Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Global new year celebrations begin
Revellers across the globe are gathering to welcome in the new year, with New Zealand and Australia leading the celebrations.
A giant clock in Auckland's Sky Tower counted down the minutes until midnight (11:00 GMT), when fireworks erupted.
Up to 1.5m people have lined the shores of Sydney harbour in preparation for the city's famous firework display.
Celebration plans have been muted in Indonesia, however, in the wake of the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crash.
In Brazil, more than one million people will join the crowds on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach, while New Yorkers will watch the city lower its trademark crystal ball over Times Square.
Some of the easternmost corners of earth, including Samoa, Kiribati and the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, were the first places to herald the new year.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Saturday, December 27, 2014
AirAsia flight from Indonesia to Singapore missing
An AirAsia flight travelling from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control, the company has said.
Indonesian media say 162 people were on board.
The aircraft, flight number QZ8501, lost contact with air traffic control just after 07:00am local time, AirAsia tweeted.
The company said that search and rescue operations were under way for the missing plane.
An official with the transport ministry, Hadi Mustofa, told local media the plane lost contact over the Java sea, which lies between Surabaya and Singapore.
North Korea lambasts Obama over The Interview release
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North Korea has condemned US President Barack Obama over the release of the film The Interview, about a fictional plot to kill its leader Kim Jong-un.
The country's National Defence Commission (NDC) also accused the US of shutting down the country's internet - and used a racial slur to describe the "reckless" Mr Obama.
Sony Pictures had originally pulled the title after a cyber-attack and threats.
But the company later reconsidered, releasing the comedy on Christmas Day.
A number of critics - including the US president - had warned that freedom of expression was under threat if the movie was shelved.
The controversial film was shown in some US cinemas and online, with several hundred independent theatres coming forward and offering to show the film. However, larger cinemas decided not screen it.
Kim Jong-un's potential difficulty is that The Interview - which casts the North Korean leader as a malign, vain buffoon - has been widely reviewed as funny and astute, the BBC's Stephen Evans in Seoul reports.
If activists start smuggling it into North Korea on USB sticks, as they already do with other films, it might prove quite powerful, our correspondent adds.'Righteous deed'
In a statement on Saturday, an NDC spokesman denounced the US for screening the "dishonest and reactionary movie hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK [North Korea] and agitating terrorism".
President Obama, the statement said, "is the chief culprit who forced the Sony Pictures Entertainment to indiscriminately distribute the movie", blackmailing cinemas in the US.
It added: "Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest."
The NDC also accused also Washington of "groundlessly linking the unheard of hacking at the Sony Pictures Entertainment to the DPRK".
Sony Pictures had initially pulled the film after suffering an unprecedented hacking attack at the hands of a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace.
The hackers also threatened to carry out a terrorist attack on cinemas showed the film on its scheduled release date of Christmas Day.
Last week, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said its analysis pointed the finger at North Korea. However, many cyber-security experts have come forward to dispute this assertion.
At the time, North Korea denied being behind the attack but described it as a "righteous deed".
The country subsequently suffered a severe internet outage.The Interview saga
The Interview features James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists who are granted an audience with Mr Kim. The CIA then enlists the pair to assassinate him.
- 22 November: Sony computer systems hacked, exposing embarrassing emails and personal details about stars
- 7 December: North Korea denies accusations that it is behind the cyber-attack, but praises it as a "righteous deed"
- 16 December: "Guardians of Peace" hacker group threatens 9/11-type attack on cinemas showing film; New York premiere cancelled
- 17 December: Leading US cinema groups say they will not screen film; Sony cancels Christmas Day release
- 19 December: FBI concludes North Korea orchestrated hack; President Obama calls Sony cancellation "a mistake"
- 20 December: North Korea proposes joint inquiry with US into hacks, rejected by the US
- 22 December: North Korea suffers a severe internet outage; US authorities decline to comment
- 23 December: Sony bosses appear to change their minds, saying they will now give The Interview a limited Christmas Day release
- 25 December: The Interview is shown in some US cinemas and released online