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Aung San Suu Kyi’s jail term reduced



Former Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been pardoned in five of 19 charges brought against her by the military.

The pardon, part of a seasonal amnesty, will reduce her 33-year jail sentence by six years.

Former president Win Myint, who was ousted along with Ms Suu Kyi, also received a reduced jail sentence after getting two of his charged pardoned.

Periodic amnesties have been announced before, but this is the first time they have included Ms Suu Kyi and Mr Myint.

The military junta has made other concessions in what appears to be an effort to revive stalled diplomacy efforts.

Last week, Ms Suu Kyi was moved from prison to house arrest in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

The 78-year-old Nobel laureate has been detained by the military since February 2021 following the coup that ousted her.

The coup triggered civil war in the country, and has led to the deaths of thousands of people.

The military junta has also been accused of unleashing disproportionate violence against those opposing its rule.

Some countries, notably China and Thailand, have started a dialogue with the junta, but these initiatives have been criticised for excluding Ms Suu Kyi’s party which won a huge majority in 2020 elections.

The extent of the win led the military to allege election fraud – which they then used as a justification for the coup.

Any negotiations of a compromise with the international community would almost certainly require the involvement of Ms. Suu Kyi. She has, however, been kept isolated since her arrest after the coup. Almost no news had emerged about her condition for more than two years.

Ms Suu Kyi is appealing the convictions to the other offences, which ranges from election fraud to corruption,

All the charges – which she has denied – were brought against her in closed-door, military-run trials. Rights groups have condemned the court trials as a sham.

The military junta on Monday postponed an election promised to be held by August this year following its coup two years ago.

(BBC News)


India suspends visas for Canadians




India has suspended visa services for Canadian citizens amid an escalating row over the killing of a Sikh separatist on Canadian soil.

Visa service provider BLS posted a message from India’s mission blaming “operational reasons” for the decision.

Tensions flared this week after Canada said it was investigating “credible allegations” linking India with the murder of the separatist leader.

India angrily rejected the allegation calling it “absurd”.

Analysts say relations between the countries, which have been strained for months, are now at an all-time low.

The message about the suspension of visas was first posted on the BLS website on Thursday.

“Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice,” it read.

India’s foreign ministry refused to comment on the matter and asked the BBC to refer to the BLS website.

The move comes a day after India issued an advisory urging its citizens travelling to or living in Canada to “exercise utmost caution” in view of the “growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada”.

Canada has 1.4 million people of Indian origin, making up 3.7% of the country’s population, according to the 2021 census. India also sends the highest number of international students to Canada – in 2022, they made up 40% of total overseas students at 320,000.

(BBC News)

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One in 10 people now aged 80 or older




For the first time ever, more than one in 10 people in Japan are now aged 80 or older.

National data also shows 29.1% of the 125 million population is aged 65 or older- a record.

Japan has one of the lowest birth-rates in the world and has long struggled with how to provide for its ageing population.

It has the world’s oldest population, measured by the proportion of people aged 65 or up, the United Nations says.

That proportion stands at 24.5% in Italy and 23.6% in Finland, which rank second and third respectively.

In Japan, those aged over 65 are expected to account for 34.8% of the population by 2040, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

The country’s elderly employment rate is among the highest across major economies – workers aged 65 or more make up more than 13% of the national workforce.

But this has done little to relieve the burden on the country’s social security spending.

Japan has approved a record budget for the next fiscal year, in part due to rising social security costs.

Efforts to boost its birth rates have also met with little success amid the growing cost of living, and notoriously long working hours.

Birth rates are slowing in many countries, including Japan’s neighbours, but the problem is particularly acute in Japan.

The country was estimated to have had fewer than 800,000 babies born last year – the lowest number since records began in the 19th century.

In the 1970s, that figure was more than two million.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in January that his country is on the brink of not being able to function as a society because of its declining birth rate.

However authorities remain hesitant about accepting migrant workers as a solution to falling fertility.

Other countries in Asia are facing similar demographic challenges.

Last year, China’s population fell for the first time since 1961, while South Korea has reported the lowest fertility rate in the world.

(BBC News)

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UK to ban American bully XL dogs




The British government has announced steps to outlaw the American bully XL by the end of the year.

The American bully XL  is a popular breed that likely descended from pit bulls.

The ban was announced after a string of dog attacks that caused outrage on social media last week.

PM Rishi Sunak said it was clear the American XL bullies were “a danger to communities” and a ban was needed.

He added that experts and police will work together to “accurately define the breed” and powers will be used in the Dangerous Dogs Act.

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