China continues military expansion into heavily-contested South China Sea despite opposition

China has continued its military expansion into the South China Sea despite fierce opposition.

The heavily contested South China Sea, part of the Pacific Ocean, is rich with natural resources.

Six neighbouring countries have also laid claims to the sea, which borders Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.

A BBC team flew over the disputed South China Sea islands in a US Navy plane, during which the plane was told to "leave immediately and keep far off" by the Chinese Navy.

The crew aboard the plane were unphased by the warning, something that has become a daily encounter.

"It's a routine occurrence for us on these flights, it happens throughout the flight, where they come over and we just go back with our standard response and it really has no effect on any operations or anything we do," said Lt Matt Johnston.

During the flight they approached an island built entirely by the Chinese government, called "Mischief Reef".

It becomes clear the island had grown significantly since the BBC last took a flight over it in 2015.

The artificial island appears to now have radar domes, aircraft hangers and possibly somewhere to park missile launchers.

Beijing, China's capital, continues to lay claims to the region's sovereignty.

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'Babysitting while black' - police called on African American man babysitting white children

Police were called to a residence in Cobb County in the US state of Georgia, after a white woman reported a black man for babysitting two white children.

As he shopped while babysitting the children of David Parker and Dana Mango, Corey Lewis was stopped by a woman and asked if the children were okay.

"We then left to go get gas, she moved closer and waited there," said Mr Lewis.

The woman then returned later to ask if she could speak to the children, before Mr Lewis said no, leading to the police being called.

Mr Lewis then returned home, before Cobb County Police showed up.

The officer questioned the 10-year-old and the 6-year-old before calling their parents.

"I said are you saying that because there's an African American male driving my two white kids, that he was stopped and pulled over and questioned and he said I'm sorry ma'am that’s exactly what I'm saying," Mango told CBS46.

The parents confirmed to CBS46 that Mr Lewis had been arranged to babysit weeks ago, with their son part of his mentoring programme, 'Inspired by Lewis.'

"B-W-B which I guess is the new thing, babysitting while black," said the father.

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Tsunami warning cancelled after 7.0 magnitude Papua New Guinea earthquake

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake has struck Papua New Guinea's New Britain Island today.

The quake, at a depth of 39.5km, was centred around 200km southwest of Rabul just before 10am NZT.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre initially said hazardous waves were possible for coasts within 300km of the quake's epicentre, but now say the threat has passed.

There are no immediate reports of damage.

Earthquake.
(file picture). Source: 1 NEWS

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US stocks suffer worst loss in eight months as tech companies plunge

US stocks plunged to their worst loss in eight months today as technology companies continued to drop. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 831 points.

The losses were widespread, and stocks that have been the biggest winners on the market the last few years, including technology companies and retailers, suffered steep declines. Apple and Amazon both had their worst day in two and a half years.

The Nasdaq composite, which has a high concentration of technology companies, had its biggest loss in more than two years.

Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell, said investors fear that rising interest rates and growing expenses are going to erode company profits next year.

"The tax cuts juiced earnings this year and that's not sustainable," he said. "The market's starting to say that the glass may be half empty."

The S&P 500 index sank 94.66 points, or 3.3 percent, to 2,785.68. The benchmark index fell for the fifth straight day, which hadn't happened since just before the 2016 presidential election.

The Nasdaq composite tumbled 315.97 points, or 4.1 percent, to 7,422.05. It's fallen 7.5 percent in just five days.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 831.83 points, or 3.1 percent, to 25,598.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 46.45 points, or 2.9 percent, to 1,575.41.

After a long stretch of relative calm, the stock market has suffered sharp losses over the last week as bond yields surged. Stocks had come close to big drops in the last few days, but each time they recovered some of their losses. That didn't happen Wednesday as stocks fell further late in the day.

Apple gave up 4.6 percent to $US216.36 and Microsoft dropped 5.4 percent to $US106.16. Amazon skidded 6.2 percent to $US1,755.25.

Industrial and internet companies also fell hard. Boeing lost 4.7 percent to $US367.57 and Alphabet, Google's parent company, gave up 4.6 percent to $US1,092.16.

Insurance companies dropped as Hurricane Michael continued to gather strength and came ashore in Florida bringing winds of up to 155 miles an hour. Berkshire Hathaway dipped 4.7 percent to $213.10 and reinsurer Everest Re slid 5.1 percent to $US217.73.

Luxury retailers tumbled after LVMH, the parent of Louis Vuitton, said its sales growth in China slowed. Tiffany plunged 10.2 percent to $US110.38 and Ralph Lauren fell 8.4 percent to $US116.96.

The biggest driver for the market over the last week has been interest rates, which began spurting higher following several encouraging reports on the economy. Higher rates can slow economic growth, erode corporate profits and make investors less willing to pay high prices for stocks.

The 10-year Treasury yield remained at 3.20 percent, about where it was late Tuesday, after earlier touching 3.24 percent. It was at just 3.05 percent early last week and 2.82 percent in late August.

Technology and internet-based companies are known for their high profit margins, and many have reported explosive growth in recent years, with corresponding gains in their stock prices.

Gina Martin Adams, chief equity strategist for Bloomberg Intelligence, said the stocks have become more volatile in the last few months because investors have concerns about their future profitability.

"Amazon recently announced they were increasing wages, Facebook is spending a ton on security," she said. "Semiconductors have the most exposure to China out of segments in the S&P 500."

Sears Holdings nosedived after the Wall Street Journal reported that the struggling retailer hired an advisory firm to prepare a bankruptcy filing that could come within days. The stock fell 16.8 percent to 49 cents. It was more than $US40 five years ago.

Sears has closed hundreds of stores and sold several famous brands or put them on the block as it sees more customers abandon its stores.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 2.4 percent to $US73.17 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 2.2 percent to $US83.09 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline shed 2.7 percent to $US2.02 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1.2 percent to $US2.39 a gallon. Natural gas rose 0.6 percent to $US3.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose 0.2 percent to $US1,193.40 an ounce. Silver dipped 0.5 percent to $US14.33 an ounce. Copper fell 0.9 percent to $US2.78 a pound.

Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.2 percent, South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.1 percent.
The CAC 40 in France dropped 2.1 percent, Germany's DAX lost 2.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London fell 1.3 percent.

Stocks from emerging markets were also hard hit. Investors see many of these countries as being vulnerable to higher U.S. interest rates, which can pull away investment dollars. Brazil's Bovespa lost 2.5 percent and the Merval in Argentina sank 2.2 percent.

The dollar fell to 112.59 Japanese yen from 113.05 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $US1.1525 from $US1.1496. The British pound rose to $US1.3197 from $US1.3146.

FILE- This Jan. 4, 2018, file photo shows the interior of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 10. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
The interior of the New York Stock Exchange. Source: Associated Press


Bug in IT system used to count euthanasia bill submission costs taxpayers $75,000

A bug in an IT system used to count submissions to the controversial euthanasia bill ended up costing $75,000 to find 700 missing forms.

There were an un-precedented 37,000 submissions to the End of Life Bill and more than half were hard copies and had to be manually scanned in.

During that process 700 went missing and a consultant was brought in to find them and make sure no more got lost.

William Devos from the Office of the Clerk said it was a massive task involving multiple searches on different databases.

The $75,000 cost included a $10,000 audit, $45,000 for the consultant and $20,000 for two temporary staff.

Mr Devos said the bug itself took only $3500 to fix.

The IT system was developed by Parliamentary Service and has only been in use since late last year.

rnz.co.nz

Mr Seymour, author of the End of Life Choice Bill, debated the pros and cons with Dr Peter Thirkell of the Care Alliance, which opposes euthanasia.
Source: 1 NEWS