Today’s news: An American soldier voluntarily crossed the border into North Korea after being convicted by a Seoul court. From the figures on cremations in Zhejiang province, new evidence of false data on deaths from Covid-19 in the wave of the beginning of the year in China. Opium production increases in Afghanistan. Putin reaches an agreement with Iran for the supply of electricity.
More than twenty Indian opposition parties, including the Congress Party and numerous regional parties, have formed a alliance named “INDIA” to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in next year’s parliamentary elections. The alliance aims to “protect from the BJP the idea of India enshrined in the Constitution.” The prime minister accused the members of this alliance of opportunism and corruption.
NORTH KOREA – UNITED STATES
The American soldier who crossed the inter-korean border yesterday to North Korea had been sentenced to a fine of 5 million won (more than 3,500 euros) for kicking and damaging a police patrol car in Seoul. North Korea detained the man, who is called Travis King and is in his early twenties. Apparently, he crossed the border voluntarily during a visit to the demilitarized zone. A few hours after the arrest, Pyongyang launched two ballistic missiles into the sea in the prohibited zone.
ISRAEL – SYRIA
Israel carried out this morning several airstrikes around Damascus, surprising the Syrian defenses and shooting down most of the flak. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, this is Israel’s 20th attack on targets in Syria so far this year. The target of the attacks were military positions near the airport and the Beirut-Damascus highway, where elite Syrian Army troops are stationed. The missiles also hit some warehouses of the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian government, causing a fire.
He number of cremations registered in east China’s Zhejiang province increased 73% in the first quarter of this year compared with 2022, according to data published by the website of the provincial Department of Civil Affairs and later deleted. The figure would attest to the very high number of deaths that occurred after the revocation of the “Covid Zero” policy at the beginning of the year. For the director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, this “is further proof that the numbers of deaths from Covid-19 in China would be much higher than those declared” officially, of only 80,000.
He opium trade from Afghanistan in 2022 increased by 32% compared to 2021, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Taliban returned to power in the country in August 2021 and had announced a ban on opium cultivation in April of the following year. In fact, production has dropped considerably in traditional poppy-growing areas, but instead, Afghanistan’s opium trade has grown.
RUSSIA – IRAN
Tehran’s Energy Minister, Ali Akbar Mekhrabian, announced that Russia and Iran have agreed to exchange electricity through the territory of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, after overcoming recent disagreements over Moscow’s lack of support for the Iranians in border disputes with other states.
The authorities of Aktau, in the autonomous region of Mangistau (Kazakhstan), declared a state of emergency in July due to the decrease in the waters of the Caspian Sea, and have now extended it to August, seriously concerned about the situation in the entire basin. They consider that postponing the search for solutions “could have consequences similar to those of the Aral Sea”, already hopelessly dry.
The Prime Minister of the State of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, announced fifteen months ago that Australia would host the 2026 Commonwealth Games. Now, at a press conference, Andrews himself said that the country is withdrawing its candidacy. Three years after the start of the event, the organizers are in chaos and even the future of the same Games is in doubt, due, among other things, to the fact that they were born during the colonial period of the British crown. “This could spell the end of the Commonwealth Games,” said Steve Georgakis, professor of sport history at the University of Sydney.