World Newsletter

WORLD NEWS
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

widespread fraud.

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. Biden’s team released some broad details for the January 20 event on

Tuesday. They’re proceeding with the plans without any assurances that

outgoing President Donald Trump will participate.

Despite this week’s rollout of the new vaccine, its availability to the

general public is still months away. Mr. Biden’s team is urging supporters

not to come to Washington, DC, to celebrate the inauguration.

The ceremony’s footprint will be extremely limited, and the parade that

follows will be reimagined, Mr. Biden’s inaugural committee said in a

statement.

 

 

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

Kremlin statement.

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

official figures.

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:

REPORT

 

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

IPSOS.

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

opinion.

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 year’s 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

MEET

 

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.

Oli’s 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 party’s central committee.

In separate statements, both Prachanda and Leader of the Opposition Sher

Bahadur Deuba called the ordinance “unconstitutional” and called for its

withdrawal.

 

 

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, Russia’s defence ministry said on

Tuesday.

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 Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol

Pashinyan.

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 Russia’s

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

sentence.

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

 

Pakistan’s 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 Alvi’s office

on Twitter.

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.

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