Seoul launches spy satellite, high tensions with Pyongyang
Today's news: second day of shelling in Gaza after truce, death toll already high; UN report: one in five people in China at risk of drought with climate change; In Bhutan, a party formed last year will go on the ballot in elections undermining the outgoing premier; State body would like "selfie points" with Modi's image in Indian universities.
SOUTH KOREA-NORTH KOREA
South Korea has successfully launched its first spy satellite from a US military base in California. This was announced by the Seoul Ministry of Defense. The launch of the satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Base came after Pyongyang claimed its own successful launch of a spy satellite last week - a move that underlined growing tension between the two Koreas. For its part, Pyongyang has said it will consider any interference with its satellite operations as a declaration of war.
For the second consecutive day since the end of the truce, intense Israeli bombings in Gaza continue, to which Hamas responds with missile launches. Israeli sources speak of 400 targets hit in the Strip, especially in the Khan Younis area, while Palestinian sources have already reported 178 deaths since the resumption of fighting. Syrian sources also speak of a raid that the Israeli air force carried out against Hezbollah targets near Damascus.
According to the UN report "Global Drought Snapshot", released at COP28 in Dubai, in the 21st century between 15 and 20% of the Chinese population will have to face more frequent droughts, with extreme to exceptional intensities. “By the end of the century, the duration of moderate, severe and exceptional droughts in some regions of China will double, and the intensity of drought will increase by more than 80%,” the report said.
In Bhutan a new formation born just a year ago has displaced the government party and is among the two political forces chosen by the population to participate in the run-off of the fourth elections since the establishment of democracy, which took place 15 years ago. The People's Democratic Party - a liberal political force that led the country between 2013 and 2018 - received the most votes in Thursday's preliminary round of elections, followed by the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP), formed in 2022. by Pema Chewang, a former bureaucrat. The ballot will be held on January 9th.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) - Imran Khan's party - has elected lawyer Gohar Ali Khan as its new president in its internal party elections held under the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Gohar had been designated for the top post by Imran Khan himself in recent days and was the only candidate. But his nomination sparked strong divisions within the party, as Gohar had never held any role and his closeness to exponents of Pakistan's People Party was viewed with suspicion.
The University Grants Commission has written to colleges and universities across India asking them to set up selfie points with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the background. The request, which came as the 2024 general elections are approaching, is motivated by the importance of growing a sense of "collective pride" on "the results obtained by India in various fields".
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mišustin signed the decree implementing the Far Eastern Mortgage program also for the Arctic area. By virtue of the provision, all inhabitants of cities and towns near and above the Arctic Circle will be able to obtain subsidized loans through the Dom.Rf, Btb and Sberbank banks for acquisitions or new real estate constructions, and other professional activities.
On the section between Idževan and Gazakh of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, negotiations have begun between the vice-premiers of Yerevan and Baku, Mger Grigoryan and Šakhin Mustafaev, for the demarcation of the borders, as announced by the Armenian government.