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Taliban gives green light to education, but not without the great divide

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As Afghan women return to the classroom, they’re confronted with a flash from the past as hierarchy comes to the education system.

Women’s rights at stake in Afghanistan

For the first time since the Taliban’s takeover, students are returning to their studies at Afghanistan universities.

Female students are among those included in the return, a move many thought wouldn’t happen under the group’s governance.

But it doesn’t come without change.

Afghan women now have to learn with a curtain or board placed in the middle of the classroom to divide them from their male counterparts.

Meanwhile, other reports suggest female students are excluded from sections of the university altogether.

On a path to traditional ways

Many Afghan women feared their right to accessing education would be revoked under the Taliban.

While this isn’t the case, many feel that they’re on a path to returning to traditional ways.

“Putting up curtains is not acceptable,” Anjila, a 21-year-old student at Kabul University who returned to find her classroom partitioned, told Reuters.

“I really felt terrible when I entered the class … We are gradually going back to 20 years ago.”

A document circulating private universities suggests new guidelines and policies women must follow if they wish to return to campus.

Such new rules include mandatory wearing of hijabs and separate entrances for women.

It’s also been reported that female teachers are only allowed to teach a female cohort in some circumstances.

While it’s unclear if this document is from the Taliban, a spokesperson told Reuters that dividers in classrooms to separate male and female congregations is acceptable and that they ask women to keep studying.

Are they really supporting women’s rights?

Under the Taliban’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001, girls and women were banned from attending school and work.

But as the group works to uphold their promise in supporting women’s rights, this rule has been overturned for now.

It comes as the Taliban acts on their bid to support women’s rights however authorities aren’t holding their breath about what this means and how this will pan out in practice.

Classes were mostly empty on Monday, with many students and teachers fleeing the country in the weeks prior.

A journalism professor at Herat University told Reuters that less than a quarter of his 120 student cohort attended class, with many unsure if they had made the right decision.

“Students were very nervous today,” he said.

“I told them to just keep coming and keep studying and in the coming days the new government will set the rules.”

Written by Rebecca Borg

Business

OPEC+ agreed to its deepest cuts to oil production since 2020

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OPEC+ agreed its deepest cuts to oil production since the 2020 COVID pandemic at a Vienna meeting

OPEC has agreed to the biggest cuts in oil output since the height of the global health crisis.

Ministers from the group of oil-producing nations, and allies including Russia, met in Vienna on Wednesday.

That marked their first in-person get-together since lockdowns made them impossible.

They agreed to slash production by 2 million barrels per day. This move could spur a recovery in oil prices.

They’ve fallen from $120 per barrel three months ago, to about $90 now.

But the decision is unlikely to go down well in Washington.

After OPEC+ agreed to cut oil production, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States is working to ensure energy supply is on the market and that prices are low.

Asked if he was disappointed in U.S. ally Saudi Arabia agreeing to the cuts, Blinken said Washington has a “multiplicity of interests with regard to Saudi Arabia.”

“We are working every single day to make sure to the best of our ability that, again, energy supply from wherever is actually meeting demand in order to ensure that energy is on the market and the prices are kept low,” Blinken said.

It wanted OPEC to pump more oil, to help reduce prices ahead of U.S. midterm elections.

The Biden administration also wants to limit revenues for Russia, as part of moves to punish it for the conflict in Ukraine.

However, Saudi Arabia has refused to condemn Moscow, which is part of the broader OPEC+ grouping.

Market watchers at JPMorgan expect Washington to react with countermeasures by releasing more oil stocks.

The UAE energy minister said Wednesday’s decision was technical, not political.

The Saudis and other OPEC members say it’s aimed at calming market volatility, not targeting any particular price for oil.

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President Joe Biden surveys catastrophic damage left by Hurricane Ian

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Many homes and businesses lay in ruins amid debris in southwestern Florida

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill visited Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian making a direct hit to the state last week.

As many homes and businesses lay in ruins amid debris, the President promised to use the power of the federal government to help the community rebuild throughout the sunshine state.

The President comforted residents alongside Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis—a possible competitor in 2024— as well as joining GOP members of Congress for a tour of some of the hardest hit areas in southwestern Florida.

However, both men agreed to put politics aside for now, instead focusing on helping the community.

Speaking in Fort Meyers, which took the brunt of Ian, Biden said, “Today we have one job and only one job, and that’s to make sure the people in Florida get everything they need to fully, thoroughly recover.”

Hurricane Ian is considered one of the post powerful storms to ever hit the United States.

So far, officials have confirmed that at least 84 people died, including 75 in Florida.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands are still wait for power to be restored.

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North Korea’s five biggest missiles

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North Korea has flown a missile over Japan for the first time in five years

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris did not mince her words when she paid a visit to the demilitarised zone last week.

“In the North, we see a brutal dictatorship, rampant human rights violations and an unlawful weapons program that threatens peace and stability,” she said.

North Korea’s latest missile launch is the latest in a string of tests following Harris’ visit.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida following Tuesday’s long-range missile. The pair condemned the test in the “strongest terms,” as they described it as a danger to the Japanese people.

Associate Professor Tilman Ruff from the University of Melbourne believes the threat of nuclear war has increased.

“This is clearly the time of greatest danger of nuclear war since the at least the Cuban missile crisis.”

North Korea has carried out over 30 missile tests this year, as authorities brace themselves for bigger weapon, which could reach the U.S. east coast.

in response to Tuesday’s test, South Korea and the U.S. fired a string of missiles into the East Sea.

5. The Musudan

The Musudan, or the Hwasong-10 is a medium-range ballistic missile, which has an estimated range of more than 4,000km.

The missile was first tested in October 2016 and is believed to be capable of reaching South Korea and Japan.

4. The KN-08

The KN-08 is a long-range ballistic missile, which boasts an estimated range of more than 6,000km.

While North Korea had two unsuccessful tests of this weapon in 2016, it was successfully tested in 2017.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un inspects his weaponry.

3. The Pukguksong-2

The Pukguksong-2 is a medium-range ballistic missile, which has an estimated range of more than 2,000km.

This is a land-based variant of the Pukguksong-1 weapon, which is submarine-launched.

The missile was first tested in February of 2017 and is believed to be capable of reaching South Korea and Japan.

2. The Hwasong-14

The Hwasong-14 is North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missile. It is also one of their most powerful missiles, with an estimated range of more than 8,000km.

The missile was first tested in July 2017 and is believed to be capable of reaching New York.

1. The Hwasong-12

The latest missile test over Japanese territory is understood to be an intermediate-range Hwasong-12.

This ballistic missile has an estimated range of more than 4,500km, and is believed to be capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific.

The long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12.

North Korea’s missile tests have risen under the rule of its current leader, Kim Jong-Un. In fact, there have been more test launches this year, than in the previous decade alone.

“If anybody thought that the risk of nuclear war went away with the end of the Cold War, then these current concerns should put an end to any such complacency.”

Associate Professor Tilman Ruff, the University of Melbourne

There are also a range of other weapons in the North Korean inventory, including a nuclear bomb, which is believed to be six times bigger than what the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

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