08/02/2023, 13.42
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Iran orders a two-day shutdown for ‘extreme heat’

Today's news: Hong Kong’s new cardinal says a liaison office is a matter “between the two governments," but stresses his diocese’s role as a potential "bridge" between China and the Vatican. India and Bhutan report a significant rise in the number of wild tigers. The United Arab Emirates will allow protesters to “assemble peacefully” during COP28. A “delicacy" in many countries, frog legs shortages are reported in Indonesia and Vietnam. Russia speeds up building its own "sovereign internet".


The Islamic Republic has ordered a two day shut down, today and tomorrow, for all schools, banks and state offices because of an "extreme" heat wave, with temperatures in cities averaging over 40 centigrade. Ahvaz, the capital of an oil-rich province in the south-west of the country, hit a peak of 50° C yesterday, just short of last year’s historic record of 53.


A scarlet skullcap can help "build bridges" between Beijing and the global Church. This is what Bishop Stephen Chow of Hong Kong can do. Speaking about a possible liaison office in mainland China proposed by Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the new cardinal said that it is a matter “between the two governments,” not a pastoral concern for the Diocese of Hong Kong. Nevertheless, as a cardinal, he can strengthen Hong Kong’s role in mediating between the sides.


India and Bhutan have reported a significant increase in the number of wild tigers. Official data show that India has 3,682 individuals, or 75 per cent of the world’s wild tiger population. Bhutan has 131, 27 per cent more compared to the figure from the first systematics survey in 2015. In the past, large-scale deforestation, habitat loss and poaching led to a collapse. Since the early 1900s, tigers went from about 100,000 to an estimated 4,500 today.


Despite a ban on unauthorised protests, the United Arab Emirates gave the green light to climate activists to “assemble peacefully” during the UN climate conference (COP28) set to open in Dubai in November. The oil-rich Gulf country usually requires official permission for demonstrations, but this time, "there will be space available” for environmentalists “to make their voices heard."


The French (and Belgian) passion for frog legs is becoming a problem for Indonesia and Vietnam, two of the world’s main suppliers of this culinary delicacy. As their number decline in both countries, exporters are struggling to meet orders. One solution could be to focus on breeding frogs for export rather than hunting them.


Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree outlawing registering on Internet sites using  non-Russian email addresses; instead, Russians will be required to register with .ru or .rf addresses. In addition, it will be necessary to register using a Russian phone number, through the public services portal, or the Russian unified biometric system. This moves Russia closer to having its own “sovereign Internet”, which the Kremlin had announced four years ago.


The President of Turkmenistan, Serdar Berdymukhamedov, signed a decree authorising the construction of a 4,000-seat, multipurpose cultural centre in the capital Ashgabat by June 2026. A huge amusement park is planned in Choganly, next to the capital.

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