By Mayank Bhardwaj NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Abattoirs in India called off a four-day strike after the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, gave assurances that mainly Muslim-run, unlicensed slaughter houses would not be shut down or attacked. Separately, in Modi's western home state of Gujarat, lawmakers of his ruling party stiffened the punishment for cow slaughter to life imprisonment, the toughest such measure aimed at protecting cows, widely considered holy by Hindus. Earlier, the maximum punishment had been a seven-year jail term. State elections are due by year-end in Gujarat, where 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in 2002 after a wave of Hindu-Muslim riots when Modi was chief minister. A Supreme Court investigation found no case against Modi, who denied wrongdoing. Shrill demands by right-wing Hindu groups to stop the slaughter of cows threaten to stoke a fresh wave of communal tension, as Muslims, who make up 14 percent of India's 1.3 billion people, dominate the meat trade. After the appointment of Hindu hardliner Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh following a landslide election victory for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, slaughterhouses and meat shops suffered attacks by Hindu vigilante groups. "We have decided to call off the strike after a meeting with the chief minister, who assured us that the state government will renew the licenses of slaughter houses," Chaudhary Aley Ummar Qureshi, a general secretary of the Muslim All India Jamiatul Quresh, told Reuters from Lucknow, the state capital. Traders will resume selling meat after the end on Wednesday of the nine-day Hindu festival of Navratra, during which participants fast and abstain from meat, Qureshi said. "The government also assured us of protection from any arbitrary or unlawful crackdown," Qureshi said. The state government would not discriminate on religious grounds, said health minister Siddharth Nath Singh, who attended the traders' meeting with Adityanath. "Anyone creating trouble in the name of religion, from now on, will not be tolerated," he told a TV network soon after. Most of India's beef comes from buffalo rather than cattle, and Uttar Pradesh is the country's biggest producer of buffalo meat. Its recent crackdown spread to other states ruled by the BJP. Despite the end to the strike, slaughterhouse owners remain insecure and nervous. Muslim owners of meat shops still fear they could be targeted, said Iqbal Qureshi, president of the Meat Murga Vyapar Kalyan Samiti, a meat sellers' group in Uttar Pradesh. He urged the government to make its rules and regulations clear in order to eliminate harassment by authorities and vigilante groups. Frequent attacks on trucks carrying cattle have severely crippled both local trade and exports, said a meat exporter based in India's financial capital of Mumbai. During its election campaign the BJP had promised to maintain communal harmony in Uttar Pradesh, said Randeep Surjewala, spokesman of the opposition Congress party. "Everybody will have to wait and watch to see whether they fulfill these promises or pursue a divisive agenda," he added. (Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Additional reporting by Rupam Jain, Krishna Das and; Rajendra Jadhav in MUMBAI; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
- NBC News
"The situation at the border isn't going to be transformed overnight," a senior Biden transition official told NBC News in an exclusive interview.
The officer who may have saved the life of Vice President Mike Pence could now be giving him the side-eye. The cop hailed as a hero for leading a crowd of insurrectionists away from the Senate floor and potentially saving hundreds of lawmakers’ lives has, perhaps, left the vice president on read. Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly reached out to thank Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for his heroism on Jan. 6, but they have yet to connect.
- Associated Press
The spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert has quit less than two weeks after she was sworn into office, saying he was prompted to by the insurrection at the nation's Capitol. Ben Goldey confirmed his departure to The Colorado Sun after it was first reported on Saturday by Axios. The Sun reported that Goldey did not respond to additional questions, but he told Axios he was leaving in the wake of a deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
- The Telegraph
A Christian girl has been taken into care in Pakistan after allegedly being abducted by a Muslim man who forced her marry him and kept her chained up in a cattle pen. The girl spent five months chained up in the pen in the yard of her 45-year-old captor's home, where she was forced to work all day clearing the animals’ dung, her family claim. They said that when rescued by police last month, she had cuts on her ankles left by the shackles put on her by captor, who is also said to have raped her repeatedly. The case has now been taken up by human rights groups, who say the family's initial complaint to police went ignored for three months. They claim that every year, hundreds of girls from Pakistan's Christian and Hindu minority groups are abducted and forced into Muslim marriage, with the justice system often turning a blind eye for fear of offending Islamic hardliners. They say that Britain, which gives £302 million in aid last year to Pakistan, should insist that more is done to counter prejudices against minorities and challenge institutionalised tolerance of sexual abuse. In November, the Telegraph reported on the case a 14-year-old girl allegedly kidnapped by a Muslim man who then used threats of violence to make her sign false papers consenting to marriage. When she escaped from his custody, a court initially ruled the marriage legal and returned her to her abductor's home. She is now in hiding, with the British charity Aid to the Church in Need petitioning Boris Johnson to allow her to seek asylum in Britain.
- The Independent
The latest updates from the White House and beyond on 17 January 2021
Kevin McCarthy warned members to not call out colleagues by name, citing potential political violence
Members of the House Republican Conference ignored leader Kevin McCarthy last week when he warned them against criticizing colleagues by name based on intelligence that doing so could trigger more political violence. Why it matters: McCarthy made clear that name-dropping opponents, instead of spelling out complaints in more general terms, can put a literal target on a politician, especially with tensions so high following the events of Jan. 6.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.That's what happened to Rep. Liz Cheney, the GOP conference chairperson, after she said she would support impeaching President Trump. * She and several other members had to increase their security and take extra precautions because of death threats and other alarming warnings after their colleagues singled them out in their complaints.What McCarthy said: The House minority leader issued his warning during a conference call last Monday. He said his concern was driven by the FBI briefings he receives. * "It doesn’t matter which side of the position you were: I respect it, I respect why you did what you did. But what we are saying on television, when we say a member’s name. ... This is not the moment in time to do it." * "You can incite something else. The country is very divided and we know this. Let’s not put any member, I don’t care who they are Republican, Democrat or any person not even in Congress. Watch our words closely. I get these reports on a weekly basis. I’ve seen something I haven’t seen before.”Several minutes later, McCarthy repeated the message: “Emotions are high. What you say matters. Let’s not put other people in danger. Let’s watch what words we’re using and definitely not be using other members' names in any media.”Days later, some GOP members ignored him and openly criticized their colleagues * Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted that the name of his Republican colleague, Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, "will be one forgotten by next January." * Rep. Lauren Boebart (R-Colo.) mocked Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the House's new mask fines.One of the most blatant attacks, leading to a media firestorm, was when several members of the House Freedom Caucus went after Cheney for voting to impeach Trump. * On the day of the vote, the members circulated a petition to remove her from her leadership role. * Cheney is now fielding a series of threats against her, many from fiery Trump supporters angered by her vote, a source with direct knowledge of the threat said. * “We don’t comment on security matters,” Cheney’s communications director, Jeremy Adler, told Axios.What we’re hearing: McCarthy's team told Axios he isn't looking for repercussions. Spokesman Matt Sparks said the leader wants to lower the temperature and is encouraging members to be mindful of the current environment.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Associated Press
Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated and more than a dozen have been killed in recent days in flooding on Indonesia's Borneo island, officials said Sunday. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said floods brought by intense rains caused floodwaters as high as 3 meters (10 feet). As of Sunday, 39,549 people had been evacuated and at least 15 had been killed due to floods that affected 10 districts and cities in South Kalimantan province on Borneo island.
- NBC News
She displayed "a round metallic object later identified as a Military Police Challenge Coin" and said she was part of law enforcement, police said.
- The Telegraph
Donald Trump will leave office with his approval rating at an all-time low, according to a new poll. Mr Trump is now likely to complete his term in the White House with Mike Pence, the vice president, refusing to invoke the 25th amendment to remove him from office and an impeachment hearing due to begin after Joe Biden is inaugurated. The storming of Capitol Hill and Mr Trump’s refusal to accept that Mr Biden won the election has caused considerable damage to his reputation, a poll by Pew Research has found. His approval rating has slumped to 29 per cent – a fall of nine points since last August. Ominously for Mr Trump, who is said to be planning to run for the White House in 2024, his rating among Republicans has plummeted even more spectacularly.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that a convoy of trucks carrying emergency oxygen supplies for Brazil's northern Amazonas state, where a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has hit hard, has departed and is set to arrive at the border by Monday morning. Reading from a message sent by Justo Noguera, governor of Venezuela's southern Bolivar state, Maduro said during a state television appearance that the six trucks would arrive at the Santa Elena de Uairen border crossing by morning, where they would be handed over to Brazilian health authorities. From there, the trucks - carrying some 136,000 liters of oxygen, enough to fill 14,000 individual canisters - would take 14 hours to arrive in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, whose hospital system is collapsing due to the pandemic.
- Associated Press
Guatemalan soldiers blocked part of a caravan of as many as 9,000 Honduran migrants Saturday at a point not far from where they entered the country seeking to reach the U.S. border. The soldiers, many wearing helmets and wielding shields and sticks, formed ranks across a highway in Chiquimula, near the Honduras border, to block the procession of migrants. Guatemala’s immigration agency distributed a video showing a couple of hundred men scuffling with soldiers, pushing and running through their lines, even as troops held hundreds more back.
- The Independent
Police discover more than 500 rounds of ammunition at checkpoint into security-heavy capital
- The Week
Shortly after police detained Russian opposition leader and Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny upon his return to Moscow from Germany, where he was recovering from a poisoning allegedly carried out by Russia's FSB spy agency, President-elect Joe Biden's incoming National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called for the anti-corruption activist's immediate release.Sullivan said the Kremlin's actions were a "violation of human rights" and "an affront to the Russian people who want their voices heard."The forceful statement quickly drew attention from members of the U.S. media, who compared it to the Trump administration's generally more lax approach to Moscow.> The Biden team, taking a different approach to Russia than Trump did: https://t.co/EMkPT3Ln7T> > -- Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) January 17, 2021Sullivan also beat the current White House to the punch -- there's been no word on the Navalny situation from President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, or National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien as of yet. > Biden's incoming national security advisor comments on @navalny's detention in Moscow today, saying the Russian opposition leader should be immediately released. The urgency of this statement tells you something about how the Biden admin will be. The Trump admin is still mum. https://t.co/tIsS3sl9yq> > -- Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) January 17, 2021More stories from theweek.com Statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico only needs 50 votes 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious
Iran is in the process of building up its nuclear weapons capacity and it is urgent that Tehran and Washington return to a 2015 nuclear agreement, France's foreign minister was quoted as saying in an interview published on Saturday. Iran has been accelerating its breaches of the nuclear deal and earlier this month started pressing ahead with plans to enrich uranium to 20% fissile strength at its underground Fordow nuclear plant. The Islamic Republic's breaches of the nuclear agreement since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from it in 2018 and subsequently imposed sanctions on Tehran may complicate efforts by President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, to rejoin the pact.
- Yahoo News Video
The Trump administration early on Saturday carried out its 13th federal execution since July, an unprecedented run that concluded just five days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is an opponent of the federal death penalty.
The U.S. Army has identified a 1st Armored Division staff sergeant from Fort Bliss, Texas found dead at his home Thursday.
- The Telegraph
Scientists say Colombia must cull its so-called “cocaine hippos” that roam the Magdalena river basin as they are breeding voraciously and are an increasing menace. The marshlands of Colombia have been home to these giant mammals since they were illegally imported in the late 1980s by the notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar. When he was shot dead in 1993, the Colombian government took control of his extravagant estate, including his personal zoo. Most of the animals were shipped away, but four hippos were left to fend for themselves in a pond, and now there are dozens of them living in the wild. Although nobody knows exactly how many there are, estimates put the total number between 80 and 100, making them the largest invasive species on the planet. Scientists forecast that the number of hippos will swell to almost 1,500 by 2040. They conclude, that at that point, environmental impacts will be irreversible and numbers impossible to control. “Nobody likes the idea of shooting a hippo, but we have to accept that no other strategy is going to work,” ecologist Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez told The Telegraph.
- The Independent
Man arrested at inauguration checkpoint with gun and ammo says he was lost and did not mean to bring weapon to DC
The man said he got lost driving around Washington DC
- NBC News
In a freewheeling and at times combative interview with NBC News, Jenna Ryan said she has no regrets about participating in the Capitol incursion.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office on Wednesday with only a few of his top chosen deputies in place. The Democrat's Cabinet appointees are awaiting approval by the Senate, who are set to hold their first confirmation hearings on Tuesday. Biden's pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, will meet with the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT).