Pakistani journalist’s killing in Kenya ‘a pre-meditated murder’

Fact-finding team sent by Pakistani government finds contradictions in reports on Arshad Sharif’s death

A team set up by the Pakistani government to investigate the killing of a well-known Pakistani journalist in Nairobi said it found several contradictions in the version given by Kenyan authorities, and believes it was a case of pre-meditated murder.

The TV journalist Arshad Sharif, who had fled Pakistan citing threats to his life, was shot dead in Nairobi in October. Kenyan officials said it was a case of mistaken identity and that police hunting car thieves opened fire on his vehicle as it drove through a roadblock without stopping.

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Without effective vaccines, China’s economy may not heal

Changes to zero-Covid policy could prove insufficient if lockdowns are expected to continue

China’s nearly three-year policy of enacting strict lockdowns to contain outbreaks of Covid-19 came with a heavy price for the world’s second largest economy.

The question for its president, Xi Jinping, and his inner court of advisers is whether a sudden relaxation of lockdown rules brought in this week will both prevent a recurrence of the shockwave of protests across the country and turn the economy around.

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Markets optimistic as China eases Covid rules, but experts warn of danger ahead

Amid signs that supply chain woes are improving, economists remain uncertain that China is ready to live with Covid

Global shares and the price of some key commodities have risen on hopes that the easing of China’s strict zero-Covid measures would help to bring down inflation, even as some experts warned that the country was not prepared to live with the disease.

China’s government on Wednesday announced a significant shift towards living with the virus. People with Covid-19 who have mild or no symptoms can quarantine at home, while officials have been instructed to stop launching temporary lockdowns. Testing will no longer be required for “cross-regional migrants”.

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Christchurch attack inquiry: coroner declines to remove lawyer after request from families

Senior lawyer assisting coroner will not cross-examine police witnesses after bereaved families objected to her law firm’s work with the police

The coroner leading an inquiry into the 2019 terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques has ruled a senior lawyer assisting her investigation will not cross-examine police witnesses or give advice on officers’ conduct, after bereaved families called for her removal over her law firm’s close work with the police.

But coroner Brigitte Windley said in a ruling published on Friday that there was no allegation of misconduct by the lawyer, Alysha McClintock, who is also a Crown prosecutor. Windley declined the families’ application to remove McClintock from the inquiry altogether, rejecting their arguments that she might face real or perceived conflicts of interest when questioning officers at an inquest.

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All South Koreans to become younger as traditional age system scrapped

June will mark end of system that deemed newborns to be a year old, with a year added every 1 January

South Korea is to scrap its traditional method of counting ages and adopt the international standard – a change that that will knock one or two years off people’s ages on official documents but could take time to seep into daily life.

South Koreans are deemed to be a year old when they are born, and a year is added every 1 January. The unusual – and increasingly unpopular – custom means a baby born on New Year’s Eve becomes two years old as soon as the clock strikes midnight.

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Modi’s BJP clinches landslide election victory in Gujarat

Bharatiya Janata party claims biggest electoral success on record in prime minister’s home state

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, was given a significant boost as his Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) won a landslide victory in his home state of Gujarat, a sign of the party’s enduring popularity before a general election due in 2024.

Gujarat has long been a stronghold of the Hindu nationalist BJP, which has won seven consecutive elections there since 1995, but Thursday’s results were the BJP’s biggest electoral success in the state on record. It looks on course to win a record 156 seats out of 182, giving it an 80% majority, the highest achieved by any party in the state’s history.

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Chinese students in UK told to ‘resist distorting’ China’s Covid policies

Exclusive: comments by diplomat involved in recent Manchester clash appeared threatening, student says

A senior Chinese diplomat involved in the recent violence against pro-democracy protesters in Manchester has suggested Chinese students in Britain should “resist distorting and discrediting” China’s Covid policies.

The comments by China’s consul general in Manchester, Zheng Xiyuan, at a symposium to discuss the work of international students were said by Lyndon Lee, 23, a second-year law student at the University of York, to appear threatening.

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Canada to review ‘disconcerting’ police radio deal with ties to China, says Trudeau

PM says officials signed contracts that have ‘questionable levels of security’ and could leave country exposed

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to review a contract awarded to a Beijing-linked firm to supply and maintain federal police radio equipment, citing possible security concerns.

The half-million dollar contract for a radio frequency filtering system to prevent eavesdropping went to Canada’s Sinclair Technologies, which is controlled by China’s Hytera Communications.

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Is China finally about to relax its zero-Covid policy?

People with Covid who have mild or no symptoms can now quarantine at home, but PCR tests are still required to enter many places

In the strongest sign so far that China is rolling back on its long-running zero-Covid policy, the national health commission said that people with Covid-19 who have mild or no symptoms can quarantine at home. The directive also instructed officials to halt temporary lockdowns and ended testing and health code requirements for people entering Beijing.

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Bali bomb maker Umar Patek released from Indonesian prison

Extremist was jailed 10 years ago over role in 2002 attacks, which killed more than 200 people

One of the bomb makers in the 2002 Bali attacks that killed more than 200 people has been released on parole, despite the opposition of Australia’s prime minister, who described him as “abhorrent”.

Umar Patek, a member of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, was jailed for 20 years in 2012 after he was found guilty of mixing bombs that ripped through two Bali nightclubs, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.

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A royal commission gives New Zealand a chance to reckon with what Covid did to us | Henry Cooke

New Zealand needs a robust debate about the success of its elimination strategy in 2020, and the messy failure in late 2021

It’s hard to describe just how good New Zealand felt as summer began at the end of 2020.

Aotearoa had seemingly got through the pandemic unscathed, relying on a zero-Covid or “elimination” strategy. We had been in alert level 1 since October, meaning there were no real restrictions on daily life, with huge music festivals and parties going ahead while much of the western world was still struggling with lockdowns.

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Health officials gain guardianship of baby whose parents refused ‘vaccinated blood’ transfusion

New Zealand high court case has become a focus of protests from anti-vaxxers

A New Zealand high court judge has ruled in favour of health authorities who sought guardianship of a baby boy after his parents refused to consent to a transfusion of “vaccinated blood” in a life-saving operation.

The landmark decision, delivered on Thursday, is expected to have wide-ranging ramifications and has become a focus of protests for anti-vaxxers who held demonstrations outside the courtroom.

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China to allow home quarantine as Covid restrictions eased nationwide

Move marks a significant shift away from strict zero-Covid policy that Beijing has pursued for almost three years

China’s government has said people with Covid-19 who have mild or no symptoms can quarantine at home, in a significant shift towards living with the virus.

The 10-point directive, issued on Wednesday afternoon by China’s national health commission, also instructed officials to stop launching temporary lockdowns, and ended testing and health code requirements for “cross-regional migrants”, suggesting much freer travel across China for the lunar new year period.

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Indonesia’s sex ‘morality’ laws are just one part of a broader, chilling crackdown on dissent

Analysis: the moralistic aspects of the new criminal code risk obscuring wider concerns about a stifling of protest and criticism of the state

Indonesia’s new criminal code limits the right to protest and participate in the public sphere, threatens the freedom of women and LGBTQ people and represents a trend of vague or “rubber” laws that are open to broad interpretation and selective implementation, experts have warned.

With provisions restoring a ban on insulting the president, state institutions and state ideology, as well as extramarital and premarital sex, the code will come into effect within three years, following Indonesia’s 2024 elections. Insults to a sitting president can lead to up to three years in jail.

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Hana Kimura death: Mother of reality star sues producers of Terrace House TV show

Kyoko Kimura claims the reality TV programme triggered cyber bullying that led to her daughter’s death

The mother of Hana Kimura, a former professional wrestler who killed herself after appearing in the Japanese reality TV show Terrace House, has sued the programme’s producers, claiming the show triggered the cyberbullying that led to her death.

Kimura, 22, killed herself in May 2020 after being subjected to abuse and harassment on social media following her appearances on the popular show, which featured a disparate group of strangers living together.

International helplines can be found at befrienders.org. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 or chat for support. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis text line counselor. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14.

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