July 2023



Odisha train crash probe

An investigation into the June 2 Odisha train crash, in which at least 288 people have died, may have been caused by the manual over riding of a track signal, according to anonymous sources. The collision between a packed express train and a stationary freight train is India’s worst crash in two decades and comes as Indian Railways, the fourth largest train network in the world, is undergoing a $30 billion transformation to boost infrastructure and connectivity.

Taiwan tensions

A Chinese aircraft carrier group led by the vessel Shandong has sailed through the Taiwan Strait amid heightened military tensions over the island Beijing claims as its own territory.Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the Shandong, commissioned in 2019, sailed in a southerly direction through the western part of the strait. Taiwan, it added, dispatched ‘appropriate forces’ to monitor Chinese activities.The aircraft carrier participated in Chinese military drills near Taiwan in April, operating in the western Pacific, while in March 2022, it sailed through the Taiwan Strait, just hours before the leaders of China and the US were due to talk.

Election triumph for Erdogan

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been re-elected for a historic third term in office, in spite of widespread criticism of his government’s response to the earthquake in February and amid predictions that the country’s economic crisis will deepen further under his continued leadership. His victory over Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the left-leaning CHP, leaves Turkey a deeply divided nation, with the opposition having described the election as a last stand for Turkish democracy and accusing Erdogan of damaging the country’s democratic institutions during his 20-year rule. 

ASEAN in deadlock

South-east Asian neighbours of conflict-riven Myanmar must consider imposing measures to hold its military rulers accountable, a United Nations expert has said, adding that the bloc is ‘deadlocked’ over how to resolve the ongoing crisis. UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Mr Thomas Andrews, said the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) must not engage with Myanmar’s military leaders as there had been no progress in implementing a five-point peace plan agreed between the bloc and the junta after it seized power in a 2021 coup.

Japan’s fight-back against sexual violence

A woman’s decision to share details of her sexual assault on YouTube has led to five soldiers being dishonourably discharged from the Japanese military and the unit commander being suspended for six months. While serving in the army, Rina Gonoi, 23, was harassed on a daily basis, culminating in a sexual attack by male colleagues in 2021. Yether complaint to her superiors was dismissed and she subsequently left the army. The response to Rina going public has been powerful, with more than 1400 people – men and women – having filed complaints of sexual assault following a special investigation into harassment cases by the Defence Ministry.

India’s diabetes time bomb

A 10-year study commissioned by the Indian health ministry, involving 113,000 participants across every state, estimates that more than 101 million people in India – 11.4% of the population – are living with diabetes. While the disease is most prevalent in Goa (26.4%), followed closely by Puducherry and Kerala, the study also warned of a sharp rise in cases in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Arunachal Pradesh and found that diabetes was more frequent in urban rather than rural settings.


South Korean actress dies at 29

South Korean actress Park Soo-ryun, who was in the K-drama Snowdrop from 2021 to 2022, has tragically died in a freak accident. According to South Korean media outlet Osen, she fell down the stairs at her home and, despite emergency treatment, was declared brain-dead later in hospital. In her memory, Park Soo-ryun’s bereaved family have decided to donate her organs to patients waiting for a transplant.


Hallé appoints Singaporean conductor

Manchester’s world-famous Hallé Orchestra has appointed Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong asits principal conductor and artistic advisor from September 2024, with an initial contract of five years. Wong, 36, started his musical life playing the cornet in his primary school brass band and then composed for wind orchestras during his national service in the military band. He studied opera and orchestral conducting in Berlin, before becoming the first Asian to win the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition.


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