed the world

Battery bonanza: From frogs’ legs to mobiles and electric cars

But there’s another side to the ledger – plastic has benefits that aren’t just economic, but environmental too.

Vehicles made with plastic parts are lighter, and so use less fuel. Plastic packaging keeps food fresh for longer, and so reduces waste. If bottles weren’t made of plastic, they’d be made of glass. Which would you rather gets dropped in your children’s playground?

Rubbish recycling rates

Eventually, we’ll have to get better at recycling plastic, if only because oil won’t last forever.

Some plastics can’t be recycled – like Bakelite. Many more could be, but aren’t. In fact only about a seventh of plastic packaging is recycled – far less than for paper or steel. That rate is lower still for other plastic products.

What should be the 51st Thing?

Tim Harford has discussed 50 things which he argues have made the modern economy. Help choose the 51st thing by voting for one of these listener suggestions:

  • The credit card
  • Glass
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Irrigation
  • The pencil
  • The spreadsheet

You can vote on the 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy programme website. Voting closes at 12:00 GMT Friday 6 October 2017, and the winning 51st Thing will be announced in a special podcast on 28 October 2017.

Improving that will take effort from everyone. You may have seen little triangles on plastic, with numbers from one to seven.

They’re called Resin Identification Codes, and they’re one initiative of the industry’s trade association. They help with recycling, but the system’s far from perfect.

If the industry could do more, then so could many governments: recycling rates differ hugely around the world.

One success story is Taipei, Taiwan. It changed its culture of waste by making it easy for citizens to recycle, and fining them if they don’t.

How about technological solutions?


Fans of science fiction will enjoy one recent invention, the ProtoCycler. Feed it your plastic waste, and it gives you filament for your 3D printer.

It is as close as we can get today to Star Trek’s replicator.

In its day, Bakelite must have felt as revolutionary as that Star Trek replicator still feels to us.

Here was a simple, cheap synthetic product that was tough enough to replace ceramic tableware or metal letter openers, yet beautiful enough to be used as jewellery, and could even replace precious ivory.

It was a miracle material, even though – like all plastics today – we now take it for granted.

But manufacturers today haven’t given up on the idea that you can make something precious and practical from something cheap and worthless.

The latest techniques “upcycle” plastic trash, mixing it with agricultural waste and nanoparticles to create new materials, with new properties.

Posted in BBC

Labour conference: ‘Extensive’ Brexit debate promised amid row

Labour is not trying to ignore Brexit at its annual conference, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has insisted.

He told the BBC the leadership had “no control” over issues chosen by members to be voted on, which include housing, rail, the NHS and pay but not Europe.

But he said there would still be an “extensive” discussion on the subject as Labour tried to “build a consensus”.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said pro-EU MPs were accusing the leadership of shirking a “full and bumpy” debate.

Labour members are discussing Brexit and international issues at the moment – with a succession of strongly argued speeches for and against the party’s position on Brexit.

But the focus is on approving Labour’s existing policy and there will be no vote on contentious issues such as the future of single market membership.

Brexit was not chosen by local members and trade union members as one of the eight motions to be voted on in Brighton.

The Jeremy Corbyn-supporting Momentum group had urged its members not to support a resolution on Brexit, emailing them with an alternative list of subjects to choose – including the Grenfell Tower tragedy, rail, growth and investment, workers’ rights and social care.

Mr McDonnell said the choice of resolutions was up to party members but there would still be a “robust and thorough” debate on a Brexit statement from Labour’s National Executive Committee and the terms of exit remained a “key issue” for the party.

“The delegates choose their priorities and that is what they have done,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “The leadership does not control that at all… the whole point of our party now is to hand our party back to the membership.”

He claimed that Labour, which backs remaining in the single market during a post-Brexit transitional phase but then wants to secure tariff-free access to EU markets afterwards, was the “only party” capable of uniting the country after the UK’s exit.

People were telling him that Labour had “to understand all the ramifications of the different options and then build consensus both in our the party but also the community itself”.

He said a “consensus was emerging” that continued membership of the single market membership was not viable – given the obligations it placed on the UK to accept freedom of movement – but that a compromise might be possible to give UK firms equivalent access.

“Is there a way that reforms can take place that will enable us to have access to the single market? In that way, we can achieve a compromise within the community which gains us the benefits of the EU as it were and overcome some of the perceived disbenefits”.

Several Labour MPs tweeted their displeasure at suggestions Brexit was being downplayed.

Former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie said the outcome was “utterly ridiculous” and former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw tweeted: “Keeping #Brexit, biggest issue of our time, off our #lab17 agenda is silly and undermines the claim that we are listening to our members.”

‘Voted away’

Although Labour’s ruling NEC will finalise an agreed statement on Brexit that delegates will be allowed to vote on in an attempt to defuse tensions, it will not commit the party to single market membership beyond the transition period.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said that while minimising the opportunities for conflict might be seen as “politically clever”, given the divisions in the party over Brexit, she said many MPs would find the situation “frustratingly vague”.

A number of Labour members criticised the party’s backing for Brexit during Monday’s debate.

Cameron Clack, from Stamford and Grantham, said Labour had “voted away” its chance to keep the UK in the single market and customs union, telling activists “will be remembered as the opposition that let the Tories to do what they want with Brexit”.

“We’re supposed to be a party of outward-looking, internationalist, democratic socialists.”

But shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said, that unlike the Conservatives, Labour’s front bench were “all pulling in the same direction” and their focus in the Brexit negotiations was on “three priorities… jobs, jobs and jobs”.

Posted in BBC

How jeans giant Levi Strauss got its mojo back

Chip Bergh has the air of man at ease with the world. But things could have turned out very different, given what he calls his “dysfunctional” childhood.

The 60-year-old chief executive of Levi Strauss, dressed in regulation blue jeans and denim shirt, readily admits to be being “blessed and lucky”.

Six years into his successful turnaround of the once struggling US clothing firm, he says the job still gives him a “wow” feeling.

Mr Bergh and his family also love their San Francisco lifestyle, where the vegan boss pursues a passion for marathons and triathlons.

So, professionally and personally, things are going well for the former Procter & Gamble (P&G) executive.

But growing up in the suburbs of New York City there were times when he felt neither blessed nor lucky.

Mr Bergh’s father was an advertising salesman working 14-hour days. He was also an alcoholic.

There could be “lots of screaming and yelling” at home, Mr Bergh recalls. “Mum and dad were always getting in fights.”

One day his mother threatened to throw out his dad. “That was a wake up call,” says the boss of Levi Strauss, or Levi’s as it is also known.

His father then finally went to Alcoholics Anonymous, cleaned himself up and never touched another drop.

“I’m proud that my dad recovered,” says Mr Bergh. “He rebuilt his life.”

Mr Bergh’s childhood wasn’t unhappy. “I had a lot of friends, played a lot of sport, and went to a great school,” he says. But as the eldest of three children he says he shouldered much of the domestic discord, and grew up fast.

It left its mark and is in part behind his drive to succeed, he thinks. It also left a determination not to repeat some of his father’s mistakes.

“I’m pretty level-headed,” says Mr Bergh. “There’s not a lot that really upsets me. I’m not a yeller and screamer, at home or work. I’m pretty relaxed.” And he doesn’t drink.

So, how does Mr Bergh sum up his management style? “Very open, honest, transparent. What you see is what you get.”

He insists he’s “really down to earth”, adding: “I put my pants on the same way everybody else does – one leg at a time.”

Just don’t confuse this regular-guy image with a lack of steel, as Mr Bergh’s overhaul of Levi’s has been radical, some might say brutal.

The company was created in 1873 when San Francisco-based wholesale merchant Levi Strauss and a business partner patented a way to strengthen denim trousers using copper rivets. The rest as they say is history.

Through slick advertising and campaigning on social and political issues (such as donating millions to HIV/Aids charities), Levi’s punched above its weight for decades.

Stories were common in the 1960s and 1970s of young Westerners packing Levi’s jeans in their luggage to help barter their way through holidays behind the Iron Curtain.

If ever a brand deserved the label “iconic”, Levi’s was it.

But by the time Mr Bergh took over in 2011, the company he calls the original Silicon Valley start-up “had lost its way”.

Annual sales peaked in 1997 at $7.1bn (£5.3bn). “We were bigger than Nike then,” says Mr Bergh. “Nike aspired to be like Levi’s.”

But Levi’s lost its knack of combining heritage with changing trends, and by the early 2000s sales had fallen to $4bn.

As competition increased rapidly from the likes of Walmart and Gap, Levi’s had also been borrowing heavily, chiefly to buy out scores of Strauss family descendants, and consolidate ownership.

Mr Bergh says the result was that the firm found it had to “cut costs, cut marketing, to save cash”.

Levi’s board ultimately decided it needed a fresh pair of hands, and so turned to Mr Bergh, who had the brand expertise and international experience it wanted.

After 28 years at P&G, most latterly working on the Old Spice deodorant and razors accounts, Mr Bergh saw a chance to fulfil an ambition to become a chief executive.

“It was too good an opportunity to pass,” he says. “It was an opportunity to make a difference, and leave a legacy.”

All too aware that Levi’s was struggling, Mr Bergh sent the firm’s then top 60 managers six questions about the pros and cons of the business – and started interviewing each of them.

“But by about the 15th interview it was pretty clear what needed to be done,” he says. “There was no strategy, there was no alignment across the organisation… People were frustrated.”

More The Boss features, which every week profile a different business leader from around the world:

Mr Bergh invested in facilities, broadened the clothing range (especially womenswear), and expanded in relatively untapped markets such as Russia, China and India.

The ecommerce operation, previously outsourced and treated almost as an after-thought, was brought in-house, modernised and expanded.

Mr Bergh also changed the top team at the business. Within 18 months of his appointment, nine of the 11-member executive team had left. Of the current 150 senior managers, two-thirds have been with the company for three years or less.

He says: “We needed to change not just the business but the culture, and the best way to change the culture is to change the leadership.”

Mr Bergh admits the clear out was dramatic, sometimes traumatic, but says: “You always have to do the harder right than the easier wrong.”

Did he learn such decisiveness in the army, which he joined for two years after school? Making quick decisions was certainly part of the skill-set, he says. But the army also taught him about leadership.

“It’s wrong that the army is all about deference and saluting seniors,” he says. “You have to earn respect, build trust, be willing to make decisions, coach people and train people – all those skills are transferable to the corporate world.”

The army’s downside was that promotion moved slowly, and Mr Bergh wanted to “move ahead quickly”. A recruitment firm found him a job at P&G.

Levi’s turnaround seems to be succeeding, with 2017 expected to see the fifth consecutive year of profits growth.

Retail analyst Marshal Cohen, of market research group NPD, says that yet again Levi’s has been able to “reinvent” itself to a new generation.

However, Mr Bergh says the job is far from finished. “We have made really good progress. It’s been harder and taken longer than I expected.

“I’m not satisfied with where we are. We still have a lot more work to do.”

Posted in BBC

Bus crash in Austrian Alps averted after tourist applies brake

A quick-thinking French tourist has been praised for preventing a bus from plunging over a cliff in the Austrian Alps after the driver passed out.

The vehicle was travelling through the mountains in the Tyrolean Alps with 21 passengers on board when the driver, 76, collapsed, police say.

As the bus continued towards a steep cliff, the Frenchman was able to brake.

The bus crashed into a barrier at the side of the road and came to a stop. Four people were taken to hospital.

The passenger, a 65-year-old Frenchman, was sitting close to the driver when he became ill near the city of Schwaz in western Austria on Saturday, local media report.

He then leapt from his seat as the vehicle crashed through the wooden roadside guardrail and applied the brake, leaving the bus full of passengers hanging over the cliff edge a short distance from a 100m (328ft) drop.

“We were a hair’s breadth from catastrophe,” a local police spokesman said, adding it was “incredible luck” that the passenger’s reflexes had managed to stop the bus, AFP news agency reports.

In 2004, five tourists were killed when a coach left the road and tumbled down a 30m embankment near the village of Bad Dürrnberg, south of Salzburg, in Austria.


Posted in BBC

Sri Lankan arrested with nearly 1kg of gold in his rectum

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a man for allegedly trying to smuggle gold and jewellery weighing up to 1kg (2.2lb) hidden in his rectum.

Customs officials found 904 grams of gold, worth about 4.5m Sri Lankan rupees ($29,370, £21,700) inside the suspect’s rectal cavity.

The 45-year-old Sri Lankan man was bound for India but was stopped at Colombo’s international airport.

There have been several similar cases in past years.

Typically smugglers in the region buy gold in places like Dubai and Singapore, where it is relatively cheap, and then bring it to India to sell there at a profit.

A customs officer told BBC Sinhala they spotted the man because “he was walking suspiciously”.

Metal detectors then identified the hidden luggage, “carefully packed in polythene bags and neatly inserted”, according to a custom officer.

“Among that there were four yellow gold biscuits, three pieces of yellow gold, six yellow gold jewellery articles and two silver plated yellow gold jewellery articles,” a customs spokesman said.

Last week a Sri Lankan female also travelling to India was caught by customs while trying to smuggle 314.5 grams of gold pieces concealed in her rectum.

Posted in BBC

Jared Kushner used private email for White House business

Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner used a private email account to carry out official White House business, his lawyer said.

Mr Kushner is a senior presidential adviser and is married to Ivanka Trump.

His lawyer confirmed the existence of the personal email account in a statement on Sunday.

During his campaign, Mr Trump repeatedly criticised rival Hillary Clinton for using a personal email account while secretary of state.

The president frequently encouraged crowds at rallies to chant “lock her up”, and vowed to imprison Mrs Clinton over concerns she may have mishandled classified information. An investigation into the matter was closed without charges.

Dozens of emails were exchanged between Mr Kushner and other White House officials on topics including media coverage and event planning, according to Politico, which first published the story.

There is no indication that Mr Kushner shared classified or privileged information through his private email account.

“Mr Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business,” his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement.

“Fewer than a hundred emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account.”

“These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal, rather than his White House, address.”

Federal regulations specify how records related to the president and other government activities should be maintained.

The use of private accounts can put official records beyond the reach of journalists, lawmakers, and others who seek publicly-available information.

Posted in BBC

Miss Turkey stripped of her crown over coup tweet

The winner of Miss Turkey 2017 has been stripped of her crown after one of her past tweets came to light.

Itir Esen, 18, had shared a post referencing last year’s coup attempt, comparing her menstrual cycle to the spilt blood of “martyrs”.

The competition’s organisers said the tweet was “unacceptable” and confirmed their decision to dismiss her, just hours after she won.

Ms Esen has since said, via Instagram, that she was not being political.

The tweet was posted around the first anniversary of the 15 July coup attempt, when nearly 250 people died fighting an army uprising.

She wrote: “I am having my period this morning to celebrate the July 15 martyrs’ day. I am celebrating the day by bleeding a representation of our martyrs’ blood.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regularly refers to the “martyrs” who died resisting the coup.

The beauty pageant’s organisers said the tweet did not come to light until after Thursday’s ceremony in Istanbul, after which they held a long meeting to discuss the situation and verify the post.

On Friday, they released a statement to announce their decision to rescind her title: “We regret to say that this tweet has been tweeted by Itir Esen. It is not possible for the Miss Turkey Organisation to promote such a post, when it aims to introduce Turkey to the world and contribute to its image.”

Ms Esen later responded with her own statement on social media: “I want to say that as a 18-year-old girl, I had no political aims while sharing this post.”

“I was raised with respect for the homeland and the nation,” she added, apologising for “being misunderstood”.

Runner-up Asli Sumen will now travel to China to represent Turkey in the Miss World competition.

Ms Esen is not the first Miss Turkey to find herself embroiled in a political row.

In 2016, another past winner, Merve Buyuksarac, was given a 14-month suspended prison sentence for insulting President Erdogan with a satirical poem she shared on social media.

Ms Buyuksarac, who won the 2006 crown, was also briefly detained over the issue in 2015.

Around that time, President Erdogan launched thousands of lawsuits against people he said had insulted him.

He later withdrew them, saying he was inspired by the feelings of unity after the failed coup.

However, a harsh crackdown has continued, which the president insists is necessary for national security. More than 150,000 state employees have been dismissed and some 50,000 people arrested.

Posted in BBC

UK chip designer Imagination bought by Chinese firm

UK technology firm Imagination, which designs graphics chips for smartphones, is being bought for £550m by a Chinese-backed investment firm.

Imagination put itself up for sale in June after Apple, its largest customer, said it would stop using its products.

The boss of Imagination, Andrew Heath, said the takeover by China-backed Canyon Bridge was a “very good outcome” and would ensure it remained in the UK.

It becomes the latest UK chip designer to be bought by a foreign investor.

Last year, ARM, which designs microchip technology used in Apple and Samsung smartphones, was bought by Japan’s Softbank for £24bn.

Canyon Bridge recently raised $1.5bn (£1.1bn) from Chinese investors and has offices in Beijing and San Francisco.

‘British innovation’

The firm said it currently has no plans to cut jobs at Hertfordshire-based Imagination after the takeover.

Ray Bingham, a partner at Canyon Bridge, said: “We are investing in UK talent and expertise in order to accelerate the expansion of Imagination, particularly into Asia, where its technology platform will lead the continued globalisation of British-developed innovation.”

Imagination saw its shares halve in value when Apple said in April that it would end a deal to use its products.

The two firms are still engaged in a dispute over the move – with Imagination questioning Apple’s “assertions” that it would be able to develop its own computer chip designs without breaching Imagination’s intellectual property rights.

Apple’s royalty payments for the chip technology, used in its iPhones, iPads and iPods, accounted for about half of Imagination’s revenues.

Mr Heath said: “Imagination has made excellent progress both operationally and financially over the last 18 months until Apple’s unsubstantiated assertions and the subsequent dispute forced us to change course.

“The acquisition will ensure that Imagination – with its strong growth prospects – remains an independent IP licensing business, based in the UK, but operating around the world.”

It is not Canyon Bridge’s first deal for a Western tech company.

The firm is seeking approval for a $1.3bn deal to buy US chipmaker Lattice Semiconductor.

Last week, the Trump administration barred the sale of Lattice to the Chinese-backed company, citing national security risks.

Posted in BBC