02/04/2023, 09.23
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US-China: second spy balloon discovered in Latin America

Today's headlines: university professor who shredded his qualifications on live TV jailed in Afghanistan, while Iranian regime releases filmmaker Jafar Panahi; The Indian state of Assam began a campaign of arrests against child marriages; Uzbekistan removes advertisement referring to car as "second wife".


China has called on the U.S. government to remain calm and handle mutual diplomatic relations with "cool heads," after the Pentagon has spotted a second spy balloon over Latin America, following the one discovered over Montana yesterday.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has postponed his trip to China, while Beijing has reported that these are meteorological probes, a version, however, that does not convince American authorities, who have not yet shot down the object for fear of falling debris.


An investigation by Channel News Asia has revealed that getting cheap pets or exotics in Singapore is simply a matter of crossing the border into Malaysia, although this type of trade-which skips the controls provided by normal import channels-is illegal. Since 2018, at least 60 cases of animal smuggling have been recorded by Singaporean authorities, although after the pandemic, demand for pets began to decline.


The Taliban arrested university professor Ismail Mashal, who had advocated for Afghan women's right to education and was distributing books on the street to people. A spokesman for the authorities accused him of working against the Taliban administration. Last month, Mashal had torn up his university degrees on live television in protest of Taliban bans on women.


Police in the eastern state of Assam have arrested 1,800 people accused of intermarrying or marrying underage girls. The campaign had been announced in late January by the state's prime minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma. He reported yesterday that more than 4,000 cases of early marriages had been registered, most in Muslim areas, but assured that no particular community would be targeted.


Filmmaker Jafar Panahi was released on bail from the notorious Evin prison two days after starting a hunger strike. Already repeatedly opposed to the regime, some analysts say it is a move to keep him from becoming a symbol of the protests like other dissidents.

A winner of numerous international film awards, he had been arrested in July last year for protesting the imprisonment of two other colleagues, who were themselves arrested for posting on social media about the collapse of a 10-story building in the city of Abadan in which more than 40 people died.


Relatives of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine say they are unable to receive full information about them, ranging from certifiction of death, the recognition and dispatch of the bodies, despite the fact that they are marked as "presumed dead" on army records, and even with DNA testing there are no definitive results.


Uzbekistan's Competition and Consumer Rights Committee ordered the removal of billboards of the Mobile Retail (Elmakon) company advertising car accessories, in which the slogan "Take care of your second wife" was deemed "unethical and inappropriate," contradicting traditional ethical norms of Uzbek society.

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