Xi Jinping poised to further consolidate power at party congress

Analysts say announcement of a date for gathering suggests any in-party disputes have been reined in

The announcement of a Communist party meeting that is expected to cement Xi Jinping’s agenda for the coming years shows the strength of Xi’s “ultimate authority”, analysts have said.

The CCP’s twice-a-decade meeting will begin on 16 October and is likely to run for several days. Xi, considered the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, is expected to further consolidate his political power, which he has wielded with increasing authoritarianism since taking charge of the party in late 2012.

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‘Just a pile of mud’: Pakistani floods force family to rebuild home again

As well as losing livestock and crops, villagers must rebuild homes for a second time after floods destroyed them in 2010

Ghulam Kubra and her family escaped from their home 30 minutes before the roof collapsed. Fifteen days ago, the mother of four watched in despair as her one-room mud house crumbled. “It rained for two consecutive days non-stop,” she says.

“I could see the cracks in one of the walls, followed by a big gaping hole as rain lashed on it mercilessly,” says Kubra, 32, from Jalal Thebo village, in Tando Allah Yar district, Sindh province.

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Flooding has devastated Pakistan – and Britain’s imperial legacy has made it worse | Shozab Raza

Colonialism and its aftereffects have left regions such as south Punjab resource-starved, poverty-stricken and deeply vulnerable to floodwaters

Devastating flooding in Pakistan has killed more than 1,100 people this summer, injuring and displacing thousands more. Among Pakistan’s political elite, some have claimed that the floods are simply a natural disaster, while others blame climate breakdown. But both groups have failed to address another crucial factor: empire.

Pakistan gained its independence from the British empire in 1947, yet the reverberations of imperialism have endured. As a consequence, peripheral regions such as south Punjab, Balochistan and rural Sindh are resource-starved, exploited and poverty-stricken – factors that have grossly exacerbated the flood’s disastrous effects.

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Burn out: Inside the 2 September Guardian Weekly

On the frontline of Britain’s energy bills crisis. Plus: Visions of outer space
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The spiralling cost of living has been an increasingly urgent problem in the UK. But for many people, huge rises in energy bills are about to turn a difficult situation into an impossible one.

The squeeze on European gas supplies, largely as a consequence of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, has led to a near-doubling of prices in the UK, with even worse predicted for next year. Political inertia, caused by a lengthy Conservative leadership contest, has only added to a deepening sense of national frustration.

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Pakistan floods: before-and-after images show extent of devastation

More than 1,100 people have been killed in flooding described by Pakistan PM Shebaz Sharif as worst in country’s history

New satellite images show the extent of the devastation caused by catastrophic flooding and rains in Pakistan.

The images, from Planet Labs and Maxar, show swaths of green fields, villages and buildings before monsoonal rains and flooding began lashing the country in June.

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I have spent a year helping people flee the Taliban: failure is traumatic, success bittersweet | Ruchi Kumar

We are still trying to find ways to get visas – writing letters, appealing to governments – but the options are running out

It was past midnight on 9 August 2021, and I was immersed in writing when my phone pinged: a message from a contact at the Indian embassy in Kabul. They said the Indian mission in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif was evacuating and offered me a seat on the flight.

There were reports the city would collapse soon and fall to the Taliban. I had already left Mazar, but it was hard to imagine that this historic, metropolitan city could topple so easily. It was too well fortified, as I had witnessed during my recent reporting trip, with hundreds of Afghan forces patrolling its gates.

Ruchi Kumar is a journalist formerly resident in Kabul

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Papua New Guinea hopes to have Australia security deal signed by end of year

Country’s foreign minister says China’s interest in the Pacific required a ‘strengthened’ PNG-Australia treaty

Papua New Guinea hopes to sign a security deal with Australia, as well as possibly New Zealand and the US, by the end of the year, the country’s foreign minister Justin Tkatchenko has said.

Tkatchenko said the security treaty with Australia has been in the works since 2019, but that the recent security deal struck between China and Solomon Islands would require Australia and Papua New Guinea to strengthen the treaty.

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Democracies need constant reform to stay strong, New Zealand has the chance to do that | Golriz Ghahraman

My member’s bill that will look at political donations and expanding voting rights will soon be read in parliament. We need it to pass

Democracy is a human right that in many ways underpins all other rights.

But the symptoms of weakened democracy are all around us. Even here, in New Zealand, where we have one of the world’s least corrupt and most stable democracies, we’re not getting it right.

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China places millions into Covid lockdown again as economy continues to struggle

Key cities of Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dalian are under curbs again, amid protests and data showing factory slowdown

China has placed millions of its citizens under renewed lockdown after fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 as the government persists in its hardline policy on containing the virus in the face of more evidence that it is suffocating the economy.

The measures affected cities from the southern cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou to the northern port city of Dalian, and from the western metropolis of Chengdu to Shijiazhuang in central Hebei province.

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‘I thought I would die before this moment’: one man’s fight against Singapore’s gay sex law

Tan Eng Hong was arrested under the law banning gay male sex and went on to challenge its constitutionality, a landmark moment for gay rights

Tan Eng Hong’s voice wavers as he remembers his 12-year struggle against Section 377A, a law that criminalises sex between men in Singapore. When he heard the announcement this month that the law would finally be repealed, he felt relief. “I thought I would die before I could hear this,” he says. He thanks god, and the universe, that he is alive to witness such a landmark moment.

It was in 2010 that Tan Eng Hong experienced one of the most difficult episodes in his life. He was arrested by police for having oral sex with a consenting adult man in a locked toilet cubicle at a mall in downtown Singapore after staff at a nearby restaurant reportedly called police.

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