July 2024

MONTH IN BRIEF

WikiLeaks founder released

WikiLeaks founder released

Julian Assange – who published hundreds of thousands of confidential US documents on his whistle blowing website WikiLeaks from 2010 –has finally returned to Australia a free man, following a five-year sentence in the UK’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, and his admission that he revealed US defence secrets in a deal that ensured his release.Assange left jail on June 26 and arrived in the Australian capital Canberra on a private jet, the final act of an international drama that ended in a courtroom in a US Pacific island territory.

Military strength for peace

drones and missiles to Tawan for an estimated US$360 million

The US State Department has approved the possible sale of drones and missiles to Tawan for an estimated US$360 million, says the Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency. Despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, the US is bound by law to provide Chinese-claimed Taiwan with the means to defend itself, which angers Beijing. China has been stepping up military pressure against Taiwan, including staging war games around the island in May following the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te, who has insisted that only military strength can keep the peace with China.

Rise in Karachi fatalities

Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial capital, is witnessing an unusual spike in the number of citizens’ deaths

Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial capital, is witnessing an unusual spike in the number of citizens’ deaths, according to a relief agency, as baking hot weather conditions look set to continue in the city.Rescue agency Edhi Foundation reported receiving 568 bodies in Karachi in the five days through to June 25, up from an average of about 40 per day.However, the local government said the casualties were not due to the excessive heat and that just 13 people had died of weather-related issues in June.

Former defence minister ousted from CCP

China’s former defence minister Li Shangfu has been expelled from the ruling Communist Party

China’s former defence minister Li Shangfu has been expelled from the ruling Communist Party for causing ‘great damage to (its) cause’ through offences including suspected bribery, state media has said.Li’s ouster is one of the most prominent examples in a series of high-level disappearances from China’s military establishment and political class.President Xi’s campaign against official graft since coming to power is claimed as a means to ensure clean governance, but critics argue it also serves as a means for Xi to purge political rivals.

Indonesia in battle against TB

Indonesia is set to run clinical trials of several vaccines in an effort to fight surging cases of tuberculosis

Indonesia is set to run clinical trials of several vaccines in an effort to fight surging cases of tuberculosis (TB) in 2024, amid concerns the disease could affect economic growth. Cases of TB in the South-east Asian country have spiked during the past few years, with the Health Ministry estimating there were over one million cases in 2023, compared with around 820,000 in 2020. In 2022, deaths from the disease in Indonesia reached around 134,000, the second highest in the world after India.

Death of a hangman

Bangladesh’s most prolific executioner died on June 24

Bangladesh’s most prolific executioner – himself a convicted murderer – died on June 24, just a year after being released from the Dhaka prison where he hanged some of the country’s most notorious killers and opposition politicians convicted of war crimes. Since his release last June – his sentence was reduced due to his service to the state – Shahjahan Bouya, 70, wrote a best-selling book narrating his experiences as a hangman and, more recently, took TikTok by storm.

Blue-collar work attracts China’s youth

MiB The popularity of blue-collar jobs has risen sharply among China’s young adults

The popularity of blue-collar jobs has risen sharply among China’s young adults, as demand has grown and wages have increased compared with pre-pandemic levels. In the first quarter, the number of under-25s who applied for blue-collar jobs soared 165 per cent compared with the same period in 2019, far outpacing the 62.4 per cent growth in the number of job applicants of the same age group, according to a recent report published by online recruitment platform Zhaopin.Young people are attracted by the diversity offered by blue-collar jobs, as well as improved workplace environments and salaries, the report noted.

 

Thailand’s surprise twins

A 36-year-old elephant has given birth to male and female calves in Ayutthaya province, in what is believed to be the world’s first twin elephants of different sexes on record.An official at Royal Elephant Kraal Village in Ayutthaya’s Suan Prik sub-district said that the male calf was born first on the night of June 7, weighing around 80kg.Then, 18 minutes later,the mother delivered another calf, a female weighing 60kg. Twins account for only around 1 per cent of elephant births, and in rare previous instances, the calves have both been the same sex.

36-year-old elephant has given birth to male and female calves in Ayutthaya province