11/24/2021, 08.56
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Lebanon, over half of families have children forced to skip a daily meal

Today's headlines: A 20-year-old Hong Kong student activist Tony Chung will have to serve three years and seven months in prison; China's birth rate plummeted in 2020, marriages also at a low; Pakistan grants transit to Indian aid to Afghanistan; Tokyo and Hanoi strengthen military cooperation to counter Beijing. 


Since last October, more than half of Lebanese families have at least one child who skips a daily meal due to the "dramatic deterioration of living conditions". According to Unicef, children are among the hardest hit by the economic crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Underlying decades of corruption have undermined basic services such as electricity, water and schooling. 


Twenty-year-old student activist Tony Chung is to serve three years and seven months in prison after pleading guilty to secession under the national security law imposed by Beijing. He is the youngest person sentenced under the controversial measure; he also faces money laundering charges for collecting Paypal donations from his supporters. 


China's birth rate plummeted in 2020, dropping to its lowest in 40 years, despite the communist regime's efforts to persuade families to grow up. In spite of Covid confining families to the home, the rate fell to 8.52 births per thousand inhabitants (lowest since 1978). In 2019, it was 10.41. At lows, too, are marriages. 


Four people were killed (including two civilians) and seven wounded in an Israeli air raid in centeral Syria. The attacks happened in the first hour of the morning, triggering the missile defense system of Damascus. Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the Jewish state has conducted hundreds of attacks against Hezbollah and Tehran targets. 


Islamabad yesterday granted permission for India to use its land route to ship food aid, particularly wheat, to neighboring Afghanistan where millions of people go hungry and face a harsh winter. Pakistan has denied Delhi trade or other links to Kabul for years, even fighting three wars since independence in 1947. 


Tokyo and Hanoi yesterday signed an agreement aimed at cooperation in space defense and cybersecurity. The two Asian nations recently have intensified relations, especially on the military side, united by a common concern about China's aggressive policy in the Asia-Pacific. And that both nations consider it "urgent" to curb. 


The Azerbaijani army has opened fire in the direction of the city of Norabak, on the border with Armenia. An Armenian soldier was killed in the crossfire. According to sources close to the government in Yerevan it was the Azeris who started the clash. A close call came from Baku, which denies any involvement.


The Religious Assembly of Muslims in Russia has decided to prohibit the performance of "namaz", the Islamic prayer, inside subway stations and carriages, because it conflicts with the country's legislation. The Russian mufti believe that "legal training is necessary for labor migrants of the Muslim religion" coming largely from Central Asia.


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