09/16/2023, 14.09
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Fears of a food crisis in Asia are growing

Today's news: Afghan Taliban have arrested 18 members of an NGO. Japan has a record number of centenarians, 73.74 per 100,000 people. Five Indonesians in six prefer democracy to strongman rule. Not seen for weeks, China’s Defence minister is thought to be under investigation for corruption. Ignoring warnings, hundreds of devout Jews, many with young children, are on pilgrimage to the Ukrainian city of Uman. Turkey and Russia resume talks over building a natural gas hub in Turkey.


Fears of a food crisis in Asia are growing, as rice prices surge. In a note, the HSBC bank reports that output disruption in one economy could have a greater impact on others than in the past. Erratic weather and restrictions by several nations (like India) have reduced global supplies.


The Taliban have arrested 18 people, including a foreigner, from an Afghanistan-based NGO, the International Assistance Mission, as part of their crackdown on the humanitarian sector since they came back to power two years ago. The organisation in question was raided by the Taliban twice before. Those arrested were taken to Kabul.


The number of Japanese centenarians now stands at 92,139, with an increase of 1,613 in 12 months, up for the 53rd consecutive year. Some 81,589 are women (88.5 per cent of the total), against 10,550 male centenarians. The oldest woman is Fusa Tatsumi, 116, while the oldest man is Gisaburo Sonobe at 111. Japan has an average of 73.74 centenarians per 100,000 people.


Indonesians overwhelmingly prefer democracy (85 per cent), however imperfect it may be, over rule by a strongman, a report by the Pew Research Center found, based on a survey of more 13,000 adults in some Asian nations. Conversely, half and more respondents in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore prefer a strong leader.


Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu has not been seen in public for over two weeks and is the subject of rumours and speculation that he might be under investigation on charges of corruption. After less than a year, he seems to have lost his post and be the subject of an enquiry related to the purchase of military equipment that saw the removal of other senior officers.


Ignoring warnings by Israeli and Ukrainian authorities, hundreds of Jews, adults and children,  even very young ones, left Israel on a pilgrimage to Uman, in war-torn Ukraine, to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which also marks the beginning of the civil new year, at the grave site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, one of the great leaders of Hasidism, who died more than 200 years ago. Last April, 21 people were killed in an explosion in Uman.


Turkey's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Alparslan Bayraktar, told the Tass news agency that negotiations with Russia on a natural gas hub in Turkey continue. The project had been delayed due to the earthquake and Turkey’s presidential elections. Work can now resume as a "national priority".


The presidents of the five Central Asian countries met in Dushanbe this week. In addition to the traditional "visit to the orchards" in Tajikistan, they discussed logistical issues in the region. The leaders also discussed the upcoming Central Asia-US summit in New York on 19-20 September. Tajik President Emomali Rahmon held one-on-one meetings with Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”