Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will lead Friday prayers in the capital Tehran. The rare move comes in the wake of protests over the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane by Iran’s military last week. The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 was travelling to Kiev from Tehran on 8 January when it was shot down shortly after take-off, no survivors.
Famous French chef Paul Bocuse’s flagship restaurant lost its coveted three-star Michelin rating for the first time in more than 50 years. Mr. Bocuse had died nearly two years ago. A statement issued by the restaurant and Mr. Boscuse’s family said that while they were upset by the inspector’s judgement, they would ’never want to lose the soul of Paul’.
Xi Jinping, the President of China arrived in Myanmar on Friday for a state visit which is meant to deepen bilateral relations at a critical time. The Chinese President was given a lavish welcome when he arrived in Myanmar. The 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries was marked by the visit.
The US military has confirmed that 11 of its troops were treated for symptoms of concussion after an Iranian missile attack on an Iraqi base earlier this month. The attack was retaliation for a US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani. A spokesman for the military said ’several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed’.
China’s birth rate has fallen to its lowest since 1949. This comes despite the easing of the one-child policy. The birth rate was 10.48 per thousand in 2019, translating into the number of babies born in 2019 dropping by 580,000 to 14.65 million. However, despite the birth rate falling, a lower death rate meant China’s population hit 1.4 billion in 2019 (up from 1.39 billion).
Hong Kong Express Airways apologized after it forced a passenger to take a pregnancy test. Airline staff demanded Midori Nishida undergo the health assessment ahead of her flight to the island of Saipan. The islands are popular for foreign women to give birth as it gives US citizenship eligibility. The airline said it was trying to ’ensure US immigration laws were not undermined’.
This year’s Best Countries Report compiled by U.S. News & World Report and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has ranked Denmark, Sweden and Norway as the best countries to raise a child. ’These countries tend to have generous paternal leave and maternal leave, offer free preschool and have good overall public education systems’, a researcher said. The US came in at number 18.
Officials in Mexico have revealed that an explosion took place at a fireworks market. The fireworks market is located outside Mexico City, the capital of the country. Officials have also reported that 29 people have died in the explosion at the fireworks market.
The Senate opened the impeachment trial of President Trump on Thursday with Chief Justice John Roberts swearing in the 100 senators. Earlier in the day, the two articles of impeachment were read out on the floor. At least two-thirds of the senators would have to vote to convict the president. The trial will get underway substantively when the Senate reconvenes after the holiday weekend on Tuesday.
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned about the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the role of saving and restoring forests can be of paramount significance in the battle against climate change, according to experts. Research in recent years has shown how increased forest cover can provide one-thirds of the mitigation required between now and 2030.
Ahead of the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Myanmar, streets in the country’s capital Naypyitaw have been decorated with banners celebrating 70 years of Myanmar-China relations. This is his first visit to the Southeast Asian country.
Ten people belonging to a religious sect New Light of God have been arrested for killing seven indigenous people, including a pregnant woman and five of her children in exorcism rituals in western Panama. 15 more people have been freed. The bodies were found buried in a pit. Police said the seven were killed after being tortured, burned and hacked with machetes to make them ’repent their sins’.
Libya’s renegade General Khalifa Haftar has ’agreed to comply’ with the terms of an existing ceasefire agreement in Libya, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Since the 2011 ouster and killing of Moammar Gadhafi, the country is divided into rival administrations, the Tripoli-based one in the west and the one based in the country’s east, supported by Hifter’s forces.
Nearly 45 million people from the 16-nation Southern African Development Community are suffering from hunger due to repeated instances of drought, economic disarray and widespread flooding. The same was reported by the United Nations World Food Program. Climate change is thought to be directly responsible for the dire condition that the region finds itself in currently.
An unsourced message with photos of a female baby doll with male genitals was found circling the Internet. According to it, the ’trans dolls’ were found in a ’Planet of Toys’ store in the Russian town of Novosibirsk. In Russia it is prohibited to tell or suggest to children that trans people exist so these possibly defective dolls are presented as evidence of illegal propaganda.
Iran has been called on to take full responsibility for the passenger plane which was shot down by them, by Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne. The Foreign Minister spoke on behalf of all the 176 victims from five countries.
Dozens of teenage girls were suspected of being groomed and abused in Manchester in the 2000s by gangs of men from Asian backgrounds but police failed to act because of fear of upsetting race relations, a new probe has suggested. The report centering around Operation Augusta, which was set up in 2004 after the death of a girl who reported being raped and alerted authorities about the abuse.
An 83-year-old former Spanish bank chairman has been convicted of smuggling a painting of Pablo Picasso abroad after it had been designated as a national treasure. Jaime Botin was fined 52 million Euros for smuggling the painting. Along with the fine, Botin was also given a prison term of 18 months.
The Taliban have given the US envoy their offer for a temporary cease-fire in Afghanistan that would last between seven and 10 days, in an effort to restart peace negotiations with the US that were abruptly called off last year by Trump. The cease-fire offer was handed to Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s envoy for talks with the insurgents, late Wednesday. Washington is yet to respond to it.