16 Dec 2020
GOP LEADER MCCONNELL FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGES JOE BIDEN ELECTION WIN; OATH TO
TAKE PLACE OUTSIDE CAPITOL
A top member of US President Donald Trump's Republican Party, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has congratulated Joe Biden on winning the
presidential election last month.
Senator McConnell spoke after the electoral college formally confirmed Mr
Biden's victory over Mr Trump.
The Democrat won 306 electoral college votes to Mr Trump's 232.
President Trump still refuses to concede, making unsubstantiated claims of
After Monday's confirmation of Mr Biden's victory, three world leaders whose
refusal to congratulate the president-elect had been commented widely, did
so on Tuesday: Russia's Vladimir Putin, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro and Mexico's
Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take
their oaths of office outside the U.S. Capitol building as inauguration
planners seek to craft an event that captures the traditional grandeur of
the historic ceremony while complying with COVID-19 protocols.
Mr. Bidens team released some broad details for the January 20 event on
Tuesday. Theyre proceeding with the plans without any assurances that
outgoing President Donald Trump will participate.
Despite this weeks rollout of the new vaccine, its availability to the
general public is still months away. Mr. Bidens team is urging supporters
not to come to Washington, DC, to celebrate the inauguration.
The ceremonys footprint will be extremely limited, and the parade that
follows will be reimagined, Mr. Bidens inaugural committee said in a
BOKO HARAM CLAIMS KIDNAPPING OF HUNDREDS OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS
Boko Haram on Tuesday claimed it was behind the abduction of hundreds of
students in northwestern Nigeria, in what appears to be a major expansion of
the jihadist group's activities into new areas.
At least 333 students are still missing since the attack late Friday on the
all-boys Government Science Secondary School in Katsina state -- hundreds of
kilometres (miles) from Boko Haram's stronghold in northeastern Nigeria.
"I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping in
Katsina," the leader of Boko Haram said in a voice message.
More than 100 gunmen on motorcycles stormed the rural school north of
Kankara town, forcing students to flee and hide in the surrounding bush.
A number of boys were able to escape, but many were captured, split into
groups and taken away, residents told AFP.
#BringBackOurBoys has been trending on social media since the weekend in
reference to a similar hashtag used after Boko Haram abducted 276 girls in
2014 in Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria.
The weekend attack was initially blamed on armed groups locally known as
"bandits", who are active in the unstable region where kidnappings for
ransom are common.
The army has said it has located the hideout of the "bandits", and that a
military operation was under way.
PUTIN CONGRATULATES BIDEN, SAYS READY FOR 'COLLABORATION'
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday congratulated Joe Biden on
winning the US presidential election in November, saying he hoped the
countries could set aside their differences to promote global security.
Putin wished the US president-elect every success and said that, "for my
part, I am ready for collaboration and contacts with you," according to a
The Russian president was one of the last remaining leaders of major world
countries to have held back on congratulating Biden, who was confirmed as
the next US president by the Electoral College on Monday.
He said he was confident that Russia and the United States could, "despite
their differences, really contribute to solving many problems and challenges
that the world is currently facing."
CORONAVIRUS | RIYADH ANNOUNCE THREE-PHASE ROLL-OUT OF COVID-19 VACCINE
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced a three-phase COVID-19 vaccination
programme, as it began registering citizens and foreign residents after
approving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
People aged over 65 as well as those with chronic ailments or at a high risk
of infection will receive the vaccine in the first stage, and those aged
over 50 in the second, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
Everyone else will be vaccinated in the third stage, SPA said citing the
Health Ministry, without specifying the dates for each phase or how long the
mass campaign would take.
The Gulf kingdom has a population of more than 34 million, according to
The Ministry opened registration for the vaccination campaign through an
online application called Sehaty, and said the vaccine would be free for
all citizens and residents.
Saudi Arabia has so far recorded more than 360,000 novel coronavirus cases,
including more than 6,000 deaths -- the highest in the Gulf. But the kingdom
has also reported a high recovery rate.
4 OUT OF EVERY 5 PAK CITIZENS BELIEVE COUNTRY HEADED IN WRONG DIRECTION:
Four out of every five persons in Pakistan view that the country is headed
in the wrong direction, according to the latest survey by research company
Citing the report that was released on Tuesday, The News International
reported that only 23 per cent people believe that the country is moving
towards the right direction and 77 per cent believe otherwise.
More than 1,000 people from all over the country participated in the survey
which was conducted between December 1 and December 6, 2020.
Last year, in the fourth quarter, 21 per cent people believed that the
country was headed on the right track, while 79 per cent had a contrasting
This year, 36 per cent people said that their current personal financial
situation is weak, 13 per cent characterised it as strong and 51 per cent
said it is neither strong nor weak, The News International said.
Meanwhile, the last years data show that 38 per cent believed that their
financial situation is weak, 5 per cent viewed it as strong and 57 per cent
put it in between.
OLI BRINGS ORDINANCE TO REDUCE QUORUM FOR HOLDING CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL
Nepal Prime Minister K P Oli on Tuesday introduced an ordinance which
reduces the quorum for holding the meeting of the constitutional council
from the existing five members to three, with a simple majority of two
members enough to recommend appointments to constitutional bodies.
The ordinance was promptly signed by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.
The members of the council are the Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker,
Deputy Speaker, Leader of the Opposition and Chairman of the Upper House.
Olis move comes a day before the 43-member standing committee of the ruling
Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is slated to meet, and is expected to seek an
explanation from the PM on several corruption charges labelled against him
through a resolution submitted by party co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal
Prachanda who is leading a dissident faction within the NCP.
The dissidents command a visible majority in the Central secretariat,
standing committee and the partys central committee.
In separate statements, both Prachanda and Leader of the Opposition Sher
Bahadur Deuba called the ordinance unconstitutional and called for its
ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN EXCHANGE FIRST PRISONERS AFTER KARABAKH WAR
Armenia and Azerbaijan have begun exchanging groups of prisoners of war,
part of an all for all swap mediated by Russia after a bloody conflict
over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, Russias defence ministry said on
The six-week conflict between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces over the
region and its surrounding areas was brought to a halt by a Russian-brokered
ceasefire deal last month.
The fighting locked in territorial gains for Azerbaijan and has stoked anger
in Yerevan, prompting street protests against Armenias Prime Minister Nikol
Russian peacekeeping forces have deployed in the region.
Late on Monday, Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan said a group
of 44 Armenian prisoners had returned to Armenia after Russian mediation,
the Interfax news agency reported.
A Russian military aircraft also flew a group of 12 Azeri prisoners to Baku
as part of the same swap, Rustam Muradov, the commander of Russias
peacekeeping forces, said in a defence ministry video published on Tuesday.
Azeri authorities confirmed their arrival.
JAPAN 'TWITTER KILLER' SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR SERIAL MURDERS
A Japanese court on Tuesday sentenced a man to death for killing and
dismembering nine people, most of whom had posted suicidal thoughts on
social media, in a case that shocked the country.
The Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court found Takahiro Shiraishi,
known as the "Twitter killer," guilty of killing, dismembering and storing
the bodies of the victims in his apartment in Zama, near Tokyo.
Shiraishi, 30, pleaded guilty and said he would not appeal his death
Police arrested Shiraishi in 2017 after finding the bodies of eight females
and one male in cold-storage cases in his apartment.
Investigators said Shiraishi approached the victims via Twitter, offering to
assist them with their suicidal wishes. He killed the women, including
teenagers, after raping them, and also killed a boyfriend of one of the
women to silence him, investigators said.
On Twitter, Shiraishi used the name "Hangman," promising to help his victims
die and inviting them to his apartment.
Although his defense lawyers argued that he assisted the victims' suicidal
wishes, Shiraishi later said he killed them without their consent.
In the ruling, presiding Judge Naokuni Yano said none of the victims agreed
to be killed and that Shiraishi was fully responsible for their deaths,
according to media reports.
He said the crime was extremely heinous and had caused fear and concern in a
society where social media have become an indispensable part of everyday
life, NHK public television reported.
PAKISTAN ISSUES NEW LAW FOR SPEEDY TRIALS OF ALLEGED RAPISTS
Pakistans president on Tuesday issued a much-awaited new law requiring the
establishment of special courts to speedily conclude trials of people
charged with raping women or children, a move hailed by rights activists.
The law, which must be approved by Parliament to remain in effect, requires
courts to conclude the trials of alleged rapists and issue verdicts within
four months. It also prohibits the disclosure of the identity of rape
victims, according to a statement released by President Arif Alvis office
The statement provided few additional details. Leading Pakistani
English-language newspaper The Dawn reported that under the new law any
official who shows negligence in investigating rape cases could face a
three-year prison sentence. The paper also reported that repeat offenders
could be chemically castrated.
Suspects found guilty of raping women and children potentially face a death
sentence in Pakistan.
The new law comes months after Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to remove
deficiencies in existing laws to ensure speedy justice for rape victims.