Today's headlines: record levels of pollution in Bangkok; Hong Kong raffles off 500 airline tickets to attract tourists; North Korean hackers increasingly adept at stealing cryptocurrencies; Indian government faces diplomatic problems with Adani Group's economic losses; 90% of Russians believe the war in Ukraine will last at least two more years.
One day after extending the state of emergency for another six months, Burma's coup junta has imposed martial law in areas of the country where fighting between army troops and resistance militias continues. Most of the municipalities on which total junta authority has now been imposed are in the Sagaing region and Chin State, where fighting has been particularly fierce and bloody.
Air pollution in Bangkok has exceeded acceptable levels to the point that the government has advised citizens not to go outside unless necessary and to refrain from strenuous outdoor activities. Between yesterday and today, the concentration of PM2.5 was 14 times higher than levels recommended by the World Health Organization, preventing citizens from seeing and breathing normally.
Low immunity against Covid-19 and a very elderly population appear to be the reasons for an increase in coronavirus deaths in Japan. The country, which boasted one of the lowest death rates in the world, has seen the number of cases rise since the end of last year. Because the disease is still classified as "very dangerous," only certain government-designated hospitals can accept those infected. Japan is one of the few countries that still publishes daily counts of case numbers.
In order to circumvent international sanctions, North Korea's hackers are increasingly adept at stealing cryptocurrency. According to a report published by Chainanalysis, a total of .8 billion was stolen in the United States in 2022. At least 1.7 billion was stolen by North Korean hackers, a figure that was "only" 400 million in 2021. Experts say this money constitutes about one-third of the funding for Pyongyang's weapons development programs.
While China has announced that connections to Hong Kong and Macau will be restored as of Feb. 6 without the mandatory negative buffer, the former British colony has let it be known that it will raffle off 500 airline tickets to promote the return of tourists. The lottery will start on March 1, but Southeast Asian nationals will be able to enter that month, mainland Chinese nationals in April, and visitors from the rest of the world in May.
The Indian government has distanced itself from Bangladeshi claims that it has called for a review of a 2017 deal with Adani Power to buy electricity: billionaire Gautam Adani's companies have lost 8 billion of their market value in recent days. Adani himself has lost billion of his personal wealth and has now dropped from third place to 16th on the list of the world's richest men. Dow Jones has indicated that it will remove Adani Enterprise from its sustainability indexes.
According to a poll by the "Politolog" group, nearly 90 percent of Russians are convinced that the war in Ukraine will last at least two more years. Most think it will go no further than Crimea and the regions already annexed, while 32 percent expect "the reunification of all territories of Ukraine to Russia," and more than half are sure that a pro-Russian government will be established in Kiev.
The director of Kyrgyzstan's ecological fund "Amanat omur," Žanar Algožoev, has sounded the alarm about the possible disappearance of the rare "Asian Bedriaga Frog," a type of frog that is sold desiccated in large quantities at the Oš market, along with herbs and fats extracted from its organs, or even live specimens for a few bucks, along with snakes and lizards.