China should scrap ‘picking quarrels’ crime, says leading lawyer

Suggestion to abolish catch-all offence will be among thousands considered at Chinese Communist party summit

China should abolish the catch-all crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a political delegate has proposed before next week’s major Two Sessions legislative meeting.

Zhu Zhengfu, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) advisory body, said the law risked undermining China’s legal system and was open to “selective enforcement” by authorities, according to state media.

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Confusion surrounds China’s energy policies as GDP and climate goals clash

Wave of permits for coal-fired power plants sparks concern as ambitions for GDP growth and lowering emissions come into conflict

China’s energy policies are fast creating a type of “emissions ambiguity”, as the twin goals of boosting GDP growth and reducing carbon emissions come into conflict.

The uncertainty is whether and when the world’s biggest carbon emitter will start to curb greenhouse gas pollution. The release of the country’s annual statistics communique on Tuesday did not clear things up.

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Japan’s top ad agency indicted over Olympics bid-rigging scandal

Dentsu Group charged after arrest of Tokyo 2020 committee official accused of rigging Games-related tenders

Japan’s biggest advertising agency and five other companies have been indicted for allegedly violating an anti-monopoly law, in a corruption scandal over allegations of bid-rigging during the Tokyo Olympics.

The indictment followed the arrest this month of a senior Tokyo 2020 organising committee official and three others who were accused of rigging a string of Olympic Games-related tenders.

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North Korea’s Kim Jong-un sounds alarm on agriculture amid reports of food shortages

Leader says agriculture needs ‘fundamental transformation’ and makes hitting grain targets a priority as country isolated by sanctions struggles

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has urged government officials to engineer a “fundamental transformation” in agricultural production, state media reported, amid fears that the country’s food shortage is worsening.

Kim said hitting grain production targets this year was a priority and emphasised the importance of stable agriculture production during the second day of a key meeting of the Workers’ party, the state news agency KCNA said on Tuesday.

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Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 370 of the invasion

Russian forces attempt to close ring around Bakhmut; Russia refusing to compromise on annexed Ukrainian territories

The military situation is becoming increasingly difficult around the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday as many of Ukraine’s battlefields turn to mud. “In the Bakhmut sector, the situation is constantly becoming more difficult,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly address. “The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions for fortification and defence.” Russia’s defence ministry claimed its forces destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot near the town – the focal point of Russia’s advances in eastern Ukraine – also shooting down four Himars missiles and five drones launched by Ukrainian forces.

Russia’s Pulkovo airport in St Petersburg temporarily suspended all flights on Tuesday amid unconfirmed media reports of an unidentified object such as a drone being seen nearby. Some flights were diverted back to Moscow while the airport was shut for around an hour. Russia’s ministry of defence later announced there had been a training exercise between air defences and civilian aviation authorities.

Emergency services put out a fire at an oil depot in southern Russia overnight after a drone was spotted flying overhead, the RIA news agency said on Tuesday. The fire in the Russian town of Tuapse, Krasnador, was reported at 2.30am local time and spread to an area of about 200 sq metres before it was extinguished. “The oil tanks were not affected. There was no spill of oil products. No injuries,” said Sergei Boyko, who leads the local administration.

The Russian ministry of defence has stated that it foiled two attempted Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil using drones overnight. It said “28 February, at night, the Kyiv regime attempted to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to attack civilian infrastructure in the Krasnodar territory and the Republic of Adygea.”

A drone that was downed in the Moscow region had probably been intended to attack civil infrastructure, according to the region’s governor. The drone was downed on Tuesday near a gas distribution station close to the city of Kolomna, 110km (70 miles) south-east of Moscow, the Russian state-run Ria Novosti news agency reported, citing local emergency services.

A hacking attack caused some Russian regional broadcasters to put out a false warning on Tuesday urging people to take shelter from an incoming missile attack, the emergencies ministry said. “As a result of the hacking of servers of radio stations and TV channels, in some regions of the country information about the announcement of an air alert was broadcast. This information is false and does not correspond to reality”. A similar attack caused commercial radio stations in some Russian regions to send air alarm messages on Wednesday 22 February.

Vladimir Putin has told Russia’s FSB security service to step up its intelligence activity and stop “sabotage groups” entering the country. In a speech to FSB officials, the Russian leader instructed the agency to strengthen its activity to counter what he described as growing espionage and sabotage operations against Russia by Ukraine and its western allies.

Putin also admitted that FSB members have been killed in Ukraine in his speech to security service members. “Unfortunately, there are losses in our ranks,” he said.

Peskov has said that Russia is open to negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine, but insisted Moscow would “never compromise” on what he described as new “territorial realities”. “There are certain realities that have already become an internal factor. I mean the new territories. The constitution of the Russian Federation exists, and cannot be ignored. Russia will never be able to compromise on this. These are important realities,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Ukraine will become a Nato member in the “long term”, the alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said. The Nato chief stressed that the immediate priority was Ukraine remaining an independent country in the face of the Russian invasion.

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, is due to visit Beijing on Tuesday for a meeting with China’s president Xi Jinping, in a high-profile trip symbolising the widening gulf between the US and China over the war in Ukraine. Xi’s meeting with Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin, is seen internationally as a sign of where Beijing’s sympathies lie.

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Speaking a mother tongue fosters a sense of cultural identity | Letters

Shakeel Suleman, Penny Salter, Jamila Begum and Richard Lamsdale respond to an article by Saima Mir on how language can become lost through generations of immigrants

Saima Mir (My children don’t speak my mother tongue – as a second-generation migrant, it fills me with sadness, 21 February) elegantly highlights the predicament of many parents across the UK, particularly in extended families, where grandparents might as well not be living with family, such is the communication divide. As someone who was lucky enough to learn Urdu in the 1980s, it saddens me also that my children will never be able to understand the language and have no interest in doing so.

As a nation, we are not very advanced when it comes to learning other languages. Yet there is a sense of achievement, even of freedom, that comes with knowing, understanding and appreciating the text of another language, especially when as different as English and Urdu are.
Shakeel Suleman

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How seriously should we take the US DoE’s Covid lab leak theory?

Department of Energy’s updated report on origins of coronavirus pandemic jars with most scientists’ assessments

According to the Wall Street Journal, an updated and classified 2021 US energy department report has concluded that the coronavirus behind the recent pandemic most likely emerged from a laboratory leak but not as part of a weapons programme.

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Lukashenko’s planned Xi meeting shows gulf between China and the US

White House reiterates concerns Beijing considering sending lethal weapons to Russia while claiming to be peacemaker

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus and close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, is due to visit Beijing on Tuesday for a meeting with Xi Jinping, in a high-profile trip symbolising the widening gulf between the US and China over the war in Ukraine.

US officials spent the weekend reiterating their concerns that Beijing is considering sending lethal weapons to Russia, amid China’s attempts to position itself as a peacemaker and deny that it would provide arms to Moscow.

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