[News] News From Other Places!

It's news you can use from places with different views! (Don't misuse or abuse you yahoos.)

I mean all those businesses who are still mining resources in Afghanistan are still talking to the Taliban.

Large parts of Canada are literally on fire.

Yellowknife (capital city of our Northwest Territories) is being fully evacuated.

Kelowna (city in the interior of British Columbia) is being threatened by a number of wildfires.

There are lots of TikToks on the Kelowna fires. There are, quite frankly, terrifying.

Inside Japan’s ‘miracle town,’ where the birth rate is soaring amid a demographic crisis

NAGI, Japan — For decades, this lush mountain town’s specialty was growing rice, black soybeans and satoimo, a taro root that features widely in Japanese cuisine and serves as the town’s official mascot.
But visitors are flocking to Nagi from across Japan and even other countries these days out of reverence, and maybe a touch of envy, for its spectacular success at producing something else: babies.

In a nation struggling with record low birth rates and population decline, Nagi has become known as a “miracle town,” where nearly half of the households have three or more children. Far from the bustling cacophony of cities like Tokyo, mothers here chat leisurely as their children’s laughter rings through the fields, and shrug off official hand-wringing over a dearth of youngsters.

“I can’t really feel the birth rate issue,” said Sachie Genba, 42, who grew up in the neighboring city of Tsuyama and is raising her two children in Nagi. “Many mothers here even have four children.”

Two great points mentioned, not only financial support but also support in education and mental health for parents.

Yeah, my immediate reaction to this piece was "I dunno if this scales to some place the size of Osaka."

Wagner making ‘Africa even more free’, says Prigozhin in first post-rebellion video

The Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has posted his first video address since leading a short-lived rebellion in Russia, appearing in a clip – possibly shot in Africa – on Telegram channels affiliated with the Wagner group.

A person who appears to be the 62-year-old mercenary leader is seen in the video standing in a desert area in camouflage and with a rifle in his hands. In the distance, there are more armed men and a pickup truck.

The warlord suggests in the clip, posted on Monday, that he is on the African continent, adding that “the temperature is plus 50 [degrees Celsius]”. He says Wagner is conducting reconnaissance and search operations and “making Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even more free”.

The Guardian was not able to geolocate or verify the date of the video. All Eyes on Wagner, an open-source research group, reported on Saturday that a plane linked to Prighozin had landed in Bamako, the capital of Mali.

Russian social media channels close to the mercenary leader said Prigozhin was recruiting fighters to work in Africa and also inviting investors from Russia to put money into CAR through Russian House, a cultural centre linked to Prigozhin operating in Bamako.

In the video, Prigozhin says Wagner is recruiting people and the group “will fulfil the tasks that were set”.

Prigozhin moved into the global spotlight in June with a dramatic, short-lived mutiny that posed the most serious threat to Vladimir Putin in the president’s 23-year rule. He was last heard from at the end of July, when a social media account linked to him posted a recording in which he said that Wagner would pause recruiting new fighters and would focus on activities in Africa and in Russia’s neighbour, Belarus.

Over the past few years, Wagner has deployed several thousand troops in at least five African countries, propping up local autocratic regimes, often at a grave cost to the local population. Wagner has been accused of involvement in massacres in Mali as well as elsewhere in the Sahel and central Africa.

The group is believed to have the largest presence in Central African Republic (CAR), where it intervened in 2018 on the side of the government to quell a civil war that has raged since 2012. Wagner also deployed about 1,000 personnel to Mali in December 2021 after a military coup.

Shortly after Prigozhin’s revolt, Moscow reassured its allies in Africa that thousands of Wagner group fighters deployed to the continent would not be withdrawn.

Brics summit: How China's and Russia's clout is growing in Africa

The wealthiest square mile in Africa is hosting a big international summit this week with a mixture of pride, relief, and a hint of unease.

Sandton - a glitzy banking district on the outskirts of South Africa's increasingly dilapidated city of Johannesburg - is the venue for the latest meeting of the Brics group, an ambitious but amorphous bloc of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), united by a desire to challenge perceived Western dominance in global affairs. Dozens of other nations are queuing up to join.

The current wave of relief felt here in South Africa in relation to Brics can be explained by President Vladimir Putin's recent decision to stay away from the summit.

Had he insisted on coming, South Africa would have finally had to clarify its position on whether it would carry out its international obligation to arrest Russia's leader for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Spared that awkward challenge, South African officials are now revelling in their role as host - proudly filling journalists' inboxes with a flood of emails about Brics breakfast meetings, trade fairs, township dialogues and the like.

This unusual degree of official enthusiasm serves, to some observers, to underline quite how far and fast this country appears to be steering away from the West, not just towards a more multi-polar world, but firmly into China and, to a lesser extent, Russia's orbit.

Fukushima: China retaliates as Japan releases treated nuclear water

Japan has begun its controversial discharge of treated waste water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, sparking protests in the region and retaliation from Beijing.

China is the biggest buyer of seafood from Japan, and on Thursday it said it would block all such imports.

Japan says the water is safe, and many scientists agree. The UN's nuclear watchdog has also approved the plan.

But critics say more studies need to be done and the release should be halted.

More than a million tonnes of water stored at the nuclear plant will be discharged over the next 30 years.

China, which has been the most vocal of opponents since the plan was announced two years ago, called the water discharge an "extremely selfish and irresponsible act" and said Japan was "passing an open wound onto the future generations of humanity".

Shortly afterwards, China's customs office announced that an existing ban on seafood imports from Fukushima and some prefectures would be immediately extended to cover the whole of Japan to "protect the health of Chinese consumers".

The move is calculated to inflict economic damage, and Japan has admitted that businesses will take a "significant" hit. Mainland China and Hong Kong together import more than $1.1bn (£866m) of seafood from Japan every year - making up nearly half of Japan's seafood exports.

But analysts say that the reactions from China in particular, are as much motivated by politics as they are by genuine concerns.

China also cools reactors with seawater... This is just politics.

China has been aggressively targeting Australia with tariffs and bans for years now and struggled to make much impact. I’m sure Japan will be able to ride this one out.

Johnny Kitagawa: J-pop talent agency boss told to quit over predator's abuse

The late star-maker Johnny Kitagawa's niece must resign as head of the talent agency that he allegedly used to sexually abuse aspiring pop stars in Japan, investigators have said.

The agency was also told to compensate Kitagawa's victims, whose accounts featured in a BBC documentary in March.

Johnny and Associates apologised after the coverage led more people to come forward saying they had been abused.

But victims said Johnny and Associates needed to do more to make amends.

Kitagawa was arguably the most influential figure in Japan's entertainment industry. His agency has held a near-monopoly on Japanese boy bands for decades.

Allegations of sexual exploitation had dogged his career - some were proven in a civil court - but he never faced charges. He continued recruiting and training teenage boys until his death four years ago, at the age of 87.

His death was a national event - even Japan's prime minister at the time sent condolences.

Family management at the agency "is one of the biggest causes of governance failure" that caused the abuse to persist for decades, according to the independent investigators, who released their report on Tuesday.

Therefore, replacing Kitagawa's niece Julie Keiko Fujishima as president and CEO is "necessary", they said, adding this would also allow Johnny and Associates to restructure its leadership.

It is definitely peak coup season in Africa.

Gen Brice Oligui Nguema: Who is Gabon's coup leader?

After deposing Gabonese President Ali Bongo, Gen Brice Oligui Nguema was carried through the streets by his triumphant troops, who chanted "Oligui, président! Oligui, président!".

The 48-year-old general certainly appears to to be a man of the people as he's held aloft by his soldiers, but to many, he's an unexpected leader.

Just five years ago, he barely existed in Gabon's public consciousness, having spent 10 years outside the country after being dismissed from the inner circle of the Bongo family, who until Wednesday had ruled Gabon for almost 56 years.

On Gen Nguema's return, he quietly rose to the army's highest position. Here he dedicated his days to maintaining President Ali Bongo's regime.

Gabon's new strongman was born in Gabon's province of Haut-Ogooué. The area is a stronghold of the Bongo family and some even say that Gen Nguema is Ali Bongo's cousin.

Gen Nguema took after his father and pursued a career in the military. At a very young age, he joined Gabon's powerful Republican Guard unit, having first trained at Morocco's prestigious military academy.

The ambitious young officer quickly attracted the attention of the military top brass and became an assistant to then-president Omar Bongo, who was Ali Bongo's father.

It is said Gen Nguema was extremely close to Omar Bongo - he served the autocrat until his death in 2009.

"He's someone who wasn't expected [to lead Gabon] at this time," Edwige Sorgho-Depagne, an analyst of African politics who works for Amber Advisers, told BBC's Newsday programme.

Fukushima: China's anger at Japan is fuelled by disinformation

Rocks thrown at schools, threats of a boycott and hundreds of hostile phone calls - these are just some of the ways Chinese people have shown their displeasure with Japan in recent weeks.

The catalyst? Japan's release of treated waste water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.

Scientists largely agree that the impact will be negligible, but China has strongly protested the release.

And disinformation has only fuelled fear and suspicion in China.

A report by a UK-based data analysis company called Logically, which aims to fight misinformation, claims that since January, the Chinese government and state media have been running a coordinated disinformation campaign targeting the release of the waste water.

As part of this, mainstream news outlets in China have continually questioned the science behind the nuclear waste water discharge.

The rhetoric has only increased since the water was released on 24 August, stoking public anger.

In recent days, a rock was thrown at a Japanese children's school in Qingdao, while another school in Shandong had several eggs hurled into its compound. A brick was also thrown at the Japanese embassy in Beijing this week.

While there have been no reports of Japanese nationals in China being hurt, or companies being damaged, Tokyo has demanded that Beijing ensures the safety of its citizens.

Japan's foreign ministry even warned its citizens in China to be cautious and to avoid speaking Japanese loudly in public.

"China always protects the safety and legitimate rights and interests of foreigners in China, in accordance with law," China's foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in response to the demand, insisting that Beijing has considered the "so-called concerns of the Japanese side".

Teacher suicide exposes parent bullying in S Korea

On 5 June, Lee Min-so* described in her diary the fear that overtook her body as she entered her classroom to teach: "My chest feels too tight. I feel like I'm going to fall somewhere. I don't even know where I am."

On 3 July the primary school teacher wrote that she had become so overwhelmed by the craziness of work she "wanted to let go".

Two weeks later, the 23-year-old was found dead in her classroom store cupboard by her colleagues. She had taken her own life.

This tragedy has unleashed a wave of anger from primary school teachers across South Korea.

Tens of thousands of them went on strike on Monday to demand better protection at work. They say they're frequently harassed by overbearing parents, who call them all hours of the day and weekends, incessantly and unfairly complaining.

Min-so's cousin, Park Du-yong, struggles not to cry as he straightens out her small, empty apartment, now home to just her goldfish. Her bed is unmade, and beside it sits a pile of drawings from her first-grade students, telling her how much they loved her. Underneath is a stack of library books on how to cope with depression.

Park says his cousin had been teaching for little over a year, fulfilling her childhood dream by following her mother into the profession. She had adored the kids, he says.

So in the days after his cousin's death, which police quickly pinned on a recent breakup, Park assumed the role of detective. He unearthed hundreds of diary entries, work logs and text messages.

They revealed that in the months leading up to her suicide, Min-so had been bombarded by complaints from parents. Most recently, one of her pupils had slashed another child's head with a pencil, and she'd been embroiled in heated late phone calls and messages with the parents.

For the past six weeks, tens of thousands of teachers have rallied in Seoul, claiming they are now so scared of being called child abusers, they are unable to discipline their students or intervene as they attack each other.

They accuse parents of exploiting a child welfare law, passed in 2014, which dictates that teachers who are accused of child abuse are automatically suspended.

Teachers can be reported for child abuse for restraining a violent child, while a telling off is frequently labelled as emotional abuse. Such accusations can see teachers immediately removed from their jobs.

One teacher received a complaint after denying a parent's request to wake their child up with a phone call each morning. Another was reported for emotional abuse after taking reward stickers off a boy who had cut his classmate with scissors.

At one protest, 28-year old teacher Kim Jin-seo said that she had experienced suicidal thoughts, and needed three months off work, following two particularly aggressive complaints. In one case she had asked a disruptive pupil to take five minutes to gather their thoughts in the toilet, while in the other she had reported a child to his parents for fighting. In both instances, the school forced her to apologise.

Kim said she reached the point where she did not feel she could safely teach her class: "We teachers feel extremely disempowered. Those who have had experienced this first-hand are fundamentally changed, and those who haven't, have seen it happen to others, so either way it is debilitating."

Fuelling this culture of complaining is South Korea's hyper-competitive society, where almost everything hinges on academic success. Students compete fiercely for the best grades from a very young age, to one day get into the best universities. Outside school, parents send their children to study at expensive extra-curriculum schools known as hagwons, which operate from 5am to 10pm. Whereas families in Korea used to have five or six children, now most have just one, meaning they have just one shot at success.

Japan may seek to dissolve Moonies church in wake of Shinzo Abe killing

Japan’s government may ask courts to order the dissolution of the Unification church following the assassination in July last year of the former prime minister Shinzo Abe, according to multiple local reports.

The church, whose members are known colloquially as Moonies, could be subject to a court order to disband as early as next month, pending the completion of an inquiry into the group’s controversial fundraising activities, according to the Kyodo news agency, which cited an unnamed government source.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying the government has concluded that dissolution would be appropriate given that the church had engaged in “vicious, organised and continued” activities that outweighed considerations of religious freedoms enshrined in the constitution.

Under Japan’s religious corporations law, a court can issue a dissolution order if an organisation has committed acts that are “clearly recognised as being substantially detrimental to public welfare”.

An astonishingly successful assassination. When is the last time you can remember somebody assassinating the former leader of a country, and the majority of said country going "....I mean, he kinda had a point."?

Dominican Republic closes all borders with Haiti as tensions rise on island both countries share

DAJABON, Dominican Republic (AP) — The Dominican Republic shut all land, air and sea borders with Haiti on Friday in a dispute about construction of a canal on Haitian soil that taps into a shared river, as armed Dominican soldiers patrolled entry points and military planes roared overhead.

Flights were canceled and border towns usually teeming with vendors and Haitians crossing daily to work in the Dominican Republic were subdued. Crowds of people on the Haitian side gathered under the shade of trees as they observed the scene on Friday. Nearby, a white flag fluttered in the breeze under a Haitian flag in a sign of peace.

It was unclear how long the rare closure of the borders will last, with Dominican President Luis Abinader saying the measure will remain in place “as long as necessary.” The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the canal project violates a 1929 treaty and “must be halted immediately before pursuing any other dialogue.”

The diplomatic crisis began earlier this month when workers in Haiti resumed construction of a canal near the Massacre River that runs along the border, to help alleviate a drought that hit Haiti’s Maribaroux plain. The river is named after a bloody clash between Spanish and French colonizers in the 18th century, and was the site of a mass killing of Haitians by the Dominican army in 1937.