UN Programme Offers Cash For Struggling Afghan Families

The United Nations (UN) began resuming flights for humanitarian missions to Afghanistan on Thursday (2/9) local time.
The UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said that the humanitarian flights were put into operation “so that 160 humanitarian organizations can resume lifesaving activities in various provinces of Afghanistan.”

 

Afghanistan

Dujarric later explained that the flight was operating from Islamabad, Pakistan, to two cities in Afghanistan, namely Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar.

According to Dujarric, there have been three flights landing at Mazar-i-Sharif since August 29. All of the flights were carrying food aid for Afghans.

He said that currently, the United Nations is working on adding more flights to reach other parts of Afghanistan.

“From 2002 to 2021, UN Humanitarian Flights in Afghanistan have reached more than 20 destinations in the country. We will try to return to those locations when security and finances allow,” Dujarric said, as quoted by AFP.

 

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In addition, Dujarric also said that the United Nations is working to provide cargo flights to carry non-food items, such as medical needs.

Meanwhile, civil flights to and from Afghanistan are currently not operational. Hamid Karzai International Airport has not been active since US troops departed earlier this week.

This civilian flight is very much needed because there are still many citizens, both foreigners and Afghans, who are waiting for evacuation.

At this time, it is not known which party will operate Kabul airport. Before the US left, Turkey operated Kabul airport since 2004. Now, Turkey and Qatar are reportedly continuing to coordinate discussing the operation of Kabul airport.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Afghanistan.

Sartorius expands activities in South Korea and France

South Korea is reportedly developing a ballistic missile that is said to be as powerful as a tactical nuclear weapon. Sources said the missile can carry up to three tons of warheads.

 

South Korea

In the Defense Ministry’s 2022-2026 blueprint; the country will develop a new missile “with significantly increased destructive power”.

In addition; South Korea also plans to upgrade its missile defense system and deploy a number of new missile interceptor systems capable of capturing long-range artillery. “We will develop more powerful and precise long-range missiles in order to anticipate threats in order to achieve security and peace on the Korean Peninsula;” South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement quoted by Reuters on Thursday (2/9).

Some of the missiles being developed by the country include missiles with a flying range of up to 350-400 kilometers with a 3-ton warhead.

 

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Citing an anonymous source; Yonhap news agency reported the missile was designed to destroy underground facilities such as those believed to be owned by North Korea to store nuclear weapons.

The missile technology will be the latest war tool for South Korea in anticipating the threat of North Korea.

So far; South Korea has the new Hyunmoo-4 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) which can carry a 2-ton warhead. Hyunmoo-4 is South Korea’s largest missile today.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about South Korea.

 

New Zealand shooting: Gunman killed, four police officers in hospital

New Zealand police reportedly shot dead a man who stabbed and injured several patrons of a mall in Auckland on Friday (3/9).

 

New Zealand

“Police can confirm that a man has entered a New Lynn supermarket and injured multiple people,” New Zealand Police said in a statement.

New Zealander Dies After Pfizer Injection, Gets Myocarditis
Police said they had arrested the perpetrator who had fled and had to be shot dead at the scene.

Quoted by Reuters, Radio New Zealand reported at least four people were injured in the “serious” incident. However, the number of victims has not yet been confirmed by the authorities.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is said to be being briefed on the incident.

 

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Fully armed police and ambulances were dispatched to the scene.

A week of lockdown, New Zealand Covid-19 rises to 148 cases
Meanwhile, the mall said the incident was being handled by the police.

“We will continue to provide assistance to security forces to assist with the investigation. Lynn Mall is currently closed and we will inform you of further developments as soon as possible,” the mall said.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about New Zealand.

Taliban ‘clueless’ over governance, struggle to rule Afghanistan

 

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says Britain needs to work with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Britain does not want to recognize the Taliban as the holder of power in Afghanistan. However; Raab cited the reason his country still needs to cooperate with the Taliban.

 

Britain – Taliban

Citing Reuters; Raab also said that he did not want to see the economic and social order in the country damaged; Friday (3/9). He also said that it would be impossible for Britain to evacuate 15;000 people without the cooperation of the Taliban.

“We do see the importance of engaging and having direct lines of communication (with the Taliban);” Raab said.

This discourse of cooperation is not the first time that has been raised. In July; British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said his country would cooperate with the Taliban if the group succeeds in getting into the Afghan government.

“Whoever the current government is; as long as it adheres to international norms; the UK government will engage with it;” Ben told the Daily Telegraph; Tuesday (13/7).

Apart from Britain; Germany also opened up opportunities for cooperation with the Taliban. Germany said several compromise conditions had to be met; such as safeguarding human rights and security.

China is also said to have begun considering cooperation with the Taliban.

 

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Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao made the promise when communicating via telephone with a member of the Taliban’s political office in Doha; Abduh Salam Hanafi.

As previously known; the Taliban succeeded in controlling Afghanistan in mid-August 2021. Fear of the possibility of a rigid and restrictive Taliban leadership made the Afghan people evacuate in droves from Afghanistan.

Britain itself is one of the allied countries that helped the US invade Afghanistan to get rid of the Taliban regime at that time.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Britain.

Demonstration in Vienna against Taliban restrictions on Afghan women

At least 17 people were killed when Taliban members opened fire in the air to celebrate victory after claiming to have captured Afghanistan’s only unconquered area; the Pansjhir Valley.

 

Taliban

The Shamshad and Tolo news agencies reported that a dozen people were killed when the Taliban fired “fire into the air” in Kabul. In addition; 41 other people were also injured in the incident.

Not only in Kabul; at least 14 other people were also injured because members of the Taliban in Nangarhar province opened fire in a similar celebration.

The main spokesman; Zabihullah Mujahid; also appealed to its members not to celebrate victory by firing into the air.

“Avoid firing shots in the air and just thank God. Bullets can injure civilians; so don’t shoot unnecessarily;” Mujahid said as quoted by Reuters.

 

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The Taliban are celebrating victory after the group claimed it had captured the only area in Afghanistan they had not conquered; the Panjshir Valley. However; anti-Taliban forces in Panjshir dispute these claims.

If the claims are proven; the group has managed to cover all areas of Afghanistan after fighting in recent months.

The Taliban themselves often fire in the air to celebrate victory. Shortly after the United States left Afghanistan earlier this week; they also opened fire on various roads.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Taliban.

Health experts welcome Brazil COVID-19 inquiry findings

 

Brazil’s health regulator; Anvisa; has suspended the use of more than 12 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech; Ltd. which was produced in illegal factories.

 

Brazil – Sinovac

In a statement on Saturday (4/9) local time; Anvisa said it received a warning on Friday (3/9) by the Butantan Institute; a biomedical institution that is partnering with Sinovac to work on the vaccine locally in Brazil.

The warning contained 25 batches or the equivalent of 12.1 million doses shipped to Brazil from unauthorized manufacturers.

“The manufacturing unit; was not vetted and approved by Anvisa in the said emergency use authorization of the vaccine;” the regulator said.

“This prohibition is a precaution to avoid exposing the population to possible risks;” continued Anvisa.

 

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Butantan also told Anvisa that another 17 batches; equivalent to 9 million doses; were also produced at the same factory; the funds were on their way to Brazil.

During the 90-day ban; Anvisa will inspect the factory; and find out more about the safety of the vaccine manufacturing process.

During the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil earlier this year; most of the vaccines administered were Sinovac.

Brazil on Saturday (4/9) reported 21;804 new cases and 692 new deaths from Covid-19.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Brazil.

EU will not recognise Taliban regime

The Taliban reportedly shot dead a pregnant Afghan policewoman at her home in Firozkoh.
A number of relatives told the BBC that initially, three gunmen visited the house of the policewoman named Banu Negar on Saturday (4/9).

 

Taliban News

They ransacked Negar’s house, then tied the hands of his family members. The three men then beat Negar and shot the woman dead in front of her husband and child.

The BBC doesn’t know the details of the incident because many people don’t want to speak up. They are afraid of being targeted by the Taliban if they dare to speak up.

Grief for Afghan Women in Indonesia: My sister was killed by the Taliban
However, some of Negar’s relatives showed photos showing blood splattered on the wall in the corner of a room. There are also photos of bodies whose faces are unrecognizable.

However, the spokesman for Takiban, Zabiullah Mujaheed, said that his group was not involved in the incident at all.

“We are aware of the incident and I can confirm that the Taliban did not kill him. Our investigation is still ongoing,” Mujaheed told the BBC.

 

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Afghan women protest in front of the Taliban, urge for equality
He also stressed that the Taliban had announced they would pardon people who worked for the previous government.

Mujaheed also suspected that Negar’s murder was related to “personal matters or something else.”

This news comes amid public concerns about the increasingly repressive attitude of some Taliban members towards women after the group took power in mid-August.

Since taking power, the Taliban has continued to build an image as a more tolerant group. However, a number of reports of their brutality in restraining women are still emerging.

A number of observers have also begun to sniff out the signs of the Taliban to reduce the role of women. At the end of last week, Kabul was shocked by the news of a number of women who dared to stage demonstrations in front of the Taliban troops.

The Taliban allowed the demonstrations in the name of equality and freedom of expression. However, a number of women who attended the demonstration said the Taliban fired tear gas as they tried to cross the bridge to the Presidential Palace.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Taliban.

Taliban’s Takhar district governor killed in roadside explosion

 

One of the governors of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Neda Mohammad, said he would continue to hunt down ISIS fighters from hiding in his country.

Neda also previously fought against the US-formed Afghan government. Now he occupies the position of Governor of Nangarhar, Afghanistan, after the Taliban managed to retake the country.

 

Taliban Governor

“We are still looking for people (ISIS) who are still hiding,” Neda Mohammad told AFP.

He also claims to have arrested 70-80 members of IS Khorasan (IS-K), the country’s branch of ISIS, since the Taliban under his command took control of Jalalabad City, Nangarhar Province.

IS-K is said to be behind a number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan in recent years. The group is also said to have massacred people inside mosques, in public areas, and in hospitals.

IS-K also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed more than 100 people, including 13 US troops, near Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul. The attack was said to be the largest since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2011.

The US retaliated for the suicide bombing by carrying out drone air strikes against the IS-K suicide bomber designer in Nangarhar province.

However, Neda Mohammad does not believe ISIS will pose a serious threat to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

 

Latest News

“They have lost a lot of lives in the north and east of Afghanistan. There is no reason ISIS can live here (Afghanistan). We don’t see ISIS as a threat,” said Neda Mohammad.

Although the Taliban and ISIS are both Sunni Islamist militias, they differ in terms of branching beliefs and strategies.

The two even fought each other and claimed to carry the flag of jihad. The battle caused many casualties.

ISIS also made a statement that the Taliban had betrayed the jihadists because of the deal to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Taliban Governor.

COVID: Vietnam records nearly 13,000 new cases

 

The Vietnamese Communist government court sentenced the spreader of Covid-19 to five years in prison.

Vietnam COVID

It was Le Van Tri, the man who was found guilty of violating the quarantine period at home and spreading Covid-19 in the country.

The 28-year-old man was traveling from the red zone in Ho Chi Minh to his hometown of Ca Mau. Meanwhile, the province requires a 21-day quarantine period at home for residents who come from the red zone.

Violation of this rule is punishable by criminal sanctions by the Vietnamese Court.

“Tri has violated the rules of the quarantine period at home, causing a number of residents to be infected with Covid-19. One person died on August 7 after contracting it,” the court ruled in a statement, quoting AFP.

 

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Local Vietnamese media also reported that a total of eight people had contracted Covid-19 due to the violations committed by Van Tri.

Vietnam is now facing a surge in Covid-19 cases with a total of 540,000 people who tested positive and 13,000 died so far.

The highest cases were recorded at the end of April, forcing the country to go into lockdown in major cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Several people were also jailed for being found guilty of spreading Covid-19. The 32-year-old man was jailed for 18 months in July on charges of spreading Covid-19.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Vietnam COVID.

Turkey remains vigilant against new COVID-19 variant

 

Turkey has warned the international community not to be too hasty in recognizing the Taliban as Afghanistan’s new official government.
In a television interview; Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that the new Afghan government should be inclusive and provide space for women. He also suggested that some Afghan women from various ethnic groups should be given ministerial posts.

 

Turkey – Taliban

“There is no need to rush. This is our advice to the whole world. We must act together with the international community;” Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu himself is very careful and does not reveal how Turkey’s own attitude towards the current relationship with the Taliban.

Turkey is currently in negotiations regarding operational assistance for Kabul airport; which has not yet fully recovered after being left by the United States and its allies.

Cavusoglu also said that Turkey is currently cooperating with Qatar and the US to formulate requirements for the opening of Kabul airport which will be prioritized for access to humanitarian aid distribution and evacuating civilians who want to leave Afghanistan.

Cavusoglu considers security issues to be the main focus of Kabul Airport operations. He stressed that commercial flights can never be resumed until the airline is sure that conditions at the airport are safe enough.

Cavusoglu said even if airlines; including Turkish Airlines; wanted to fly to Kabul; insurance companies would not allow it because security was not guaranteed.

 

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“In my view; Taliban or Afghan forces can ensure security outside the airport;” Cavusoglu said.

“But inside; there could be a security company that the international community trusts or all the other companies;” he said.

Meanwhile; the US stated that they no longer control the airspace in Afghanistan and the Kabul airport was in a state of disrepair when it was abandoned by Uncle Sam’s troops.

However; Kabul Airport started operating for domestic flights last week. The Qatari Ambassador to Afghanistan stated that the Kabul airport runway had been repaired and could be used again for domestic flights and humanitarian assistance.

He then said that since the runway was fixed; there have been two successful domestic flights taking off from Kabul airport; namely to Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Turkey.

 

Joe Biden’s Poll Numbers Cratering

 

US President Joe Biden has said he believes China will try to strike a deal with the Taliban after taking over Afghanistan in mid-August.

 

Joe Biden – China

“China has a real problem with the Taliban. So they are going to try to make some deals with the Taliban;” Biden said; when asked about his concerns about China’s potential to fund the group.

The United States and its allies in the G7 have agreed to cooperate on their response to the Taliban. However; Washington first blocked the Taliban’s access to Afghanistan’s budget reserves; which are in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The move was made to ensure the Taliban respect women’s rights and international law.

But experts say the US economic influence on Afghanistan will be lost if China; Russia or other countries provide funding to the Taliban.

Italy as the president of the G20; tried to hold a virtual meeting in Afghanistan; but so far there is no definite time for implementation. This meeting further exacerbated the dispute between the two groups.

 

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Meanwhile; China through the State Counselor and Chinese Foreign Minister; Wang Yi; said the international community must cooperate with the Taliban.

China has not yet recognized the Taliban as the new government; but Wang hosted the head of the Taliban’s political office – who is now Afghanistan’s interim deputy prime minister – Abdul Ghani Baradar in July.

He said the world should guide and support Afghanistan as it transitions to a new government; instead of putting more pressure on it.

Yesterday; Tuesday (7/9) the Taliban announced the interim government of Afghanistan. A number of senior members have been appointed to strategic positions.

Mohammad Hassan Akhund was appointed interim prime minister. Then the deputy; accompanying Hassan; was Mullah Abdul Ghani Barradar.

Meanwhile; the Minister of Home Affairs is occupied by Sirajuddin Haqqani. He joined the organization; which is included in the US version of the terrorist list.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Joe Biden.

 

Japan, Israel and Morocco Impose Bans on Foreign Travelers

 

Japan could potentially have a female prime minister for the first time since former Interior Minister Sanae Takaichi ran for chair of the ruling party.
Takaichi announced his candidacy as chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) on Wednesday (8/9) to replace Yoshihide Suga.

 

Japan PM

The LDP will hold a vote to elect a leader on September 29. The winner in the LDP chairman election will later become the party’s representative in the PM election at the lower house level of parliament which will be held no later than 28 November.

The head of the LDP is almost certain to be the next prime minister; given that the ruling party does hold a majority in parliament.

If he wins; Takaichi will become Japan’s first female prime minister. Reuters reported that Takaichi had a pretty good chance given that former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe gave support to the only female candidate.

With Abe’s encouragement; Takaichi is certain to receive the support of at least 20 MPs. However; Takaichi’s popularity rating in the eyes of the public itself is currently still very low.

 

Latest News

The former interior minister in the Abe era began campaigning for a number of programs that he would intensify if he was appointed prime minister.

Takaichi said he wanted to fix a number of issues that had not been resolved by the previous government; such as achieving 2 percent inflation; and drafting legislation “that prevents the leakage of sensitive information to China.”

He also considered that Japan needed an extra budget to fix the country’s medical system which was chaotic due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite launching a number of important programs; Takaichi’s conservative attitude is considered to reduce support from women’s rights fighters.

Some time ago; Takaichi and the LDP vehemently rejected calls for women to retain their own family names after marriage.

They consider such a move to undermine the unity of the family and go against tradition.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Japan.

India steps up COVID-19 testing for international flyers

 

India’s health system continues to improve to prepare for a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections; which is expected to occur in mid-September to October.

The threat of a third wave of Covid-19 emerged after India detected a significant rise in coronavirus infections to an average of 40;000 cases per day around the end of August after the harvest festival took place two weeks earlier.

 

India Covid

The increase in positive cases of Covid-19 in India in recent times has made the country led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi make various preparations; one of which is supplying 15 thousand tons of oxygen per day to every hospital.

Although the current demand for medical oxygen is much reduced compared to when the second wave of Covid-19 occurred around last April; various producers and the government continue to prepare for the worst-case scenario to avoid a repeat of the corona virus catastrophe.

The Indian government has also increased patient bed capacity in various health facilities across the country.

When the second wave of Covid-19 infections hit; India faced various problems; from lack of oxygen supply to unfinished cremation of bodies.

That is why the Indian government and hospitals are on guard to supply all the needs for Covid-19 treatment tools amid the threat of the third wave of transmission of the SARS-like virus.

 

Latest News

For example; Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi increased its oxygen storage capacity by 50 percent. They also installed a one kilometer long pipe that can deliver oxygen directly to the COVID ICU; and also installed equipment to keep the oxygen flow high.

“Given the possibility of the emergence of a coronavirus mutation; with a higher rate of transmission and immunity; the hospital continues to prepare for the worst;” said Ganga Hospital director Ram Satendra Katoch as quoted by Reuters.

Several Indian states; including Madhya Pradesh; also supply anti-viral drugs such as Remdesivir.

The hospital is also preparing a special ward for children; considering that many children who have not received the vaccine are vulnerable to contracting Covid-19.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about India Covid.

Why Joe Biden Should Want Donald Trump to Run Again

 

President Joe Biden has asked 11 officials selected by his predecessor; President Donald Trump; to serve on the advisory board of the United States military academy to resign or be dismissed.

 

Biden Trump

Some of the officials asked to step down include former White House spokesman Sean Spicer; former senior presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway and former security adviser H.R McMaster.

The three currently serve on the advisory boards of the Naval Academy; Air Force Academy; and Army Academy; respectively.

The news was first revealed from a source to CNN. Shortly after; White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed the resignation request.

“The President’s goal is what any madame president is aiming for; making sure you have candidates and people who are qualified to serve on this board; people who are in line with the values ​​you believe in. So; yes the request has been decided; ” Psaki told reporters.

“I would let others evaluate and think whether Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer; and others are eligible; or are their appointments unpolitical to serve on this council? This is a presidential requirement; not an opening of your party’s list of members; they must qualify;” he added.

There is also Heidi Stirrup; the former White House liaison with the Trump Ministry of Justice.

 

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In addition; Douglas MacGregor; former US ambassador and controversial Pentagon official. Stirrup and MacGregor were appointed by Trump to the boards of the Air Force and Army Academy.

The request for the resignation of Trump’s elected officials comes; after the US Department of Defense recently restarted the functions of various state advisory boards.

According to the US Air Force Academy website; a military academy advisory board was established to oversee the morals; discipline; social climate; curriculum; instruction; physical training; to academic methods related to the state military academy.

The military academy board meets several times a year and often provides independent advice and recommendations to the president.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Biden Trump.

New Swing Bridge Over Suez Canal Successfully Completed

 

A large cargo ship snagged again in the Suez Canal on Thursday (9/9) and briefly triggered congestion in one of the global trade routes.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) stated that the Panamanian-flagged Coral Crystal had problems while moving south of the canal.

 

Suez Canal

According to SCA, the 43,000-ton ship was stuck in the northern part of the Suez Canal. However, the crew was able to come up with a movement solution on their own and managed to resolve the issue about 15 minutes later.

Based on the monitoring of the MarineTraffic website, the Coral Crystal ship then moved at a speed of about 12 knots towards the Port of Sudan.

Egypt to Release Cargo Ships Blocking Suez Canal
The spokesman for the Suez Canal, Geoge Safwat, said that at the time of the incident, there were 61 ships carrying a total of 3, million tonnes of cargo were transiting the Suez Canal. He admitted there had been a traffic jam.

 

Latest News

“The traffic jam has no negative impact,” Safwat said, as reported by USA Today.

SCA representatives also admitted that this incident did indeed cause traffic jams. However, the problem can be resolved quickly.

“There was only a slight congestion problem and it was resolved in less than an hour,” an SCA official told The National, as quoted by The Independent.

This news is of concern because in March, a giant cargo ship which also has a Panama flag, Ever Given, was stuck in the Canal Canal for up to six days.

The incident sparked congestion on one of the world’s busiest trade routes. Egypt also ordered the owner of the Japanese ship, Shoe Kisen, Kaisha, to pay US$900 million or equivalent to Rp13.16 trillion as compensation.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Suez Canal.

North Korea Can Make More Uranium for Nuclear Bombs Than Previously Thought

 

The United States; Japan and South Korea will hold a meeting in Tokyo to break the deadlock in North Korea’s nuclear and missile disarmament efforts that have been stalled.

“The three countries are expected to have in-depth discussions on how to promote cooperation in managing the situation on the Korean Peninsula stably and continuing the peace process in the near future;” South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement Friday.

 

North Korea’s Nuclear

Seoul said South Korea’s special representative for peace and security on the Korean Peninsula; Noh Kyu-duk; would travel to Japan for three days.

He plans to meet with the US envoy to North Korea; Sung Kim; and the Director General of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Bureau of Asian and Oceanic Affairs; Takehiro Funakoshi.

In addition to discussing North Korea’s missile and nuclear issues; the envoys will also strengthen cooperation between Seoul; Washington and Tokyo.

In August; Sung Kim said he was ready to meet North Korean representatives anywhere and anytime.

 

Latest News

Quoted by Reuters; so far North Korea’s nuclear disarmament efforts are still in place. In fact; the US-North Korea had agreed to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang has always maintained that it is open to diplomacy. However; US sanctions and military exercises between Seoul and Washington have often been a stumbling block for diplomacy with North Korea.

Earlier; US President Joe Biden said that he would seek diplomatic avenues in efforts to disarm North Korea and its ballistic missiles. However; Biden is still unwilling to ease US sanctions against the isolated nation.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about North Korea’s nuclear.

Taliban asks UN for a seat at the table

 

The United Nations’ human rights chief; Michelle Bachelet; said the Taliban were breaking its promises on women’s rights and inclusive governance in Afghanistan.

 

UN – Taliban

“Contrary to assurances that the Taliban will uphold women’s rights; over the past three weeks; women have been increasingly excluded from the public sphere;” Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Bachelet also expressed disappointment with the composition of the Taliban government which did not involve women and was dominated by ethnic Pashtuns.

“(I) am disappointed by the lack of inclusion of the so-called interim cabinet; which does not include women and is slightly non-Pashtun;” Bachelet said.

He stressed that Afghanistan was entering a new and dangerous phase since the Taliban took power on August 15. Violence against protesters and journalists has also increased.

Several demonstrators were even reported killed after the Taliban opened fire in the air to disperse the crowd. Many other demonstrators also claimed to have been beaten by the group.

Another promise that the Taliban broke; said Bachelet; was the issue of granting amnesty to former civil servants and security officers during the Ashraf Ghani administration. He highlighted house-to-house searches of former officials in the previous era.

 

Latest News

The United Nations says it has received multiple reports of searches for those who have worked with US companies and security forces. Some staff also reported increased attacks and threats.

He also admitted to receiving reports regarding the alleged murder of dozens of former members of the Afghan military.

Bachelet then called for a mechanism to monitor rights in Afghanistan.

“I reiterate my call to this Council to take bold and strong action; commensurate with the gravity of this crisis;” he said.

The world is continuing to shine a light on the Taliban; especially as they promised to build an inclusive and moderate government when they took power in mid-August.

They also promised to uphold women’s rights. The current government; said the Taliban; will be different from the 1996-2001 era; which was considered authoritarian and ultraconservative.

Not even a month into the leadership; the Taliban has shown restrictions on women’s movement. They also do not want women representatives to occupy ministerial positions because they think it is not in accordance with Islamic law.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about UN Taliban.

The mutated Corona virus will never really go away

 

The corona virus B1;466.2 is one of 12 SARS-CoV-2 variants that are included in the WHO priority list for further monitoring.

 

Corona Virus

According to WHO data; 85 percent of the B1;466.2 variant has so far been found in Indonesia; 5 percent found in Malaysia; 4 percent found in Singapore; 1 percent each in Australia and Japan.

The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said that the local variant B.1.466.2 even had a massive spread in Indonesia before the Delta variant attacked.

According to researchers from the LIPI Biology Research Center; variant B.1.466.2 had dominated transmission in Indonesia in up to 57 percent of Covid-19 cases in March 2021; before finally the Delta variant attacked and dominated more than 80 percent.

However; currently; the variant tends to be a minority and the proportion is less than 5 percent in mid-June-July; after the Delta variant dominated Covid cases in Indonesia to 92 percent.

LIPI said that variant B.1.466.2 was first discovered in Bekasi on November 12; 2020. WHO has put variant B.1466.2 under monitoring since April 28.

 

Latest News

This variant called LIPI has changes in genetic material that are thought to affect the characteristics of the virus or are thought to pose a risk in the future.

But the evidence for a phenotypic or epidemiological impact is currently unclear; requiring further monitoring and new scientific evidence.

There are also several other variants that are dominant in Indonesia; namely B.1.470; B.1.1.398; and B.1.459.

Variant B.1.470 was found in Surabaya 9 April 2020; B.1.1.398 in Jakarta on 5 June 2020; and B.1.459 in NTB on 1 June 2020.

Meanwhile; so far; WHO has three categories of monitoring coronavirus mutations.

The three categories consist of variants of the corona virus of concern (VoC); variants of interest (VoI); and variants that require further close monitoring (Alerts for Further Monitoring).

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Corona Virus.

Singapore to decide on Covid-19 vaccine for kids

 

Singapore’s Health Minister Janil Puthucheary said that currently his country is considering the possibility of using a non-mRNA vaccine as a booster injection.

The Singapore Ministry of Health’s Committee of Experts (MOH) stated that they are “actively studying heterologous strategies involving non-mRNA vaccines”.

 

Singapore Vaccine

The agency also said that the ministry would continue to observe global and local data; especially regarding the risk of vaccine side effects; before recommending booster injections for Singaporeans.

MOH is studying the possibility that a different brand of vaccine would be more effective as a booster shot. Several studies have shown it can be done.

Several types of non-mRNA vaccines recommended by WHO are Oxford-AstraZeneca; Johnson & Johnson; and Sinopharm.

Not only studying non-mRNA vaccines; Singapore also made various agreements and plans to provide booster vaccines for its citizens.

“We have a strategy that is deliberately aimed at acquiring a portfolio of vaccines that use different technologies; to increase our chances of securing a vaccine that will continue to be safe and effective against COVID-19;” Puthucheary said.

“We are negotiating with suppliers to give us injections of non-mRNA boosters; and some are preparing their applications for PSARs (pandemic-specific access points).”

 

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PSAR is required in the Singapore Health Sciences Authority’s licensing process to grant temporary authorization for vaccines to be used in Singapore.

The Sinovac vaccine is one of them; given this authorization in June after obtaining emergency use permits by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The MOH is currently recommending that seniors 60 years of age and older receive a booster vaccine six to nine months after the second vaccine injection. Meanwhile; immunocompromised individuals should receive a booster vaccine two months after they receive their second dose.

Singapore has also signed an advance purchase agreement with American biotechnology company Novavax to secure its protein-based vaccine. The plan; this vaccine will arrive before the end of the year.

As of September 9; 2021; 81 percent of Singaporeans have received the full dose of the Covid-19 vaccine; while 85 percent have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Singapore Vaccine.

 

No easy options in the quest for nuclear Australian submarines

Australia will build eight nuclear-powered submarines under a new Indo-Pacific security pact with the United States and Britain.
“Our world is becoming more complex; especially here in our region; the Indo-Pacific;” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

 

Australian Submarines

Australia is the second country to be given access to US nuclear technology to build nuclear-powered submarines. The first country was England in 1958.

“To meet these challenges; to help provide the security and stability our region needs; we must now take our partnership to a new level;” Morrison continued.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand; Jacinda Ardern; welcomed the cooperation; which focuses on the Indo-Pacific region.

“I’m pleased to see that the focus has shifted to our region from the partners we work with;” he explained.

However; Jacinda also said the submarine would not be allowed to sail in its territorial waters under the country’s nuclear-free policy.

 

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“This is a contested area; and there is a role others can play in taking an interest in our territory.”

In a press conference on Wednesday (15/9) yesterday; the leaders of the US; UK and Australia tried to counter the growing power and influence of the enemy by making this trilateral pact. Especially regarding military development; pressure experienced by Taiwan and placement in the South China Sea.

They did not say for sure that the action was against China. However; some believe it was carried out to reduce Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The leaders also stressed that submarines would not be nuclear-armed; but would only use propulsion systems or nuclear reactors to guard against future threats.

In response to the deal; the Chinese Embassy in the US said countries should not build exclusive blocks that target or harm the interests of third parties.

“In particular; they have to let go of their Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice;” he said.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Australian Submarines.

 

UN mission in Libya condemns attack on Sebha court

 

The United Nations Security Council (UN) decided to extend the UN mission in Afghanistan for another six months until March 2022. The UN also called on the Taliban to create an inclusive government.

 

UN Mission in Afghanistan

The 15-member security council decided to continue the political mission entitled UNAMA which focused on dealing with development issues. Afghanistan has been an important concern since the Taliban seized the government.

In the document, the United Nations stressed the importance of establishing an inclusive and representative government. Currently, the government is made up entirely of members of the Taliban and there are no women.

“Women’s full, equal and meaningful participation, and respect for human rights, including for women, children and minorities,” the UN wrote.

In addition, in this mission, the UN also ensures that it will continue to play a role in the peace and stability of Afghanistan.

 

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Diplomats said the Taliban had no objection to the extension of the UN mission in Afghanistan.

“They are more pragmatic,” said a UN Afghanistan specialist.

The UN representative also said the Taliban needed a UN presence.

“The Taliban need the UN and this is our influence,” the UN representative said.

The UN Security Council also asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to provide monthly briefings on the latest situation in Afghanistan until the end of the mission.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about UN Mission.

Will the Omicron variant change Singapore’s Covid rules?

 

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (Kemenkes) recorded 934 cases of COVID-19 on Friday (17/9); the highest daily number of infections since last year. There have been a total of 75;783 cases since COVID-19 was first discovered in the country.

Singapore Covid-19 Cases

The Ministry of Health in Singapore detailed that out of 934 cases; 838 cases occurred in the community and 96 others occurred in dormitories. In addition; the group with the most local cases infected was the elderly; with 241 cases.

Reporting from The Strait Times; the infected patients were hospitalized as many as 813 people to date. That number decreased from the previous day; which was 831 people who were treated.

A total of 90 people were declared to need oxygen supplementation and 14 people were in critical condition. The 14 people are currently still being treated in the intensive care unit (ICU). Of the total patients; as many as 82 people are elderly.

The Ministry of Health of Singapore noted that there were at least 12 large clusters that had been found by his party. One of the clusters was found at Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Yard with 26 cases.

 

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Citing Channel News Asia; the cluster was caused by workplace transmission with further spread to household contacts of cases; the MOH said. Then; there is the Orange Valley Nursing Home cluster in Simei with a total of 17 cases. Bintang Biru Dormitory with 71 cases and Avery Dormitory with 95 cases.

Then there is the Chinatown Complex cluster with 256 cases and the cluster at the bus intersection in Toa Payoh; Tampines and Punggol so far it has reached 437 cases.

Singapore’s Minister of Health; Ong Ye Kung predicts that the increase in COVID-19 cases in Singapore will be more than 1;000 cases per day. Because; he sees; the number of cases is increasing day by day.

“I think let’s prepare for the possibility of crossing the 1;000 mark soon. That’s not unexpected; it’s the typical behavior of a transmission wave that usually peaks between four and up to eight weeks; or 30; 40 sometimes 50 days;” Ong Ye Kung said Saturday ( 18/9).

The Singapore government has tightened entry for travelers to the country. Visitors are required to take a pre-departure polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 48 hours; an on-arrival test; and an out-of-home notification PCR test on Day 7.

It is known; the vaccination rate in Singapore is fairly fast. Until now; the Ministry of Health of Singapore noted that 82 percent of the population there had received the complete dose.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Singapore Covid-19.

Dutch police fire warning shots at anti-lockdown protest

Hundreds of people held anti-lockdown demonstrations in Melbourne on Wednesday (22/9). The demonstration led to clashes; resulting in two police officers being injured.
Melbourne Police also arrested 200 people in demonstrations against the lockdown policy in the region.

 

Anti-Lockdown Demo

Launching Channel News Asia; this demonstration was carried out to protest the social restrictions imposed in the state of Victoria.

The Victorian government made it mandatory for construction workers to be vaccinated and closed construction sites; citing non-compliance with health regulations. This policy triggered the demonstration.

“There aren’t a lot of merchants involved. There are small breakaway groups that see the benefits of hijacking these things;” Guenther said.

“We have a lot of resources. We will change our tactics tomorrow; if that’s what we need to do. But of course; my message is; don’t come to town.”

Not only that; demonstrators are also looking with a fine of AU$5;000 (Rp51 million) for violating Covid-19 directives; added Guenther.

 

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“There were some people out there who you would say are from the building industry;” Victoria State Prime Minister Daniel Andrews told reporters.

“There are others who are not…they are not there to protest. <=They are there to fight; pretend demonstrations.”

Major Australian cities; such as Sydney; Melbourne and Canberra; will close for weeks to suppress the spread of the Delta variant. This lockdown is the sixth time for Melbourne.

Meanwhile; Victoria recorded 628 new positive cases on Wednesday (22/9).

As of September 21; the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia alone reached 88;710. On the same day; the positive number in the country increased by 1;609; reported Worldometers.

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about Anti-Lockdown Demo.

French Ambassador to visit Lafayette

French President Emmanuel Macron ordered French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Tienne to return to Washington next week. Macron has been in communication with US President Joe Biden to defuse tensions over Australia’s nuclear submarines.

 

France Ambassador

The talks were the first communications between Macron and Biden since Australia’s announcement of canceling a contract to buy French submarines as part of defense cooperation with Britain and the United States.

“Macron has decided that the French ambassador will return to Washington next week. He will then begin intensive work with senior US officials,” the joint statement said.

Macron and Biden also pledged to resolve the issue. The two of them are said to be meeting in Europe at the end of October 2021.

The meeting will seek “to reach a common understanding and maintain momentum in this process,” the statement said.

He added: “Both leaders agreed that the situation would benefit from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic importance to France and our European partners.”

 

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It said Biden also agreed on the need for a stronger European defense to complement NATO, a key idea that Macron has repeatedly raised.

“The United States also recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable defense of Europe, which makes a positive contribution to transatlantic and global security and complements NATO,” the statement said.

Previously, in a virtual press conference on Wednesday (15/9), Australia, Britain and the United States announced their trilateral cooperation, AUKUS.

In its first program, AUKUS plans to develop nuclear-powered submarines for the Australian fleet. This cooperation has generated a negative response from various parties, such as China and France.

France later recalled ambassadors to the US and Australia after the two countries cooperated on nuclear submarines.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about France Ambassador.

Sanctions on North Korea Do Not Work

 

North Korea laid out a number of conditions for the United States and South Korea before Pyongyang would negotiate to end the 1950-1953 Korean War.
Through the official state media KCNA; the government led by Kim Jong-un demanded the US-South Korea stop “hostile policies” and double standards towards North Korea.

Previously; North Korea said South Korea’s call for an end to the Korean War; which lasted from 1950-1953; was rushed.

 

North Korea

Pyongyang said there had been no guarantees from Seoul or Washington to stop this series of “hostile policies”.

“Nothing has changed so far the political situation around the DPRK (North Korea) has remained unchanged; and the hostile policy of the United States has not changed; even though calls to stop war have been made hundreds of times;” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song was quoted as saying. reported by Reuters; Friday (24/9).

“US efforts to stop double standards and hostile policies are the top priority in stabilizing the situation on the Korean peninsula and ensuring peace on it;” Ri continued.

The two Koreas are technically still at war. Because the war that occurred in 1950-1953 only ended in an armistice; not a peace treaty.

Prior to Ri’s statement; South Korean President Moon Jae-in repeated his call for an official end to the Korean War in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday (21/9).

 

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Moon is confident that Pyongyang will recognize its interest in dialogue with Washington. However; he is also pessimistic that the moment will arrive during his tenure which will end in 2022.

“It seems that North Korea is still weighing options while opening the door to dialogue; because that only escalates tensions to a low level; enough for the US not to cut off all contacts;” Moon said.

Meanwhile; the US has said it wants continued diplomacy to resolve the crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

However; North Korea rejected the US offer to engage in dialogue.

North and South Korea’s ballistic missile tests last week also further exacerbated an arms race between the two as peace talks appear to be continuing in place.

 

Source: Reuters and CNN. Stay tuned for more international news about North Korea.