02/22/2023, 00.00
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Bangladesh: main opposition newspaper closed

Today's headlines: Some Chinese provinces have granted 30 days of marriage leave (instead of three) to increase the country's fertility rate; Caste discrimination recognised in Seattle; North Korea's food crisis deepens; In Thailand TikTok will ban parties from campaigning for elections; Russia opened a naval base in Sudan.


The Bangladesh government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina shut down the main opposition newspaper accusing it of violating press laws. Dainik Dinkal has been the mouthpiece of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) for more than 30 years. The Dhaka district authorities had ordered the closure on 26 December, but the newspaper continued to go out while it awaited the outcome of the appeal filed with the Press Council. Press freedom in Bangladesh is lower than in Russia and Afghanistan.


Seattle became the first city in the US to ban caste discrimination. The local council voted yesterday in favour of the proposal initiated by Kshama Sawant, Seattle's only city councillor of Indian descent. The Hindu American Foundation and the Coalition of Hindus of North America, however, opposed the decision, saying that the resolution isolates an already vulnerable community even more. According to Sawant, however, discrimination transcends national and religious boundaries.


North Korea is experiencing a serious food crisis, to the point that senior officials will meet later this month to discuss 'fundamental changes' in agricultural policies, state media announced. Satellite images from the South Korean authorities show that the North produced 180,000 fewer tonnes of food in 2022 than in 2021, while the price of maize (bought instead of rice) rose by 20% earlier this year due to poor harvests.


Newly married couples will be granted 30 days of paid marriage leave in the hope that couples will take the opportunity to increase the country's birth rate. This is the recent decision of some Chinese provinces such as Gansu and Shanxi, which experts say have seen slower economic development. Previously, paid leave in the case of marriage was a maximum of three days.


TikTok Thailand said it will ban all accounts that engage in political propaganda before and during national elections scheduled for May. Chanida Klyphun, who manages the platform's guidelines in the country, said the video app hosts mostly entertainment content, so procedures have been put in place to prevent political parties from using the platform to spread fake news, create support or profit from advertising.


Last night, the Philippines joined the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the largest free trade pact that came into force in January 2021 and which includes not only the 10 Asean members, but also China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, covering a region of about 2.1 billion people and accounting for about 30% of the global gross domestic product. Manila thus hopes to attract better jobs and procure cheaper raw materials while inflation continues at record levels.


Russia has decided to open a military naval base in Sudan, after lengthy negotiations, from which it will be able to control one of the world's most important sea cargo passage points, with access to the Suez Canal and exit to the Indian Ocean, agreeing to supply arms to Sudan and obtain the exploitation of gold mining.

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