France pension protests
Workers stage second mass rallies and walkouts in France, triggering travel chaos. The action is in protest against the government’s contested pension reform plan. Intercity travel and subway services in Paris are the worst-affected sectors. The education sector and the electricity production staff are also set to join the industrial unrest. The turnout in the nationwide protests is expected to reach around one million. The action is the second countrywide strike in France in a month. This is a response to the government’s reform bill to overhaul the pension system and raise the retirement age by two years. The national assembly started examining the proposals on Monday. The government needs to win over conservatives in the parliament to get the bill passed and has ruled out the possibility of backpedaling on the plan.
US-South Korea to expand drills
The United States and South Korea vow to expand joint military drills, amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula over past war games. The announcement was made in a joint statement by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his South Korean counterpart Lee Jong-sup in Seoul. They agreed to boost information-sharing on North Korea’s threats. Pyongyang sees military exercises staged in the region with the participation of the US as acts of provocation and rehearsals for invasion. Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered what he called the exponential expansion of his country’s nuclear arsenal and missile program. Pyongyang says its weapons act as a deterrent against US-led threats in the region.
The death toll from a suicide bombing in northwestern Pakistan keeps rising. Officials have confirmed at least 93 deaths so far. The blast took place in a crowded mosque in the city of Peshawar, in a highly-fortified security compound. It also left scores injured. Many of the casualties are police officers who had gathered for noon prayers. Some are in critical condition. No one has claimed responsibility yet. Pakistan has been facing a resurgence of violent attacks in recent months. Most of them have been claimed by a militant group known as Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan.