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World Today: Quick Take On Global News


Taiwan MPs Come To Blows Over Parliament Reforms

Taiwan lawmakers shoved, tackled and hit each other in parliament on Friday in a bitter dispute about reforms to the chamber, just days before president-elect Lai Ching-te takes office without a legislative majority. There was chaos all around as lawmakers surged around the speaker’s seat, some leaping over tables and pulling colleagues to the floor. Though calm soon returned, there were more scuffles in the afternoon. Main opposition party the Kuomintang has more seats than the Democratic Progressive Party or DPP but not enough to form a majority on its own, and has been working with the small Taiwan People’s Party to push through its own proposals. The opposition wants to give parliament greater scrutiny powers over the government, including a controversial proposal to criminalise officials who are deemed to make false statements in parliament. DPP says Kuomintang and Taiwan People’s Party are improperly trying to force through the proposals without the customary consultation process.

China Takes Sweeping Steps To Stabilise Property Sector

China has announced some sweeping measures to stabilise the crisis-hit property sector. Local governments have been allowed to buy ‘some’ apartments, mortgage rules have been relaxed and further efforts to deliver unfinished homes have been pledged. After waves of support measures over the past two years failed to turn around the sector, Vice Premier He Lifeng said municipal governments can buy homes at ‘reasonable’ prices. The homes would be used to provide affordable housing, he said, without giving a timeline or a target for the purchases. He also did not disclose how they would be funded. Local governments can now repurchase land sold to developers and authorities will ‘fight hard’ to complete stalled projects, he said. Fresh data showing the fastest drop in new home prices in more than nine years highlighted the worsening state of the real estate sector.

Russia-China Energy Alliance To Grow Stronger: Putin

Russia’s strategic alliance with China in the energy sector will strengthen further, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, adding that Russia was ready to supply China with clean energy. The close relationship between Russia and China is a guarantor of energy security and has enhanced the well-being of the two countries, Putin said, speaking at a Russia-China Expo. Talking about industrial collaboration between the two countries, he said Chinese carmakers entered the Russian market actively; programmes for the construction of wide-bodied long-range aircraft and helicopters are being moved forward. Russia not only welcomes plans by Chinese businesses to localise production on our territory but is ready to supply Chinese investors with economic benefits and access to the Russian technological infrastructure and highly-qualified workforce, Putin said.

Slovak PM Between Life And Death: Viktor Orban

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is between life and death, two days after an assassination attempt that sent shock waves across Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on Friday. The shooting was the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader for more than 20 years, and has drawn international condemnation. “We are praying for the prime minister and root for Slovakia,” Orban said. “We wish him a speedy recovery and return to work. Robert Fico is between life and death.” Orban said even if Fico recovers, he would be out of work for months at a critical time in the run-up to European Parliament elections due early next month.

No Arms Exchanges With Russia: North Korea Leader’s Sister

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Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has denied arms exchanges with Russia, state media reported on Friday. The US and South Korea have accused North Korea of transferring weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the accusations but vowed last year to deepen military relations. Ties between the two countries have strengthened dramatically following Kim Jong Un’s visit to Russia’s far east in September last year and a summit with President Vladimir Putin. Calling the North Korea-Russia arms deal “theory” absurd, Kim Yo Jong said it’s a rumour that does not deserve anybody’s evaluation or interpretation. Kim Yo Jong added North Korea’s weapons are not meant for exports but for defense against South Korea, she said.

China Reconstituting Russian Defence Industry Problematic: US

The United States finds China’s essential reconstitution of Russia’s defense industrial base problematic and will take appropriate action when necessary, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel has said. China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have pledged a “new era” of partnership between the two most powerful rivals of the United States which they cast as an aggressive Cold War hegemon that was sowing chaos across the world.

800,000 Homes Without Electricity After Houston Storm

A severe storm packing hurricane-force winds has swept through Houston, killing at least four people, blowing windows out of high-rise buildings and leaving some 800,000 homes without power as much of the city was plunged into darkness, the mayor said. Social media videos showed power flashes just before several blocks went dark amid the storm. Much of downtown Houston and its commercial district were littered with fallen power lines and glass from shattered windows following the storm, with traffic and street lights knocked out across the city. The mayor said at least four storm-related fatalities had been confirmed, mostly from fallen trees. “Over 800,000 families are without power right now,” he added.

Brazil To Host 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Brazil was declared the host of the 2027 Women’s World Cup at the FIFA Congress on Friday, beating the joint bid of Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. Brazil, which will be the first South American country to hold the tournament, received the backing of 119 member associations of the FIFA Congress, compared to 78 votes for the European bid. Brazil was given a slight edge in the run up to Friday’s vote after a FIFA technical evaluation released last week gave it a score of four out of five, versus 3.7 for the Belgium-Netherlands-Germany bid. The race was whittled down to two last month after the United States and Mexico withdrew their joint bid to pursue the 2031 tournament instead.

Dyke Collapse Causes Floods After Heavy Rain In Colombia

A dyke under construction burst its banks after heavy rain, leaving flooded pastures and damaged farms in the north of Colombia. The infrastructure, which was designed to reduce the flow of the Cauca River to prevent flooding of agricultural land, burst its banks after heavy downpour at the start of the rainy season in the northern department of Bolivar. The ombudsman’s office said some 40,000 people had been affected, including farmers, fishermen and rice growers, according to local media. The dyke has drawn criticism from environmentalists for disrupting the river’s natural flow and threatening to break its walls, as it had already done in 2021, according to local media.