Wednesday, 23 November, 2022
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Taliban wages deadly battle for Afghan city, and France set to ban phones in schools

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Pope Francis’ ‘patchy’ crackdown on sexual abuse, and Iran’s Supreme Leader is not pleased with President Hassan Rouhani.

Death toll mounts as Taliban fights for control of Afghan city

After four days of battle between the Taliban and security forces in Afghanistan’s Ghazni, the toll has cross 300, including an estimated 20-30 civilians, Al Jazeera reported. The city is a “strategic point linking Kabul with southern Afghanistan”.

Taliban was in control of much of the city by SundayAl Jazeera reported, three days after they laid siege to the city and close on the heels of a brief truce in June.
The report quoted Afghan defence minister Tariq Shah Bahrami as saying that 194 Taliban fighters, including 12 of their “key commanders”, had also been killed, “mostly by US air raids”.

“Roads in and out of the city have been damaged and obstructed by Taliban forces to prevent Afghan reinforcements arriving, but residents who escaped the violence on foot have described seeing dead bodies in the street and buildings on fire,” the report adds.

French bill to ban mobile phones in schools in parliament

The Emmanuel Macron-led French government is hoping a bill to ban mobile phones in schools will have a smooth ride through parliament owing to his party’s comfortable majority, Reuters reports. They are eyeing quick passage for the bill, moved in the national assembly on 9 August, so that the provision kicks with the new academic session that begins September-October.

According to the Reuters report, around 90 per cent of children aged 12 years and older possess a mobile phone in France. Terming the measure a “detox”, French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said, “You can’t find your way in a world of technology if you can’t read, write, count, respect others and work in a team.”

The inclusion of teachers in the bill has stoked protests, with many claiming it might prove a security risk.

After China vaccine scandal, viral post calls for ‘unleashed pets’ to be poisoned   

A viral online article calling on people to poison unleashed dogs has stoked panic in China, which is still reeling under a massive scandal involving defective rabies vaccines, The Global Times reported.

According to the WHO, China records the world’s second-highest number of rabies cases.
The online circular also describes ways to poison dogs. “The author suggests putting isoniazid, an antibiotic used for the treatment of tuberculosis, in food to poison unleashed pet dogs,” The Global Times report added.

While the circular has been criticised by many, it has also found supporters, especially in light of the recent scandal.

Pope Francis has patchy record on sex abuse crackdown, say analysts

Despite the several breakthroughs made during Pope Francis’ papacy, analysts say his handling of sexual abuse cases has been mixed at best, The Washington Post reports. This is “something some outsiders attribute to his learning curve or shortcomings and others chalk up to resistance from a notoriously change-averse institution”, the report adds.

“Francis has called on churches to maintain a ‘zero tolerance’ policy and warned about the ‘sin of covering up and denial, the sin of the abuse of power’. But the Vatican declined to distribute to bishops conferences suggested guidelines, drawn up by the commission advising Francis on sexual abuse, on how to respond to abuse complaints and cooperate with civil authorities,” The Washington Post reports.

Gaming giant Nintendo sues portals for offering classics for downloads 

Game developer and gaming console manufacturer Nintendo has sued online gaming portals LoveRetro and LoveRoms for offering unauthorised versions of its trademarked classic computer games for download, the BBC reports.”In its legal action, Nintendo is seeking $150,000 (£117,000) for each Nintendo game offered and up to $2m for each trademark infringement,” the report adds.

Both LoveRetro and LoveRoms are registered under the same company name, Mathias Designs. The websites’ lawyer Lance Venable said he was hopeful about arriving at an amicable solution with Nintendo, the report added.

Iran’s supreme leader takes on America, criticises Rouhani too

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruled out any possibility of a military confrontation with the United States and Iran, Reuters reported, even as he rejected America’s request for unconditional talks to improve bilateral ties.

Citing Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal as “proof of America’s untrustworthiness”, Khamenei said, “I ban holding any talks with America… America never remains loyal to its promises in talks.”

The Trump administration pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May this year, terming the agreement “decaying and rotten”, and reimposed the sanctions in place before the deal was signed between the US, a few European nations, China, Russia and Iran.

Khamenei also lashed out at the Iranian government for the country’s current economic mess, blaiming President Hassan Rouhani’s policies for the falling currency value, rising inflation, unemployment and corruption.

Contributed by Sankalita Dey, Avishek Jha and Aastha Singh. 

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