Baghdad: clashes between Sadrists and security forces, at least 20 dead

Today's headlines: India's flood displaced by floods are forced to live on highways; the International Monetary Fund approves Pakistani bailout; The Solomon Islands ban US ships; in Japan a rest home 'hires' children; in Kazakhstan the most multi-ethnic orchestra in history is to assemble for the meeting of religious leaders.



After announcing that he will leave political life forever, the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr started a hunger strike to demand an end to the violence against his followers. Yesterday, protests broke out again in central Baghdad and al-Sadr's supporters stormed the presidential palace in the Green Zone. At least 20 people have died so far.


About 700 people from the western state of Maharashtra were forced to leave their homes in July due to the floods that affected the whole of South Asia and have since been living along a highway, running various risks. The government has so far only provided the displaced people with food and water.


The International Monetary Fund board approved the revision of Pakistan's bailout programme, allowing the release of more than USD 1.1 billion. Foreign exchange reserves had fallen to levels that covered only one month of exports, while the national economy is plagued by a massive current account deficit and high inflation.


The Solomon Islands governmen plans to stop US navy ships from entering its ports, the US Embassy in Canberra has announced. The Honiara government had previously denied the news. The Solomon Islands have had tense relations with the US since signing a security pact with China in May.


A Facebook user was fined by local authorities for 'defamatory, distorting and damaging acts to the honour and reputation of the police force'. The man, whose identity was not disclosed, had shared a post criticising Vietnamese police activities in nightclubs.


A retirement home in southern Japan is 'hiring' children for a very important job: to keep the elderly residents company and make them smile. The reward? Nappies and powdered milk. So far, more than 30 children under the age of four have "applied" for the job. They will be tasked with lifting the spirits of about 100 residents, mostly over 80 years old, explained Kimie Gondo, director of the nursing home.


The Minister of Trade and Industry of the Taliban government, Nuruddin Aziz, announced that he had almost concluded the agreements with Russia for the purchase of gas and oil. Payments will be made through third countries, as both Russian and Afghan banks are under sanctions; previously Kabul had offered agricultural products such as sultanas in payment.


When the leaders of world religions meet in Nur-Sultan next 14-15 September, among them Pope Francis, Kazakhstan intends to set a new Guinness record: producer Daut Shajkhislamov wants to realise the project of the 'Muzika mira', music of peace and the world, gathering the most multinational and multi-ethnic orchestra in history, to play in the name of the world union of peoples.