06/12/2023, 08.58
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Mar Georges III Younan is the new Patriarch of the Old Church of the East

Today's headlines: Honduras inaugurates Chinese embassy after breaking relations with Taiwan;  An Indian travels from Kerala to Mecca on foot on Hajj pilgrimage, the major pillar of Islam; South Korean police arrest 77 people for espionage, including abroad; Several people killed in two separate shootings in central Vietnam, police stations targeted; Heavy rains in Pakistan kill 27 people; Marriages collapse in China; Tajikistan's largest mosque inaugurated in Dushanbe, with the help of Qatar.

The Ancient Church of the East has appointed Mar Georges III Younan as its new Patriarch. The ceremony was held at the Holy Mary Cathedral in Baghdad. The ceremony was attended by political and ecclesiastical authorities, both Christian and Muslim, as well as a large number of faithful. The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad Card. Louis Raphael Sako congratulated them and wished them fruitful work together. 

After severing ties with Taiwan, Honduras yesterday inaugurated the Chinese Embassy in a switch from Taipei to Beijing with the aim of strengthening trade and economic cooperation. President Xiomara Castro arrived in Shanghai over the weekend for a five-day visit to cement relations and meet with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Shihab Chottur from India embarked on an adventure to pursue his dreams. He walked 382 from his hometown in Kerala to Mecca to perform the Hajj, the major pilgrimage to the holy places of Islam. Leaving on 2 June 2022, he travelled through various countries including Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait, before arriving at his final destination in Saudi Arabia in June.

South Korean police arrested 77 people involved in 35 cases of suspected industrial espionage uncovered during a recent nationwide investigation. Most of the cases involved domestic companies, but in at least eight the leak of technological secrets was directed to China - with a business volume of hundreds of thousands of US dollars - or other foreign nations. 

Several people were killed or injured in two shootings in the early hours of yesterday in two different police stations in Cu Kuin, Dak Lak province, in the Central Highlands. Six people were arrested, but investigations continue and the authorities are looking for other suspects. Among the victims were police officers and officials. Still unknown is the motive in a sensitive area and the object of past violence.

Heavy rains followed by driving winds killed at least 27 people and injured 140 others, including eight children, in northwest Pakistan. Local civil defence sources speak of 12 people buried alive after the roofs and walls of their houses collapsed. The storms hit four districts in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 200 head of cattle are missing. 

Marriages fell in 2022 to their lowest level since surveys began, continuing a steady decline over the past decade and exacerbated by Covid lockdowns. Only 6.83 million couples completed civil registration last year, almost 800,000 fewer than in 2021. The population and birth rate also fell, to 6.77 births per thousand people. 

In the Netherlands, the legal battle for the 'gold of the Scythians', which was claimed by Crimean museums under Russian auspices, came to an end after nine years. However, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, returning the valuable ancient objects to Ukraine. It is the 'triumph of justice and culture', said Kiev spokesman Andrei Ermak.

The inauguration ceremony of the largest mosque in Tajikistan, built with the help of the Emir of Qatar, was held in Dushanbe. Sheikh Tamim ibn Hamad Al Tani, in the presence of President Emomalī Rakhmon, extolled the new temple as an 'example of the realisation of religious freedom', despite criticism from humanitarian associations.

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