Your Monday briefing: South Africa’s parliament is on fire


Hello. We are covering a fire in the South African Parliament, a breach in the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea and possible changes to women’s rights in China.

A large fire damaged much of Parliament on Sunday. Authorities have warned that the damage to the historic complex will be extensive.

Officials said the fire spread from an office space on the third floor of a building adjacent to the former National Assembly building. The spokesperson for the Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service warned that the buildings themselves were at risk of collapsing, given the intense heat of the blaze.

The parliament spokesman said a man in his 50s had been arrested in connection with the blaze, but gave no further details.

Details: No injuries or deaths were reported. Parliament was not in session.

Quote: “The whole parliamentary complex is badly damaged – waterlogged and damaged by smoke,” said JP Smith, a member of the Cape Town Town Hall Safety and Security Committee, adding that “the roof above of the old meeting room has completely disappeared “.

The South Korean military said on Sunday that an unidentified person had passed through the demilitarized zone in North Korea.

Images of the person climbing a tall barbed wire fence – the southernmost of several fences in the 2.5-mile-wide buffer zone separating the Koreas – were captured by South Korean cameras at 6:40 p.m. Saturday. Sensors on the fence set off an alarm, the military said.

But this latest security breach at one of the world’s most heavily armed borders went unnoticed until 9:20 p.m. There was no immediate response from North Korea.

Details: Defections across the DMZ are rare and dangerous, and crossings from south to north are even rarer. The DMZ is teeming with fences, sensors, minefields, guard posts and armed patrols, and nearly two million troops stand ready to fight on both sides.

Fund: The two Koreas have technically been at war for decades – the Korean War ended in 1953 with a truce, not a peace treaty. Some 33,800 North Koreans have defected south since famine hit the north in the 1990s.

Separately: Kim Jong-un entered his second decade as North Korea’s leader with a vow to alleviate the country’s chronic food shortages, a problem he inherited from his father 10 years ago.

Beijing presented the proposed revisions to China’s law governing women’s rights as a major victory.

The revisions would be the first major changes to the law in nearly 20 years and would refine the definition of sexual harassment, affirm prohibitions of discrimination in the workplace and ban forms of psychological violence.

On paper, this looks like a triumph for the activists. But many women are skeptical about the possibility of real progress.

The government has sought to control China’s fledgling #MeToo movement. It is rare for victims of sexual harassment to go to court. Some women have been fired or fined for laying charges. Tennis star Peng Shuai was censored minutes after she said on social media that a top Chinese leader had pressured her into having sex.

The context: Women have been increasingly pushed out of the workplace and into traditional roles since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took power. Many of the proposed revisions already exist in other laws or regulations, but have been poorly implemented.

Details: The law would also codify women’s right to seek compensation for housework during divorce proceedings – after the first such court ruling last year to award a woman more than $ 7,700 for her labor. during her marriage.



What else we read

  • Prenatal blood tests that warn of rare disorders are usually wrong.

  • Santander UK accidentally paid tens of thousands of people around $ 175 million on Christmas Day.

  • Venice, Italy, will replace a multi-million dollar bridge made of glass and steel and designed by star architect Santiago Calatrava, after too many tourists slipped.

A morning reading

South Korea, which has the highest gender pay gap among rich countries, has made slow progress on women’s rights. Today, a growing number of young men are protesting against feminism, claiming they face gender discrimination in the country’s hard labor market.

Lives lived: Betty White, who created two of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, Sue Ann Nivens in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sweet but dark Rose Nylund in “The Golden Girls”, has passed away. She was 99 years old.

This will be a great year for space flights and exploration. Here are some things to watch out for in cosmic news on this trip around the sun.

The moon: If 2021 was the year of space tourism and robotic missions to Mars, expect the moon to take center stage. Several governments are launching spacecraft to the moon, with the aim of returning humans there later this decade.

Meteors: On a few special dates this year, sky watchers will be able to watch meteor showers erupt in the dark. Here’s a rundown with tips on how to look, including finding dedicated dark sky areas in cities.

Rockets: Two massive rockets are expected to make their debut. NASA’s space launch system, designed to transport astronauts to and from the moon, will make its first test flight. And SpaceX is building Starship, a reusable rocket, to expand tourism to Mars.


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